Monday, January 31, 2011

Blessed with Cherries on Top

God has already blessed us with Uganda travel dates, but yesterday, He put three cherries on top!


  1. Brad's mom flew in from North Carolina to stay with Caroline.  What a sigh of relief to know that Caroline will enjoy family and time on her own turf during our absence.  She and her "LuLu" immediately went to solving puzzles and giggling.
  2. Our church gave us a prayer send off yesterday.  Many didn't even know we're adopting, so it was a sweet and meaningful surprise.
  3. Caroline, Brad, me, and our pastor Lester
    at the prayer send off Sunday morning.
  4. Caroline is currently at total peace about our departure. She knows it's coming, and she is happy it will bring her sister home.  WE may not be at peace with leaving her, but for as long as her peace lasts, we are thankful for it.
3 1/2 more days until take off!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mother is Absent




Last night, I curled up in the dark with Caroline as she fell asleep to a CD of African Lullabyes.  I cannot believe I am about to leave her for 5 weeks. I cannot believe that she will turn 3 while we are gone.

So I held her tiny frame in the dark, breathing in her strawberry shampoo, listening to her sleepy sighs, trying to cement the moment in my memory. I will need it to carry me through Uganda.

As we lay quietly, one of the African lullabyes whispered:
Be still, be still, be still my child. Do not cry. Mother is absent; Mother shall come back
I could not decide whether these lyrics were more fitting for my emotions towards Caroline or towards Amelia. I am leaving one child to get the other.  But it will be okay. This mother's heart has been torn across two continents for a long time now. A few more weeks will be okay.  Within a couple of months, our family will be whole!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Flight Plans!!!

We're flying out
of Atlanta Thursday night!
That's right.
Five days from now.

(scream!!!!!)

Six days from now, 
we'll be landing in Kampala and hopefully getting to our guest house before midnight.

Seven days from now,
WE HOLD AMELIA!!!!!!!!!!!

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Ask me if we're ready.  We have a huge list of loose ends to tie up, but who cares. We will finally hold our daughter!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

YEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!

I haven't even had time to fully look at flights yet to know when we will fly out, but we are
LEAVING 
NEXT 
WEEK 
TO 
GET 
AMELIA!!!!!


Probably leaving on Friday!
I JUST found out.
About to explode!!!!!!!
Praise God Praise Him thank you Jesus!

Silence

Another day with no word from our contacts in Africa.

I thought we'd be getting on a plane next week. It seems unlikely now. Wouldn't they have contacted us already if we should be booking plane tickets?

Oh how my heart aches.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
Micah 7:7

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Monster Me

This stinks. We didn't get our travel dates confirmed today. Maybe we will tomorrow, but tonight,

I'm mad
I'm depressed
and I'm tempted to chug a two liter of diet coke while I gorge on a 10 pound bag of these:

Don't worry. I'll refrain from being quite so disgusting tonight in hopes that we hear good news in the morning.

The thing about our adoption process is that every "little delay" we've had so far was NOT so much a little delay. They turn into monster delays, and I often turn into a monster. And then God calms my little monster self down and teaches me some mind-blowing lessons of His indescribable love and sovereignty.

And then I feel prepared to wait forever. To rest in His Plans, no matter what they are, forever.

Until I'm disappointed again.

Until I am not sure when I'll get to hold my daughter.

Until I take my eyes off of the beauty of GOD, and let them fall on the unsteadiness of our situation.

I put my hope in circumstances, and then my hopes are dashed.  (Hope is never lost when you're hoping in God alone, but that isn't what I was doing.)

And here comes monster me.
Oh, stop groaning at my weird pictures. I'm in a funk.
Let me have my mood!

It's emotionally exhausting to wait nearly two years, think we are FINALLY about to book a plane to Uganda & Amelia today, rejoice, and then end the day unsure about what is even going on.  Is this a one day delay? Another huge delay? I don't know.  All we have is silence.

Over the past two years, even the monster in me has often been comforted through tough days with Psalm 139:16:


all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

That is amazing. Do you mean to tell me that LOOONG ago, God wrote the following in His book!?
  • how long our adoption would take
  • how many days Amelia would grow up in Africa
  • how many days we will be separated from Caroline
  • how many nights we'd lay in bed with heavy hearts
I think yes.  

It comforts me to know that the God who IS LOVE has orchestrated these events. I don't understand why we didn't get news today. I don't know if we'll get news tomorrow. But I know that it's part of a beautiful Master Plan. I know that even my disappointments are designed by Love.

