Thursday, December 25, 2008
Today I'm making the time because earlier this week, God gave me a Christmas hug.
As a result of my recent trip to Africa, I have had some follow up doctor visits. On the way to my most recent one on this Monday past, I was listening to my iPod. My sister had been in town the previous day and had tuned it to play the Third Day "Christmas Offerings" CD that I had never listened to from beginning to end. (It's part of a "Christmas Playlist" and I am a playlist fan!) So, as I was driving, the CD playing, I was enjoying the familiar carols that I thought were the whole of the CD. Then a song came on that I had never heard before. I thought, "Huh. That's not a carol." I was curious because I really like Third Day and I'd never even heard this music on the radio.
Then the words started. Let me assure you that I nearly had to pull over because of the tears that started to flow (a more common occurrance since coming home from Africa, I've noticed).
I have been telling everyone who asks that we expect a referral for our daughter anytime after next July (because the timeframe we've been given is 11-15 months from our approval date of August 21, 2008) and that my prayer is that we will have her home before next Christmas.
Please listen to the song below and if you need to cry a little, well, you're in good company.
and below are the lyrics
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Tonight, when Steven and I thought he was in bed asleep, this is where we found him:
Fast asleep... face down...
at the top of the stairs.
Notice, he didn't forget to bring his lion.
He never fails to surprise us.
When Steven and I had gotten our laughter under control, I moved him to his bed. He never even blinked and will probably be surprised to find himself there in the morning.
Monday, September 22, 2008
"Daddy, could you close the door? I need some practicey."
I mean, really. What more comic relief could we need with him around?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The above slide show contains my favorite pictures of the weekend Steven and I just spent in San Francisco.
Let me start from the beginning...I turned 30 last month. When Steven turned 30 last year, I surprised him by taking him on a cruise which he had never done before. So, when my turn came to turn the big three-oh, he wanted to surprise me, too.
We have been talking about going to San Francisco for about 10 years now. Steven grew up there and wanted show me around his old stomping ground. (Just in case anyone reading this doesn't know my husband, he would never, for all the money in the world, use the phrase "old stomping ground"...that would be ME.)
He managed to keep the secret all the way to the gate to board our flight before he "showed" me where we were headed...you could've knocked me over with feather!
Our flight was great and when we got there, he had reserved us a convertible. It took about an hour to get it, but it was SO worth it!!! As we were leaving the airport, we asked the lady that had helped us with our car to recommend a restaurant and she sent us to a Filipino restaurant very near the airport. This was my first time to eat any of the food we ordered and it was GOOD!
That afternoon, we walked around Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. It had been a long day so we went back to the hotel for a good night's sleep...the next day was going to be FULL!
On Friday morning we woke up and went across the street from our hotel for breakfast and it was delicious...one of those local, tables on the street affairs and we were ready for a great day. We got the car and drove up to Muir Woods and Sausalito that day.
I don't know what to say other than it was one of the most beautiful, peaceful and awe-inspiring places I have ever been. No words or pictures could ever do it justice. It is a MUST visit place for anyone going to the Bay Area, for sure. After exploring the Woods, we went into Sausalito for lunch at a restaurant called The Spinnaker. It is on the Bay with all-window-walls for the best views. This is where I ate the best sandwich I've ever eaten. It was a fresh oven roasted turkey with dill havarti cheese - the cheese alone would make you smack your mama - tomatoes, and fresh avacados on sour dough marble rye toast. I would consider moving to California just to be in close proximity with this sandwich...or maybe I'll just learn to make it...yeah, that'd probably be easier.
After lunch we drove back into the city because we had tickets for the 3:00 ferry to Alcatraz. On the way back we began to see the fog roll in under the Golden Gate. It was truly a sight to see as it started out so small that it looked like smoke from a fire and grew to the point that it obscured view of the city from the bridge and the bridge from the city. As we drove across the bridge the fog was coming across it so that it was under the bridge and above it and trying to come across it as well. The cables were breaking the fog as is came across making it look like whispy fingers curling through and across trying to reach the other side. It was quite cool...to watch and to feel...the temp dropped about 10 degrees from the edge of the bridge to the center.
When we got into the city, we had a little time to kill, so we drove over to Lombard street and drove down "The Crooked-est Street in the World". It was fun and beautiful with gorgeous views of the city and the Bay covered in a "floating cloud".
After driving in the city a bit, it was time to make our way over to the piers to catch our ferry. One of the strangest parts of this trip was how remarkably different the weather was from one spot to the next with as little difference as one mile between them. Our trip to Alcatraz was no different. The tour told us that the distance from the island to the mainland is about a mile and a quarter. By the time we had reached the half-way-mark, we could no longer see the city clearly and when we had reached the island, the city was completely obscured by the fog.
The tour of the prison was interesting and informative. One thing we learned that was more than a little surprising was that while the prison was operational, there were about 260 civilians living on the island, including the families of some of the guards...yes that includes their CHILDREN!!! That's all I have to say about that.
The tour was sad, in a way. I know that the men housed there were "hardened criminals", but the sizes of their cells, the utter isolation, it was, simply put, sad.
That night we went to Chinatown and walked around and bought a kite and had dinner.
The next day we drove down Hwy 1 along the coast to Santa Cruz. That was the most beautiful drive I've ever taken and I don't think that any words I could come up with could do it justice. The "poem" I posted yesterday was inspired by what I saw.
