Monday, December 28, 2009

Next Christmas...

...there will be 2 extra stockings to hang.

...there will be 2 extra sets of hands helping with the Christmas cookies.

...there will be 2 more little ones to share the love of Jesus with.

...we will get to make new family traditions.

...we can tuck our boys into their own beds here at home on Christmas eve.

...we will get have little ones around the tree.

...the boys will be home with us.


***************update***************

I should have told you that we have all of our referral acceptance paperwork in and now we are waiting for a court date. Not sure when we will get a court date. Hopefully some time in end of January or possible February. On a positive side, we already have our clearance from immigration (USCIS) here and are approved to bring the boys home. It is out of our hands now, we just need to wait and pray.


Dear Sweet Peas,

I sure missed having you here this Christmas. I look forward to sharing the tenderness of Christmas with you next year. As special as our Christmas was this year, I felt like part of my heart was missing.

Love, Mom





Sunday, December 20, 2009

In case you were wondering...we haven't fallen off the face of the earth

I am still here. I have had no computer access for days (can we say...blog withdraw????) I haven't even been able to stay up on every bodies lives on facebook or on your blogs. Oh...how I miss all my blog buddies.

I hope to be back up and running again sometimes soon. I have taken the opportunity to enjoy spending time with my girls making Christmas gifts and homemade goodies. The house smells of yummy caramel corn and I plan on making cookies tomorrow.

It was so amazing to be able to send off our referral package and have that stage done. Now we are just waiting for the next call from the agency and we will get a rundown on what is next. We are still so grateful for all the support and help our friends and family have been able to give. We even had our old homeschool group in our last state collect some money that will help with our travel expenses. We are so blessed in so many ways and by so many friends. I am hopeful that we can travel for less than $10,000.

Just wanted to let you know we are still here and doing just fine.

Dear Sweet Peas,

I take your pictures with me everywhere and show them around. I feel like such a proud momma of such handsome boys. It is so fun to let everyone know of our new kids.

Love, Mom

Friday, December 11, 2009

He owns a cattle on a thousand hills...so of course He can provide $10,000

If that is His will.

Remember...about 10 days ago our prayer was that God would provide $10,000 in just 10 days? Sounds like an unrealistic goal to most people. How in the world would that happen? But with God, nothing is impossible.

We have been able to witness a miracle this week. God provided in the most amazing way. With such generous gifts from friends and family and even virtual strangers.
We are humbled.
Stunned.
Amazed.


God answered our prayers. The goal has been reached. That's how God works sometimes...in miracles. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. He is the giver of every gift. We are so thankful. We prayed that if this was His will, that He would keep the doors opened. And He did.

I feel like I am an emotional wreck. I have cried every day. We spent some time praying as a family last night listing all the ways God worked in our adoption story and thanking God for each step of the way. It was a joy to think back to so many influences that have gotten us here today. We want to say thank you. Though "thank you" doesn't even begin to express our gratitude. We feel so unworthy of the love and support. Thank you for being part of the story that we will someday tell the boys. How many people worked to bring them home to our family. Praying that God uses them in mighty ways to serve Him.


My dear Sweet Peas,

God has worked a miracle this week. We are praying that God uses you in big ways to serve Him and glorify Him in all you do. We are one step closer to coming to get you. We love you.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

learning a little more how God works

I have had the heart for adoption for a long time. Even as a young child, I was interested in it. I believe God planted that seed early on in my life. Thinking that was something I hoped would be in my future. And as the years began to fly by, God preserved that seed and nurtured it along the way. A few years ago I did an deep study on the book of Ephesians and began to understand more about God's heart for adoption. How He has opened His family and that I am grafted into the Family of God by way of His son.

We wanted to wait until we moved to our current state and settled into a home before we plunged ahead with finding an agency and make the decision to go with international adoption or domestic. The more we studied and investigated, our hearts were drawn toward Africa and the need there for permanent homes for children. But honestly, the cost is something that was holding us back.

We were fully aware that the cost of an international adoption would range between $25,000 and $40,000 (and up). We were recovering from selling our home in a very depressed market and trying to make up the cost of the move. Our adoption nest egg was small, but we really felt that God was calling us NOT to lean on our own understandings. That HE would provide as needed. And by doing so, it would allow us to be part of the blessings of the family of God. To fully understand how the body works. As a team, not as an individual.

This morning, the girls and I were reading about Gideon going into attack with an army that had been cut down (God's choice) from 32,000 to 300 men. In Judges 7:2-3, it mentions that God doesn't want Israel to think that it was their own strength and power that saved them. And if you don't know the story...God's side wins. =)

Think about that...He pruned them down to allow His strength and power to shine. Boy, can I relate to that this morning. God pruned us back (financially) so He could show HIS strength and might. It is God who has supplied the money we have needed this week to press ahead with the referral of the boys. To HIM be the glory.

By the way...we are over the $8000 mark. God is so good. His plan is perfect and His ways are above and beyond ours. Thank you for being part of the miracle of how He works.



Sweet Peas,

By being part of the adoption journey, we have been able to see God work in so many ways. I pray that you see how God worked the details out for you to come home to our family.

We love you,

Love, Mom

Monday, December 7, 2009

More ways of how God provides

We are proceeding ahead with the referral this week, continuing to trust God for His leading and will for our family. Like I have share many times already, we are amazed at the funds that have been provided that we need. God is good all the time.

I also just found out that we have another neat provision. When we come back from travel to get the boys, we will have to re-adopt them here in the states so we can get official birth certificates and such. Which is, as you can imagine, another cost that is involved. We had some local friends just finalize their re-adoption last week (yay Rogers family). Well...my parents have a friend here that is an adoption attorney who is willing to help us out when it is time. All we will need to pay is the court cost and he is willing to donate his time. WOW...how cool. A significant savings for us and a blessing for sure.

God keeps swinging the door wide open and bidding us to trust Him for each step of the way.


