The Journey Home

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

3 months already?

I want to begin this post by thanking everyone for their prayers, encouragement, and support during and after our adoption of Biruk Abigail Travis.  We are so grateful to be a part of a community of believers who actively love us like you do.  I love that the Lord has broadened our friendships to include those attending at least 10 different churches since He called us to adopt.  It's a small taste of what we will experience together in heaven, and it feels good and right.

I would like to fill you in on how Biruk is adjusting to our family.  I meant to do this every so often to keep you updated, but the first 2 months were difficult in that we dealt with unexpected illnesses in both Biruk and I.  I am so thankful that we are feeling better, and also thankful for what the Lord taught us through that difficult time.  Aaron and I both said that we never would have chosen what He gave to us, but we are not sorry.  He drew us together as a couple and made us stronger, our family as a whole learned that we really do need each other, and the Lord showed us yet again that we cannot live this life without Him.  At all.  He is teaching us how to slow down, how to live fully in each moment and be fully present, how to serve one another better and perhaps most importantly, that we must cease living life so isolated.  These are huge lessons for us and we are trying hard to be Mary's and sit at the Master's feet soaking Him and His words all into our minds, bodies, hearts.  

I believe that the timing of these lessons has everything to do with our adoption.  I have had people tell me, "Well, you've got 4 kids already...what's one more??"  One more child to love.  One more child to disciple.  One more child to teach.  One more child to teach me.  One more child to disciple me.  One more child to love me.  One more is a huge thing.  A good thing.  A hard thing.  A beautiful thing.  Adoption has been the clearest earthly picture that God has given to me of redemption.  I get it so much better now.  Redemption is costly; it is messy; the weeks and even months and sometimes years following it can feel uncertain, strange, new, full of adventure with ups, downs, and hairpin curves.  Our adoption has felt much like this; much like what I imagine my heavenly Father has felt since the day He redeemed me.  It is one of the greatest gifts He has ever, ever given to us, this real-life picture of redemption.  I understand His love for me so much better now.  I treasure His patience with me so much more than I ever have before.  Some people think the crazy thought that we have somehow rescued this little girl.  No, it is the other way around.  The Lord is using her to rescue us.  I hope you don't misunderstand me when I say that.  I hope you hear my heart.  Only Christ can save us and it is only by Him that we can be free from sin and spend our lifetime with Him on earth and eternity with Him in heaven.  I know, however, that He oftentimes uses people to draw us into closer relationship with Him and shows us where we are not thinking or behaving rightly.  He uses them to help us "work out our salvation with fear and trembling."  And oh, am I so glad that He decided to use those closest to me to do that.

I am thrilled to report that Biruk Abigail is adjusting beautifully.  She is learning English at an alarmingly fast rate, she sleeps and eats like a champ, she is loving and loveable, she is difficult and incorrigible, she is learning to share and learning to allow family members to love and help her, she gives the best hugs this side of the Mississippi, and she feels like she has always been ours.  We are doing the hard job of living together as a family, and wouldn't have it any other way. 

   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Photo journal 11.15.11

Daddy and Biruk enjoying the first snow of the season

Dressed up as Snow White, pushing Teddy in the stroller, holding an umbrella
Funky and fun sticker glasses
Leaf pile!  You should've seen the tub when I washed her hair after this....

All of our princesses at Halloween

Fun with Eli





Tuesday, November 8, 2011

11.8.11

A surprisingly warm breeze is charging through my home on this sunny November day.  All of the windows have been opened to welcome it inside, to blow through this little house and refresh us all.  I watch my sweet son and daughters outside, laughing and playing, screeching and singing, running and jumping on the trampoline, chasing the leaves being blown through the yard.  Almost all of the leaves are off of the trees now, signaling the soon-coming winter season with all of the cold and snow (oh please, Lord....LOTS of snow) and rosy cheeks and sledding.  How blessed to have the privilege of living this small life with those in our little family. . .Emma with her quiet, sweet ways.  Eli contemplative with eyes wide open, never missing anything.  Leah with her dimpled grin, sparkling blue eyes and passion to live life.  Kristen showing us every day that life lived outside in the fresh air really is better.  Biruk Abigail giving us the joy of arms open wide to love us and a smile to chase any dark cloud away.  

