Though my jeans still fit…

  Can we all just pretend I have a hugely pregnant belly right now and thus be excused from focussing on anything except the planning, preparation and anticipation of meeting my son? Cuz this little guy is always on my mind, and I mean always. 

As I do a puzzle with Jeremy I wonder what Matthew plays with. As I make an after school snack I wonder what he likes to eat. As I tuck my babies in at night I wonder if he’s hearing a lullaby, if anyone prays over him as he drifts off to sleep half a world away. 

A mothers worry and wonder begin long before her child is in her arms – ask any “expectant” mom (pregnant or waiting). Surely I can’t be expected to remember to sign home reading folders, make sure theory homework is done, or remember when I last washed the kids sheets because I’m kind of parenting in two places right now. And it’s kind of a lot, to have your heart stretched so thin. 

So please excuse my scatter-brained, fully distracted and inward-focussed self these days. It might be more obvious if I was waddling, but remember that I am expecting too. And though I don’t have the usual physical symptoms – sore hips and heartburn, this time I have a whole lot more heartache. 

God provides

Nearly two years ago we began this adoption journey with a clear call from God and a couple thousand dollars in the bank. We’d been saving for a 10th anniversary getaway when we decided instead that it was time for us to officially move forward with our plans to adopt.

Our savings covered about half of the first big bill that is payable upon registering with an adoption agency. With incredible family support we paid that first big bill, realizing then, at the very beginning, two very important things. 1. On this journey we would need to trust God more than we had ever before in our lives. 2. Our family and friends are very generous and supportive and also deeply value adoption.

Since then, we have seen God provide for the weighty financial cost of an international adoption through a wide myriad of places and people. He’s provided through fundraisers, through my cake decorating business, through extra teaching jobs for Steve, through our ability to tuck savings aside even in busy seasons of life, through Adoption Jewelry sales, through very generous support from our family and church family, even through anonymous envelopes of cash left in our mailbox. Every little bit has added up as we’ve worked hard and made many sacrifices. Sometimes we scratch our heads and wonder where it all came from.

It’s been such a roller coaster journey, both emotionally and financially, but we can clearly see the faithful hand of God through it all. Each time we’ve had a monster bill looming, we’ve always been able to pay it. Even when a week before it was due we were hundreds or even thousands short. God has always provided just what we need just when we need it.

Because we have the privilege of walking this journey with so many of you standing with us, supporting us, praying and cheering us on, I want to tell you these things. I want to tell you the stories of how God has been faithful. I want to write them down so Matthew can read them someday. Because how could I not?

At the beginning of December we knew we’d have a hefty final bill to pay for all in country costs (A large donation to cover Matthew’s care, court fees, document fees, admin fees, passport fees, government fees etc.) Unfortunately this bill was in US funds so we knew we’d have to budget for even more (thank you tanking loonie!).  A month ago we had about half of what we needed. I launched more Adoption Jewelry items and nearly sold out. We received some incredibly generous donations from families at church, and relatives in Ontario. And oddly enough, we were able to personally save much more than anticipated over the busy and often expensive Christmas season and tuck extra money aside as well.

When I did the math last weekend, I calculated that we were only about $480 short of what we would need to pay this bill. Amazing! So as I got ready for church I asked God to provide that $480, somehow. (Not I’m usually one for praying specific, bold prayers like that. My faith is weak and I’m such a doubter. But I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “God, we’re so close. Please help.”) And at about that same time someone at church handed Steve what looked like a Christmas card. When he later opened it, he found a cheque for $500 inside. God provided just what we needed just when we needed it!

So when Steve went to pay this final bill this week, with the exchange rate that day as well as some added bank transfer fees for wiring money that we weren’t counting on, the teller said he was about $50 short. He went to his car to head over to our regular bank (our no-fee adoption savings account is at a different bank than our regular banking) to go and get $50 from there when he noticed a $50 bill in his wallet. A few days prior he’d left our van with $40 cash inside for a friend to take it to his mechanic friend to fix the rock chip in our windshield. When he got it back the “change” was a $50. Interesting business model! The friend had laughed it off and said to just keep the change. Steve rushed back into the bank and used that $50 bill to pay the bill in full and wire the money to Africa. Our adoption savings bank account balance after that? $0.74! God provided just what we needed, just when we needed it! With $0.74 to spare!

