Tuesday, November 29, 2011


"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

It has been a rough week, maybe even a rough month, I see that I've hardly found the chance to blog during the month of November, which is a sure sign of hectic days (and maybe a sign of having to divide computer time between blogger and facebook now :).  This month God has been working on me, producing hope, and while it's painful, it's also wonderful.  Today my heart aches mainly from being too full and I am seeing God more clearly.

We went to San Antonio for Thanksgiving last Tuesday, and were happy to have the opportunity to spend time with family, finalize Chloe's adoption (blog to come!), and eat some turkey.  And while the week started off as I would have pictured, Kylynn came down with a stomach bug Thursday night and Jack Friday afternoon.

From Thursday on my days have been filled with scrubbing, and laundry, and strangely looking around and finding so very much to be thankful for.  Here's a little bit of what I recorded during those days:

*Clean sheets to replace the dirty ones
*Help from Nana in keeping up with all that needed to be done
*A peaceful drive home, where the kids mainly slept and the only incident of sickness was in a gas station!
*Christmas movies on youtube, one after another after another
*A husband who lets me sleep in till 9:30!! while he decorates the house for Christmas, even though he is just as sleep deprived as me
*A father who happily goes to the store, again!, to get what the sick ones want
*A grandma's message checking on this kiddos
*A text from a friend asking what she could get for us; remembering God has filled our lives with people who want to love us in tangible ways
*A great washing machine!
*Medicine that stops throwing up
*Chloe, Kyle and I remaining well the whole time

On Monday, I was feeling pretty good, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I was learning how to be content in all things (I love how Paul says he has learned, that this skill is something that needs to be learned).  So that afternoon I called the IRS to make sure they had received our latest fax, the one that I was sure would finally resolve this mess, they say to allow 5 to 10 days, it had been 12.  The fax had not been entered into the computer, and she informed me that on the 30th of this month the IRS will be mailing us a letter of deficiency.  Also known as the "90 day letter" it basically means that we can either pay up or choose to go to tax court regarding the issue at hand.  I started to cry while I was on the phone with the representative, I got myself together until I finished the conversation, and then had a nice cry.  I told God how angry I was with Him and this situation and how I just can't believe He hasn't stepped in and fixed this already.

Then He reminded me what He had taught me that morning, I had pulled out one of the follow up lessons from Kylynn's Sunday school and it had been reflecting on, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7   Do you know I've had that verse memorized for years, and every time I re-read it in the Bible I realize I've memorized it without, "with thanksgiving."  And I can tell you why, it's because that didn't make sense to me, how do I petition God, with thanksgiving?

Kylynn's worksheet said that when bad things happen we need to adjust our attitude, we must choose to be grateful and when we do we won't miss out on all the blessings God has given us.  I sat there crying about the IRS and God asked me to adjust my view and start telling him why I'm thankful and at first I couldn't think of much more than, I know the plans God has for me are for my good, I suddenly realized that I may be learning how to be content, but I've got a lot more learning to do!  The longer I tried to do what He asked of me the easier it got:

*God is in control of this situation
*All my money is God's and He will do with it what He wills
*Material things will not last the end of this world, it is meaningless
*I would sell everything I own to have my children
*An opportunity to have a "court date" with the IRS would (I think!) resolve this issue, we are in the right
*The lady on the phone was so kind to me, especially once she realized I was upset
*God is changing me through this
*I'm not scared
*I have the money to pay the amount they think we owe
*my invisible friends who have emailed me ideas to fix this situation as they've had similar situations
*The reason I'm dealing with the IRS at all is because of a credit that I never would have dreamed would apply to me.  My children are such amazing gifts
*There are so many bigger problems people face

I awoke this morning like a new person.  I cannot believe how much I've been missing by taking out that "with thanksgiving" from that verse.  It is through the thanksgiving that one receives the peace, it is through the thanksgiving that you can turn over your requests to God.

Today has been a great day, I have no idea what will happen with the IRS, I am sure this will not be the last time I will watch my children's body revolt against them, there will be more trials in this life, in this year, in this month, but in them He is producing this hope and it causing me to rejoice!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A thank you tree

My jaw hurts and I realize I've been clenching it tight, all day long.  The day was long, and everywhere I turn I see the piles of all I've left to do, my life so full of straw and hay it feels empty.  This is the month of Thanksgiving, of thanks giving, of giving thanks and so I am trying to learn, this being content in all things.

I open my copy of One Thousand Gifts and my view begins to change, my hearts understanding the importance of coming into his courts with thanksgiving.  I long to always in all circumstances see and believe that my God is good.  I take up my pen and I write them down, the gifts, "blue sky the color of my love's eyes", "shaking a tablecloth in the front yard, knowing I'm leaving food behind for the birds."

But it's hard to stop and pay attention and there are times where I can't possibly think what it is I am to be thankful for.  He screams in the aisle and I am overwhelmed and I feel like I'm failing at this shaping of the hearts who've have been entrusted to me.  "I was not alone" is the only thing I find to be thankful for in that moment, He was with me, always with me.  And all afternoon it seems small, scribbled in my notebook, "I was not alone", but really isn't that the biggest thing, the thing to be thankful for, that He is with us, always with us.  That He didn't leave us here alone.

