Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Year Later

I have so much to be thankful for with how God is working in our lives.  He is changing our hearts, our desires, and our passions!  What a loving and gracious God we serve!

As I see the Christmas decorations in my house, I cannot help but remember what it was like last year.   This time last year, we were praying fervently for God to help us.  Our home was filled with the joy of newborn baby Noelle , and yet there was complete uncertainty of what was ahead with my own health.  We were in the midst of such a trial, and doctors were telling us our worst fears about a tumor that was found in the muscle of my face.  We were so broken, and all we could do is cry out to God and pray for Him to bring healing and protection.   After my surgery, it was truly a miracle of God to hear the word benign.  Thank you, Lord!  Having that happen in my life made me feel like I was being given the gift of life all over again!

And now I look back in amazement over how things change in a year.   I had no idea that God would bring our hearts to adoption.  No idea at all.  But I am so thankful!  I am so overjoyed that God is teaching me more of His heart.  The opportunities that we have had to teach our children through this adoption has been beautiful!  Our kids are changing and growing through it, and we are changing and growing.  Our hearts are so much more for these children in need.  No child should be without a family.  Each child is precious in God's sight, and I pray that our lives would display that we treasure what He treasures.

Can't help but wonder if we will be holding a picture of your sweet face this time next year.

If you want to see God move in your life, step out in a leap of faith.  We have been watching His hand move in this adoption process literally day in and day out.  It feels like when you go before God with a willing heart, He just moves with it.  It's like literally, you come to a place of giving it to Him, and then you stand in awe at His work.  God is meeting our every need, we are watching Him do it.  Praise Him!

We pray for you, little one.  We are asking God to surround you with gentle hands and love until you come to us.  And we thank the Lord, who is the God of restoration, for how He has wonderful things planned for you!  He has a purpose for your life, and He has ordained that you become ours!  What a wonderful God we serve! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for You!

Thanksgiving 2013.  You are growing in our hearts more and more each day.  Today, I am thankful for God moving in our hearts to bring us to you.  You are so special to us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today's Thoughts

So much has taken place in our family over the past few months.  We are in the full swing of adoption-mode.  It is unbelievable to us how not long ago we were discussing whether or not God had adoption as a plan for our family, and now we cannot even imagine having that conversation!  For us, it is certain-  how could it not be, of course that is how our family would grow!  God has made it so clear to us!  We are so thankful for his guidance.  Matthew, Ryan, & Noelle are so excited!  (Well, Noelle smiles at everything, so we will count that as excitement)   Whenever we drive anywhere in our van, Matthew and Ryan have to take turns sitting in the back- which means 2 kids in the middle bench, one in the back.  During every single car ride, the child who rides in the back seat is so sad, telling us how they need their brother or sister next to them.  It is too lonely back there!  I try to encourage the kids to use that time to pray for their brother or sister as God prepares them to come home.  Matthew questioned whether or not we were really serious about adoption, because he wondered what is taking us so long to go get his brother or sister!  ha!  Ryan says, "No brodder, no sisser here"  in a sad voice and will look over at the empty seat.  I think he is copying what Matty says, but it is still so sweet to hear.   I'm serious- this happens almost every car ride.  It's crazy!  Little one- our family is waiting for you!

So, some of the details are falling into place.  Our hearts are heavily pushing us toward China.  We have researched and prayed over many adoption programs, but in our hearts, we come back to China every time. This is where God's leading really comes into play, He is directing our paths and we are walking step by step in faith. If the doors close or He changes the path, we will know that is His leading.  All we can do is follow and see what unfolds.  Walking by faith!

A little bit about the orphan crisis in China.  We have all heard about the "one child policy" that China has imposed on families.  Recently, in some ways China is making changes and growing more lenient regarding this policy, but in some areas of China it is strictly enforced.  Another component of the orphan crisis is the social stigma with having more than one child.  In Chinese culture, sons are often preferred  since the expectation is that sons will provide financial stability for their parents in the future.  In some cases, if a family plans to have only one child, and that child is a girl, the parents may feel more uncertain about their own future.  Orphanages in China often have children that have been abandoned because of a disability or health issue, that perhaps the family did not feel equipped or willing to care for.  Abandonment can also take place because the family viewed the disability as a curse, which is a common view in Chinese culture.  Many families in China also live in poverty despite the fact that the Chinese economy is so wealthy.  For some families, that plays a role. Although every child in an orphanage in China has a different story of why their birth family chose to not parent them, these are some of the factors that may have played a part in that decision.  

