Sunday, November 14, 2010
We are SO excited to be moving forward again with the help of New Beginnings, but I know the reality is that it could still be a long, bumpy road before we are DTE (Dossier To Ethiopia - officially begins our sit-back-and-(pray and raise money and-)wait stage). So, once again I am fighting anxiety in my life and trying to be patient and not read too many detailed stories about the orphaned children, but focus on doing what we can to bring our son home as soon as possible. Talk about emotionally challenging! Anyway, back to the camper....in my dream scenario where everything goes smoothly and quickly, I want to be financially ready to send our dossier over as soon as it is ready to go, so, we're hoping to sell our beloved RV to get the funds for that. Don't worry, friends who know how much we cherish our four weekends off each year in the RV, our camping days are not over. :) Sooooooo, if you or anyone you know might be interested in a GREAT camper, check out our ad here!!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I believe in....and find hope and peace and joy in....a sovereign God. I love this song by Jeremy Riddle (as well as all his others....he holds my personal "favorite artist of the year" award for three years in a row now):
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessing, in blessing
In blessing on your head
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face
His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain
In His own time
In his own way....
The chorus says that the clouds are big with mercy and shall break in blessing... I don't believe that the blessing is necessarily getting what we want. The blessing is His purpose being fulfilled and Him receiving glory. And that is our ultimate desire.
I invited Charlotte on a walk and she happily jumped in the wagon. We began pacing the campus until I could no longer contain my tears and we went and found Michael and hung out where he was working until lunchtime. I shared with him over lunch (what little I could stomach, even though it was delicious) my worse fear: Mr. Patin was only humoring us by letting us meet with him but was going to have nothing to do with the decision making. His social worker had already made up her mind and when he said we would hear from them hopefully by the end of the week, it would actually be by letter from the social worker.
I tried to nap the afternoon away and when Michael got home he called Mr. Patin. I was exactly right. He could not give us the reason for our rejection but said that it would be explained in the letter our social worker was sending us. I asked if he made the decision and he said that she did and he supported her and I asked if the letter was how they were planning on informing us and he said "yes". We exchanged many other words, of which I see no need to repeat, because the bottom line is we are done working with Catholic Charities.
I was so frustrated this morning because I was experiencing anxiety like never before. I kept praying Phil. 4:6-7 and begging for peace but was really struggling. Amazingly....thankfully....I'm now resting in His peace once again (doesn't mean I might not burst into tears when asked how I'm doing or empathy is expressed). Yes, I'm disappointed and no, I don't understand. We will explore our other options and continue to pray for wisdom and guidance and clarity. In the meantime...
...I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I'm wishing that I had blogged earlier about the similarities of adoption and pregnancy. Anyone who has experienced both knows the amazing comparison very well. Not going to go through all the stages right now, but for those who have been pregnant, perhaps you can identify with some of our emotions at this stage through this analogy. Last week's call from our social worker was like getting a call from your doctor a few weeks after your big 20-wk sonogram saying that there looks like there's something terminally wrong with your pregnancy. This shocks you because up until this point, everything seems normal and good with your pregnancy, right down to that day that you first saw your baby squirming around the monitor as the tech smeared cold jelly around your belly with her wand. So, naturally, you want a second opinion from a specialist. Today we had the specialist review our tapes and are waiting for his opinion.
Now, to save some of you from making a well-meaning yet insensitive comment, while we are certainly praying for the Lord's will, one would never say to that expectant mom that if this baby does indeed die God must not want for her to give birth and she should give up trying to get pregnant again. We are trying to process what's at hand right now with Catholic Charities. If our relationship does indeed come to an end this week, we will then look to where to go from there, and until we sense otherwise, at this point we are not doubting the burden and desire that is on our heart to grow our family through adoption.
I again cannot express our gratitude for all of the support we have received during this week. I will update again once we hear back from CC.
