Thursday, September 30, 2010

teary eyed

(KS) Okay, so I've always loved Steven Curtis... I mean who doesn't. And what is the deal with him never looking older? Did he find the fountain of youth, or what? It's crazy.

Anyway, we will soo be purchasing this new Veggie Tale video when it comes out next month. Very cool!




I know it's just a kid's movie and all, but it totally makes me cry. I'm so emotional these days... 

It's very exciting to know that just as God planned for MJ, JB, CBear and LBobber to be our kids, He also has at least 1 (maybe more) on the other side of the world perfectly picked out, just for our family... okay, here come the tears again.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a heart for Ethiopia...

When people ask us why Ethiopia, we offer up our typical response. But sometimes I think words are not able to tell the entire story.

This begins to do it...


Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I171...not just a letter and some numbers.

(KS) As we wait for our I171 approval from the federal government, it has given us a few moments to sit back and relax after the LOADS of paperwork that we've done to date.

So one of the things that has been difficult to grapple with is the cost associated with adopting. Trying to wrap my brain around the millions of children worldwide that are living in poverty, amongst disease and heartache, civil unrest and danger is sometimes too much for me to bear.

Just getting people to open their hearts to adoption is hard enough, let alone trying to tackle the financial burden that lurks in front of them. You would think that it wouldn't have to be so expensive to adopt... right? I found this on a friend's site here that spoke directly to this issue...
Of course, there is a financial component to adopting children, just as there is a financial component to giving birth. Did you pay the doctor, hospital, or other birth-support people who helped bring your child into the world? I paid a social worker and a nonprofit adoption agency to help bring my daughter home.
“Did you pay for food, clothing, and medical care for the first 10 months of your child’s life? I paid a Chinese orphanage a nationally standardized fee, after it provided that care for the first 10 months of my child’s life.


“Did you pay filing fees for your child’s birth certificate or social security card? I paid American and Chinese government filing fees for those same papers, plus citizenship and adoption documents.


“That’s it. In total. Not a cent of compensation went to the birthparents. There were no bribes, no cash under the table. In fact, these expenses may have been lower than the costs of an uninsured pregnancy, birth, and the first 10 months of life with a child in the United States. Did you ‘buy’ your child when you paid these expenses? Neither did I. 
Unfortunately, it IS expensive. A large portion of the cost for our adoption is traveling to Africa... twice. Our plane tickets alone could be $9,000. YIKES! This doesn't include any of the incountry fees etc. that we will have to have in place before we travel.

Of course, God in His faithfulness will provide. This is HIS journey that He's leading us on. Therfore we believe that He is and will continue to provide.

On a totally different topic, doesn't 
Lincoln look JUST like Jeff? CRAZY!

To offset some of the fees, we have been brainstorming some super fun fundraisers. A dear friend of mine has offered to host a 'tea party' fundraiser. Not the kind of tea party that you've been hearing about on Fox News, although we like those kinds of tea parties... it's actually going to be a real tea.  The fundraiser is going to take place on Saturday, Oct. 30th. I've compiled a guest list and invitations will be sent out at the beginning of October. If for some reason you don't receive an invite, and you'd like to get info on the fundraiser, please leave me a comment and I'll get the info to you ASAP.

We are also very close to having our very cool t-shirts, designed by my amazing husband, available to order. You too could own one of these amazing t-shirts showing off not only your support of our adoption, but adoption in general. As soon as we get the last details ironed out, we'll let you know! In the meantime, you can check them out under the "adoption gear" tab at the top of the page.

Please be praying for us as we continue to move forward in bringing our child/children home :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the land between...

(JS) Waiting...and waiting...and waiting. And waiting...and waiting...and waiting.

Have you ever waited for something? I'm not talking about your meal to be brought to you at your favorite restaurant. I mean something you've really had to wait for. Something you've wanted really badly.

