Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I said this last year, and I’ll say it again… this post is a great argument that Christians should EMBRACE, (rather than fear and shun,) Halloween. Read it in full yourself! Some of my favorite parts are below.

In case you were planning to turn your lights off:

Really, what would Jesus do? Can you see it? Jesus with his lights turned off on Halloween? That would be the Jesus history never knew. That would be the Jesus of western fundamentalism. The one who is not a friend of sinners and tax gatherers. The Jesus that was never accused of being a drunkard. The Jesus who looked from a distance at the wedding of Cana waiting for the sinners to wipe the dust off their feet before he talked to them. The Jesus who saw a child dressed up as a Ghost and said, “I can’t take this anymore. It is not worth it. Give me that stone so that I can turn it into bread.”
Christians are not Christians on Halloween. Not because they have compromised and participated, but precisely because they don’t participate. The one day of the year where children (“Permit them to come to me…” Mark 10:14) were attempting to come to us and we shut the door and turn off the lights.
Now go get the best candy you can find for the trick-or-treaters!



Friday, October 29, 2010

Seasons

Temperatures hit the 80’s nearly every day this week. I am very sensitive to the weather lately, because we are constantly telling Caroline that we’ll get Amelia when it’s cold outside.

It is definitely not cold outside.

This prolonged warmth almost feels like some mercy on our tortured emotions. Last winter and spring, we heard promises of getting Amelia in the summer. We watched the heat swell, the neighborhood pool fill, and our friends get tan from weekend trips to the beach… all of the signs of summer, but no getting our baby girl.

Fall has come without the single dropping of a colored leaf in our neighborhood. I am so thankful. It will be a sad day if we start bundling up but don’t have an idea of when we may get our Amelia. I hold a thread of hope to leave by Thanksgiving. My prayer is that we’re there before the end of the year.

Our comfort? That the God who changes the seasons of nature can also change this waiting season of our lives into a ripe harvest.

“He changes the seasons.” Daniel 2:21

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Honor

Caroline at the start of our adoption process.
When we started our adoption process, I used to cringe at the thought of being gone for so long when we travel to get Amelia. At least five weeks without Caroline. At least three weeks without my husband, trying to fare with a new baby in a very foreign place. While part of me romanticized Africa, another part knew how difficult my time would be.

I still realize it will be difficult. I am sure it could be one of the more lonely periods of my life. I have heard that many fellow adoptive parents become depressed by the end of trips that go on for weeks or more, especially when they are separated from children and spouses in a place that so lacks familiarity with home.

I have thought about this trip for a year and a half… longer than I ever dreamed we would have to wait. And here is what has changed in me… This trip is no longer a sacrifice. It is my honor.

It is my honor to visit Uganda. It is a country I have grown to love. I pray that this is the first of many times when our family visits there.

It is my honor to leave Caroline, and it is Caroline’s honor to be left. She will gain far more than any discomfort that may fall on her when she is away from parents during these weeks. She will gain a sister. She will gain a lifetime of growing up in a family that is beginning to understand the limits God goes to in pursuing the adoption of His own children. God gave the life of His own “biological” son, Jesus, in order to adopt the other children He loved so much. Surely we can give up a few weeks with our firstborn daughter to gain the gift of a second daughter.


It is an honor to spend time away from the husband I rely so heavily on, and it is his honor to be away from me. I pray we learn a reliance on God alone.

It is an honor to go to a foreign place where many of my habits and customs may be stripped away for a period. It is an honor to travel to a distant land, and feel God’s presence and be in awe that He is so big and so close, wherever we go. It is my honor to challenge myself and find out how much of me is defined by my country and culture instead of my Savior, and then beg to be changed.

And as I have always known, it will be my honor… my overwhelming joy… (my hands shake and my eyes fill with tears even as I write this,) to finally hold our sweet Amelia. God has softly whispered to my heart about her since the earliest months of our marriage. Oh, to finally have her. It will be my joy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Blog Template

I got tired of hearing my husband joke on my old-school blog template, so now I have a new one! And a new signature! So fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update on Jay


Yes, I know, I never talk about our friend "Jay" anymore. (For those of you who don't remember, he is the sweet 12 year old boy in the foster care system who we hang out with 1 to 2 times a week.)  We still hang out with him at least weekly, but we are as confused as ever about what our future holds for him.  To be quite honest, our emotions are pretty tapped out simply longing for Amelia. We will see where God guides our relationship with Jay, but our friendship feels pretty healthy and stable exactly where it is.  Perhaps God knows that we can only handle so much growth at a time. Or maybe friendship is all that we are ever meant to have with him.  Only God knows.