So what’s left? Just travel expenses. That’s it! We’re paid in full to both our agency and the orphanage and it feels fantastic! And by his grace we are completely debt-free. We’ve some travel points saved up that we can redeem for part of the cost of our flights, and we’ve a few thousand dollars generously donated for these costs on our fundrazer site  For two round trip and one one-way tickets to West Africa and back, for accommodations and food and travel costs, we’re now only about $3,000 from being fully funded for Matthew’s entire adoption process.We are so close!

(Update, as I’m typing this blog post I got a notification that someone has just anonymously donated $150 to our fundrazer page…seriously, God has amazing timing! He is so faithful!)

Thank you so much to everyone who has so generously given to help bring Matthew home. Thank you for being obedient to God’s nudging. Thank you for being tangible proof that our God will provide for every step of this journey that he has called us to. Thank you for financially believing in the importance of adoption.To everyone who has ever supported us financially, we’ve written your name on this suitcase as a reminder to him someday of all the amazing people who already care about our son. We are so humbled and thankful for each one of you.

Sincerely,

Steve & Melissa, Noah, Eva, Jeremy & Matthew

 

 

Over the holidays we received a wonderful gift: two videos of our son. Here are the kids watching their little brother running and playing with a soccer ball. He’s pretty cute! While we can’t post pictures of him online yet, we’re always happy to show you pics in person – just ask!

Merry Christmas Matthew

Half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire

And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home

Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone

And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms

And tell you from my heart I wish you a Merry Christmas

The day we saw your face

IT’S A BOY! This week we accepted a referral for a two year little boy from West Africa. He will join our family in the coming months. We are over-the-moon excited! Here’s how it happened…

Dear Son,

Today, while pacing in your daddy’s office, hitting the refresh button every 3.67 seconds, we anxiously awaited an email that would finally provide us with a glimpse of you. Just as we waited during the long labours of your siblings, we waited, perhaps with even more anticipation and excitement (as this was a much longer wait!) to finally “meet” you today. While I don’t remember every detail, I remember certain moments of the days when I met your brothers and sister, and I know I’ll want to remember moments of this special day too.

We didn’t actually know it would be today – but we did know it would be soon. Just like the days when I met your siblings. At breakfast this morning, your daddy said to me, “Well, we won’t hear anything today so I guess I should get some work done while I can.” I made plans to keep busy and distracted by running errands with your big brother Jeremy, never imagining that everything would change a few hours later.

After dropping Noah and Eva off at school, Jeremy and I FullSizeRenderheaded to Richmond. We shared a hot chocolate at Starbucks and chatted with your great Aunt whom we met up with there. Then Jer and I perused IKEA, buying slipcovers for the new-to-us chairs I’d recently gotten for a bargain. (Your mommy loves finding a good deal!)

Batman and I had noodles for lunch at IKEA (your big brother’s all time favorite) and I checked my email every few minutes just in case there was any news about you.IMG_9905

It was a gloomy day as we drove home in the rain, splashing through puddles with the windshield wipers working hard. As I pulled into Tsawwassen, my phone, amplified by the cupholder it was sitting in started playing Ella Fitzgerald’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. I glanced over to see that the caller ID said that “Office” was calling. Your mommy is a stickler about not touching phones while driving so while pondering over who “Office” could be Ella finished her little song and the phone went to voicemail. While navigating through the continual construction and constantly changing lanes I wondered if it was maybe your daddy calling from the church office with news. So as soon as I got past the last of the pylons and raincoat-clad construction workers I pulled over to the side of the road on 16th Ave. and picked up my phone.

There was a voicemail message so I went through the steps of calling my voicemail and pushing in the passcode, impatiently wading through the Telus woman’s voice prompts. The voicemail was simply a hangup click. Unhelpful. So I checked the number of who had called and under the large “office” caller ID it said in a tiny font, “Choices Adoption Agency”. Insert PANIC!

I called them back, my heart pounding, and Jeremy wondering why we had stopped a few blocks from home. The receptionist took a few minutes to sort out who had just called me and I waited on hold trying not to hyperventilate, praying this was the call we’d been waiting for. She came back to say that the social worker who’d called me was currently on the phone and would I like to wait on hold. In a flash I realized that she’d likely called your daddy after not reaching me, so I hung up, tossed the phone down and drove the few blocks to the church office (Admittedly the first time I’ve ever been tempted to speed through that 30km/hr school zone!)