It is a life to be thankful for, to be sure.  It is a life worth living slowly, savoring every moment and entering fully into it without thinking about "what's next."  Isn't it true...really, really true...that this life, these small moments sprinkled on me throughout the day, are gifts?  Presents wrapped up in freckled cheeks, laundry, cooking, disagreements, not being able to find cell phone and car keys, read-alouds, laughter around the table, and wet leaves in the washing machine?  Then why oh why do I so often not think of it that way?  Why do I so often feel like I must trudge my way through this day instead of dancing through it and thanking the Lord for what happens in it, good and bad?  "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise" the psalmist sings over me.  What I most long for is to feel near to my Lord, to be with Him as close as I can be in this flesh and not die from the exposure.  To be close to Him I must learn the discipline of thanking and praising Him.  My joy in this life depends on it.  Isn't that what sets us as Christ-followers apart, this joy in Him that can be found no where else?  Shouldn't I be able to feel the joy of being close to Him even when circumstances in my life would threaten to steal it?  The answer is yes, and I am now on the hunt for it, this joy that I have let Satan steal from me.  What is amazing to me is that I don't have to make my way to Jerusalem or some other holy site to find it.  It's jumping right now on the trampoline with velvety soft skin and big brown eyes shouting, "Mama, look at me!!"  It's building volcanoes out of sand in the neighbor's yard and giggling little girls whispering in one another's ears.  It's in my own back yard in hues of gold and scarlet-red.  It's blowing through the house carrying the scent of freshly turned up earth with it.  "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever."  Indeed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Simple Wisdom

"Living in peace, do not the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?"  Charles Spurgeon

Let it be so, Lord Jesus.  Teach me to live in peace in all circumstances, and in the struggle help me to not let go of you in the midst of it.  Let me learn from Jacob who wrestled all night long with the cry, "I WILL NOT LET GO UNTIL YOU BLESS ME!"  Teach me to rest in the knowledge that you are my Immanuel, my Prince of Peace, and that no amount of trial changes that.  Remind me that my Good Shepherd will let me through the valley not for my demise but for my good and may I feel the comfort of Your rod and staff.   Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

God loves me (and YOU) at all times in all circumstances. I bless His Holy Name.


"Rejoice in the Lord always -delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness, your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near - He is coming soon. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And my God will liberally supply - fill to the full - your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (from Philippians 4 Amplified version)
Pray help me, Christ, to take my cup and drink it without drowning in it's dregs. Help me be a light, a beacon of one-mindedness, always focusing on your giving and leaving the taking to You to solve.

Cathedral 
Arches of reaching limbs 
Crickets sing secret hymns 
Over all of us 
Fireflies 
Tickle across our palms 
Lit up like diamonds drawn 
From the black above 
Awake my soul to live this moment 
Awake my soul, give thanks and hold it 
Dear now 
God is here now 
Awake my soul 
Day ends 
And brown eyes smile back at me 
She wipes my kiss from her cheek 
After last “Amen” 
Hush away the hurry 
Put to rest the worry 
Come to quell and quiet me 
In this moment given 
Slow and fully live it 
Drink up all the passing peace 
~Awake My Soul, Shaun Groves~

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sit down and partake of the abudance of Christ

I sit in my home in the quiet of the morning, sipping coffee, stroking the dog laying in my lap, and open the Scriptures.  I have a goal to read the Bible in its entirety again, having accomplished this only once since I came to know the Lord all those years ago.  Today, I finish Judges and go on to read chapters 13 and 14 in the gospel of Matthew.  I marvel at all of those red letters staring at me from the page:  The very words of Christ, just sitting there waiting to be ingested, ready to teach and transform me.  I am struck by the fact that these 2 chapters both hold miracles of feeding, of multiplying something infinitesimal and making it abundantly huge.  The first is the feeding of the 5,000 men, besides women and children, and the second is like it, only 1,000 less.  In the first account, people have traveled for miles and miles to hear the teaching of Jesus ("Isn't this just the carpenter's son whose mother is Mary and don't we know His brothers and sisters??") and experience the miraculous.  Many hours in, His disciples come to Him and say, "Lord, it's getting late.  How about we send these people to the neighboring villages so they can get something to eat?"  Jesus, in His quiet and understated way suggests that they feed them.  Can't you imagine the disciples looking incredulously at one another, scrambling in their brains to figure out what in the world to do with that?  And here's the part that jumps out at me this morning.  He asks the disciples in both accounts what they have.  "Just a few loaves and fishes," they reply.   
"Bring them to Me."  Don't you wonder if they're thinking, "Alright, Lord, but it's not going to do any good."  Just like me.  "Alright, Lord.  I'll bring you the little I have, and really it isn't much!  Just myself and my fears, anxieties, inadequacies, sinful tendencies. . ."  

So they bring the little, and Jesus says something that strikes me hard.  "Sit down," He says to the crowd, and to His disciples as well.  This is not not something they can make happen.  They must sit, rest, simply BE, and receive the blessing from the hands of Christ.  And what does He give them?  Everything they need and then some, 12 baskets left over from the feeding of the 5,000 and 7 baskets left over from the feeding of the 4,000.  

