Sunday, May 30, 2010

We're Adopted to Be the Siblings of Jesus!

"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
- Romans 8:29

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ugandan Children's Book!

My childhood friend Heather is a librarian. She found this book in a pile her school was ready to discard and brought it to me last weekend when she came to visit. What a treasure! I can just imagine someday using it to read and sing with our sweet one from Uganda.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Building the Blocks

One of my favorite blogs is Building the Blocks. Humor me today by letting me simply copy and paste some of the things Amy Block said in one particularly great post recently regarding the ~147 million orphans in the world.  Read the entire thing yourself here!

Some days I feel literally exhausted trying to prove, or rather convince people that adoption really is important. […] Yet other days the orphan crisis is so overwhelming I don't even know why I bother trying. […] Only the endless faces of those children continue to haunt me no matter where I go.

And other times I just have to laugh […] at the ridiculous amount of time people waste arguing over if everyone is called to adopt or not. […] Because, all that wasted time is time we spent doing nothing... which means more time an orphan was left vulnerable and alone.

I will never claim to have all the answers. I have no idea how God is personally talking to each and every person. All I can say is- you read the bible, you talk to God and see what He has to say to you. […]

But one thing I do know is that if Christians were living the kind of radical life that God has called them all to live- if Christians were stepping up to the plate saying YES LORD- instead of arguing over who should answer 'the call' -then there would be no more orphans, no more child sex trafficking, no more people starving and no more people dying without hope.

[…] I don't know what it's going to take to make 147 million people wake up […] care about the orphan as much as they care about themselves. I don't know what it's going to take- but God does. [...] I am reminded when I look into the eyes of my children that God will use their lives to bring Him glory.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ugandan Adoptions Are Working!

Dare I say the good news!?

Lifeline Adoption Agency posted that the first family since the February 3 holdup has successfully received an IR4 visa from the U.S. Embassy in Kampala... WAHOO!!! (Others have received an IR3 visa, but this is different and would not help our situation.)

I now feel free, whenever we finally recieve our referral, to fully let myself fall head-over-heels in love. I wondered how in the world I would guard my heart, knowing that we had not yet seen the visa process work from start to finish.  How does your heart handle loving a child who may not come to be yours, in the end? I am glad that I will not have to find out!

There still may be some significant delays while in country -- you should read Lifeline's full post for all of the details. But that's okay. I can handle whatever difficulties we may face, as long as we know that the hardships will result in FINALLY bringing our little one HOME TO US!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Faith Worth More Than Gold

I ate dinner on Monday with a precious friend who loves the Lord and listened compassionately to my growing list of life concerns – the biggest of which is our adoption.
The next morning, she sent me a beautiful, encouraging email. For those of you who are also waiting on God to move mountains in your life, revel in the verses she sent:

"Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You." - Jeremiah 32:17
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?" - Jeremiah 32:27
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." - Ephesians 3:20

She also reminded me that FAITH can either save us from our trials, or bring us through our trials.

If my faith weren’t faltering now, then the seemingly endless political walls that are keeping us from our child wouldn’t feel so strong, or so painful.

So I’ve been wondering, how do you strengthen your faith? Unfortunately, the Biblical answer seems to suggest that faith is often strengthened through struggles. Trails by fire. (James 1)

Oh.
Lord.
Give me grace to get through it. Don’t spare me from the trials, because clearly I need the faith. Faith that is worth more than gold. (I Peter 1:7)

I’m buckling up. I have a feeling this is going to be a bumpy ride… but I am looking forward to some “golden” faith!

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18
I am staring into a fiery furnace, wondering whether God intends to send me through it for the sake of growing my faith. The world says that if I just bow down to the fear, rather than to God, then I can avoid the trials. Adoption is hard. Faith is hard. The world says, “Just bow down to your fear, and it will all be over. You don’t need to enter the fire.” But I am not willing to trade “faith worth more than gold” for lifeless golden gods.

What golden gods will I refuse through the strength of “faith worth more than gold”? Through Christ, I will refuse to bow down to:

Fear
Insecurity
Selfishness
Laziness
Pride…

There are a million other “gods” that could steal my heart when I look at the problems surrounding our adoption, rather basking in the might of our Savior. What gods will you turn from today by placing your faith in the God who is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think”?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Pity Party Stops Here

If you haven't noticed from my recent posts, the past week or more has been one big fat pity party for me. Boo hoo that I don't know what's going on with Ugandan adoptions. Boo hoo that we don't have a referral.  Boo hoo that even once we get a referral, we don't know if we'll even get to pursue the child because since February 3, we haven't seen anyone successfully get a visa after a legal guardianship decree was issued.  Boo hoo that I'm in LOVE with some baby, somewhere, and have no idea how to get to them!!

Well, here is my attempt at putting on some big girl pants and wiping away the tears. Life is good. If I still lived with my Mama, she'd let me cry for an afternoon, and then pretend to pull an old smile out of her pocket, stretch it across my face, and tuck it behind my ears until I was laughing. It's time to find an old smile and put it on.

And I don't need to pull my own self up by my boot-straps. I have a Savior who promises to do the hard work for me, if I'll just lean on Him.