Dear Sweet Peas,

We spent some time today making a plan for when you transition into our family. It gives us lots to think about and pray for. Do you know we pray every day for you, knowing we can't be there to meet your needs now. But we can pray that God protects and cares for you. We are praying that when you come home, your bodies, minds and spirits are healthy.

Love, Mom

Sunday, December 6, 2009

kid's fundraiser (and our updates)

A few weeks back, a friend of the girls was working hard at coming up with ideas of how to have a fundraiser for our adoption. How sweet of her to have a passion for orphans and want to help us out. So...because of her idea, the girls got signed up for a community kids yard sale. They rented a table and gathered some toys, books and puzzles, made some homemade treats and set out.

The timing was perfect for this fundraiser, since the need for the money is now. Love how God knows all those details already. =) Here they are ready to greet their customers. Something they will all have in common - they will all big big sisters to Ethiopian siblings. Hope's family brought their little girl home in June.
We arrived early Saturday morning (and boy...it was cold). We really didn't know what to expect. Would any one shop at this??? Would they sell anything??? We were hoping that these girls would not be disappointed with how things turned out. It turns out they had a great time.


There wasn't much room to display their things. And we had recently had yard sales and had gotten rid of a lot of toys already. So to make up for the lack of things to sell, we made some brownies, a friend made some cookies to sell. Hope made doggie treats and reign deer food. Even her younger brother made soap to sell.

My friend Robin came and made balloon flowers and swords to give out to the kids. She wanted to help in any way she could to be a support. We were so thankful and appreciative to these families.Here is the gym full of kids selling their stuff. The girls worked all morning and raised about $100. They had a great time and it was important for them to feel like they were able to help and contribute.



We are so thankful for all the support and donations this week. God has been working and laying our needs on people's hearts. We are amazed and honored and humbled all at the same time. To have so many of you be so generous and giving is such a blessing. Thank you so much for all the help.

Our total as of right now is about $7400. We are going to work on the paperwork that we need to send in. We will have our packet ready to mail on Friday. Trusting God for all we need. Thanks so much for praying for our family. We will continue to keep you posted.




Sweet Peas,

It was so fun to show your picture around to our local friends this week. Every one comments on how beautiful you two are. We have been bursting with joy. It is hard to contain our love for you since God placed you in our hearts.

Love, Mom

Friday, December 4, 2009

Amazed at how God works


Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!! Thank YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It has been amazing to watch God provide our needed funds this week. One of the most amazing things is to have others advocating for us. Friends (some of whom we have never met face to face) are sharing our needs with their friends and church members. Some of you have shared our need with your yahoo groups or even posted it on your own blogs. Thank you so much.

Thank you for praying and lifting up our burdens. We are so grateful to be blessed by so many different people and in such different ways. You have given what you can and we are so appreciative. Chuck's high school basketball coach (who he has reconnected with on fb) went to his church and shared our need and they are sending a check. Our church in California that we miss so terribly, is helping us out. We have gotten money from other families that are fundraising themselves for their own adoption. We have been blessed by families and friends near and far.

I was tucking Tissy in last night and noticed a verse she has on her closet door.

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. Philippians 1:8


What wonderful truth. I am grateful that the girls can learn first hand that God is the one who supplies our needs.



Our new total of what God has provided.....



$6862


Praise God !!! May He get the glory !!!!!


Sweet Peas,

This morning I wish I could hug you. Just like I hug the girls when they come down the stairs each morning ready for breakfast. I can't wait until I can help you start your day with a hug from mommy.

Love, Mom

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Watching a miracle take place


I am amazed. I am watching a miracle take place. God is providing in such amazing ways. We are halfway to the goal. Did you get what I just said???? God has provided about $5000 in less than 3 days. Let me shout the praises that we serve a living God. He is all powerful. In control. Sovereign. Merciful. Gracious. Works in ways we can't even comprehend. He continues to provide. Praise be His name. We have been blessed by family, friends, other adoptive families that are also fundraising, churches, people that we have never met. I am in awe of how others are advocating for us and for these precious boys.

Thank you doesn't even cover how grateful we are. May God bless each giver and each one who is praying with us. We are blown away by your generous spirit and loving support. I am still praying that God receives the glory for this mighty miracle.


Dear Sweet Peas,

We are praying for good health for each of you and God's hand of mercy to continue to be upon you. What a great story He is writing for you to learn about who He is and how graciously He loves us.

Love, Mom

falling into place


We have our international adoption pediatric phone consult today. This is a new requirement for our agency to have an international pediatrician review the referral package. This will help us get a handle on what we are looking at as far as the health needs of the boys (imagine no medical records but only one doctor visit report to work from). This also lets us know what things are typical of Ethiopian orphans (malnutrition, skin issues....that kind of thing). We requested as healthy as possible, with minor correctable medical health needs. Remember...there is no guarantee with any kids that they will be health (either adopted or natural birth).

We are also PRAISING GOD for His provision so far. We are still praying that God provides $10,000 in 10 days (by Friday the 11th). So far God has provided $2887 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We are in awe of your generosity and support. We are so very thankful for the gifts and we can hardly express our gratitude enough. Thank you so much for joining with us to care for these orphans. Thank you !!!!! I am praying that God blesses you for all of your support.

I love how when God provides, it is for His glory and not ours. This is His story, and I pray that in all we do we glorify Him.


My dear Sweet Peas,

I was up in the night praying for you. Trusting that you are adjusting well and eating enough and feeling lots of love from the workers there at HH. God is moving mountains to make all of the details fall into place. He is a powerful God and I can't wait until I can teach you about Him.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

God is not surprised - He is in control

God is not surprised by how quickly this adoption and referral has come together. Though we thought it would take 6 months or so to get to this stage. God knew it would take only a few weeks. I am leaning on the truths of God's Word as we face the mountain that needs to be moved.

