Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Let's Be the Light!

"You are the light of the world. 
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
 but on a stand,
 and it gives light to all in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, 
so that they may see your good works 
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

Last week my husband and I took our daughter Delaney to a Kari Jobe/Chris Tomlin concert. As we worshipped, one song Kari sang really hit me deep. "We are the light of the world. We are the city on a hill. We are the light of the world so we've got to let our light shine." I felt the presence of God so strongly and a powerful awareness that we MUST encourage each other to be the light to the world around us! The truth is that Jesus is the light in us, without Him there is no life changing light. We have to be humble and be willing to be emptied of ourselves so that His light can shine!

We adopted our son Noah when he was 10 months old. He came to us from Florida on a ventilator and with a medical file that literally scared the mess out of our pediatrician. On paper every one told us there wasn't much promise. Yes, we were scared. This was all new to us. We were already in the process of bringing our daughter Lilly home from eastern europe and the timing seemed ridiculous. But God. He knew we needed Noah as much as he needed us!

{With Lilly and Noah at the hospital soon after his arrival }

When he arrived at the local children's hospital via medical flight we waited in the ER as they prepared the room he would stay in for the next seven weeks while we trained on his equipment. The nurse who was checking us in started the conversation with these words, "You are crazy." Now, this wasn't a light-hearted "Oh, you crazy people.....what are you getting yourselves into?" She was serious and her words went right to my heart. (I am a big believer that words give life or they bring death, but that is for another posting!) We often had to fight the fear that came from words spoken by others. BUT, Noah's story fascinated people. We had doctors and nurses come to our room to hear it...and honestly to stare at the crazy people with 7 kids! Now, I wish that I could say that in all of our telling of his story (which we love to do) that I put God center stage, that I emptied myself of myself and shared the love of Jesus with boldness. But the truth is that I didn't do that faithfully. It grieves me to admit that I worried about offending people. How gracious that He continues to give us second, third, and fourth chances! I don't want to waste any more opportunities to shine His light. To share His story! May we encourage each other to share with boldness of the Great Love that drives us to love those who society pushes to the margins!

In his small booklet, "Risk is Right",  John Piper writes about the first three centuries of the Christian church who faced persecution under the Roman Empire. Every Christian who believed faced the very real threat and possibility of death. Yet the church grew. That always amazes me!

Piper writes, "In fact, it was the Christ-exalting love that the Christians showed in spite of the risk that stunned the pagan world. The Roman emperor Julian (AD 332-363) wanted to breathe new life into the ancient pagan religion but saw more and more people drawn to Christianity. He wrote with frustration against these "atheists" (who did not believe in the Roman gods, but in Christ):
'Atheism [i.e., Christian faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for our as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.'
It is costly to follow Christ. There is risk everywhere. But this very risk is the means by which the value of Christ shines more brightly."

May God allow us to be part of such a scandal! Let us show the world the love of Jesus by the way we love......and when people ask us why we would do such things may we share our stories with boldness.......leading with the God parts and NEVER listening to the counsel of fear to leave them out, otherwise our stories become merely interesting......and cease to be life changing!

Our Noah today! We LOVE to share his miracle story!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Where I Discover I'm NOT A Cool Cucumber!

So, this go around I was going to be the "experienced" adopting mom and be cool as a cucumber through the whole process. There are SO many time variables in international adoption and many of them are completely out of our control. We can get our paperwork done ASAP, but there are government processes, both here and overseas, that just take time. There are a lot of places where the process can hit time snags. So, since I KNOW that, this time I was just going to go with the flow. Uh huh. That lasted about two weeks!! The good news is that this is evidence to me that God is growing a real love for Susanna and Will in my heart. (On a side note, we think we have a name for our boy, but we want to wait until we visit him to make sure it is really for simplicity sake we will just use Will until it is official!)

I think my plan really went off the rails late last week when I watched the short videos I have of her. What is amazing is that we could also catch glimpses of Will in the crib next to her. She would try and share the toys she was given with him by handing them over the top of the crib! I love being able to see her, but it is clear when you watch them that the attention she gets when she is being videotaped is not her normal. I remember this with Lilly. She looked confused, a little scared, but in there was a desire to please. They look so very vulnerable and the thought that it could be a year before I can get to them just weighs so heavy on my heart. I struggled to sleep that night, and the chance that I would be a cool cucumber this go around went right out the window!!

