I'm leavinnnggg on a jet plane....

This post is gonna be quick because I have last minute stuff to do before bed.

I am leaving tomorrow to head to South Africa.  I need all your thoughts and prayers.  I so wish I could tell you about my day and about how God has shown up over and over, but right now, there's no time.  I will write this all down during my 24 hours in the air (one way, that is) and then blog about it when I return home.

I want to thank those of you that sent me emails this week and today to say you were thinking of me and wondering how I was holding up.  You will never know how meaningful those were to me.  And if I said I was printing off your email to take with me, I wasn't joking.  It's in my backpack now.

And a special thanks to my girls in Bible Study tonight.  You are truly women of God and you get me through.  As Beth would say, "I'm crazy about you."  You are one of my most favorite things about Station Hill.

OK...I'm off...I won't have my cell on so don't bother texting.  I will notify Steve and a couple close friends when I touch down, so if you are so inclined, check with them.  I'm sure they'll be letting you know when I'm safely there.

See you in 2 weeks.

PS.  Don't forget to check out the BBC missions blog in the post below.  You might see me there!



Yesterday we had our last home study visit with our social worker.  This one was at our house.  It was very low key and if Jenna hadn't talked her ear off, it would have lasted just an hour.  The best part was right at the end when the social worker asked Jenna if she and Steve had any fun plans for the day (she was out of school) and she said "Well, we don't get along."  Um. GREAT.  Luckily, the social worker has children and knew Jenna didn't mean it that way.  And poor Jenna, we are never going to let her live it down.  :)

I'm about to sit down and finish a couple of financial worksheets and after that, I will only be lacking the 2 medical forms to have this part complete (at least as far as I'm concerned).  I am hoping to get those two things done early next week so that the social worker can be writing the homestudy while I'm in South Africa.  It might or might not happen, but I have decided I have to let it go if it doesn't.

I spent most of today packing and then tonight we went to an adoptive families picnic.  That was pretty cool...seeing all these families either going through or having already gone through exactly what we are.  I can't wait to bring our little girl home and have her play with all these children!

So that's it for today.  Lots more to do!


Easing back in...

One of the most common questions I have received this week is "How are you doing?"  And the most true answer (and the one I've used most frequently) is, "I'd be lying if I said I was fine.  At this point, I'm surviving."  Then I thought that "surviving" probably made me sound worse than I am.  That word conjurs up thoughts of someone lost, starving in the dessert or forest, living on just the minimum food and drink available to them.

So, I decided to look the word up in the dictionary.  Amazingly, here is the very first definition:  "to remain alive after the death of someone, the cessation of something, or the occurrence of some event; continue to live."  Another definition, "to get along or remain healthy, happy, and unaffected in spite of some occurrence."  And finally, simply...

To endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.)

I would say that all of the above apply.  Life moves on.  The day of the funeral, as the procession moved down the streets towards the cemetery, I watched as cars moved to the side of the road in respect and I wondered about the people in them.  Where are they going?  What are they doing?  While they are going on about life as they know it, do they realize how life was altered for the occupants of the vehicles in this line?

I have learned a lot about myself in the last few months.  A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine at church.  We attended the same university at the same time.  We even ran in the same crowd.  We HAD to know each other.  And while neither of us have a very clear recollection of each other, I realize much of my college life is lost to me.  I remember very little about those years.  While most folks have lifelong friends, happy memories and even spouses from college, I remember just vague bits and pieces from my time there.

My friend Stacey has often told me that while she and my other high school friends were living it up in school (like NORMAL people do!) that I had to grow up all too fast (losing my mother at 18).  And I think I'm realizing she is more right than I thought.  College was just another way of putting one foot in front of the other back then.   Another example is when I learned of my brother Danny's passing in June.  I recall exactly where I was and what I was doing when the call came (my poor work friends having to witness this), but everything immediately after that?  Gone.  I bet folks from work could remind me, but for me, the minutes and hours directly after the call came are gone.

And even as recently as Monday, I had lunch with my boss.  I remember going to lunch and remember bits and pieces of the conversation we had, but specifics (like how she invited me to dinner later in the week) are gone.  Even what I did that day at work (apparently not much) are gone.  I mentioned this to her tonight and she thinks it is all part of the shock and stress when sudden death touches you.  I can't say I disagree.

