Thursday, June 21, 2012

We're Back!!!

I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted!

A LOT has happened in the Reiner Casa since February 12!!!

We will post more later on how God has worked amazing miracles in our lives! Forever grateful. We will not be posting fine details (names, photos, location, etc out of respect and love for those in our story), but we cannot keep silent on how God works in lives and especially how He has worked in ours! God's plans are so much better than our own and what an adventure when you stay silent to hear and see God lead!

Here are some hints of what has happened in our lives over the last few months:

She is Brave, Strong, Smart, Beautiful, and Loving:

Sorry for being absent but we've had been focused on love, play, and prayer. WE'RE HAVING A BLAST OVER HERE IN OUR HOUSE!!! 

Goodness, I can't put this very post together without tearing up with abundant thankfulness and love. Note to self: grab tissue next time!!! Ha!

Over the Moon
1 Samuel 1:27

Sunday, March 18, 2012

February 12, 2012: Run for Donna

February 12, 2012: Run for Donna
{better yet: Run for Gina & Abby}

I am a little late getting this posted. Things have been a little busy in our world. Good busy though. :)
I was official! Race bib picked up from Expo the day before.

February 12, 2012 had finally arrived! I had trained for 12 long weeks on a Hal Higdon plan that seemed nearly impossible to complete the first week I trained. I was so ready for this day.

What I was NOT ready for was Florida to take a temperature NOSEDIVE. We woke at 4 am to 20 mph winds and 30 degrees with a windchill in the low 20's!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!?!? For my first half marathon I get to dress like I'm in the Ididitrod race?? Bless it!!!
To give you an DEAR FRIEND captured the weather on video before we left our hotel:

My dear friend also captured me at 4 am...somehow I can't ever be completely serious. HA! I guess it wouldn't be me if I was all serious. I mean girl's got to keep it fun and light!!! I'll let the hubs handle the serious. LOL
My custom race bib pinned on the back of my running fleece.
Trying to stay warm under the space heaters and a little "peace" tribute to a friend who runs a marathon EVERY weekend. I'm not even exaggerating...EVERY WEEKEND...bananas!
The hubs and I just before we entered the Runners Exhibition. I kept standing like that because I was certain it would keep me warmer! I bought those compression socks and gloves at the expo the day before as another item to keep me warm. I am so thankful I picked those up...FA-REEEZING!
The race began at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Of couse, a little ER shout out from my trauma days! 
During my training I claimed Phillipians 4:13. One of my besties reminded me of this verse the day before our race. Shortly after the race started, this girl ran literally right in front of me with THAT VERSE on her shirt. She and I had the same pace so I had this verse in front of me the WHOLE RACE!!! God is so good. So good!
This race was an emotional one. Everyone was running for someone or many. We saw people with ribbons hanging from their clothes with names on each ribbon {some had enough ribbons to make a skirt}, pictures pinned to their clothes, custom bibs, etc. Survivors were running. Fighters were running. Supporters were running. At mile four the gravity of this race hit me and I was choked up. What an honor to run for Gina and Abby. Gina was in Houston that weekend fighting for her life in a clinical trial. She wanted to run this race and began training back in October 2011 but was unable to get far in training due to her battle. Heavy.  Part of our run was on the beach and we entered the beach via "Miracle Mile". The view was spectacular! 
I turned around to get a pic of the hubs entering the beach. I had decided not to watch my pace or time on my tracker, but to just take each moment and view of the race in. My goal was to enjoy this race and not worry about time. After all, it's about finishing and not my time.
Our friends captured us coming through the finish line. I was smiling, crying, and shocked. I had finished and finished well. I couldn't believe I had accomplished this personal goal of mine. What was even better was finishing with the hubs right next to me! He's MUCH faster than I but chose to slow his pace and stay with me.
I was overcome with emotion. It's hard to explain what crossing that finish line for the first time is like. Unreal!
They gave us these thermal blankets to keep us warm post race. 
This pic is not the cutest but says it all. I had my medal in honor of Gina and Abby. I had my medal in honor of all the hard work and training I put into this race.
So proud!
FREEZING in wet clothes, but still so proud of my medal.
This medal represents so much! This medal honors two women whom I find incredibly courageous, faithful, and beautiful. This medal represents that I CAN DO ALL THINGS that Christ strengthens me to do when I don't think I can. This medal proves my doubt wrong. 

