Monday, March 31, 2014

Counting My Blessings: Week 7

A little late but better late than never...

Also... here's the rest if you want to catch up!

1. Getting to be a soccer mom.
George and Iuli are on the far left but I know and love all these boys! They won 3rd place in a local tournament!
2. My friend Christina's cooking. Especially her cheese dip. Which she made special for me a few weeks ago. And saved some when I couldn't stay to eat it then.
3. 90's alternative rock.
4. and 5. My boss and my supervisor. I've worked with people who were difficult to approach, didn't listen to your concerns, didn't practice what they preached, did things without explanation, punished you for your passions, were quick to judge and quicker to hand down judgment, and put unreasonable expectations on you. My boss and my supervisor are nothing like that. I love working with them and respect them for their patience and consideration when working with me.
6. My parents and their understanding when I've had a long, hard day and just want to take a bath go to sleep.
7. A home gym where I can get a quick work out in.
8.  This knitting pattern. Because sometimes life is too complicated for anything besides a dishcloth.
9. Central heating and air. I've needed both this week and it gets pretty miserable with only one or the other.
10. My loud and crazy family:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I Will Be Doing Today

Today I have to go to work. I'm going in around 2 so that leaves my morning pretty open. Here are the things I could be doing:
  • vacuuming
  • washing clothes
  • logging donations for Walking With Orphans
  • updating the Walking With Orphans website
  • figuring out how to get the next big fundraiser launched
  • writing letters to the kids in Romania
  • mailing my tax information off
  • repainting my nails
  • studying Romanian
  • going to church
  • dusting
Here is what I am more likely to be doing:
  • knitting
  • reading blogs
My week has been insane. I'm so over work right now and I'm a little miffed that we're not closer to being prepared for this audit than we already are. Once this gets finished I may take a weekend getaway to somewhere fabulous where my cell phone doesn't have reception so no one can find me. I will try and actually be a little productive today and maybe do some laundry or write some letters to the kids. And I will probably watch my church service online. But I think a mental health break is beyond needed.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stick A Fork In Me

...cause I'm done. Never fear, dear reader, I am still alive. I'm functioning somewhere between sleep-deprived-mother-of-a-newborn and zombie. In the words of my facetious co-worker, "My team spirit has a 7:00 p.m. expiration date." I have worked over 60 hours this week. If you want to provoke me just say something about how "it's the American way" and "if you really want to get ahead that's what you'd do all the time." Shut. Up. If you work 60 hours every week you are a masochist. This is not how real people live. Wake up, people! We're killing ourselves! If we're ever invaded we'll be too tired and overworked to defend ourselves! *Canadians* could take us over (no offense Canada)!

And, if you couldn't tell, I'm slightly deranged right now. Lack of quality sleep will do that to you.

In all seriousness though...I had to check in because it's been almost a week since my last post. I'm still functioning, but poorly. My mental health is suffering and my ability to control the snarky comments coming from my mouth is going in and out. I have to work tomorrow but there is hope that I won't have to work Sunday. And today was my last 12 hour day. Never mind that Monday will be a 9 and half hour day.

Excuse me while I weep in the fetal position for a few hours.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Counting My Blessings: Week 6

So, there have been quite a few blessings this week even though they got a little lost in other things. It was good to sit and think back on them today.

1. Giving a good presentation to my mom's small group on our trip to Romania.
2. Getting a note from my sweet boy, Iuli!
3. Not having to work a 12 hour day on Friday.
4. Not having to work on Saturday.
5. Leaving the windows open and letting in some fresh air.
6. Knowing that friend Elena is on her way to the States.
7. Having a great lunch with my friend Pam and her daughter Jamie and getting to talk about our kids half way around the world and what we can do for them.
8. Translating two paragraphs from English to Romanian and feeling pretty good about my ability to do so.
9. Eating some of my friend Christina's amazing nacho dip.
10. Having someone who cared enough about me to take me aside and ask me how I'm really doing.

In other news...ya'll pray for me. We start week two of our audit prep and I'm already beyond stressed. I had an emotional walk/talk with my mom tonight and she remarked that my work tends to take a toll on me very quickly. It does not bode well that by 9:15 tonight I was already peeved about something that had happened and I've been doing damage control for the last 45 minutes to make sure that everyone gets to work, gets their 12 hours, takes care of the things that need to be taken care of, and are able to go home and have a life.

