Friday, February 26, 2010

He promised me...

Five years ago I asked God to give me more children. A girl. A tiny baby girl. God promised me through many scriptures that He would give me the desires of my heart...eventually.

Emma means "complete" and Claire means "with clarity". I felt then and now that God was telling us that when we received Emma Claire, our foster care/adoption/whatever journey would be over. Our family would be completed with this baby girl.

On July 31st, we believed that our Emma had been born. We would be taking her home forever. God had other plans.

But the promise had not changed.

Fast forward to February 3. I got the call from Raychel, Emma's cousin, asking if we would adopt Emma and could she still be a part of Emma's life. took me about 2 seconds to answer: YES!!!!

Fast forward to today. Court. Here is the prayer I wrote in my prayer journal on 2/5:
"My prayer for Emma's adoption is that it will just happen - no red tape - no hoops - she will be handed over to us and DHS will be the one to make it happen."

And the verse I received that same day?
"Don't be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians (DHS) that you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you! You won't have to lift a finger in your defense." Ex. 14:13-14

And that is exactly what happened in court today. Every player showed up. I took pictures of Emma as we were waiting for our name to be called. We were second on the docket! We all walked up and the worker started with her update. (Normal.)

And then Raychel spoke. And cried. And she said, "I want Tracy to have Emma because she was theirs first and they love her like I do. I will get to see her still and I know this is the best thing for Emma."

And with no other explanation, everyone agreed. PRAISE THE LORD! Our next court date is May 28 and the court is expecting that we can finalize at that time, if not before.

We did not bring Emma home today. I will try to explain it, but please understand that most of DHS doesn't make sense, even to them.

We are an adoptive couple. Emma is an adoptive placement. Our file and hers have to be sent to a "staffing" which is basically where they throw all the files out, mix them up, pull one from the adoptive couple pile and one from the adoptive child pile and stick them together to live happily ever after.

Okay...not exactly like that, but close. Basically, they will say "We have Emma. We want the Phillips to adopt her. K???" But until the staffing takes place, we can't accept placement of her. She will come to us as an adoptive placement, not kinship or foster, which is another praise. We did NOT want to have to deal with Cleveland county ever again.

The only catch with this is that they only have adoptive staffings ONCE a MONTH! So, we have to wait until the March staffing.

After court, Raychel spoke with the worker and was told that she had already spoken with her supervisor and they are going to have Emma in our home by the end of March. This was yet ANOTHER confirmation that this is really happening.

I will be calling my adoption worker on Monday to let her know what is going on and try to find out when they do their staffings.

I am full of awe tonight. I knew that I knew that I knew God had promised this baby. To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Please keep Raychel in your prayers as this is very hard on her. Maybe I should wait to tell her that her visits with Emma will now include the rest of the's a package deal!

Oh...and to be clear...I did not have to lift a finger in my defense. Amazing!


I don't have time to give you all the details, but I promise I will blog about it later. God was in control of the entire situation and we have been told by those in charge that she will be in our home by the end of March!!! We are just waiting on the regular DHS process, which is to be expected and would be the same with ANY child we were adopting...I promise to be more detailed later!!

How can I EVER thank you all for all of your prayers????

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Behold, I am doing a new thing...

Now it will spring forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

I have been re-reading some of my posts tonight as I am preparing for court tomorrow. God is so good. How He has held me in His hand for SO long.

When I started writing last night, the words just filled the page. It was not what I had planned on writing. As a matter of fact, when I went to bed, I thought "Crap! I didn't even get to tell them what awesome thing God did for me!" You addition to all the other awesome stuff He has done.

So, the night before we go to court, I wanted to tell you what God did for me last week. On February 3, when "R" called me, I called the private adoption attorney we had retained for Emma. I figured since we never actually went to court at anytime (other than when she filed the custody papers) that we had at least some to half of our retainer left. I give the info to the secretary and she tells me they will see me in court.