I went back to work yesterday because that's how I heal.  I try to go back to normal as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately for me, I had a complete "come apart" by 8:30am.  An ugly cry.  The kind where the tears start because of something ridiculously insignificant, rise to a fever pitch and then feel like they will NEVER. STOP.  I was instant messaging my friend Rachel asking her to pray because I honestly felt like I would never be able to get myself back together.  She must have done what I asked because a few minutes later, I managed to pull it together long enough to get to the all day presentation I had to do, which ended up serving as a brilliant distraction.

As a funny aside...I went into the bathroom immediately before presenting to put on my lipstick.  Looking in the mirror, I literally laughed out loud to see how ridiculous I was being.  Like lipstick could erase the hideous red, blotchy, swollen face staring back!  But I did it.  I put one foot in front of the other, remembered to breathe in and out and made it through the day.

Same thing today minus the meltdown, so progress is being made.  I had tentatively planned on tailgating with some of my most favorite people in the world, but I just could not do it.  I felt like I needed to socialize, but I just didn't feel like it.  Instead, I opted for quieter dinner with JG and my friend S.  I eased myself back into reality and socialization and it felt good.

As for me?

I will survive. 
I will be happy again.
I will live my life without regret.
I will continue to put one foot in front of the other.

I will.




Thanks to the wonderful work of the Design Girl (click her button below), I finally have a new look to my blog!  And it couldn't have come at a better time.  My new look makes me smile and right now, I need a little something to smile about.

Because I don't want to dwell on the sadness, I'm just going to take one paragraph to talk about the events of late.  The past two days were hard.  I've thought a lot about my brother, David.  I remember vividly thinking several years ago that I might die myself when he died.  I never would have thought it would have been this soon.  He was never serious.  I remember at my wedding, the photographer wanted to get a picture of him kissing me on the cheek and it just felt so unnatural because we never were that way with each other.  But we showed each other love in hundreds of other ways.  He was a giver.  And he couldn't have been any more excited when I got pregnant with Jenna.  I had probably 3 or 4 showers but at the end of them all, his gift to me was to buy everything, EVERYTHING, that wasn't already bought on my registry.  And from the day she came into the world, things were never the same.  He loved her and showed it in the same way he showed me.  We loved him best.  We loved him hard.  And now he's gone.  The only thing that makes this even a little bit bearable is that he is with his brother (my brother Dan who passed this June) and his mom (my mom who passed in 92) and his dad (who passed many years ago when David was only 2 years old).  They are a family again and somehow to me, that seems the way it should be.  But man am I going to miss him.  I don't know how life is going to be without him.  The world lost a grand man.  And I lost the best sibling I have ever had.

Guess that was a pretty long paragraph!  I could go on.  I have so much inside.  But some things just aren't meant to be shared.  I do appreciate all your thoughts, cards, calls, offers of help and prayers.

On a happier note, we have our final home study visit at our house this Friday.  We are very excited to be coming into the final stretch.  I almost had a come apart earlier this week.  I have worked SO HARD to get all this paperwork together before I leave for South Africa.  My philosophy was that the social worker could be writing up the home study while I was there.  But beginning of this week, things started falling apart.  Several references haven't responded yet (if this is you, RESPOND! LOL!), I haven't done the financial spreadsheets because I was waiting on something else that I haven't yet received and I had to cancel and reschedule my eye appointment which is what is holding up my doctor's letter.  Steve's doctor's letter isn't ready yet either and both need notaries which the doctor's offices do not have.  I finally had to just let it go and know that it just isn't going to get done when I wanted it to.  I am at the mercy of others and that is the way it's going to be with this process, so I might as well get used to it!  :)

Anyway, it's back to work for me tomorrow.  I have a pretty full day tomorrow and Friday.  Saturday will be spent in a mound of laundry and packing.  Then next Wednesday, I'm off to Cape Town!  I won't have access to the internet from there so I will have to journal and then post blogs when I return.

On our way home, this is what we saw...I felt like God made that just for me.



Sorry for the delay in posting these, but I just got them.

