How “Being Seen+Lavish Love=A Stroller”

A few weeks ago a nice, gently used, double stroller popped up for sale on a my facebook page. “Should I go ahead and buy it? It is only $75? But it is not really the colors I was hoping for. Maybe I should just wait? I have several months before I will need one. I have not even researched strollers in years. Is that a good price? I was really hoping for something neutral that would work for a boy and a girl…but maybe I should not be picky about colors. Maybe I should be happy with anything at a good price? But is this a good price? (hearing one of the kids call for my help from the other room) OK…I will wait.” Close computer. Move on.

Fast forward a week. At a local store. Walk by the baby section. The same stroller is sitting there shiny and new with a $199 price tag hanging from the handle. “Oh stink. I should have bought it when it was $75 and barley used. OK Lord….My fussy, color picky self, messed up. I should have bought it. Will you please provide another cost effective option? I will try my best to not be so picky about the color, but just for fun… can you maybe bless me with a simple gray or a nice light neutral green that will work for both a boy and a girl? Thank you for seeing me. I am trusting you know my heart and I will wait on you to provide” And I kept on walking.

At this point I should clarify all the above dialogue happened in MY HEAD…I do not talk to myself OUT LOUD!!!! =)

Fast forward to last week, while on vacation,  I got an email from a TOTAL STRANGER. We have a few friends in common but she found me via a liked tweet of a retweet of a friend that linked something that linked to something that led to a blog post where I mentioned having to prepare for the “are they twins question” about Fin and Mae for the rest of our lives.  Or stated another way….. she found me b/c God made a crazy GOD SIZED CONNECTION!!!

I will paraphrase but her email stated something to the effect of….

“My husband and I adopted a boy and girl several years ago from overseas. We have a STROLLER that I just had to have b/c it is SOOO FUN. It is called the “Boy Meets Girl Double Stroller by Valco”. It has been sitting in my basement and I have been waiting on God to show me the right family to GIFT it to. I know it seems crazy to reach out to a total stranger in a different state (she lives in GA) that I found online(via crazy God connecting) but I just KNOW you are suppose to have this stroller. Can we figure out a way to get it to you? Please don’t tell anyone who gave it to you. We just want you to have it. We love adoption and want to support you. Do you happen to need a stroller?”

UMMMM….insert my giddy ugly crying as I google “Boy Meets Girl Double Stroller” and see this gem…..

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and then I see that it is a Limited Edition stroller that costs $799. Yep $799.

OH MY STARS LORD!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS??? IS THIS FOR REAL???

Please don’t hear me say it is about the money. It is not. It is about BEING SEEN. BEING HEARD. BEING LOVED WITH LAVISH CRAZY GOD SIZED LOVE. And being blessed beyond my wildest dreams YET AGAIN!!!!!!

HE heard my measly plea of forgiveness over not buying a $75 stroller. HE saw my unnecessary guilt over being too picky about colors. HE KNOWS my heart. He KNOWS my desires….however silly they are. AND then HE BLEW ME AWAY with the CUTEST STINKING STROLLER that I DID NOT EVEN KNOW to ask for b/c I did not know it EXISTED!!!!!!!!!!

So guess what my in laws are doing right this minute in GA???

They are picking up my lovely Boy Meets Girl Blue and Pink Stroller from a dear lady who was a stranger last week and is now a dear friend!!! She is part of our God Story. Yet another bullet point in the long and growing list of His lavish grace and provision. This time in the form of a stroller.

I can’t wait to push those two cuties through the zoo, while singing praises to the God WHO SEES and HEARS!!!

T

 

 

 

Making Memories Without the Littles

My precious in laws treat us to a yearly vacation. We usually steal away to their time share in Orlando. Our days are filled with late mornings, slow days, multiple trips to the pools, outings to the local shops, and at least one day trip to the beach.

Today, Poppie treated the fellas to a day at LegoLand to celebrate Cam’s 14th and Dax’s 10th b-day. Dax said it was the best day of his life :).
Nana treated the girls to a shopping trip to the Vera Bradely Outlet. Tomorrow we plan to wade in the ocean at Cocoa Beach.

Sounds heavenly right? It is. This time together is much needed Sabbath rest. A break from the normal. Time to laugh, to lounge, to be together. A blessing beyond measure. We don’t take a moment of it for granted.

But today I am teary, heavy hearted, and raw. Part of our family is missing. We have two children that are not here. They are not in the family pictures. They. Are. Missing. Part of me is missing.

Stepping out of the mundane of normal life is like shinning a huge spot light on this painful truth. Making new memories without them is like pouring salt on a wound. Their absence is always a dull pain, but this week it is like a festering sore. Every dip in the pool and every crash of the salty water makes it sting even more.