In Santa Cruz, we went to the board walk, road a roller coaster, and ate lunch on the pier before heading up to San Jose to begin our tour of Steven's childhood. It was so much fun to see the places he grew up and watch him remember "riding his bike down that street" or his "best friend living in that house". He showed me where his family lived in San Jose and later in Alameda, then took me to the apartment complex that his grandparents maintained. Across the street from the apartments is a beach on the Bay. His grandfather used to take him there and they would make kites together out of bamboo, and rice paper using (somehow) rice for the glue. We went to that beach and he taught me how to fly the kite we had bought the night before in Chinatown. It was a special experience.
When we were finished flying our kite we headed back into town to find some dinner. We wound up in Little Italy at a delicious restaurant. We ate pasta.
Our flight on Sunday morning was at 9-something, so we ended our vacation very early in the morning, but, despite the fact that I am NOT a morning person, I can honestly say that after the relaxing, refreshing, and wonderfully reconnective time we'd had together, I didn't mind.
Thank you, my precious husband, for loving me so well. You are the perfect partner that God designed just for me. I love you.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Great God of wonder
I see the majesty of Your creative hand everywhere I look.
From cliffs to sea
From mountains to beaches
Your creativity knows no bounds.
The sea rolls and reaches its white hands up toward the beaches
But You have said it can only come so far.
It rages against the cliff face
Giving voice to its frustration - a soothing fury.
From the heights I can see beyond the reaches of the sea
Diamonds dancing on the waves
Glittering in the sun
Until they are swallowed by the clouds resting on the water.
Breathtaking sites, soothing scents, relentless sounds
The smell of the eucalyptus that stays in your mouth and clears your nose
Mingling with the scent of water - salt and sand.
You have created it all
And every part of creation
Shouts the wonder of Your hand.
Monday, September 1, 2008
We are totally shocked. We were told that approvals have slowed down significantly and that we should expect it to take 3 months with an additional month of "waiting" to find out our approval date. In other words we did not expect to hear of this news until mid-to-late-October.
Our dossier was sent on July 9th, 2008. Our dossier was approved by ICAB on August 21st, 2008. For anyone counting that is 6 weeks and 1 day!!! :)
We can't wait to meet you, Rebekah!!!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Our fingerprint appointments are in the morning on September 3rd. Steven will be travelling on the 2nd, so I would ask you all to pray for his safe and timely return. I CAN NOT miss this appointment.
Thanks and love to you all!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The question I’ve been thinking about is this: have I ever heard someone claim to be “lukewarm for the Lord”? I hear people spoken of often by others as “on fire for the Lord”, but, honestly, never praised for their tepid attitude toward their Creator. Is it really okay to “settle down” and “settle in” to our relationship or is it better to strive to keep the flames of our passion alive?
In my study of Revelation I was presented with an answer to these questions. In chapters 2 & 3, John relays a message from Jesus to 7 different churches in Asia. Two of these churches are addressed on their lack of passion for the Lord.
To the first church, He says,
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Wow. For most of this passage, this church sounds pretty great. They persevere, they work for the Lord, they do not tolerate evil men and are not taken in by those who are not true Believers…then there’s that troublesome last part…there’s the “but”. The first love Jesus is referring to is their love of God. Jesus says that the first and most important commandment it to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” Isn’t it interesting that all the actions spoken to the credit of the above church are belittled by a want of this ONE thing – passionate love of God.
After pointing this out, He calls on the church members to repent, remember from where they have fallen, and do the deeds they did at first.
My favorite description of “the deeds they did at first” is found in Acts 2:42-47. I will let you look this passage up, but I will share with you some of the descriptions that I find inspiring: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching”, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe”, “All…were together and had all things in common”, “…taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart”.
To the second church, He is even more forceful and says,
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
Ouch! Apparently, lukewarm attitudes make Jesus want to vomit.
The conclusion of his instruction to them is, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
BE ZEALOUS AND REPENT! Just in case there is anyone reading this that thinks “repent” is a Christian-ese word, here is the definition: to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better. Repentance is not merely regret or a sorrowful feeling of having missed the mark. Repentance is that feeling which calls us to change the behavior for which we are sorry.
So back to the original question: Does God want our passionate devotion all the years of our relationship or is a dwindling, somewhat smoldering fire acceptable? It appears to me that our passion is what He desires, asks for, and requires of us. Is it really to much for all He’s done for us? But how do we maintain passion for, longing of, and devotion to a God we cannot see? Is it even possible to intimately know, the way we know those we love most here on earth, the invisible, unsearchable majesty of the Living God? The answer, in a word is Yes! How? I have found that he has told me more than I can ever comprehend of Him in His Word. There is more truth of His character, attributes, personality, likes, dislikes, favorite things, expected behavior, etc, contained in His Word than I could unpack in a lifetime and I can’t think of a better way to spend it.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Caleb and I were getting ready for him to go to bed. He and I have been taking turns starting/closing our bed time and meal time prayers so that he can get more comfortable with praying words, not just songs. I should also tell you that on Thursday, some of our friends had a child with a stomach virus. Anyway, he wanted to start on Friday night, and this is what he said, "God, would you just please help Gabe and heal his tummy so that it won't hurt anymore and he can play and read books, and stuff, and would you please just keep the iwwness (read illness) away from everybody else, from the two boys (he means Gabe and Sam - yes he did already pray for Gabe...cute, huh) and the two girls (Maddy and Hannah) and the other boy (Isaiah) and Uncle Phiwip (read Phillip), and Miss Jessica, and GeGe and Beka, and the other Beka, I mean Josh, Amen.
