Opinions from a traveling therapist

Disclaimer: These are just my opinions through work experience and observation, so take from it what you want.  You will find no evidenced-based, double blind, randomized controlled research here, be thankful for that!

PT symbol
     Many of you know that I work as a travel physical therapist (PT), which is turning out to be a lucrative career choice for supporting our wanderlust lifestyle.  Before hitting the road, I worked at an outpatient clinic for a great therapist-owned company in Indiana for over five years (shout out to Indiana Physical Therapy).  I was also working prn at a close to home skilled nursing facility (the best I’ve worked in to date). But I started to have the desire to do something different, which happened to be; sell everything, buy an RV, and take 13-week contracts in various parts of the country in order to fund this nomadic adventure.  So far it’s been incredible!  This type of change is quite drastic and not for everyone.  However, I’m sure many of you have felt some sort of complacency in your life or career, and I was nearing that point (insert: current crazy nomad life)
Photo credit: Steph at Lemolo Falls in Oregon

Photo credit: Steph at Lemolo Falls in Oregon

     Since hitting the road, I’ve worked in Bay City, Texas at a skilled nursing facility; Sulphur Springs, Texas at an outpatient clinic; Fort Bragg, California at a skilled nursing facility; and Roseburg, Oregon at the VA hospital in outpatient with a handful of inpatient.  This variety has allowed me to see just how different healthcare can be, based on the type of setting and the sector.
 Travel by State
     There are some big differences I’ve noted between the private sector and the government sector (limited experience/observation in one particular VA region), each with their own advantages and disadvantages.  Although the majority of my career has been spent in the private sector, I am starting to get a feel for a government run “business”, if you want to call it that.  The private sector as a, “for-profit model” and the government sector as a, “mis-used tax dollars with good intentions model”.  (Unfortunately, some politicians claim that “some things are too big to fail”, they clearly have lost sight of the definition of fail and haven’t spent much time at the VA speaking with veterans)
     When I first started in August, between two nearby VA facilities (70 miles apart), there were over 300 PT consults not yet scheduled.  I was evaluating patients that had PT orders placed in April and May, which seems completely unacceptable.  What was an acute condition for a patient, has now transitioned to a chronic one, all because of lack of access to care.   You rarely, if ever, see these kinds of wait times in the PT private sector (from my experience).   And much of this lack of access to care has to do with all of the “unnecessary” government red tape and “VA clinical pathway policies”.  Many non-productive employees (which is way to many for any kind of efficiency to follow), having meetings about the meetings, driving up overhead costs, and delaying treatment, which only hurts the veterans.
     Now, I hate to seem too negative because there are a few perks, besides free healthcare for our veterans, to the VA.  One being the readily accessible stocked assistive devices, modalities, equipment, etc that we can issue to veterans as needed.  Also, having the option to order whatever we need to help improve a veteran’s function is a welcomed bonus, especially when not dealing with insurance or third party payers, like in the private sector.  Sending equipment home with a veteran the same day is awesome and has resulted in hugs by patient’s and their families (only slightly awkward for the non-hugger like me).  Unfortunately the perks do not outweigh how disheartening it is to see what some of these veterans have to go through to get access to care.   Many of my patients drive over 3 hours just to reach a VA facility with appropriate services.
Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

     Insufficient funding with limited oversight of a broken system is the greatest downfall of the government sector.  This leads to less locations with full services, significantly understaffed facilities, and an underserved veteran population.
     Now over the past year, I had begun to grow an appreciation for some type of free healthcare system, that was until I worked 5 months at a VA facility and realized that the government should never run a healthcare system.  Don’t get me wrong, there is great care to be had through the VA; if only you could get timely access to it.
     I really don’t like to complain about things without having a solution or at least a realistic idea for changing a situation.  Currently the VA attempts to remedy this access issue by creating policies for the policies and cutting clinical positions, which in my short time at the VA does not appear to work.  It seems the logical steps to help this problem would be to minimize administrative positions and hire more actual productive clinicians. However unrealistic those ideas fantasies might be, we should still attempt to channel our inner Lorax and Horton to work toward some kind of change.
Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

     Even with all of the pitfalls within the VA system, I am thoroughly enjoying my time working with the veterans.  Having the opportunity to hear their stories is very rewarding when dealing with all the government bureaucracy.   I hope we can find a way to better serve our veterans that have sacrificed more than we know for our freedom.
*the pictures below are of the beautiful Roseburg VA campus
The place I called "home" for 20 weeks!

The place I called “home” for 20 weeks!

