God is so good

Yesterday was the annual For the Kids Carnival. An event that we started with some friends to help raise funds and awareness for orphan care. This year we had two families that we were hoping to support. Our dear friends adopting from Ethiopia (ps – you should buy one of their amazing t-shirts!!) and another family that will travel soon to bring home their son from Liberia.

We put a lot of time and energy into planning and prepping for this event. The event is held mostly out-doors at a local family farm (they provide foster care for teenagers in the area -amazing people!!). Yesterday morning we woke up to rain and a forecast for rain the whole day. I was anxious and wanted to switch the location to somewhere indoors so that we could still have it. But, the group prayed about it and really felt like God wanted us to have it at the farm.

They started hauling out all of our supplies and setting up in the rain. About an hour before the start time the rain cleared. By start time, the sun was out!! The weather was perfect the full 4 hours of the event. Just as the event ended, God put a rainbow in the sky. We started packing up and it started to drizzle again.

It was such a testament to who God is and how he provides, no matter what the forecasters say (and no matter my doubt). Praise him! It was such an amazing experience to witness. God is good.

‘He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.’ Deuteronomy 10:21

 

The event itself was fantastic. Families with kids of all ages and different faith backgrounds came together to have a good time for a good cause. Our kids had a BLAST! MissE said she wished she could live the whole day over again. It was a wild ride, but I’m so glad God let us experience it!

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Super big thanks to these two for watching Junior while I worked the food stand!

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And – several children were sponsored through World Vision!!! I am excited to see how God weaves the stories of these children with the families that stepped forward to suppor them.

We need a Miracle

“How are things with your adoption?”

I get asked this question daily and I love it!

I love it when people ask because it shows they care. They are curious and invested; wanting to stay up-to-date on where we are at. It is awesome! So, if you are one of those people that have recently asked me that question…THANK YOU!!

But, I hate to answer the question.

My answer usually goes something like this, “Oh, you know, slow and steady.”

Then under my breath I say, “But mostly just slow.”

Just slow.

In ten months, we have only moved ten spots (and it seems that this time frame is the most accurate). The waiting, the unknowns, and the strikes are enough for a person to completely lose their sanity. I may already be that person.

Some moments I feel desperate and other moments I am at a total peace. Our little family is such a treasure and I am trying my best to embrace these moments NOW and not lose them to discontentment.

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The desperate moments aren’t pretty, though, and I really want to handle them with grace and trust.

The truth is we need a miracle from God.

We have looked into starting another program while we continue to wait on the list in Honduras. This has been a disheartening process. Every country/program/agency we look into says no because of the ‘C’ word we now have in our health file. Apparently cancer of any kind or stage automatically disqualifies us. It has been very discouraging to feel the rejection and closed doors.

At one point our agency emailed us a file of a child, we said ‘YES!!’ and then they emailed back to say we were disqualified from that country. Talk about heartbreak.

The good news so far is that the cancer doesn’t disqualify us in Honduras. The bad news is that the list simply is not moving. So, we wait and wait.

I haven’t posted for awhile, because we are still working through how we feel about all of this. I would prefer to just post good news :)

We have talked a little with the kids about what is happening. We have told them that at this point in order for our child to come home, God will need to make a way. We read the story of Moses and the people of Israel crossing the red sea one night during bible time. God made a way for them when it seemed like there was NO WAY. That is exactly what we need. We need God to do a miracle and make a way.

Will you pray with us for that miracle?

Will you also pray that God protects our hearts while we wait?

I have been trying to be intentional about praising God for how he has already worked in our lives. It is easy to get stuck in the place of discouragement and I don’t want to live in defeat.

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. Deuteronomy 2:7

 

 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

 

I trust God will make a way, even if it looks completely different than I imagined. He has brought us to this point, he has always provided for us, and he will bring us to the next place.

An unexpected weekend

Time to catch up with the ol’ blog. A few weekends ago my parents came down to watch the kiddos so we could go to an adoption parenting conference. We were really excited about a little getaway and for a chance to learn and sharpen our parenting skills. Unfortunately, the weather had different plans and by the time my parents had arrived we were in the middle of a blizzard and our flights had been cancelled. Disappointed is an understatement. We had a very nice weekend, it just looked a little different than we planned.

My mom made my favorite cinnamon french toast for breakfast.