Arrangements for David P. Griesinger (pronounced ‘grease-singer’):

Visitation Tuesday, September 14 from 4-8pm
Funeral Wednesday, September 15 at 1pm, visitation prior to the funeral from 11-1.

Woodbine Funeral Home (the “old” one) 3620 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211-3250 (615) 832-1948.


A 1am Phone Call

It's never good when the phone rings at 1am.  This morning was no exception.  We had not been in bed long when the phone rang.  Steve, being closest, answered.  And the minute he spoke, I knew.

Last night about 11pm, my only surviving brother died of an apparent heart attack.

He was only 52 and he wasn't sick.  He had what everyone else has at about that age...high blood pressure and cholesterol, but other than that, he was fine.  What I know at this point, is my sister in law heard him up (she'd already gone to bed) and thought he was sick at his stomach.  When she made it to the hall, he was there on the floor.  She called 9-1-1 and gave him CPR, but he could never be revived. 

My comment to Steve last night was "God must think I'm some kind of a super woman to be able to withstand all that's happened and now this".  To be honest, I wasn't sure how God and I were going to get along going forward.

I know that makes some of you that know me cringe.  But after 4 family deaths in the past 20 months, the last 3 of them MY family, I just honestly was not sure how much I could take. 

My 2nd comment to Steve was a question... "What am I supposed to do now?"  He told me that I didn't have to go to church in the morning.  To just try and get some rest and he would take Jenna and I could rest.

But I couldn't.  I serve in the nursery at 9:30 and I look forward to seeing those babies.  And I wasn't in the frame of mind to sit at home.  I needed to go.  I thought maybe God and I needed to have a chat.  So I got up and went to church. And those sweet babies were my respite in a storm of emotion for 90 minutes. Rather than dwelling on my loss, I gave what little I had to love on those babies.  And  they gave me peace in return.

In service, I listened to the music.  It was good, but quite honestly, I was feeling stoic.  I wasn't sure I was in the mood to worship.  God had taken from me yet one more thing that I loved.  And then came this song...these words...

As morning dawns and evening fades
You inspire songs of praise
That rise from earth to touch Your heart and glorify Your Name

Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder
'Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your Name

Jesus, in Your Name we pray
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You and glorify Your Name

Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder
'Cause nothing has the power to save but Your Name

And as that song was sang, I did.  I called on His name.  I called Him to come be with me because I know without a doubt, I cannot do this again.  I cannot let go of something I love.  And I felt Him.  I felt His peace.  I watched those on the stage singing and those around me worshipping and I felt like I was anchored in the midst of the storm.

As the tears flowed...tears of sadness, tears of grief, tears of gratefulness...my friend Rachel reached out her hand to mine and I felt like I'd had a cold drink of water.  These are the people that love me.  These are the friends that grieve with me.  This is the family that even though they might not know what I was going through at the moment, loved me through words, hugs and gentle conversation. 

These are the hands and feet of Christ.  Living and active in my life.  Right.  Now.  And I cannot thank God enough for them.  I will need their prayers and support.  And they will be there to give it in a variety of ways.

This, my friends, is what Church is about.  I'm grateful to be part of the people known as The Church at Station Hill.

Arrangements will be forthcoming, but until then, I covet your prayers.


Click here...

I know a bunch of folks (including myself), read blogs using something like Google Reader so you never really get to see what other people's blogs actually look like.  If you are one of these people, please click over to my actual blog and take a look.

Yes, there's a reason I'm asking you to do that...I'm about to make some big changes to the blog and I can't get your opinion about the NEW look if you don't know what the OLD look was like!


Happy Labor Day!

For those of you non-locals, the weather in Nashville this weekend has been WONDERFUL!   We have had so many sweltering hot days that this 70-80 degree was absolutely marvelous!