Who knows. Perhaps He even designed how many days I would spend as that weird orange monster.


So whatever disappointments or struggles you are facing today, remember that God wrote each day of your life in His book before one of them came to be.  There is a loving design to the length of time you are single, or sick, or struggling, or waiting, or lonely...  Your struggle is allowed by the patient Hand of God, who wants you to turn to Him in your distress. He wants us to learn to rest on Him alone.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.    2 Peter 3:9
God, transform us. I am about to lose my mind if we don't get to our baby girl soon! Only You can sustain me and teach me peace in You alone.


Yuck

A picture of me waiting for a call or email
from our social worker this morning.
No

news

today

BLAH.

And considering that it's 9:30pm in Uganda, it doesn't look like we'll get news today.

Praying that tomorrow we receive sweet confirmations of IMMINENT travel!

It's Thursday

I am a bundle of nerves!!!
We should hear soon!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

*Almost* Official!!!

Guess who could be getting on a plane to Uganda in the next 10 to 16 days???

That's right.
You guessed it.

Me! And my sweet husband!

I am praising God today! We won't be positive about this news until Thursday, but it sounds nearly certain!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Email List

We will keep this blog going while we are in Uganda.  However, until we have legal guardianship of Amelia, many pictures and details from our trip will remain private.  Before we get our BIG CALL to book a plane ticket, I'm creating an email group for those who would like private pictures and updates during our trip. If you would like to be in on our email updates while we are in country, please send me your email address.

rachelgoode1@gmail.com

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Amelia's Room

We've picked up the pace on creating Amelia's room!
For months now, we've avoided all of our painting and sewing projects with the expectation that we were leaving "any day," and that we didn't want to leave for Uganda mid-project and bring her home to a disaster zone.  But I am starting learn the lesson that we just need to live each day for the HERE and now in the U.S.  If we don't, we will miss out on many opportunities.

And besides that, this is one of the only tangible things I can do for Amelia as her mom right now!

Here is our inspiration picture for her nursery: We're hoping to paint next week.
(Only we will be mixing some browns into the mix.)

Here is the light fixture Brad hung last night. We got it at Ikea, so he placed every tiny part on there and it took about an hour. Go, Dad!
Here is the dresser/"could-be-changing-table" that we got from Ikea with only a fraction of the gift money that the extremely generous hostesses of my baby shower so sweetly gave:

And just for fun, here is the precious giraffe piggy bank the same friends slipped their sweet funds into. I love all things giraffe for Amelia. :)

Of course, working in Amelia's room makes me cry because it usually involves setting aside clothes that she's already grown out of before I even got to her.  But it also makes me happy, because I can just picture her living and laughing in the final product!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Week, No News


Canonball Tree Flower of Uganda


It is currently 9pm on a Friday in Uganda, which makes it pretty safe to say that this week's window to hear travel news has closed. I am at peace. I have no idea exactly why, but I am so thankful to God for it.

I love Amelia so much. I want her in my arms so badly. But God is holding her in His arms. 

A lady from last night's infertility group meeting said the most encouraging thought to me yesterday... She said that yes, Brad and I are learning much from this wait.  Yes, our learning is surely part of God's plan for this trial.  But she said that little 9 month old Amelia may also have some more work to do for God in Uganda. Perhaps her warm smiles and long eyelashes are captivating the short-term missionaries who pass through her babies' home, convincing them that orphan care is a beautiful option.  Or perhaps Amelia is smothering her Ugandan "aunties" with some much needed affection and joy. 

How beautiful to think that our infant daughter is already doing the work of God.

Ok, my tears are coming. I better stop. (Happy tears.)

And if you're wondering how the infertility group meeting went, now you know. I came to be a blessing, but instead, I was richly ministered to and blessed. God always seems to turn things on their heads like that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Infertility & Adoption

I am so honored to be sharing God's heart for adoption with an infertility support group tonight. I realize that the combining of adoption and infertility could hit nerves that I've never had to deal with personally, so I'd appreciate your prayers.  Perhaps some adoptions will come of this, or better yet, perhaps some SPIRITUAL adoptions will grow from this as we talk about how our Heavenly Father sought after us and paid our costly adoption fees on the cross so that we can now be children in the family of God.

I am not a talented speaker, which actually encourages me... where I am weak, there God shows His strength. To God be the glory tonight! Please pray!

Ragamuffin Soul

A prayer that is along the same line as the post I wrote yesterday, only stated in a much more profound way!