 

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My dad build us a little mini-deck. He had to shovel a path to the door first and he built it in the freezing cold. We watched his work from inside. Great job, dad! :)

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The kids love it! We love it! Now we have a way to get to our nice fenced in backyard without going around the house.

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We really put my parents to work. Later my dad gave Junior a much needed haircut.

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My mom taught MissE how to sew a sampler. She has been wanting to learn since reading Felicity.

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My parents are amazing! We were sad to miss the conference, but really enjoyed having them here!

Thankful Thursday: One Year!

So, yesterday marked one year on the Honduras wait list. I allowed myself a sad day. It’s okay to be sad, people. Now the sad day is over and today I’m listening to praise music and giving thanks for all the ways God has moved in the past 12 months.

We mailed off our dossier in September 2011 and by March 2012 we still had not heard anything. Those were some LONG months. We knew of others having do re-do paperwork and mail in more pictures. I knew at least one of our documents lacked something and I was sure we would need to re-do it. I worried about how long it was taking and was convinced our paperwork had been lost in the shuffle (this did happen to another family!).

On March 13, 2012 I went to bible study and my friends prayed for me. You can read all about it hear. I came home and received an email saying our paperwork was approved (no corrections needed) and we had our first waiting number!

Thank you, God, for allowing our paperwork to be approved as it was and for answering prayer that day! Thank you for using friends to pray for me and encourage me that day and allowing them the joy in celebrating in an immediately answered prayer.

 

In the coming weeks we learned that our program fees were going up by a large amount. We had scrimped to pay for all of our fees to that point and had no idea of how we would pay the remainder, let alone the increase. Over the summer our friends and family came around us in a HUGE way. Garage sale, t-shirt sales, sponsored miles, and a Carnival all helped cover the increased amount and provided the funds we needed to complete this adoption.

Thank you, Jesus, for touching people’s hearts and providing the finances needed to bring this child home! Thank you for the encouragement that came from such sweet and generous souls!

 

It’s hard to explain, but a year ago I felt so alone in this process. It was difficult to talk to people about adoption and how the whole program works. I often felt misunderstood and more or less that people were apathetic in response. Some people, probably not any of you that read this blog :). Through fundraising, God really changed that for me. We had such a great response from family, friends, and even strangers. I felt like people really caught the vision for adoption and could understand our hearts. Through this time our small group was formed and they have been and continue to be an enormous blessing in our lives.

Thank you, Jesus, for providing a community that supports us and loves adoption like you do! Thank you for surrounding us with people that love you. Thank you for the joy it is to walk this life with those individuals!

 

A while ago God really impressed on my heart to pray for other families to answer the call to adopt. Now, I already had experienced the hard work that is adoption and so I prayed earnestly that God would give people a heart for adoption and also a tenacity to fight for children. I started praying for a certain number of families to start the adoption process. God has answered that prayer and some. We keep hearing of friends from all over that have decided to step out in significant faith and pursue adoption or foster care. I see these families as an answer to my prayer.

Thank you, God, for calling others to adopt. Thank you for inspiring hearts to care for orphans. Thank you for providing what each of these families need for this journey and for continuing to care for these children while we all wait.

 

As our wait list number got lower, we started to think more realistically of what it would look like to add a third child to our little home. We prayed that if God would see fit, he would provide a larger home for us. Little did we expect the house God had for us. After an unexpected email from our realtor and a lot of waiting, we moved into a lovely home all ready for more kids!

Thank you, Jesus, for providing for our needs (the money needed to complete the adoption) and our wants (the space needed to add another family member). We ask that our home would be filled with your love and with people to share it with.

 

For some people 12 months feels like an eternity and for others it is just another year that flew by. For us, this past year has been significant. God has used this time to build up our faith, equip us for adoption, show us his provision, and surround us with a community that loves him. I have no idea what the next year holds, but I know God does. Today I am thanking him for that and trusting him for what lies ahead.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

Isaiah 55:8-12

Today I water my prayer plant (it’s still alive and well) and thank God for all he has done and will continue to do! I might even go ahead and do an un-Swedish thing and burst into song and clap my hands.

 

 

PS: Last night we celebrated and remembered this past year at Chuck E Cheeeeeese. What kid wouldn’t want to join our clan?!

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One Year

Today marks one year for us on the Honduras adoption list. I have a range of emotions and I’m hesitant to write about it because I feel like I don’t have the perspective yet that I need. I’m confident that in a year or two I will look back at this day and have deep, insightful thoughts about purpose and meaning and timing.

