Thursday, November 27, 2014

the greatest of news to be thankful for!

in the (slightly changed) words of freddie mercury:



"we are LOA, we are LOA, we are LOA my friends!
and we'll keep on stressing 'til the end
no time for thanksgiving
no time for christmas
because we are LOA during the holidays my friends!!!!!!!"

LOA, otherwise known as letter seeking confirmation (yeah, i know, the acronym doesn't match ups...LOA=letter of acceptance, but it's also referred to as letter seeking confirmation).

this means that china has reviewed the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 documents we sent them with all the notarizations, certifications, authentications, consulate approvals, fingerprints of God things on them, and accepted them, and said that, "yes! ryan and carmen preciado, you can be her mommy! (and daddy...oops, i leave him out a lot).

now we fill out a few more complicated forms (but for our government) mainly that are for allowing her to immigrate here and become a u.s. citizen through adopt0ion.

the typical timeline from here is 9 weeks to TA (travel approval) and then 2 weeks to travel from the approval to do so.

our agency was in her province 2 weeks ago, and visited her orphanage. they took lots of new pictures of her and even a video of her saying "hi mommy! hi daddy!". but, they have 1,000s of pictures to go through, so, it'll be a bit before they can send them to us. once they do, you'll probably hear me sobbing happy tears wherever you are, and that'll be your cue to come back here and see them! :)

until then, here's pictures of her (almost) completed room. it's in desperate need of cutie-patootie items from landofnod.com, but, we're almost there!




a sweet lady we've never met made this blanket for lucy-girl. oh, the love others have shown her is beautiful! 

mommy and daddy on their wedding day. we knew event hen we'd adopt to begin our family

ever girl needs a cute headband and necklaces

a picture of mommy on her wedding day with all her friend-aunties. also, because we pray her room to be a place of healing, peace, and grace, worship music has been playing in her room non-stop for the last 3 months. it is a wonderful Spirit-filled room! 


if you would like to come along side of us, and help bring our daughter home the link at the top right of the page will take you to our tax-deducible fundraising account. we would be forever humbly grateful for any amount you would donate. thank you for caring about our daughter, and helping to make one less orphan. <3




Sunday, November 23, 2014

stray cats and comfortable beds

the animal shelter near us is over-capacity with cats. i love cats (except ryan's....it's a jerk), and so when they started sending out pleas for adoptions, and free of charge at that, i kept presenting the need to ryan, and each time he said we couldn't handle another animal right now with everything going on. whatever. it's a cat.

i still wanted to "rescue" a cat from the shelter. i'm sure it would become best friends with stello, my cat, the awesome cat.


but the husband wasn't budging. i was sulking--how can he not want to save an sweet cat from an animal shelter?! what's wrong with him! and then this:


our neighbor knocked on our door one night, and since it was dark, this cat looked grey and white--like ryan's cat (the one that's a jerk). we were baffled at how it got out (i don't like it, but i would never let it out on purpose....). ryan knelt down and called it to him, and it came, like they were old friends. except it wouldn't let ryan carry it to our house. something seemed amiss. ryan ran inside and found his jerk cat upstairs...so who was this smokey look-alke? it was skinny, hungry, tiny, and it was freezing outside. we couldn't let this cat stay in the cold. (except it wouldn't come inside. so, we sat a food dish and water outside and a basket with a towel in it (cats love to snuggle in baskets!)). i didn't shout "nooooo!" it's not from the shelter! i won't help it!" 

the next day, when it was daylight, we saw it, and silly us, it looked nothing like smokey. it wasn't even grey. 
nevertheless, it still meowed at us and came to us, and ate it's fill on our front step. we've since sat a cat carrier outside with a towel in it--to help it feel more secure at night when it goes in to sleep. nobody in our neighborhood has claimed it, so, i've named her calico purress. 