I’d barely thrown the van into park before ripping out the keys. The automatic sliding door of our van had never seemed slower to me as I pried your brother from his carseat straps, tossed him over my shoulder and ran into the church. Bursting into your daddy’s office he greeted me with raised eyebrows and a finger to his lips. He was on the phone.

Before he could change the call to speakerphone I glanced over his shoulder to read his handscrawled notes. Sheer determination and the grace of God allowed me to read your father’s hurried and excited handwriting, which is difficult on the best of days, and I saw at the top of the page “boy, 2 years old” and your name, and it took my breath away.

As we finished up the rest of the call with a mix of fist-pumping, hugs, and tears, your bewildered brother watched his elated parents with confusion and amusement. We hung up with the social worker awaiting her promise to email pictures immediately. After about three and a half gruelling minutes and at least 3,000 refresh clicks, an email popped up with your name in the subject line, and your sweet face as a photo attachment.

We’ve fallen head over heels for you, my son, and long for the day when we can look into your beautiful brown eyes and cup your sweet little face in our hands. We have waited, prayed, longed and ached for you, sweet boy, and just getting a glimpse of you today has already made it all worthwhile. Now to just get you home! We love you already, and for always, and will look back on this special day with thankful joy and full hearts.

with love,

Mommy

Beach Days

It’s been a lovely lazy summer so far around here. Lots of swimming, soccer and sandcastles.

We live in a town that is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, so the beach is just a few minutes away, and a place we frequent often. The tides here are very dramatic, and when it’s out, there is so much more beach to explore. Each low tide offers new things to see or find. Sometimes we see lots of crabs. Last week we found tons of jellyfish trapped in tidal pools. Occasionally we find sand dollars. And then the tide creeps in, quickly, shallow warm water covering the sun-baked sand. Sometimes we race it to shore.

In our family, we all love playing around with cameras, (the kids have been making stop-motion lego movies non-stop!) so naturally we filmed a time-lapse stop motion video of a recent family trip to the beach.

You should know that this video is an exact representation of every Kroeker fam beach trip. This is literally what we do every time we go. Steve builds a hugemongous castle, the kids help play, and I sit on a chair and read a book the whole time, and we all watch the tide destroy the castle. It’s glorious.

We can’t wait to bring our little one, currently living on the coast of the Atlantic, home to our place on the edge of the Pacific, and introduce them to all the wonders of our beach.

Enjoy!

End of an Era

It’s hard to believe that today is the last full day of school for the year. It’s been a pretty awesome year. Noah and Eva are in school full time and have both had incredible teachers, great friends and have loved school. And Jeremy and I have had a pretty amazing time. I knew back in September that this would be a good season, and it didn’t disappoint! After many really challenging years with three kiddos so close in age and at home with them all the time, this year has been a bit of a mommy sabbath year – a lighter year, a bit of a break in a way from the hard stuff, before the hard stuff comes again.

Jeremy is my little buddy. He’s quite outgoing and friendly, and one of his favorite activities is grocery shopping! (I asked him last night what special thing he wanted to do today as our last regular day home just the two of us and he said with a grin, “well…do you need any groceries?”) We’ve had such a fun year going swimming, bike riding, playing at the park, meeting up with friends, and of course, lots of shopping and errends!

I’m excited to have more time with Noah and Eva soon as we get to spend all our days together this summer, and three cheers for not packing lunches or hunting down lost library books anymore, but I’m a tiny bit sad that this sweet and simple school year with concentrated one on one time with Jer is coming to and end.

These really are the days…

Here’s a little video to make you smile. This is our special song and while I sang it to him for years, he now sings it to me most nights. I finally remembered to capture his little voice and sweet smile on video. Enjoy!

A Non-update

It’s been a while…And I’m afraid I have nothing to report.

I’ve started to write a post in my head many times but I just can’t think of anything positive and exciting to say.

We are waiting. We’ve been waiting. We will continue to wait.

We are so tired of waiting.

