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.)

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 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 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).

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.

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.

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."

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?

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.


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.