I have noticed every toddler that walks by. Every mom and dad giggling with them, holding their hands, feeding them ice cream by the pool, and delighting in their presence. They remind me of the days we are missing. They take me to a new place of desperation where my heart literally feels like it is breaking inside my chest.

These days make me long for “our firsts” with Fin and Mae. Our first giggle. Our first family picture. Our first glimpse of their little toes. The first time they let us truly comfort them when their body melts into ours. Our first sleepless night when they are adjusting. Our first baths. Our first moments of time in the same room, inside the same walls, under the same roof…oh what a glorious day that will be.

But until that time, don’t mind me…you can just call me the “toddler stalker”

Waiting in hope,
Tona

The Passing of Days, Birth Families, and Pictures

We have loved our Littles since the moments we saw their faces peering back at us from the screen in Fall of 2012. We have watched the days pass as they grow through pictures. We have seen beautiful babies with yellow skin and eyes turn pink under the care of surgeons and medical staff. We have seen the fat of their legs and the rolls on their wrists enlarge as they are fed and cared for. We have seen their beds, their toys, their cloths, their care givers. We have seen. I can not describe the difficulty of watching them grow via pictures and not in my arms.

But my heart aches with their birth families. They aren’t watching them grow in any way. They aren’t seeing. They don’t know. They can only wonder. What does that do to the heart of a mom, to a dad, to birth grand parents, to those who love them? Oh my heart.

You see they have loved them since the moment they knew they were pregnant, since the moment they felt them kick or move. Since the moment they heard their first cries, changed their first diapers, took in their smell, tickled their little toes, and kissed their cheeks.

We don’t know what life circumstances, emotions, and decisions preceded both of their relinquishments. But we do know Fin and Mae were both visibly very sick. So we can assume their families knew they needed care. From that point we are left to wonder.

How I wish I could hug their mommy’s necks and tell them that their babies are being cared for. That their babies are alive. That their babies are thriving. How I wish they could see pictures. That they could know. That peace of mind could fill their wondering hearts.

Each day that passes without Fin and Mae home in our arms, I am not only reminded of our loss, I am reminded that their birth families are also grieving their absence. They are without their babies too.

Adoption and foster care are not without loss. They are because of it. There is a fracture in what should be. Yes, what is and what can be have the potential to be beautifully redemptive. I am in no way taking away from the beauty of adoption. I am a mommy b/c of adoption. Adoption is my life, my world, my hope. But to fully understand the depth of adoption, we must see the loss. My kids need us to see the loss. Our birth families need us to see the loss. My own heart needs us to see the loss. Out of the loss we can see healing. We can see restoration.

My prayer for each of our 4 internationally adopted children is that their birth families could KNOW that their beloved babies are loved with a love beyond words and that they are safe. Our domestically adopted kiddos mommas have the gift of knowing this already, but our other four birth families do not.

The first picture we saw of Fin

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After the Kasai surgery

Quentin Original(1)

Growing up

Fin

Fin

The first picture we saw of Mae

Mae

After the Kasai Surgery

MaeGrowing Up

MaeMaeCan’t wait to kiss those cheeks!

Tona

 

We are going to be a family of E.I.G.H.T.- Meet our SON!!!

We are going to be a family of E.I.G.H.T.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We got the pre approval today from China that we can adopt “Peanut”.

I am going to do my best to lay out some of the details of his story, but I need you to do me a favor OK? I need you to go back and read a few old posts before you scroll down and read any more of this entry. Can you do that for me???? PLEASE???????????

Click on the post Been a little while, what is on my mind from Dec 4th 2012 and read #2. (You can read the whole thing but #2 is important). Then come back here.

Next click on Highs, lows, hope from Dec 6th and read Low #1-#3. Then come back here.

Oh the Terrific Trio.

How I love them!!!!

The first sweet girl Yossell is of course our Mae Yossell. Beauty in a gift to us.

The other dear little girl Yanka has been healed completely and is dancing in the streets of heaven, basking in the delight of our Lord. Whole, healed, loved. Can not wait to met her in glory one day.

And then there is Quentin. Melt my heart. We have loved him since the day we saw him. Begged God for him. And……drum roll…… he is our SON. Through a series of God sized events, he became available for us to adopt on the VERY DAY that we learned the other sweet little boy we had been praying for was matched with another family. THE VERY SAME DAY. Not the day before or the day after. Not the month or year before. Not the month or year after. T.H.E. D.A.Y.

We had no idea God would make a way for him to be ours. It was a total out of nowhere  move of God.