The funny here is that Josh really is practically a clone of Dan (Beka) just younger. I told the family and they all got a REALLY big kick out of it.
My Birthday :). I woke up to my baby telling me happy birthday and asking if I was going to have friends and cake and balloons at my birthday. He told me that he wanted me to have a Cars birthday cake and balloons.
He and Steven made me brownies - I prefer them to cake - and then went to the store to get cream cheese icing to go on them (yummm!) and came back with 2 balloons - 1 green for Caleb and 1 purple for me...he knows it's my favorite color. About 2 seconds after he handed me my balloon it burst into 2 pieces. Let's just say Caleb burst into MORE than 2 pieces. It was pitiful. I could tell from his reaction and what he was trying to say - it was hard to understand through the tears and gasping for air - that it was not only a balloon but my present from him that had popped. How sad! We told him over and over that he could get me another one and tried to calm him down. It took a little bit.
After he calmed down, he went to help Steven ice the brownies and asked if after the brownies were done if they could go back and get me another one. Steven said yes and thought that was that. After a minute or so of quiet thinking, Caleb said, "You know, Daddy, I think Mommy can have my balloon," and jumped down off the chair to run to my bathroom and give it to me!
Later that day we went shopping and then I had to be at church for choir - we led worship this week. When I told Caleb that we were headed to the church to drop Mommy off he said, "But, NO Mommy! I love you! I'm your monkey! I want to be where you are!"
WOW! I'm having QUITE a nice birthday, so far, right! Well, just wait...
At the church, the choir sang me Happy Birthday, in parts, no less! That was fun. Then Steven came to pick me up and told me we had a little time to kill because we were early for our reservations, so I got to go get lost in Borders for a little bit. Just gets better and better. From Borders, he took me to the new Bosco's in Cool Springs. We've said for a few weeks that we'd like to go on a date there, so I thought "Perfect!" and told Steven what a great choice he had made.
When we got inside, the waitress lead us to our table that was FILLED WITH MY FRIENDS!!! How much fun! I've never had a surprise party thrown for me before and it was so special! We got to eat and talk and laugh and it was so much fun. The food was delicious and I even got to see a new friend that is only in town for the weekend and spend some time with her, too! Couldn't get better! Then after dinner, it did...I got to go and see Mama Mia! with two of my girls who were there and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie. It was wonderfully ridiculous and I loved it!
Sunday choir sang again, and it was my first day as a teacher in the 3rd grade theme class room at our church. It was a BLAST!! Then last night at dinner, Caleb says, "Mommy, you are a really good teacher to those kids in that rocket ship room!"
The perfect end to the perfect weekend!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Anyway, we are up to chapter 12. Last night, I was going back and making some notes that I had not had time to make from previous chapters when I came across something that really struck me.
In chapter 8 it says:
“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer, and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God out of the angel’s hand.” Rev. 8:3,4 (emphasis added)
Just in case that didn’t hit you, go back and read it again.
We have just been given, through the writer, John, a glimpse into the heavenly throne room to see that our prayers are IN REALITY an offering to the Lord.
Imagine the days when the Israelites were in the dessert. In the tabernacle was the “golden altar” or the “altar of incense”. It was placed just outside the holy of holies and the smoke of the incense that was burned there was to represent the prayers of the people rising up to heaven. Here we see that when our prayers reach heaven, they are placed on the true golden altar of incense in front of the throne of the Most High.
This is not merely pretty language that we throw around in church. This not Christianese. This is truth. Each and every prayer that we utter, speak, think, moan, sing, dance, whisper, or cry out is placed on the golden altar which is before the throne of God.
In the book I mentioned in my last post, “Crazy Love”, Chan states that we should stop praying blindly. He references Proverbs stating that we “should not rush into God’s presence with words because that is what fools do.” We need to spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Be awed by Him so that our prayers are a pleasing aroma along with the incense on the golden altar before His throne.
The Lord has shown me much concerning worship since I began to study this book. Most of it I am still contemplating in my heart and when I am able to communicate it, I will. But this was a surprise gift last night. I read and studied this chapter last week, and missed this beautiful, profound truth. We can give our time and our talent and our treasure to the kingdom here on earth and glorify God. What a privilege! But when we pray, our offering reaches Him in heaven and is placed on the altar before Him. That is how important prayer, our prayer, is to Him.
Father, blessed are You and Your Son Jesus. You are Holy, Holy, Holy, worthy of all praise, glory and honor. By His blood we have been redeemed out of slavery into service in Your temple, day and night. Soon will be the day when all who have been washed in His blood will no longer hunger, or thirst , nor have the sun beat down on us. Our Shepherd will lead us to springs of the water of life and You will wipe every tear from our eyes. Hosanna!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Today Caleb and I were driving to a play date at what he calls "the bouncy place", JumpZone. As we were driving down the road, he says to me, "Mommy, which way do we go? That way, or that way?" I said, "Don't worry about it, buddy" and he said, with obvious frustration, "But I don't know the way!" so I said, with a smile on my face, "Well then, it's a good thing I do, huh?"
