You are not going to believe this….

I just have to share something that is so CRAZY GOD SIZED AMAZING it is undeniably HIM!!!!! For those who took the time to read my previous posts about my “Broken Hallelujah” and “Letting Grief Ooze On Out” are you ready for this?????

For those who have not been following along……You can catch up (here) but in a nut shell there was a 3rd little fella that Mark and I fell in love with in China. It was the original little boy we posted about before God did crazy amazing things to bring us Fin. Trying to explain all the details via the blog is difficult…but bottom line….God closed a door….He said NO and I have been deeply grieving. The grief over not getting the other little boy takes NOTHING away from Fin and Mae…it is a different story…a different journey…a different child…a different loss. I have felt very compelled to share honestly about it online, when I would normally hold these kinds of things close to my heart.

So on to the CRAZY GOD SIZED moment…..

We had a massive yard sale this past weekend…I will post details on it over the next few days…but this needed its own post and I need to tell you before I burst.

Friday morning of the sale my friend Elizabeth, who we did the sale with, comes running up to me with tears in her eyes and a box in her hand.

She said “Tona you are NEVER going to believe this!!!!!!!!!  I just quoted a lady a price on the sculpture in this box, but when she turned it and I saw the writing on the side, I took it from her ” ( lady was NOT happy!!!!! But this was an appropriate time to be an indian giver.)

I looked down and the box and started WEEPING. There is no other word. Bent over, in the middle of a hundred people at a yard sale and I wept. HUGE CAN’T BREATH TEARS.

I will share as much as I can without giving up too many clues as to who the little guy is that we fell in love with or where he is ….. b/c I want to do my best to honor him and his adoptive family.

But the orphanage where he is in China was started by a branch of a company in China that manufactures good…mostly faith based inspirational type items, including sculptures.

The side of the box said  in a nutshell….the sculpture in the box was created by “said company” and sales of this product go to support “said foster home” and provide medical care for the children, so they can get healthy enough to be adopted into loving homes.

OH MY STARS!!!!!!!!!!

Elizabeth knew where the little guy is.

She knew this was made by his orphanage/company.

She knew God was loving on me that morning in the midst of that crazy yard sale.

And that box was sent there FOR ME as a gift from the Lord.

We have NO IDEA who donated it, so if it was you….please LET ME KNOW!!!!!!!

But it gets even BETTER!!!!!!!!!!

The sculpture inside the box…..

Had this verse on it…..photo 2-3

 

And was of this….

photo 1-3

 

A praying woman. One of my kids said “she looks like you mommy”. Bless that child…b/c mommy is a bit fluffer than that sculpture…but I will take it =)

Oh dear one reading….you have to know there is a GOD and HE LOVES you fiercely. He LOVES you so deeply.

There is NO OTHER WAY to explain THIS but the hand of a loving compassionate God who wanted me to KNOW WITHOUT a DOUBT that HE KNOWS my heart ache, my deepest hearts desires, my pain, my loss, my hope, my fear, my joy and that HE HEARS my prayers….and I AM NO MORE DESERVING than YOU!!!  HE LOVES YOU WITH A FIERCE LOVE.

He sent this praying lady sculpture all the way from China, from the company tied to the sweet baby boy that I love so deeply I feel like a part of me is missing, via a yard sale donation, to my friend’s hands who knew the story (lots of others were working the sale that would not have a clue), and sent it straight to my heart B/C HE IS ALIVE AND ACTIVE AND SEES AND KNOWS AND HEARS AND LOVES WITH CRAZY FIERCE LOVE.

And I am on my face in worship….offering up to HIM my broken hallelujah again!!!

Tona

Taking off my mask and letting the grief ooze on out….

Sometimes the hard, and real, and raw need to be shared

Sometimes we need to pull back the mask and let the real coming oozing out

Sometimes we do it for us

Sometimes we do it for others

Sometimes it creates space for others to share – to feel

Sometimes it creates space for us process – to  heal

Sometimes it is just the right thing to do

Sometimes it is time

It is time

It is time to share my sadness. My grief. My loss

I have been holding on to it for weeks out of fear

Fear that sharing would leave me misunderstood

Fear that sharing would steal away from my precious Fin

Fear it would steal away from his story. His preciousness

If I shared how I was deeply grieving for the little boy we did not get (see Broken Hallelujah) then maybe you, they, everyone would question

Maybe you would question my love for Fin. My joy for Fin. My excitement over being HIS mom

But I decided to trust you

To trust that you would have the ability to offer me space for both

Space to both grief over what isn’t and joy for what is

I believe we have capacity for both

For both grief and joy

We prayed for months and months for a little boy and we longed for him to be our son with all of our hearts. God said no

That is not easy. It is painful. It is hard. It is ripping me up inside

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching work over the last few months

Why is this so hard?

What about this situation makes it so difficult for me?

A few days ago I realized this is my “loss”

This is my “thing”

This is the “thing I have hoped and longed for but it is not going to be fulfilled” thing

You see I have infertility

I had a full hysterectomy before age 30

But I did not grieve my infertility the way most women do

Infertility was not my “thing”

I questioned myself for years. Maybe I should have felt more? Grieved more? What is wrong with me that I did not weep and grieve the way most women with infertility do? Was I shut off emotionally? I had older women push back on me when I said “I was ok”, “fine”, and “it is no big deal to me”

But you see……when we found out we would never conceive, we already had two beautiful babies at home. Camden and Mia were already ours. We started our family through adoption. When we wanted children we chose adoption first.