But, today is today and my perspective is this moment.

They told us a year ago that the goal was to match families within a year of being put on the list. I was so optimistically hopeful that by today we would be a family of five sitting around the dinner table. At the very least I was hopeful we would know the name, face, and gender of our soon to be 5th family member.

365 days later, we sit at #31, with an empty bed that longs to be filled.

Tomorrow I’ll write about all the ways God has answered our prayers over these past 12 months, but today I am sad. I am sad to still be waiting when my heart has said all along, ‘go!’

We have had to walk through some tough stuff this year, and it wasn’t the tough stuff I pictured. I envisioned attachment issues and sleep problems and cultural differences. Instead we faced cancer and friends moving away and transition at church and leaking pipes.

I have felt adrift these past months, like being tossed here and there by waves. It’s hard to find my footing when the biggest waves come unseen. I want to be on dry land, on the other side of this all, but truth be told I’m not sure where the dry land is and all I see is sea.

We have been memorizing James 1 as a family. Last week’s verse was

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

 

This week’s verse is even more fitting.

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It’s hard to be waiting and longing for that next little person to join our family. It’s difficult to lack a clear time frame. It puts my stomach in knots to know about the global orphan crisis and to sit and wait. It’s sweet to hear the kids pray for their sibling, but heartbreaking to not have that child near. Today I am sad.

Even still, I believe that God hears our prayers and that he wants to give generously. I believe he loves children and desires for them to be in families not stuck in orphanages.  I believe that he will grow our family through adoption (in his timing). I believe that this sea around us is for a purpose and that this season has significance. I believe we will touch dry ground. I don’t know when or why or how just yet, but give me a year or two and I’ll let you know.

Until then, pray for us. Pray that today, we would feel God’s comfort and tomorrow we would feel his hope.

Thanks for following us on this journey and allowing me a sad day.

Thankful Thursday: Homestudy Update Complete

Our Homestudy update is complete and officially mailed off to USCIS (to renew our immigration approval). Yay!!

We had our social worker out to our new house in early December. The visit went well (Minus the mention of lice) and we fully expected to have our completed homestudy in hand by February 1st. However, as always happens with adoption paperwork, there were glitches. First, our background checks took much longer than expected to process. Next, our homestudy was mailed to the wrong address. When it finally came I was eager to get it all mailed away, only to realize we could not locate one other document that needed to go along with our renewal application.

What was the one document we couldn’t locate?

Our original homestudy.

Who loses their homestudy!?!

It was embarrassing. We searched the house top to bottom. We looked in every folder,  binder, box, and computer file. Our adoption paperwork is well organized and the one spot where our homestudy should have been was empty, completely empty.

I knew our agency had a copy of it, but I really didn’t want to call and admit that we lost the one document that approves us to adopt in the first place. After a few tears, some prayer, encouragement from friends (and one adoptive mom who said, ‘That’s why you pay the agency’), and a deep breath; I made the call.

Our sweet case worker emailed me the copy while we were on the phone. Easy peasy and done.

So, just days before our immigration approval expires our renewal application is in the mail. Phew!

Thank you, God, for providing each document when and as we needed it and for continuing to remind us that this is all under you control (not ours).

New Number!!

This number reflects referrals made in December. The committee did not meet in January. We are really hopeful that getting a new number indicates that the committee will meet next Friday (February 22nd). Will you pray with us that the committee does indeed meet and that referrals can be made of children that are paperwork ready?

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Did you notice MissE’s new smile? Two teeth gone thanks to her dad’s pliers. She is one brave cookie.

Thankful Thursday

In efforts to focus on gratitude and to consistently post on the blog, I’m starting a Thankful Thursday series. I’d love to hear what you are thankful for as well! If you post a Thankful Thursday post on your blog, be sure to leave a comment and link it up. :)

This post is love overdue, but I am so incredibly thankful for the vision, heart for adoption, and love for Jesus of His Kids Orphan Ministry. We had applied for a grant through them last May. In October we were contacted and asked to come visit their supporting church on a Sunday morning for an official interview. It was a little bit of a drive (we left our house at 5:00am!), but it was well worth it.

When we arrived we had the ‘interview’ in which the committee asked us to share our faith experience, our call to adoption, and where we were at in the process. The committee members each took time to share what God has was doing in their lives. Many of them were adoptive parents and it was inspiring to hear their stories.