(By the way, how cute is my husband Brad in that picture!)

Another individual has been keeping Jay for weekend visits lately. Jay may be one of the few children in the foster care system who has multiple families wanting to hang out with him so much! I hope it means that God is preparing Jay for something amazing in his life.  He is a resiliant and beautiful boy, and we are so hopeful for him.




Monday, October 25, 2010

Waka Waka - THIS IS AFRICA

Perhaps this is the most irreverent post I have ever written... but Shakira has an awesome song in which she repeatedly exclaims "This is Africa." It definately got my hips moving, and got me pumped about our upcoming trip! Hope it makes your Monday!







Sunday, October 24, 2010

Caleb & Catherine (Part 2)

To understand this story even remotely, first read yesterday's post!

Me:  Caroline, Mommy and Daddy will be going to get Amelia from Africa soon!!

Caroline:  Will you get Caleb, too?

Me: No, we didn't know Amelia would be a girl. We were going to name her Caleb if she was a boy. We don't have a Caleb in Africa.

Caroline: We DO have a Caleb in Africa. We have to get him!

Me: Well maybe some day, we will go get our Caleb from Africa. But not yet.

Caroline: Maybe we can get Caleb first.

Me: No, baby, Amelia is already there. We want to get Amelia.

Caroline: What will Caleb do when we don't get him?

Me: Oh, baby.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Caleb & Catherine (Part 1)

Me: Caroline, do you know how many people are in our family?

Caroline: How many?

Me: Let's count. Mommy... Daddy... Caroline... and Amelia. Four!

Caroline: What about my other sister Catherine?


Okay... here's the thing. When we were waiting for our referral, we were told we would probably be matched with a boy. So we didn't exactly have our girl names down to a science. The names "Amelia" and "Catherine" flew around loosely. The name "Caleb" was always on our tongues, because that's who we thought our next child would be!

It turns out that Caroline thinks Catherine and Caleb are as real as Amelia is. Perhaps they are a million miles away.

I do hope to have enough children that we one day use the names Catherine and Caleb, but only God knows.


Caroline: What about my other sister Catherine?

Me: God hasn't made Catherine yet.

Caroline: God and Jesus?

Me: Yes, God and Jesus.

Caroline: They haven't MADE her?

Me: That's right.

Caroline: Maybe they're getting her ready.

Me: Right! They're getting her ready.

Caroline: She has to get dressed.

Me: Oh. Um. Okay.

Stayed tuned tomorrow for a story about Caleb!  As if he exists, haha!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Children from the East

I have no idea whether God ever meant for me to see this verse in the light that I view it during our adoption process... I am perhaps taking it totally away from its meaning and totally out of context. Still, it comforts me, and I can't help but love it as we fight anxiety and wait for Amelia. 

Do not be afriad, for I am with you;

I will bring your children from the east

and gather you from the west.

I will say to the north, "Give them up!"

and to the south, "Do not hold them back."

Bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the ends of the earth --

everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory

whom I formed and made.
Isaiah 43:5-7


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Start of Something Sweet

I should ask for prayer on my blog more often… it really seems as if God always works right after I ask for prayer on here. Do some sweet people really stop and pray for me? I am overwhelmed by the realization that yes, the body of Christ prays for each other, and God hears.

I asked for your prayers on Monday night. Then, we went to eat dinner with five families from our church who have adopted or are in process. We told our personal stories and marveled at God’s goodness. We brainstormed about how we can become a resource and encouragement to others considering orphan care in our church. We expressed our desire for God’s sweet doctrine of adoption – the gospel – to be preached in our congregation. And, I hope, we have become part of a movement. Perhaps a small part, but nonetheless, it felt like the Holy Spirit at work. I am in awe.

Thank you for your prayers, and thank God for His intimate involvement in our lives!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pretty as a Picture

Let me quit my whining from yesterday long enough to tell you about the BEAUTIFUL gesture of love towards our family that God orchestrated through a complete stranger...

We received (yet another) email from a random stranger who spent time at Amelia's orphanage and wanted to bless us with information about her.



(Let's stop for a minute to think about how nuts it is that this has happened even once.  A miracle.  Only it hasn't happened ONCE.  It has happened FOUR TIMES.  This does not even take into account the sweet blogging and adoption friends who have sent us updates on Amelia after getting to Uganda.)

