Saturday, June 27, 2009

Walking by Faith (sometimes)

Well, I did it again. I got hit with a challenge (with our adoption), and I responded out of fear instead of faith. Will I ever get it right? I am so, so thankful that God is patient with me and brings me around, but I so long for a time when my initial response to a trial is one of faith and peace. I would so like to replace these responses by listening to my Father's voice.

I can't do it!!
(You can do ALL things through Me; I give you strength.)

But I'm so tired of all of this; I can't keep going.
(Wait on Me. I will renew your strength. You will mount up with wings as an eagle. You will run and not get tired. You will walk and not become weary.)

I'm just afraid.
(I love you. Perfect love casts out fear.)

What if we heard wrong? What if this isn't what You've asked of us?
(Pure and undefiled religion in my sight is this; to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. And anything you do for the least of my brothers, you do it for Me.)

But it's so hard sometimes. And it will probably get harder.
(I am your refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, "Do not fear, I will help you.")

Can't I just get a break? Can't I just rest?
(Run with endurance the race that is set before you, fixing your eyes on My Son, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)

He has a word for my every fear, every longing, every anxiety, every whine. I am so thankful that soon after the whining begins, the Word seeps in. And some days, every now and then, my little brain seeks the Word before the whine. Lord, let it happen more often. Let me seek You first every time.
Let me walk in faith and live in joy.

This is my favorite song at the moment. Listen and you'll see why.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Yep. Those are blueberries. And a few raspberries thrown in for good measure. But I'm calling it cheap therapy. It's been a tough week here on the adoption front. Each of the last three days I've received an e-mail or letter informing us of another "glitch" in our paperwork. When I say "glitch", read time-consuming, stressful, confusing, and exasperating. I had no idea that paperwork could make me so upset. Now I completely understand why people call this a "paper pregnancy." I can remember feeling this way when I was pregnant, except then I had hormones to blame!

Today's "glitch" was a letter from the Department of Homeland Security. Of course, when I saw those words on the envelope, I assumed it was our immigration approval. Nope. Instead, it was a letter informing us that our application couldn't be processed due to a (time-consuming, stressful, confusing, and exasperating) problem. I am very thankful to both of the agencies we're working with, as they are both hard at work trying to solve the problem. Meanwhile, our family decided it was high time to go pick some berries. (Because that will solve everything, of course!) It actually did make me feel like a different person. Here's why I think everyone in the adoption process should try this form of therapy:

1. If your berry patch, like ours, is a fair distance from home, you can close your eyes and take deep, cleansing breaths for half an hour on the way there.

2. You can see the fruit of your labors right there in front of you! It never leaves your sight, and the gratification is immediate! (Unlike the adoption process, in which it's so easy to lose sight of the treasure at the end.)

3. All of those antioxidants in the berries will fight against the stress that has built up like a toxin in your body.

Are you convinced? If not, come on over for some blueberry pie. (Baking is therapeutic too!)

On a serious note, a friend reminded me today that Satan hates adoption. Of course we should not expect the road to be smooth. And God tells us again and again that we should expect troubles, and this is yet another chance for us to:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2-3)

I could sure use some of that perseverance. And the joy? Well, let's just say it makes those blueberries look like garbage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

If you would please pray...

I have to confess that I'm just feeling weary this week. We've hit a glitch with some of our paperwork. I'm waiting to find out if it's easily corrected, but there's a possibility that we will have to redo about 15 documents, all of which would have to be notarized again. The thought of it just makes me tired. Like Moses in battle, I'm feeling as though I need help keeping my hands held up right now.

Furthermore, we're not getting much information about the investigation of abandonment cases in Ethiopia. The orphanage from which our agency gets most of its referrals was one of the original three named in the investigation. If this is not resolved soon (or if the outcome isn't favorable for Enat Alem), I'm not sure what this would mean for us. It's a rather critical time, as we will be in a position to submit our dossier within a couple of weeks, and it's a little unsettling to submit it to our agency not knowing the outcome of this. We are praying that there will be a clear answer before we need to submit the dossier. And, of course, we're praying for all of the children involved who are not able to be placed because of this situation.

God is good! I am not doubting that He will work all of this together for good. I just don't quite know what that might look like, and humanly I would like to see a few steps further than what He's showing me right now. He is giving us a footlight, not a floodlight, and asking us to take one step at a time in faith. So please pray that we will walk in faith and not fear and anxiety. Thanks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hooray is not a big enough word!

I just have not been able to find time to write this week, but I couldn't resist taking a minute to celebrate for our friends Nate and Sarah. They got word on Wednesday that they are now the legal, official parents of Caleb and Eden, who are waiting for them in Ethiopia (though they have already been Caleb's and Eden's Mom and Dad for weeks in God's eyes and in their hearts). Their story is amazing, right down to the fact that they received word that they had passed court in Ethiopia three days before their court date! We are just so happy for this family and thankful that we've been able to watch as God knit them together. This is the family, by the way, who sent us the original video which grabbed our hearts and started our journey to Ethiopia.