I don't need to CONVINCE myself that we are blessed, and that we have reason to rejoice. I just need to stop staring at my wishes, pains, and problems. Instead, I should feast my eyes on the shadow of a God so beautiful, I can't even stand to look directly at HIM.

Life is good. And even when it's not, God is good.
(Thanks to all of you who have left me sweet email and comment responses while I have been so utterly down over the past many days!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Perhaps a Victory?!

Ok, good news!!! At least we think.

(We "think" because we've heard this before without results, but I'm clinging to hope here!)

Many of you remember that Brad and I have been hoping since this winter to start spending significant amounts of time each week with a 12 year old boy whom I call "Jay" for blogging purposes. Well, we think we have good news...

Jay's social worker emailed to let us know that we have successfully been named a "visiting resource" for this precious young man, and that we should be able to start hanging out with him by next week!!!!


(** insert hallelujah chorus here, as it seems to be a miracle whenever anything actually moves for us these days **)

So here's a question for you... what should we do with him during our first visit? We can take him anywhere in Montgomery. I'd love your suggestions!!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

6%

I just read that if only 6% of Christians would adopt (once!), it would wipe out the ENTIRE WORLD'S "orphans" and replace them with children placed in loving homes.  Could you be part of the 6%?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

4 Years of Marriage!!


This picture was taken on our 3 year anniversary last year, on top of the Glenn Hotel in Atlanta. I thought it was a great trip, but Brad remembers it as my infamous night of worrying about Caroline.  Oops. Mama to the core.

Our 4 year anniversary is coming up on June 3.  I have to admit, my mind has been spent aching for a second child, and with taking care of the one we have... Brad and I really need some COUPLE time. And not the kind spent worrying about the kids who aren't with you. :-) 

Does anyone have any great ideas for a CHEAP (adoption budgeted!) night away near Montgomery, AL? We're thinking about the kind of night away that lends itself to sweetness and romance! All ideas are welcomed!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Envy

I am jealous of pregnant women.

There. I put it out there.

It’s not the mean kind of jealousy. Heck, I assume that we could easily get pregnant again now if it were what God had for us, but we haven't turned in that direction because my heart is breaking for some child who does not come from my own womb.

I love hearing about the progress of my pregnant friends. I love seeing their beautiful round bellies and hearing how they’re shopping and preparing for their little ones. And I LOVE seeing tiny newborns gazing up at their mamas.

What I am sinfully jealous of is… the due date. The precious estimation of when the baby will finally be in their arms. Pregnant women face a zero percent chance that, during the ninth month, some governmental body will make incomprehensible changes that cause the baby to stay in their bellies for four extra months. Or worse, outside of their bellies, outside of their care, outside of their eyesight while the mothers miss precious early moments of growing and learning.

And with pregnancy, there is no doubting your route. You're simply pregnant. You don't change pregnancy countries, or agencies, or ages, or wonder whether you really heard God right. You don't wonder whether you should switch direction. God has you where He has you, and you pray for the healthiest, happiest outcome there is.

I am also jealous of NESTING. Oh, how I want to nest. After all, we hope we’re only months away from our little one coming home. It would feel amazing to buy some clothes, or bottles, or bedding. But we can’t. Will it be a boy or a girl? Six months or fourteen months? Bottles or sippy cups? I can’t think of a single way to feed my need to GET READY.

So, I guess I’ll go make an appointment for travel immunizations. It’s one way I can prepare. Is it pitiful that my greatest comfort is getting several shots in the arm? Ha!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So Many Love Stories...

Ever since I started the adoption process, I have noticed that ALMOST NO ONE understands what we are going through... which is why I love the blog world. I love reading the happy side of adoption. It injects me with a touch of hope.  I need hope. I am so down about it all lately, and part of me has been screaming to just give up. (Don't worry, surely God will send us grace to press on!) 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Want Our Referral!

Well, it's been a month to the day since we sent our CIS approval to the Ugandan orphanage that I can only assume is the current home of our sweet baby. Imagine that... the walls of one little orphanage hold both our child as well as the approval letter that names of Brad and me as hopeful adoptive parents.  Things are beginning to come together. It is precious to think that even in that capacity, we as parents are "under one roof" in a way with our child.

We were told to expect a referral for our child within one to three months. One month has passed, so I suppose any day now, we could receive an email holding some precious information. What will I do when I get it!? Will my heart pound out of my chest? Will I be prepared? Probably not... with adoption, you always expect that the wait will drag on and on, so I'm sure that my heart will be expecting a delay more than beautiful, world-changing news!

Oh, to open an email that tells us our babies sex, age, health... above all else, to hold a PICTURE of this little one whom I love more than words could express!  I truly think it will stop my heart!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Groaning

"And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." - Romans 8:23

Can I get an amen from everyone out there who is waiting to adopt their own child? Aren't we "groaning inwardly"?!

Can I get another amen from everyone who is a Christian, yet still feel the effects of sin on their lives... sin, sickness, brokeness...

Oh how we groan for ALL of our adoptions, whether spiritual or physical!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tick Tock, Goes the Clock,

Will the waiting
Ever stop?


