Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where God is working

Most of us live in a bubble.  We may get outside that bubble for short periods of time but it is so easy to slip back in.  I sat in a waiting room today and listened for 30 minutes while 2 mothers complained about how busy they were.  Kids to take here and there, no time to shop for clothes, no one had booked the hotel for the baseball tournament and now the best hotel was full and whether to stay in a bigger house a mile from the beach or stay in a smaller house on the beach.  First world problem, we all have them.

But I have seen.  And when I slip back into my bubble full of first world problems I force myself to remember what I have seen.  I have seen a room full of cribs with only plywood for mattresses.  No place for an adult to sit or sleep….who stays there during the night?  I've seen children with towels instead of diapers tied around their waist with ropes. I have seen older children who have never spent a day in school.  Never.  With gray teeth, unable to speak.  I've seen a child sitting with their legs through the bars of a third story window watching me look over the only place he has ever known.  Watching me hold children and pass out lollipops and leave.

When I lay by my beautiful daughter at night I see those children.  So thankful for the ones who are home now, Susan, Sarahbeth, Sophia.  So thankful for the ones coming home soon, Stewart,Sean, Suzie.  But I hurt for those who aren't home.  Who may never be home, Samuel, Susanna, Seth.

Lifeline Children's Services has a partnership with this orphanage.  The orphanage my daughter once lived in.  They have worked to help and have prayed for the Lord to open doors and He has.  In a might, mighty way He has opened doors for Lifeline to establish a foster home for 14 of the babies at this orphanage.  Fourteen children able to sleep in peace and safety in a suitable bed with plenty of food.  Able to get interaction and love and touch everyday. Given the medical treatment they need.

The challenge of course is money.  Always isn't it!?  But God is so much bigger than money.  Lifeline needs a lot of money in a short amount of time to get this foster home off the ground.  God has made the path smooth through the hard things like an apartment, a manager and government approval, I have no doubt that He won't let a thing like 40,000 stand in the way.  But how awesome that he allows us to be a part of His work.  He allows us to be blessed by being obedient to help to fatherless.  Do you have $5? $10? $25?  Maybe more?  Would you be willing to help?

You can click on the link below to hear more about this opportunity and how to help.  Nothing is too small.

http://lifelinechild.org/chinafosterhome/

To see these children's faces you can click on the link below.  Pick one out and pray for them.  Pray that  they will know the love of a family.  Pray that the Lord will guard their future.  It is dim without Him, but He is big God.  I have seen these children with my own eyes.  They are not just pictures, they are as real as the children you tucked into bed tonight and just as fiercely loved by our creator.  One of those children, Susan on the list, is home now.  Sleeping in her bed in the room next to the one I'm sitting in now.  She is safe and loved and home.  They all deserve that.  This foster home is gigantic step in the right direction.

http://lifelinechild.org/suixi/

Many years ago I took part in the Experiencing God Bible study.  I remember Henry Blackabey saying that if you wanted to do something for God to look for where He was already working and join Him.  He is working here, Join Him!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Finding Emily

I am finally getting a chance to post about how we cam to find ourselves adopting again so quickly.  As with Sarah's story tree may be gaps or holes or unanswered questions.  Some of that is the nature of adoption and some is intentional.  Please understand that Emily is 12 years old and we want to let her tell her story when she ready.  We want to tell how we came to know she was our daughter while respecting her privacy.


In January of 2013 when we began the homestudy process for what was then an unknown "child of either gender between the ages of 4 and 6 with medical special needs" (that's homestudy speak) our social worker asked if we would be interested in being approved for more than one child.  Shane's initial reaction was a laugh, but we agreed we would think it over and pray about it.  We decided that we would go ahead and be approved for 2.  We wanted to be open to what God had for us and be prepared for that.

In April we received pre-apporval from China to adopt Sarah.  I continue to look at the waiting child lists everyday.  These faces get into your heart and I rejoiced when "matched" would appear by a name.  I kept an open eye for anyone else that I thought might be ours but as the months went on I did not feel God calling us to another child right then.    As we learned more about Sarah's situation we really did not want to do anything to slow down her process at all.  In August we received our LOA (the big important paper) and at that point we stopped looking for a second child.  We needed to get Sarah home as soon as possible.

Not long after we received our LOA our agency added several new files to their partnership orphanage lists and this face appeared on one of the lists.



Below her picture was a description of her need and it also said how impressed the team that met her was with her.  I don't know what it was about that picture but she just captivated me.   I remember telling Shane with tears in my eyes that she could do whatever she wanted if she had a family and was here but she would spend her whole life in an institution if she wasn't adopted.  I wasn't the only one that was captivated by her though.