But that is what God does right? He writes the best stories. Better than anything we could ever imagine.

So we would like to introduce you to…..

GRIFFIN “FIN” QUENTIN OTTINGER

Fin

 

I mean what a cutie right???????????

A few details for those inquiring minds!!!….

~Fin is 3 weeks older than Mae….so we are preparing to get the “Are they twins?” question for the rest of our lives =)

~Fin has the same liver condition as Mae, Biliary Atresia. He had one surgery to repair it and his health is stable for the time being. He may also require a liver transplant in the future.

~We first saw him in a Show Hope newsletter the MONTH after we saw Mae in Nov 2012.

~His English name in China was Quentin, which is a significant name for our family. First it means born 5th. He is our 5th child. Next it is the SAME name Dax was given at birth but a different spelling AND my full name is Quintona. God used Dax’s name being Quinton to confirm he was our son (different story for a different post) and we feel the same thing here. Just another sweet detail He wove into Fin’s story!!!

~Fin and Mae are in the SAME orphanage and live on the SAME floor!!! Both are being cared for by Show Hope via an organization called New Hope Foundation. They are getting great care and we are thankful!!!!!!

~We hope to pick them up together in late summer/early fall!!!!!!!!

~We will need to raise additional funds to help cover the extra cost of his adoption. More on that soon.

~We are thrilled to be blessed with another treasure. Let the boy shopping begin..oh wait it already did…I went today =)!!!!!!

Have more questions? Let me know!!! I will blog more soon!!!!!

Thank you for celebrating with us!!!!!!

Tona

Peanut Update

Just a quick update~we are waiting to get our pre approval from China saying we can move forward with adopting “peanut”.

As soon as we hear we will share a bit more of his story!!!!

Until then we are rocking and rolling along with paper work and yard sale prep.

We are doing a mega sale in May with some friends who are also adopting from China.  We are in the midst of gathering, sorting, and storing crazy amounts of donations. The kids said they feel like we live in a Goodwill.

We also had a nice bump up in our fundraising thermometer =). Thank you to all who have given!!!!! We are blown away by your generosity!!!!!

Hoping I can share more in a few days!

T

 

 

Bye Bye Beard and Shaking Tambourines

Mo shaved his beard…and yes along the way he looked a little creepy… we laughed so hard we cried.

photo-16I did a big ole tambourine dance

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We sent paper work to our agency yesterday to lock the file of a little boy in China…who I will call Peanut.

He is NOT the little boy I blogged about in the previous posts. God is writing an awesome story for that little guy and his future family. We have worked through the depth of emotions tied to him. We have peace that can only be explained by the presence of God’s good gracious hand.

We are taking steps to lock another beautiful little boy. We can not wait to share with you WHO PEANUT IS!!! OH MY GOODNESS I STILL JUST CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!

I am at the Created for Care Conference in ATL again this weekend…which is the same retreat I mentioned in the first post linked below. The retreat is done in Feb and again in March. The Lord’s timing is so so sweet…. I am going to worship Him this weekend with my tambourine in hand!!!!!!!

Paper work is making it’s way to China. Once we have pre approval from China that we can move forward with him, we will be able to share more details!!!!

For background to this story you can read:

Beards, Tambourines, Seas, Baby Boys, Hope

then

Broken Hallelujah

then

Waters Deep and Sinking Feet 

Doing my praise dance,

Tona for the whole Ottinger Crew

Waters Deep and Sinking Feet

Picture this….You have just been with Jesus standing among a crowd that was pushing in towards Him. He had spoken life giving words over them, healed their sick, and being in a “desolate place” at the end of the day, the crowd was growing hungry.

Jesus took the offerings of a child, two mere fish and 5 loaves of bread. He raised them to heaven and blessed them. He told you and the other followers to go and pass them out to over 5 thousand people. The baskets never emptied. The supply was more than enough. Their bellies were full. Their physical needs satisfied.  There were 12 baskets of food left over, just enough for you and the other disciples. You stood in awe of what could not be explained other than to acknowledge that a miracle has occurred in your midst.

Then the scripture says IMMEDIATELY Jesus and the disciples (that is you in this story) got into the boat to go to the other side.  As night falls, Jesus gets out of the boat to go up a mountain to pray. As the waves and wind are crashing against the boat, you and the others, still resting inside, are being pushed farther and farther from Jesus on the mountain.  You pass concerned glances at one another. You start to move about quickly in an effort to get back to land.