Praying Romans 15:13 for us right now: May the God of all hope fill (us) with all joy and peace as (we) trust in him, so that (we) may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
On another note....our garage sale fundraiser this weekend brought in over $1400 (and still counting...there are a couple more people that took home goods and plan to drop off their donation)! We are so thankful for our community and God's provision.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
2. We shared with our kids last night what is going on. Charlotte (3), of course, is oblivious. Madison (8) thinks that they will change their minds after our meeting on Tues. so it's ok. Ian (6) is crushed and broken; I held him and we wept together for a long time. Connor (5) wants to know if we are going to tell the people that said we can't adopt that that child (in Ethiopia) is going to be very sad. We also told our girls (dormstudents) and they are very disappointed and want to know if they can write "persuasive letters" to the agency.
3. We had our fundraiser garage sale scheduled for this weekend. We've received a ton of donated items and have had a great response of support from our community. Whether or not this situation turns out the way we desire and hope, this is still an adoption fundraiser garage sale and there are still 143 million orphans needing help being placed with a forever family, so the sale will still happen and we still pray that God does amazing things through it, both in raising funds and spreading awareness for adoption.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Update from yesterday: We got the fourth call to say we will be receiving an unfavorable home study but can meet with the director to appeal. We called him and he expressed his two concerns being our paycheck size and the number of children in our care and set up an appointment to meet with us next Tuesday.
My emotions at this point: shock, confusion, devastation, hurt...
What aches me, what is causing the throbbing in my head, the burning in my eyes and the knot in my stomach, is not the loss to me (although I can't even begin to think about explaining this to our kids) but to that child. To say that it is better for him to remain an orphan than to receive a home, our home, is the response of a goat, not a sheep. To say that we are too busy and don't have enough worldly wealth was the response of the priest and levite, not the samaritan. And yet thinking along these lines is what is causing me to lose yet another night of sleep.
So I've come to my Bible, and clinging to the hope and knowledge of God's sovereignty I read all the verses from my concordance that contain the word "praise." And I rest on this chapter from Psalm (43):
Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Friends, please continue to pray for us as we prepare for our final meeting with Catholic Charities next Tuesday as a last opportunity to show our ability to provide, physically and emotionally, for an orphan. Please pray that through this process we will dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This lesson began about a month ago when I didn't get my way about something and I pouted and snapped into cynical mode. I was wallowing in "discouragement." Then one day, when I realized I was feeling encouraged and that that was because of my circumstances - the ones I would not have chosen for myself - that were really turning out for the better, conviction rained down. And then I read Habbakuk. Habbakuk struggled with the LORD, questioning the circumstances and not understanding or liking what was going on, not seeing His purposes...and then it ends with this:
"though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior"
Yesterday we got a phone call from our social worker. Not good. She said she is not going to give us a favorable home study because we don't make enough money. Ok, first of all, our income was the first thing we discussed and information we gave, so to bring this up now, after so much time and money has been invested in this process, is a bit aggravating, but that's really not our focus. The fact is, we don't make much money. The reality is, our paycheck may seem puny for a large family, but that is because we work for a ministry that provides our housing, utilities and food as part of our compensation package so our salary reflects that.
+++++side note: (my ADD is kicking in) I can't figure out how to get the blockquote formatting off, so my apologies for the formatting of this post.+++++++
Back to our conversation.....Our social worker has every bit of our financial information. She can clearly see that we are very far from struggling financially, that we are very responsible with our finances and can more than adequately provide for another child in this family. So we talk it out and she agrees with me that her reasoning is not legit but says that her supervisor looked at the case and made the call. So, naturally, we want to speak with the supervisor. All day we wait for her to return our calls.
Finally the supervisor calls and we have our first opportunity to share with her. She asks a ton of questions, seems to understand that her ruling was made prematurely without her getting the whole picture and says she'll talk to our social worker and call us back soon. She did. Now the third call to tell us they just won't do it. So we talk some more. She asks a lot of questions, trying to understand our life, because we agree with her that it "sounds" crazy to have four little kids of your own and at the same time be raising 14 teenage girls, for a total of 18 kids under your roof, while depositing a check that you would think only supports a single person. It does look bad on paper, which is why we discussed all of these factors BEFORE we began this whole process, because when you see it in action, you understand.
The third call ended more hopeful (of course, I had an ounce of hope after the second call, too). She said that when she hears our heart and explanations for all their concerns, her emotions say there's no problem, let's proceed, but when she gets off the phone and looks at those darn figures on the paper, she says no. BUT, she said she is going to pray about it and take our case to their director and call us back.