May all your expectations be frustrated
May all your plans be thwarted 
May all your desires be withered into nothingness
that you may experience the powerlessness
and poverty of a child
and sing and dance
in the love of God
who IS
the Father
Son
and Spirit
      -   Ragamuffin Soul blog

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

God's Jealousy & Adoption Delays

We serve a jealous God. I forget that too often. And I am beginning to think that His jealousy has something to do with this adoption wait.

It sounds strange to call God jealous. Yet Scripture calls Him this again and again. In humans, jealousy is often tied to anxiety, weakness, insecurity, and selfishness. But God's jealousy is not like ours. His jealousy is made of righteous love. A love that is fierce. A love that will fight for what is best for us.

Being silly, pretending to pray.
I don’t love Caroline perfectly. Don’t get me wrong; I love her endlessly. Deeply. With every fiber of my being. But “my being” is only an imperfect reflection of the Only Being Who Can Love Perfectly. So sometimes I find myself putting Caroline’s WANTS above her NEEDS. And then I have a child who has eaten a little too much junk food, or not slept quite enough. I have felt convicted about this lately.

While I will have to work on loving my children more perfectly, God is already loving me perfectly. Like Caroline, I often want things that I don’t need. What I need is God. What I need is the Only True Source of Joy. What I need is an intimate relationship with the Author of Life.

I get so caught up in wanting my way and in my time that I forget that GOD is the ultimate goal. GOD is my prize. Sometimes, when I am so bogged down wanting everything BUT God and His perfect timing, presence, and plan, God steps in to say “No.” In His divine wisdom, He sees that I am making idols of my once-good-desires. And with beautiful love and jealousy, He withholds from me some of those once-good-desires that have begun to consume me and blind me to the Him, the One Best Desire.

I don’t enjoy this. When you desire something with every drop of your energy, it hurts to be told, “wait longer,” or worse yet, “NO.” Sometimes, it feels more like a cruel twist of fate than like the Hand of a God who loves with more passion and wisdom than we can fathom.

As I look back at our adoption, I see a long line of “wait longer’s” and “no’s.” But I also see my heart inching nearer and nearer to the Heart of Our Creator. And there is nothing – NOTHING – that I needed (and still need) more than that.

I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about they way
He loves us
  - John Mark McMillan, He Loves Us

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Ethiopian Adoption

Our sweet friends got their referral!!!
They are the first local family who we've walked through the adoption process with, and we could not be more happy for them.  Ethiopia, here they come!!!

"Rejoice with those who rejoice." Romans 12:15

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unmeasurable Love

26 months since deciding to adopt

20 ½ months since starting the Ugandan adoption process
16 months since I started an adoption blog

11 ½ months since Ugandan adoptions came to a terrifying halt

9 ½ months since Amelia was born and brought to her current babies’ home

9 months since Amelia’s baby home received our request to adopt from them

7 ½ months since Ugandan adoptions appeared to again be a reliable possibility

7 ½ months since the month we had originally been told we would travel to get our child from Uganda

6 months since we first saw and fell in love with Amelia’s beautiful face

4 ½ months since the first families we personally knew from our agency traveled to Uganda for their babies
4 months since we had to update our passports because of our delayed travel
3 months since an adoption ministry began at our church

10 weeks since friends stood over our family to pray Amelia home

10 weeks since we finished our immunizations
9 weeks since the Orphan Sunday we never dreamed we’d live through while our beloved daughter still lives as an orphan

9 weeks since Amelia’s baby shower

9 weeks since our official documents arrived in Uganda
5 weeks since we learned that we would not travel before Uganda’s winter court closings
21 days since the Christmas we never dreamed we’d spend without Amelia
8 days since we last received a picture of Amelia

8 days since we heard we could get a travel date VERY soon

Don’t you think it is time for us to get our girl? Please cry out to God for us. We are beyond ready. We are so thankful for anyone willing to pray.

Yet even if this timeline stretches further, pray that we will glorify God. Pray that He will strengthen us and enable us to shine His light, instead of pout with bitterness. (This is a major temptation for me especially.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Awaiting a Call

At 9:30 this morning, it will have been one week. One week since we heard some astounding news about concrete progress with Amelia's adoption.


Last Friday, we were told that within “a couple of weeks,” we might receive information that would cause us to FINALLY book flights to Uganda and to Amelia!  We have nearly completed one of those "couple of weeks".  I am living with my eyes on the phone.

