Friday, February 21, 2014

The Gift (Part 2)

 {I wanted to write more about the gift of the grants we got and express why it means so much to me.}

Words cannot describe the shock and awe I felt yesterday when we received the news that Legacy 685 (In partnership with Lifesong for Orphans) had given us not one, but TWO grants to help bring our boy home.  Legacy 685 was a huge part of us bringing Bridget home as they gave us the last minute grant that helped us meet our fundraising goals, so the fact that they blessed us AGAIN was just overwhelmingly amazing. Any one who has gone through the adoption grant process knows how "competitive" these grants are (I say competitive because so many families are applying, and these organizations have limited funding and have to make the very, very hard decisions on who to say yes and no too).  I know these organizations do not take this task lightly, these applications are covered in prayer, tears are shed over the families they can not help and they rejoice with the families they can.  Since we had received a Show Hope grant, a Legacy grant and a loan from ABBA fund for Bridget's adoption, I was honestly not optimistic to receive any grants for this adoption but I knew that if this was God's will, He would provide a way - and what a way He is providing!

We have not done the fundraising for this adoption that we did for Bridget's.  With the trouble I've had with my asthma since coming home, along with adjusting to life with four kids, getting into a new routine and catching up on the school we missed while preparing for Bridget, I honestly could not commit myself to fundraising.  I just didn't have it in me. Fundraising for Bridget's adoption wore me out.  Garage sales, puzzle pieces, t-shirts, candles, this, that, whatever!  God used all those things in a great way to help make a way home for Bridget, but I couldn't do it again.  It took time away from my kids.  It took emotional energy I just did not have, and as I have said in the past, I hate fundraising.   Besides, for sanity's sake, we needed to stay on a routine with school and just have some normalcy in our lives! But when you have $30,000 to raise, you can't sit back and do nothing, can you?  When you have a child half way around the world waiting for you, you can't NOT fund-raise.  So whats a girl to do?

I had to give it to God.  I had to surrender my pride and say "God, I just can't do it, you are going to have to" (As if I could really do it in the first place?!?!) I felt guilty, like I wasn't fighting for my child. Like I should be scouring the internet for every fundraiser, grant, loan application out there.  I should be making bees wax candles, handmade somethings off pinterest and using our school time as a sweatshop to make handmade goods to sell for the adoption - but I couldn't. This is one of the hard parts of adoption - while you are longing for a child half a world away, your world right here still needs you too.  There are kids that need fed (oddly enough, they want to eat, every day, more than once!)  Those children want clean clothes (Well, I don't know if they care about that really, but I want them in clean clothes, I don't want my kids to be the "smelly Solecki's") and there are only so many hours in the day - I am not saying fundraising is wrong - I went buck wild with Bridget's adoption and drove my friends crazy with ideas on crafts I could make to raise money - but this time around, God told me to sit down, be still and let Him.   And lo and behold, the support came in.  Friends from church organized a secret raffle, friends that adopted with us the first time organized a dinner, friends and family encouraged their friends support our adoption, one sent out letters in their Christmas cards, another did a photo shoot and donated the proceeds to us, friends/family went to social media and advocated on our behalf.  Money was being added to our adoption account and I wasn't doing a thing!  God was.  He was moving in the hearts of those around us and in the hearts of those around them and here we are, suddenly, almost to our goal, just a month or two away from getting our son and I can honestly say I have had so little to do with it.  God has given us our son.  He has provided every penny.  He has moved mountains and provided beyond what we could have ever imagined!

Let me say this - we can't afford to adopt.  And that is one of the top things I hear sooooooo many families say - "I would love to adopt, but its so expensive, we could never do it".  We obviously cant afford it either!  We totally have the means to raise another kid, but to adopt?  Its not like $30,000 was just sitting around with nothing to do in a piggy bank on our dresser.  I have been blown away by Gods provision.  This is His adoption.  These are His kids.  He is the one fronting the cost.  He is the one moving in the hearts of those around us - and if you feel called to adopt but are fearful of the financial cost - please, let our family be a testimony of God's provision to you.