bit of a rabbit trail to come************************************************************

all too often, we feel as if we HAVE to adopt to make a change for the orphaned
or we HAVE to intentionally live in a self-imposed poverty to make a difference 
or we HAVE to do 3 mission trips a year to an impoverished country
or if we go on a mission trip and don't lose weight on it because we ate (and didn't deprive ourselves of food the entire time to be like the ones we came to serve), we are ashamed and feel like we could have done more 
or if we come back parasite free, we had it too easy

let us stop measuring our care for the world by spiritually masochistic signs. 
now, we are called to NOT be lovers of this world:
james 4:4 says 
"you adulterous people! do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God! therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes an enemy of God" 
but there is a difference between living modestly and living lavishly, and only dressing in sackcloth and ashes. 
the notion that we must sleep on straw mats, eat one meal a week, and cloth ourself in sackcloth to be lovers of God and servants of people holds us back from the beautiful service we can be living out immediately around us! 

sweet mother teresa once wrote: 
"love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do"
she also tells the story of a young woman who came to live at her commune, and once this young woman received the Spirit, and came to be filled with His love, she came to mother teresa, full of excitement regarding her new life, and mother teresa instructed her to return home and love her family and neighbors. she happily did it--and with excitement! she didn't sulk and demand to stay in the slums of india, no, she went back home and loved those there! 

our neighbors, those in line behind us in the drive-thru, the drivers that cut us off on the road, the woman struggling to pay for her basic milk and bread, the stressed out single mother with the child throwing a fit in the middle of the aisle---they are as in need of our love, smile, grace, and gentleness as those living in poverty in lands far away. there is no shame in serving where you are. 

we are bringing our daughter home, but there is also great love needed here. love that only we can provide, the special love that is unique to what God has done in my heart and the hub's heart. 

let us spread our love whoever we are and not believe the lie that any love and service given locally is somehow less than love given far away. 
we are many parts of Christ's body, as spoken of in 1 corinthians 12:14-26:

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

the only thing focusing on how we are not staring our own 501c3 organization, or adopting 10 special needs orphans, or giving away $35,000 a year does is take off our focus of what we can do where we are. don't let the enemy shame you out of the service and love you can give. maybe the grandchild of a person you love toward Christ will do something you never could yourself, there are far infinite ways to His plans that we can see, let's trust where we are, and love where we are. 





also, on a side note: we "should" be LOA next week! wooooo-hoooooo (this is the big thing from china that we've been waiting on....."the wait!" all the next waits are merely 1-2 weeks each, and center around her visa! now would be an awesome time if you wanted to help be a part of bringing our sweet girl home! you can give through our tax-deductible reece's rainbow account (link on right side of page) or here where our story video is: a place called home site with video



Monday, November 17, 2014

footie pajamas, gideon, and perry the panda

why am i wearing footie pajamas, covered up with my soft christmas blanket, and sipping hot cider--instead of being out with our bible study peeps eating yummy, delicious, perfect, tennessee-mexican food?
because we received our official rejection letter from show hope. and i just wanted to sulk with my cat (take note that he is part unicorn--that magical little tuft of hair coming to a perfect point proves his wondrousness)

in the mailbox today was another issue of my (free!) subscription to "everyday with rachel ray" (i really just love her!), a bill (yuck!), and advertisement for a christmas sale (no christmas for you this year!), and a thin envelope with the show hope return label on it. i shrugged and tossed it on the counter, calling the dh (dear hubs) to let him know we received our rejection letter. he came home and opened it so i wouldn't have to. 

it's okay. it really is. us not receiving a grant means another family did, and i'm so happy for those families that received letters listing the amount of grant they've been blessed with. 

but, still i sit here, much like gideon when he hid in the winepress threshing wheat (judges 6). except i'm wearing footie pajamas, and i'm pretty sure he was wearing something akin to a ephod (male dress). also, i have a unicorn cat, and that makes many things more bearable. 

people often mistake the amount of courage i have, when really, i'm quite cowardice. 
one of my most beloved friends was telling me about a recent experience while she was grocery shopping: 
she overheard some individuals bemoaning the fact that amendment 1 passed ("yes on 1" in tennessee..google it), and felt an urging to stand up for her faith that values the sanctity of life (and the honor of her two precious daughters whom she adopted-and is grateful their birthmother chose life for).  they didn't receive her input well and argued back, and then another guy came up and was frankly, quite ugly in his differing opinion of hers. she didn't cower, or back down, she didn't drop her head and shuffle away, she was strong. 
i told her i admired her strength, that i would never be able to do something like that, and she seemed surprised, thinking i was bolder than i actually am. 
she seemed surprised that i would be to timid, cowardice, etc to approach someone and defend my faith/belief. 