I was putting JB to bed last night, and as I was sitting on his bed, he asked me,
JB - "Hey Dad, when are you going to...ya know...make a Christmas list?"
me - "Good question, why do you ask?" (already knowing the answer)
JB - "Well I've marked down all the Lego sets I want for Christmas, and I wanted to let you know."
This exchange does not do justice to the extent to which JB loves Legos. Actually, I had to stop him mid-sentence at least 3 times for leaving the room, as he could have talked for the next couple of hours about the different Star Wars characters they've made, which ones he wants, has, and so on, and so on...

Now that our hearts have been broken to the plight of a little child/children in Ethiopia, we want nothing more than to bring our child(ren) home. That is what we are waiting for.

I had the opportunity to attend the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, a couple of months ago. Jeff Manion was one of the speakers and spoke about his book called "The Land Between" (see promo clip below).

In it he speaks about the numerous "learning opportunities" that occurred as Moses was leading His people to the Promised Land. I think I can speak for both KT and myself, that we are both learning how to be still and "wait" on the Lord. The harder part is trying to seek and understand the lesson He has for us here.

Are you in a "land between"? What are you learning?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

on it's way!

(KS) As many of you know from my updates to Twitter and Facebook, and Jeff's latest blog update, our Ohio background clearance FINALLY came through!!
























This is an amazing answer to soo many prayers. Without God intervening in this situation, we were on track to continue waiting upwards of 3 more months! Thanks to our amazing social worker, who met me halfway with our completed home study, Jeff and I stayed up until midnight pouring over our paperwork, checking it all once and then twice. We are thrilled to be in this place now, moving to the next big hurdle... the I600-A.

Well... it's official. Our I600-A is on it's way to USCIS for our federal approval!!



























to say that our kids are a little bit excited, would be an understatement!

Thanks for all of the prayers that you've lifted up for us... please don't stop! Join with us in praying for our little child/ children halfway around the world, who could very easily be born by now. Pray for their protection, and for God's peace. Pray that He would begin to prepare them for us, and prepare us for them.
























I'd say it's time for some celebration!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

new look, same mission

(JS) Yep. We decided to do away with the bland blog theme that we were using and get a bit more creative. Anyhow, enjoy the addition of color!

BTW, did you know that you can share individual posts from our blog with your friends on Facebook and Twitter? Simply use the share buttons below each individual post. If something strikes you, don't be shy, be social!

Be on the look out for some more tweaking over the next few weeks...

we will finish...

(JS) KS and I are thrilled to share with you all that the State of Ohio completed our clearances! It's another hurdle cleared in a long and arduous race to bring home our baby (or babies).

There was an immediate sigh of relief that we both had, but then, as with any race, we picked our heads up and are continuing to forge forward in jumping the next hurdles in our way.

Although "running a race" is a much used metaphor, I can't help but think back to the 1992 Olympic games when Derek Redmond injured himself during the Men's 400m.  He paused, defeated on the track. But then he got up and began to move forward toward the finish line. And then his dad helped him to the end.

You all have been in the stands cheering...and our Father has been by our side, helping us to the finish line.

On a side note...I love the scene at the 1:44 mark when Derek's dad shoves away the individual who wants them to stop. Our Father is...the fierce protector.

Monday, September 13, 2010

feeling weak...and strong.

(JS) As KS has mentioned, it's been a bit of a roller coaster with the certification process in Ohio. I honestly did not realize that we had been waiting for 11+ weeks for this step until a week or so ago. But we're getting closer!

It's been somewhat easy for me to wake up, kiss the fam, and head off to work, and not really be connected to "the process" of adopting a child internationally. But although I may not be connected to the "paper-chase", as they call it in adoption circles, I could not be more connected to what ultimately is breaking the heart of Christ.

I'd be lying if I didn't say there have been moments where I have felt ill-equipped to finish this race. Do I have what it takes to parent this child? Do I have enough grace to handle the looks/comments we will get? Sometimes I struggle with the answers. Lately I've been empowered by the words/lyrics in one specific Hillsong tune. I am reminded that He is stronger...sin is broken...and He has saved me. And that is all the reassurance I need.

