Saturday, November 27, 2010

finding God...

On Tuesday, K-Love radio partnered with World Vision to provide Thanksgiving to those in West Africa who are in the midst of a horrendous drought, which is causing a massive famine. The people are starving to death. I am sickened at the thought.

My heart was breaking into pieces as I listened to the stories of babies, 6 months old, who only weigh 3.5 pounds.

Where is God in all of this?

I was struck by it that night as Jeff and I headed out for a much needed date to grab coffee and dessert at a restaurant here in town. I was just getting off the phone with World Vision,  as I walked past a table with a group of people enjoying their dinner. Nothing wrong with that. I was just struck by the irony of these children starving to death as a man took a big juicy bite of his steak. It literally hit me in the gut. I began to cry, right there in that restaurant on our date night.

Though our baby that we are adopting is not in West Africa, he/she does live in a country where starvation is a very big issue. I pray every night that The Lord will provide for these children who not only desperately need food and shelter, but also a loving home where they can learn about the saving grace of a loving Savior.

On this journey that we are on, I'm slowly learning where to find God amidst all of this pain and suffering. I'm trying to find the right balance of it all. And where we fit into this picture.

It's humbling, to say the least.

We have so much to be thankful for this year. I'm taking the opportunity to hug my kids a little tighter and thank my Father in heaven, from whom all blessings flow.

If you would like to give to the people of West Africa, please visit World Vision's website here.

Psalm 82:4  Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

so much to be thankful for...

Thanksgiving is only 2 days away. I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays. It's a time of year that I reflect on all of the many things that I'm thankful for. My salvation. My amazing husband. 4 amazing children. An opportunity to be a mommy, yet again. Food to eat. Clothes to wear. Warmth. Love. My freedom. The ability to homeschool my kids. Although these are just a few of the many things that I've been blessed with, they are definitely the highlights.

One of our annual traditions, as of late is a homeschooling turkey feast. This is our 4th year doing it. We've had it at our house the last 2 years, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the uzjah. (what's uzjah, you ask? It's a Syrian term that means "chaos, confusion, craziness" my grandfather taught that word to me, as he was Syrian. Sometimes there's just no other term that will suffice)

Anyway, our Turkey Feast took place last Monday, and we had a splendid time. There were 27 kids, and 10 moms in attendance.

 As you can see, we had some pretty amazing Indians and Pilgrims in attendance that day.

We had some amazing traditional Thanksgiving dishes... turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, mandarin orange salad, cranberry jello salad, pumpkin pie, you know, the usual.

There were some really great crafts.

And the kids had an opportunity to share something with all of us... whether it was a piano piece, a poem, an art piece, a song. It's was great opportunity for the kids to practice their public speaking/performing skills.

We read books about the first Thanksgiving and how grateful we are for the very first pilgrims making that amazing journey to America. And how thankful we are for God's faithfulness to provide for the pilgrims through that first year. So many of them died. Yet some survived. And with the help of a few amazing Indians, they were able to flourish.

(P.S. Thanks to all of my amazing friends that let me take pictures of their adorable kids, as well as my kiddos, to share.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

three simple letters...

(JS/KS) There are so many 3 letter acronyms.
  • MIA (missing in action)
  • TMI (too much information)
  • LOL (laugh out loud)
  • PDA (public display of affection)
  • BFF (best friend forever)
  • FYI (for your information)
  • and of course the infamous...PMS (do I really need to type it?).
These letters they each hold a different meaning, context, relate to different things, groups and information.

We've learned a new 3-letter acronym that holds special meaning to us now...DTE.

Before this journey, I would've asked the same question some of our friends have asked. "What in the world is DTE?" These incredibly simple letters indicate an extra special commitment we've made to a child/children half-way across the globe. Our "Dossier" is en route "To Ethiopia". You can be sure that we'll be tracking it as it makes it's way across the United States, over the Atlantic ocean, past Europe and find it's home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It also indicates that the lion's share of paperwork required for our international adoption has been completed. A huge burden has been lifted from our shoulders. Although an immediate burden has been lifted, we feel a bit like Neil Armstrong must have as he stepped on the moon, and said these infamous words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". Although he spoke with such calm conviction, I can only imagine feeling the immense weight of what he was doing...

We are told that our wait is 4-6 months. At the end of this wait, we'll receive our referral which will include a picture of our baby/babies, as well as their medical history, age etc. To think that we'll have a picture of our baby in such a short time is surreal. We are eager. We're excited. We are hopeful.

Our hope, of course, is in our Lord. Who from the beginning of time knew exactly which children (both bio and adopted) would be ours... and at what perfect time they would join our family.

Now we wait.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Friday, November 12, 2010

we're pregnant!

Okay, not literally. But, after 6 months/8 days, our dossier is on it's way to our agency, AWAA, for one last look before they send it off to Ethiopia next Friday.

We received our I171-H today at 5pm. (The last bit of paperwork needed to finish the "paper pregnancy") and by 5:30 our dossier was on it's way... I don't waste any time:)

I had to get a few shots of us at the Fed Ex office. Thankfully the sweet girl behind the counter was willing to take our pictures and deal with my obsessive/compulsive behavior regarding the dossier. I think I had a somewhat visible stamp across my forehead that read, " Don't mess with me! These papers are bringing our baby home!"

The countdown has begun for our referral for our baby/babies. We are super thrilled, beyond words!

