Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spoons and Baboons

Kids really do say some funny things. Take Josie's latest example. The kids and I were all playing outside with pots and dirt and water (messy I know, but not alot to do these days). Josie went inside and was talking to our maid Susan saying "I want Bah-BOON". She said this many times before Susan called for Evolet. I was listening to the conversation that went like this.
Susan: "Evolet, what is Josie saying?"
Evolet: "Um...I think she's asking for a baboon."
Susan: "Are you sure that's what she's saying?"
Evolet: "Yeah I think she likes a baboon. She wants it. She said she wants a baboon."
Susan: "She wants a baboon?"
Evolet: "She wants a baboon."
Susan: makes a funny face
The whole time Josie was getting so irritated that no one knew what she wanted and even more forcefully was saying "I want BAH-BOOOOOOOON!" She got me, took me to the kitchen and I realized she was in fact saying "I want my spoon." She was looking for a spoon to stir her dirt soup outside with. Maybe she'll get a baboon one day too:)

We had fun fingerpainting the other day. The kids thought painting on paper would be too boring apparently and decided to paint themselves/each other instead. It was fun. I taught them how to make Indian noises and they thought that was pretty fun to chase each other and scream and stuff.
Life at the new house has been interesting. There's no washer or dryer so between myself and the maid Susan who comes three days a week it is a fulltime job just to laundry. Oh I have always taken my washer and dryer for granted. I sure do miss it right now!
I know there's *gasp* underwear in this photo, but ya know, after the 15+ people that seem to walk through my yard everyday and right past or under the underwear I just don't really care anymore. Besides nothing explains it quite like a photo...

There are also 2 lines strung inside the house:) The cool thing is that at our new place we are way closer to the shopping center and the road is so much better for the stroller. I'm learning that it's the little sometimes microscopic things that make my day. I want to go home so bad sometimes I can't think of anything else, but God always sends a bright spot in my day and reminds me that I can serve Him in joy no matter what and that I am never really alone.

Today is the last day or February! I felt like I got screwed over just a bit by having that extra day---I mean seriously...Of ALL the years for that to happen, but it's not so bad. Next month is March and is hopefully the month that Evolet officially becomes our daughter. Cool, huh!? Speaking of Evolet, she has a weird obsession with Frosty. It's almost March and she still watches it.

Went to the store today and Josie fell asleep in the stroller on the way. Some guy stopped me and said "You need to fix her head. If it slumps over like that her neck will break." To which I replied "And what medical school did you go to?" Seriously? People here seem to really think it's ok to tell me what to do in regards to my kids. I've had people tell me to put sweaters on my kids when it's hot outside, buy my kids ice cream cones when their crying, to hold them when their fussing, to buy an umbrella if it's cloudy or my kids will "catch a cough", to spank them/ NOT to spank them, had people ask detailed questions about how I ended up with mixed kids, if my husband's white or black...not even people I know...just totally random strangers. I know it's more culturally appropriate here and at first it was easy to just smile and nod and politely say "no" or take the time to explain myself, but lately it's really aggravating me. Mostly because when said outspoken people do hand out this unsolicited advice it usually comes with a look like they think I'm an idiot. Praying for patience, endurance, kindness...basically all the things I feel like I'm running out of.

Deauteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

All Five

This past week was amazing. I love how one person can make life so beautiful even in the midst of hardship. Having Darren here was like a breath fresh air, a sunrise, chocolate on a bad day...you name the cheesy parallel---it was GREAT!
Here's what we got done this week:
1. Played with the kids...alot! I think the first day Darren was home they were all kind of shy, but once they warmed up he was the funnest person on earth! Of course, I knew they would love him, but it was really fun to watch them all play. I think Evolet especially really enjoyed having him around. I snapped this sweet picture of him comforting her after she fell down. How sweet is that?
2. Darren met with our attorney one day and we had a social welfare home visit. I was really glad that was done while he was here. Everything seems to be progressing well. Our social worker says that the police report for Evolet is in and paperwork seems to be moving for Keira as well. I may be able to go to court for Evolet as early as 2-3 weeks from now!
3. Darren and I got to go on a date to the local mall. We saw a movie, the projector went out in the middle, we made jokes about Zambia. It was really fun!!! We spent alot of time at home too. It was so nice to just enjoy being together and talk and stuff. He brought me Valentine's chocolate and jewelry. I really married up, huh!? I really really miss him now.