National cemetery

Roseburg National Cemetery on the VA campus

Roseburg National Cemetery on the VA campus

VA cemetery

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and my very raw and torn feelings on adoption are still present. Seeing all of the posts celebrating adoption is wonderful and there are truly amazing stories out there. We happen to live one right now. Our beautiful daughter came to us via domestic adoption and we wouldn’t change it for the world. But, we have no idea how she’ll feel about it when she becomes a tween, teen or adult; nor would we dare to guess. One thing I hope and pray that she feels is loved! Loved by us and by her birth mom. (You can read more in depth on our adoption journey below in previous blog posts) 
However, we have also lived through an extremely difficult loss of a beautiful boy from Ethiopia, that we pray has made it into loving arms of someone in his first family. That time we spent in limbo, opened our eyes to the stories of great loss felt by first families and adoptees themselves and their very real struggles. You can read about them here:

https://theadoptedones.wordpress.com/

http://www.thelostdaughters.com/

I believe all children deserve loving families and adoption is certainly one option, but not the only option. I feel that so much more can be done in areas of family preservation, adoption regulation, and improved vetting of adoptive and foster families.

In the end, we will celebrate this National Adoption month for the joys that our little girl has brought us. However, thoughts of those that are dealing with the struggles of loss that may never go away, will continue to be in the forefront. My perspectives on adoption are always changing and evolving as I grow in this beautiful mess of life; and looking forward to what my precious girl will teach me in the future!

5 Things We’ve Learned Through Life on the Road

Once again we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere on the coast of Northern California, without the luxuries of any wi-fi, cell service, radio stations or television.  Thankfully, the views, the atmosphere and the peacefulness, more than made up for it.  It’s amazing how quickly you can lose touch with what’s happening in the outside world (except for my occasional access while at work).  And now that we have it, I didn’t miss most of it.  Although, just having the access whenever you need it, is quite nice (Thank you Roseburg, OR for bringing us back to the 21st century).

Now, all of that said as “justification” for why my blog posts have been so sparse; however, our Facebook page has allowed for more frequent updates to our adventure!

And on to my thoughts….

When we started this adventure almost 9 months ago, we had no idea what to expect.  Neither Tim or I had done much RV camping when we decided to take the plunge into full-time RV living.  However, we have learned to adjust to the subtle and drastic changes that have entailed.  Here are five things we’ve learned in our travels and why we are embracing them, although, this lifestyle is not for everyone.

1. It’s not just an extended vacation

Many of the people we’ve met in the RV parks and campgrounds are there on a vacation of some sort.  So, after hearing our story, they compare our situation to an extended vacation, in which we nod our head in agreement.  All the while, in our heads, we’re thinking “raising a one year old and a three year old rarely feels like a vacation!”

She has a flair for the dramatic!

She has a flair for the dramatic!

Frequent occurrence around here...

Frequent occurrence around here…

Yes, our unconventional lifestyle does allow us to travel to see new places and explore new areas often, but none the less, we are still just living.  One of us leaves everyday to go to work and the other stays to take care of the kids, dogs, and house.  (Who has the easier job is a topic for another blog post!). We have more time together than we’ve ever had and so far it’s great (despite the above pictures)!

The beauty of Oregon…Watson Falls

The beauty of Oregon…Watson Falls

Nothing beats throwing rocks into the Umpqua River!

Nothing beats throwing rocks into the Umpqua River!

The beauty of Crater Lake

The beauty of Crater Lake

The littles playing on the beach at the Heceta Lighthouse on the Oregon coast!

The littles playing on the beach at the Heceta Lighthouse on the Oregon coast!

Enjoying Lemolo Falls in Oregon!

Enjoying Lemolo Falls in Oregon!

2. Finding everything

I have become an expert user of Google maps to search for anything and everything while researching our possible next location (I actually have a list of things to search for, not surprising to most).  Once we figure out what stores we will be supporting while in a particular location, we get to navigate the unknowns of the current store.  About the time we have the area figured out, we get to pack-up and start all over, which has become all part of the adventure!  The newness of always being a “tourist” has allowed us to find places and information about areas that some locals didn’t even know.  It’s actually quite interesting and exciting to see and learn how others live.  All the while working to enmesh ourselves in the community and make an effort to view others’ perspectives.

3. Cleaning is a breeze

With just over 400 square feet of living space, we find cleaning to be much less of a chore now, than when living in our stick and brick.  I can thoroughly clean the inside of our home in less than 45 minutes (that’s without “help” from the kids).   However, living in a small space does not favor messiness or toys being left out, so our kids are great at picking everything up every night.  (Which makes this “OCD” momma very happy)

From this to this

4. Everything is so much smaller

And I mean everything, from the oven, to the closets, to the size of the beds.  We had to purchase new pans that would fit in the oven and significantly downsize our kitchen supplies (Let’s face it, most of that was rarely used anyway).  We have three RV “twin” beds and one RV “king” bed, that are smaller than its conventional counterpart, so the sheets are always too big.  We were fortunate to have the option of a washer and dryer in our RV, which we gladly took advantage of.  But of course it’s smaller, so a load a day is essential to not getting behind on laundry (or so I’m told).  I’m lucky enough to have a husband that does the laundry, I can probably count on one hand how many loads of laundry I’ve done in the last 10 months.