So I don't know what is going to happen. I know what I want. I know what I think is best. I can really get worked up when I think about the whole picture and I really struggle with the thought of them making a final "unfavorable" ruling if they truly are advocates for the least of these....but, in the midst of my tears, I can honestly say I have peace - and joy - because God is God despite my circumstances being what I want and He is deserving of my praise whether or not I appreciate what I have been given.
I love worship music and scripture memorization, and various lines have been flooding through my mind (if only I were in a sleep state at this awful hour)...
I am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned. I only know at His right hand stands one who is my Savior...
Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name....
habbakuk 3:17-18 ....
etc. etc. etc.
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trumps shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, oh my soul!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
But tonight we took a little step that recharged us. We had two hours of online training left so we took a class called "multicultural and transracial adoption." Upon finishing the class we both got lost in our laptops, eagerly searching the web....Michael for history and cultural information (complete with listening to Ethiopian music) and me for safari themed room decor. :)
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I have to admit, I have not checked out this website yet, but the video speaks for itself. I love that it says "if you see me, you can help." This is exactly what changed Michael's heart for the orphan. If you haven't heard about his dream, you've gotta ask him!!!
One of the most quoted scripture in support of orphan care is James 1:27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world." So I've been thinking about this verse alot as I try not to feel hurt by the few fellow believers who have sneered at our decision to adopt. I think that response comes from world pollution. The Bible tells us to love our neighbor and doesn't make that command contingent on our neighbor's skin color. The world tells us to protect our own race and put ourselves before others. Jesus was among the poor and close to the broken, the world looks at the starving and disease stricken and turns its face away.
I know, I've done it, it's easy to ignore because we don't have orphans/extreme poverty in our face everyday. But the truth is, and we all know it, they're out there, and I believe they are our responsibility. I AM NOT JUDGING THOSE WHO HAVE NOT/ARE NOT GOING TO ADOPT because I know that I fall short of keeping God's commands every moment of every day, and not every family is able to open their home or is necessarily called to do so. But, I do have a passion to share the need, as my eyes have become more open to the need, and there are many ways to help look after widows and orphans besides adoption. Also, I guess I'm feeling a little defensive at the moment so please excuse my ranting and don't take it personally!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
As Christ followers, we have a theolgoical understanding of both evil and redemption. This understanding ought to compel us to show the world how to respond to suffering and indifference. Jesus knew the dangers of getting caught up in religiosity. [note the story of the good samaritan] And he wasn't afraid to speak his mind on such matters because Jesus had only one thing on his heart: what matters most to his Father.
I can only read this book in small doses because the harsh statistics and stories of everyday life of African citizens are quite disheartening. Picking up this book was actually a response to our already burden for the pandemic in Africa. But compassion is needed in more ways than response to humanitarian crises.
I confess, I haven't had "only one thing" on my heart lately. I've been consumed with and distracted by this adoption. Has my baby been born yet? Does his mother know she won't get to raise him? When will we be DTE (Dossier To Ethiopia--officially begins our wait for a referral)? Will we even have enough money to submit our dossier by the time it is finished? Etc. Etc. I've been brought back to the chorus in one of Jeremy Riddle's (my current favorite artist) songs:
Oh, to be like you
Oh, to reflect the God I know, the love you've shown
This is my longing
This is my deepest, strongest plea
LORD, change me!!
I've been so caught up in my self that I have been missing too many opportunities to reflect the Lord and his love. I knew before we started this adoption process that my obsessive personality would struggle with getting consumed by the whole thing. That's why I love this prayer. Often we pray, "Lord make me more...patient, loving...." you fill in the blank. To be like God, I don't need an increase of myself, I need to be changed!!