A week later, the secretary calls and asks for $1000 to be put toward my account. WHAT??? Okay, I don't mind paying for a service, but first of all, I want an invoice. Secondly, my biggest concern was losing that $1000. Court is going to go one of two ways: 1 - We get Emma, she is now a DHS adoption, which DHS pays for, or 2 - We don't get Emma, but are still planning on adopting through DHS, which they pay for. It seemed to me that I was going to be losing $1000 either way.

I prayed. I prayed for a check in the mail (you know how I love mail!) or that God would close the door on my attorney. (Let me be clear...she is a very nice woman...I don't have any ill feelings toward her and would recommend her if someone asked me.) I just didn't have $1000 to give. So I prayed for the next week and a half. As I prayed and thought about it, I realized that I really didn't NEED an attorney with me. This is all about DHS's own long as they choose to follow it. So I sent my attorney a letter letting her know we would no longer be needing her services.

I then decided to contact our DHS attorney that we used for all of our adoptions...just to see what needed to be done, etc. Long story short, she offered to come to court with me tomorrow. And are you ready for the "God" part???

Wait for it.....

Wait for it.....

She is NOT charging me a DIME!!! Hallelujah, what a Savior!! Talk about a road in the wilderness and a river in the desert!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you think this means something??? (updated)

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." Jeremiah 29:11

I have received this verse TWICE today. Not once, but TWICE. And it's not like I wasn't listening the first time...I was. I guess God just knew I needed it more today.

(about 20 minutes after I finished this blog, I read that verse yet AGAIN!!!!)

Court is 36 hours from now. If I sleep for 16 of those hours, you know...the eight hours a night that my body screams for but rarely gets, that leaves me with 20 hours to wait. OH the waiting!

I believe God is going to give Emma to us. With all my heart, mind, and soul, I believe Him to be a keeper of His promises. With every tiny detail that He has orchestrated, not only in the past 5 1/2 years since I recieved the promise, but also in the past 3 weeks, since I received the phone call, He has been in the process of answering my prayers.

But, if it doesn't work out and Emma doesn't come home with us, again, God is still the keeper of His promises. I believe that with all of my heart. It will just mean that God needs to grow me some more. I'm ready to grow. I believe I have grown mightily since Jacob died. Too bad tragedy had to happen for me to get my big girl pants on and do what I needed to do! I have always said I never wanted to be a "Beth Moore" or "Anne Graham Lotz" because they both experienced a lot of pain and suffering to get to where they are spiritually. Well, while I will NEVER compare to either of them, I am thankful that God is making beauty from my ashes.

Before I roll into bed, I will share one more "coincidence" with you. (Knowing full well that I don't believe in coincidence!) If you remember, back in August, I posted this
:// I have no idea how to post a link with one highlighted word like all those smart bloggers do. UGH! Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I had sent out a fleece. Well, actually five. The last one was sort of a joke, because God made me this way.

I truly said, "Oh, and by the way, God, could you send me something in the mail to let me know all of this is going to work out?" He could if He wanted to. Do you remember what God sent me in the mail?? (Yes...He DID speak to me through the mail!)

A CAN OF BABY FORMULA!!! I still laugh at how personal our God is. He didn't have to answer ANY of my silly fleeces, but He chose to because He loves me and likes to see me smile.

Anyway, fast forward to a few days after the phone call about Emma. "R" and I are talking and she and her fiance are very concerned about Emma's formula. I told them I would use whatever formula they were using for her as long as she did well on it. She told me the only kind they had found that worked was Enfamil with Lipils. As I was talking with my mom about it, she said, "Tracy, I just had a thought. What kind of formula did you receive in the mail?" I had not thought about it because although I kept the can, I had put it in a cabinet. You probably know where this is going...

YES! It was the SAME formula that Emma needs!! God takes care of all the details, doesn't he??

Wow. I still get goose bumps when I think about it.

Court is at 9am on Friday, 2/26. I can already feel your prayers!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eighteen Months later....

and we finally have the marker for Jacob's grave. The iron part was donated to us by wonderful people. The marble slab was chosen when my uncle, who died in January, was laid to rest next to Jacob.