5. Living with less really is more

We definitely go with significantly less than most Americans, but on the flip side we still have significantly more than those in the third world, which can be humbling.  Our kids are learning at a young age to live with far less than their fellow playground friends, but you sure wouldn’t know it.  Especially when they can be entertained far longer with a box or a blanket than a new matchbox car or doll.  Griffin has a saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know!” (He’s quite the little philosopher).
We’ve actually noticed on many occasions that our fellow “campers” tend to bring more with them for the weekend than we have in our entire home!

The few toys that made the cut to join our journey!

The few toys that made the cut to join our journey!

Our few outdoor toys plus the little's bikes not pictured

Our few outdoor toys plus the little’s bikes not pictured

Griffin's clothes

Griffin’s clothes

Amelia's clothes and few accessories!

Amelia’s clothes and a few accessories!

These are just a few things we’ve discovered during our new adventures.  We are loving this different lifestyle and all the “different” is exciting (at least for now), however; we may still be in the honeymoon phase (check back in another 10 months).

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Fostering a sense of community

Most of you know about the journey we are currently taking as a family of four traveling in our RV.  Before leaving, we thought a lot about the things we wanted to gain from traveling.  One of the topics that always seemed to come up was giving back.  We really wanted to immerse ourselves in the communities that we were visiting and search for ways to contribute.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Even though our kids are only toddlers, we have a strong desire to foster in them a feeling of compassion and empathy toward others as well as cultural sensitivity.  One of the ways we were hoping to do this was through various volunteer opportunities.

These opportunities where much easier to find in the communities we grew up in, where as, life on the road has made it more difficult.  My first two jobs took us to small, rural towns in Texas with fewer resources, making it harder to find volunteer opportunities.  We had the chance to take some time off between work assignments, which lead us to a much bigger city in Texas…Austin.  Tim and I had heard from several people that, “you do not want to go to Austin, they’re weird there.”  Believe it or not, we actually fit in with weird right now.  And after researching Austin, we knew we had to make the trip.

Many Austin locals don this shirt.  Photo credit: Pinterest

Many Austin locals don this shirt. Photo credit: Pinterest

One thing that drew us to this fantastic city was how different it was from nearly all of the rest of Texas.  It seemed to be a city on the forefront of the “Go Green” movement, with multiple levels of promoting sustainability and providing ways to encourage the environmentally conscious person.

Photo credit: my photo edited in photo grid app

Photo credit: my photo edited in photo grid app

While researching volunteer opportunities, we stumbled across this great organization, Keep Austin Beautiful (www.keepaustinbeautiful.org).  We happened to be in Austin during their Clean Sweep event, where the Austin community comes together to clean-up multiple locations throughout the city.  According to their website, the event had 4,200 volunteers contributing 8,300 hours of service to remove 27 tons of trash from the city.

Helping out at the KAB Clean Sweep!  We helped clean at the Texas River School.

Helping out at the KAB Clean Sweep! We helped clean at the Texas River School.

After a lot of kid-centered volunteer research, we found an organization called Little Helping Hands (www.littlehelpinghands.org), which focuses on community service opportunities for children.  We participated in a “garden day” at a local church’s community garden, where they have volunteers come and manage small garden plots, and then harvest their goods for a local food pantry.

Planting beans.

Planting beans.

Working hard at Garden Day!

Working hard at Garden Day!

Through Little Helping Hands, we were also able to help out another worthwhile Austin organization, Meals on Wheels and More (www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org).  The kids made cards for the five clients we were delivering meals to that day.  Griff was eager to help deliver the meals along our route.  It was so neat to see the interaction between Griff and the people we were serving meals to, he is coming out of his shell more and more every day!

Proud of his card!

Proud of his card!

Our time off also gave Tim a break from his role as stay-at-home-dad, which he had been embracing over the last four months.  He was able to spend Tuesday and Thursday mornings volunteering at Urban Roots (www.urbanrootsatx.org), which is an amazing organization that helps to empower youth as leaders, and hopes to instill in them a love of vegetables and an appreciation for the earth along the way.

The 4 acre garden at Urban Roots

The 4 acre garden at Urban Roots

Over Easter weekend we were lucky enough to be able to witness an unconventional Easter church service.  This church happily and humbly takes their role of “being the hands and feet of Jesus,” to literally serve their homeless brothers and sisters.  It was a moving experience to be part of an event that served meals and shoes to hundreds of Austin’s homeless.

