Monday, March 24, 2014


Hey Peeps—

My friend Sara commented on our life change today.  She called it "a miracle unfolding".  I'm humbled by that.  It's not every day you get to be part of a miracle.  And on this cold, Spring day, I've done a lot of quiet thinking about our miracle, and what we've done to be a part of its unfolding.  It's very simple.   We heard a call, saw an open door, walked down a path full of risk, and here we are.  But the real truth is that we are such a small part of it, and God has had a plan in motion for more than two years.  We just entered Act 2, right on time.

This week, just about 12 weeks since the day we met,  we will bring a sweet little girl home for good.  She calls me "mom" and Billy is "dad".  She has re-named Spencer the dog "Bo-bo" and has pegged Jack, Faith, and Will as the best big brothers and sister she could have.  She knows that Will is meant for wrestling with, and that Faith will color and craft.  And when it's time to sit and play with legos, Jack is her go-to guy.  She is at home here, and she will be under our roof very soon. 

When we agreed to become foster parents, we had no idea we would walk into such an amazing situation.  During training you hear all the nightmares about abuse and trauma, and how these kids often go back home to a family member that has hurt them.  You hear about all the visitations, and all the court dates, and how your heart will break when the state reunifies them once again.  And for some reason beyond anything I can imagine, our situation is nothing like this.  Our daughter has been loved from Day one.  And because of her particular situation, we not only get to welcome her into our family, she will become a Repenning for good! 

Last week our little one was showered with love and gifts by our extended family and special friends.  My sister and her best friend put on the fanciest party you can imagine.  I'm not proud of how many cake pops I ate, but it's hard to walk away from those dense little mouthfuls of joy.  Our friends loaned us a crib and strollers, and you wouldn't even believe how many diapers I have stashed away.  Billy and I were so touched by such generosity.  We have the best friends, and we thank God for their support and love.  They have no idea how much we love them.  The best part was introducing our new daughter to everyone.  She was welcomed with open arms and tears of joy! 

Another really special day during this transition week was going to our little girl's church with her current foster parents.  They had asked us to join them for her last Sunday with them so we did!  Meeting so many folks who had such love for our girl was so sweet.  The pastor called us all to the front and said a prayer over both our families.  And then he gave thanks to God for orchestrating such a neat plan.  We were humbled by welcome hugs and such kind support.  People can be so lovely, can't they?

I can barely write about the people who have raised our daughter for her first two delicate years.  They are the icing on this rich, surprising, marvelous cake.  They took our daughter into their home immediately, and not for one minute did they hold anything back from her.  They have loved her as their own.  They have cried over her uncertain future, and they have weathered the storms of all the ups and downs of fostering.  They never gave up hope or faith in the Lord, and prayed for her knowing God had a plan all along.  They are the example that Jesus talks about in the Bible.  You remember the one about a Samaritan who took care of the man beaten up on the road?  They have given nine children a home, and are nearing their 70's, if not already there.  (I'm too polite to ask)  They have not only fed and clothed these sweet little ones, they go above and beyond to give them love and security for however long these babies are in their home.  They are ordinary people like you and me.  But they heard a call, and took it seriously.  They inspire us. They bless us.  They have given our daughter a future she was not supposed to have.  We love them so much, and cannot wait to tell our baby girl how much they have done for her. 

God has weaved together a story here that we are so excited to join! Billy and I don't feel worthy of this miracle, but that's the kind of God we serve.  He picks big messes like us and says, "Go ahead.  Do your best.  I'm with you.  Try not to crap it up, but if you do, I have enough grace to cover it".  He actually even goes above what we could ever ask or imagine, if you can believe it.  We heard a call, and walked through an open door.  We know this is just the beginning and there will be hard days ahead.  But tonight we won't fret about the uncertainties.  Tonight we rest in God's goodness.  And tomorrow we will face with the Truth that He never changes. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Billy might have rabies

Hey Peeps—

By the time you read this, hopefully we will know whether or not Billy has rabies.  If he starts frothing at the mouth I promise you he will be sleeping on the couch.  We aren't going to the doctor for the official diagnosis because 1. Who can afford a doctor visit (thanks Obamacare! ) and 2. One of my favorite games is "name that disease".  I'm only hitting about 50% at this point, but I'm pretty sure I could nail rabies. 