It is finally here and in place:

I have decorated my house...many times...perused designing magazines, websites, and walked through more Open Houses than I can count, but never did I imagine planning or designing the grave marker for one of my children.

I gave Jacob's information and the Bible verse I wanted and the rest was done for me. I could not have chosen better myself...nor did I want to. Some people are very much about the details of a funeral/grave. I really never cared. I remember saying to our funeral director, more than once, "What would you do?" I am grateful for him. I have never cared about graveside etiquette, as I don't make a habit of visiting them.

Lest you be offended, it doesn't bother me if that kind of thing is important to you. It really doesn't, but my memories of Jacob are NOT at his graveside. As a matter of fact, I can't remember ANYTHING good about that dirt covered coffin in the ground. My baby is not there. When I think about that place, his graveside, my mind fills with sadness. There was no happiness there the day we buried him. People were crying. Who wants to dwell on that?

Eighteen months later, some days at least, I would rather remember Jacob climbing on the in our home. Or watching the pictures of him play across my computer. Or listen to my kids talk about the memories they have of him. Other days, I try not to think about it at all. Because that's how I roll...whether it's good for me or not!

So I just wanted to share, eighteen months later...

Oh...I almost forgot! The verse was one that God gave me when we were praying about doing foster care. It was also the verse on Jacob's funeral program (chosen by I don't know who) so we thought it would be very appropriate for his marker.

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.'" Matthew 19:14

Friday, February 19, 2010

Letting it all hang out....

If you come to my blog to be encouraged, well, this may not be the day for it. If you are a serious type reader, you can stop reading RIGHT NOW. Today's post will be neither encouraging, nor will it be serious. As a matter of fact, for some people, it could be plain offensive!

Although in reality there is really NOTHING funny about what I am going to share, if we don't laugh at ourselves sometimes, then we end up a heaping mess crying in the corner of the closet, hoping we don't find mouse poop sitting there with us!

This brings me to the topic of the day....SPANKS. (,search,.htm)

For those of you who don't know me in real life, I have spent 35 out of the last 37 years of my life trying to either gain weight, or keep weight on. I had a weight problem, but it was one that most people was a problem, none the less. As I have always said, if your clothes don't fit, it's a pain in the rear, whether you are big or small!

Take heart! I no longer have this problem. Stop the applause...that's just rude! It all started about the second year we were doing foster care. I had been warned that one of the symptoms of being a foster parent (other than collecting babies) was weight gain. Whatever. I had never been able to gain weight before, so I wasn't worried about it. (Seriously...when my 4th child was born, I tried to KEEP all of my baby weight!) SICK...I know...and I'm sorry.

So I gained about 10 about 2 months. Fine. That was good. Now I could shop in the normal stores. BUT...since Jacob died, I have increased my weight by about, ummmm, well, A LOT!!! And unfortunately, that weight gain, combined with my terrible skin tone (a gift from my mother) has caused quite the jello belly.

(Side note...the skin tone thing...evidently this is a curse from my mother's side of the family. Not only are we stark white in color...I don't tan...I bleach...but we have dimple skin, no matter what our weight. I once weighed 107 lbs and had cellulite that should have been on an 80 year old woman's body! I wish I were exaggerating here.)

So, as I sit with my homeschool mom friends one Wednesday morning, the subject of jello belly/muffin tops came up. See, I hang with a group of gals who have all had at least 3 children. It's where I feel most comfortable. :) They also battle this fierce jello problem. Evidently, they had a secret I wasn't aware of. SPANKS. So they explained the idea, explicitly. I was told where to buy them, how to wear them, etc so that I would no longer have to deal with the jello belly that had become my nemesis when trying to put on a pair of jeans!

I did it. I faced the jello beast that had become my belly and I bought the "extra firm control" pair of fake Spanks. (I was told they were just as good.) I couldn't WAIT to get home. As I was driving home, eating my bag of M&M's and drinking my Pepsi, I had glorious pictures of a once flat tummy returning to me. I almost couldn't eat the whole bag of M&M's! (But I did.)