Friday, the SVP at work gave us all the go-ahead to start the weekend early about 2pm.  My friend, Katelyn and I made a quick run out to Hendersonville to our boss Sherri's house to "shop" in her closet.  Sherri and I wear about the same size clothing but she has MUCH better taste than I do!  If you see me in a really cute outfit, that's because I got it from her stash!  Katelyn is lucky enough to wear the same size shoe so she went and got a couple pairs of shoes.  After I went through the clothes and Katelyn went through the shoes, I loaded up the "discards".  The last spring cleaning Sherri did went into our yardsale.  This time, I think I might do an upscale consignment. It's a win-win because I take all the stuff off her hands and then I get the benefit from selling it.  Seeing that I'm going to need to do some fundraising for the adoption, I might try the consignment route.  These clothes are not K-Mart special clothes either...they are NICE clothes.  And I found quickly that they didn't bring a tiny fraction of what they were worth in a yard sale.  If you know of a good, high end consignment store in the area, tell me about it!

Jenna had a school activity on Friday night until 10pm, so I met Steve for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in town (moment of silence for it is closing in a few weeks) and then I went back to work to play catch-up until time to get JG.  Since vacation, I have had a hard time getting motivated to work which has really put me behind.  I made some good headway Friday night.

Saturday was just a day to hang out.  We did some window-shopping at Best Buy for me a new laptop (which we did NOT purchase) and then to Kroger Marketplace where we purchased the new mini-couch that will go in our bonus room when we redo the rooms for our new daughter.  I can't wait to get those all set up.  Pictures to come!  Saturday night, Steve sat with our elderly friend and JG and I went to hang out around the firepit with our friends the Moores.  It was a great time and the company was excellent considering we would have been sitting home alone.

Sunday was chock full of church activites.  I only had 2 sweet babies in the nursery, most likely due to the holiday.  I had 2 meetings set for after church, but both canceled, so I got to finish laundry and hang out at home.  Steve was so jealous of the firepit fun we had with the Moores, that we set up our own pit and had some hotdogs for the second night in a row!  Jenna and I went and got pedicures and then some ice cream.  She told me several times, "This is the best day EVER!"...she apparently has her expectations set VERY low (there's a deep lesson in there somewhere...)

Today, Steve and JG went and sat with our elderly friend again and I went to work.  Yeah, you heard me...I spent most of the day at work...playing catch up and trying to save my days off for when I return from South Africa.  I tell you...in the hours I was there today, I knocked out a TON of stuff.  I feel so good about where I ended up.  I'm sure that will be short lived, but I'm enjoying it for now.

After we all got back home, here is what our evening looked like in pictures...

Yum!  I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day weekend as much as we did ours!


A little time to brag (and yes, an adoption update!)

So, I thought it was time for an update, but first, I want to take time to brag on my girl.  At school, they have been "leveling" each student on their reading.  Over the summer, the librarian and teachers went through the entire library and "leveled" every book.  So basically each book is assigned a color, associated number and points based on how hard the book is.  This year the first order of business for all the teachers was to test their students' reading abilities to be able to determine which colored level they are on.

Let me just caveat this by saying for those of you who don't know me, I am a HUGE reader.  There are two things that I love doing (outside spending time with my family) that very few things trump.  That is reading and scrapbooking.  Last year, I averaged a book every 10-15 days.  I was a reading machine.  The one thing I wanted for Jenna was for her to love to read as much as I did.  Not only because I love to read and that's something we can share, but because I believe the primary building block to a good student and school career is to be a good reader.  I think so many people who hate reading never really learned to read well.  When you struggle with something, it's hard to like it.  For me, I struggled with math.  So I hated math (still do, but don't tell Jenna).  Anyway, I really wanted JG to like to read and to read well.  I have read to Jenna since she was a newborn.  I remember rocking her, when she was just a few weeks old, at night and reading CS Lewis' The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I know it's not really a newborn book, but it was an excuse for me to read too!  Anyway, I digress.

Wednesday, her folder with her work from school came home.  In it was a report on how she was leveled for reading...Here's how it starts..."Grade Equivalent (GE): 5.3 Grade equivalent scores range from 0.0 to12.9+.  A GE score shows how your child's test performance compares with that of other students nationally.  Based on the national norms, Jenna reads at a level equal to that of a typical fifth grader after the third month of the school year."  DID YOU GET THAT!?  My 3rd grade girl reads like a 5th grader!!!!!  Be still my heart.  When I read that, I thought my heart would explode.  I am so proud!  Her %ile rank is 91.  That means Jenna reads at a level greater than 91% of students nationally in the same grade.  OK, thank you for indulging me in bragging on my sweet baby girl for a minute. 