Soon on our agency's China facebook page people began to advocate for her.  I would add my comments about how much I was praying for her family.  And somewhere along the way it changed from wanting her to have family to wanting to be her family.  I just knew in my heart she was ours.  I also knew she had so much obvious potential and was such a precious girl that although her physical needs seemed great that there was likely a line for her file.  We were busy making preparations to go get Sarah but I emailed a friend that works as an advocate for our agency and asked if anyone had asked for her file.  No one had.  Each time someone would advocate for her on the page my heart would leap almost afraid someone would grab her up before I could get to a point where we could.  I felt so bad for feeling that way, but I just knew she was ours.

We left for China and all thoughts except for Sarah were gone.  We had a wonderful gotcha day and a fabulous trip!  We had a very long drive to Sarah orphanage and on the way we passed a sign for Emily's city.  That sparked another discussion right there in the van in China about when we came back for her.  It felt sad to be so close to her and not be able to see her.  

We came home and started to get settled into life with Sarah.  In early December new pictures were posted from our agency's trip to the partnership orphanages in November.  And there was that face again!




I felt like I did when we got new pictures of Sarah.  I immediately sent them to Shane and also emailed my friend Annie, the advocate, to see if anyone had asked about her file.   No one had.  No one?!  How can that be!  

Shane and I began to discuss what it would look like to have a child that couldn't walk and he told me to go ahead and ask a mom on the FB group who has a child in a wheelchair what every day life looks like for them.  She was so encouraging.  I know it sounds strange but her need for a wheelchair didn't scare us at all.  We felt our home could handle it and that really wasn't an issue.  We talked through the logistics of it all and felt like that was not a reason not to move forward.  We talked with our social worker about what reusing our dossier would entail and that we were interested in this child.  I contacted Annie again and got her file and agency reports.  And then we decided to pray.  We decided to take the month of January and simply pray about it.  And I would like to tell you that in a loud thundering voice the Lord told us to go!  I would like to tell you that in a still small voice he said go.  But I can't.  It was a pretty quiet month as far as a word from the Lord goes.  For me at least.  And I think some of that was my prayer time came in short snippets and sleepy nights and part of it I think is because I knew what a yes felt like and I knew it was a yes.  I knew she was ours.  

Here is where the Lord steps in big time though.  Our agency has a 6 month waiting period after you gt home before you can start again.  We had not yet been home 6 months.  We knew we could apply for a exception but were not sure we wanted to do that.  We aren't really exception asking people.  We are goody goody rule followers to the core.  Shane said he knew we would go back for her we just needed to decide if we would try to go ahead or sit the 6 months out.  Once we knew for sure we wanted to go back we just decided to go ahead and see if the agency would allow it.  I spoke to our social worker and we filled out an application.  We submitted it on a Thursday.  On Friday she told us she was forwarding it to leadership and it would take awhile for them to make a decision.  I heard through the grapevine that they were getting stricter on exceptions and prepared for a no. On Monday we had a phone interview about why we wanted to go back and what adopting Emily would look like.  On Tuesday my phone rang right at 9:00.  It was Lifeline and because I'm a big fat chicken I didn't answer it.  I figured a no would come quicker than a yes and I needed to prepare myself for waiting a few more months before talking with Anna.  I waited for her to leave a voice mail and then listened.  She said she had good news and to call back because we needed to move quickly.  HOLY COW!  So excited!  I called Shane and he rolled his eyes at me over the phone for not answering n the first place and told me to call her back already!!  I did and this is what we learned.

Agencies are granted files from partnerships for six months.  After six months the CC*WA can pull those files back and send them another agency, to the shared list or overseas.  Sometimes the original agency can get it back but often it can't.  What we learned is that during the night on Monday- which was Tuesday is China- Lifeline received word that Emily's file was due back to them and they were pulling it back.  Had we waited one more day- ONE MORE DAY- her file could have been lost to Lifeline.  We needed to move fast in order to submit our Letter of Intent.  We worked hard that day and got all the necessary paperwork done and submitted it to Lifeline b the end of the day.  They submitted the LOI the next day and  8 days later we were granted PA.  And we were off again.  

Over the last month or so we have had the opportunity t talk with several people that have spent some time with her.  Over and over again we hear how very precious she is.  What a sweet and peaceful spirit she has.  I have told Shane over and over that I can not believe no one else had locked her file.  How is it possible?  When we started Sarah's adoption I inquired about so many files that had long lists of people waiting to review them.  How had we gotten to be this precious child's family?  How?  Because she is ours!  From the first time I saw her face I have known that God has great things in store for her.  The more I hear about her the more I know it is true.  I can hardly wait.  She has waited long enough for a family and it is time to get her home!!!