We were first introduced to this church via my “obsession” with Jen Hatmaker (check her out on Facebook) and how much respect I have for her books “Interrupted” and “7”!  She and her husband, along with their friends, planted the Austin New Church (www.austinnewchurch.org), and how they do church is inspiring.

ANC church service and music under the 6th Street bridge in Austin

ANC church service and music under the 6th Street bridge in Austin

Serving our homeless brothers and sisters with food donated from Hatcreek Burgers and donated shoes.

Serving our homeless brothers and sisters with food donated from Hatcreek Burgers and donated shoes.

These were just some of the ways we were able to give back while in Austin.  During our travels, we have lost that secure feeling of a community, and volunteering is one way we feel we can gain that sense of community while on the road.

I would highly encourage you to find various ways you can make a difference in your “community”, no matter where you are.

Photo credit: my photo edited with photo grid app.

Photo credit: my photo edited with photo grid app.

Shifting our Perception of Happiness

Most of you know that in December we began our life on the road.  We sold nearly all of our belongings, put our house up for sale, and moved into our newly purchased 5th wheel RV with our two kids and two dogs.  Life as we knew it would be changed and hopefully for the better.

 

Our old home

Our old home

Our new home

Our new home

The conversations that Tim and I had over the last 5 years had evolved greatly.  Talks went from “material must-haves” to “how can we live a greener, simpler, more full-filled life.”  Things got deep in the Hine household!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

We did our part to lessen our carbon foot print with dreams of becoming more self-sustaining.  Growing, canning, and freezing from our garden, recycling everything we could, upgrades to the house to make it more efficient, buying second hand.  Working toward the “Laura Ingalls times,” but with 21st century perks of TV, Internet and cell phones, of course.

Our beautiful garden my husband worked so hard on at our former stick and brick house!

Our beautiful garden my husband worked so hard on at our former stick and brick house!

Even with these things and the conversations we had about simple living, we were surrounded by stuff, and time seemed to be a limited commodity.  We both worked a combine of at least 70 hours a week outside the home, two kids, two dogs, a “too big for us” house that was filled with stuff, which all required  time.  Clearly not everything was getting sufficient attention.  I believe they call this the “American Dream.”

Photo credit:  Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Many people live this lifestyle and love it, we did for over 30 years.  However, recent events in our lives (you can read about those in past blog posts), removed the blinders, so to speak.  We were oblivious to how the rest of the world lives and how our first world problems were and are so, so very small.

Photo credit:  Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

So we embarked on a journey to follow a dream, see the country, embrace cultures, give back, live simply, and have quality family time while doing it!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

First stop, Texas!  We new this journey would make it difficult to achieve a self-sustaining lifestyle.  However, Texas has made this far more challenging than we thought.  Let’s face it, we end up in a grocery store about every three days.  Our dependence on conventional food sources was not what we had in mind.  We have found no farmer’s markets during this Texas winter and health food stores are scarce, let alone the two grocery store options we have within 30 miles.  Mind you, we’ve only lived in rural Texas, so this may not apply everywhere.

Our main food source options…our current location does not have an HEB and I sure do miss it!  Photo credit:  Pinterest

Our main food source options…our current location does not have an HEB and I sure do miss it! Photo credit: Pinterest

We were fortunate to have resources available to us in Indiana that allowed us to recycle or donate everything we possibly could.  This is not the case for the places we’ve stayed in Texas.  Not only has it been hard to find places to recycle, it’s even more frustrating how many people don’t give a second thought to recycling, including the Texas State parks we’ve visited.  Sorry for the rant, but I hate throwing away things that can be recycled.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

However, what we have lost in green living, we have more than made up for in simple, clutter-free living and I’m not just referring to less stuff.  I’m talking about the freedom that comes with literally disconnecting from technology.

This tech-free living was not exactly by choice, rural Texas had a hand in that one.  The two different parks we’ve lived in, had little to no cell phone service, no wi-fi, no 4G hot spot capabilities and at best, 5 digital television channels.

While I was teetering on a tragedy to live without these things, my husband who was born without the “tech loving” gene thought it merely an occasional inconvenience.  I went from having an iPhone where I had access to anything at my fingertips to a phone that could barely text or make phone calls.  Fortunately, my work was located in a prime 4G location!  Tim went from a flip phone he rarely used to a flip phone he was rarely able to use.  We went from 15 digital TV channels in Indiana down to 5 channels, which were sadly not PBS.

We love PBS and going through withdraw…photo credit: Pinterest

We love PBS and going through withdraw…photo credit: Pinterest

Because of our lack of technology, we no longer had the TV on just because, I was no longer checking my phone for Facebook updates far too often, and the computer was rarely turned on.  We were definitely not getting our money’s worth from our Verizon data plan!