As I continued toward our destination, the Lord whispered in my ear, "This is how you treat Me." I was reminded of all the times I have had similar conversations with my Lord. How many times have I gotten frustrated with my life and circumstances because things aren't going "the way" I think they should go. How often do I tell Him, "No, Lord, not that way, that way. Not that road, this road." Until I finally say to Him, in frustration, "But I don't know the way!" and He says, patiently, lovingly, "But I do." (I am constantly astonished at His ability to use my child to grow me up. It seems counter-intuitive since I'm the adult and he the child that I should be the one growing up, but here I am consistently being stretched and taught by my Lord through my child.)
This is not "new" information. I have known for sometime now that God is sovereign and in complete control of my life. All I have to do is seek His will and I will never be disappointed at the outcome. So, then, why is it that this is a lesson that I constantly need reminding of? Why can't I remember that I NEVER know the way, but that He ALWAYS does?
I am reading a phenomenal book right now called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. (I would recommend it to EVERYONE. It will lead unbelievers to the Lord and believers to a deeper relationship with Him, but I digress.) In this book Francis Chan states that we all have a case of spiritual amnesia. That we all continually forget who He is, and what He has done for us. This is not to say that we truly forget God, but that by being passive about our faith, we have forgotten who He TRULY is. I agree with him. I think this lesson that the Lord taught me today demonstrates that very fact. Even as I read this wonderful book and was confronted with my own amnesia - YESTERDAY, today I was surprised by the fact that I regard His navigation of my life so distrustfully.
Lord, I repent of my willful navigation of my life. Guide me today and every day down the road of your choosing to the destination you have selected for me from before the foundation of the world. Amen.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Some of you out there reading this blog know exactly what I'm about to talk about intimately. You've been through the in depth and (let's just say it) ridiculous volume of paper work, the background checks, and various other forms of insanity. For those of you who haven't here's a glimpse of what is involved in compiling a dossier.
The dossier is the packet of papers that is sent to a foreign country to be you the person...on paper. Since you can't present yourself to the people who will match you up with your future child, they want to know everything about you from where you grew up, to what friends and family think of you to how many bathrooms your house has. So just as I promised when I wrote about our home study, here is what we've been doing for our dossier:
1. Photographs: 3 - 5x7's of our family - 2 poses, please; 4x6 pics of all extended family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, dogs, hamsters, etc; 1 - 5x7 pic of the outside of our home; 4x6 pics of every room in our house - even the bathrooms!
2. An application for the Intercountry Adoption Board (ICAB) - the governing adoption body in the Philippines - Notarized
3. A Type of Child Acceptable to Family form for ICAB detailing the age, medical conditions, etc of the child we are requesting
4. A personal letter stating that we do intend to adopt and parent this child from the Philippines...probably because all this paperwork, forms filled out and hoops jumped through don't really communicate that message very well, really...
5. An ORIGINAL birth certificate for each applicant - this one was tricky. Neither of us had original copies, so when I went to get them for us, I found that Alabama, Mandy's home state, was no problem what so ever (you could say you're whomever and order their cert as long as you have all the right info...shocking...well, not really). California, however, wanted a sworn affidavit stating that you are who you say you are along with DNA testing and your shoe size...well, really just the affidavit, but their processing times and requirements were crazy. As you all know, however, our God is MUCH bigger than the state of California records department and He showed me a way to submit the paperwork where the processing time was less than a century and He brought the certificate to us in record time. Yay!!
6. One medical statement for each person living in the home - this one was easy because they let us "reuse" the one from our home study.
7. One physician letter for each applicant - this is just in case the thorough medical statement/physical report aren't clear enough.
8. One psychological evaluation per family. This one had me stumped, a little. The instructions to the psychiatrist (yes, it HAD to be an MD) said that we were only to have a single 1-hour interview, then in the next several paragraphs went on to detail the information they wanted included in the letter. The amount and detail of the information requested would easily have taken several weeks to fully discuss, but that is not the point either. They really want a piece of paper stating that we are mentally healthy, balanced and ready to parent an internationally adopted child. How can anyone know this in only one hour? But I digress...we "passed". Actually, I think we kind of bored the guy.
9. One original marriage license/certificate.
10. One police letter per family. This is a letter from the chief of police of our town stating that we have no "record" in our hometown. It is both interesting and baffling to me that we must have fingerprints for BOTH the state of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation AND then still need a letter to this effect in our hometown. Isn't it scary that they don't share information and all these checks have to be run separately? Well, it bothered me.
11. One Priest, Minister or Rabbi recommendation letter per family. Yep, that's how it's worded in the OFFICIAL instructions.
12. One employer recommendation letter for each applicant. Steven's was easy, but just try to get a 3 year old to write you a letter of recommendation. I'm telling you it was NOT easy!
13. One friend letter of recommendation per family. This was a real relief as we only have one friend. :)
14. Optional letters. Thanks to all who gave us letters for our home study. They were promptly reused.
15. Guardian letter. "Letter should be written by the person or couple (couple preferred) named as guardian(s) of the child/ren in the event of the death or incapacity of the adoptive parents stating that the guardian(s) accept this responsibility. Guardians should not be the parents of the applicants; preferably, they should be the sibling of one of the applicants. Friends can be named if the applicants have no siblings." Wow. I mean, I get this and agree with it, it's just weird to plan for the care of a child we do not yet have in the event that we die. Luckily, this was already covered since we have Caleb and took care of it for him LONG ago.
