Thursday, December 18, 2014

spiders for families

watch this video first: i made it will all the passion in my heart. :)




this guy can help a lot of families bring their children home.

that sounds weird, but it's true. 
see, there's an awesome advocacy group: reece's rainbow (how we found our lucy-girl, and thus little luke-dude), and every month there are several (4-5) families chosen for the 5/5/5 families grant fundraiser. it serves that with many people giving just $5 a month can make a huge difference: therefore at the end of the 30 days, what money was raised is split between those 5 families to help bring their children home. 

here's where the furry arachnid-demon pictured above comes in: 
i am terrified of spiders. i have jumped out of a moving car before to get away from one. so, i've put my life out there, nightmares for years to come, quite possibly my stomach's contents...everything!
if by january 4th, $1500 is raised to be split amongst the families (we're one of them this month!) or there are 50 NEW signs ups for AT LEAST $5 A MONTHLY RECURRING DONATIONS (to help all future families) i will go to a crazy school that for some reason has a tarantula as their school pet, and let it crawl on me for as long as it takes the keeper of the furry demon to tell us 3 facts about them. 

donate here: www.reecesrainbow.org/555families
you can either donation a one time large amount to be split amongst us and 3 other families, or sign up for at least $5 a month in recurring donations. :) 

if we meet one of those goals, i'll post the video here of my letting one of these horrible and terrible things crawl all over me. :) 

y'all have until january 4th to be a part of something monumental and possible my heart attack. 
<3
all for our children! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

pickles and ice cream vs. chopsticks and pleasant goat

this weird thing is pleasant goat:
(he/she is all the rage in china)



there are obscure times i'll catch a glimpse of this weird goat on t.v. in the background of a world gymnastics competition, or in documentaries about girls in china, and it's the closest i can come to feeling my baby kick in the womb. 

while you excitedly talk about your weird cravings and post pictures of your pregnancy concoctions, i crave an email telling us we are at the next step in the process, and pictures of the fedex envelope holding our latest government approval. 

while you reach down and rub the belly that holds safe your child within, reminding yourself your dear one is so near, i eat dinner at a local authentic asian restaurant and listen with a longing in my heart to the background conversations in mandarin, wondering what her voice would sound like. i clumsily hold the chopsticks in my hand, and envision my children laughing at me when we are spending our first week as a family together, in china, while i try to eat all our meals with these two sticks. 

we all come into motherhood different ways: some conceive right away, seemingly on their honeymoon! others struggle for years, and finally see the sweet little pink plus sign they've prayed for, while some find themselves at a last resort of ivf, still others find themselves adopting in addition to their biologicals, or adopting because they cannot have biologicals, and then some, like me, have always known their children will look nothing like them, and choose to adopt to begin their family growth. no matter how we become mommies, the journey is filled with this incredible softening of the heart, tears that flow like a faucet during commercials, movies where a child is kidnapped, and reading stories in the news of ebola orphans, aids orphans, social orphans and orphans of poverty.  each of our journey is filled with thousands of thoughts a day, where we imagine what it will be like when we hold our child for the first time, and we already dread the first time they will be sick, we fear the possibility of bullying for our child, and we all fear for them, at the environment of the world we will be raising them in. we want no harm to befall them, no judgement to be pointed to them, we desperately want to protect them from the mistakes we've made, and build them up in the areas we were torn down.

we all want better for our children. people who think the best of us say with smiling eyes and sincerity they believe our child will be just like us. i want to shout "NO! NO!" i want so much more for her, for my lucy-girl than what i am. i want more strength for my little luke than i have. i don't want them to be just like me i want them to rise above me. i want their lives to be filled with beauty and wonder, i want their spirit to soar, i want strength be so mighty within them it seeps out of their veins. i want their eyes to always see as His do, and not to be as easily tarnished by the tragedies of the world and circumstance. 

we are all mommies, and though we all become mommies in different ways, our desperate love for our children is the same. i just don't have the weird cravings. and you don't have to worry about prefecting your chop-stick usage. :) 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the story of luke

God brought us to lucy, and everything since then has been perfectly orchestrated by His hands.

our journey began with this picture:


the last news for lucy is that we received LOA from china (this means they accepted our dossier (the 1,000,000,000 sheets of official paperwork and such) and approved us to adopt lucy), and yesterday i sent the signed LOA and a few other required applications/documents to our government's immigration services for her. now, we are waiting on all those documents to go through the next process (this is only a few weeks) so her visa can be eventually be issued (once she enters the country, she will become a citizen) (i feel like there should be unicorn and leprechauns inside the airport where numerous children like lucy are entering and at that moment becoming u.s. citizens :)).

...in the meantime of all the final approvals being issued for lucy-girl, the director of our agency and a few other individuals associated with traveled to china. while there, they were in the anhui province (where lucy lives) and while in her province, they had a day "off" so they traveled to the city she lives in, and then visited the orphanage/foster home she lives in. and....
while visiting her it was brought to them how close and attached lucy is to one of her foster brothers. they've lived most of their life together, as brother and sister, and love each other dearly. and in the 8 years he has been waiting on a family, not one single family has inquired about him.
we simply cannot take her out of the life she has known and the orphanage/foster family she has loved and lived with; and leave him remaining as an orphan in the process. we have the extra room in our house, and more than the extra love and patience in our hearts, so, we are adopting him too!!!



here is he showing off a picture he drew of him and lucy-girl. :) (we may let him keep the mustache ;)) 




















and, here they are together, soon to be forever brother and sister! 

what this means for lucy-girl besides her having her beloved foster brother become her forever brother: we won't be bringing her home at the end of february/beginning of march as projected. everyone involved (us, our social worker for our home study, and our adoption agency) agree bringing them home together best for both of them. so now, we have to submit for a provision to our original i800a approval (this is the american government) to be able to adopt 2 at the same time. lucy's part is pretty much done, except for a waiting game for her visa, and it to make it's way to china, but that will be held off on begin submitted to china while we catch up luke's process.

it's possible we will be bringing them both home this summer. :) 

He does! He sets the lonely in families (psalm 68:6)! 

i am in awe: teary-eyed awe at how He is making our family. what a wonderful treasure, what a blessing, what an indescribable joy for Him to choose us to be the forever mommy and daddy to these TWO precious children, who already love each other so much! 

thank you for taking part in our joy, and loving lucy-girl and luke! 

we'll be able to de-deadmau5 and de-cat his face in a few weeks. :) 

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.