It really is amazing how many books you can read, and thought-provoking conversations you can have with your husband, without all of the outside world distractions.  We were living in a beautiful 3,000 acre State Park that aside from us and the park hosts, was nearly empty.  We caught the most beautiful sunset at Cooper Lake during one of our evening walks.  We have seen countless Texas wildlife and were able to “enjoy” the quiet beauty of the park following a heavy Texas snowfall.

The beauty of snow in Texas.  Photo credit: my hubby

The beauty of snow in Texas. Photo credit: my hubby

Footprints in the snow!  Photo credit: my hubby

Footprints in the snow! Photo credit: my hubby

Even though we had to drive to the highest point in the park to make a phone call, try four times to send a text, and not being able to catch my favorite show, the Blacklist, on NBC, we not only survived; we realized we can thrive in this environment once we changed our perception.  Hopefully this new found mindset will carry over to other aspects of our journey.

P.S. My husband, Tim, was my chief editor on this post.  Still talking him into a guest post on the blog about his adventures as Mr. Mom…stay tuned!

Life in Texas from a Hoosier perspective

Life in Texas from a Hoosier perspective

Let me preface with, this post ended up longer than I imagined due to the insufficient Internet we have around here resulting in far less frequent updates than I had planned.

We have officially been “Texans” for a little over two months now, so an expert on Texas I am not!  But I have made some observations about this particular part of Texas that we are currently parked.

First…the roads…most lead to nowhere!  It is nothing like Indiana, where you can just take the next county road if you miss your turn.  If you miss your road in Texas, then you better just turn around and go back because the next road will not take you anywhere near where you wanted to go.  Many of the county roads are “farm to market” roads and they literally go from someone’s farm to the nearest town. The roads here tend to move with the land and not through it (cars movie reference…you can thank Griffin for that!).  So, if there is a railroad, river or bayou, then the road will just “wind” around rather than cross over it.  Google maps can be either your ally or your enemy around here :)

This is how directions are around here.  Google puts roads where there are none and end roads before you reach your destination.

This is how directions are around here. Google puts roads where there are none and end roads before you reach your destination.

Let’s talk basketball!  I know Texas football is way more popular, but we decided to take the kids to a Friday night local high school basketball game because it’s not football season here.  Let’s just say, when we got there, we weren’t even sure we had the right night.  It did not hold a candle to Hoosier high school basketball games.  There were no cheerleaders, no big production at the start of the game, the whole town wasn’t there to watch.  It was definitely different.

Food in Texas…some of the best brisket and BBQ sandwiches around and one of those sandwiches was from a little roadside stand…it was excellent.  And beef is probably never in short demand around here, because everywhere you drive you see pastures and pastures of cows.

Cows, cows and more cows!

Cows, cows and more cows!

While we’re on the topic of food, I’d like to give a shout out to the late Dick Freeland and his Pizza Hut franchise in Northeast Indiana! None will compare, not even here in the Lone Star State ;). It has got to be their breadsticks…we will definitely be making a trip (or maybe two) when we make it back up north this summer!

Ahh..”The Texas cold front,” says the meteorologist…makes me laugh every time and quite happy during winter! A cold front in Texas means lows may be in the 40’s and highs in the 50’s.

Here is an example of a TX cold front!

Here is an example of a TX cold front!

The landscape around here is nothing to get excited about between the oil refineries and various chemical and nuclear plants, it leaves much to be desired.  However, a short drive south will bring you to the coast…and it is quite refreshing!  Not sure I would swim in the water (note the chemical plants I mentioned earlier), but the beach in Matagorda is natural and somewhat untouched by tourists!  At least this time of year (“winter” season).  It makes for a secluded walk on the beach and sandcastle building wherever you like!

These not so beautiful and smelly refineries are everywhere around here.

These not so beautiful and smelly refineries are everywhere around here.

Matagorda beach

Matagorda beach

The kids and Tim building sandcastles!

The kids and Tim building sandcastles!

Another beauty around here are the pin/live oak trees with branches full of Spanish moss.  There are silvopastures filled with them, which is much different than the pastures you see in Indiana.

 

The beauty of trees and moss!

The beauty of trees and moss!

And last, but certainly not least (also Griffin’s favorite part about our park)…the wildlife!  The park we are staying at is home to an extremely large herd of rather small Texas deer (they do not compare to the size of Indiana deer, but then again they only have to survive the Texas “cold fronts”).

 

Deer in Texas

Deer in Texas

The turtles and their ‘master’, the alligator can be caught sun bathing in the area swamp/bayou/creek?  Griffin loves walking to see if the alligator is out!

 

The "friendly to turtles" alligator of Riverside Park!

The “friendly to turtles” alligator of Riverside Park!

