Thursday, September 22, 2011

the land between

Yesterday my status update on fb was " Today I choose joy". Okay, so that lasted all of about 15 minutes. Seriously. I'm amazed at how little resolve I have.

So as I said, it lasted for a whole 15 minutes, until I got frustrated at the disarray of our home. Now I know that this seems like a silly thing, but what I'm learning more and more about myself, is that when I'm stressed about something (like our adoption, for example), I pretty much freak out about EVERYTHING.

Of course, this doesn't help the whole "joy" theme that I was trying to engage in yesterday morning. All the kids worked with me to clean up pencils, markers, toys, crayons, papers, books, paperclips, more toys, more pencils, erasers, more paper scraps off the floor and the discarded honey nut cheerios that were now covered in ants... (yes, that's just in our school room, I'm not even going to mention the rest of the house), and then I apologized for being a cranky mom... again.

We got back on track with the whole joy thing. I mean it does say in the Bible, in Psalm 98:4 Shout for joy to the lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;

and also Phillipians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But honestly, lately my theme has been more like Lamentations 5:15 which says, Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.

I decided it was time to pick up the amazing book The Land Between, Finding God in Difficult Transitions by Jeff Manion. This is NOT the first time I've read this. I just forget easily and need to read things again and again.

This is what the summary on the back of the book says, Life is full of unwanted transitions. It is our response to the land between that will determine whether our journey through the desert will result in deep, lasting growth or prove destructive to the soul.

This book is all about the Israelites and their 40 year journey through the wilderness from the land of slavery to the Promised Land.  Manion brings to life this amazing story and beautifully retells of Israel's continued cries to the Lord for deliverance, the eventual freedom from slavery including several miracles:

the plagues that rained down on the Egyptians as the Iraelites were spared, including the killing of all of the firstborn, (yet again the Hebrews were spared if they poured the blood of a spotless lamb on their doorpost), the Exodus from Egypt with Moses as their leader, the fire that separated the Hebrews from the angry Egyptian solidiers when they decided they didn't want their slaves to leave after all, the parting of the Red Sea so that all of the Hebrew people were able to cross through (would've LOVED to see that!), then how the Lord closed the Sea on top of the Egyptian solidiers to their demise, the cloud that led them by day, and the pillar of fire that led them by night.

Yet, even with all of these AMAZING miracles, that clearly only the Lord could do, they still were quick to forget His faithfulness to them. 

In Exodus 16: 1-3 on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

If they only knew that they were only into the second month of a 40 year journey, maybe they wouldn't have started complaining just yet.

As I read this though, I see such similarities in my own life. I'm sooo quick to jump up and down when the Lord comes to my rescue, and oh so quick to forget His faithfulness during the difficult times.

One of the sections early on in the book is labeled: I'm Sick of This! Manion talks about how the Israelites complained about EVERYTHING... they begged God for deliverance, so He delivered them. They begged for food and water, so He blessed them with Manna and water from the rock. Yet, they soon began to complain about the food in which He provided. They didn't like it. The complained and grumbled and were just plain ridiculous.

Manion says, "We may think that nothing grows in the desert. But make no mistake: the Land Between is fertile ground for complaint." He goes on to say that," God takes complaining very seriously, that complaining is really a rejection of God himself." In essence, The Hebrews got to a point where they were saying, "we would've been better off in Egypt. We were better off without you, God".

Now when I first saw this I was soo critical of the Hebrews thinking, "how dare you complain. God SAVED you from a life of misery. He's doing miracles before your very eyes, etc."

But oh so quickly, the Lord whispered in my ear, "Oh Katie, aren't you doing the same thing in regards to your adoption of Bedilu and Meron? I've blessed you over and over... providing every cent needed for this journey, blessing you with these 2 precious children, providing a court date soo much sooner than anticipated, protected you on your journey to Ethiopia, blessed your time with them, allowed you to pass court when no one said it would happen before the courts closed for the rainy season, and on and on and on"

So quickly I forget His faithfulness.