Please pray that we receive that call soon!
More than that, pray that we feel peace within WHATEVER God's timing may be, and that Amelia's story might have eternal impact as others see a picture of their own adoption into the Father's family.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Beauty I Don't Convey

How do I explain the miracle of adoption to those who do not understand it? How do I convey that people are absolutely incorrect when they assume that family ties and unfailing love are built upon genetics?

Lately, I fear that I turn people away from adoption more than draw them to it. I complain about the length of our process, how badly I ache to get our daughter, how confounded I am by delay after delay. But there are critical facts hidden behind my complaints that I fear people do not see.

The first fact is that Amelia is my daughter. She is my joy. I love her endlessly. There is NOTHING I am not willing to do for her. Sure, I complain about this process. Not because she is a hassle, but because MY baby girl is growing up on another continent, and I would die to get to her, to give her a future, to show her my love… yet there is little I can do other than pray and wait. It hurts BECAUSE she is already a part of my every heart beat, even without having held her or seen her in person. Adoption is not charity. It is not some task that I begrudgingly take on. I am passionate about bringing our daughter home.

Another fact that people may miss when I complain about the hardship of adoption is this: The adoption process is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. When we decided to adopt, we figured we’d be doing a nice thing for one child. That’s it. It was a tiny step of faith. I NEVER expected to be so flooded by blessing through the process, even before getting to our child home. Scripture has come alive like never before – so much so that this deserves an entire post in itself. Parenting now seems much less about control, and much more about prayer, now that I am the parent of a child who is not mine legally nor with me physically. Also, the world now seems smaller and more relevant to me. Photographs of hungry children are reminders of what Amelia could have been without her angel caretakers. People of a different race might as well be extended family. Trials in faraway countries suddenly feel worthy of my attention and prayer.

Should I go on? I could! I have learned that WAITING is one of the greatest themes in Scripture. I have learned that this wait for Amelia is really mostly about learning to wait on God… to long for HIM above all else. To understand that HE is the blessing we should most desire.

My broader world perspective has shown me how extravagantly wealthy we as Americans are, and has caused me to pray for God to release me from the chains of my graspy-ness. (For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll say I am still rather materialistic. But at least I know what to pray for and fight against.)

I have learned that trials are what shape us. “Fire” is what God uses to burn up our MANY imperfections and shape us into a gold that is more pure and more like Him. This doesn’t mean that I always welcome the fire. If you have read my blog for more than a week, you have seen me pitch some first-class fits against it. But I am learning. I am growing. And if I truly want to be more like my Savior, then I better welcome MUCH more of that refining fire through trials. (Is there some wood I can knock on around here? I may have just typed those words, but can’t I get Amelia home without any more trials for a little while? Ha!)

My point is this: Adoption is one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced. I truly believed that it is anointed by God. Is it hard? Um… YES! But most beautiful and worthy things are difficult. And I have never heard of an “easy” way to bring a child into a family.

Do you want to be blessed? Adopt. Are you not sure whether God is calling you to it? Take a step in the adoption direction. Scripture tells us repeatedly that God has a special heart for the fatherless. He will guide you and grow you and bless you as you walk towards Him.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mmm... Tastes Like Chicken

Over the weekend, we received some sweet pictures of Amelia’s first Christmas. The E’s were kind enough to remember us after returning home from Uganda with their precious new son.

Apparently, the babies’ home bought themselves a rare treat for Christmas dinner – chicken! LIVE chickens who ran around in the yard for several days before they were slaughtered for the Christmas feast! Don’t think that the aunties let Amelia miss out on this rare treat, simply because she was only 8 months old… Oh no, we have a picture of our sweet girl sucking on a meatless chicken bone, wearing a Christmas jingle bell on her neck. We doubled over laughing.

Perhaps TODAY we will hear a court date and book plane tickets!? We are praying!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Preparations

A picture of my closet this weekend. (Ha ha)
Caroline and I spent our entire Saturday packing for Uganda. It sounds crazy to say that my two year old helped me pack, but she did. We made Target trips together, sat together on top of vacuum-seal bags to get the air out, and shoved oatmeal packets and Rice Krispy treats into every gap we could find in my stuffed suitcases. I probably spent close to 20 hours this weekend packing, and Caroline was helping during most of it.
She is a tough little girl. Twice, her eyes clouded over and she told me, “I want to go to Africa with you.” But then she would go back to sweetly chirping about how Daddy would be gone for a while and then come home, and that Mommy would still be gone for a long time, and then Mommy and Amelia would both come home and she would be so happy. I am so glad that she understands the upcoming sequence of events. I would hate for her to wonder whether we’re returning at all. Five weeks without your mom is a long time for an almost three year old.

