Wednesday, January 29, 2014

No Different Than Blood

The months following Lily's placement, we were on a waiting period, per state laws, until it would be made legally final.  Just to clarify, this did not mean that Lily's birth-mom was able to change her decision.  The state had the rights at this point and we were under legal obligation to the state.  During this time we had mandatory home visits and lots of continuous paperwork.  We had to prove that Lily was getting the medical attention she needed and that she was physically and emotionally thriving.  We had to talk about how we were doing as a family with the adjustment of a new little person.  All persons of our family were regularly visited and interviewed.  We also had to provide an updated home study for the State of Idaho.  For the most part, it was a stress-free time.  Our attorney worked with our agency and the State of California to legalize the process and all of the documents.  Six months after Lily's birth, we got the exciting call from our attorney that the judge had approved a court date for us!!  YAY.  I hadn't worried too much about going to court and speaking to a judge about our family.  I really had my sights set on the temple, and looked at this event as a stepping stone that would lead us to the temple.  Because of this, I was unprepared for how meaningful it really was.  As we sat waiting outside the court room, our attorney went over with us what would happen and the types of questions we would be asked.  All of a sudden I was super nervous and anxious.  What if I said the wrong thing?  What if she didn't think I was genuine?  What if Lily sits and cries the whole time?  She's never done that before but what if she chooses today to start??  It hit me that I was powerless...that the power was in the hands of our judge.  She would make the judgment call, and we just had to sit and wait to see if she agreed that the process was sound and that we were fit to raise Lily as our own.  And if she told me I had to jump through one more hoop to make this final I was going to burst into tears!  So many irrational thoughts crept into my mind that it was a relief to finally just enter that court room!  My first time in a court room!  So cool!  It was so formal but unexpectedly comfortable.  Our case worker was with us which helped.  He testified on our behalf and was kind and gracious in his words to the judge regarding us.  I was so grateful for him that day.  We each took our turn answering questions from the judge and Lily was her happy self the entire time (why did I ever doubt her?!).  This was it....the judge looked at us and happily declared that Lily was legally ours.  The words she said hit me and made my eyes sting..."No different than blood."  No different than blood.  That is how I felt from the beginning and now it was legally recognized.  It felt incredible!  Burdens lifted.  September 16, 2013.  Now that was a good day!!!       
And now we could finally take the last step.  We were able to take Lily to the temple to be sealed to us.  September 21st.  That was our day!  It couldn't come quick enough.  We were so ready.  This was a unique feeling for me...not having my child, who feels like my very own heart...not sealed to me.  It was something I hadn't ever really thought about with the boys.  Which is kinda sad.  It was just there.  I knew it, but I had taken it for granted.  I was so anxious to make bound on Earth bound in Heaven. 
This experience was so sweet, sacred, and personal.  More-so than anything else I've ever experienced, aside from being sealed to Shane.  And even then...I was so wrapped up with being head-over-heels in love with Shane that I don't think, on that very day, that I fully appreciated the sealing ordinance.  And in that way, this was different.  I spiritually understand so much more now than I did then.  I felt I was more prepared for and appreciative of the sealing ordinance, the same ordinance that bound me eternally to my best friend and darling boys.  So for me, that's what made this day even more sacred, miraculous, and memorable.  It's been 4 months since and I still can't write much without the water works being released!
We had talked to Carson and Cade a lot about what would happen in the temple and what it would mean.  I am so grateful they are old enough to ask questions and try to really understand.  Throughout the entire process they have been incredible.  Their little hearts are so soft and sensitive.  I truly have felt that my boys were prepared by the spirit to be on this journey with us.  And one thing they have felt without a doubt was love for Lily, and they couldn't fathom our family without her.  I couldn't wait for them to experience the temple. 
After we dressed, Shane and I sat and waited to enter the sealing room.  And I just wept.  It's like the entire journey was coming full circle...something that had been years in the making.  I honestly felt like my heart couldn't handle it, and that I needed to go in a room by myself and have a sob fest.  I did my best to keep it together.  As we entered the sealing room, it was so sweet seeing all the faces of people we loved so dearly there to support us.  We took a seat.  Then entered Carson and Cade dressed in white, grinning ear to ear, faces beaming.  They felt so could tell.  Cade sat by Shane and Carson by me.  At that point Lily was brought into the room.  The hush that came over the room was palpable.  She squealed as the temple worker walked her in and was given to my mom.  Everyone looked so beautiful and the spirit I felt was overwhelming.  I was not prepared for the strength of spirit.  The words spoken by the Sealer were beautiful and as I looked around and looked at my children, it's like the world stopped.  This was it.  This is what life is all about.  Nothing else.  Everything else was secondary to this.  As we knelt down at the alter I felt comfort and peace, and approval.  Approval from Heavenly Father.  I felt it so strong.  This was right and brought about by divine guidance.  She was ours.  She was always ours.  I felt it with my whole heart.  I will never forget Lily looking at me during the sealing.  She looked right up at me in that very moment and smiled.  Right afterward I looked over to the boys and Cade shot me the thumbs up sign!  The spirit was so strong.  It was an incredibly happy and emotional moment.  A true glimpse into heaven. 
There is so much happiness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.       