... only this time, our gift was not simply information... it was pure art.

I mean that literally.


This sweet girl, whom we have never laid eyes on and who does not know us, is an artist... and she created a portrait of our Amelia.  She is going to send us the original! I cannot wait to have it matted and framed.




It is so beautiful.  Our sweet artist stranger saw Amelia in peaceful sleep and artfully duplicated her in a piece she has named "There is Peace." She said, "I really wanted to capture the fact that there is hope, peace for the orphan."  Amen.  There is peace for the orphan.  And for the orphans' hopeful parents who are aching for their baby girl!  In God, there is peace.





Monday, October 18, 2010

You May Want to Smack Me, But...

It feels like Satan is nagging me from every angle -- with fatigue, with stress, with a general lack of answers in our adoption process, and with a lot of specific relationships that are not going so well.  Cry me a river, right? I mean, our family is healthy, we got THREE amazing emails about Amelia today, our jobs are sound, we are facing no tragedies...  there are several billion people in the world who would have every right to tell me to quit my whining.

Maybe waiting tempts us to whine in the place where we should be thankful.  Isn't that much of the story of the Israelites during their entire journey to the Promised Land?  The Israelites grew weary of the food that God miraculously provided from Heaven on a daily basis.  I read that story and think that the Israelites were ungrateful idiots.  Now I see that I am an ungrateful idiot, as well!

So if you have a second, pray for my eyes to be opened in gratitude.

And if you have one more second, pray for the meeting that is at our church tonight... the first official "adoption meeting" where families will put their heads together to see how we can get our church to support both the doctrine and the physical act of adoption.  I pray that God use me, an ungrateful idiot, to help facilitate a mighty movement among His people!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Holding It Together

I do not know what is wrong with us.

I keep hearing stories of things falling apart. Husbands walking away from wives. Parents walking away from children. Families walking away from the church.

You science buffs may have to help me on this… There is some scientific theory or law that explains how everything tends towards chaos, unless there is an outside force driving it towards order. Without gravity, our furniture floats around the house bumping into each other. Without God, our hearts float away with no regard for the pain left behind.


We need our sweet Savior. We need Him more than we even have eyes to see. Yes, I cling to Him. But more than that, He clings to me, and holds me in the palm of His hand. His grip is stronger than mine, and I take comfort in that.

“… in Him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:17



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Be Still

I heard a verse the other day that stopped me in my tracks. 

How many "fights" do we think we are fighting in our lives... fighting to control our adoptions, or our marriages, or our work situations, or our children.  Yes, we have a responsibility to ACT in the way that God would have us act.  But perhaps the following verse is THE MOST POWERFUL thing we could obey:

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
-Exodus 14:14

Thank God that He fights for us.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Enjoying Family

We still have little news on when we may travel to Uganda.  There have been a few minor delays in our agency's ability to progress families, so mid November is looking less likely, and we're praying for late November.  In the meantime, we have to stay thankful.  We have to enjoy our time with the little girl who IS already in our daily lives. 

But don't be mistaken.  Not a single sweet family moment goes by when we aren't thinking of our Amelia.


"Mommy, when Amelia gets a little bigger, I show her how to throw these rocks in the water!"


"Mommy, when Amelia can walk, I'll help her walk in this park."




"We'll have to help Amelia on these BIG, BIG rocks!"


"I won't let my sister fall."


While we wait for our Amelia, life goes on... but not a moment goes by that she isn't in the center of our thoughts!



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's in a Name

Amelia (ah MEE lee ah); (ah MEEL yah) Hebrew  Work of the Lord
(Rachel's grandmother & aunt)

Mercy (MUR see) English  Compassion

Lou (LOO)  Germanic  Fame and War
(Brad's mom)

Amelia Mercy Lou Goode.  It's a mouthful, but it says a lot.  She's a work of the Lord's compassion. She will be won into our family by a spiritual war that will show off God's beauty and fame!



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PJ Prayers

Yesterday was a rough day, top to bottom. But I cannot lose sight of how blessed I am. Especially when my husband calls my office as he and Caroline wake up to tell me that they prayed for me... and that Caroline thought a picture of her muscles would make me feel better:


Those muscles do the trick, don't they? I bet you even feel a little better! :)


Monday, October 4, 2010

gods

Someone in Uganda recently posted that "Uganda will expose to you a hundred gods you didn't even know you had."

