Answering the Call

Thank you so much for all your words of encouragement and kind responses from my last post.  I promise that as we finally begin to move forward I will keep you updated with our progress as we journey toward bringing our next little one home.  Right now, we are still in the middle of updating our homestudy but hope to have it finalized by the end of June.  

In the meantime I want to share with you something God has really burdened our hearts for through switching countries.

Adopting Sibling Groups & Older Children

Our adoption agency, Lifeline Children’s Services, just recently revamped their website.  With this, they have made available a viewing list of all of the waiting children that they are advocating for.  As we researched countries, we referred to this list to gauge average ages of children available in certain countries as well types of medical special needs most often seen.  

Like I stated in a previous post, we believe that Esther and Noah should remain our oldest children.  So on our Child Desired Form, we have marked that we are open to a child, age three or under.  Such a small age range can sometimes prolong the time until you are matched, but we feel confident we are making the right decision.

The heartbreaking part is that we have automatically excluded so many children who are in need of a forever home.  Children who are in need of a family to share the gospel with them.  Who are in need of loving parents to let them know that they are loved and that they DO matter. 

The Colombia program for instance is filled with sibling groups.  These are children who have been legally abandoned for no fault of their own.  Children who have banded together and decided that they will take their chances… either they all go or no one goes.  I see their faces in the pictures, and my heart breaks.  My heart breaks because I can picture my own little girls banding together for the same reason.  They are family.  

I realize that not every family is called to adopt and even more so not every family is called to adopt multiple siblings, but what if God is calling your family to do that right now.  You most certainly can’t just write this post off without even searching for His answer and will for your family.

You may be newlyweds with dreams of a large family, and this is God’s vision for your family.  You may be empty-nesters but miss the sounds of little ones in your house.  Or you may even be like our family, in the middle of all the craziness of life, but God wants to show you that He has this in store for you also.  

Maybe it’s not sibling groups though.  Maybe it’s just older children like the ones that are common in Ukraine.  Older children are much less likely to be adopted than younger ones but are still in desperate need of a family.  It won’t be long before their time in an institution is up and then they are sent out on the street without anything to their name or a clue as to what to do next.  Because of this, many of them end up turning to prostitution or drug dealing.

I don’t know how you can make it work, but what I do know is that these children need a home and that God has called the church to care for orphans.  It is one of the most beautiful pictures of God’s adoption of us as fellow heirs with Christ.  How will you answer the call?

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Typically

Late last year… as in the very last post that I shared, I announced that our family was once again adopting… this time from the Dominican Republic.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s been a little quiet in adoption news lately.  

Why?  

Back in December we submitted what’s known as our dossier to the Dominican Republic.  Typically, it takes a few weeks to translate the documents to Spanish and then a couple months more for review and approval…

Typically.

In the world of adoption, you are reminded constantly to be flexible because things can arise at any time that may slow down your process, complicate your process, or throw a loop in your process.  It happens.  It happened with our first adoption, and as adoption veterans now, we expected the same thing this go around too.

So when the communication lines between the Dominican Republic and the United States went silent, we didn’t really think anything of it. I mean we are talking about government offices here, and sometimes they do tend to get backlogged or take their own time.  

Eventually, we did get an update. Not that our file was being reviewed but that the director of CONANI (National Counsel for Children and Adolescents… the adoption authority in the Dominican Republic) had been promoted and that one of Lifeline’s (our adoption agency) own points of contact had taken her place…

Until she got married and had to leave her job because she moved, and once again we were left without anyone there to review our file.

So for a few months we have been sitting still in process.  It’s been OK.  And like we said, we knew to expect some delays and setbacks, and honestly, we didn’t mind because we took this extra time to continue saving our money for the next steps of the adoption process.

We were beginning to wonder though.  So far, we are more than 21 months into this adoption, and the end is no where in sight.  Honestly, we thought we would have already matched with a child and possibly even been traveling by this time.  

A few weeks ago, we finally received an update.  Our files were still under review, so not much had changed in that area.  CONANI did have someone working as an interim director, so this was good news.  The Dominican Republic, however, is having their elections next month, and CONANI plans to wait until after the election to permanently fill the position.  That could take up to six months!

We weren’t upset or hurt after hearing this news, but it did leave us asking, “Now what, God?”  Do we continue our course in the DR, consider switching to another country, or withdraw all together and try for another bio baby.  Having just passed my 32nd birthday, we do realize that the time clock on bio babies is beginning to run a little short.  But we also feel confident that God is calling us to adoption as the next way to add to our family.  Adoption is dear to my heart, so I am more than thrilled that he has included this in the plans for our family.

Sometimes when you find yourself at a crossroads, it’s so hard to take your own intuitions and desires out of the equation.  Our insides were screaming, “We are just ready for another child!” and in reality we knew that God could be asking us to wait a little longer.

So we took a few days to pray about the entire situation.  We talked with our social workers, and we stepped back and looked at all the countries that Lifeline works with which totals 22 countries.

Lifeline Children's Services

During this time God showed us several countries… like Honduras and Columbia, but he began to repeatedly show us China.

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China. China is the country that the majority of families go through who adopt from Lifeline. In fact, right now the have around 300 families in process in their China program.  China is popular for several reasons.  It is a streamlined and fairly quick program (in adoption terms).  There are also lots of waiting children available for review, and one of the perks that we liked is that it has a significantly lower cost than adoption from the DR.  

Two weeks ago, Michael Luke wrote an e-mail to our social workers letting them know that we wanted to formally withdraw our application from the DR and begin working on a home study amendment for adoption from China.