Friday, March 21, 2014

A Chance

It has been beautiful here the last few days.  Sarah was anxious to get outside today so we headed outside to the play set.  As we sat there in the sunshine I found myself with tears in my eyes.  She was laughing and swinging and all of sudden she threw her little head back and straightened out her arms and just leaned back and laughed.  And I as much as try not to dwell on where she's been I couldn't help in that moment to think how very thankful I am that she is out in the sunshine laughing and swinging.





And I couldn't help but remember those left behind.


Those who don't get the chance to throw their head back in the sunshine


and tell their moms to stop taking pictures and sit in the other swing.


Please pray for those who wait. 

Is it hard some days.
yes.

Is it all worth it?


Oh my goodness.

Yes!






Friday, March 14, 2014

Four months

Four months ago today we arrived back home with Sarah.  She's been busy this last month!


Learning to blow bubbles with her cousin Dory



Enjoyed some walks in the early spring weather.





In light of the US win in ice dancing she and Will practiced some new moves just in case there is a future for them in that sport.




 Remembered to pray before bed every night.



Enjoyed a shoulder ride from her awesome big brother!



Discvered the riding toys at any shopping center we happen to be at.
  

 

Tried on glasses at Walmart.
I was there looking at glasses for myself and turned around and she was wearing these.  Pulled them off the rack and put them on like she needed them.


She has turned into quite a shoes and clothes girl.  Her favotite thing to try on was her sisters shorts.
(please ignore the state of the closet)


That is until she discovered the bag of clothes a friend had sent her!  
Thank Katie!
7 shirts, 1 dress, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 skirt, 1 pair of pants and a dress!




Had her first picnic in the playhouse.  She has developed a deep love for peanut butter sandwhiches!


Dressed up in Chinese dresses with her sister and her cousin Dory.
Beautiful girls!



Took in a movie with her big sister and one of her friends.  She just pulled her little chair in there like she was 13 years old too and was supposed to be up late watching a movie!



Baseball is just around the corner gotta get in some batting practice!



To round out the month we took a little road trip to Memphis Zoo with some friends.






Friday, March 7, 2014

Joy

We are in the home study phase of our adoption of Emily.  Not my favorite part.  Especially since we just did this.  I told our social worker that there wasn't really anything that different from last time.  Well, except we added a kid and I quit my job.  Okay, well maybe a few things have changed.  Hopefully it won't take too long and we can get the show on the road.

This was one of those weeks where I questioned my ability to effectively parent anyone.  Monday was a hard day.  From the 15 year old bogged down in exams, to the 13 year old daughter being a 13 year old daughter to the 5 year old who was sick and incredibly frustrated at her inability to communicate.  We are all fighting the crud and not feeling great and it's safe to say I was not feeling like mom of the year.  I've said before that I feel like all my children are on the precipice of things.  All in important phases of their lives.  I was feeling the weight of being their mother  this week.

I am part of an active Facebook group of China moms with our agency.  It has been a source of great encouragement and friendship for me.  Facebook can be bad I know, but this group has been so great for me.  On Tuesday several moms adopting children from the same orphanage that Emily is in posted new pictures.  It appeared that Lifeline had visited the orphanage and while there had taken pictures for the waiting parents.  I did not get any pictures on Tuesday and just assumed that we had not gotten approval by the time the trip was made.  Oh well.  It's okay.  I was planning on ordering an update soon and we have really good pictures from November.

But God knows what a mother's heart needs and on Wednesday morning I got an email from our social worker with the news that I did indeed have pictures!!!  I was so thrilled to see her precious face.



And as if this wasn't enough to brighten the week I received a message I was hoping for last night.  I had contacted a family that I knew was there adopting an older child from the same orphanage.  I didn't know them but asked if they were going to be at the orphanage and happened to see her would they snap a picture.  What a blessing was headed our way!  Several pictures including one of her in her wheelchair which I was desperately hoping for.  And not only that but a precious video with her telling us she was waiting for us.  And as added bonus, the family's guide translates what Emily is saying on the video.  We immediately recognized her voice as our wonderful guide Aron from our time in China. 



In addition to all this great stuff was the news from this mother that our girl is just as precious as we have heard.  Every single person that meets her tells of her joyous spirit and her peaceful nature.  Every single person tells us how special she is.  I can not wait to get her home and see what the Lord is going to do through her.  

We have several videos of her singing.  She has a precious voice.  One of the first times we went to church after being home with Sarah I walked in as everyone was singing.  I had a sort of vision of her sitting there in the aisle in her wheelchair singing praises to the Lord.  I can not wait to see that in person.  I can not wait to introduce her to Jesus.  