Oh, I long for that.

I want Amelia more than anyone could ever fathom. But I know that more than even my precious baby girl, I need God.  I know that in my head, but not in my heart.

I have thousands of "gods" in my life.

In several places, the Bible speaks about people whose “god is their stomach.” And yes, I “listen” to the loud cries of whatever my Stomach desires, but usually my god of Vanity eventually wins in a quest to be attractive. My god of Pride and Self Righteousness sometimes allow me to hold an unnecessary grudge, and my god of Apathy and Laziness rob me of the endless joy that comes from reaching out to others or the joy of hard work through the power of Christ.

I am afraid that my god of Comfort is maybe robbing me of more than I am even aware.

And that is why I am looking forward to Uganda.


Uganda. Where the food is different. Where I will hand wash cloth diapers and hold Amelia in the dark during power outages. Where we will sleep under mosquito nets and carry toilet paper with us to use the bathroom over holes in the ground, (although our own guest house will have toilets!) Uganda, where we may see needs and poverty like we have never seen. And where, I pray, we will gain a deeper understanding of what distracts us from a deeper walk with the Savior who is worth any discomfort we could ever face.

He is so worthy. There is no god like the only true God. I am aching to drop all but Him.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mommy... It's Getting Colder!!!

Caroline knows that Amelia is coming.  She wants to know WHEN.  Unfortunately, we were only able to give her a vague answer... that when it gets cool enough for her to wear a jacket and closed-toed shoes, then it's getting closer to time to get Amelia.

So imagine her joy on this morning last week:

A jacket and closed-toed shoes.

It's Alabama. Tempatures are still reaching the 80's most days.  But on a breezy night, you're liable to see Caroline's eyes get huge in excitement as her sing-songy voice exclaims, "Moooommmyyyy... it's getting cooolllldddd outsiiiiide.  It's almost time to get Amewahhhhhh!"




Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Friend's Fundraiser


Check out Caroline and her little buddy Oliva wearing their precious "big sis" t-shirts!  You can find more precious gear like this, (& it's not all adoption related,) at http://www.dolkapots.com/ .  Every purchase helps fund an adoption!  This quarter, our friends the Godwins are benefiting, and they have added a great t-shirt to the dolkapots website.  I can't wait to order mine!


The t-shirt has Matthew 18:5, "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." How cool is the stork flying over Ethiopia!?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mourning

Yesterday, when I was arm deep in a white powder mix of Borax, washing soda, and grated soap, I thought – this is a tiny step towards discomfort, and I like it.


I was making my second ever huge batch of laundry detergent. There is a lady named Frances who first turned me on to this idea. When I started following her blog, it was full of pretty pictures and a comfortable, typical, American Christian life. Then, she began to seek out some discomfort – for the sake of serving others in Christ.

It started out small. It started, in fact, with homemade laundry detergent. She passed on the recipe, encouraging others to also step out of their comfort zones to save money for the sake of giving it away. Small steps towards favoring Jesus over the comforts of our world. Lately, however, Frances steps towards discomfort for Christ have gotten big. Messy, and broken, and beautifully big.

You see, Frances has recently become a foster mom. Her life has gotten messy. And every single time I read her blog, I cry. She is broken. Her life is broken. The children she ministers to in her home are broken. Yet she is THRIVING in Christ.

One Bible verse has been haunting me lately: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

I do not mourn. Sure, I might mourn because someone offended me, or because I had a stressful week, or even because I want to hold Amelia so badly that it hurts. I mourn for selfish ME. For others, I rarely mourn.

But Jesus mourned.

Pastors who cry for the lost souls in their churches mourn.

Foster parents who love precious children for the little time they have with them mourn.

Here’s the thing… when your heart is broken for those things that break the heart of God, you can be sure that someday, you will be comforted. He will be victorious. We are meant to mourn for all that is wrong in this world. We mourn, because God has placed the truth in our hearts that THIS IS NOT THE WAY THINGS ARE MEANT TO BE.

Oh, how I want to mourn. I want my heart to be so in line with Christ that I can only shake my head at the heartache of this Earth – and then rest in the assurance that someday, He will make all things new.

What this has to do with homemade laundry detergent, I’m not really sure. Perhaps I just hope that an effort to break the menial selfish habits in my life will lead to bigger things. I pray that our family is on the brink of something bigger.