Four years ago when we bought our house we hadn't even started talking about officially adopting yet.  3 months after we moved in, Mike got a significant pay cut - I'm talking HUGE.  We weren't even sure how we'd pay bills let alone add to our family.  A little over a year later is when God prompted us to adopt Bridget.  We sat there looking at each other, almost laughing, because we knew it would take a handful of miracles to bring Bridget home - but God was so very faithful, and she is here!  In the four years we have lived in this house God has allowed us to adopt not only Bridget, but now our son?!?!  We probably would have told you BEFORE the pay cut that we couldn't afford to adopt, but clearly it's not about what we can or can not do - it s about what God wants to do.

I am reminded more and more that this is not about me (shocking, right?)  Yesterday, I was telling God how unworthy I was of this gift.  How I didn't deserve such grace and goodness - I see my other adopting friends who are struggling - longing to bring their children home - and I think "God, they are so much more faithful than I am!"  "They spend more time in the word/prayer/soup kitchen/mission/holy church activity than me!"  Why would you give this to us when we are so unworthy?  And then God gave me an ego check.  First off I was reminded what a gift is - it is undeserved.  We don't earn gifts - sure, we live in a culture that now expects gifts, but really, do we deserve them?  No.  Also, God lovingly told me to take down the "me, me, me" talk down a bit because this wasn't a gift for me.  It was a gift for my son.  This gift is to bring him home.  Oh, yes, I get to benefit from that gift (just like we benefit from someones birthday cake!  We get to share in the sugary delight, but it is not "for us").  God is doing this for him.  For our sweet boy, half a world away that has waited years for a family of his own.  This boy, who has watched his friends, some of his family members even, adopted while he sat in wait...

Which leads me to the most OVERWHELMING emotion of all - will I be cut out to be this boys mama?  Clearly, God has something amazing planned for his life.  To see how God has moved... to see the response to his story...  I'll be honest, I am a little scared that I won't be what he needs!  But I am so humbled, so very, very humbled that God would allow me, a selfish, sarcastic, goofball, to mother this boy.  I am so deeply in awe of God's graciousness that he would rally so many together on our behalf to help bring our son home.  I am so amazed by God's provision, that strangers would hear about our family and our son and feel led to give grants, donations, pray and show love in so many ways.

I pray we can stand as a memorial stone for other families that want to adopt - they they would hear of how God provided to bring these amazing gifts into our home when we had ZERO means to do it on our own.  It is not that we are amazing, special, spectacular people - we did nothing more than say yes when God said "go".  We had no idea how God would provide, but He has, and He can for you.

 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us"
Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Gift

Yesterday we received a gift that left me speechless.  This gift was more than we could have asked for - more than we expected - but exactly what we needed.  It was not one, but TWO grants for our adoption.  TWO.  My phone has not been working great (Hey Apple, can you make an app that would make your phones work?!?!?) So my phone didn't even ring, I just got the voicemail notification.  I listened to the message and instantly fell to my knees and started crying.  The girls sat at the table eating their cereal with that "Mom has lost it look" on their face, so I quickly smiled and told them "It's good news!"  I called Mike, and then immediately called Lifesong back.  Bless them.  The staff at Lifesong is simply amazing - they handled a grant that were were gifted with for Bridget's adoption, so to talk to people who knew our story with her, and were walking with us into the story of our son - it just makes the whole thing more beautiful.

So, long story short,  Legacy 685 (one of LifeSongs Outside the Walls church fund partners) has gifted us with 1).  A $5,000 direct grant AND 2). a $5,000 matching grant, meaning, whatever we raise, they will match up to $5,000 which means we have the potential of $15,000 for our adoption.  INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE!!!!!!  Our God is so good.  

And the timing of the matching grant could not be more perfect because in March we get to be a featured family on the Give1Save1 blog where they will promote our family for a week, post our video and people can donate to our adoption, and since we have a matching grant, all those donations will be DOUBLED!!!!!!  If you want to help, giving info is below.  Also, be watching for our Give1Save1 debut and help us get the word out so we can get this amazing boy home!

To read more on how these grants are a HUGE gift from God, go to The Gift (Part 2) and read all about how God had brought our children home.

  • Checks should be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans. In the memo, note “family name” and “family account number” (Solecki/#4354) to assure it goes to the correct account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744. Lifesong has been blessed with a partner that underwrites all U.S. administrative and fund-raising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.

  •  To pay online go to Lifesong For Orphans. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the online form and fill in “Family Account Number” and “Family Name” fields. Note PayPal charges an administrative fee (2.9% + $.30 USD per transaction). Your donation will be decreased by the amount of this fee.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

In loving memory...