16. One copy of pages 1-2 of your most recent 1040 US Income Tax returns. Ick.
So that's it. We did it all in about 5 weeks and had it turned in already before our home study was completed. Once the home study was done and turned in, our agency sent it all over to the Philippines on July 9th. So, we are officially waiting to hear about our approval. Keep praying!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Well, today we had a frustrating thing happen...our I-800A application was kicked-back to us from Memphis. Here I was SO excited about the fact that we were all done and then, this! I have to admit that I was VERY disappointed. I'd like to say that I immediately remembered that this whole process is in my God's sovereign hands...I didn't. I was sulky and frustrated for awhile and I even had one of those "Just my luck...that's the kind of day I'm having" kind of pouts...Then He nudged. I love it when He does that!
I was reminded of all the things I've been saying not only to myself, but to many other folks in my life lately. Even as recently as two days ago. Things like "I can't believe how calm I've been" and "It's not like me to not focus on the time frame, but I'm really not". These things are true, but not because of me or my personality or my ability to calm myself. These things are true because of my God. He has given my complete peace in my heart about the timing of everything to do with our adoption. He knows who our daughter is. He knows where she is, when she'll be or was born and He knows the exact schedule that our paperwork has to follow in order for her to be referred to and placed with us. He knows.
I forgot that for a bit this afternoon. Until He nudged. He nudged and said "Do you believe me, or not?. Do you know that I know her, or not? My timing is always perfect and this, even this, is part of My timing."
Lord, help me to remember that each day of this journey. Amen.
Mom was "snuggling" with Caleb, a practice that is part of our bedtime routine no matter who tucks him in. They were laying there quietly when,
Caleb: I wouldn't want to be that baby in the basket.
Mimi: Umm, Moses?
Caleb: Yeah, that baby Moses in the basket. I wouldn't want to be that baby Moses in the basket.
Mimi: Why not, baby?
Caleb: Because I would miss my Mommy. I love her so much.
What a tender heart.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Me: Caleb, come here. Let's talk about your sister.
Caleb: my sister?
Me: yes, your new baby sister.
Caleb: (excited) Yeah! Okay! (climbs up in my lap and lays down in my arms...AWWW)
Me: What do you think her name will be?
Caleb: I don't know, Mommy, I haven't named her yet.
Me: What do you think she'll be like?
Caleb: be like?
Me: Yeah, like how will she act? Will she be fun?
Caleb: Yes! She will laugh a lot and play.
Me: Will you teach her things?
Me: What will you teach her?
Caleb: I will teach her to walk and to talk and to play
Me: What do you think she will look like?
Caleb: She will look a "fwower" (aka flower) like you. (AWWW!!!)
There you have it. Our little girl will laugh, play, learn to walk and talk from Caleb and look like a flower...I just love his mind!
Monday, June 23, 2008
1. Our homestudy is COMPLETE!!!! YAY!!! Hooray and AMEN!
2. Today I mailed our I800-A application to our local social worker to be combined with our home study and home study approval letter from our placement agency and mailed to USCIS (United States Citizens and Immigration Services). This application is asking to government to allow us to bring a child in from another country and make her an instant citizen by declaring her an immediate relative of ours.
3. Once our placement agency has a copy of our home study they can add it to our dossier and submit the complete dossier to the Philippines and WE ARE OFFICIALLY WAITING!!!!
See what I mean, hard to believe! We are so excited and overjoyed that I just don't think words could do justice to the feelings. Thanks to everyone who's been praying so far. Keep it up and please pray diligently for Rebekah...before too long we'll know what she looks like, where she is and when she can come home :)!
Friday, June 13, 2008
My child is on the other side of the world, but I wholly rely on the Lord.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
How grateful I am that You speak to me! To know Your will is my life's ambition and my one true calling. This prayer is for You alone.
You have called me to Your Word and taught me a love of Your people. Who else could do such a thing?
Your beautiful heart for adoption has pierced my soul. How cherished am I to be adopted as Your own child! What a privilege You have given me to show another child how Your heart is inclined toward us; that You have made a way for her into an earthly family and far better still, Your eternal family.
How wondrous and generous You are. No one in Heaven above or on Earth below can match Your radiant lovingkindness and compassion for me.
Even now You see the mother of my daughter and protect them both speaking of life and not death in her heart. Lord Jesus, save her precious heart and mend the broken pieces left by the absence of my child. In your precious, matchless name I pray, Amen.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
It doesn't matter why we're waiting, the fact is we are. This is the first moment in the process when we have nothing more to do but wait. This is not how I normally function. I am normally a "what's to be done, let's do it" type of person, so typically waiting is VERY hard for me, however...
Grace, Grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within...
For the first time in my life, I am not fretful, stressed or tying myself in knots over my lack of ability to speed the process. Now, I won't lie to you and say that the past 2 weeks haven't felt like 2 months because they have. I also am very aware that we've only been waiting 2 weeks and our "real" waiting hasn't even begun yet. That will come after the Philippines has all our paperwork and has "logged us in" so we'll be waiting for a referral. I think, though, that the "sloooow"-moving-time-feeling is more due to the slow down of activity surrounding the process than any anxiety or tension. For several weeks we were compiling information, filling out forms, taking classes, and writing auto-biographies all the live-long day, so now if feels as if there is nothing to do. It's kind of...weird.
At any rate, we hope to get our last bit of info from the friendly folks in the state of Alabama, and have our homestudy report in hand very soon. Once we have that we'll be sending in our dossier and we'll be off to the races. Now our dossier...that's a-whole-nother post...