Go here for other weeks of counting my blessings.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Audit Time

I have been absent from the blog for almost a week now. In fact I've been pretty much absent from anything else but work for the past week. Why? It's audit time!

Twice a year our agency gets audited by APS insurance.
APS is what we call "straight Medicaid." It's the highest tier of government healthcare that you can get. Most people on Medicaid have Wellcare or Peachstate or another CMO. APS is reserved for kids on social security or in the foster care system. If you are a foster parent or adopted a child from the foster care system then you are probably familiar with APS. APS offers a lot of good options, namely, the most units of mental health care (though they have been cut a lot over the years).

I have a love/hate relationship with APS. Generally speaking we are able to get enough units to keep our kids in care for as long as they need. And kids who have APS are likely to need mental health services for a while. However, because APS is such a high tier and the kids are such special exceptions they are sticklers for rules. You better cross your t's and dot your i's and put a signature and date beside them too. And don't forget to file it away in alphabetical and numerical order in a 9x12 file folder within 5 days of the date of service. Ok, so those aren't really the rules but they might as well be.

Once we get the email that we are being audited we have two weeks to make sure our files are in tip top shape. All notes filed, all billing billed, all papers signed, all psychological assessments with original signatures...When you have 80+ kids (active and discharged because they look at both) who at one time or another had APS healthcare, that's a lot of checking. We usually work 12 hour days during the work week for two weeks plus 8 hours on Saturday.

I had fully prepared for that onslaught this week after we got an email stating our audit would be April 31st. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I worked from 7 to 7. Then something magical happened. I worked a regular day on Friday and was told that I didn't need to come in on Saturday! We've been auditing files twice a month in preparation for an audit and the work seems to have paid off. There were fewer things that I needed to be around to fix. Most of the files have been looked at two or three times. Now, we are just waiting on corrections. I'm praying that this trend will keep up. As much as I like having the extra comp time (paid time off) I like keeping my sanity more. And audit does not keep me sane.

With all this free time I think I'll catch up on Romanian homework...and sleep.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Counting my Blessings: Week 5

A few days late but better late than never!

1. Hot showers
2. Ceiling fans
3. A home cooked meal (almost) every night
4. Chocolate
5. Snuggles with Red, our cat who lives in the basement (which sounds creepy but really isn't, our basement is pretty nice)
6. Having a home gym
7. Waking up to the sound of rain
8. Abundant donations to the nonprofit
9. Not working late on a Friday
10. Pictures of the kids in Romania popping up on my friends' Facebook pages :)

Here's to another blessed week!

Previous Weeks:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

Saturday, March 15, 2014

And Then, Suddenly, Knitting

I have no idea why the change in seasons would make me want to knit. Well, ok, I can see it if it was changing from summer to fall or fall to winter. But winter to spring? Why do I suddenly have a desire to KNIT ALL THE THINGS. I started a sweater and a blanket awhile ago and I have continued to work on those.

Sweater then...
And now. Almost finished with the first sleeve.
Blanket then...
And now. Still looks like a big snake but this has 2 panels finished and a 3rd half way done.
Laid out so you can see the panels better. My sister in law loved this and has claimed it for herself!
I also started and finished two hats and a scarf.

The first hat and the scarf were knit with 3 strands of yarn held together so they were thick and quick knits. Love those!

Even though I have several things "on the needles" I'm tempted to start something else. I found a "store" on Ravelry that has a bunch of free charity knits. I may have picked out another sweater, several hats, and a few pairs of mittens to knit. I'm also considering taking a class at Stitches South and several yarn shop hops have been planned for this spring. At the rate I'm going I may knit enough to outfit every child in each orphanage with a new piece of clothing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grief From the Missionary Mama's Perspective

After I first went to Romania I truly grieved from my children. I grieved for a lot of things they didn't have. I still grieve for the deep, soul crushing things they have suffered and the love they have missed out on. But sometimes I grieve for random things.

Yesterday, I grieved over book fairs.

Yep, book fairs.
I grieved because, in my heart of hearts, I want my kids to experience the thrill of a book fair.