Since we are adopting siblings, the costs are obviously more than for one child. It is less than if you did 2 adoptions at 2 different times. But the truth is, it is expensive.

Chuck is working hard at getting our cars sold so we can get some cash in hand. Plus...we don't have room in our car for 2 extra sweet kiddos. So mini van...here we come.

Our prayer is that God provides $10,000 in 10 days. That is when we need it by to send in our acceptance of the referral.

We have already been blessed by support from our friends and family. We are humbled and blessed beyond our expectation. Thank you for the love and support. And we are so grateful for your prayers.

At the bank this morning, I was able to share with the workers there our pictures and provide a testimony of God and His plan for our family. I can't wait to share how God works out all the details.

I want to share a prayer that we read today in our Advent devotion time with the kids.

O, Lord, help me to see your future possibilities in spite of the limitations of the present moment. Amen.



Sweet Peas,

We lift you up in prayer all day long. We are thankful that you have a bed to sleep in tonight at the orphanage. We are thankful that you have food to eat and special mothers to take care of you until we can come and take you home.

We love you !!!

Love, Mom

THE CALL !!!!!

Before I forget the details, I want to share how we got our referral call. It is such a tender and special moment and I don't want to forget any details. So...now that it is several months later, I want to keep a record of it.

It was Thanksgiving weekend. I had my whole family visiting for the holiday and we were having a good time. Rejoicing in the blessing that our dossier had been sent in (a prayer of mine from the beginning - to have our dossier in by Thanksgiving). There was much to be thankful for.

We had a busy and very loud house. I was trying to catch a few seconds to check my email and I noticed an email in my junk mail from AGCI. I clicked on it to open it and it was listed as "waiting children". I had a pretty good idea of who was on the waiting children list and none of them fit our parameters. Curious of who these new waiting children were.

My heart began to race as I scanned the email and noticed the ages of the waiting children were just what we were looking for. 2 brothers, ages 4 and almost 2. I hadn't even looked at the picture attached to the email, but my heart was already committed. My gut just said...these are our boys. But I couldn't figure out why were not contacted.

I quickly called Chuck and told him to read the email and I then emailed Julie, our case worker. And also called her to leave a message and mentioned that I saw the email for the waiting children and was wondering why we were not considered a match for them.

I then read the email again and noticed they would not be contacting anyone for another day or 2 about these children. I was praying for wisdom and wanted to be cautious of not manipulating the situation. I wanted to make sure that if it was God's will for these boys to be ours, that He would do the work for me and allow me to trust in Him.

By then, I saw the picture of the boys and my heart just melted. I fell in love, even though I was trying to guard my heart for protection, I just had a peace. All along I believed we would get 2 boys, ages 4 and 2. And here they were.

These boys were the talk of our listserve and everyone ohhed and ahhed and thought they were just adorable and wanted to take them home. I was still trying to figure out why we were NOT called about them in the first place. The email stated they didn't have any family approved for them. ********You see, we had originally stated in our homestudy that we were looking for siblings ages 0-3. And the day we were finalizing our homestudy we changed the ages to 0-5. That is where our peace was. Our case manager still had it in her file that we were only 0-3 and not 0-5. ********

Realistic that we had only been on the waiting list for 2 weeks, I knew were would have to wait longer for a referral. We were told we would have to wait 6-8 months for siblings. Well...the phone rang and I noticed it was AGCI area code. It was our case worker and first off, she said she needed to ask for forgiveness, it was her mistake that the letter went out to the waiting families. She had it in her file that we were only up to age 3 and now that she remembered that we were approved to ages 5 and this is our referral if we would like it.

Oh my goodness !!!!!! A referral !!!! We have only been on the waiting list for 2 weeks. Are you sure???? She said any other family that was before us, either had younger age range or they wanted at least one girl and we were willing to do either gender. She said she would email me the referral package and to look at it and this would be considered the "pre-referral call". She shared what she knew about the boys and I was trying to pay attention, but I was in la-la land. Couldn't really hear what she was saying. Too excited !!!!

Chuck rushed home, the family all gathered around ( and I mean the WHOLE family - my parents, my sister and her family and our girls). We gushed over these sweet pictures and were praising God for His timing and plan. We were able to spend the evening praying as a family, all 11 of us praying over these boys. It was such a special time. It was so special to have my sister there (we only see them a few times every 3 or 4 years). And we had our friends drop by to see the pictures and share in our excitement.

Then we prayed...we prayed for the money we needed to accept the referral. We prayed for the boys. We prayed for our family. We rejoiced in this fantastic news of our boys.



Dear Sweet Peas,

Now we know...God has chosen 2 boys for our family. And we couldn't be happier. Such peace about this whole situation is amazing. Can't wait !!!!

Love, Mom

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We got a referral !!!


2 Precious boys ages 4 and almost 2. And when I say precious...I mean....PRECIOUS. They are just about the cutest things ever. We are SOOOOOO excited we can hardly stand it.

We are on the fast track on this adoption. We only submitted our application 3 months ago today. First things first - have the international pediatric office review the file and give us a report.

We have about 10 days to get all the paperwork done and get our money turned in. And it will be a miracle from God to organize all of this. I can see how His hand has been all over this already. He needed this to go quickly so we could be ready to accept this referral. Thought we had about 6 months to raise the rest of the money...but God will provide.

I hardly slept at all last night. Riding the excitement wave. =)



Dear Sweet Peas -

How wonderful to see your precious faces. I am so excited to see how God is working to bring you into our family. We all spent lots of time talking, crying and praying as we got to see your pictures last night for the first time.

We love you so much and can't wait to hold you in our arms.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Praying for others

I have been praying for other families that are either traveling to Ethiopia this week, or going to court or getting ready to travel or go to court. Praying for families on the waiting list, or trying to get their funds together to press on. Praying for a family dealing with an adoption disruption and all the pain that is involved. Praying for families adjusting to bringing children home. Praying for families that have had their hearts broken with failed adoptions. I have been burdened for these families (most of whom are virtual strangers). Burdened to bring their needs before God and seek His will for their situations. Praying for peace and comfort. Praying for provision and grace.