It was the most amazing feeling to know that once again we were taking a step forward in our adoption process.  Now that we are on this new track, we hope to bring our next little one home sometime in the next twelve months.  So somewhere over there in China my little baby is sleeping, and God already knows the Mommy and Daddy he has chosen for that child.  It brings a smile to my face!

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Losing Weight With My Fitbit

How To StartActivity trackers are one of the biggest fitness trends right now. Michael Luke and I are big Fitbit fans. I’ve had my Fitbit Flex for sixteen months.

flex_3qtr_black_3lights_300dpi During that time I’ve traveled more than 1,300 miles earning myself the New Zealand badge.

new zealand badge

When I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon last December I earned the Hiking Boot Badge for achieving more 35,000 steps in one day.  It may be a while before I top that one.

hiking boot badge fitbit

It’s fun to earn new badges and to see how my daily steps compare to all my friends and take part in the occasional challenge but for 15 months that all it was… FUN.  Oh, and until you have experienced it it’s hard to describe the joy of your tracker vibrating as you hit 10,000 steps.

10,000 steps meme Occasionally I would lose a couple of pounds but before I knew my weight would go up a few more.  My goal was to get back to my weight that I was at before getting pregnant (in 2011).  For four years that has been my goal but the closest I ever came to reaching it was within four pounds and that was three and a half years ago when I was walking with my friend Kalli three to four days a week.

Last month when I stepped on the scale and saw myself a full 10 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight I knew I had to do something. It’s easy to blame it all on the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day) but honestly the weight gain is because I wasn’t being kind to myself.  I let all that food take victory over me.

Now I know that 10 pounds is really not that much weight and even at my weight a month ago I still fit in the normal weight range for my body height and age.  But it was on the upper end of “normal” and I knew I could treat my body better.  Something had to change.

Over the past year I had occasionally used my Fitbit to count calories and each time I had lost weight.  I never did it more than a couple of days though.  Sometimes, I’m on the lazy side and it was just too much trouble for me to enter all the ingredients in each time I prepared a meal and often times it seemed easier to calculate a meal from a restaurant than a meal cooked at home.

This time I did some research in the Fitbit forums. I knew people had success losing weight with their Fitbits I just had to figure out what I was doing wrong.

What I Was Doing Wrong

I knew the answer all along but reading through the forums I confirmed what I already knew.

I HAD TO COUNT CALORIES!

I discovered though that the majority of people used a third party app to count their calories. Determined to make it work I tried a couple out.  I finally ended up going with My Fitness Pal.

my fitness palMy Fitness Pal has an extensive data base of food… including Young Living protein powders.  Another perk is that it tracks your fat, sodium, sugar, and carbs, and protein intakes.  And the best part is that it syncs with my Fitbit app so that as my steps and activity increase throughout the day the amount of calories I can consume increases.  This is my motivation to move.

I’m 4’11” so if my goal is to lose 1/2 pound a week my base recommended intake of calories in the morning is around 1,200 to 1,300 calories.  To me this is depressing.  We see all the nutrition information on food labels and everything is based off of a 2000 calorie diet.  I felt like I was being short changed 700+ calories a day.  In the beginning I basically threw myself a pity party because I WANTED MORE.  It’s not my fault i’m so short.

Here’s the interesting part though as I began to count calories and monitor my serving sizes I realized that 1,200 calories was enough for me. At the end of the day I was satisfied.  I also realized that the more steps I took and the more active minutes I had during the day the more calories I earned.

I learned to use this to my advantage. For example, if I was going out to eat and wanted to enjoy a fried chocolate pie I made sure to reach my 10,000 steps that day and eat lower calorie meals earlier in the day.  This helped me bank extra calories so that I could enjoy my dessert guilt free… and that I did!

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Fitbit keeps up with my calories burned vs. intake letting me know if I’m above/under/in the zone.  I don’t have a lot of self control and have always had a hard time resisting sweets at the end o f the day.  But I am a rule follower. Give me guidelines and I will stick to them.  That’s where calorie counting in huge for me. If I don’t have enough at the end of the day I won’t let myself splurge because I have worked so hard to stay within my budget.

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I find myself checking my Fitbit more during the day now.  I want to know how much I’ve been moving. If my step count is low by lunch I know that I need to PLAN time to move during the afternoon.  It’s now my goal to hit 10,000 everyday.  I no longer refer to my tracker to see how far I am falling short that day but instead to see how much more I need to move.

Fitbit also tracks your water intake. This isn’t a feature I use every day but I need to.  On the days that I do I do a far better job of reaching the recommended amount of water.  I know some people aren’t fond of drinking water all the time.  Adding Young Living Essential Oils is a way I add variety to my water. My favorite right now is to add a drop of Peppermint Vitality essential oil to my water bottle.  The Peppermint helps to curb my appetite… and keeps my mouth tasting great.  It’s also fun to flavor my water with citrus Vitality oils like Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, and Citrus Fresh.  There are wonderful benefits to adding citrus oils to your water… take a few minutes and do a little research.

Young Living Citrus Oils

The Results

I’ve been moving, counting calories, and drinking water for a month now.  My calorie intake is set to allow for half a pound a week and over the past month I’ve already lost 3 POUNDS!  I’m so excited. I feel empowered, motivated, and encouraged. I KNOW I can reach my goal if I keep this up.  My goal was set all along but what I really needed was a plan.

What’s Next

I plan to keep doing everything I’ve been doing and start to incorporate more exercise and strength training.  Even though I’m moving I haven’t been running as much as I used to. Imagine the impact I could have if I combined calorie counting with running.

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So tell me… do you wear an activity tracker? Are you actively using yours to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight or do you find yourself wearing yours like I how I did mine in the beginning?  What goals do you want to achieve with your activity tracker?

 

 

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