The sudden realization of this loss lead to other realizations about my children's education. They will never ride the school bus to school.
They will never pack their bookbags in expectation of a new school day. I will never check "Friday Folders" or fill out field trip slips. They will never experience the school cafeteria or recess.
They won't get to try out for a school sports team. They won't go to prom or homecoming. There will be no parent/teacher conferences. No standardized testing. No graduation ceremony with caps and gowns.

Yes, my kids have had some good educational experiences thanks to some wonderful people who pour into their lives daily. But that doesn't change the fact that they will never have the "normal" experiences I want them to. I know that my idea for the "perfect" childhood experience isn't necessarily what's best for my kids. I know that they don't know what they are missing out on. And that, even if they did know, they might not want that experience. I get that.

But when you are a missionary mama sometimes you just want to give your kids a book fair.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cleaning My Plate

When I was a kid and I wasn't really loving what we were having for dinner my mom would say, "Take three more big bites." If my brother and I obliged we were allowed to be excused from the table. It always seemed to work. I'm thinking of applying this technique to my figurative "plate of life."

The first thing I'm taking off my plate is the Ravelry forum.
This is kind of what our forum looks like. My computer wouldn't let me grab a screenshot of our actual forum so this is just a random one from the web.
I have a hard time maintaining and keeping the conversations going on there so I'm turning it over to someone who has more time. I'll still be lurking on there but I hope the person who signs up to help is a more frequent poster than I am.

The other thing I'm trying to give up is some of the shipping and packing and organizing duties of Walking With Orphans.
A box of socks/slippers that needs more socks and slippers.
I had been really hopeful that we would get an intern for the fall. But as it turns out, though we had a willing participant, we didn't meet the criteria. They wanted an office with a desk (after we just got kicked out of our office in Buford) and someone there to monitor the intern 20+ hours each week. This would be about impossible since I work 40 hours a week (unless the intern liked working from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m every weekday plus weekends). My secretary/treasurer and office manager might have been a contender to help supervise (again, if we actually had an office) except that she has been fundraising for a new job and is almost at 100%. When she gets there then she'll be working full time as well.
Box awaiting more donations so it can be shipped off.
That being said, it doesn't diminish our need for someone to help us out. I'm thinking of posting some "job openings" on the website in the very near future. Who knows, maybe there is someone who needs volunteer hours for school. Or just likes to work for free.

That makes "two big bites" but I need a third. Probably something at my desk job since I can't exactly contract out my workout schedule (wouldn't that be awesome though? someone else works out for you and you get in shape...). We'll see what I can come up with...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Counting My Blessings: Week 4

1. Ice cream
2. Warm bed
3. Nook
4. The awesome people I work with.
5. Wine and pasta (a two-fer)
6. Naps
7. My cat
8. Ranch dressing
9. Technology that lets me text with people half a world away.
10. No displays of violence in Ukraine this week.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Monday, March 3, 2014

Random Things on My Mind

1. I want to quit my job and run my nonprofit full time. Then I could have an intern. Then things might get done.

2. I do not have enough financial backing to quit my job. I need an intern to help fund-raise. See #1.

3. I haven't heard from my sponsor child in Ukraine in 4 months. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with all the rioting and brink of war and what not. But it still hurts my heart when I look at his Christmas present sitting in the corner of the room waiting to be sent.

4. A little part of me is afraid the sponsorship company took my money and bolted.

5. I'm really praying for a miracle in Ukraine right now. I'm not even sure what the answer is to all that mess but I'm tired of the constant tension. I want things resolved yesterday.

6. I was beyond tired at work today. I have no idea why.

7. That made me a little difficult to be around for the first half of the day.

8. I dropped a can of disgusting shrimp bits cat food in the kitchen. It smelled horrible and a drop splashed on my chin. I'm afraid I'll smell like shrimp bits cat food all day tomorrow.

9. I cussed when I dropped the cat food. And then I almost cried.

10. I've almost cried about 6x in the last few days. And I had a really big cry last week.

11. I hate being hormonal.

12. I'd really like to go on another wine tasting again soon.


"Oh Music! Miraculous art! A blast of of thy trumpet and millions rush forward to die; a peal of thy organ and uncounted nations sink down to pray."-Benjamin Disraeli

Today I had an amazing worship experience. My friend, John Waller, was playing an organ dedication service at his small church home in Norcross and invited me to go. I'm so glad that I did.
Mount Carmel United Methodist Church is the kind of quaint, country church that has the feeling of being around for 100 years (maybe it has been). Before I even walked in the door I had been greeted by someone, ushered in, and handed a bag of pamphlets describing the church and its functions.