This is His deal, not mine. He led us to this crazy journey, why do I doubt that He'll finish this amazing story in our lives. He promised that He'd never leave us, or forsake us. Why do I doubt this.

So often I feel like Peter, only able to walk on the water for but a moment before I'm looking down... doubting.

I want an unwavering faith. I want to believe with my whole heart that none of these paperwork set backs take Him by surprise. But just like exercising a new muscle, it takes time and lots of practice.

Manion says that as we walk through the Land Between, our souls are very vunerable. This journey may provide our greatest opportunity for transformational growth, but it also provides an enormous opportunity for bitter resentments to flourish - for faith to shrivel.

Of course, I surely don't want that to happen, lest God decide that I need to be in the desert for 40 years. I'm finding that the best way to avoid my faith from shriveling is to keep God's faithfulness at the forefront of my mind. Posting our prayer requests and the dates that they were answered on our refrigerator. Singing praise songs to Him. Reading His love letter to us, His Word. And also "Shouting for Joy to the Lord, all the earth".

So, if you see me getting bogged down by the delays in Embassy, please call me to account, remind me of His faithfulness and just flat out tell me to stop complaining. Hopefully I'll be wise and take it as helpful instruction in my life. (haha)

Even though this has been a painful road at times, I am so very thankful to be on this journey. My relationship with Jesus is growing in ways I never thought possible. I am excited to see this amazing tapestry that He is creating before our very eyes.

I appreciate each and every one of you who have sent me encouraging emails through this season. Adoption can be messy. It's not always a walk in the park and I'm soo very thankful for those of you who have stood by our side, both encouraging us and lifting Jeff and I, and all of our 6 kids up in prayer.

I will continue seeking the Lord and learning all that He is trying to teach us on this road to our kids.

My hope is found In Christ Alone.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

still we wait...

We got the call this morning, that yet again, Bedilu's paperwork was NOT submitted to Embassy. 

It's been 47 days since we've held them. and 5 weeks since they've been legally ours. What kind of mother leaves her kids on the other side of the world for 5 weeks???! and of course this doesn't even take into account the amount of time they waited before we were matched with them.

Waiting another week, may not seem like a big deal, but our journey is not done until Embassy clears us. We're not sure how long this will take.  I'm feeling weary... feeling that old spirit of fear creep in.                  

Obviously, God is bigger than all of these set backs. He can allow Embassy to pass us immediately without any further delays. I'm just not so sure that He WILL choose to do that. My faith is feeling very slight today. I'm trying to figure out what He's trying to teach me right now. I DON'T want to be like the Israelites wandering around for 40 years.

My heart is breaking for 2 kids that are legally OURS, yet we can't get them into the US yet. How can I possibly leave them over there? And, how can I go to to them for an undetermined amount of time, have them in my custody, all while leaving my other 4 kids here. We find ourselves in such a quagmire... and my heart aches.

These are my kids. Okay, they're not really MINE, they're HIS, but He's entrusting us with their care. Would I do any less for my biological children? I love them just as much as I love our other kiddos. I've held them. I've kissed their sweet cheeks and giggled with them. I've read stories and colored with them. I've kissed away their tears. My heart is breaking. Yet, how can I forget the miracles that God has already done?

God made a way when we were told it would be a long wait... and we received our court date call only 4 weeks after our referral. We were floored. and thrilled. We went to court. We met our kids. We passed court only 12 business days after our court date. That was another miracle. We passed on the last day of court being open before they shut down for 6 weeks due to their rainy season. This was HUGE.

Some of our friends were caught in a different situation. They were stuck in the court closures, and I can only imagine the pain that their hearts must be bearing during this time.

I think... no, I know, that when I heard the news this morning, it felt so final. I realize that I can't put my hope in man. God is soo much bigger than what they may forecast.

Please pray for wisdom for Jeff and I as we continue on this journey. I've come to realize it's never really over, as the real work begins once we bring them home. I'm just trying to sort through this barrage of emotions going on in my head and in my heart.

Jeff sent me this video today at one of my weakest moments. My kids gathered around me and prayed with me, cried with me. and then preceded to make me laugh.