In other school goings on...One of the stories Jenna's class was reading this week was about a therapy dog.  Jenna's teacher thought it might be fun to have Steve come and bring Katie and talk about his service dog.  On Wednesday, the entire 3rd grade gathered in the gym and listened to Steve talk about Katie.  I wish I had gone and taken pictures because from the stories, it was great fun.  Steve demonstrated many of Katie's tricks such as "tap" and "hide and seek".  Hide and seek is our favorite because you run hide and Steve tells Katie to "find Jenna" and she will come find you.  This is helpful if Steve happens to get sick in the house somewhere and Katie can then take Jenna or I to him (not that we have such a big house we couldn't just find him ourselves!)  As a thank you, the class all wrote letters to Steve and I just had to post a couple of them here.  This one is my favorite:

"Dear Mr. Taylor, Thanks so much for coming!  I never have known that dogs can do that.  All my dog can do is sit and lay down.  Hank."  I mean, how stinkin' funny cute is that?! 

Here's one from Jenna's bestie, Annabelle:

"Dear Mr. Taylor, Thank you so much for coming to us and telling us what Katie's Job is.  My favorite part was when you told her find Jenna and I'm so glad that you came.  From, Annabelle."  That is the sweetest thing I have ever read.  But I would have expected nothing less from Annabelle.

Now for an adoption update...I had quite the enjoyable lunch earlier this week with a new friend I made who is also adopting from China's Special Needs program in a sister agency.  It was so refreshing to have someone to talk to who is going through this crazy process too!  Thank Rachel!  Let's do that again soon!

Earlier this week, I had my one on one home study with our social worker.  It felt a little like being in the psychiatrist's office.  But you know me...I'm an open book, so that was right up my alley.  I finally got my newly issued birth and marriage certificates (because they have to be reissued in the 12 month period in which you submit your dossier to China) so that is a huge load off.  We have several more visits before we are ready to call the home study done.  Then the dossier happens.  Holy cow.

One of the things we are required to do as part of our home study is read (GLORY!) 3 required books and 2 books each (2 for me, 2 for Steve) of our choice, from a list.  So, I have ordered several from Amazon and one from the library.  Here are a couple of them that have already come.
You see that one about Lifebooks?  Mmmhmmm...those are my two loves together...scrapbooking and reading.  Lifebooks are basically scrapbooks for adopted children.  I can't wait to dig into it.

One more thing and then I'm going to try and get in bed before too late.  This is a big prayer request that I hope those of you who know us can understand.  We have confirmed what we thought all along.  It is not going to be possible for Katie to travel to China when we go to pick up our daughter.  First of all, the flight is a super-long one for an animal to take.  It would require us to deprive her of both food and drink for at least one entire day before we leave.  And once you leave the US, you are no longer covered by the ADA.  To take her to China would require a total of 30 day quarantine upon entering the country.  So we'd have to be in China for 6 weeks.  NOT GONNA HAPPEN.  Not even if we had the money.  So now, we are left with two choices; find someone to keep Katie or Steve doesn't travel.

Each of these are big deals.  I don't worry about Katie losing her training while Steve's gone.  What I worry about is the fact this dog has NEVER been away from Steve longer than 15 minutes since they were partnered.  I am concerned that Katie might worry herself to death if we all left and left her with a stranger.  We'd have to basically have someone who could come stay with her at our house and take her everywhere with them.  Obviously not something that would be easy to find.  Or Steve can stay here while I travel.  While this is not ideal, it happens all the time.  I wouldn't travel alone though.  Someone in the family would go with me.  I've had several volunteers already.  :)  But obviously, that's not idea either as Steve would be missing out on one of the biggest events of our lives.  Can I ask you to pray about that?  I feel like we are in a "lesser of two evils" situation.  What I know is that this has been ordained by God and whatever is meant to be will work out.  But the stress of thinking about it in the meantime is hard.

Well, I'm off.  Got some bloggy reading to do and then off to bed because TGIF!  I promise that FAQ is coming soon...just need some time to get it all down for you.