Image 14


We have also caught the local armadillo scurrying around at night.  They are quite elusive creatures and rarely caught on camera (at least not by me anyway).

And I can not forget to mention the famed bird of Indiana…the vulture…that flies south for the winter.  According to our park ranger they followed us here to perch on the tall cottonwood trees they have in our park.  Vultures by the masses can scare the crap out of you at night.  When they’re perched and something startles them=me high-tailing it back inside. :)

Oh the vultures…the cottonwood trees here are filled with them...

Oh the vultures…the cottonwood trees here are filled with them…

A side note: Matagorda county (our current residence) has one of the most variety of species and number of migratory birds in the south.

I’m sure after a few more months in this state, I will gain a much greater perspective!

 

Beauty from Ashes

This may be a long post, but it’s a beautiful one and it has me almost giddy to share!

I know my last post may have left a negative feeling toward international adoption…please see part 2 for details:  http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/the-hard-road-to-changing-hearts

International adoption is a beautiful thing.  And I’ve had the pleasure of watching this beauty unfold in the lives of many of the friends I’ve made through this emotional journey, however, their ending is much different than ours.

Even though our journey did not end as we would have hoped, God has paved a new path that is just as beautiful!

As we have waded through these last ten months, we have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know several people that are doing amazing work in Ethiopia.  They are literally “the hands and feet” of Jesus!  I’m excited to share about them, their organizations, and how my family is able to be a small part in it all.

Many months before God derailed our adoption plan, social media led me to follow several organizations that were working in Ethiopia, particularly with family preservation and child and family sponsorships.

I cannot wait to introduce you to them!

In June, my family had the opportunity to meet several families that have had, and were currently in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.  Surprisingly enough, one of the ladies we met had started an organization that I followed and it sat heavy on my heart.  It was like a mini-celebrity encounter…at least it was for me :). This organization is A Heart for Korah!  And let me tell you, if you don’t know anything about the city of Korah, you really should look into it.  It’s heartbreaking and will make you think twice about your first world struggles…it did for me.

A Heart for Korah logo.  Photo credit: Tisha

A Heart for Korah logo. Photo credit: Tisha

What Tisha and her family have started with this organization will make you smile.  They bring food, shelter, medicine, hope, love and most importantly the word of God to these people through family sponsorship!  We currently sponsor a wonderful family that will hopefully be able to rest a little easier at night through this program.

Our monthly sponsored family...Meseret and her family!

Our monthly sponsored family…Meseret and her family!

While we were in Indy meeting these great families, that I’m happy to now call friends, God was apparently working in one of the couples’ hearts. Brandy and her family were preparing to bring home a precious little girl from Ethiopia, as well as helping to advocate for several “street boys” they met during their travels.  They, with the help of an amazing man in Ethiopia, started Life Thru EDU, which is an organization that helps these boys receive formal education through sponsorship.

Life Thru EDU logo…photo credit: FB page

Life Thru EDU logo…photo credit: FB page

We have the privilege of sponsoring a young boy named Mohamet, who has a smile that is absolutely contagious!

Our sponsored "street" boy…Mohamet

Our sponsored “street” boy…Mohamet!

Back in July, our church brought the Ugandan Kids Choir through Childcare Worldwide to perform during our Sunday service…it was awesome and so are these kids.  My parents were able to host three of the girls and the groups’ teacher Agnes!  We were able to spend some time with them and they are precious and polite, innocent and beautiful, energetic and so full of life.

 

The girls enjoying a little bubble time

The girls enjoying a little bubble time

Performing during our Sunday service!

Performing during our Sunday service!

The girls loved holding and playing with Amelia!

The girls loved holding and playing with Amelia!

My parents with the guests they hosted and Griffin.  Agnes, Lukia, Diane and Brender

My parents with the guests they hosted and Griffin. Agnes, Lukia, Diane and Brender


We loved meeting these girls and watching their group perform and praise the Lord.  So, we now sponsor a young girl from Uganda. Our sponsorship supports her education. And we all know, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

Our monthly sponsored young girl from Uganda…Sheldon!

Our monthly sponsored young girl from Uganda…Sheldon!

Recently a group of 4 ladies that I happen to follow via social media, got together and flew to Ethiopia to advocate on behalf of a community called Gunchire through the work of an organization called Help One Now.  This organization works worldwide at the community level to seek sponsorship for children and families that may fall victim to the poverty orphan crisis.  These four ladies happen to be very well-known in the adoption world and you may have heard of them, Jen Hatmaker, Jillian Lauren, Kristen Howerton and Korie Robertson.

Photo credit: Help One Now logo for Ethiopia

Photo credit: Help One Now logo for Ethiopia

The stories and pictures they shared while visiting this community were amazingly inspirational and moving.  So moving that we felt the need to add to our family of sponsorships.  Meet Abreham, our sponsored boy from Gunchire.  I fell in love with his picture and his name!