I got home, snuck my fake Spanks into the bathroom so I could take them for a spin! But wait. Where are those instructions??? Yes, I put them on correctly. But this is not the look I was going for!

Instead of my fake Spanks flattening my oh so jello belly, the muffin roll moved. Yes, my tummy was indeed flat, my jeans were loose even, but now I had this roll sitting right under my, err, breasts. WHAT????? Now I needed TWO bras!

My belly looked fabulous, but that extra bulge in the sweater?? Not so much. And then I tried to sit down. I truly believe that the fat roll was cutting off my oxygen supply. I almost couldn't get out of those fake Spanks before I passed out from lack of air! I looked again at the instructions...there was no warning label. There should always be warning labels on dangerous fake Spanks.

So, I have decided to embrace the jello belly that is mine. I am a 37 year old mother of 7. I worked hard for this jello belly. My husband loves me anyway, so I guess I should work on the inside and not worry so much about the outside. my friend reminded me last night...everybody loves jello!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Getting To Know You!!

I am kind of a blog stalker. I read many, but post very seldomly...unless I know you well. But I came across this new blog (well, new to me blog) and she had a great idea. We bloggers are all about the followers! We want lots! This is a fun way to get to know some other fabulous bloggers. Here's how it works:

1: Click on the Getting To Know You Button on my's at the top right.

2: This will take you to Dancing Barefoot...then leave a comment about your blog. Tell what you write about and what type of blog you have. (She has great instructions for you.)

3: Grab the Getting To Know You button and place it on your sidebar. That way we know you are a participant.

4: Every Wednesday, Lynette at will feature a new blog. If you get featured, she will post about your blog and link to you.

Here's a tip: If you comment on a featured blog, you are entered into a monthly drawing!

Sounds good to me!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Emma Claire...the sequel

That's what this feels like. When I look back, I feel like when we left the hospital in August WITHOUT Emma in her little carrier with the carseat cover I made for her (you know the one with the matching diaper bag, burp rag, and going home outfit that all matched because I am anal like that???) it was the end of a movie. One of those movies that kind of leaves itself open to a sequel. Of course, I had no idea if/what/when/how/where/why this sequel would be written. And now we are living out the sequel.

I told "R" (Emma's cousin who has her) last night that it feels like she is the one giving Emma up and I am adopting from her. I keep getting these thoughts and feelings like I had when I was waiting for "E" to give birth to Emma. Although, I do have to say that "R" is MUCH less stressful than "E" because she is NOT a crazy drug addict! And as my mom said, for some reason, Emma and probably "R", too, needed these past 6 months together. If we had taken Emma home in August, it is extremely likely that she would have never known her family, her history, her past. "R" is here to make sure that doesn't happen and for that I am extremely greatful. I will have to tell you more about "R" one day, if she approves, as I think you will love her the way we are starting to.

At this point, for all intents and purposes, Emma is HER baby. (Minus the DHS involvement!) She is making an extremely difficult decision to do what she feels God is telling her to do. Give Emma to us. Please keep her and her fiance in your prayers as this new story unfolds. (AND she is going to teach me how to fix Emma's hair! WOOHOO!!) I will share more of the details of little things like how she just could never make herself erase my phone number. ("E" had called me one time from her phone.) It's one of those little details that God orchestrates that we would miss if we aren't looking for His hand in our everyday lives.

I read this quote in the Bible study I am teaching at our church: "If I knew everything God knew, and had His heart, I would allow what God allows." Wow. That means even the really bad stuff. The terrible things that happen, like when your two year old gets caught between the dresser and the bed and dies in your home.

So, even though I know that God is in control, my flesh continues to question and worry. I know, someone should put me in time out! "R" and I only know each other through email and phone conversations. She only has my word telling her we are going to take care of and love Emma. I only have her word that she is going to let us do that. But, I also have the promises and the fleeces that I sent out and God answered!