The congregation is small and made up of families who like they've been coming for many generations. The priest walks the aisles of the church in the middle of the sermon and asks for prayer requests and praises. The choir loft seats about 10 people. They use hymnals and have pew Bibles. And they have an epic cemetery next to the parking lot.
I have a love for old cemeteries. And this one was just about as perfect as they come!

The whole service was something of a welcome relief from my normal Sunday experience. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, LOVE my church. My pastor is amazing and the music is an event in and of itself. But my church is very big. We have thousands of people on campus each week. Sometimes you can feel a little lost. The message may not seem as personal. You think you can brush it off and forget about what the pastor said during the week. You could fall asleep or text during the service and no one would know. You could stop coming to church altogether and no one would know. Not so at Mount Carmel. Everything seemed so personal and gripping. It was definitely intimate. And, on top of that, they have a hidden treasure in their friend John.
John getting ready to perform. The organ console is right in the middle of the choir loft. Believe it or not I was sitting in the back of the church.
John is one of the best musicians I know. He has studied under Julliard trained musicians and does organ dedications practically as a job. He takes artistic liberties that some people only dream of and he takes them well. He is soulful and passionate. And most of all, he loves Jesus.

It was a joy to see John today and to hear him play. I was blessed by the music (made me remember why music was my first love and how much I miss hearing real music performed well). I was blessed by the church. The whole event was truly a blessing. I knew when I first sat down that God was in our presence. I'm glad I got to have an intimate experience with Him.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Counting my Blessings: Week 3

This week was kind of hectic and crazy. I'm a week behind in work at the office and I've got lots on my plate but I'm going to choose to focus on the positive. Here's my blessings from this past week:

1. Going to a wedding.

2. Attending a DFCS luncheon at work. I got to eat some good food and I got out of reading and auditing medical charts for a little while :)

3. Being asked to take on some new responsibilities at work. Though it means more admin tasks for me it also means that my bosses trust me.

4. Getting the ball rolling on a potential intern for the nonprofit.

5. Interesting dreams. I love to dream and the last few nights I've had some that I actually remembered.

6. A good Romanian lesson. All week I was stressed out because I wasn't really on top of my homework game. And I was struggling to understand some of the connecting words (on, at, towards, etc.). At my lesson on Saturday I was able to grasp some things that I had previously had trouble on. And my teacher didn't check all my homework :) She told me that next week we will spend half the time working on conversations and that I was getting to the point where I would no longer have to translate in my head. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and I felt pretty good about things after that.

7. Granny smith apples. Mom picked some up at the store this week. They're my favorite and this batch was perfect! (Sometimes it's the little things.)

8.  Using my sand tray in play therapy for the first time. It was a hit!

9. Emailing with my Russian sister, Nastia. So glad I get to help her ministry out. We are both praying that we will meet each other in person soon. She is definitely my kindred spirit.

10. Making it through another week! I know this one is kind of a cop out but 1. this was a rough week and 2. sometimes you just have to appreciate the obvious stuff!

Here's the previous weeks if you are interested:
Counting my Blessings: Week 1
Counting my Blessings: Week 2

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Reminder of Joy

Today I was reminded by God that, in the midst of the roller coaster of life, there are moments of shining joy.

Tonight I got to see the daughter of some long time family friends get married. As I watched the happy couple standing in front of my childhood pastor (another long time family friend) I had the striking thought that no matter where you are or what culture you are in or what is going on in the world, there are always weddings. There are always births. There are always celebrations. Even in the darkest of times God provides us with a shining ray of joy. A time for us to enjoy and be merry.
I think God provides these moments to remind us of His goodness. To remind us that He has not left us. That He wants us to enjoy life. That He doesn't want us to always be burdened to suffer or to lose hope.
These are the moments that we should revel in. We should taste and see that the Lord is good. Remember that He still cares for us. That He has not forgotten us. That there is good in this world and it was put there for us to enjoy.

I was glad I got that chance tonight.