I was so sad to learn that many children grow up in these orphanages.  Paperwork can have a lot to do with it!  Children need their "adoption papers" to be ready before being available for adoption.  In some orphanages, they are so understaffed or disorganized that it can be years before a child is available for adoption!  By the time they do receive their papers, many children are at an age where it is more difficult to find a family to adopt them.  These truths are heartbreaking.  No child should grow up without a family.  It is so painful to think that logistics and paperwork can play a role in keeping a child an orphan.  That happens all over the world!  Some countries are not even open to international adoption, and others are open to it but have very strict guidelines that must be followed and make it more difficult for families to adopt.  Meanwhile, it is the children that suffer.  Our hearts need to be moved to remember that these are not just numbers, they are children.  Some know nothing of the world outside of their orphanages.  I pray that God would raise up more and more families willing to step out into adoption, and I pray that leaders would help change the rules that accompany the adoption process that make it so difficult for families to adopt!  And for when the issue is poverty or illness, for more programs to help families be preserved and stay together in the first place.  Churches, this is what we need to support!  Parents should never feel that it is better to place their child in an orphanage because they don't have access to food or shelter, or a means to provide for their child.  It is so hard to become aware of these global issues and feel that you can have any impact for change.  It is so important to remember that God is in control and He is working in the midst of it all, for His glory. 

And what can we do?  I think of Andy Stanley who said during a sermon,

"Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone."

We are a few months away from starting the application process to adopt from China.  We need to wait until I am 29.5 because China cannot receive our dossier until Andrew and I are both 30.  I am actually looking forward to turning 30 for this very reason!  :)    The dossier takes about 6 months to complete, and it is a collection of paperwork that gets sent to China before we are placed in the system.  Once we are in the system, the next step is to wait for a referral of a child! 

In the meantime, our family is preparing.  Finances play a big role in international adoption, and though I am not as scared of the financial aspect as I was in the beginning, I know we need to be prudent in how we move forward.  I am not as scared of the adoption fees because I am beginning to realize that God will provide it, end. of. story.  Now day to day, my feelings may change, but I am praying to be grounded in trust.  Although adoption is expensive, one misconception about adoption fees is that the money just gets sent to the other country.  This is so not the truth!  There are many facets to the adoption process, so much legal work,  the required home study, the need for passports, travel, clearances, orphanage fees, and so much more.  But God will provide it and He has already begun to.  We are selling everything we have had in storage, and we are collecting anything that others want to donate for us to try and sell!  In the past few weeks, we have had about $300 put into our adoption fund just by cleaning out the clutter and selling things online!  What a huge blessing!  We have also experienced the generosity of others who want play a role in helping our family in this journey.  My little nephew James asked us to put whatever money we would spend on his Christmas gift into our fund to adopt.  What a heart he has!  He gets it!  I'm so proud of him!  We are also brainstorming some fundraising ideas, and one idea in particular is feeling pretty special for our child, but I'll share at a later time when the time is right. 

Well, all these thoughts must come to a close because nap time has ended in this house!     :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moved to Act

Today is Orphan Sunday.  I am so thankful for today- as many churches raised awareness of the orphan crisis throughout the world.  In our hearts and in our home, God is awakening our own hearts to the needs that so many children have  - for love and for a family.  We just watched the documentary Stuck.  Please, take the time to watch this documentary (available on netflix).   God has been changing our hearts and making us more aware of the needs of so many children throughout the world.  And for our child.  Knowing that an adoption is before us means that our child will endure hardship and pain that I wish I could keep from them.  I pray that God will surround them with someone who will give them love and nurture as they wait for that day that they are with us.   And I pray that they are with us soon.

God has given us this one life on earth.  His word promises us that what we do to the least of these, we are doing unto Him.  He is the driving force behind our love for the child that is alone in this world.  And as many adoptive parents have said over and over again, this is not about rescuing a child-  this is about a child joining our family.  Children are a gift from the Lord.  But there is no doubt that the situations that so many children are living in- by no fault of their own- is so broken and I just wish that each one could be snatched right out of that pain and placed into a loving home.  We cannot live indifferent to the needs of these children.

We have to be moved to act.  

In your churches and among your family and friends- I urge you, please reach out to the families that are stepping out into adoption.  You can play a huge part in encouraging these families, praying for them, helping them as they raise the needed funds, and really-  walking alongside them as they  bring their child into their family.  That is huge and it is life changing,  And it is worth every effort.

Please pray for us, and walk alongside us, as we take this leap of faith.  We have already been so blessed by the support of some very precious people to us.  We couldn't be more thankful. We are in awe of God placing support around us, and truly guiding us step by step in this journey. 