Someone once told me that once you enter the adoption world, other adoptive families will share a deep connection with you. Almost like family. Possibly because they have been through similar situations. Possibly because God allows that strong connection. What ever it is, I believe it is true.

I am thankful that God has called our family to adoption. I believe it is He who lays it on hearts. I call it a privilege to pray for these others families and the stages that they are in. I am thankful that they too will pray for us as we journey along.

Sweet Pea,

I am excited as more families are moving through HH - it just means we are closer to you than we were before. God's plan and timing is perfect and I can't wait to meet you.

Love, Mom

Saturday, November 21, 2009

tender

Such a sweet moment that I want to record here for Sweet Pea to read someday. In fact that is why I wanted to start another blog just for the adoption so I could make it into a book when we are done with this and include it as part of their "life book". So, here goes...


We have had to have workers here in the house for about 2 weeks working on our bathroom tile. We found a leak that was from when the house was built and needed to get it taken care of before it became a larger problem (so thankful the builder took care of this). So it has been kind of fun to share with these different guys about the adoption process. One of the workers was here the week we submitted our dossier and got to rejoice in the accomplishment of that task. Yesterday, the last guy was here sealing the grout and as he was leaving, he put some money on the counter and said he wanted to contribute to the adoption fund.

It was just such a tender moment and so very sweet and thoughtful of a virtual stranger to take part in our journey. I am beginning to see how God has weaved together a large group of people to be part of our encouragement and support as we go through this process. It is not my plan, but God's. He is in control and He is trustworthy. I am so thankful for these sweet and tender moments.



Sweet Pea,

Please know how so many people worked to bring you into our family. The family that God designed from the beginning of time.

Love, Mom

Monday, November 16, 2009

waiting list numbers

Just wanted to share that we got our waiting list numbers and we are thrilled to be on the waiting list. They also REALLY stressed not to hold too tightly to these numbers. Families can become obsessed with the numbers and focus so much on them. So we will hold to these numbers lightly and trust that God's timing is perfect for EVERY detail of this adoption.

GIRL LIST

This picture is very special. Years ago Chuck built a race car with some friends from church and he was number 45 and he called it the orange crush. It brings back fun memories. So this one is just for Chuck - one fantastic daddy.

BOY LIST



SIBLING LIST




So there you have it. We will wait patiently on the Lord for our child or children and pray as we wait. Trusting that every detail is in God's hands. Our best guess for a time frame for all of this is 6-8 months before we get a referral (which is when they match you with a child). Please keep praying for our Sweet Pea(s) as we wait on God.


Sweet Pea -

We are so excited to finally have numbers on the waiting list. Praying that the wait will go quickly and looking forward to the day we are number 1 on the list.

Love, Mom

Friday, November 13, 2009

No number yet

Just got a call from our case worker and found out that we won't get our number on the waiting list until Monday. There were about 8 dossier submitted this week and to be fair, they need to review them all and give out waiting list numbers according to the order that they came in. They also need to check to see if any of the dossiers need updated work (resubmitting for any mistakes). On the positive note, ours does NOT need to be resubmitted, it looks like we made no mistakes. =)

So, we will wait until Monday. Isn't that great that so many families are following God's call to bring an orphan into their family? How cool that so many families are all waiting for children.

To keep me busy, I am reading a great book that a wonderful blogging friend mailed me. Thanks so much to Tonya for this book. I am being challenged as I read it and understand more about God's view on adoption. How sweet and thoughtful of you to send it my way. I look forward to passing it on to many friends when I am done.


Sweet Pea

I pray you understand that adoption is God's idea and by His grace we are adopted into His family.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We mailed our DOSSIER today !!!!

After working on this for almost 2 months, we are done with the dossier paperwork. I made my final copies this morning and sorted and stacked just to make sure it was all just right. I am still in awe that we are done with it. Now we will find out if there is anything we need to redo before we are put on the waiting list.

All that work is done for now. I feel so blessed to have this mailed before Thanksgiving. I had been praying that if it was God's will, we could send it before Thanksgiving. What a huge blessing. Only by God's grace have we gotten this far.

For those of you in the adoption world, you know what a big deal this is. Lots of time and energy and detailed work goes into the dossier. When we took it in to overnight it, the clerk told me I was just like all the other adoptive moms. Very cautious, very careful with putting it into the envelope, taking pictures, giving the paperwork one last "hug" goodbye. Glad to know we are normal in one way. =)

We prayed over it before we mailed it off. Prayed for Sweet Pea (or Sweet Peas). Shed our tears and then celebrated God's faithfulness and goodness. Trusting that He continues to go before us and clear the path. A little sigh of relief will come once I hear that it has arrived and is approved.



Sweet Pea

We love you so much and pray that God blesses all the work that has gone into the paperwork. I am trusting you into God's care each and every day. He loves you more than I do.

Love, Mom

notarizing


We printed out all of our dossier papers yesterday and had all of them notarized. Really, not much of this is difficult to do, it is just a little time consuming. We have been working hard at getting these last few documents done and it feels good to be almost there. My computer has been having hissy fits lately so printing anything right now is an accomplishment.

Each state is different, and our state requires one of our documents to be county certified and state certified. Really didn't know what that meant but I figured it out and hauled the family around yesterday to get that done.


The girls are good sports as we sit and wait for county workers to help us out. We try and get our school work done while we are waiting.

It is amazing all the hoops you jump through for all of this to happen. Crossing all your T's and dotting all your I's. Hopefully no mistakes.

So excited !!!!! Getting closer. Can't wait to hear that our dossier has been received and get that waiting list number.



Sweet Pea,

It is so exciting to be nearing the end of our paperwork. It has been neat to see how God provides and has made our path smooth. We are working hard to have you home.

