Friday, March 18, 2011

ramblings of my heart...

Many of you know that I'm training for a half marathon. The count down continues as the race is 4 short weeks away! Jeff and I thought it would be a great idea to use this as a fundraiser for our adoption. Thanks to a very generous person who offered to do a matching grant up to $1,000, many of you wanted to get involved and help support us! The total that we've raised to date is $1,426... with the matching grant, that makes it $2, 426. We feel humbled and oh so blessed by all of you that participated!

Of course, you can still donate to our adoption here as we are still raising funds for when we travel. We're getting closer though... only about $5,000 short of being fully funded!

We are still hopeful that we will be matched with our child before the 1/2 marathon. This is what we are praying for... believing for. I was reading in Romans 4 today about the faith of Abraham. in verse 18 it says,  Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. Over the last couple of weeks, with the news coming out of Ethiopia about reducing the adoptions, etc. there was definitely reason to stop hoping... and yet, God calls us to hope, even when all seems lost.

And then in verse 19 it says, And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.
He had every reason to rationalize that clearly God didn't REALLY say that he'd be the father of many nations, did He? 

It goes on to say in verse 20, Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. I LOVE this! His Faith brought God GLORY! That is awesome.

  What a testimony Abraham had...  it then says in verse 21, He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 
And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.  

And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded  for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 

I am always amazed as I read these verses. It really IS very simple. Our purpose for being on this earth is to bring glory to God. Period. We bring glory to Him, by loving Him, loving others, and having faith.

This journey of adoption definitely isn't easy, but Jesus didn't say life would be easy. And just when I think life is hard... when I think waiting for our referral, waiting to travel and meeting our little one/ones, waiting to bring them home etc, that's when I remember... how much harder it must be for our little one/ones. What difficulties must their young lives already have included? What hardships have they endured? 

I come undone. I'm ashamed at my impatience, my pettiness, my selfishness. 

I am being refined. Although it's not easy, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than where the Lord has me today.

I'm going to keep trusting, keep hoping. I want to bring God glory with my life. And although I fail miserably day after day, I'm so thankful for His forgiveness and new mercies each day.

I think I may post the Scriptures found in Romans 4 on my forehead so that I don't forget. 

Jeff and I are soo eager to see whom the Lord has already handpicked for our family... before the beginning of time. 

And I choose today to have faith in His promises!

Monday, March 14, 2011

where we are...

After all of the news swirling around last week regarding Ethiopia and MOWA (Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs), we've been pretty quiet on the home front. Honestly, we've been processing, praying and waiting on God.

If you're unaware of what's been happening, here's a quick recap: VOA News ran an article on March 4th that said "Ethiopia is cutting back by as much as 90 percent the number of inter-country adoptions it will allow, as part of an effort to clean up a system rife with fraud and corruption".

Basically what followed was confirmation from our agency and a week of major concern, praying, fasting and questioning how this was going to affect us.

MOWA basically holds the power to write their approval of a family adopting a child from Ethiopia. Without this approval, said family will not pass court. This process of going to court, and failing can go on for months... and this was all happening before the 90% decrease was outlined.

On Friday, we received another email from our agency... a bit more encouraging, which said, 
"As noted by NCFA we are also excited to highlight the positive reports we are hearing regarding meetings in Ethiopia this week and are hopeful they will result in the continuance of a higher number of favorable recommendation letters being written by MOWA for families in the court process. We know God can move mightily and are continuing to trust His hand over the Ethiopian adoption process and your family’s process as well. As an additional note of praise, we received favorable recommendation letters from MOWA today for 4 families currently in Ethiopia resulting in them successfully passing court today.

During this season we would ask for your continued prayers and will be joining your family in this.  We will continue to inform your family of any new confirmed information we receive."
Jeff and I are greatly concerned about the children in Ethiopia and being sure that the child that we adopt truly IS an orphan. We definitely want the "powers that be" to do all that they can do reduce the amount of corruption going on. However, as a fellow adoptive parent (Jason Kovacs) said the other day, "To say int'l adoption leads to human trafficking & should be stopped is like saying marriage leads to spousal abuse & should be ended". 

