Monthly Archives: September 2011

Justus Reed Carpenter, Happy Birthday!

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What a year! Or as I think back over the last year with Justus, I can’t help but back up to all that was going on during my pregnancy with Justus. So many emotions, so much that was unpacked, so much that was going on in my own life before this little one entered our world.

We had no idea what to expect with our second child. Our second son. We had no idea that we were truly just missing this little life. No idea what a joy Justus would be to us.

When Justus Reed entered the world around 10 pm last September 29th, there was an extra dose of joy and peace and love a
dded to our family.

He was a snuggler from the beginning. And a breath-holder. He still holds his breath when he cries. Almost 10 seconds at times! He also still loves to snuggle his head onto our shoulders at random times. My mom jokes that I didn’t let anyone else hold him for months. And I might not have. Somehow, as God was preparing us to adopt, I knew that this was the last infant we would probably have in our home. Something slowed down and by God’s amazing grace, I truly enjoyed every day even during the sleeplessness. God seemed to slow time, as I look over pictures from the last year, the first few months, the first few days that are usually such a blur, I can remember almost all of it. I can remember how the house felt, the weather, the warm October days and even the daily jaundice checks for his sweet little life. I can remember how tiny he was and how still. I remember how timid Austin was to hold him and that after about a week, he finally came down before his bedtime and asked me to help him hold Justus. I remember how much easier it was to help him sleep through the night, but also how hard it was to put him in his own room this time around.

As he has grown, we realized he has a precious joyful personality. He greats us almost every morning and nap with a huge smile and a giggle. He adores his brother Austin and twists and stretches his neck to see into Austin’s room as soon as he is awake and within site of his brother’s room. He loves to crawl and climb and apparently isn’t too afraid of heights, as I recently found that he had slid out of his highchair and was about to stand on top of the attached tray on his own. But, truly, he seems to enjoy time when all of us are together. He is continually evoking and initiating a smile followed by laughter.  I’m embarrassed to say that the skin on his knees is rubbed rough because he crawls so hard and so fast on the floor. He loves organic frozen peas warmed and processed and will not eat them from a can. He loves the ocean and the water. Surprisingly, he has crawled forward into the tide pools with great determination and excitement. Always eager for bath time, as he has recently started to try to climb in the tub as soon as we start to take his clothes off. He still isn’t fond of diaper changes and we spent a few months in twisting physical contortions with him trying to get his diaper changed.

I can not imagine our family without him. We pray everyday, Justus, for God’s work and call on you life. That you will know Jesus at an early age and learn of your Abba Father who loves you more than we ever will. We are so grateful that God put you in our family. We love you, Baby J, Jay-bird, Just-Just, JJ …..Justus Reed Carpenter. And don’t expect your Mom to stop calling you Baby J anytime soon.

Having a party about being annoyed not discouraged!

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I can’t tell you that it’s gone. I can’t tell you I’m super happy about it.

I can’t tell you that my pain level doesn’t rest around an 8 or 9 on a daily basis.

I can’t remember the last time I woke up and something didn’t hurt.

I can tell you that I’m annoyed; but not discouraged. And I think that’s awesome.

What?!

I realized that as I was sitting here hoping that some medicine might take the pain level down a notch, that I didn’t go down the path of “why me, God?” or “how am I supposed to do anything for the Lord when I’m always in pain?” or “will I ever be low-maintenance so I can be used more by God?”  or “Don’t you know how much I have on my plate this week? ” Nope. Those thoughts have been squashed.

My first thought was, “Wow, this is super annoying and distracting.” The fact that this is my first thought and not my man-up-face-the-battle  second thought is huge. Working on our second thought is huge. But, when our first thought is more on target, this is progress!

That is Jesus. The God of the universe is at work in me! (Me?!?!) He is the one who transforms us by the renewing of our mind.  But, the tinge of discouragement wasn’t taking over. The emotion and mental onslaught of crazy was held at bay. Who gets excited over being annoyed and not discouraged? This girl does!

This may seem insignificant; but let me unpack this a bit. There is a super-sized daily battle that faces anyone with invisible chronic pain. As you hipster kids say these days, it’s legit. The connection, it’s legit. The pain, it’s legit. I’ve shared with friends (who face chronic pain) over and over that half the battle is in your head. To have a stabbing pain in a part of your body and carry on a normal conversation is somewhat challenging. That’s a fact. It’s so easy to go down the trail of discouragement. To give up. Truly, it is. Anytime someone is overly tired or sick, we don’t feel that we are acting like our normal self. Physical pain does show real connections to mental pain.You don’t even realize how you are responding at times because you forget what it feels like not to be in pain.

