Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Music

Yesterday was our church's Christmas concert. It was amazing! The words were edifying and Christ focused, the quaility of the music was great, and the lighting, decorations, and sparkly sweaters made it a very "Christmasy" and festive experience. I love those songs that make you think "Wow...I wonder what the singing in heaven will sound like?"

I was notified by lifesong that they are looking over our grant application. We've already sent our 1-600 form in for pre-immigration approval. Just waiting to hear back from lifesong so that we can move on to the next step...finalizing the dossier!

We are preparing for our trip to Virginia to see my sister Amber and her family who lives there. My other sister Stephanie is flying in from California and I'm so excited to be able to spend Christmas week with them. I'm sure Josie will have a blast with her aunts, uncle, and 3 cousins.
I've been remembering what last Christmas felt like. I was 8 months pregnant and on medicine to reduce contractions so Josie wouldn't come too early. I remember that feeling of hardly being able to stand the wait until I could meet her and I remember thinking "our Christmases won't be the same anymore!" Now my sweet Josie is toddling around and pulling the bows off the Christmas presents! Time goes by so quickly in retrospect.

Last night I was blessed to see the G321 Children's choir have a part in the concert. I pictured myself 5 years from now with 2 little girls singing up there together...praising God with their voices in the midst of a church family who loves them. This year, I'm a little bit thinner, but again I spend Christmas in anticipation of another child. I'm almost positive that "#2" will be with us by next Christmas and again "our Christmases will never be the same!"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Four Stockings

I've wanted to post this song for a long time, but I can't figure out how to do it (due to my apparent lack of tehnological know-how). There are alot of places online where you can go to listen to it. This song makes me want to cry everytime I hear it, but it definately hits home this year.

Merry Christmas
by Third Day

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Cryin' for Momma's arms.
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
Where the forgotten are.

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
and dream about the day when I can finally call you mine.

It's Christmas time again, but you're not home.
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone.
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms.
And tell you from my heart: I wish you a Merry Christmas.

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights,
I'm warmed by the fire's glow.
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
And make angels in the snow.
But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears,
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here.

It's Christmas time again, but you're not home.
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone.
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms,
And tell you from my heart I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Christmas is the time to celebrate the Holy Child
And we celebrate His perfect gift of love.
He came to earth to give his life and prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with Him above.
It's Christmas time again and now you're home!
Your family is here so you will never be alone.
So tonight before you go to sleep I'll hold you in my arms.
And tell you from my heart, "I wish you a Merry Christmas."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Orphan Care Sunday

Yesterday was Orphan Care Sunday at my church. What an amazing Sunday it was! We heard the testimony of a man who had been in foster care with a lovely Christian couple in our city. Our pastor Shawn brought a beautiful sermon from 2 Samuel about how David treated Mephibosheth (his enemy's grandson) just like his own son and gave him a place at his table. Normally, that's not the story I think of when considering orphan care...I think that's why it had such an impact on our congregation. That sermon was truly a blessing from God. I don't think it's up yet but you can go to http://www.morningview.org/ to download it. It is entitled "A Place at His Table."

We also gave out copies of the book "Adopted for Life". This is the single best resource I have seen that compares our adoption in Christ with how we should view caring for orphans.
We gave a testimony in the night service. I feel like Moses just a little bit in that I really don't feel like I have the gift of speach, but I will not turn down an opportunity to get the word out about how important it is that the church step up and answer the call to care for orphans.
Tom Hicks also preached a riveting evening message on adoption. It was a powerful day for me.
We should be recieving our official notarized home study any day now. In this week of particular thankfulness, I'm especially thankful for my adoption into the heavenly family, and I'm thankful for this journey that God has seen fit to bless us with. I'm thankful for the daughter that I have, and for the one I will be meeting very soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rabies Shots