On one hand, it's hard to believe that we will be looking at a picture of our baby in 4-6 months. On the other hand, it feels like we've been waiting forever.

One thing that the Lord has been teaching me on this journey is to trust in Him. To have faith. To be patient. These are muscles that I'm having to work out EVERY day. I would not want to be in any other space than where He has me right now. 

One of my favorite scriptures is, Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

My hope is that I will become successful in having all 3 of these attributes throughout the whole process of our adoption.

So, it's official. Because of where we're at in this process, I feel like we can now officially say that we're pregnant. We're coming baby!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

God still does miracles...

Not sure how many of you have heard of MckMama if you haven't you've got to check her out! Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she's got quite a story to tell...
I could never do justice to all that they've been through (you'll have to read it on her blog, in detail) but 1 year ago today, her baby boy, Stellan flatlined, and then was brought back to life. He had a very dangerous heart condition that was being completely stubborn to treatment. At the last possible moment, as a last ditch effort his cardiologists made one more attempt to right the wrong in his sweet little heart. Their techniques were sure to fail, but they had to try. Amazingly, only by the grace of God, whatever they did worked. And it was a permanent fix. He is now completely free of all heart problems. This truly is a modern day miracle. I have no doubt in my mind. Jennifer McKinney, aka MckMama has given God all the glory! Amazing. I've been reading her blog for a couple of years now, and I wanted to share with you her incredible story of hope, triumph and miracles.

rebirthday from Jennifer McKinney on Vimeo.

I believe our God is the great healer. He is the God of miracles. He is powerful and mighty. He is righteous and Holy. And I am humbled to know that I am one of His children.

I'm trusting in Him that as we move forward into unchartered territory with our adoption, that He will place the right child/children into our home and just the right time. He's been breaking our hearts for the things that break His. I'm excited to see what He has in store for our future. This is just the beginning.

After all, it's all about Him. I'm just along for the ride.

Blessings, Jennifer! and WAY TO GO, God!! Happy Rebirthday, sweet Stellan. God must have some AMAZING things in store for you, sweet boy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

orphan sunday & national adoption month...

I'll be honest and say that I had never heard of "Orphan Sunday" or "National Adoption Month", until we started our own journey of adoption. I'll also start by saying that I believe these are awesome initiatives, and that awareness is a critical step in making any significant effort in finding homes for the millions of children across the globe who are orphans.

Please forgive the triteness of this next statement, but the phrases themselves, don't conjure up images that are truly reflective of the issues that lie at the core of these initiatives. Nothing about these efforts bring a smile to my face. They bring tears.

These are life and death issues people. Children are dying. Others that do survive orphanages are often forced to leave and end up being trafficked for sex. (Please support these organizations that are doing something about it...A21 and Hopechest)

I shutter at the thought that these very words have escaped my lips...
"Man, I had such a hard day."
"Holy cow, I'm starving.
These words hold different meanings to me now.

My days will never be so hard that they compare to the young girls who are forced into having sex just to survive. And starvation? It is real. And real people are dying because of it. My stomach will never be so empty that I will feel real starvation.

Whether or not you or your church is observing "Orphan Sunday", or "National Adoption Month", please reflect on these very real issues. And please, answer the following question.

If no one stands in the gap for these children. Who will?

Our friends Chris and Jennifer Verme (who are also on the journey to adopt) wrote an incredible blog post that I pulled this video from. Please watch this and consider the question above.

"It Began with Bale" from Drawn From Water on Vimeo.

Monday, November 1, 2010

tea party

(KS) On Saturday my friend Rachel planned, prepared and hosted a tea party fundraiser for our adoption.

So for those of you that don't know me very well, I need to tell you that I'm not a tea drinker. Heck, I'm not even a coffee drinker. My vice is Diet Coke. Besides this, I rarely get dressed up. I think I own 1 pair of heels, and they've been in my closet since 1995. I'm more of a jeans and Converse kind of gal.

But when my friend Rachel asked me if she could do this for us... to raise money for our adoption, I wasn't about to get in the way. Rachel went far above my expectations. The decorations were amazing.

The food was amazing!

The girls were adorable!

Maddie and Claire were thrilled to be a part of the day

My friend Jenn drove 2 hours just for the day!

My sister, Candi, came all the way from
Co. Springs for the event!

I'm so thankful to have her as not only my sister, but as my friend.

Here I am with my amazing mom and sister

So, obviously the point of the tea was to raise money for our adoption. I will tell you how much we raised, but first I want to tell you about one sweet lady and her amazing gift to us. This lady heard about our fundraiser through a friend. She herself was adopted so she obviously has a special place in her heart for families that adopt. Although she has a very limited income,  and her husband is without a job, she wanted to also take part in helping us financially with the adoption.  She handed my friend a $20 bill to go towards our adoption. I can't tell you how very much this blessed Jeff and I. It moved us to tears. The fact that she would give, when she has soo very little, speaks volumes. It challenges us. In a good way. It reminds me of the parable that Jesus told in Mark 12 about the widow's mite.
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.”
Although we are quite thankful for the large donations, somehow this lady's gift, moved us in a deep way. It makes me realize that God can use even the smallest of gifts... when it's given with a pure heart. My prayer is that God will greatly bless all of you who have given  in so many different ways to help us bring our baby/babies home.

So, the grand total from our tea fundraiser was $2, 770. Amazing. Thanks so very much to all that have given, and for all of you that continue to pray for us through this journey.