Love, Mom

Friday, November 6, 2009

faith

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.


The adoption journey is one that has many ups and downs. In fact, most of life is like that. And yet, whether the day brings mountain high moments or deep valley moments, God is still God and He is still in control.

About 2 weeks ago, when we were finishing up with our homestudy paperwork and looking at the dossier documents that needed to still be completed, God really challenged my faith. You see, when we complete our dossier and send it in to our agency, we need to send it in with the next payment for the adoption. And to be quite honest, we have not had the funds to complete that next stage. Part of me wanted to just wait until we had the money, instead of working hard on the paperwork for the dossier, knowing we couldn't send it in since we were short more than $3000.

But God really challenged my faith. I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit to keep going on the paperwork for the dossier, IN FAITH, trusting that God would provide. So, desiring to respond in obedience, we have been pressing ahead. Working on our documents, checking things off the list, and we only have about 3 things left to do which will only take a day or so to finish.

Just this week, God blessed us with generous gifts from friends and family and we were so amazed at how God has provided. We are so thankful and humbled by the outpouring of love and support from others. I cried each time I opened an envelope from friends or family. We are just so very thankful for each and every gift. So blessed. So grateful. Feeling so unworthy of your generosity.

We had been asked to share our testimony at church tonight about the adoption and share how God is working in our lives to trust Him. We were happy to share and hopefully give God the glory in all that we do. To share about having a heart for God's children and for the nations. We shared that we have been praying that God would provide just what we need in order to send in our dossier. The pastor said that they have been praying for our family and God laid it on some one's heart to help us with our adoption costs. They presented us with a check for the funds that we needed for this next stage of the adoption. Just what we were lacking to send in our dossier.

We are so grateful for our almighty God, who provides just what we need. He is so faithful. I am reminded again of how He works. Rather than trusting in our own savings. Rather than sitting back and not pressing ahead in faith. Trusting. Believing in God who is the giver of all.

A friend of mine said that God loves His orphaned children. That he works in special ways to take care of His children. I feel so unworthy to even be walking this path and to be blessed in this way. May He receive all the glory.


Sweet Pea,

God is teaching me so much as we are trusting Him. This has been God's plan and God's timing. I have learned to rely on God for each part of our adoption of you. I am so glad that God called us to do this. I look forward to the day we are all together as a family.

Love, Mom

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's go out for Ethiopian food tonight !

One of the challenges that our education courses required us to do was try a meal at a restaurant of our child's country of origin. We had never eaten out at an Ethiopian restaurant before. We had read about the different foods and looked forward to the experience. We were able to go with Chuck's parents while they were passing through town.
While we were waiting for our food we enjoyed the decorations at the restaurant. Tristen has here eye on a coffee set for when we travel to Ethiopia. She loves tea sets and thinks that one like these should be in her collection.
We found a "mesob" in the corner of the restaurant. That is like a table top on which the food is traditionally served. A beautiful woven piece.

I should have taken the picture before we made a mess of our food and table. Notice the injera, the spongy bread that the food is eaten with. You use it in place of silverware. We all were able to find something that we like. Most of the food is spicy, but the girls and I really enjoyed the red lentils and Tristen like the beef. Chuck tried a chicken stew and liked the other spicy foods.

One of the reasons we tried this is to fully understand the idea of cultures. Most people like what is familiar to them and here we will be bring a child (children) home to a totally different culture. Our culture here is VERY different than that of Ethiopia, we desire to learn more and grow to love and appreciate it. The meal was a lot of fun, eating with your fingers and trying new things.
My favorite part was the coffee at the end. It was the BEST coffee I have ever had. I will have to share more on another post about the Ethiopian coffee ritual that comes with it. But for now, I just had to share the coffee and how yummy it was. After 2 full cups at 8 o'clock at night, I was wired until all hours of the night. =)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

God provides

We were blessed by seeing this video a few weeks ago at an adoption conference. It was such an encouragement to see that God's ways are perfect and His timing is just right and He is the one who provides.



Also sharing the good news that our HOMESTUDY is DONE !!!! That is a big deal to have that done and off the check list. Yippee!!!

Adoption Education

We have been working on our adoption education courses. I do hope that all of this work we have been doing will give us a better go at having a successful transition into our new family. We have been required to complete the "Eyes Wide Open" notebook. It goes through 20 chapters as you think about many different aspects of adoption. Everything from different experiences you new child has gone through ~to~food habits and sleeping patterns. Some of it was more helpful than other parts.

That was just one part of our education courses. We were also required to take 6 online classes from Adoption Learning Partners (HERE). Those courses have been very helpful and interesting. It gives you different situations and helps you figure out the best way to deal with them. Each class took about 2 hours each to complete. Again, some were more interesting and helpful than others. I am not sure every agency requires these classes, but I am really hoping that it will only help us.

The third part of our education has been the group meetings from our local agency. We have really enjoyed those classes the most. Not only because we have met other families in the same process (some even with the same agency), but many of these families are also adopting from Ethiopia. What a very neat support group that we have been able to form. We had a dinner invite from one of the families that we met at this group and have really enjoyed getting to know them. There were 4 families at dinner that night and all of us with the same agency and also adopting from Ethiopia (one family brought their daughter home this summer). My prayer is that our children will someday have a special connection with these other kids.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A little bit of a change

We are in the last day or 2 to make any changes on our homestudy report. We have wrestled with this one particular decision.

age range

gender

number of children

Not sure why these have been so hard to decide on. But one last call to our case worker to make a minor adjustment. Chuck has been really feeling 2 instead of 1. We applied to immigration for 2 just in case we felt strongly about going for a sibling group. So as of right now, our request is
one child 0-18 months or 2 children 0-5 years old.
We are opening up the age range of the 2 children a little more.