4. We got to meet a great couple from Livingstone who are in the process of adopting as well. You can check out there website here. It's always nice to talk to other adoptive couples. It's encouraging and you can cheer each other to persever through the rough stuff!

5. We went to the embassy with the kids. It will help our case for their visas that we were able to prove that Darren had met them prior to adoption. Hopefully we can bypass the readoption process in the States now.

6. We moved into a new house. We are just down the road a ways from the one we were staying in. I'm so glad Darren was here to help us move. There are little things that make living here more complicated than the other house, but I'm thankful for the ways the Lord has really provided. We have a big yard here...and these cool little cubes in the wall that the kids obviously enjoy climbing through:)
7. I've been enjoying the Christmas in February feeling of having SOOOO many goodies! Thanks so much to everyone who sent my favorite snacks and little things that make our life just a little easier. You would be amazed how much a box of mac and cheese or good creamer can make my day:) I'm rationing a little better this time:)
< 8. I have new movies and TV shows to watch now. I've also enjoyed listening to sermons online and reading my Kindle. I think I might just survive!

9. My internet was out practically all last week...the good thing was I didn't care. With Darren here the last thing I wanted was to spend time on the computer;)

10. Nothing beats the beautiful times we shared as a family of 5. It was so nice even for a little bit to get a taste of what it is like to be together and to know that I won't be doing this alone forever. This season of my life seems ridiculously long, but it's not. Thank you all for your encouragement and for making a way for us to be together for a week! It went by quickly, but I feel so refreshed and ready to face the next two months.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Aw Shucks!

There's something really cool about going to the backyard and picking corn off a stalk and then eating it the same day. The kids have really been enjoying it and I have say this is the best corn I have EVER had!
Evolet had fun trying to show me how to pick corn. I was doing it and she said "No, mommy. It's not like that. It's like this." She proceeded to stick her foot on the stalk and then pull as hard as she could on the ear. She fell backwards. HAHA!
They all thoroughly enjoyed shucking the corn, too.
This is what you do when you get frustrated with all the layers. Just bite through it. By the way, she ate an entire ear of corn raw...and liked it:)
Keira kept trying to shuck it backwards, but finally got the hang of it. She was proud of herself!
Evolet is a corn shucking machine! She liked doing it as fast as possible!
Their daddy's a cornhusker...for real:)


I love Evolet's hair like this:

Darren will be here on Sunday and we are sooooo excited. He is coming at just the right time. I'll admit that there are days I just don't know how I'm going to get out of bed and survive the day. I have been stretched to the limit and more stressed out than I have ever been in my entire life. I know God is faithful and will continue to be. I'm sooooooo thankful to have my husband here next week, too. Happy Weekend!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Half a Year

So the news this week was good and bad. I'm definately going to be here to finish out Keira's literal 3 month fostering period. Alot is changing in the governement over here right now so many departments are just kind of freezing as they don't know exactly what the law does/does not allow so they are just making us take the longest route possible. So I will be here until probably the end of May.
The good news is that at least now we know and we're out of that aweful pit of uncertainty (even though there's still plenty of that to go around). I'll still go to court for Evolet in March and be able to do a "trial run" so see how long all of this takes in reality.
I was able to look at new housing yesterday and have found one that meets our needs and is a good price for here.

It's fully furnished with enough room for the kids, a big yard and all that stuff. I'm meeting with the landlord today and should get the details ironed out. We'll be moving NEXT week while Darren's here visiting (I'm soooooo incredibly excited that he's coming:) We have a date night planned and I know he'll enjoy just getting to spend time with ALL of his girls:)

This is going to be a busy week. I have to renew my fingerprints for the girls' preapproval of visas at the embassy in the morning, my birthday is on Tuesday and I have a girls night planned complete with pizza and my two friends Myranda and Sophie:) the rest of the week I'll be trying to pack up what I can and prepare for Darren to come on Sunday!

So by the time I get to leave I will have been here 6-7 months. That's over half a year! I'm sooooo glad I didn't know what would be required of me before I came or I can honestly say I would have said "No way. I can't do that." But God is good to give us strength for each day. He knows what we can and cannot do on our own and provides HIS strength when we have none left. If I had said "no" I would not have 2 new precious daughters. I'm anticipating a whole new round of aching homesickness, but for now I'm just thankful that God has provided for us to stay and that he has made a way for us to be a family of 5...even if it's only for 5 days right now.