Side note: Dude. Hillsong are my peeps. I was IM'ing a friend of mine, and sent him this link.  I asked him..."Bro, please tell me it will be like this on the other side." To which he responded. "Nope, it will be better."

Serious goose bumps followed...I invite you to please take a moment, watch this, and realize that regardless of your circumstance...He IS stronger.




Saturday, September 11, 2010

transparent

 So, I was about to post this update:
Yes, we are still waiting for our Ohio background clearance to come through. This is a ridiculous amount of time to wait for a background check. Other states process their clearance within 10 days, yet here we are in week 11, waiting... I can't figure out why we're having to wait this long.
Is God trying to teach us patience? Is the Enemy trying to thwart our plans?
Guess I just needed to vent.
This wasn't supposed to be one of things that we were planning on having to wait on... you know?
God is continually reminding me that He is in control, even in this small details... I'm just having a hard time letting it go:)
It'd be so much easier if I knew going into it that it was going to be a 3 month, 4 month etc. wait. But instead, we are having to tread through the water without any idea where, or if there is any land. I know, I know... If I really trust in Jesus like I say I do, then I need to start acting like it.
This is not easy.
Here is where the distinction lies. In saying you're a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Completely trusting in Him... I mean really trusting in Him, not allowing that attitude of control get in the way of what He's trying to teach, and the opposite, which is what I've been trying to stop doing the last few weeks... you know, get frustrated, think of a million scenarios ("if it comes this week then that means..." or "what if it doesn't come for another 2 months?") basically not really believing that The God of the Universe can handle this. sigh.
I'm thankful that The Lord loves me in spite of the million times that I say that I'm "letting go" then turn around 5 minutes later, only to have totally snatched it back up again. double sigh.
Let me be very clear in saying that I ONLY want to be in God's will. I don't want to be out from under His protection.
Most of the time though, I'm pretty sure that MY way is the right way. I'm also pretty confident that I'm perfectly wrong in thinking that.
I know that I can't see the bigger picture... and He can. I know that I can rest in the assurance that He loves us and wants what is best for us. Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Please pray for us. For the peace that only He can give to wash over us. Pray for His perfect timing. Pray for His favor to be on us.
...Yet before I had time to post it, I got an email from our social worker that said this:
Katie,
Hold the presses.  I just received and email from Barbara and she states she will do the searches I requested and have the results to me around 9-14. 
Praise the Lord.
Wow! God's faithfulness floors me yet again. I am humbled, eager and super pumped! Please keep praying for us as we walk this journey.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

celebrating

(KS) 20 years ago today, I had my first date with a young man named, Jeff. I was 17 years old. So young. He arrived at my door with a red rose, took me to dinner and a movie, and ended the evening with a kiss on my cheek... ever the gentleman. I started falling in love that very night.

Here we are 20 years later... 16 years of marriage, 4 kids, 1 dog, and a baby (or two) on the way!

















I can't imagine my life without my very best friend. Jeff puts up with a lot from me! and amazingly enough, he still loves me!

















I'm blessed beyond measure to be traveling this journey of life with Jeff. Clearly God knew what He was doing when He put us together.

















Here's to many more years of celebrating our marriage! I love you, Jeff:)

Friday, September 3, 2010

are you ready for some football?

(KS) The people who know me best know that it's no secret that autumn is my favorite season. For all of the disadvantages that are a result of living in a very flat city in northwest Ohio, one thing it has going for it is that we clearly get to experience all four seasons.

Just about the time that I can't stand one more gray day, flowers begin to bloom, and the sun shines through the clouds causing not only the birds to sing but my heart as well. Or just about the time that I can't stand one more 90 degree day with 100% humidity, things begin to cool down. I enjoy each change of season. It's good for the soul.

Hands down though, my favorite season is definitely fall. I love the changing color of the leaves,
 























the dip in the temperature, the sounds of a football game on the television as I make a big pot of soup and glance over at the fire in the fireplace.
