One mom (who had just completed an adoption from Haiti, a country that’s process is very long) told me that several people had asked her why she didn’t switch to a faster country or an easier program. She said she just knew that her children were in Haiti. They weren’t in a different country or an easier program (if there is such a thing). It was so reassuring to hear. We believe our child is in Honduras and even though the process is long and hard, we will not give up on our child.

The woman who had the original vision to start an orphan ministry mentioned that her family had received the very first adoption grant from a small church years ago and now it was her privilege to do the same for other families. We were so honored to learn that we were their very first family to receive a grant!

We are so thankful for His Kids Orphan Ministry. Not only did we receive a grant, which we believe completes our funding, but they boosted our moral. They prayed for us, encouraged us with their stories, and inspired us with their heart to care for orphans.

Thank you, His Kids!

If you have a heart for helping adoptive families and caring for orphans, please consider supporting this great ministry. 

 

New Number!

We are now officially…

This might seem small, but considering we haven’t moved since September, we are EXCITED!

We had heard before Christmas that we had probably moved up a few numbers, but officially heard today. The committee also met on December 14th, so it is possible that we will hear sometime in January of more movement. (Although we also learned of another strike happening right now, so we’ll see).

All in God’s timing….

Thanks for praying for us!

futuristic depth perception

It has been a tough season of waiting on our adoption. It is hard to explain, but more and more my heart grieves for the moments lost with the child that will someday join our family. I watch new mothers with itty bitty babies and my heart hurts knowing I will never know our child as an itty bitty baby. I won’t be there for the midnight feedings or the snuggles or the first smiles. I can only hope and pray that someone is there for those moments and that our child is experiencing necessary care and nurture.

I think moving into a bigger home has also made the ache for more children seem bigger. It is hard to walk by empty rooms and not ask God why this is taking so long. We have space now. We have rooms to fill. Why must we still wait?

When we met with our social worker last month she asked us point blank, “Are you making decisions in order to try and speed up the process?”

Busted.

Yes, I want to hurry things along. Who wouldn’t in this situation?

This is one of the reasons why I really like our social worker. She talked to us about making decisions that are best for our family and trusting God for his timing. She encouraged us to really pray about what we should do in the future and not just make changes to try and hurry along the time frame.

This waiting thing, though, is a hard concept for me to fully grasp and accept.

Today I was reading in Micah. He was one of those old testament prophet guys. If you ever read the prophets then you might be like me, and be left a bit confused. Half the time they talk about judgement on Israel (or Israel’s enemies) and the other half they talk about the coming Messiah. Sometimes they transition from one topic to the other with little to no warning, leaving the reader wondering what in the world they are talking about.

So, today, reading Micah, I was scratching my head at how one moment he is promising destruction of Jerusalem and another moment predicting Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (both came true). The little cliff note in my bible mentioned the scattered time frames of the prophesies and it said that prophets suffered from a problem with futuristic depth perception. They were given visions of the future, but without a timetable. They knew what they were foretelling would be true, but they didn’t know when. So, Micah spoke with urgency even though he didn’t know when Jerusalem would crumble (100 years later) or when Jesus would be born (700 years later).

It got me all a thinking about waiting and God’s timing. Apparently God doesn’t work on Central Standard Time. Or any earthly timetable for that matter. My adoption waiting and longing isn’t looking so bad compared to 100-700 years.

I have been really struggling to pray for our adoption. Gasp. I know, it sounds horrible. But, by praying about it I am reminded about it and then it hurts. So, I just don’t think about. Realizing this avoidance tendency is not such a great idea, I decided to make a conscious effort to pray for our child and adoption process once a day. In order to ‘hold myself accountable‘, I decided to draw a circle around my written request each time I prayed about it as a visual reminder.

I’ll cut to the chase. I was praying that God would bring us our child (through a referral) in 2013.

I went to draw my circle after reading Micah and just couldn’t do it. God doesn’t work within my time limits. I genuinely do want his timing. Even if that means waiting some more. So, I adjusted my request.

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It actually felt really freeing to release my expectations.

I was also been reminded that while God has called us to care for orphans, there are many ways to do that without adopting. We may not be at the point of bringing a child into our home, but we can still be actively loving orphans. As the year drew to a close, James and I sat together and picked out several ministries to support that actively and daily do just that. It isn’t the same, for sure, but we can be faithful to what God has called us to do in little ways while we wait and prepare for the bigger ways to come.