Here's something I read today that was a real comfort:
Psalm 33: 20-22

"Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you."

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Details Make Up the Big Picture

Have you ever looked at a Where's Waldo book? Or an optical illusion that it takes 5 minutes of staring at before you see the Mona Lisa trapped in there somewhere? Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the big picture to the degree that we feel the details are insignificant...and after a while you might just stop looking.

I've been throwing around alot of thoughts about the worldwide "orphan crisis" lately. Here are some semi-accurate statistics to tease your brain...just to bring you up to speed to where my thoughts are headed.

  • According to Unicef, there are 145 million orphans worldwide
  • A child dies in the world every 5.2 seconds.

  • If orphans were a country by population they would rank 8th in the world!
    China 1,321,851,888
    India 1,129,866,154
    USA 301,139,947
    Indonesia 234,693,997
    Brazil 190,010,647
    Pakistan 169,270,617
    Bangladesh 150,448,339
    Orphans 145,000,000
    Russia 141,377,752

That's the Big Picture! I think a typical response to this kind of information is to say (1) I feel really guilty for the life I have. I'm never shopping again and my family is eating off the dollar menu...forever! or (2) Those numbers are staggering. I'm not wealthy so I can't make a difference anyway. I might as well keep doing what I'm doing.

I'll admit that very often I fall into the feeling guilty all the time category. Especially living in Zambia. But what does that initial guilt find it's healing in? It doesn't help anyone to just NOT do what we were doing before. Instead, what is it that we are supposed to do? What is a Biblical response to the orphan crisis?

  • James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

  • Matthew 25:34 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

That is some pretty weighty stuff. Will definately shake any comfortable complacency you had going.

The Details: Each child has a face, a name, a history...often tainted by tragedy. I am an adoption advocate, but let me start by saying that adoption is not the ONLY biblical response to children in need. James (the brother of Christ) SAW the beauty of adoption first hand. Joseph was NOT Jesus' biological father, but he loved him as his own. We who have been redeemed by Christ are NOT of a holy bloodline until adopted into His love. Adoption is beautiful!

But don't ever consider adoption because you feel guilty. Don't give up earthly pleasures out of a sense of unworthiness. Don't try to do something big just because you think it will make you feel better or because you don't feel like you are doing "enough". That's a man-centered approach. If you do you'll only be desiring the praise of men and right standing before your holy judge which if in Christ you already have! I believe what the Bible calls for is RADICAL devotion to the savior which many times leads to a radical undertaking of caring for the needy. But the devotion for the savior MUST come first!

The same Jesus that said all that about the "least of these" also said "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them, but you will not always have me." (Mark 14:7)

The same Jesus that said "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."(Matt. 22:39) also got invited to wedding feasts, enjoyed fellowship with his disciples, and rested. He was poor, no doubt. And had "no place to lay his head." But he never sinned...so he never felt guilty for eating a meal while someone down the street was hungry. He was also generous...he spontaneously fed over 9,000 people because they were hungry while listening to him speak. Jesus never turned a blind eye to suffering, but he never felt guilty for it's existence either.

One thing we have to understand is that unless we are living with no shelter, no food, no clothing, and dying of some incurable disease someone will always have less than us. It is true that we cannot rescue the entire world from poverty, or disease, or fatherlessness, or pain, or even hell. So we have to learn to live with ourselves and desire to serve Christ where we are. But the beauty is in the details. What can we do? Instead of focusing on the overwhelming big picture and what we CAN'T do...what CAN we do to be more like Christ today?

The heart and soul of many of the verses that us adoptive parents LOVE to quote is not even adoption! It's a mandate to CARE about the suffering of others and seek to relieve it for the glory of God. This is a Biblical view of the orphan crisis. DO SOMETHING...even if you think it's small and insignificant. It's a beautiful detail in a bigger picture. Do it out of love for the one who did not leave you abandoned.

If you can't or simply don't want to care for orphans through adoption don't feel bad about it! But can you pray for someone who is? Can you be their shoulder to cry on? Can you take them a meal when they get home? Can you sponsor a child to go to school? Can you be a foster parent or a respite parent for those who are fostering? I have to say that I have been beyond blessed to have so many friends praying for me. You are caring for the orphan!!!