What a great time we had. How blessed we were to have two of our best friends with us to support us and take photos for us. 

So thankful to have the health to get up each day, walk, run, and do the things we take for granted regularly. If you know a runner training for a race please support them and cheer them on. It will mean the world to them! I have to say this was one of the hardest things to stay focused through. The training was not easy and took a lot of time, but the end result was amazing when crossing that finish line. I think that is the point in life...remember the journey and use that time to learn something about yourself. Remember what crossing the finish lines in life was like so that when you hit another "half marathon" you are prepared and know you can finish it. 


Friday, March 16, 2012

When LOVE sees you

Easter is on the horizon.

It is easy to get caught up in the sour starburst gummies, chocolate bunnies, bright colors, egg hunts, and Sunday brunch's. I was listening to one of my favorite playlists and was moved to share because the song centers me on the real reason for this holiday {don't get me wrong...this girl loves her some candy!}. 

"You see the struggle. You see the shame. I see the reason I came."
These words...these words. They really take my breath away. We ALL have some things imperfect about us. It is the nature of living on this planet and the history of our world. Jesus came for ALL OF US. 

All of us.

We look in the mirror and see wounds, scars, tears, aches, imperfections, and pains. God sees us for the beautifully and wonderfully made person He made us to be. A tapestry of life events which have molded us to the person we are today. 

As you make your Easter plans for 2012...You ARE the reason HE came. 

LOVE sees you.

Happy Sabbath!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February Official Waitlist Numbers

I've been M.I.A.. Forgive me.
I still have yet to post about my first half marathon...Sometimes I need to take a break from the blogs, listserves, and FB as it can consume me. We've also been really busy! We just finished our Home Study update as it expires March 3rd. I can't believe we've been in the process long enough to require an update. Hopefully this will be the last one!

We received our February numbers late last night and were pleasantly surprised at our movement on the lists. 



I read a quote today that I find special given this season we are in our lives here at our home. 

"Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together."
~Author Unknown~


Thursday, February 9, 2012

12 weeks later........

This is what my last 12 weeks have looked like among time with family and friends, weekend trips, holidays {I was faithful even then}, construction and appointments. 

Why would I choose such abuse?!?!?


Two women who have inspired and touched my life though we have never literally met: Gina and Abby {one 28 and the other 33 years old}. They are each fighting for their lives at different stages of breast cancer. 

This Sunday, in honor of them both, I will be running my first half marathon at age 35 in Jacksonville, FL at The Run for Donna hosted by the Mayo Clinic. 

On October 22, 2011 Gina wrote: 
I enjoyed a great visit from an old friend on Tuesday. It was great to catch up and spend go to dinner together. Her visit prompted me to have a goal to do something I never thought I would want to do or could do. And after talking to my neighbor that same night it reinforced the goal. So hear it is, as long as I'm cleared by all my doctors. I am going to try to run a 1/2 marathon in February. The run is in Jacksonville. It is the Donna National race for breast cancer. My neighbor runs it every year and wanted to run for "Team Gina". She even wants to wear the shirts. I thought well why not run too. Some may think I'm crazy, hey I think I'm crazy. But I'm so excited for this challenge. Anyone who wants to attempt it with me is very welcomed.

I pondered the thought of running the half marathon. Selfishly I remembered my mid-20's when I improperly ran and injured my right knee. I didn't care to do that again. I also am older and can someone just pick up and start running? I would gas out halfway through a 5K! I thought about it and the more prayer I spent raising Gina up the more I felt like I should do this run. Then I learned of Abby in November. My brother's wife grew up with her and my hub's sister roomed with her in college. After finishing law school she was diagnosed in October 2011 and immediately had the same double mastectomy and began chemo.

I knew I had to train and run in their honor. 