What’s more, is that there’s a child waiting for us. Living in an orphanage. Growing older each day. We are missing out on precious days with him or her because of the many months it takes two governments to approve a few papers. We thought that we’d be getting closer to making travel plans by this summer, and now we know we’ll be lucky to travel by Christmas.

Please pray for patience and strength that can only come from the Lord as we wait. Please pray that we would wait well. Pray these papers get processed quickly. Pray that things get smoothed out and that the process picks up again soon.

Another prayer request that’s been on my heart for some time now is for a new Grandma or Auntie to become a part of our family and invest in our kids. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and in our immediate proximity we have a very small village. My entire family lives in Ontario and while we’re thankful that Steve’s parents live about half an hour away, we have no aunts, uncles or cousins close by, no other grandparents or other people intentionally investing in our kids, and it’s really hard.

A year or so after we moved here when I had a one year old and a two year old, a very sweet woman in our church who I hardly knew at all, asked me if she might come over one morning a week and help me out however I needed help, to do housework or watch my kiddos so I could run errends or grab a few minutes to myself over a cup of coffee. What seemed like a simple little offer was an absolute Godsend at a time in my life when I desperately needed it.

Over time her Thursday mornings developed into a deep bond where she both adopted us as her family and we adopted her as Oma. Five years later she comes to our birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas day gift openings and she babysits often. She’s folded my laundry and swept my floors and read a thousand books to my kids. And she’s finally welcoming her first grandbaby, and, as amazing as she is, she’s quitting her job and moving several hours away to be near her son and daughter in law to help them out with their baby.

We are SO sad to be losing our Oma, but are so excited for her and her lucky new grandbaby to come. So, simply, we are praying for a new Oma to come into our lives. Someone who will love on our family, especially our new little one. To be a practical hands-on support when we need it. To be yet another person welcoming our little one home, another person to love him or her.

Thanks for your prayers friends.

Mother’s Day Fundraiser Results

Our Mother’s Day Lollycakes fundraiser was a huge success!

cake

cake boxes

 A big THANK YOU to everyone who ordered cakes, bought jewelry, and so generously donated.

jewelry table 2 jewelry table 3

              A massive thanks to those who made it all possible, a friend of a friend who made the cute cards, the lovely lady in our church who donated candles and huge bouquets of flowers and vases,

candlesflowers

and to my dear friend and fellow baker Julieta who spent a couple evenings this week
making massive batches of buttercream for hours on end.

julietaThe results:

12 Cakes
16 bouquets of flowers
many pieces of jewelry, cards and candles….

and

$1,180 raised today to help bring home baby Kroeker!!!

Thanks for your support everyone!

Mother’s Day Fundraiser

mothers-day2

This Mother’s Day, treat your Mom and help bring our little one home from Africa
with a Lollycakes Adoption Fundraiser gift package!

This package includes:
a buttercream rose cake, (serves 8-10)
a handcrafted Mother’s Day card (blank inside)
and a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers.

Reserve your order by emailing lollycakes@mail.com by May 3.
(Last minute orders cannot be accepted!)
Suggested package donation: $50

Customize your cake and filling:

Your choice of chocolate or vanilla cake
with one of the following fillings:
vanilla buttercream
fresh strawberry buttercream, 
coconut cream buttercream,
Swiss almond buttercream,
or chocolate chip cookie dough

Cakes are finished in white buttercream roses and come neatly packaged in a cake box, ready to bring to Mom’s.
Pick up your order in Tsawwassen on Saturday May 9th between 10am-6pm.
Email lollycakes@mail.com by May 3rd to reserve your order!

ABBA Canada Grant

Hello, dear friends. We are so excited to announce that we have received a grant for our adoption through ABBA Canada.  They are graciously giving us $3500 which should mostly cover our final agency bill which will be coming up very soon. (Due as we accept our child’s proposal) We are so thrilled to partner with this amazing organization. Check them out!

We hope to write a detailed financial update post soon to let you know exactly where we’re at. We can tell you that God has provided just over $20,000 so far! We just have 1 final invoice from the orphanage itself coming up and our travel costs left. We are getting closer! In addition to the jewelry I’m currently selling, we’re gearing up for a big Lollycakes fundraiser for Mother’s Day.

Praise God for his continued provision! Please stay tuned for more info to come!kroekerfam

And Happy Easter from the Kroeker fam!