Again, following where we feel that God is leading. Trusting that His prompting is right. Only trusting in God on this one, and not our fear of the unknown.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Huggy for Sweet Pea


Each of our girls have a huggy. A little bear that they sleep with every night. It is the one little stuffed animal that they bring to the doctor or like to hug if they need extra comfort (HERE and HERE). The girls quickly thought of the idea that Sweet Pea needs a huggy. I had saved a coupon for $5 off (pretty good coupon) for Build-a-Bear. We had never had the experience before so it was a first for all of us.
We decided on the chocolate brown one. It was a popular choice, every one else making a bear at that time picked the same one. And with the coupon we were able to get the bear and have all the fun for about $5.

Filling the little bear with love and fluff. We made our bear not too soft and not too hard ~ just right. We ended up not getting huggy onto the fluff tube all the way and fluff went everywhere.

Then off to wash the bear. This place thinks of everything. I love how the girls were able to "do something" as we are working hard to prepare for our new child.

I loved these signs hanging from the ceiling. I just loved the idea of this is what an orphan desires. For someone to take them home. For some family to choose them.


And here is our family with the new huggy - just waiting for Sweet Pea to hug it some day.




This turned out to be a great family activity for the kids as we are preparing our home and our family for Sweet Pea. Now we just need to sleep with huggy a few nights and have it smell like us and hopefully it will someday provide comfort to our new little one.


Homestudy update

Our homestudy report is done and has been sent to the international agency for review. Once that is done, it will be printed and notarized and we can be done with that part of the process. So far, I think we are also waiting on some child abuse clearances. Those had to be done for every state we have lived in since we were 18.

We have also been working on our dossier. We only have about 5 things left to accomplish. None of it is too hard. But as I said before, we are short some funds to send it in. Hoping those details work out quickly so we can press on ahead. I am going to try and get those last things done in faith and trusting that we can send the dossier in soon.

yard sale - fund raiser


We ended up having another yard sale this past Saturday with the proceeds going to the adoption fundraising. Our first one was in the pouring rain and this one was in the freezing cold. Yep, we know how to pick the day. It turned out to be a pretty good day and we were so very thankful for all the goods that were donated to us and the help from my Mom for organizing the stuff.

big week

The rest of the week will be a big week here. Today is our last homestudy meeting. This time the case worker comes over and visits our home and meets our girls. Nothing to be nervous about, she has already warned us she isn't coming to look in every closet, just a nice visit. This is nothing compared to having your home ready to show for real estate. Been there...done that.

We also need to decide the age range of a child we are willing to accept. That one has been a hard choice for us. We have decided that we will accept boy or girl (which most likely means it will be a boy). It has seemed unnatural for us to pick the gender of the child. At the moment, we are thinking one child zero to 18 months old (at the time of referral).

Once we have this last homestudy meeting, it takes the case worker about 2 weeks to write the report then we have a week to have it approved by the international agency before it is printed and notarized. Then we just have a few more things to finish up for our dossier. The dossier is the pack of information that is country specific. Once the dossier is sent in, it goes to Ethiopia and is translated and then we are placed on a waiting list. The problem for us is, when we send it in, we need to send it in with our next large payment. We are still waiting on the funds. That is why we have been working hard on the call-me-cards (HERE) and the yard sale. We have worked really hard to cut our own budget back to the bare bones, and we are praying that God provides the needed funds when we have our paperwork done.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Understanding God's Heart for Adoption

Chuck and I were blessed this weekend as we had the opportunity to attend an adoption conference called Together For Adoption. We sat and listened to speaker after speaker, sermon after sermon about learning to care for orphans, about having a heart for the nations, about God's passion for adoption and how it is His idea and His plan. This was not an adoption conference that teaches someone how to adopt or what agency to use. No, this was digging into the Word of God and understanding what He has to say about His children and the importance of caring for the orphans. We came away both blessed and encouraged and yet heavyhearted.

I quickly want to share about the passage in James 1:26-27. A verse that is very familiar with those in the adoptive world.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


Notice how there are 3 parts of true religion.

  1. bridling the tongue
  2. visit orphans and widows in their distress
  3. keep oneself unstained by the world
How can we practice true religion when we are neglecting one or more of these 3. I have a passion for the orphan (obviously) and yet I often fail when it comes to bridling my own tongue. Not to mention, being worldly and living with performance based living, that is being stained by the world.

Like I said, I was challenged and brought to a humble place before God to examine my heart before Him. The messages are going to be available for listening on the Together For Adoption website (HERE). It might take a day or two before they are available. Hopefully you can also find encouragement.


If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


Notice how there are 3 parts of true religion.

  1. bridling the tongue
  2. visit orphans and widows in their distress
  3. keep oneself unstained by the world
How can we practice true religion when we are neglecting one or more of these 3. I have a passion for the orphan (obviously) and yet I often fail when it comes to bridling my own tongue. Not to mention, being worldly and living with performance based living, that is being stained by the world.

Like I said, I was challenged and brought to a humble place before God to examine my heart before Him. The messages are going to be available for listening on the Together For Adoption website (HERE). It might take a day or two before they are available. Hopefully you can also find encouragement.




Ethiopia in the Bible

Just thought I would share what Chuck had gathered in his studies on Ethiopia in the Bible. If you are FB friends with him, he posted this a few days ago, but I found it quite interesting. Below is a copy of his notes. He must have shared this with the girls because they were able to tell me all about it at the dinner table last night. Oh, I wish I could retain knowledge like they do.




Since we are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia I wanted to do a little research on mentions of Ethiopia in the BIble. I had no idea what a rich Biblical history Ethiopia has! It is mentioned more than 45 times in Scripture! Here is a short overview of several of them. (NOTE: I did not write this!!! The following is a compilation of notes & excerpts taken from from several websites.)

CREATION
Ethiopia is first mentioned in the Creation account itself. The river that watered the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:10) split into four giant rivers: "The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold... the name of the second river is Gihon: that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia." (Gen 2:11, 13). God's "Garden" was quite colossal, actually - more like a giant preserve, a country or a continent. His "Garden" had to be watered by a mighty river! That river split into four other mighty rivers, two of which flowed in Ethiopia.