Thursday, May 1, 2008
- 1. Application
- 2. Financial form - basically every piece of financial information you could imagine and then several that you have never thought about much less know where to find :)
- 3. Physician form - get a physical and test for things you'd never imagined you'd have to be tested for
- 4. Letter from Pediatrician regarding children in the home - stating that they are healthy, normal and not likely to fall apart physically any time soon
- 5. Reference Letters from:
- 1. Employer
2. Parents of each parent-to-be
3. Someone in leadership at church (assuming you're involved in church which we are)
4. Three separate friends who know you well enough to speak intelligently on your character and you parenting style/skills
- 7. Child abuse disclaimer form - a form that states you've never been convicted of child abuse...seriously
- 8. Fingerprints for each adult in the home - to run background checks through the TBI
- 9. Local background check for each adult in the home...why don't the local officials and TBI have the same background checking data...hmmmm...
- 10. Copy of income tax return
- 11. Copy of W-2
- 12. Copy of marriage certificate
- 13. Copy of birth certificate for each person in the family
- 14. Self study - a 6 to 10 page autobiography detailing how you grew up, were raised, disciplined, schooled, made fun of on the play ground and how that has effected your adult relationships....oh sorry, that was just me ;)
- 15. Questions titled "Thoughts about adoption" - these were easy, just questions like "How will you talk to your child about her adoption story?" and "What do you think could make your placement succeed or fail?" You know just simple questions like that...
- 16. Certificates of Completion for 10 hours worth of Adoptive Parent Education classes
- 17. Completed US Citizenship and Immigration Services form titled "Form I800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a (Hague) Convention Country" - This simple and easy to use form is only 11 pages long, so really, no biggie
Whew! Now that we are in the home stretch and trying to also gather all our dossier materials (more on that in another post!) I would ask each of you who reads this blog to begin praying for our little girl and her birth family. We won't know what circumstances have surrounded her in the Philippines until we get her packet, and maybe not even then, so I just ask you to pray. Pray for her safety (both real and perceived), her health, her comfort, that her birth mother is safe and healthy, and that God would pierce her heart (the mother's) and reveal Himself to her as the God who Sees, Heals, Protects, Fights for, and Provides.
I had been working for a small engineering firm as the bookkeeper for about 2 years and the job I held really did not need to be a full time job. One day, probably 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant, my boss offered me the opportunity to reduce my hours to part time, if I wanted to. What an amazining providential blessing it was to be able to nap in the afternoon during my 1st trimester!
In January '05, we officially joined Fellowship and a small group there. Caleb was due in April, so when we met our small group (which we are still in 3 years later) I was 6 months pregnant. After knowing us only 2 months, they threw us a surprise baby shower. This was the beginning of my finally feeling like Franklin, TN is my home. We had lived in Franklin for 4 and a half years, and I still had no close friends, but the women in this group are still my friends today.
Shortly after Caleb was born, I was introduced to two women very briefly who would later become two of my best friends, Kim and Missy. Then in the summer, I was walking past a registration table for women's bible studies at our church and felt pulled toward one particular study. At the time I didn't know why. I mean the study was on Samuel II and the life of King David, and I was never very interested in the "Old Testament". I signed up anyway, and was actually very excited because it was a day time women's study and I was finally able to do that since I was, for the first time, a stay at home mom.
When I went to the study for the first time on a Thursday in September, I was nervous because I didn't know anyone...or I thought I didn't. At the end of the class, Kim walked right up to me and reintroduced herself and gave me her phone number and encouraged me not to give up when I saw how much homework was associated with this series of class (it is a Precept Upon Precept class). The next Tuesday, I was scheduled to work in the nursery at church to care for the children of the women in the Tuesday women's study and when I walked in to the room I was assigned to, there was Kim again. The Lord just knew that I needed a friend like her and she is still one of my "nearest and dearest" as my mom used to say.
After all this, I still didn't realize that I had never claimed my faith for my own and CONFESSED with my own mouth my desperate need for my Savior. Then I began studying Samuel II and the life of King David. David's desperate need for the Lord, and his constant willingness to repent of his sins so spoke to my heart and exposed the rottenness in my life. While we studied Samuel II in Precept, the church was studying John on Sundays. Between those two books it became so crystal clear to me that my life showed no evidence of salvation. My tree had no fruit. So one Sunday morning - I don't remember which one, but I do remember who was teaching, the "order" of worship and where I was sitting - I was so overcome with my need for my Savior that I gave my life to Him on the spot and was immediately overcome with an urgency to be baptised. This really surprised me because I had thought before that being baptised as an adult, in front of the entire church, with children being baptised before you and then right after, spot-lighting your "adultness" would be...well...embarrassing. Because of this perception, it was really a stretch of my new faith to reach out and make the committment and sign up.
My husband baptised me in February of 2006. I am still in Precept upon Precept bible studies with a study leader who has become like a second mother to me. And, now, with infertility in our story again, I am so grateful for the God who not only closes, but also opens wombs and who has created adoption as a way to both redeem my life and grow our family.