Our pets sure have been fun lately.  Last night as I was drifting off to sleep at 8:40 pm, I heard that old familiar sound of a dog dry heaving as he was laying under my side of the bed.  By the time I yelled, "Billy!!!! Come get Spencer," he had completed the heaves with actual vomit. Pet tip: Don’t ever change your dog's brand of food.  Not even if you have a really good coupon. 

And then this morning, as I was leaving with the kids for school, we witnessed pet owner hilarity as Billy valiantly tried to kennel two of our cats for a trip to the vet. Not only were Annie and Nacho getting their rabies vaccine, Spencer the dog was also due to get his.  Spencer was so excited to see Billy rounding up his best friends, even though they hate him.  The kids and I sat in the car on the street and watched it all go down.  Billy caught Nacho, our big long haired orange tabby, and got him in the kennel.  Next was Annie, our lunatic calico, and the mother of Nacho.   Once he caught her, he walked her over to the kennel.  Instantly she knew something was wrong, and tensed up.  Her clawless paws tried to blind Billy, however he was remained victorious.

As Billy slowly lowered to the ground, he maneuvered holding Annie, while also opening the door to the kennel simultaneously.  It was majestic to watch the man multi-task with multiple cats. When she realized she was about to join Nacho in the kennel she went ballistic.  Not only does she hate enclosed spaces, she also hates her Nacho, her very own son.  Unfortunately things did not end well.  Annie knew her paws rendered her useless, so she bit Billy several times, while getting free and running for the front yard.  Billy was able to grab Nacho and after getting scratched multiple times, Billy held him up in the air away from his skin, to avoid more open wounds.  When Nacho calmed down, Billy was able to get him re-kenneled.  The kids and I drove away with tears rolling down our cheeks with laughter, at the expense of poor Billy.  By the time I got home, he'd beaten Annie at her tricks too and both cats were angrily locked away and ready for their trip to the vet. 

Normally we aren't on top of things like current pet vaccines and annual vet exams, however, as we get closer to opening our home to a sweet little one, we learned our pets needed to get up to date.   Several other tasks have to be completed by Saturday morning as well:  handrails by both sets of stairs, a new storm radio, crib assembly, evacuation plan, proof of everything we've ever done legally….no big deal.  I had the day off, so worked on the above list, and Billy just returned from Home Depot with new handrails.  He has 36 hours to get them up.  But I am not about to nag him, as he has several puncture wounds and scratches up and down his hands.  I did my best nursing care, to ensure he remains free of rabies, however, I must now let his immune system do the rest. 

Our life was frenetic even before we started walking down this path.  And now, here we are bringing it to a whole new level.  Opening our home to another child has given us many reasons to pause and ask ourselves "Are we crazy?"  Most of the time I think we are, but then I hear a sermon about Jesus saying to His disciples "Come follow Me" and I feel at peace.  Or I ramble off all my concerns to my friends, and they remind me God's got a plan, even if we don't.  I'd be lying if I said I haven't lost sleep over the giant change about to hit our house, but then I see the little one, and hold her, and play with her, and watch her fit right in with our three amazing kids, and I know our pursuit of adopting her is what God is asking us to do. 

Nothing about this path has been easy, including taking the cats to the vet.  But in the end it's not about how easy the road has been.  The thing that blows me away most is how the five of us have so quickly opened our hearts to love this child.  An orphan.  Someone who didn't have a future is now getting a second chance.  And so are we.  This kind of love can only come from God.  And it is a privilege to experience.  We are human and imperfect.  But He is good and flawless.  We will make mistakes, but He will cover us with grace.  She will question her identity, but we will remind her that God created her with purpose, and not only is it a blessing that we get to adopt her, our whole family has been adopted into God's great Love.  His plan is divine.  And we are wrecked by this redemption.  He is good, even on the hard days.  He is very good.