Right now the prayer is that our fingerprints, which were received by the FBI last week, will be back to us as quickly as possible (right now we have heard that they are running about 3-4 weeks). Once we have them, and our home study is complete, our file can move on to homeland security (which seems to be running about 4-6 weeks) for approval. Please pray that these two processes will move swiftly! 

We know that all of this is in God's hands, but we also know that He includes us in His plans through action and of the greatest mysteries! So, we will get everything done as quickly as we can and we will pray that:

"He will cover [Susanna and Will] with his feathers,
and under his wings [they]will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be [their] shield and rampart."
Psalm 91:4

He has held them and we can trust that he will continue to do so until we can get to them. God, not governments, will set the timetable! 

I am a very visual person.....if I see it, it makes a much bigger impact on me. I want to share Susanna and Will with you. I would love it if those following their story and praying them home would print them and use them as a reminder to pray for their protection and process. It is a miracle that Susanna has survived this long without having surgery to close her back! Praying that she stays healthy and that God continues to breathe life into their spirits and prepare their hearts to come home!

Aren't they beautiful???

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Officially Matched!

We got great news on Thursday! Our family has officially been matched with Susanna and Will! That puts us one step closer! We are continuing to get paperwork done so that our home study can get updated as soon as possible.

God has been so faithful to continue to give us little reminders here and there that this is indeed His plan for our family. When we name our children we always use a family name for their middle they all have special significance to us. We had already decided to use Joseph for Will's middle was my grandfather's name. He came to know Christ later in life and always wished that he had walked with Him from the beginning. He died in a car accident a couple of weeks before my first birthday. Over the years I have wondered how things may have been different if he had lived a longer my life would have been different to have known him here on earth. I am so excited to meet him when I get to heaven! As I was looking over paperwork on Thursday I noticed Will's birth name. His middle name is Yusuf. I hadn't heard of that before, so googled it and found out that it is the Arabic version of the English name......Joseph! Amazing! So sweet of God to allow for these little confirmations! They are a breath of fresh air and give me such a lift on days when I am tempted to live too much in the future and to wonder how everything will fall into place. They are a powerful answer to all the fearful questions that the enemy of my soul enjoys tossing my way!

 Tomorrow we send off agency paperwork, fingerprint forms, background checks.....and pray God continues to surround our children with His love and protection and ministers to their sweet spirits in ways we can't even understand!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Where We Are in Our Process

I am hoping to keep current with where we are in our process as we work to get Susanna and "Will" home (we are working hard on our little boy's name.....we just haven't found it yet!).

Right now our primary goal is to get our home study updated. We will be working with the same agency we used when we adopted Noah, so they know us and we won't be starting from scratch. We are hoping that this will save us some time. The process for Lilly took us almost exactly one year from the day we first saw her picture. We are praying that we can move more quickly this time (hoping for 8-9 months) because we don't want Susanna to stay in that crib any longer than she absolutely has to!!

We will need to have physicals, complete lots of paperwork, get background checks done, and all of us, including the kids, will need to be interviewed by our social worker.  Once our home study is completed we will then apply to US immigration to get approval to adopt the kids and be preparing our dossier to be sent to their government. After all of these things are done, translated, and approved we will get the invitation for our first visit, and the return trip to bring them home is usually 3-5 months after the first. I am sure that I am leaving out some finer details, and I am certainly leaving out a lot of the paperwork, but these are the highlights!

We would appreciate prayers for as smooth and swift a process as possible, for their sakes, and that during this waiting time He will be preparing their hearts to join our family. Courage and peace for Susanna as she will be SO stretched to leave the security of her crib, and that God would be building an unexplainable anticipation and joy in Will's heart that something very good is coming!  He is so faithful and I know that He holds them both in His strong hands!

We have so much to do here to get ready for them that I hope it will make the time fly by!! Our house is going to need some modifications made to become wheelchair accessible and so that S & W will be able to navigate and move around as easily as possible. We are praying for wisdom and clarity to make wise choices and that He would lead us to affordable and trustworthy contractor(s)..... that we would be good stewards of His provisions as we move forward in faith!!!