Those of you that know me well also know that I could care less which team is playing, who's winning, which players are in line for the Heisman trophy, or who or what a Big 10 team is! Seriously, I think Jeff has to reteach me each season what the 4 downs mean, what a punt is and how it all works. For being the wife of a huge sports fan, it's pretty sad. Thankfully, Jeff loves me in spite of it.

Anyway, we were hanging out as a fam the other night, and Jeff had a game on ESPN (no matter that it was high school football). I heard the whistles of the refs and my heart seriously skipped a beat. I turned to Jeff and squealed! " YIPPEE, it's football season, isn't it?"

















Part of our family tradition each fall, since I was a little girl, was to go to the local apple orchard,(MacQueens) and pick apples as a family. We've continued this tradition with our own kids.













We climb the trees, pick apples, play frisbee in the orchard, eat the best, freshly baked, still warm donuts and cider in the state and make lots of great memories. I can look back through all of our family albums over the last 16 years of marriage, and each fall there are loads of pictures of us at the apple orchard.

I'm thankful to know the One who made the four seasons possible. The One who created them. I hope that I never overlook the little things that God did for us so that we could not only see His beauty, but behold it.

The time is upon us now. The summer is coming to a close. Our kids start school in a few short days and it's time to enjoy the changing of seasons once again.

















As I look forward to what next year will bring, I'm eager to think that we may be going to MacQueen's next September with 1 or 2 more of our children with us. This is an exciting thought. One that I'm eager for. Hopeful for.

Take the time today to enjoy the little things that make being a child of God so amazing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

lessons in the waiting

(KS) I'm going to be honest with you, I am not a very patient person by nature. When I see something that I want, I do what I need to do to get it. I'm not talking about a new set of earrings, or a new pair of shoes. I'm talking about more important things... for example, having another baby. Of course I pray about it. I seek the wisdom of those that I find wise. But I still tend to have the kind of personality that "gets things done".

Over the years God has clearly been trying to gently shape me into what He wants me to be... aka patient. This is like working a muscle that you didn't even know that you have. It's not fun. It hurts. But, the end result is beautiful.















It has happened over and over in my young life of 37 years. I had to wait 2 whole years before my amazing husband FINALLY proposed to me. Then, I had to wait another 2 whole years before we were wed. I had to wait 4 years before we became pregnant (by accident because Jeff wasn't quite ready for kids).

With each baby, I had to be patient and wait for my husband to catch up with the "baby fever" that I had. These are just a few examples of things I've had to wait for... but I can look back at each experience and see how The Lord was molding me, shaping me. I don't learn very easily.

So here we are waiting once again... our Ohio CPS clearance is what we're waiting for. And it's been 10 weeks, without the paperwork to date. Now, for a person who just gets things done, believe me, I've done all that I can possibly do, other than taking a trip to the state office and physically doing the background check myself (sigh). It's frustrating. Yet, I'm learning that this is my growing edge... it's exactly what God has been working on in me for years. This time, I'm trying to get it right, right off the bat so that I don't have to wander in the wilderness (think Israelites) for 40 years.

How am I getting it right? After speaking to a good friend of mine, who reminded me that there are "lessons in the waiting", I'm making a concerted effort to leave my longings and desires at the foot of the cross, without taking them back every 5 minutes. That means not stalking my social worker for news, not checking my email every 5 minutes... but instead each time the thought comes to my mind, turning it around into a praise of the One who put this desire of adoption in my heart in the first place.

This is HIS thing, not mine. He's preparing a child/children to perfectly fit our family. He's preparing us for these children. His timing is perfect. He's never late, He's never early.

It's amazing how much freedom there is in this line of thinking. It takes all of the yucky, empty, fearful feelings away. Instead replacing it with His perfect peace.

Isaiah 26:3 NIV

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Thanks, Heather for reminding me... I am indeed learning that there are lessons in the waiting.