THE PROPHET ZEPHANIAH
The prophet Zephaniah was at least half Ethiopian (he had an Ethiopian father, no info about his mother). This Israelite prophet was a direct descendant of King Hezekiah: "The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah." (Zep 1:1). "Cushi" means "man of Ethiopia". There are three men named Cushi in scripture, all very prominent: Joab's runner (2 Samuel 18:21-32), the great-grandfather of Jehudi the scribe (Jer 36:14), and Zephaniah the prophet's father (Zep 1:1).

MOSES WIFE
Moses had an Ethiopian wife. He married her after his first wife died. Moses' only children were through his first wife, Zipporah (1 Chr 23:15). God punished Moses' sister Miriam with leprosy after she and his brother Aaron spoke against Moses for marrying her (see Numbers 12:1-15).

JEREMIAH'S RESCUER
Another Ethiopian saved Jeremiah's life. Jer 38:4-15 records: "Therefore the princes said unto the king, let this man be put to death..." Zedekiah the king said, "Behold, he is in your hand..." "Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire. Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; Ebed-melech went and spoke to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is likely to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.

Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, Put these under your arms. And Jeremiah did. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.

Jer 39:15-18 says, "Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver you in that day, saith the LORD: and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid... because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD."
God used this Ethiopian man to save the life of the prophet Jeremiah, then God blessed Ebed-melech by saving his life in return.

A RUMOR SAVES JERUSALEM
God also used a rumor about an Ethiopian king to save Jerusalem during one of the most famous battles in the Bible. The Bible talks about this battle in 2 Kings 18 and Isaiah 37. There was a king named Rab-shakeh who had Jerusalem surrounded. It looked like God's people were doomed. He had conquered other mighty nations before attacking Jerusalem. But he got so proud and cocky that he started blaspheming God. Isaiah 37:7-9 is God's reply to Rab-shakeh: "...he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. So Rab-shakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with you...." -- God sent Rab-shakeh back to his own country and killed him. And He used a rumor about Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, to get Rab-shakeh back there.

1 MILLION-MAN ARMY
Of the nations that Israel went to war against in her history, Ethiopia had the largest army. Its size is mentioned in 2Ch 14:9 "And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with a host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah." A thousand thousand is a million. Zerah the Ethiopian led a 1 million man army, the largest numbered army that Israel ever fought. Zerah the Ethiopian went to war against Asa king of Judah, whose army was much smaller. Without God on their side, any army of any size can be defeated. 2Chronicles 14:10-12 continues "Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried to the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou [art] our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled."

PHILIP & THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH
Another Ethiopian (the Ethiopian Eunuch) is mentioned in Acts chapter 8. We know he had traveled over 1,000 miles, from Ethiopia to Jerusalem, to worship God (Acts 8:27). It would be hard to believe any man would travel that far across the desert by chariot, but he did.
In Acts 8:28, we find him "reading Isaiah the prophet" as he traveled. When Philip drew near the chariot he asked the Ethiopian if he understood what he was reading. He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (Acts 8:31). After this, Philip got up into the chariot and "preached Jesus to him" (Acts 8:35). In the course of preaching Jesus, Philip spoke of water baptism. We know this because the Ethiopian said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36). Philip responded "If you believe with all your heart you may" (Acts 9:37). The man then confessed, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." His confession was an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ. After his confession, "he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:38).

Pretty cool, huh?
~chuck

Call-Me-Card Fundraiser




If you have ever grabbed a receipt or a deposit slip to jot your phone number, email address or blog address in order to share it with a friend, than you might be interested in Call-Me-Cards. We are launching our Call-Me-Card ADOPTION FUNDRAISER. A Call-Me-Card is like a calling card custom made for families. We have had lots of affirmation about our customers satisfaction with the Call-Me-Cards and we thought it would be a great fundraiser. The girls started this as their business over a year ago and it is still going. In order to make it a fundraiser we had to adjust our prices just a bit, but it is still a pretty good value and all of the proceeds are going to the adoption fund.

Click on the girls website (HERE) to see some samples and how to order. Chuck posted it on his facebook page and we have had our first sale already. If you have ordered before, and have run out, now is a great time to order some more.

Hard to believe...we had a yard sale in the pouring rain !

We ended up having our yard sale on Saturday morning (well...technically, it was a GARAGE sale). We never really had enough break in the weather to put our things out in the driveway. But we had gathered our donations and I spent the week pricing the items, so we figured we should give it a try. I am bummed that I was too busy to take pictures. I will try and remember next time. And YES, there will be a next time. We have some left over things and I am going to start taking more donations of items for the next yard sale.

When Chuck was putting the signs out early in the morning, he said he was doing it in faith that people would come and the effort would be worth it. And God blessed the effort. We were swamped with people and sold almost everything. We were not prepared to display the items in the garage, but that didn't stop our shoppers. They dug through boxes of items and clothes and didn't seem to mind the mess. It felt a little crazy and messy, but all in all it was a good day.

The girls sold baked goods (that my dear friend donated) and we had signs up that said it was an adoption fundraiser and people were very encouraging and many were generous. We raised $500 !!! We were thrilled and shocked that it went that well. Worth the effort it took and we are going to try and do another one in a few weeks. This last one we pulled off in just one week (no wonder I am tired).

I just love it how it was another reminder that even though the circumstances were not ideal, God isn't held back by it. I am grateful for the wonderful reminder that He is STILL in control.

We have been at the doctor every day this week and we aren't even sick.

Seriously...every day to the doctor for some adoption physical or testing.

MONDAY - Girls had their physicals and their arm test for TB (a requirement for the homestudy process).

TUESDAY - Chuck and I had our physicals and our arm test for TB.