There are so many different ways of living out "loving our neighbor" and no one person can do them all and do them well. It's ok to find your "niche" but keep in mind that it's not the only one out there. Loving your neighbor looks like a lot of different things. It MAY mean a lifestyle change or giving up something in order to serve others. It might mean adopting a child. It might mean volunteering at a shelter or having a plan for encountering the homeless so you don't just have to look away when you drive by their sign. It may mean restructuring your budget to support missionaries or the persecuted church abroad. The important thing is to serve Christ and to strive to do it well. Make it personal. Make it passionate.

After living in Zambia I can pretty much say that I have no desire to ever be a missionary and LIVE in another country, but man I admire those who are and I can say that I will pray more fervently for them and seek ways to encourage them more personally. We are all members of one body who function in different capacities. You might be an eye and I might be a toenail, but all those parts do make a beautiful big picture, don't ya think?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Strength in Weakness

"But he said to me 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."--2 Corinthians 12:9

This has really been my verse for the last 92 days. Yes, that's how long I've been here now. I just want to say right now that despite what you all may think who are watching this journey unfold from afar...I am not a strong person. I'm just not. This woman likes comfort, TV, and good food. I shudder at the terms "running, 5K, endurance, dieting, patience, etc..." I'm fighting battles against selfish desires on a minute-by-minute basis. I complain alot...if not out loud then in my heart. I'm often too harsh with my children and not understanding of their trials. I focus on my own needs and wants more than I should. I'm tired. I'm weary. I'm weak. BUT Christ is stronger than all of that. I'm learning to pray "Give us THIS day our daily bread." or "Just give me the grace to get through THIS day. I'm sure that my tomorrows are filled with more uncertainty and hardships, but I can't shoulder all of that today so just give me today." And just so you guys know...He's faithful. He's given me his strength every day that I've been here and he won't fail me now.

Here are some photos of the kids from this morning. Even though it is NOT easy parenting these three on my own, they are SO. MUCH. FUN! They are crazy and wild and loud, but they are a joy and the only sadness in this is that Darren is absent from all these photos. I do miss him :/

This is our little gang:

Look how big the Maize has gotten. This stuff wasn't even planted when we got here!
Josie's kind of the comedian of the family:
"Look mommy. Look at mah shiiiiIIIIIIIIiRT!"
I love her!
Evolet's the Diva. She likes to pose and pretend she's a princess:)

Isn't she just lovely?
Keira's the little angel. Sweetest disposition!

Best friends. Sisters:)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It is Well...

"Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day.

At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.

In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family's ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.

With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul..

Philip Bliss (1838-1876), composer of many songs including Hold the Fort, Let the Lower Lights be Burning, and Jesus Loves Even Me, was so impressed with Spafford's life and the words of his hymn that he composed a beautiful piece of music to accompany the lyrics. The song was published by Bliss and Sankey, in 1876.

For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, It Is Well With My Soul." From faithclipart.com

This guy kept perspective through it all!!!! That's my prayer right now. Don't let me give the devil a reason to smile.

"It Is Well" performed by Kutless

The news we are hearing right now is that I may have to stay in Zambia with girls until as long as early May. God, this is not what I signed up for!!! BUT, neither am I willing to abandon these precious children that we have been blessed to call our own. So the future looks HARD right now. A lot of things are still uncertain, but that's the one thing I'm certain of. It will probably not get easier anytime soon.

God has sent much light through the darkness, though. Just within 24 hours there has been a massive outpouring of prayer and love on us. I keep calling to mind scripture after scripture in a constant battle to keep my mind from going into the despair it wants to wallow in. A friend came over yesterday and reminded me that when Christ carried the cross it was NOT easy. He even asked the Father to let the cup pass from Him, but still chose the will of the Father over the easy way out. He did that to adopt me.

I'm still processing alot of things right now so I don't have much more to say at the moment. But alot of friends have been e-mailing me links to songs that have just really calmed my heart and kept me going. I wanted to share them with you all and let everyone know that we are gonna be ok because God is with us. Keep petitioning before the Lord for us! Thanks!

I knew what I was getting into by Misty Edwards

Never Once by Matt Redman

Help Myself to You by Kathy Troccoli

Blessings by Laura Story