proverbs 28:1 states "the wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous have faith bold as lions"
we often quote the last part "the righteous have faith bold as lions" but we hardly ever give any nod to the beginning: "the wicked flee when no one pursues".

in times such as this: rejection, we can choose to hide in a winepresses, (even though we are not being attacked), or we can stand strong as lions because our faith sees past present circumstance.

God not saying "yes" is not the same thing as us being attacked. God saying "yes" to someone else is NOT Him saying "no" to us. far too often, we tend to hyper-spiritualize everything, and in doing so, we make ourselves victims, when in reality, He will provide in a different way. we can't be a victim when we can trace even one point in the process Him having His hand upon us.

and, like Gideon rising up and emerging from the winepress, i poke my little head out (tomorrow morning...it's too cold right now!) and look for His hand in all the other places it is.

oh! also: perry the panda is helping us in all things until lucy-girl is home: #lucygirlspandaproxy
(follow us on instagram to see perry helping us next for lucy-girl   http://instagram.com/carmenmichelle

enjoying sick people tea with perry

perry is trying to decide which reading teepee lucy would like the best

perry is making sure we don't goof around--setting up lucy-girl's bedroom is serious business 

perry approves of the lovely drawer pulls mommy picked out for lucy-girl's room


perry is napping on the pretty new lavender sheets in lucy-grils room









Thursday, October 30, 2014

a place for you

dear one:

i celebrated my birthday with your daddy yesterday, and we did the things we would do if you were with us:
we went to the discovery science museum
we went to the zoo
and we spent extra time outside playing with gnarls barkley

except, you weren't with us, and it just seemed somber.

my sweet girl, what have your birthdays been like?
were you served breakfast in bed? 
were there balloons? a cake? did you get to choose what was served for dinner?
did anyone take your face into their hands, look you in the eyes, tell you they were so blessed God created you?

did they speak truth over you, whispering your identity into your ears as you laid your head down:
you are created perfectly in His image (gensis 1:27)
He holds all your tears in a bottle and lists your sorrows (psalm 56:8) 
nothing can remove your name from His book of life (revelation 3:5)
even in the depths, He is there with you (psalm 139:8)
you are the apple of His eye (zechariah 2:8) 
and this: 
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. --psalm 139:13-16

you now know we are coming for you, you know what we look like, and you’ve read our words to you, how we love you, and are preparing a place for you. 
i pray you don’t lose hope, i pray you know it’s not us taking so long to come-we would swim the ocean right now to get to you; i pray you understand i love your foster family deeply and am forever indebted to them for caring for you these years.

we'll set a place for you at thanksgiving, at christmas, and we'll gather with those that love you on your birthday, and i pray as your next birthday approaches on january 18th, that it will be a joyful one, because you know we are not far away. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

i will be a wall

to my sweet daughter:

you don't know this, but i'm bringing you into a war zone.

there is a war being waged (on women) here:
it tells young girls like you, that your body is not your own, and it is not to be treasured and protected.

it tells us that our value relates to our waist size, doe eyes, soft skin, lush hair, and absence of wrinkles.

the war whispers into your ear that you free yourself by sharing with anyone what was meant only for you and your husband.















the war shouts out our happiness increases with our bank account.















the war proudly sings out, with clanging symbols, the beating of drums, and strumming of guitars: "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die"

but i will be a wall. i will protect you, i will guard you, and i will guide you. i will guide you to Him: the One who created you, and brought us to you. i will guide you to the One who holds your identity. i will sing of His praises over your sleeping head. i will embrace you in my hands because of the nails embraced by His.

sweet daughter, it is a war zone; except the weapons are not of flesh an physical things, but they are of a spiritual nature, and they have divine power to destroy strongholds:

"for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds."--2 corinthians 10:4

i continue to pray in your room. the stains of oil remain on the door post where i anointed it. hours of worship songs play on repeat, welcoming His healing presence into your room.
i walk into your room, and i feel at peace. i feel Him in there, and i feel you in there.





