WEDNESDAY - Back in to have the girls arms checked out for TB. Arms started to look like a positive result, scheduled to go back the next day to check again.

THURSDAY - Back to the doctor to have them look at the girls arms again. Sure looked positive for TB. Went over to a lab and had chest x-rays done to see if it was active TB. (It was NOT).

FRIDAY - Chuck and I went in for our blood work and had them look at our TB arm test. Those results all came out just fine. No worries.


So...all that to say, we have been to the doctor every day and we aren't sick. Of course sitting there in the waiting room as they mention that the arm TB test was positive made everyone there give you freaky looks. Like we are some kind of diseased family. Yep...I felt like I had to justify to everyone "We are not sick. We don't have TB, it just means we have been exposed to some TB sometime in our lives. We are not contagious."

As you can imagine, we were washing our hands every time we walked out of the waiting room.

On a positive note, we just got back from a fun play date at the park with other families in our area that have, or are in the process of adopting from Africa. I found out one of them lives in our neighborhood. How cool is that. What a neat area to be in and find such neat support. I love how God works out those details.

You will also notice, I have put up our adoption time line to help you get an idea of the process and how we are progressing. We just had our second and third (max of 4) homestudy meetings. And we have been really busy getting ready for a HUGE yard sale tomorrow as a adoption fundraiser. Please pray with us that it doesn't rain.

The Lord Provides

His mercies are new every morning.

His timing is perfect.

He is trustworthy.

He is faithful.

I will trust in Him.

Again, I am blown away by God's provisions. I just want to give HIM the glory. Yesterday I was blessed by a devotional from this site (HERE). It was a great reminder that stepping out in faith requires a risk. Part of it read: If we could see every detail about where God was leading and how He would provide, we wouldn't need faith.

How true is that? We can not see every detail of how life will turn out and that keeps us depending on God. We need to continue to have faith in our Mighty GOD. And as we step out in faith to follow where He leads, we don't have all the plans worked out. We will need God to provide in His timing and in His way.

I was blessed by a mailbox moment. You know the kind, you open a card and out drops a check for the exact amount you need. That is right, for now, the exact money that we needed to continue on showed up as a delivery from God. How fantastic that a member of the body of Christ was tuned into the Spirit and responded in obedience.

I have been trying to figure out how to come up with this particular sum of money and God had it all worked out. He knows our needs and if it is His will, He will bless.

What an amazing thing to be blessed in this way. May God only receive the glory in all that we do.

JEHOVAH-JIREH:



The Lord will Provide

Eyes Wide Open

Scroll down and let the video buffer while you are reading the post. The video is worth the few moments it takes to watch.


We have been in full swing of trying to get our adoption paperwork done for our homestudy. Just a little background for those of you new to the idea of adoption, we are required to complete a homestudy in order for our state to approve us to adopt. It is more than just someone coming to our home and snooping around. Though the history of it is from when in the mid 1800's and the orphan train was popular, it was a small inspection to make sure that home had an adequate water supply. It is a series of meetings with a case worker who will write a report about our family. In order to do this, we fill out lots of paperwork and questions about ourselves, our feelings on adoption, our marriage, child raising, we complete medical exams, finger printing, background checks, financial reports...the list goes on. We also are required to take a 5 session education course to help us better understand adoption and how to prepare for it and hopefully help us succeed in it.

All that to say, last night was our first education class. We sat in a room with 6 couples, all adopting internationally (4 from Ethiopia, 1 from Nepal and 1 from Uganda). We were so blessed to come together with others who also have the heart of adoption. We had a genuine open discussion on different aspects of adoption and it gave us much to think about and should help us form our adoption plan.

We were reminded that it is our job to educate those around us that will be part of our new child's life. We need to set the tone and attitude for those around us of positivity and confidence. We have already in our hearts committed to this child and we are hoping to find support from our friends and family.

One of the benefits we have of emotionally being where we are is talking with other adoptive families, reading books and articles, and following blogs of others who have gone before us. We have spent months and even years doing this. God has opened our hearts to this call and we desire to follow in obedience to where He leads. We are going into this with our eyes wide open, we are beginning to understand that this will not be an easy road. Both emotionally and financially, even spiritually. We will be stretched, but it is there where God prunes us to be more like Him.

I wanted to share a youtube video that blessed me as I was searching the web one day. I hope that it will help be part of your education as you learn more about adoption through us.



I can see God's mighty hand working already

One of our hesitations for finally taking that leap of faith and starting the adoption process has been finances. Let's be honest, it costs a LOT. And not many families have large amounts of cash stashed between the mattresses. I thought that I had it all figured out that we could use our extra money from our last home sale to help begin the financial part of the adoption process. Well, let's recap. Like everyone else in the country, we took a huge hit when we sold that house. We did not walk away with our adoption "nest egg" like I had hoped we would have.

God continued to call our family to step out in faith, not resting on our own ideas of how we could fund an adoption, but completely trusting Him. We recently started filling out paperwork and getting more specific quotes on what different stages of the process would cost. I knew the first large sum of money would be spent on the homestudy. We would have to complete that first before we could really do any other paper chasing.

Now to get to back to the mighty hand of God working part...

Somehow when we closed on selling our last home, we failed to cancel our homeowners insurance. We had recently discovered this mistake and canceled it and then we were notified that we would be getting a refund for the extra that had been paid and not used. When our refund check came in the mail it was for the same amount of the cost of a homestudy. A beautiful, gentle reminder to trust my Maker. Just a few days later we filled out our application (after MUCH investigating of different agencies) for the Ethiopian program with an international agency.

I was so blessed and amazed at how God provided our need. How could I doubt that He would provide in His way, not mine? I surrender to doing life God's way, not mine. He never shows up late. His timing is always perfectly on time. May God receive the glory !!!

Proverbs 16:9
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

We are approved !!!!

We are stepping out in faith.


Following where God leads.


Starting a journey.


If the Lord wills, we are growing our family.