Our monthly sponsored teen boy through Help One Now, Abreham!

Our monthly sponsored teen boy through Help One Now, Abreham!

Although bringing our little Abrahim home was not in God’s plan for us, he sure has opened our hearts to be able to help these awesome kids and families.  As well as advocate for other avenues besides adoption, which is orphan prevention and family preservation.

If you feel your heart strings being pulled toward this type of charity after reading this, then please feel free to check out these wonderful organization as well as many others out there working for the same thing…a changed world!

Here are the links to the organizations that we sponsor if you’re interested in learning more!

A Heart for Korah:  http://www.aheartforkorah.com

Life Thru EDU:  https://www.facebook.com/educationforallethiopia

Childcare Worldwide:  http://www.childcareworldwide.org

Help One Now:  https://www.helponenow.org
Thanks for joining along in this 3 part adoption series

See Part 1 here:  http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/everyone-has-a-storypart-1/ ‎

God Bless

The hard road to changing hearts

This has been a hard post to write and even reflect back on.  It has been a long and emotional journey that life has lead us on this past year.  Thankful for God’s grace and mercy.

A little background on our story.  While we were in the “waiting to be matched” phase of our domestic adoption, we decided to pursue international adoption through the Ethiopia program.

Please please take more than a few months doing your research on this or any international program.  We were extremely naive in the fact that surely anyone working in this type of area has compassion, morals and high ethical standards toward the prospective adoptive parents, first families and children involved.  That is not at all the case for our situation or in many other cases.  It’s heartbreaking how often the vulnerability of first families, children and adoptive parents are taken advantage of.  Hindsight is truly 20/20 in our situation and sadly left me with feelings of shame, guilt and sadness.

Here’s how we got here:
We received a call at the end of January from our agency that we received a referral for a precious 3 month old little boy in Ethiopia, named Abrahim. He stole our hearts through a picture!

We cannot show his beautiful face due to the instability of his case and the unknown's of his current situation…but it is precious!

We cannot show his beautiful face due to the instability of his case and the unknown’s of his current situation…but it is precious!

But a week after we accepted the referral, our world fell apart.  The agency out of Georgia that our agency in Indy used to complete their Ethiopia adoptions had charges brought against them.  Charges brought by the U.S. department of Justice regarding fraud and various other things.  Reading the full indictment was just a glimpse into the corruption that we have seen through this journey.

We waited months with very few answers along the way.  There were moments of hope that seemed to slip away and overshadowed by more bad news. We had periods of not knowing Abrahim’s location followed by news that MOWA (the ministry that oversees all adoptions) was going to step in and help us.  This is such a very small glimpse into the details of how things progressed over the last 10 months.  I have never felt so much fear, hate or anger at a situation, but so thankful for my faith in God’s sovereignty and undeserving forgiveness.

God lets the storm rage

In the end, we were unable to move forward because of the orphanage director.  The director at Abrahim’s orphanage was unwilling to work with our new assigned adoption agency due to unethical financial reasons.

Currently, we have no “official” answer or closure to our case.  All of us families (7 total) affected by this situation are assuming our children have been re-referred to new families and have been moved to a new agency’s transition home.  If it is not God’s plan for us to bring home our children then we pray they all end up with new, happy, and healthy families.

If you could all say a prayer for peace and comfort in our hearts and for Abrahim, that he will be loved and well taken care of.

Although this is not the way we were hoping for this to turn out, we have been extremely blessed by some amazing new friends we’ve met along the way.  Our hearts will be forever changed by this experience.

Blessings

Part 3…how we have overcome heartbreak and are changing lives… http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/beauty-from-ashes/

See Part 1 on domestic adoption here:  http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/everyone-has-a-storypart-1/

Good things fall apart

Everyone has a story…Part 1

 

With a month left before we hit the road, I thought I would detour and talk about adoption and the many ways it has completely changed our lives.  I will be doing a three part blog series on our adoption journey.  I have no idea how long it will take to write, because some of the things I’ll share still hurt.  And may possibly offend some that have walked a similar path, but this is our story and my feelings (which are always evolving).

Photo credit from Pinterest

Photo credit from Pinterest

Tim and I had discussed adoption long before we had our amazing little boy Griffin.  We felt that if we had the love to give and the means to share that love with someone else, then we should, because every child should feel loved and have security.  As I write that statement now, it sounds so wrong and so naive.  Don’t get me wrong, every child does deserve love and security, it’s just my views of how to give that have changed.

You can make plans

After all that’s said, I love adoption, I’m the lucky mom to an awesome little girl because of it, but it comes with such a loss for first families.  And that is sometimes a really hard thought to swallow and has lead to many feelings of guilt over the past year.