dear sweet daughter, we are building a wall so that all you see is Him and all you feel is a security nothing can rip away.

we will proudly bare our chest as he takes aims, and absorb any arrows the enemy may throw at you, (because) your precious worth is immeasurable.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

what i want you to know

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”--washington irving


i want you to know that when we first knew we were going to become your forever mommy and daddy, i woke up nightly with horrific stomach pains and in mournful tears at the thought that we were going to be pulling you away from the only life you've known for 11 years. i would weap because at some point in the near future i would be holding you as you missed and wept for the foster family you had for the past 7 years.

i want you to know we did not hastily rush into this, thinking we were "saving" you. we spoke with families that had adopted older children from your home's foster system, we spoke with experts, and even "anti-adoption" people.
***prospective adoptive parents: you are not the brave ones, you are not the ones
worthy of the admiration, the children leaving everything they know are. 

we want you to know that we learned everything we could about the possibilities for you if you remained there. we want you to know we learned what life would look like for you past the age of 14 (the age you are no longer able to be adopted) and after you turned 18, and after learning these things and that life, we made the decision to trust in God's direction that the painful journey would end up being a blessing.

i want you to know that even now, i want to collapse and weap at the new adjustments you will have to make. i want you to know that you are so brave and the strongest person i know. i want you to know you were long ago asked to carry a burden no innocent child should ever have to carry. i want you to know that we will carry that with you, but mostly, you have an adoring Heavenly Father who wants to carry all the burdens, pains, and tears for you.
"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."--matthew 11:30


and each tear you've cried, since the great injustice had been done to you from infancy, He holds each of those tears in a bottle and knows each sorrow: (psalm 56:8)



i want you to know that we insisted, many times, you must be asked if you wanted to be adopted, we insisted the process was explained to you, we insisted you know in us becoming your forever mommy and daddy, that meant you would leave your foster family--leave the sights, smells, sounds, and people you knew to come to a land where you did not understand the language, the people looked different, the food tasted different, and life was as different as you could imagine.

i want you to know that as your tears fall, and your heart adjusts, and there is so much for you to take in, i will be there wrapping my arms around you and crying with you. i want you to know that i love your foster mother, and i will always have an undying gratitude to her, i will always be indebted for her, and i will always embrace her in my heart as my sister-mommy because she loved you before i knew you.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

light of our life

about a month ago, we were able to send a care package to our lucy-girl, which included a cake, a photo album of us, a translated letter, and a stuffed animal. on monday, we received these pictures of our sweet daughter:




i was immediately and powerfully heart-struck at how her light, her spirit, shines through. we are so thankful for God's mercy that gave her such a beautiful and strong spirit. (also, her favorite color is pink, can't you tell :)).

whatever trials, turmoil, and attack this world and the enemy throws at His children, He is stronger.

there's no new updates to speak of, as far as the waiting for the next step goes, we're still waiting on the magical LOA, and then the even more magical TA. please join us in prayer, continually, that we will have LOA by November. and of course, join us in prayer for our daughter. i would be lying to you, and us, if i said it was going to be some magical rescue rainbows, unicorns, and puppy dogs experience when she leaves the only life she's known for 10 years.

if you'd like to help us meet the remaining $5,000 we need, you can donate a tax-deductible donation to reece's rainbow (link on top right side of page), or you can donate through our a place called home site (here), and watch a video of our story (donations on a place called home come with happies!).  in the end, we will be putting $19,000 of our money, savings, everything toward this, we just need a little extra "help", because, we....get by with a little help from our friends!

or you can buy a guacamole t-shirt, we need to sell 20 minimum and we'll raise a couple hundred dollars. guacamole for lucy! :)  (while we are devoted Christians, we recognize not all who would support us bringing lucy home are...but are pretty sure everyone on the planet is a fan of guacamole. and really, how many times do you have to nod when asked "it's extra, is that okay?")
buy the super soft t-shrit here:
"i know guacamole is extra" t-shirt fundraiser




matthew 5:15-16

"Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."