I still need to write out the story of how we got to this point.  In the beginning of our first adoption we reviewed the file of a precious little girl.  I wanted the answer to be yes to this girl but there was no peace in it at all.  It was a resounding no.  She has a family now and I am grateful for that.  I am also grateful that the Lord gave us a no because we know what a no feels like and we know what a yes feels like.  Sarah was a yes and Emily is beyond a shadow of doubt a yes.  

I had already ordered an update through a service when we got all these great pictures.  We were able to ask Emily some questions and send her a gift and some pictures.  We should get those in the next little bit.  

I still feel so inadequate as a mother most days.  I have asked the Lord for years to cover my short comings.  There are days I feel like I have done the very best I could possibly do and there are days I feel like I have let them all down.  But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to be their mother.    All four of them.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Four

We have learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It's easier to pretent they aren't real before you hold them in your arms.
But once you do…
Everything Changes


When I was in college I came across a picture that made me catch my breath.  It was a simple black and white picture of a kitchen table with four children sitting around it.  I remember thinking I was seeing a glimpse of my future.  Four.

After Jenny was born I knew I was done birthing babies.  I just knew.  Shane did too.  But we weren't done having children.  God had planted the seed of adoption in our hearts and although it took many years and lots of prayer God gave us the desire of our hearts.  


and yet….

God also broke our hearts for the fatherless.  Our eyes were opened.  We have seen them and held them and we have left them behind.  Nearly every night as I lay by my precious daughter who is finally home I see that room full of babies in my head.  I see those older children whose chance for a family diminshes with each passing day.

And God reminded me of the picture in my mind of a table with four children around it.

And He is a God who fiercely loves the fatherless and He is a God who loves to give you the desire of your heart.

And so….

We are headed back to China.

For a precious 12 year old girl we knew we would be back for. 

A girl described by those who have met her as lovely and peaceful and precious and joyous.

We are calling her Emily Marie.

God has shown Himself faithful already in His perfect timing, allowing us to lock her file just in the knick of time.  We will share the details of how we found her and how God led us to her soon.  For today we simply ask for your prayers for her and for us.  And we want to show you her beautiful face.





The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!
Psalms 126:3




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ICE!

We've had our version of an ice storm over here lately!


When I was little girl I was very jealous of the fact that my friend had an indoor ice and water dispenser in their refrigerator.  We never had one and to me, well, that was the coolest thing ever.  I felt like if I could ever reach a point in life where I had an ice dispenser in the door of my refrigerator I would have truly  made it.

Seven years ago when we built our house we bought a new refrigerator.  And you guessed it- it had in door ice and water dispenser.  I was pretty pumped.  I didn't necessarily think we had made it quite yet- whatever that means.  I was excited though.

However, God has a funny sense of humor because that thing really drives me crazy!  It doesn't work all that great and takes way more time that just opening the fridge and grabbing some ice from the dispenser.  I've always said that was "punishment" for my covetous ways as a child.

Now however, I don't think God is punishing me for trying to keep up with Jones', I think He is cracking up.  Because I have new level of aggravation for the ice dispenser.

  

When we first got home and she discovered water came out of there she would just stare at it.  Then she would make gestures and sounds that we knew meant she wanted some water.  We would get her a cup and put just a tiny sip in it.  Most of which ended up on the floor.  But she didn't have the height or the strength to push the button.

A few months later……  She knows where the cups are and can get her own water.  A few full cups on the floor and I decided we needed to keep it on the ice button all the time.  She couldn't press it long enough to get anything out.  Problem solved.

Until a few weeks later.  Now she is tall enough and strong enough to get whatever she wants out of that dispenser.  So much ice and water everywhere.  Puddles all over the house.  Half melted ice in every room.  

And one seriously cute face!



I spent the first few days laughing about how funny life is.  I spent the next 2 days frustrated at the never ending puddles and now this is what I have decided……

Every morning a sleepy headed Jenny rolls out of her room still in her jammies.  She goes to the cup drawer, gets a cup, and then gets herself something to drink.  Every morning.  Why?  Well, she wakes up thirsty, but also because she is at home.  She knows where the cups are.  She has the knowledge that water is available whenever she is thirsty.  She knows that its ok.  Its her home.

SO instead of being frustrated I am being thankful.  Or at least reminding myself to be thankful.  She is at home.  She knows where the cups are.  She has grown enough to reach the dispenser.  She is now strong enough to get the ice out.  Over and over again.  She knows when she is thirsty she can get something to drink.

It's a good thing, just a little wet.  Everywhere!