So I am reminded again today to pull up to the table of Christ, who takes my meager offering and turns it into a feast, who provides for my every need and then some so that I can spill over onto the people with whom I rub shoulders today, and at the end of this gift of a day I will not feel depleted or worn out emotionally and spiritually. . .I will have baskets-full left over, provided by the hand of Christ Himself.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"All Is Grace........"

Life is never what we expect it to be, is it?  Even in the midst of earnest prayer, of purposefully reading and earnest conversation with those who've gone before us, we can never be fully prepared for what real life will be like when whatever big moment we've been waiting for finally arrives. . .

Responsibility can weigh heavy.  Feelings of inadequacy can cause panic.  Performing well, especially in the sight of so many who have been faithful to pray and help in a myriad of ways, can quickly become your focus.  Fear can creep in the middle of the night and choke.  

What is one to do?  Things must be done.  Children must be discipled, given a place to love and be loved, to grow and create, to learn the mysterious and beautiful ways of God. . .and how?  By watching and listening and, scarily enough, emulating the adults God Himself has given to them.  Even typing that, fear begins to take hold in a heart.  

This is when He calls, real quiet. . .soothing words for a frightened soul.  "Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  "My peace I give to you...I do not give as the world gives."  "You will find rest for your souls."  "I will never, ever leave you or forsake you."  "Cast all your cares on Me, for I care for you."   

It has taken me years to learn, and I'm almost ashamed and a little shy to say that I am still daily learning it.  It is not about my ability to perform.  It is not about my capability to DO.  It is about learning to belong in Him.  Learning to live, even to take each breath, in the security of His love.  It is about learning to give thanks in all things, even and maybe especially, in the hard; in the things that push us way beyond our own limits, to the place where faith lives.  Isn't this what I've been asking for all these years?  Sometimes, I admit, I need for my faith to become sight; I need for Him to show me that I am walking exactly where He wants me to walk and He's directing my every step, even holding me and walking with me in His strong, comforting arms when the way is unfamiliar.  


But He's already been here, hasn't He?  He is the great I AM...He is fully present in the future.  This way is not unfamiliar to Him.  This path is One that He's been down.  He knows where to go.  He knows what I'll need for the journey, and He'll be sweetly faithful to give it, without reservation.  "...how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts if you ask Him?"  

Someone signs each of her e-mails, "All is Grace".  I am learning this is true.  ALL is grace.  ALL is precious gift, because it comes directly from the hand of a loving God.  This is the net that holds me up, that catches me when fear grabs and I feel like I'm falling.  He is with me.  Always, always, He is with me.
 

Monday, August 22, 2011

We Have Her!!

What a big, big day.  This morning we woke up early to a tremendous thunderstorm around 4:30 a.m. here.  This, of course, meant that the brain started to run and sleep was no longer a possibility.  It has been a long time, if ever, that I have felt that nervous.  We got up, packed a backpack full of things that we thought we may need for going to see Biruk for the first time since May 31st, and headed downstairs to wait for the van to pick us up.  We are so, so fortunate to be here with the same two couples we met on the first trip.  It's been such a blessing to be able to share such momentous occasions with these 2 families.

We hopped in the van and headed to the care center.  When we got there, they asked us to remove our shoes and put on flip-flops that they provide to try to keep the care center as clean as possible, and we went inside and up a flight of stairs to the room where we were to see our children.  It's hard to describe what waiting in that room with our friends was like...all of us (girls, that is) were tearing up just thinking about seeing our girls again.  The staff brought our girls in one at a time.  Jenn and Jay were first, and they brought in their daughter, Anaylim.  How amazing to be able to watch them be reunited with their sweet daughter forever.  Next, Biruk was brought in, and Aaron and I got down on our knees and hugged and kissed and kissed and hugged, and it struck me.  Our daughter was home, not in Swayzee, Indiana, but home in our arms.  *sigh*  Completely amazing.  Then we got to watch Abby and Roger reunite with their daughter, Wudinesh.  We got to stay for a couple of hours playing, and then they made us leave to go to lunch.  Biruk did not understand this.  It was her naptime, but she clung to me and cried, a panicked look on her face.  I asked the staff to please explain to her that we were coming back in just a couple of hours, but she was having none of it.  I had to leave her behind, crying in her room.  I had NO appetite for lunch; I just wanted to stay with her!!  This was absolutely the worst part of the day.  When we got back the staff did a farewell party for the girls, providing each of them with a traditional Ethiopian dress and head scarf, cake (which she totally hated) and a coffee ceremony.  Biruk was acting a little bit strange; she would not let anyone touch Aaron or I (especially kids from the orphanage) and kept pointing out the window.  She very much wanted to leave and was feeling quite protective of her new parents!!  We hopped in the van, sat Biruk in our laps, and off we went.  When we pulled up to the place we are staying, Biruk started to stiffen and got panicked again.  She started whimpering and we kept telling her over and over, "You're staying with us, baby girl.  We're not leaving you here.  You're coming with us and we're coming with you."  She finally started to grasp that we were not going to be separated again and calmed down a bit.