 Following the sealing, Lily was given a name and a blessing by her Dad.  Shane gave her a beautiful blessing.  It was wonderful to have our families with us.

The Gospel is TRUE!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Went for a Walk

This summer ended up a total whirlwind!  My brother and his family made the big move to Idaho from Chicago.  Hooray!!!  And finding them a home (right by us!) was TOP priority.  Natalie and I went to work...talking everyday about various homes on the market.  It was fun.  I always love to look at homes for sale, but this was WAY better.  It was real, after all.  We had areas in the valley narrowed down and looked daily for new listings.  One of the stipulations we had was that their home needed to be in a different ward.  But of course...that didn't stop me from looking! 

One weekend, Lindsay and her family were in town visiting.  Shane and Wynn took a scenic drive home from church and went down a street very near to ours and one we've always loved.  BAM!  New listing!  Good eye Wynn.  They stopped and grabbed a flyer and headed home.  When we got to looking at the details, we quickly realized that the home was priced under market value.  Significantly.  It was almost do-able...for US!  We bought our home at the peak before the market crashed in 2007.  Getting out from underneath it...ever...seemed impossible.  We always play the "what if" game and we had talked endlessly about what it would take to make it work somehow and when the timing would be ideal.  The plan always included a whole lot of unknown "if's!"  So naturally I thought...what if we could pull this off?!  If only we could sell our home.  Our previous appraisal was still under market value.  Dang! 

The next day I took Lindsay and the kids for a walk.  I wanted to show her which street the home was on.  So off we went.  When we got there, the owner was outside.  We stood outside his home and talked quietly to ourselves until I looked at him and jokingly said, "So I wanna buy your house!"  He offered to walk us through the inside.  So we bribed the little boys and took him up on the offer.  The home had potential.  It needed some facelifts, mostly paint which was do-able.  It was nice.  Double the size of our 1100 sq. ft. home.  After walking through it, I explained to him that we just lived a few streets over and that we would need to first sell our home (which wasn't for sale).  He explained that he was going through a nasty divorce, needed to get out of his home quick (which was why it was priced so low) but also needed to down size in the process.  He then asked how big my home was, which street we were on, and a ball-park asking price.  I looked at Lindsay I really tell him all this???  I gave him the info and threw out a number.  He said, "Well that sounds good to me, maybe I'll just buy your house!"  And then we all had an uncomfortable laugh.  As we were walking out he said that he felt there was a special family meant for his home and that I should go talk to my husband and bring him back to take a look.  Right.  Sure thing dude!     

So I did!!  Shane pretty much laughed in my face.  It was awesome.  Lindsay and I went crazy with the "what if's".  What if he really would buy our house??  What then???  It was priced right for us.  On a street we've always loved.  On a great lot.  Same ward.  Same school.  Interest rates low.  Size right.  So what if?

His realtor called us the next day and said the seller was serious and wanted to know if he could come look at our home.  What?!  So we played along.  Shane and I went to look at his home again and he went to look at ours.  And the following day he made an offer on our home...contingent on us buying his home.  His offer was priced right.  Just what we needed to get out.  On top of that, his realtor offered to help us through the rest of the process but wouldn't charge us a dime.  Is was nuts.  This was all in a matter of THREE DAYS people!!!  And in the end, we couldn't walk away from it.  It was just too good to turn down.  We had to do it.  So we did!  We moved forward with inspections, appraisals, financing, etc.  At every step of the way we kept thinking..."okay, here's where it will all fall through."  And it just never did.  At our closing, our signing officer said it was the smoothest trade she'd ever experienced.  We hadn't planned on moving.  But we did the last week of July.  And let me tell you.  I NEVER want to move again!  It's just awful!  We hadn't moved in 9 years, so we were out of practice.  Awful!  Worth it?  Absolutely.  It put a kink in our summer just a bit.  But 100% worth it.  I still can't believe it happened.  Such a blessing.  And the great thing is, the man we worked with felt the same way.  He was great to work with and has told us since what a blessing it was for him.  Unbelievable.  It is evident that the Lord's hand is in our lives.  No such thing as coincidences.  The time since the move has been spent on getting settled and house projects.  And we are just about done. .......Phew!.....maybe some pictures of our new home will come later....maybe... 

Man...someone needs to make a movie out of this story!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Family Pictures-July 2013