I won't lie. I hated the beginning. I hated taking time to challenge my body in such an intense program. I had not done anything like this before. Was it worth it? I mean, to get up and start your day pounding pavement??? My mind switched Abby and Gina have a choice to not challenge their bodies and fight cancer??? 

I chose to pound pavement.

Looking back over the last 12 weeks of earnest and faithful training I have learned a lot. I have learned to ask for help and not try figure it out on my own {the science of diet and shoes when training}. I've learned that running creates a peaceful space for God. I've learned that running, or any physical ability, is a gift that many do not have. Do you know where Gina will be this weekend during the time she had planned to run her half marathon??? She will be in Houston enrolled in a clinical trial fighting, literally fighting, for her life. Activity and health IS A GIFT. Cherish it. I've learned that with God, effort, and focus "I CAN do ALL things through CHRIST...." I have learned that it is not my split or race time that matters, but simply finishing. I find that to be a good metaphor in life. It's all a journey.

On Sunday, February 12, 2012;  my hubs will lace up with me to run the half marathon at The Run for Donna. Two of our dearest friends will be there to support us and cheer us through the finish line. 

I will snap in my hair extensions specifically for Abby who proudly sports her HOT PINK wig to her chemo appointments {her fellow patients and the healthcare workers love it...she's kinda famous for it...HA!}. The chemo took her thick, long brown hair, but hasn't broken her spirit. I will have pink hair specifically for her.
I will put on my pink running skirt
and custom race bib for Gina and Abby.

I will not give up on Sunday even if my mind and body try to convince me that I cannot finish. I will be one of thousands of people supporting and celebrating women AND men who have been faced with the disease of breast cancer. I will humbly run with honor. This is a big hurdle and challenge for me personally, but the race is so much more to me than "I". 

I'll let you know how it goes. Please keep Gina and Abby in your prayers. Please pray we have a safe race. Give thanks for your ability, agility and health. Do not take the regular things of life for granted.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Faith Like a Child

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."  
~Matthew 18:3~

A few Sabbath's ago Tim and I were reminded about the faith of a child. It was a typical Florida Sabbath day, full of sunshine. We got ready and went to church but did not know what God was going to teach us that day. To be honest, I don't even remember what the sermon was about...oops! What stood out to us was a story in our Sabbath's bulletin. 

The story was from the Principal of our church's elementary school. 
It read:

     "At Forest Lake Education Center we are reminded constantly that we serve a living God. I want to share one of the many miracles that our living God has done for our students.
     Recently I observed two students praying together in the office. When I asked them what they had been praying about they told me that one of them needed money to help with their school tuition. 
     Several of us got together in the office and prayed for this student. We asked God to provide a way for this student to find the money that they needed for school. Two hours later a young women came into the office. When asked how we could help her she said that she had come to sponsor a student.
     She was asked what the name of the student was that she had come to sponsor. She said that she did not have a specific name. She explained that her husband and her wanted to know if we had a name of  a student who needed financial help. They had been impressed by God to come and help a student.
     Tears lowed down our faces in the office as we witnessed God's immediate answer to our prayers and the prayers of two students. We experienced a miracle of God's direct interest and intervention. 
     We serve a living God who loves and cares for us more than we can imagine. May we never forget that our Redeemer lives and can provide for all of our needs."

This story has moved us in so many ways. God heard the prayers of two little girls, one of which would not be able to attend school the very next day had her tuition not been caught up. God heard the prayers of school administrators. God impressed on a couple's heart to give and help a child receive Christian education. God moved the young woman to go to the school at that specific time. We are again reminded, His plans are always perfect and worth the wait.

Our journey to and through adoption has meant so much more than we every fathomed. It's been about listening, hearing, and moving when God speaks. Our hearts have been opened to our world and the vast needs. Sometimes I think we forget there are needs in our own back yards, the person sitting next to us, the person in the grocery store standing in line in front of us, or possibly the child sitting next to yours in school. 

God calls us to help our neighbor {Luke 10:30-37}. We are learning to open our eyes to our neighbors and not just the vast needs in another continent. I thought this was a beautiful story and simply had to share another story of our LIVING GOD who moves mountains and walks on water across the globe and in our own "yards". 