We also feel strongly that adoption isn't the only thing that we need to be doing. We firmly believe that the best case scenario for a child is to live with his/her birth parents. When this isn't possible due to disease, death or lack of basic needs, the next best scenario would be for that child to live in country with a loving relative. Many times this isn't an option in a land where disease and starvation are rampant. We feel very strongly that God has led us down this adoption path, and He's not going to leave us here.

God is doing some amazing things in Jeff and I. We aren't sure where all of this will lead, but we're pretty sure it's not going to end with one adoption. We want to do what we can to actually make a difference in a community in Ethiopia. Stay tuned for that.

So where does this leave us? We're trusting in God re: the issues in ET and the slowdown. We're confident that God's promises are true and that His Word NEVER returns void. He soo greatly cares for the orphans and widows... and He is Sovereign.

Our agency hasn't given us any idea what this may mean as far as waiting time, however we've felt led to change our age range requested, opening it up a bit. This will hopefully reduce our wait time, as there are soo many non infants already waiting in the orphanages for a home. So...our new age request is 0-24 months for a single child, 0-4yrs. for a sibling group.

Please continue praying for us as we venture forward on this great journey that the Lord is leading us on!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

capturing the moment...

We like to take photos in our family...

...a lot.

So when L-Bobber wanted to try his hand at it the other day, we gave him an old, very large, outdated digital point and click camera. He had a ball with it!

But our 7 yr. old, C-Bear had even more fun taking pics of him.

I'm so thankful for the memories that we are making with these awesome kids that God's blessed us with.

As we wait... and wait... and wait to hear what's happening in Ethiopia, we are soooo thankful for the amazing moments to enjoy our kids and make the most of every opportunity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

what the poor taught me yesterday...

I say that I'm blessed all the time, but do I really understand what it means? When I compare myself to the entire population of the world, I have more than some will ever have in their entire lifetime. I think most of us would fall into the top 10% of the entire world. Making us the the richest in the world. It's a very humbling thought.

Although we give financially to a number of ministries, this year I've been convicted to go to the places where people are hurting and give of my time. Not that giving money is a bad thing, but I need to be His hands and feet.

So, yesterday I volunteered at a local food kitchen.

I'll admit it has been a long time since I've stepped foot into a place like this. Honestly, I was excited. I wanted to help.

Please realize that my thoughts are raw and I realize that some of them will feel disjointed. Please forgive me. I won't bore you with all the details of the experience other than to say I learned some very valuable lessons. Here is one that stood out;
  1. Food and water are a start, but they are not enough:  I realized at the end of our time at the kitchen, that I had done nothing. Okay, I know, I helped feed the needy. But as I watched them eat, I realized the food was not changing their circumstance. Some were still hurt and in need of more.  One young man was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. You could tell he was processing something, but he lacked any facial expression that would lead you to believe he was sad, happy, upset or anything. Then there was a lady. A sweet lady with a bright beautiful smile, that despite her circumstance, proceeded to hand me an envelop titled "A Great love letter From The Almighty God In Jesus' Name". She seemed to have a joy and a hope about her. Two different people, with two different outlooks. One needing a connection and the other wanting one.
I found myself wanting to stay and talk with them. Make that connection. I didn't. I had to return to work.


    I've determined that even in my desire to help I was being a little selfish. Sure I had the best intentions in giving of my time. But as Tom Davis shared at the Idea Camp this past weekend, true compassion makes you vulnerable. It makes you hurt. We give...but do we give until it hurts? I'm not just talking financially. I'm talking emotionally. Are we willing to pour our lives into someone even when it makes us hurt? I think it was Brene Brown that said, "we are made for connection". We all long to be connected.

    Every. Single. One of us.

    After yesterday, I feel like I missed the mark. But now, I'd like to ask myself this question...

    Am I willing to be that connection, to that someone, who needs one?