Last night as I was doing my Bible study, I was really enjoying it and God was showing me many things. But it hit me, "God, you haven't said anything to me about Emma and what is going on with her." As I am flipping through Hebrews, looking up a verse that had NOTHING to do with Emma, there is a verse on a page that literally jumped out at me. Yes, like in the movies when the print jumps off the that!! And here is what God said to me:

The Certainty of God's Promise
"When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying 'I will surely bless you and give you many descendents." And, so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." Hebrews 6:13-15

God promised Emma. Last night, I was talking to my mom about all that has happened. If Emma had come home with us from the hospital, like I had planned, then God's promise to me would have been fulfilled. He would have received all the glory, all the praise, it still would have been His answer to my prayers. But as I told my mom last night, God is a showoff. And please don't get me wrong. I mean absolutely NO disrespect by what I just said. But as I think about it and all that has happened in my heart since we lost Emma, isn't it just so GOD to present us with the unimaginable?? Bringing Emma home from the hospital wasn't really a big deal. People adopt and bring their babies home all the time. But to get her after 6-7 months? THAT is GOD!!!

I leave you with a verse God has given me from the beginning of His promise of a baby to me...

"Look at the nations and watch, be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days, that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakuk 1:5

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Yet I am confident....

...that I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

This is the verse that God spoke to me on August 5, 2009, the day after we came home from the hospital WITHOUT Emma Claire.....

Last week, we had an ice storm. That left us stuck at home for MANY days in a row. My normal "stuck at home" activities would be to clean out a closet or bedroom or something like that. You know you aren't going anywhere, therefore, you know you can stay on task! Instead, I rediscovered my love of digital scrapbooking. I started digi-scrapping about the time we started doing foster care. It served two purposes. Much easier to get in and out and I needed the closet space that all of my scrapbooking supplies were occupying! So I began. I collected the digi papers and elements and learned the program well. And then Jacob died.

Only recently have I TRULY begun to feel like the old me. I decided it was time to organize my scrapbooking stuff...on my laptop! I had experienced a hard drive crash since I last used the program, so I had to reinstall 4000 papers and elements. It took me 2 days sitting in the recliner, while watching "What Not To Wear" and "Cake Boss". (It was that or the psycho weathermen talking about the "liquid rain"...not sure what other kind of rain possibilities there are, but whatever.)

And then the creativity began. I decided to move from the most recent pics and go backward. I was doing well, but pictures of Emma kept popping up. I was actually tired of looking at them, so I did a two page layout so I could delete the pics. I journaled about our hopes for her and God's plan, finished the page, and felt like I was closing that chapter, for good. It was nice to be mentally and emotionally able to do so in a way that I felt remembered Emma, but didn't dwell on her.

Today, I received a most unexpected phone call. "E's" cousin called me today asking if we had a baby yet. I told her that we did not. She asked if we would/could adopt Emma Claire. (That is what SHE called her...I found that interesting.) We talked some and she explained to me some very valid reasons as to why she would not be able to adopt Emma. She seems very sweet. Evidently, she was told that I was providing "E" with drugs and trying to buy/steal her baby. That is why the cousin stepped in and she said had she known the truth, she never would have taken Emma from us. I laughed because that is what "E" had told us about her cousin!

I don't know all the details of what might happen, but she asked me to please go to court with her on February 26. She plans on telling the judge that she will not be adopting and explaining the situation we had. We are considered a kinship, and our adoption homestudy is in the works, so having her placed with us should not be a problem. (They were willing to open us up as kinship when she was born.) We just need clarity and guidance.

"E's" cousin said that she had been praying really hard about what to do and God brought me to her mind. She feels He answered her prayer. As far as DHS is concerned, Emma is free for adoption. The judge is the same judge we had for Jacob. I feel like God has been moving in this all along. DUH!

Although I don't seem to do this often enough, I got home today and went straight to my Bible. I will leave you with a request to pray for us and the verse God spoke to me, again, today:

"Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14