One thing I know for sure. God is always faithful. His Word NEVER returns void. He NEVER leaves us. He has ALWAYS been with Bedilu and Meron holding them, protecting them. We will not stop believing... hoping for that day when we will be gathering them up in our arms once again, forever. Thanks for lifting us up in prayer.

disclaimer: this post may not make much sense as I've written it, and rewritten it several times today through tears, a migraine etc. please have grace for my grammar/ sentence structure. I don't really care to fix it tonight;) Although, I AM starting to feel a bit more at peace... God IS faithful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

quick update and pics

I haven't been very faithful lately to update our blog with the blow by blow details surrounding our adoption. I haven't even finished the last 3 days of our trip to Ethiopia and we've been home for 7 weeks.

Honestly, it's just been so much to process, and it's easier to put a quick blurb on facebook. Yet, I realize that not everyone of our family/friends is on facebook, so you might feel as if you've been left in the dark on the details. I would never want to leave you out of this amazing journey, so I'm going to give you the latest "low down" on our case.

As you all know, we passed court with both our kids on August 8th. Which is a miracle! Not only did we squeak in on the last day that court was open before the rainy season- where they shut down for 6 weeks, but our kids are not biologically related, so we needed 2 separate letters from MOWYCA present in order to pass. Getting one letter was a miracle, but God provided two!

The next step is waiting to be submitted for Embassy. That's US Embassy. Now that we are legally Meron and Bedilu's parents in the eyes of the Ethiopian Government, we need the United States to agree, so that we can bring them into the US.

Meron was submitted last Wednesday. Each agency is only allowed to submit once a week. sigh. Bedilu's paperwork wasn't quite ready last week, but we were told for sure, this week. Well, we got the call this morning that they needed to add one more document and that they were going to make an exception to submit us tomorrow morning, Thursday, because we have 2 kids, and Meron's paperwork has already been there for a week. To say that we are humbled would be an understatement. To say that we are praying like crazy for the Lord to make the path to Embassy clear would also be an understatement. God has been faithful every step of this journey... even if it hasn't been in our timing.

Once the kids paperwork is submitted, Embassy has 10 business days, 2 weeks, to pour over every detail... reading and re reading each document. Checking and rechecking that everything is in order. Before the end of the 10 days, they will either send an email telling us that we are CLEAR to TRAVEL, or an email asking for more documentation. Obviously we are praying against the latter. Our prayer has been that God would go before us, and that those that handle our case would find EVERYTHING in order. That nothing would be out of place or missing.

We expect to hear in the next week that Meron is CLEARED!!! and as soon as Bedilu is submitted tomorrow, we are eagerly awaiting that he too is CLEARED!!.

Would you please pray with us for these details. We are close to finishing this part of the journey. Obviously the real work will begin once we bring our kids home, but we are so eager to begin that phase.

We've spent the last few weeks praying...fasting... reading all about attachment... we've prayed some more... we've packed our bags... we've spent time at my parents cottage...

we've read stories with our kids... cleaned out the toy room... folded a million loads of laundry... cried... emptied and reloaded the dishwasher a gazillion times... laughed with the kids... run to Target for donations... cuddled with Lincoln...prepared Bedilu and Meron's rooms... we've run our kids to piano lessons, and our girls to ballet and sewing lessons... snuggled with our 4 children here at home... and we've started our school year. It's our 5th year of home schooling.

Yesterday was the official start to the school year and I took a few pics of our sweet kiddos all. geared. up for more wonderful home education;)

We're enjoying the beginnings of fall weather. Knowing that the apple orchard, football, sweatshirts and leaves changing beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow are right around the corner.

And also knowing that in just a few short weeks, we'll be on a plane to bring home Bedilu Elijah and Meron Ruth Seevers to join our family.

Please continue to pray with us as we prepare to bring them home. Pray for those at the Embassy who are reviewing our kids files. Pray that the Lord brings all the details of our travel together. and Pray for our hearts as we wait... and then as we start this NEW journey of raising 2 more amazing Seevers' kids.