In March, I told you all about our new friend "Jay". He is a precious 12 year old who we met in December while helping decorate his group foster care facility for Christmas. Since January, we have been making phone calls and contacts, hoping to gain "rights of visitation" to have Jay spend afternoons and eventually occasional weekends and holidays with us.

In March, we were gaining ground and were even told that we should be set to visit with Jay starting in April.  But April came and went. We talk to Jay's social worker once or twice every week, but we still haven't reached the finish line -- getting to spend time with Jay.

One of the hardest aspects of orphan care, whether in "visitations," or  foster care, or adoption, is the WAIT.  Orphans live in a world protected, though precariously, by bureaucracy.  While some children are protected by a father's strong arms or a mother's deep love, orphans are guarded by their governments. And while the red tape feels endless and frustrating to those who wish to help, I have to admit that I can't think of a better system through which we can protect these forgotten angels.

The problem is not the system... although I do not deny that improvements could be made. The real problem is the fact that a system was necessary in the first place. My heart breaks that so few Christians adopt.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ramble Ramble, Praise the Lord!

Yesterday was incredible. For a lot of reasons.
This post, however, will not be. It will be random & strung together as I type in excitement. 
For that, I apologize.

Caroline woke up from her nap today and immediately confessed that she was hiding a present for me in the closet. Her Mothers' Day Out program had showered me with a year's worth of Caroline's beautiful artwork, other gifts, and the sweetest photo of my precious girl. It was truly THE BEST present I could've gotten. I love being the mom of a talking, walking, gift-giving baby who understands what a mother is on mother's day!! This will be such a sweet year. Now if I can only get my NEXT sweet baby home...

Then last night, Brad & I went to church for a special celebration for the year-end of our small groups. We worshiped and heard testimony after testimony about God's power, healing, and love through the venue of Christian community. I cried, sang, and worshiped a God who moves mountains. ("and if our God is for us, then who can stand against us, and if our God is with us, then what could stand against..." - love this song!) I sat with the interns I posted about recently who will be working as missionaries to the inner city of our area, and it felt great to worship with such special students. They would probably think I was weird if they knew how special it was to have them sitting next to me!

On the way home, Brad gave me a Shane & Shane cd. Brad & I have quite a "Shane & Shane history." We heard them three times: 1) the day we met. 2) the day we got married 3) the day we found out we were pregnant with Caroline. We joke that if we ever see them in concert again, we'll wonder what huge event is about to take place in our lives. Brad informed me that they are giving a concert in town in a couple of weeks... I kid you not that it makes me wonder whether we're ABOUT TO GET OUR REFERRAL!!!! I think that for the next two weeks, I will be driving to work with that CD cranked, screaming out their lyrics, and praying that news of our baby is coming!!!

And, as strangely as the random post began, it ends. Thanks for bearing with me. ;-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

1 Year Today

Look at our second ticker at the top of the page.

It has been exactly one year since we started our adoption process.  One year since the first meeting we had with our agency.

Wow.  I was so shocked to see that today. I didn't realize it had been so long. No wonder I am so tired! No wonder I am so anxious to get our sweet little one HOME!!!  We still have several long months to go...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spirit of Adoption

Here is an "adoption twist" on yesterday's post.  I had discussed the fear we let get in the way of Christian service, and sited I Timothy 1:7. ("For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love.")

Here is a similar verse with powerful implications if your heart is currently bent towards adoption. Romans 8:15 says that our spirit of fear should be replaced by the Spirit of sonship.  Wow.  Why should we be able to serve in the darkest places? Because God is our Father! If God is our Father, what is there to fear? What can't we do in His name?

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"  -Romans 8:15

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Are We Scared Of?

Brad and I got to eat dinner with several young adults who are interning in the most dangerous neighborhood of our city.  They are working for a ministry that is hoping to turn the neighborhood around "in a distinctively Christian way."

The ministry has had remarkable success, and has received much applaud and funding from our “safe” side of town.

But I found myself confessing a dirty secret to these interns who are giving their whole efforts to physically be near those who are in need:  We Christians on the “safe” side of town prefer to stay where we are. We’re happy sending our prayers and money.  But we have been taught to stay out of rough neighborhoods. And we continue to teach our children the same lesson.

Forget the gospel. Forget loving those in need. Forget the verse that says that Godgave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.

We will focus on the shootings, and the prostitution, and the violence; we will choose not to focus on the opportunity to meet needs in the name of Jesus. We are scared to step foot into the darkest places. I told the interns, “I am scared.”

One of them, who has always lived within blocks of the area, looked confused.  “Why? What are you scared of?” she asked.

I blubbered a lame answer about the danger of the area, admitting that it was faithless and not Christ-like.

Another girl spoke up. “What some Christians don’t understand is that God will keep you safe if He wants you safe, no matter where you are.  If He thinks you can learn something from getting robbed, then you may get robbed anywhere. Even on the safe side of town. He is the one who keeps us safe.”

I knew she was right.

That question still rings in my head.

What are we scared of?

Saturday, May 1, 2010