Friday, February 3, 2012

Created for Care 2012: Lake Lanier Islands

Last weekend was an amazing weekend surrounded by amazing women!
My friend K and I went to the Created for Care women's retreat. Created for Care is an organization started by Andrea Young after she was united with her son from Ethiopia. She found that women needed the connection with other adoptive moms to talk about and share the REAL issues and experiences with adoption. She also felt the need to connect on a level where God is the focus first. Adoption is a BEAUTIFUL experience, but is not for the faint of heart.

The conference is for women who are considering adoption or supporting a family adopting, women in paper phase or a waiting family, or have already come home with their children domestically or internationally. There's another retreat in March so check out the Created for Care Website.
K and I arrived late Thursday night to the Legacy Lodge in Lake Lanier Islands in Georgia. Um, can you say, "BEAUTIFUL?!?!?"
Lets just say that these Florida girls were THRILLED to drive North to spend a weekend in the deep South...HA!
The lodge was gorgeous! Friday we registered for the conference and attended our first breakout session and worship. This was both K and I's first C4C retreat and we were not completely sure what to expect, but let me to was AMAZING! 433 women strong singing as we began worship. God was definitely in the midst of us during worship. We were moved Friday evening. We knew this weekend was going to be special!

Friday evening the C4C team shared a movie with us call Moving On: Love is Winning. Here's the official trailer:

'Moving On' Official Trailer from Light Gives Heat on Vimeo.

This movie was soooo beautiful! Morgan and her husband taking a HUGE leap of faith for The One through their adoption of their little one. God has really worked through them to help the people of Uganda. Check out their org @ . If you're interested in sharing the video at your church or school just let them know!
Saturday Sabbath morning we woke to the most beautiful sunrise over Lake Lanier. God really gave us a beautiful site to begin our day. We drank PLENTY of coffee and headed down to the main room for worship before our sessions.

All of these seats were packed with women worshipping. There was something so very special being in a room who understood the process and journey you take through adoption. So many different paths leading to adoption and yet we were feeling like family. It's really hard to explain the connection, but there was a bond we all had simply through women of faith and adoption. The labor of love which goes into this process is staggering. "Family" has little to do with DNA and genetics.

Between our breakout sessions and before meals we were able to check out some of the booths set up.
147 Million Yep, that's Suzanne (who, btw, is HILARIOUS!!!).
Handmade magazine beads by the women in Uganda. So many beautiful colors!
Sabbath I was able to meet sweet Stephanie from our agency, All God's Children International. They are just behind us in waiting so it's been so great taking this journey together with similar timelines.
K and I. K is 9 months home with her son from Ethiopia. You can kind of see our name tags. They were really neat. They had our names, blog URLs and then the flag from which country we were or had adopted from. Not too many United States flags (more on that later).
Saturday night we all changed into our PJ's and went to a session where there was a panel of adoptive moms (both domestic and international). C4C had an open session for all of us to ask them questions. This was a great session! During this session a girl got up and asked a question that hit home for me and I just lost it. I mean...UGLY crocodile tears from me!!! LOL Afterwards, I went over to introduce myself and let her know she was not alone in her journey. I just felt like this was what I was supposed to tell her since our type of journey can often leave you feeling like there are not many who really understand. Saturday night she, another girl and I talked till after 1 am!!! Um, that is INSANELY late for me! I truly believe God lead us all together as each of our journeys had virtually been the same. There's so much power in knowing you're not alone and having people around you who truly "get" what it's like to walk in your shoes. I knew I had made a dear friend that evening.
Here we are the next day. I think we washed up nicely given little sleep! HAHA! What is so crazy about meeting Shannon is that she lives in Chattanooga AND is friends with two of my friends!!! I had no idea until we became friends on Facebook that we had these mutual friends. Small world! Looking forward to following their journey and seeing how God works in their lives.
Some of our amazing session leaders were kind enough to take a photo with us. These women are so deeply in love with God that it just simply radiates. I loved hearing their stories and inspiration. I hope to one day have such a relationship with God.
Where do I even start when speaking about Angie (in the middle)??? Friday, we chose to eat at Angie's table. Each session leader hosted a table for all of us to choose from. One of my besties couldn't come this weekend due to a family emergency so I wanted to join sessions that I could share with her. Angie is an amazing person who shared her family with us. Her family has been united with four children through open domestic adoption. She shared with us what open adoption looks like. Friday evening she asked me what session I was signed up for and then suggested I jump ship and join hers. So....I DID! I was soooo blessed to hear Mac Powell's (Third Day lead singer) wife tell their family's journey to domestic adoption. Angie then shared their story...OHHH, I was moved. The hubs has always loved the idea of adopting domestically. I have been the one reluctant. This session changed everything for me, especially on the topic of levels of "open" (meaning how often you keep in contact with the birth mom). There's an organization here in Orlando called A Chosen Child which is faith based that we spent many hours talking with. What I loved about Angie's testimony is her love for her children's birth mom's and the relationship they have. You often hear people talk about the beauty of adoption and the helping with the orphan crisis, but little do you hear about the agony of a mother giving her child up to adoption out of her difficult circumstances. These birth moms love their children soooo very much that they are willing to allow us to raise their children and provide them the life they are unable to provide. HEARTBREAKING!!! What sacrifice. What will be our greatest joy will be a birth mom's greatest heart break. Adoption is a solution to really sad circumstances of this world. Our agency here, like Angie's, provides the birth moms counseling and help after the adoption for as long as they need. I love that!