Amelia’s story and every adoption story is so unique and one of a kind.  I love to tell her story and have told and wrote about it often.  She has heard her story many times, even though she does not understand yet, someday she will.

The Journey to Amelia:

“We received a call from our adoption agency on Wednesday, December 18th and were asked if they could show our profile to an expectant mom whose due date was the following day.

I was called later that afternoon (Tim was sleeping since he was in the middle of his turn on nights), and told that the expectant mom had picked our profile and wanted to meet us the next day in Indy.  So we planned to leave once Tim was home from work the next morning.

We met with expectant mom Chelsea and her grandmother at the agency and talked for a couple of hours.  We were complete strangers is a very different and somewhat awkward situation, but the conversation was very easy and laid back.  We left each other with a new found friendship.

That Thursday night (Chelsea’s due date), Tim went off to work on the hour of sleep he got during the car ride home.  I had just put Griff to bed when my phone rang and it was our agency, which has always caused a flood of many emotions when I saw that name pop up on caller ID.  The agency’s director told me we needed to pack our bags and head back to Indy because Chelsea’s water broke!

So, I called Tim’s emergency number at work since he was on night shift and spoke to his co-worker in the pulpit, where Tim is hardly ever at, but happened to be standing right there!  It was a whirlwind of emotions going through both our heads.  I thought I would have had a few days to unpack our baby things and figure out where Griffin would stay, apparently God had other plans.

Well, it was déjà vu driving back to Indy in the same day!  We arrived at 1:30am and Chelsea, her grandmother and her dad were all resting comfortably when we got there.  I stayed in the hospital room and slept on the floor on a mattress for 3 days and Tim slept on various couches and chairs throughout the hospital.  We felt somewhat homeless, spending the day scouting the most comfortable places to sleep.  Mind you, Tim was on night shift and had only slept about 2 hours in 2 days, so we got a hotel for napping and showering.

I stayed with Chelsea throughout the whole delivery and we welcomed miss Amelia Marie on Sunday morning December 22, 2013 at 5:55am.  She was 7.5 pounds and 20.5 inches and beautiful!

After two more days in the hospital, me in the room with Chelsea and Amelia, and then Tim staying in the hotel, we managed to get a little more sleep.  However, I can not even begin to describe the emotions we experienced over the next few days.  They still seem so vivid and raw, but ones that I will cherish forever.

We brought our beautiful little girl home on Christmas Eve!”

Amelia Marie

Amelia Marie

Amelia’s birth mother, Chelsea, has a very special place in my heart and we will be forever connected!  She is the most selfless person I know, at just the young age of 18, and I could not be more amazed at the decisions and sacrifices she made.  It’s still heartbreaking to think about.  I truly hope that when Chelsea’s ready, we will meet again.

*I have tears just writing this story as it brings back so many emotions and memories from that experience.

Part 2 will be a hard glimpse into our journey of international adoption.  See it here:  http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/the-hard-road-to-changing-hearts

Part 3:  http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/beauty-from-ashes/

Inside our new home

Thought I would share a few pictures of the before’s and after’s of our new rig (insert cool name here).  The home on wheels has yet to be named, but I feel the longer we live here, an appropriate name will present itself.

We have not had to do any remodeling, since this floor plan seems to really fit our current needs.  So most of the changes have been cosmetic with some added home decor.  And plenty of organizing, which if you know me, it is one of my favorite things to do :)

We have been living in the new home for about a week and lets just say if we survive the next 6 weeks without full hook-up for water and sewer, then transitioning into a RV park with all the amenities will be an absolute breeze and blessing.  I’m sure I’ll really miss the 4am walk across the driveway to use the bathroom in the sticks and bricks house ;)

So enjoy the pics…

Our room…equipped with a king size bed, full bath and washer and dryer!

Our room…equipped with a king size bed, full bath and washer and dryer!

Making our room feel like home!

Making our room feel like home!

Our full bath

Our full bath

Our living room and u-dinette booth.

Our living room and u-dinette booth.

Our kitchen with all the necessary amenities.

Our kitchen with all the necessary amenities.

Our entertainment center and fireplace.  Love this option in a RV!

Our entertainment center and fireplace. Love this option in a RV!

Wardrobe and storage for the kiddos.  They have there own half bath with separate outdoor entry…should be nice for potty training!?!

Wardrobe and storage for the kiddos. They have there own half bath with separate outdoor entry in their bunkhouse…should be nice for potty training!?!

Griffin's bunk…fully decorated in Lightening McQueen and all of his friends and acquaintances!

Griffin’s bunk…fully decorated in Lightening McQueen and all of his friends and acquaintances!

Amelia's Quarters with book and toy storage!

Amelia’s Quarters with book and toy storage!

I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of our “tiny” new space!