I KNEW with every part of me that I was fulfilled. I never had to feel a baby kick inside of me to be satisfied.

So I never grieved infertility b/c I never felt like I longed for a child I would not have.

I had the children I longed for. If and when we longed for more children, adoption was a gift that we would gladly receive again.

I know that my story of infertility is so deeply different from most ladies I met and talked with. In fact, I often avoid talking about it altogether , because I don’t really relate and I never ever want to steal away from the pain, loss, grief, or any part of someone else’s story because my process was different.

A few weeks ago, when I was crying out to the Lord about why I am still longing for this other little boy  too…..please don’t misunderstand me…it is not “instead of” my other kids…it is “too”…I want Camden, Mia, Mallie, Dax, Fin, Mae, AND him….it hit me…this is my “loss”….this is my “thing”

This is the only time I have longed for and loved a child this deeply and them NOT become ours. (I cried out over Fin and Mae…and look what the Lord has done!!!!!!)

I have no expectation that this will be another “Mae and Fin” story where God will do some crazy stuff and make them ours like He did them.

I really feel like this is my “loss”

My “thing”

The thing I have to grieve

My “Broken Hallelujah”

The “thing” that will allow me to touch the grief many other women feel as they walk miscarriages, infertility, failed adoptions, and unmet desires to be married. Please hear me….I am not saying these things are the same or compare equally to one another….but they all come with paralyzing loss as women. They are the losses of a feminine heart.

So I am sad.

I find myself taken by waves of loss that are deafening

ALL the while I am OVERWHELMINGLY blessed and crazy FULL OF JOY for what is and what is to come.

I am certain the story God is writing will blow us away. I am expecting that. I am clinging to that.

But….

I am giving myself space for both. No sugar-coating. No tying it up in a bow. No pat answers or quotes for this one.

Just hope, joy, and blessing sitting up next to pain, loss, and sadness.

And I am OK with that….

If you feel inclined to share your “thing”…. your “loss”….your “grief”……your “broken hallelujah” I would be honored to hear.

We need to hold space for one another,

Tona

 

 

 

 

 

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…..

images

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

 

 

 

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

photo-15

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.

photo-12

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…

photo-12

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

Could Not Have Said it Better Myself – More on Foster Care

If you read my blog Another Perspective on Birth Families and Foster care

and felt something in you resonate…..then you have to read this:

http://packednlove.org/where-the-church-is-getting-fostercare-all-wrong/

It is written by my dear heart friend Erin Kim. It makes me jump up and down!

Tona

 

Another Perspective on Birth Families and Foster Care

I read a blog today on foster care. I decided not to link to it b/c I want to honor the author, but I need to speak. I need to write a different perspective. It has been burning in me far too long not to share.

For those who have posted or shared the link to “the other blog” I am about to tread into some waters, that might feel uncomfortable to you. You might not agree. That is OK. We can love one another and have a good profitable discussion right?

We are missing a huge piece of the foster care puzzle. Not all “these” kids are unwanted. They have families. They have parents. Yes they may have put their children in at risk situations. Yes they may have messed up deeply or again and again. Yes they may have even harmed their children.

But to make a blanket statement that the children would be nowhere without us, boasts of something that does not sit well with me. No offense or judgment to the author- I understand her heart and appreciate what she is doing…just asking us to raise our eyes a bit.

We need to be about holistic healing.

Bio family and all. We are not saving them. We need to be arms of love and compassion to the whole family. Hurting people hurt others. Where is our compassion for the hurting adults in the equation? Who, I bet, were hurting at risk children themselves.

I understand that in some situations children do not need to return to their bio families. But to ask “who really wants these kids” is a generalized statement that sensationalizes and moves us to “pity” them. I bet their broken-hearted families do. Even if they are too covered in shame, embarrassment, addiction, or fear to admit it. I bet they want them. Deep in their hearts they wish they were free to live and love and provide for their kids. But they aren’t.

We need to reframe our thinking. We need to think about the bigger picture. We need to lay down our stereotypes of what good parenting is. We need to lay down racial prejudices that get in the way of seeing birth families culture and different ways of living as something that can be celebrated rather than judged. Not all cultures parent the way white evangelical parents do and that does not mean they don’t want or love their kids. (Feels good to finally say that)

We need to SEE our foster and adopted children’s parents as human beings to be treated and talked about with dignity and grace. Compassion and truth. Love and humility. Understanding and empathy. Our children’s self-esteem, our reflection of the gospel, and very possibly a family’s need for healing depend on it.

Tona

Want to add this link written by a dear friend and adoptive and foster mom. It is worth your time to read:  Where the church is getting fostercare all wrong

Adding another post that calls us to grace and compassion: The Story of a Birthmother 

(One additional thought I promise this is not directed at one particular person or blog. This is in response to a larger mindset I have been feeling for half a decade. Phrases and words that tear down not build up. That wound not restore. Words that set it up “us as against them” and “us as the good guy rescuers vs them as the bad guys”. It is about HONOR. It was just time to speak.)