So, if you want to know how to pray for me through this process, pray that my eyes will be fixed on Jesus. Also, you can join me in prayer not only for the child that will become part of our family, but for the woman that will be losing him. I'm not sure who my heart breaks for the most...our baby or his mother. :(
Friday, June 11, 2010
We have been "paper chasing," or collecting the necessary documents to submit to the Ethiopian government as part of our dossier. We just scheduled our first home study visit for next Thursday and part of what the home study social worker does is guide us through the fingerprinting, background checks, and compiles a detailed report about our family and living conditions. They tell me this should take about three months. Once the homestudy is complete, we will send a copy (along with a few other documents) to the United States Citizenship Immigration Services with our I-600A application, which once approved will allow us to bring an international child to the US. That approval is the final piece to completing our dossier, so after everything is received, notarized and authenticated we will send it to our agency for final review and then it is off to Ethiopia. Apparently this entire process takes 4-6 months, but don't you know I'm doing everything I can to expedite it!
Once our dossier is sent to Ethiopia we can expect to wait 4-6 months for a referral (or "the call"). Our referral will include a child's picture and all the available medical and background information on that child. We will have one week to decide if we want to accept or reject that referral. After we accept a referral, we will be given a court date (probably scheduled for 3-6 weeks later...I think), for which we will have to appear in person (in Ethiopia). This trip will be approximately 5-7 days long and we will get to spend time with our child while there. After we pass court we return home and wait another 4-6 weeks for all of the paperwork to be finalized before we go back to Ethiopia (for about 4 days!) to pick up our child and bring him home!
So.....hopefully by this time next year we at least know what our child looks like, if not have even smootched his little cheeks!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Philippians 3:10-11 - I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I have been confused by this verse because I feel like I desire what Paul is speaking of, and yet I know I don't fully grasp the depth of the meaning. Yesterday morning, after another sleepless night filled with prayer and frustration, conviction hit. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our job and who may be reading this, I have to omit details, but in short, we have had the most trying bunch of girls in our dorm this summer. Praying Philippians 3:10-11 is the next worse thing to praying for patients!
You know (if you're a parent), how you think you "know" about the love of our Father, but when you become a father (mother) your understanding deepens? I feel like this short week and a half with these girls has been a gift of a deeper understanding of the agony our Lord felt as he sacrificed himself for those he cared deeply for while they (I) spat in his face. Ok, don't get me wrong, what I have been through the past few days does not compare to what Christ went through and I know that. That's where the conviction came in. I was feeling sorry for myself and starting to gather my pennies to save up to take next summer off when I realized that this was what I wanted! I don't want to grow complacent and the Lord knows that this is the kind of thing I need to kindle the fire in my heart that I may "press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Here is an opportunity for you to make a difference in the life of an orphaned child from Africa! We are selling these custom designed t-shirts not only to help fund our adoption but to raise awareness of the great need that we all have a responsibility to assist with. Although we don't see it in front of our faces everyday, 143,000,000+ orphans worldwide IS our problem.
You can preview the design on the sidebar, but please do not try to click on the link to order because 1) you would have to order in bulk and the less you order the more they cost and 2) your direct purchase would not benefit our adoption! :)
I know it's hard to read from the sidebar, but the text in orange reads "143 million minus one" (the 'o' in one is a picture of the world with children standing around it holding hands)..."equals a significant difference" and in white, "one life changed."
Our goal is to sell 50 shirts at $20 for adult sizes and $15 for youth sizes (Plus $3/shirt for shipping, if applicable). We will start printing the shirts in a couple weeks...email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 5th to pre-order!!
Whether you are able to support this adoption financially or not, I appreciate just knowing that you are reading this blog and following our journey and I pray that you will be encouraged and challenged along the way, just as we have been as we have had the opportunity to share in others' adoption experiences.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Was it enough? Was it enough that God created us? We rebelled against Him! Was it enough that he sent his only son to live among us wretched people, to be an example and encouragement to us? We hated Him! Was it enough that he did not spare his son, but gave HIM up so that WE could be purified and reconciled to him? It was not enough....He raised him from the dead to show his awesome power AND gave his Spirit to live in us!!!! And how do we respond? We forget. We pout. We want more earthly pleasures.
It's not enough. It's not enough that I say I believe. It's not enough that I say I love. It's not enough that I say I am thankful. Did you know....I was adopted. If you have entered into a relationship with the Lord, YOU were adopted! Michael and I have been overwhelmingly awed at who God is and who we are in relationship to him. We have received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry "Abba, Father!" We have a bursting desire to respond to his love with love. How do we show love? Obedience! We are responding to the calling he has placed on our hearts to open our home to orphans.