And so, the day goes on and there seems to be few and far things in between I can grasp onto and return to Him in thanks.  So I take the one who has furrowed my brow all day long, we go outside and he happily gathers sticks for the "thank you tree."  We walk along together and as he gathers, my shoulders begin to relax.  I look at him and am reminded of the miracle that is my son, and suddenly the tension is gone and I feel the Spirit utters words I've never heard to praise the giver of this great gift.

I find a jar and wipe the cobwebs off the surface, and I feel Him doing the same to my heart.  Beginning to make me clean, using this thanks giving to change my heart, could it be?  We place the sticks in the jar, and they sit barren, empty.  I get the paper, the punch, the pen.  Find the notebook and turn to the page filled with words of thanksgiving.  I punch, and I write and I tie.  As my hands work, punch, write, tie, I feel the cleaning, the filling.  I am making a thank you tree, and with each leaf placed I am practicing over and again, thanksgiving.

Punch, write, tie.  You are a good God.  Punch, write, tie.  A God who gives life.  Punch, write, tie.  An abundant life.  Punch, write, tie.  Who takes us, so barren, and fills us up gift after good gift.  And in the giving thanks we are restored.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday (the rebel post)

*I'm not even sure if Elizabeth is going to do Whatnot Wednesday, but really it's the easy way to blog and I've become a lazy blogger, so here I am the rebel WNW blogger.

*I joined facebook.  Here's my story and I'm sticking to it: it is all Pinterest's fault.  I went to sign up and you had to use either your facebook sign in or your twitter.  Since I know even less about twitter I bit the bullet and signed up for facebook.

*Truthfully I was grateful for the excuse.  And it turns out I have more self control than I gave myself credit for, up to this point it has been a fun way to stay in touch with friends and not the all consuming addiction that I feared it would be.

*I started reading, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Totally love it.  The topic is amazing (thankfulness) but her writing is like poetry, so it is such a treat to read.

*I made my Thankful tree, my leaf paper punch arrived in the mail yesterday, I'm all ready to start adding what we're thankful for to it, I'm super excited!  Let's hope I convert my excitement into action and put something on the tree before Thanksgiving sneaks up on me.

*I went to bed last night at 8:30, yes I did!  Something is up with me lately I've been feeling just under the weather enough to be exhausted without any other symptoms.  I decided yesterday I'm anemic, I'm not a doctor but I like to play one in real life.

*I also decided yesterday I have cancer, but that should be completely ignored by all, it's a bad habit I have, anytime I read an article about someone with a type of cancer I am convinced I have it.

*It's supposed to get down into the 30's tonight, yesterday I had to run my A/C, it's confusing to live in Texas, but I was so excited to put Chloe in her feety jamas tonight!

*Favorite Kylynn quote of the week: "Mommy, there is something that I'm almost tall enough to do, and pretty soon I will be tall enough to do it.  I don't remember what it is, but pretty soon I will be tall enough."  Me too honey, me too.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

I couldn't make this stuff up

photo credit

This is a true story...

April 14th: despite having a new baby for less than three weeks, Kyle completes our taxes and submits them to the IRS.  We claim the remaining balance from Jack's adoption credit, causing us to owe no taxes and be entitled to a refund.  We include with our paperwork the adoption decree from the US court system.

May: we receive a letter from the IRS, stating that they are reviewing our taxes, specifically our adoption credit and will get back to us within 30 days.

June: we receive a letter from the IRS stating that they require further proof of the money spent to adopt Jack.  Not a problem we submit receipts from our biggest expenses (as the adoption credit is for less than the actual costs to adopt a child from South Korea).

July: we receive a letter from the IRS telling us that they received our paperwork and will respond in 30 days.

August: we receive a letter from the IRS telling us that they have opened our mail and will get back to us in 30 days.

September: we receive a letter from the IRS telling us they have yet to have the chance to look at our paperwork but we will hear from them within 30 days.

October: we receive a letter from the IRS telling us that our adoption credit is frozen and we owe the government taxes plus a 20% penalty.  After calling and speaking to a very rude representative Kyle is told that the credit is being denied (frozen) because we did not include our adoption decree with our paperwork we submitted in June.  Kyle tells her that we sent that with our original taxes and it was not requested in June.  She informs him that what we sent back in April is, "on file" and they will not pull something up from file we must resubmit.  Kyle sends in the adoption decree again and just for good measure, Jack's green card, new birth certificate and social security card.

November: we receive a letter from the IRS, stating that they received our paperwork but our adoption credit is to remain frozen, we owe the government taxes plus a 20% penalty.  We are being denied due to the lack of a, "translated foreign adoption certificate."  There is no such paperwork, Korean adoptions cannot be finalized in Korea, you are not allowed to finalize a Korean adoption until six months after you take guardianship, therefore our adoption was legalized in the United States.

I call and somehow manage not to yell at the representative and end up with a knowledgeable and kind woman.  She informs me that this makes no sense to her that we have submitted all the paperwork we need and that the paperwork he is requesting doesn't exist (tell me about it!)  She says she will send the employee in charge of our case a note to call us so that we can explain the situation to him and get this issue resolved.  She says we will hear from him by the end of this week.  We are yet to hear from him.

Here's the good news: God is not surprised by this situation.  God is not frustrated by the IRS's lack of understanding, God is not angry at the man who is refusing to process our adoption credit.  God's got the situation under control, and he's not worried about how it's all going to turn out.

Would you pray for us that God would resolve this situation with the IRS this month, that we would receive our refund, and that we would feel his peace as we deal with it and even manage to be a light to those we interact with while we work it out.  Thank you friends!