Today makes 9 years since my big brother died. I'm left with a handful of photos and a heart full of memories.  These type of anniversaries are never really easy to deal with.  There is a heavy sigh in my heart when I think about that day and the days since without him.  Loss is never easy, but it, more than most anything, has the ability to shape us, change us, for good or bad. There have been three significant losses in my life that have deeply shaped my adult life.  Losing my brother, miscarrying our baby at 15 weeks, and, recently, the loss of my grandma.

Death is not easy.  Grief is not easily overcome.  But as I have learned with each of these losses, pain without a purpose is pointless.  We can let the pain consume us, have death prevent us from living or we can push through, move forward and live more intentional, more fully and pass that onto others.  I hope I am doing the latter.

Each of these losses happened at different points in my life - I was 24 when I lost my brother.  Married for three years and experiencing  motherhood for the first time.  Kaylee was 4 weeks old when Sean died.  It's funny how I remember some details about that day so vividly - the weather was cold, the sky overcast, I was sitting in bed feeding Kaylee and watching TV when my dad called. It was unexpected.  My mind couldn't even process the words my dad, though his crying, was saying  I had just seen my brother the week before.  He sat with me on the couch and we snapped pictures of him holding Kaylee.  He had just proposed to his long time girlfriend.  He was weeks from celebrating his 30th birthday.  I remember hanging up the phone and going numb, calling Mike in a panic and sobbing into my newborn babies blanket.  I wasn't ready to lose one of my best friends, the person who understood my quirks and always knew how to cheer me up. The rest of the day was a blur.

When we miscarried, I was 27.  I was finding the balance of mothering two small children (Kaylee was 2, Naomi was 13 months)  The pregnancy had been normal (full of morning sickness, weight gain and exhaustion)  I went into my 15 week appointment with no concerns.  My midwife and I joked about mistaking gas for baby movements.  We had already heard a healthy heartbeat the last appointment so we were both surprised when no heartbeat could be found this time around.   The OB came in with a sonogram machine told me the baby was dead in a matter of fact type of way. There before me were the first pictures of our third baby - a baby we had been praying for and planning for, a baby that was gone before we could even meet, a lifeless black and white image on a tiny screen. I wasn't ready to lose my baby, to say goodbye to a life we had been praying for, to not see who this tiny person was till heaven. The rest of the afternoon was a blur.

Now, I am 33 with four children and a 5th on the way via adoption.  We are in a steady groove of life.  My grandmas health had been on the decline for years.  There were several times we thought "this would be it", but this time was definitely different.  She stopped eating.  She stopped drinking.  Her eyes glazed and her memory gone.  She slept.  She groaned in pain.  She asked for her mama  She stroked my hair thinking I was nothing more than a stranger that had come to visit, or a younger version of my mom.  My mom and I sat by here side counting the breaths she took and the seconds between breaths she didn't take wondering if the previous breath had been her last.  We finally left her side at 10pm and got the call at 4am that she had passed.  I got there first and held my breath as I walked down the hallway to her room.  I stood in front of her closed door and buried my face in my hands and wept - I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the woman who had given up everything to raise me.  The rest of the day was a blur.

Although these losses were different - different circumstances, different times in my life, people of different significance to me - they all have something in common - they took me by surprise.  I wasn't ready.  The pain of each took my breath away, crushed my heart, and had me feel emotional pain in a physical way.  But like I said before, pain, without a purpose, is pointless.  Those days were a blur.  Those emotions were intense.  The aftermath of each still effects my life today.  But you don't have to stay in that blur.  You don't have to stay in that pain.  

These loses have shaped who I am, and while yes, I have had my "why God?" moments, He is also the one that held me together in the midst of all these.  When I couldn't communicate the pain, I know He understood my cries.  When I had no answers for my grief, I knew had all the answers in His hands.  He was there in each of those moments.  He held me as I wept into Kaylee's blanket, He was next to me as I sat alone in the doctors office, He stood with me in that hallway.  He has used that pain in my life to grow me, to send my roots deeper, to make my dependence on Him greater.  He has used that pain to help me love better, to empathize, to be more compassionate.  He has used that pain to create in me a longing for eternity like never before.

I would not be who I am today without the losses I have faced in my life.  I love this quote and think it sums up what I have learned though the years best: 

Measure your life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth.
For love’s strength is found in love’s sacrifice,
And he who suffers has more to give.