We are PRAYING to any day now hear when our Ugandan court date will be. Could we really be on the brink of booking plane tickets?! I don’t know. This good news feels surreal because we have seen so many delays during our adoption process. But I am ready.

So is Caroline.

She plays “Amelia” all of the time. She turns dolls and stuffed animals into Amelia, putting them in Amelia’s bibs and Bumbo seat, giving them Amelia’s bottles, and kissing them. When a doll isn’t around, Caroline creates an imaginary friend version of Amelia. Sometimes, she pretends that she IS Amelia.

Please pray that our good news is real. We are beyond ready to hold our daughter. Please pray that we travel soon – in January even. It is time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ice Storms

Last night, our city declared an "state of emergency" because an ice storm was expected to come during the night, causing road closings and power outages. I haven't turned on the news yet today, so I have no idea if much happened while we slept... but I did look out my window, and it looks like a beautiful day to me.  It appears like we have a day off for nothing. Ahh... a day at home with my husband and baby girl.  And we even still have power. Awesome.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So Now I Like 2011!

It has been months since I've been this happy.  It's funny how accustomed I'd become to a heavy black cloud hanging over me.  It's not easy to watch your baby girl grow up in pictures continents away without any idea of when you can finally get to her. It affects everything. Everything. Even when you think that you are compartmentalizing your pain well and functioning just fine, there is still a weighty sadness that hangs in your soul.

So all of the sudden, I am laughing more easily, talking more fluidly, smiling more readily... there is an end in sight. We really think we will hold Amelia relatively soon!

Yesterday afternoon, Caroline and I spent a small fortune in Target, and it was an absolute thrill. We need so many things for our trip... weeks worth of formula, power converters, foods and medicines and toiletries and on and on.  It was the MOST FUN I have had shopping in a LONG time! I felt like I was walking on air, and my search for contact solution somehow felt a little like a millionaire shopping spree!

We ended our trip by picking up a few matching outfits for Amelia and Caroline. It was the first time I've known what size they'll both be when they're together.  I giggled all of the way through the check-out line.

So, 2011, I was a little hard on you at first. But I forgive you.  You have redeemed yourself.  I think that you and me are going to get along just fine!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Amazing Progress!

What a roller coaster!
Today we recieved news of actual adoption PROGRESS, so we not only feel great about our chances of being gone during February... we also have reason to hope to leave BEFORE February!  This is the most concrete progress we have made in all of our adoption!!!

My agenda for this weekend is as follows:
  1. Thank God for His insane faithfulness, even when I am black hearted & impatient!
  2. Pack for Uganda!
  3. Fill the prescriptions for our trip so we can begin taking some of them as soon as we hear a travel date!
  4. Thank God again for His sweet love and movement!

February

After a nice dinner with a family who has just decided to adopt, and after finding out that February is our most likely travel month, I am feeling much better.  Leave it to weird ME to feel BETTER after hearing that we won’t likely travel this month.  I suppose I feel better because I had suspected it to be the case and just wanted a realistic picture of where we stand.  So there we are.  Our newest best-case-scenario is February.  We’ll take it – with a grain of salt.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ugly Heart


I was hoping that my next blog post would be a big apology. A big, “I feel better now, sorry for my ugly heart showing too much last time” kind of post. I figured that by my next post, God would have strengthened me so much that I’d be ready to point to Him and all of His glory instead of to my own bad attitude.

But if I’m being honest, I’m still having a really hard time this week.

I hate it that my rocky faith is failing to produce some fruits of the spirit that I desperately need: patience, peace, joy, kindness.

I hate it that I am so frustrated at those who are supposed to be working on our behalf in this adoption – and who are probably doing a flawless job, despite my confusion at how we’ve wound up as the longest waiting Uganda family they have ever processed.

I hate it that I have jealous feelings towards precious adoptive families who are rejoicing at the homecoming of their children. Children who are orphans-no-more, and who are surely causing even the angels to celebrate. A huge part of me does rejoice with these families. A huge part of me loves them deeply for all we have in common. My flesh is just about as ugly right now as it has been in years. I am asking God to free me from my sinful attitude.

My comfort this week is that God has compassion on my black hurting heart. My sour spirit might be disgusting whoever reads this… but I am so thankful that Jesus looks tenderly at my wretched state, feels my pain, and is willing to transform me into something more beautiful. Something more like Him.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
   -  Hebrews 4:15-16