Who would have thought that a Rabies shot would be a crucial part of adopting a child? Alas, the rabies vaccination certificate was the last piece in the very large puzzle of home study paperwork...we hope anyway. You just never know with these things. So, Josie, Clover, and I braved the first major rainstorm in a few months to take our Persian cat Clover to the vet. Thankfully, I was able to leave Josie with my friend Ruth so that I didn't have to worry about holding on to my emotionally disturbed cat AND my "I demonstrate my love for animals by pouncing on them" child.
Clover actually did very well! The poor little thing was shivering with fear, but didn't try to scratch, bite, or run away so I would call it a successful trip!
We had our last home study meeting last Friday. It went very well. Our social worker is so easy to work with! We discussed alot about Ethiopian culture and things concerning that. It was great and it feels so nice to have that done with. The next few steps we are working on simultaneously now are:
1. Sending our application for a matching grant to Lifesong
2. Sending in our I-600 form for pre-immigration approval
3. Getting our Tastebook fundraiser created and marketed!
4. Creating family photo pages for the Dossier
(amidst Christmas shopping and holiday baking and party planning and doing Christmas cards and camping trips and traveling...)
Oh well! I love this busy time of year! I love the food, the smell, the weather, the lights, the music, and...sitting by the fire sipping hot cocoa with my handsome husband. He is such a blessing to me and provides such emotionally stability for me in this crazy wonderful season! I love that this is the time of year that we celebrate the incarnation of God himself. While Christ has always existed and will forever exist, Christmas was the beginning of Christ's humanity. How exciting that Christ came as a man to fulfill God's justice and love at the same time. How gracious that He saves us from Himself.
I'm going to go binge on my Pumpkin Spice ice cream now. For those of you in parts of the country that don't have Blue Bell...I pity you at this moment. Happy Monday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This is my favorite time of year!

I ordered our Christmas ornaments this week!

We decided to continue the tradition of a special ornament for our family every Christmas. We also recieve annual White House Ornaments from my sister every year. Darren's parents are giving each of their gandchildren an ornament every year. So...our tree will fill up quickly.

I also decided to express our anticipation for our adopted daughter through a special ornament this year. I ordered this from a girl on etsy. This is a fundraiser for their Ethiopian adoption.

Cute huh? I got these in the mail this week and can't wait to put my tree up to hang them on!!!

On the adoption front, we had our indivudual interviews with our home study agency yesterday. It went very well. Our social worker is so sweet. What a blessing to have someone so laid back! Our last meeting will be next Friday the 12th. So...this week I am busy trying to tie up some loose ends on the paperwork. It will be so nice to have that segment done.

We attended a parenting conference at our church today. It was great, although it did leave me thinking, "Wow...this sounds difficult with only one child. Why am I adopting another one again?" I guess that's the beauty of it...we MUST be reliant upon Christ in our parenting! I only have a nine month old and I am humbled a hundred times a day by seeing my own sin in parenting! Praise God for His abundant grace and I trust that when the number of my children doubles, my precious savior's grace will be sufficient.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

Many of you have asked questions like "How did you decide to adopt?", "How did you decide on Ethiopia?", "How did you choose your agency?". I LOVE getting asked these questions because it gives me the chance to brag on my God and what He has chosen to do through us!

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be adopting, my response probably would have been, "Oh then I guess we won't be able to have kids, huh!?" How shortsighted of us to think that we are only obligated to help those in need as a last resort to fulfill our desires for children! Don't get me wrong, I know many people who have gone the adoption route for the reason that they can't have children, but I'll bet if you ask any of them if they view adoption as "the next best option" now, they would say "No." because now they can see the purpose in it all and they love their adopted children as their own. Adoption is not second-best. It is a God-ordained method of growing our families and showing love to a hurting world.

One of our pastors, David Hardgrave taught a class on Adoption last year. I was pregnant with Josie at the time, and while we have bounced around the idea of adoption it seemed very distant. We read the book Adopted for Life by Russell Moore which is a book comparing our adoption by God into the heavenly family and why that should propell us to think biblically about adopting children into our families. It is an amazing book!!! So after that class we decided that adoption was something we wanted to pursue one day.

Then, our Sunday School teacher began a study in the book of James this past January. I never realized how many passages there are about adoption! Jesus himself was "adopted" by his earthly father Joseph. One verse really stuck out to us. James 1:27 says "Pure and undefiled religion before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and keep oneself unspotted from the world." That's a pretty short summary of the Christian life! While no one does this perfectly, the point is, are we doing it at all? Does your heart move for the 143,000,000 orphans in the world? Or is it something that doesn't concern you because you because it would take too much of your time to really try to do something about it?

I fully recognize that everyone is not supposed to adopt a child into their family. There are so many circumstances that prevent it for some people. But you can pray for the families that are adopting. You can give of your time to help with fundraiser events or make monetary donations to organizations or churches that you trust. You can get involved with the foster system. I've really rabbit trailed, but the point is...why doesn't the church in America realize that this is such a big need and that everyone can at least care and pray?