After having dinner with Angie and then hearing her session I began noticing people's name tags at the conference: Uganda, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, China, Korea...and a few USA. A few United States flags. This realization bothered me. I've recently come to see some exposed misconceptions and short-comings I had with domestic adoption. I began asking myself the question, "Why so few United States flags?" Is the reason because Created for Care is not as known in the domestic adoption world or is this an accurate reflection of the adoption community as a whole? Then I began looking at the booths set up at the conference. I can't remember now, but I do remember the majority were for support to African countries. The nudge hit me like a ton of bricks. I spoke with the hubs about this and we both had said we would do domestic with our second adoption through A Chosen Child and now we were 100% certain God would take us this direction. I am troubled by the lack of US flags on name tags. I do believe it's quite possible that the knowledge base is not as available on domestic as it is internationally. I think it's easy to look at the need in third world countries because it's so vast, but our country also has need. Please know that by no means do I have anything against international adoption and we're completely committed to our Ethiopian program, but I felt the imbalance this weekend. There are mothers in our own country who are pregnant right now having sleepless night wondering how they will be able to care for this child in their womb. They may even be considering an abortion. I would love God to allow us the honor and priviledge of being a solution to one of these mothers.

So that was a long story, but Angie's family's testimony changed my heart on so many levels. My friend K is also a changed women after this session. CANNOT wait to see what's in store for our two families domestically!
At the end of the conference I was able to grab a picture with two VERY special women from our agency: Courtney (brunette) and Alison (blonde). Both of these women have a fierce faith! They both are so incredibly positive and supportive to all of us in our agency as we walk through this journey together. Meeting them in person and giving them hugs was a HUGE highlight for me that weekend.

The weekend came to a close and I found myself wishing for one more day so I could meet more people from our agency. I missed the time they all planned to meet since I was talking with the girls Saturday night. There's next year right!?!?! I seriously cannot wait!
Last and CERTAINLY NOT least, on the way out of Atlanta, K and I stopped to meet one of my DEAREST best friends...Heather. We had lunch with her at Mellow Mushroom...HEAVENLY! Getting to see her was like being home. I really could go on and on, but I think this post has gotten long enough already!!! HA! Seriously though, so great to see her on our way home. I love ya girl and miss you tons!!!

We went into this weekend a little uncertain and maybe a little nervous, but left feeling spiritually filled and refreshed. I loved meeting women from our agency and other new friends. I look forward to next year when I can meet even more ladies. I am sooo thankful we were able to attend. We purchased our tickets from other ladies who were no longer able to attend at last minute.