But, here’s the deal. I’m annoyed; but not discouraged. I’d like this pain to go away; and when I get moments without pain, I’m as giddy as a 3 year old at Christmas. I don’t move. I just stand still or I over commit myself to new projects, either way.  But, I digress…Truly, the point is: He’s got this. I can truly believe He will heal even though I’m still in pain and lots of it. He’s winning the war emotionally and mentally even when I physically might still be losing.

Sure, we have weird patterns, like taking a seat cushion with us everywhere we go. Sure, I have odd requests for where to sit in a room based on how I’ll have to hold my neck. Sure,  I stack dishes and other things in our house in a pattern that will cause less stress on my hands and more chaos for everyone else. Sure, I ask people to wash dishes when my hands hurt. Sure, I might trip several times a month and twist my ankles often and leave my chiropractors in confusion by how exactly I managed to do that”.

I hope and pray for more grace to trust Him even more and the faith to keep walking. I pray that whatever mental battle you, as my friend, are facing, that you, too will remember that God is in the business of renewing minds and that’s where most of this starts. But, again, it’s not man-up or try really hard. It’s God, he’s the one who renews the mind.

It might sound odd to you; but being annoyed and not discouraged is a big step.

So, again I can agree with Ann Voskamp is so right: All is Grace

Next Steps: Adoption

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So, we have some exciting new! We chose to work with Bethany Christian Services for our adoption (Bethany.org). We are applying to their Waiting Child Program. In adoption, things can change at any time. So, what we know is that we are applying for a little girl most likely from Asia through the WCP (Waiting Child Program).  This means she will probably be about 12- 16 months old and that is about how long the process could take…which means, she could possibly have already been born or she is about to be born (Oh, please pray for her birthmom and our daughter and her caregivers if she’s already in foster/orphan care!)

Travis and I have already had chances to talk to so many of you about adoption and we are so excited to hear how many of our friends hope to adopt some day. So, we have had confirmation over and over from our close group of friends and some family that we know we need to be very open about the details of how this process goes. That means, we are going to really try to share the ups and downs of this journey and as many details as we are allowed to share or legally can. So, yep, we also feel that we should share about the money challenge, too. I had a friend just last week call and tell me that she’s watching to see how this goes. I’ve had other friends say they hope to be able to afford this someday, too. So, I want to be open, too that we are just following and trusting God for this. We didn’t win the lottery or suddenly get rich and I’m not going back to work full-time. I fact, we have a hole in our kitchen floor that is proving to us that this isn’t going to be any of our fancy footwork; but HIS!

But, for now, our first fee is $550.00 for the Formal Application which is different than our initial application and includes a pile of paperwork about an inch thick and asks all kinds of background questions about our lives and our families, etc. We also will be meeting with our social worker from Bethany very soon. She is going to meet with us as we are working on collection all of this initial paperwork. We also will then schedule our homestudy meetings. That fee will be roughly $3000.00. So, this first chunk ($3500) is about 1/7 of our total fee. I’ll explain more later about fees.

We are trying to be creative with our fundraisers so that we can truly know what might be helpful for others, too. So, here are just a few of the things we are starting with:

Joy’s Headbands: Joy is making amazing headbands for babies, toddlers and adults. I think she’s going to try to make us 100 of them before the end of the month. Stay tuned for those who are interested! I’ll be posting them here and on facebook and twitter and possibly having them available at the Rocktoberfest at Seacoast.

Coffee from Just Love Coffee: We can make $5.00 a bag of coffee and small fees off everything from Just Love’s website. Their coffee is fair trade and also goes to orphan care ministries all over the world. We chose them for this reason and the fact that they are connected to the Together for Adoption organization. Our page is http://www.justlovecoffee.com/TheCarpenters

That is just a few of our ideas and we have more that are in the works and welcome any other ideas, too.  We’ll do a big garage sale (and yes, we’ll take your donations for that) and silent auctions or online raffles (maybe even for an American Girl Doll) ,etc.

Please pray for us. I truly mean that. Please pray for us during paper work times. I’ve had some pretty intense stress any time I have to sit down and work on paperwork and would love prayers for peace.

We have a lot of peace that this money is going to show up and please pray that our faith continues every day and that we can continue to just follow God’s lead.

I just told Travis that I feel like I have so much to share right now; but we’ll stop here…

Other things on our task list: Makeover Jess’ blog! It’s not too fancy, I know!