You see, it took Steven and I about 2 and a half years of trying, failing, fertility treatments and doctors before Caleb came to be. The funny part of that is that all of our scurrying and doctor's intervention had nothing at all to do with us finally becoming pregnant. Here's what happened:
When we had been married a little over a year, we decided it was time for us to start our family. (Notice I said WE decided...this had nothing at all to do with the Lord's leading which isn't all surprising since I didn't know the Lord much less what it would feel like to be lead by Him.) I stopped taking my birth control, and away we go. After about 4 months, I went to my annual gyn appointment and told her that we were trying, and when she found out it had been 4 months and my body hadn't yet regulated from being off the birth control, she ran some tests and discovered that I have PCOS which is fancy for I don't ovulate regularly. She prescribed clomid, and, again, away we go. We used the clomid for about a year with no result. At this point my doctor told us that, since she is not a specialist, we were past her ability to help us. She refered us to a fertility clinic. Now, I just want to stop right here and say that from the first mention of the words "fertility clinic" I knew deep in my heart that I would not have invitro fertilization (IVF). Not because it is inherantly evil, or anything, I just knew it wasn't the path I was going to walk down.
When we went to the fertility clinic they explained the process. We would first have 3 rounds of artificial insemination (AI) and if that didn't work, we would move on to IVF (or not). Each round of AI would take one month and have to be timed perfectly. We did all three rounds by July of '04.
About the time we were completeing our last AI, we went to visit my dad and his wife in Alabama. We went to church with them on Sunday morning and we were BLOWN AWAY. Steven and I had been attending the same church together since before we were married, but we had never heard teaching like this, or been to a church that used contemporary worship music. We decided when we left to drive home that afternoon that we needed to find a church like that at home because we'd been talking for awhile about how something just seemed to be missing from our old church...I now know it was real teaching from the Word of God combined with pastors that challenge us to stretch ourselves and give our lives away for Christ.
The following week, we went in to the clinic for a pregnancy test which turned out to be negative. Since this was the 3rd time, they explained to us that our next step would be either another AI, but this time with the injectable medication that is used for IVF and could easily cause high order multiples (you know, triplets, quadruplets, or further crazy numbers that would break my small frame in half), or we could skip straight to IVF. I was devastated. I knew in my heart that IVF wasn't for me, but neither was triplets, etc. Steven wasn't as convinced as I was, so we talked about it...a lot. I felt called to adopt, but I didn't know if the time was now or not and Steven felt pretty sure that it wasn't. He was still holding on tightly to the dream of a biological child in addition to an adopted child. To tell the truth so was I.
So that Sunday we went to church at Fellowship Bible Church for the first time, where we now attend. We were again blown away. At the end of the service, there was an announcement that the "learn more about this church" class called Discovery One that meets monthly was that evening. Yep, you guessed it, we came back! We couldn't stay away. The teaching was line by line, verse by verse, book by book (I later learned that is called "expository teaching". That day I just knew I was learning what God had to say, not what someone else had to say about God). At the end of the class, I went up and asked the teaching pastor if there was anything in the bible about the principles of IVF that would help me understand why I was so uncomfortable with the idea of taking that route to build our family. The things he told me and showed me struck so deeply in my heart that I knew I was hearing the truth that I could not verbalize, but that was driving my hesitation.
The next night, I went to a gathering with some friends, two of which are very godly women. They knew that we were supposed to find something out about our fertility process the week before so after the meeting they pulled me aside and asked me about it. I started crying because I had begun to feel that pregnancy was not going to be part of my life experience. They listened patiently and then one of them said, "Can we pray for you?" Now, I don't know if you've ever said yes to that question expecting the person to pray...you know...LATER, but that is what I fully expected. After all, they did say "pray FOR you" not "pray WITH you" I had never in my life had anyone pray over me much less lay hands on me to do so, but that is exactly what they did. As they prayed and I wept, I began to open my heart to the Lord.
Okay, so, I guess I should tell you that I grew up in Alabama, so like a lot of Southerners, I thought I was a Christian by heritage. In other words, I grew up in and around church, so I thought (when I gave it any thought, which was rare) that I was "saved". The only problem with that is that I had never asked Jesus to SAVE ME. I had never asked him to FORGIVE ME. I had never REPENTED. I had never in my life had a "Romans moment" when I BELIEVED in my HEART and CONFESSED with my MOUTH. Because of this, I had heard a lot of what some people call "Christian-ese" phrases like "Talked to God", "Heard from God", or "Turned it over to God" and I had never had a clue what in the world those words meant...until those women prayed.
In that moment, I understood the meaning of the phrase "Turn it over to God" because in that moment I fully understood that I could not make myself pregnant, and neither could Steven make me pregnant. Only the good Lord, God, could do such a thing because He forms our bodies and knits us together in our mother's wombs. In that moment, I turned my pain, my feelings of loss, my grief, my desire to be a mother, and most of all my attempts to control the situation over to God.
Don't ask me how I know (this is a family-friendly blog), but Caleb was concieved the following Saturday. GOD IS GOOD and HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!!
More on when I actually came to know MY GOOD GOD, in my next post.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
As I drove to meet my husband to go the appointment I was VERY frustrated and annoyed. Not only was my son NOT supposed to be with me (in my mind), but I was late and I HATE being late. Also, my husband HATES to be late, so I knew he would be annoyed with me, too. As I drove, I started to think about the lesson I had done in my bible study that morning. We are studying the Lord's Prayer and that morning had looked at the phrase "Give us this day our daily bread". I was struck by the thought that I had not taken this whole situation to Him. He could have calmed Caleb's heart so he could have stayed at school, but I did not ask Him to. So instead He began to change my view of what my day would look like and my heart to accept it.