You blink hard to focus your eyes. Could it be? Is SOMEONE WALKING on the sea? A ghost? Fear strikes your core. But then. You hear his tender familiar voice. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matt 14:27). Your heart skips a beat. Your faith pulses inside you. Your courage and ability to trust Him have been put to the test today. You yell out “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matt 14:28). He says “Come”. So you (Peter) get out of the boat and walk on the water coming closer and closer to Him. BUT you see the wind, it pulses on your side, it rips through your robe. The reality of what you are doing flashed through your mind. Your eyes flicker from His face to your surroundings. Fear takes hold. Thoughts swirl. It happens in an instant. You begin to sink. In terror you cry out “Lord, save me.” (vs 30). Jesus wastes not one millisecond He reaches out His hand, He takes a strong hold on you. You are safe. His words come flowing out….”O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”.  You have seen things happen in your time with Him that can only mean He is. HE IS. HE IS THE PROMISED ONE. But you are a mere man with a heart of fear and you stumble to trust and believe. You vacillate between standing in awe and cowering in fear. You make your way to the boat. Safely inside. The storm ceases. Those that have been watching the events unfold from the safety of the boat, fall to their faces and say “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Oh Peter, how I so relate to you. Moments of prideful boasting of my faith only to let my eyes wonder to the fear that surrounds me. The “hows”. The “whens”. The “whats”.  The “waves”. They make my feet stumble. They cause me to sink and cry out “Lord, save me”

 

The song Oceans by Hillsong (you can click to listen/watch on Youtube)  has been my hearts cry and mantra of 2014.

Here are the words:

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

 You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

 And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

 Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

 So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

 Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name

Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine

May He “Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander”

My dear friend gave me this for my 40th birthday in January. I have it in my kitchen as a daily reminder for the journey ahead.

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Blessings,

Tona

Broken Hallelujah (an update)

(For the back story to this post read Beards, Tambourines, Seas, Baby Boys……)

We debated sharing our hearts for Baby Boy with the world in the above mentioned post.

We debated long and hard for weeks and weeks, but we ultimately decided the story that is being written is not all ours.

The story is not all about us.

The story will unfold chapter by chapter moving and flowing full of highs and lows, hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows.

We do not know the end but we know the author.

We know His character.

We know His promises.

We know His heart.

We know His voice and what He is whispering to us.

We know He is leading us to take the next step but nothing more.

So we wade into deep waters uncertain of the journey ahead.

We invite those who want to follow along to go with us.

To pray with us.

To hope with us.

We decided to be vulnerable.

To hope out loud. To risk. To speak.

To give Him everything.

This week, we learned that Baby Boy has been matched with a forever family and that family is not ours.

We know some of the details. It is beyond a beautiful story. It is nothing less than amazing. The evidence of God’s hand cannot be denied. We cannot share…b/c it is not our story to share. But we are in awe of the portrait He is painting.

We have wept. A lot.

We have grieved. Hard.

When you love and hope with deep passion you experience deep loss.

This picture is the pile of tissues Mo, Mia (who longed for him to be her brother) and I created as we wept together and cried out to the Lord to heal our broken hearts.

photo-13

 

As we drove to church Sunday morning, we heard the song Broken Hallelujah by The Afters.  Mia turned to me and said “Mom this is my Baby ________’s song”.

What a beautiful expression of our heart. If you have not heard it take a sec and check it out….click to listen to Broken Hallelujah on YouTube

“You know the things that have brought me here. You know the story of every tear. Cause You’ve been here from the very start. Even though I don’t know what Your plan is. I know You make beauty from these ashes. I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain. And on my knees I call Your name. Here’s my broken Hallelujah”

We will stand broken-hearted, trusting Him, with our tambourines in hand and sing Hallelujah.

God in His gentle sweetness has already started to reveal His bigger plan and purpose to us, but it is not time for that just yet =).

Stay tuned for the next chapter…….we think it is going to be a glorious unfolding….

I am keeping my tambourine in hand…

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Mo is letting his beard continue to grow…

photo-14

We are waiting…

We are listening…

We are holding our hands open…

We are hoping…

We are clinging…

We are offering our Broken Hallelujahs.

Tona

Let’s Celebrate What the Church is Doing RIGHT

In light of all my posts yesterday….I wanted to give you a link to my dear friend Erin Kim’s follow up blog to “Where the church is getting foster care all wrong”…. the other side…the things the church is doing right. After all, the last thing that does any of us any good is only pointing out the things that need to be fixed. We must celebrate the victories. Honor those stepping into the mess without all the answers. Willing to figure it out as they go. Willing to stand in the gap. The church is asking the right questions. The church is getting their hands dirty. Conversations are happening. People are dialoguing. People are willing. People are praying. Let’s celebrate that.

http://packednlove.org/where-the-church-is-getting-fostercare-so-right/

Tona