By this time next month, Nate and Sara should be in Ethiopia holding their babies. And all I can add to that is "Amen."

Bless our God, O peoples,
And sound His praise abroad,
Who keeps us in life
And does not allow our feet to slip.
For You have tried us, O God;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid an oppressive burden upon our backs.
You made men ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water,
Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:8-12

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Favorites

This isn't really the "favorite thing" that I meant to write about today, but I've been short on time and this is the best I could do (tune in again next Friday!) And, to be perfectly honest, this really did bring me quite a bit of pleasure this morning. I love scones; why didn't anyone ever tell me how easy they are to make? Of course, they have no nutritional value whatsoever (white flour, white sugar, etc.) Sooooo, I guess we'll eat lots of fruit tomorrow.

Believe it or not, I shared them with the kids. But I had to ask Sweet Pea to hide the last two from me or there wouldn't have been any left for Daddy. Yum!

Fathers and sons

We recently had the privilege of celebrating the 13th birthday of a special friend. It was a beautiful celebration, recognizing her transition from a child to a godly young woman (which she is!) On the way home, though, there were some interesting conversations. One of my daughters was somewhat anxious at the thought of impending womanhood, and needed reassurance that for the moment she is still very much a little girl. (There are many moments when she's more than ready to take on the role of a young lady, but somehow there was fear in her heart last night!)

Tiger's reaction, however, was quite different. He wanted to know how we would celebrate the birthday of a 13 year old boy! Jim wasn't with us at the time, so we didn't really talk much about it. Later, though, I caught some of the conversation between father and son. I heard some discussion of surviving in the wilderness with only a sleeping bag and a knife (at which point Tiger retorted that he didn't need a sleeping bag!). I don't know (or want to know) where the conversation went from there; I went to tuck the girls into bed.

I know that my husband feels deeply the privilege and responsibility of raising up our son(s) and daughters to know and love God. I am so thankful for a godly father for all of my kids. I am also thankful that someday (soon?) Tiger will have a brother with whom to share his boyhood adventures (the girls have little interest in wilderness survival!). And I am tremendously thankful (and honestly awed) that God would allow us to be used to provide an earthly father to a fatherless child. He is "Father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5) and His provision is perfect. I hope and pray that His purpose in our adoption is to call our son (along with all of our children) to Himself. It is one of the biggest dreams I can dream; that God would see fit to allow us to parent HIS children for His glory.

Meanwhile, I'm also quite thankful that I'm the mom. No sleeping in the wilderness without a tent for me. But just wait; later I'm going to post a picture of some lovely scones I made this morning. (And I'll be teaching the recipe to Sweet Pea. And there won't be a pocket knife involved!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Countdown again (and an update)

It's Thursday! Today it's been 5 weeks since we applied for our I-171H (immigration approval). Which means we should have four more weeks at the most until we get our approval. Who knows; maybe we'll get lucky and get it early. (Tiger prays before every meal that our adoption will move quickly, and his prayers have been known to be looked upon with favor!)

Meanwhile, there's been a lot happening in Ethiopia. When we started this process, we ignorantly assumed that most of the children being adopted were "true orphans" (meaning that they had no living parent). In reality, the grim truth is that many of the children available for adoption have either been relinquished or abandoned by a living parent due to extreme poverty. I don't think we can even begin to imagine the desperation that leads a mother to give up her children because she is unable to feed them and unwilling to see them starve. I have often come to tears as we pray for the child who will be part of our family, because as a mother I find it so painful to consider that it's very likely that our little boy has a mother in Africa who will not see her little boy grow up.

For the last few weeks there's been a freeze on the adoption of abandoned children in Ethiopia. This is really a good thing. To put it simply, the judges who process adoptions had noticed a spike in the number of abandonment cases and ordered a police investigation to insure that these abandonment situations were legitimate. I'm thankful for this, because there can be so much corruption in the adoption process and I'm glad for anything that works against that. Yet it's been very painful for families who had already been assigned a court date for an abandoned child and had to be postponed indefinitely. And painful for those children who have had to remain in orphanages instead of uniting with families. But in the big picture the desire is to protect children and families. Yesterday I heard from a new friend (who's waiting for the referral of a little boy from Ethipia) that the investigation may wrap up by the end of June, allowing adoptions of abandoned children to open up again. For us this means that this situation should not really have an impact on our family since we should be sending our dossier to Ethiopia in early July. In fact, it's possible that our wait will be shorter since there may be a group of children ready for referral at one time after the last few weeks of no referrals. And thankfully, it means that more of these little ones who've been abandoned will be placed in families. Once again, we just don't know but are praying for God's perfect provision for the child He's chosen for our family.

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.