After Cole's message on James, Darren and I were driving home from church and we both said, "Why not now? We have the room now. We have as much of a financial capacity as we will probably ever have now. We have the time now. Let's do it now!" So we met with our dear friends the Portises and talked over the practical aspects of adoption and began to narrow down the countries.

Narrowing down wasn't very difficult after all. Between lengths of travel and age requirements, Ehtiopia fit our needs best. In everything God has been faithful to handle the details for us. Sometimes I think we expect a flash of light or a talking bush or a vision or something to show us God's will. More often, though, God's will for us is simply obedience and a deisire for His glory to be made manifest through us. These little decisions haven't really been that difficult.

Choosing an agency was much the same way. Most agencies have an Ethiopia program, but not all of their web sites are user-friendly. America World has a great reputation, came recommended by friends that have used them, and I liked how organized they seem to be. So far, everyone from there has been amazing!!! They always keep us informed about what's going on and they are so friendly. Of course, we are not too far along in the process, but it seems like they are a great agency!

So that answers a few questions. For those who go to church with us, we will be giving a short testimony in the evening service on November 21st. We'd love to have you there! We love to talk about adoption and the whole process so if anyone has questions we'd be happy to tell you what we know!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making Progress

Well, we have finally scheduled our 2nd and 3rd home study appointments for next Friday, November 5th. This will be our individual interviews. I'm very excited. It's been over a month since our last meeting. I never envisioned the home study process taking this long, but this is such a busy time of year for everyone and Darren has been traveling alot so...I know that the extra time it has taken to do this is all for a greater purpose that we don't see yet. How near sighted and impatient we can become!

I was reminded of this fact on Sunday night when one of our pastors was preaching on Habakuk. (I know at first that doesn't sound so life-changing, but it is actually a very emotionally provoking book. I can't believe how much I've missed by not studying it more closely until now.) Anyway, Tom was talking about how we get so wrapped up in our moments that we don't look at the big picture. I think that's a very important thing to keep in mind for any family and especially those of us who are planning to adopt. We know how the process is supposed to work...and sometimes it works out differently. We know what the deadlines are...but sometimes we can't control if we meet them or not. We have plans...and sometimes they get derailed. But success in any area isn't dependent on even the best made plans. I say that even though I am at heart very much a planner. True success is realizing that God's plans never fail because it would be against His very nature for them too.

Because of that I can rest in the knowledge that this adoption is for the glory of God alone and in His timing it will come together....all of it! The home-study, the paperwork, the finances, the travel dates...the smallest details are essentially in His hands. I am just the instrument who is called to be faithful in the execution of it.

I'm excited about this next meeting. My house will be clean again:)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Created to Care Retreat

I'm so excited that my friend KC invited me to the Created to Care Retreat in Georgia this year. The retreat is for adoptive mothers--wherever they are in the process. Some have already adopted years ago, some are like me and they are in the middle of their first one, and some are just thinking about it. Regardless, I think it will be a great weekend to relax, meet some fun ladies, and get fired up about what God has called us to. Retreat dates are February 4, 5, and 6. Check out http://createdtocare.blogspot.com if you think you might be interested at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Ethiopia Blog

Hello friends,

I've avoided an adoption blog as long as I can. I've said for too long that blogging is time-consuming and I've been scared to do it. I tried one with no purpose in mind and sure enough...I had no desire to ramble about my daily life. However, I realize that this adoption journy is something exciting...not only for us, but for our friends and family who support us with their prayers and someday soon through our fundraising endeavors.

God has been working on hearts for a little while now. Through the excellent teaching of His Word at our church and godly examples of families who display Christ's love and compassion for others...God has brought us to the place where we are ready to adopt. We have one biological child--Josie. She is such a joy to us. She is 9 months old now and we love her to pieces. We are so excited to be adding to our family. We have applied to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia. We are still in the "paper pregnancy" part of things. We have completed one home study meeting and are working on scheduling the rest. Once that is done, we can send in our paperwork and then sit back and wait...and wait some more.

Please pray with us that
(1) we would be faithful in our fundraising endeavors
(2) God would provide the rest of the funding in His time
(3) we would have patience as we wait to meet our daughter

I plan to update this blog weekly and maybe more often if there is enough interest and time. Thank you all for your support!