And to you, the little one that God is burning a fire in our hearts for, we are praying for you and loving you, you are treasured and valued to us.  Our family is waiting for you and we love you. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Learning to Trust

Mark 9:23-25  "But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”"

This is where I am at today.  I have spent countless hours reading through the endless adoption blogs, studying the different agencies, soaking in as much information as I possibly can to be prepared for what is ahead.

Here is what I have learned about myself.  I like to have it all figured out.

And the problem is:  I can't.  This is not the type of thing that can be just figured out.  Especially not in a week. 

God is the one in control.


This is a leap of faith that is taking trust to a whole new level.   It is going to take time, and God is going to reveal each step to us piece by piece.  And in the meantime- I pray that I can walk this journey with faith and trust.   He uses every circumstance in our lives to bring us closer to Him.  Nothing will ever even touch our life outside of His Sovereign plan and outside of His purpose.

As quickly as I say "Lord, I believe" I am confronted with my own disbelief.  I know the fears that run through my mind, the questions I so badly want answered- and I am reminded to pray, "Lord, please help my unbelief."  I want to be one who will trust in the Lord completely.  He has already worked miracles right before my own eyes, yet I still slip in doubt.  Why do I doubt?  He is the One who spoke the universe into motion!   That is the God I am serving!   "Lord, help my unbelief."

Ephesians 3: 14-21
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why Adopt?

This is a question often asked when some hear of adoption-  the question of why?  Why adopt?   We have 3 beautiful children.  I stay at home full time.  My husband is a school teacher.  We are not prepared to just write a check to cover all the adoption fees and walk away.  And that is just the beginning- just getting our child here.  Once he/she is- there is the commitment to parent, nurture, love, and support him/her along with the 3 children God has already blessed us with.

It will take sacrifice, hard work, saving, fundraising, praying, and really- GOD working to provide for us in all that we need. 

However, inside the church and among the people of God, I rarely hear the question "why?"  For those who have accepted Jesus, we know why.  We know what Jesus did on our behalf.  And for every one of us in Christ, we know that each of us too were once an orphan, but we have been made a child of God.

Because of His great love, He sought us, fought for us, and He has promised to keep us. There is no sacrifice greater than the one Christ made on our behalf, and there is no greater picture of love than what He did to bring us back to Himself.

When speaking of adoption with those who have their faith firmly in Christ, what is most evident is a response filled with faith, trust, hope, and security in Christ. And the excitement to know and partake in something that is so close to God's heart.  As believers, we are commanded to care for the orphans.  This is an act of obedience, but also an act of joy.  In walking forward with adoption in our family, we are going to have the privilege and honor to see God move and work in the life of a precious child that He created in His image and for His purpose. 

Our closest friends and family have asked, "how can I help?"  In a few short days of sharing our desire to adopt, we have seen God move in the hearts of others to stand along us in this journey, and be actively involved. They know that we are all called to be defenders of the fatherless.  We are all called to love justice.  We are all called to show mercy.

This is about making an immeasurable difference in the life of a child.

This is not about ourselves.  This is not a work of ourselves.  We cannot boast.  We are not adopting because of who we are, we are adopting because of who God is.  This is part of His story.  He is moving our hearts, He is directing our steps, He is providing the way, He is establishing it, and He is enabling it in every way.  Nothing is out of His hands.  He already knows how he will bring restoration to the life of our child and place him/her in a family.  He already is working in their life.  He is a good and merciful God.

We are so thankful for everyone who stands with us in this!  It is SO exciting  :)

I cannot wait to see what is ahead!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Blogging Begins :)

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

God is so good!  His love and mercy exceeds all that we can ever imagine.  He has brought our family to a place where we know deep in our hearts that we are called, commissioned even,  to welcome a son or daughter into our lives through adoption.  

This is humbling!  We feel every sense of fear, worry, inadequacy, mixed with joy, celebration, trust, and peace.  We are placing our hope in our God- who knows no limitations- to meet our every need and equip us to bring our child out of life of abandonment, into a place where they are accepted, loved, and belong.  

"What better opportunity to model God who adopts from every tongue, tribe, nation, and language and sets all the children together at the same table with the same inheritance and same love?"                                              -Adopted for Life, Russell Moore

Our child is already a blessing to us, and is a picture of God's kindness toward us.  We are so excited to see God move in this!  When He acts, who can reverse it?

Please join our family in prayer and support with this!  We will be sharing through this blog to keep our family and friends informed of all that takes place.