A little later while my husband drove, I talked to a friend I had seen that morning leaving Caleb's school. I wanted to apologize to her in case I had been short or rude...like I said, my attitude suffers when my plans don't work. She told me I hadn't been (to her), but she had prayed for me that the Lord would put my day into perspective for me. I love it when you get to tell someone He's answered a prayer they prayed for you.
Nothing about my day looked like I'd planned for it to, but it was still a good day.
Monday, April 7, 2008
We know lots of people who have adopted in our area. There have been all kinds of fundraisers from garage sales to selling the most beautiful hand painted post cards you've ever seen. We decided to go for a garage sale to kick off our fund-raising/saving efforts because we had decided in August to build/move to a new home. So we started telling all our friends and neighbors that we were going to hold a garage sale to fund our adoption.
The response was overwhelming! We had friends, acquaintances and people we didn't even know donate everything from furniture to shoes! You've never SEEN so much stuff at a garage sale! What a beautiful look at how God can, and does, provide above and beyond what we can hope or imagine.
The sale was all morning and into early afternoon on 2 days in mid-September and when all was said and done we sold almost everything there was to sell (except a few things that we took to ThriftSmart, our local thrift store that funds several African relief organizations we believe in). There were also lots of folks who either didn't buy anything, but just gave us a dontation, or who paid more than the cost of thier purchases when they found out the reason for our sale. By the end of our 2 days we had made over $1100! WOW! I've never hosted a garage sale that big before and what a GREAT way to start off our adoption savings fund.
Over the next several months while our house was being built, we sold a few more items and recieved a few more gifts and donations. All the time we've been saving, too, toward the day when we could actually begin our home study (at our new home) and our paper work. As you know if you've read the previous posts, we've now moved into our new home and begun the paper work process. We discovered this weekend just how amazing God's provision REALLY is...
This weekend as we read through all the paper work we have to sign and send back, we came to a "Fee Agreement" that referred to a "Fee Schedule" we already had. So we got it out and looked it over. We got out the calculator and plugged in the cost of our home study (it wasn't on the list b/c we are using 2 different agencies one for home study, one for placement). As we added up the cost of each item we have pay in the next 2 months, we found that the total matches the total amount we've currently raised/saved EXACTLY! Now that, my friends, is God's provision.
The day we started the study I had been discussing adoption with a new friend at church. We talked about how God had created adoption and I told her that another friend of mine had quoted a verse to that effect from the Bible, but I didn't know where the verse was.
The first night of the study was on verses 1:1-8a. I was blown away when we read verse 5. It says:
" In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. " (italics added)
Here was the verse I had spoken about just that morning with my friend, who is also considering adoption. I didn't know where to find it, so He showed me. His will truly is that we know Him through His word.
Friday, April 4, 2008
First, we've just moved house and so I've not been able to check my email for about a week while we've waited for our internet to be set up. Today when I checked it, one of the 113 there for me to read was from our placement agency. I called them to ask a couple of clarifying questions and I got GREAT news!
1. We CAN request a girl 0-2 years old. Apparently the Philippines is very specific about who is allowed to specify what. The only families that can specify a girl under 2 are families of Filipino heritage (thank you Steven :) ) that do not already have a little girl. WOW!
2. We can not use the home study agency we'd planned on using. There are actually only 2 agencies in TN that our placement agency can currently work with. The first is too far away and will not work with us due to distance. The second...well if you know me at all you know that I am utterly in love with all things to do with Israel. Her people (God's people), her land (God's land), her history and most of all her God. So when I found out that the home study agency that He chose for us - because let's face it, He did - is Jewish Family Services I actually laughed out loud. Actually so did several of my friends (they know me well).
3. When we first began this journey last summer we got losts of conflicting information on how long the process should take and how long you have to wait for a referral. Today we found out that this year families of Filipino heritage have been waiting 6-12 months for a referral (compared to 18-24 months that we were told last summer). Again WOW!
So anyway, stay tuned. I can't wait to see how God is going to write our adoption story.
A few days into our research I was driving to a friends new home to help her unpack some boxes. As I was driving I saw an electric sign flash "Jeremiah 29:11". That's all it said. Well, I've only been studying the Word for a couple of years and I haven't read Jeremiah yet, so this verse was unfamiliar to me. I made a mental note to look it up when I got home, but as I'm sure you could guess, I forgot. The day I remembered was the day I got confirmation (in the form of a negative pregnancy test) that the condition that made it so difficult to concieve the first time around was, in fact, active again. As I was crying about all those things I would miss, the Lord reminded me of this verse. When I looked it up, I was so encouraged. Let me share it with any of you who may not be familiar with it:
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'"
Now, I know that we cannot take this verse out of context and apply willy-nilly to whatever circumstance we choose, but I do believe that Jesus is our future and our hope and hope is what I needed that day. Also, the next two verses say,
12‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.'
Even with those words of comfort and encouragement, I was still sad, but He knew that. Later that afternoon, I was doing my bible study. I was studying the names of God and that day I came to His name, El Roi, the God Who Sees. Throughout the lesson that day He reminded me that my adoptive child is His child first and He sees all things. Even though I won't be there to witness those precious milestone moments, He will be. Not one moment of her life will be missed by her Heavenly Father.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I suppose I should stop here and tell you that after our journey to have Caleb, both my husband Steven and I knew that we have been called of God to adopt. We just didn't know when or what it would look like. Now back to last summer.