We headed up to our room where she had a banana and a bottle of water, and then we let her go through her suitcase.  She looked at every shirt, every skirt, every pair of pants (and folded it all when she was done looking.  WHAT??), and had me put a miriad of hair pretties in her hair.  Pictures will follow when we get home :)  We showed her pictures of the kids and to our complete shock she repeated after us, "Emma.  Eli.  Leah.  Kristen.  Maggie!"  The first day with her has been awesome.

I have to get off this computer...sorry for the length of the blog but I wanted to at least fill you in a little bit!  Please continue to pray. This is a big adjustment for us all and we need God right in the middle of it.  We love you all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whatever the Lord starts, He is faithful to complete

Here's the blog I've been waiting to write for 19 months.  This is the one that feels a little bitter-sweet, even as I type it.  After all of this time, after all of the praying, waiting, filling-out-mountains-of-paperwork, talking, dreaming, thinking, and falling in love with a three year old Ethiopian little girl named Biruk, I am so over the moon excited to tell you that we are picking her up.  Our baby girl is coming home.  The waiting is sweetly and finally over.  I think I may have felt this way as I was laboring to deliver our other children.  So very, very excited to hold and cuddle, kiss and snuggle this newest blessing to our family; and also feeling a little nostalgic and thinking that this was the last day that we were a family of 2.  Then of 3.  Then of 4.  Then of 5.  Then of 6.  Now of 7.  It's that understanding that things will never be the same again.  It's the letting go of what was to grasp the new that God is doing.  And it puts a small twang in my heart.

What I love to think of is when we were finally introduced to our newest additions as they came into the world.  All of the wondering, the asking of questions, (will I be able to do this well?  will I be able to love this one as much as I love the one who came before?  how will this change our little family?  what will "everyday" look like now?) fled out of my mind and I just knew.  They were always meant to be with us.  Such a short time after birthing our children into this world I remember thinking, "What was life like before them?  I honestly can't remember."  It will be that way with Biruk.  We will get her home and we will say with all honesty, "She was always meant to be with us.  I can't remember life before she came."  

We leave on a plane Thursday afternoon.  We arrive in Ethiopia on Friday night.  We come home a week later, forever and blessedly changed.  Our missing puzzle piece will be home...not just a picture on our refrigerator but a sweet baby girl padding down the steps in a Tinker Bell nightgown holding blankie in early morning sunshine.  It has been a year and a half I will always remember.  I think I understand Mary, the mother of Jesus, a little bit better now.  I, too, will be pondering these things and treasuring them in my heart for years and years to come.  How I praise the Giver of all good gifts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We've been submitted!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I opened up my e-mail today to do what I do everyday.  Check to see whether or not our adoption agency contacted us about Biruk.  The past 2 weeks we've not heard anything so I really wasn't expecting anything different.  Instead, we got this little gem of a message :

Dear Travis Family,

Congratulations! We just received word that your case was submitted to the US Embassy today.

Once they have reviewed your case and cleared your family for a visa interview we will be in contact with you about travel dates.

There really is a light at the end of the tunnel!!  We are praising the Lord for His goodness and perfect timing!  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thank you, Lord!!

Just a quick note to let you know that last night the boy's soccer team assistant coach position was filled!  Thank you for praying with us about this...I wish you could have seen the relief on Aaron's face when he talked with me about it last night!  I love watching God's people pray together as a family and I love even more watching our Daddy take care of our needs for us.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"  Matthew 7:9-11

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good News!

Hello, friends!  It has been a long, long time since I've had a little time to sit at the computer and give an update on our adoption.  My sweet husband and I took one of the coolest groups of high school students we've ever had the privilege to serve with to an Indian Reservation in South Dakota last week.  What an incredible experience.  I am so grateful to the Lord for the unexpected opportunity to go.  Here are just a few snapshots, and if any CCC students read this feel free to add your own in the comment box!

~Almost the entire group playing Apples to Apples on the nearly 20 hour bus trip and laughing their heads off (Thanks, Megan for bringing it!!)
~Learning from God's Word together
~Praying at the foot of the cross each morning and writing Scripture on prayer poles
~Sitting outside in the perfect spot, overlooking wheat fields and rolling hills, watching one of the most spectacular cloud-to-cloud lightening shows I've ever seen
~Spontaneous worship bubbling out of students as we watched in awe
~Serving a meal to the homeless and hopeless
~Taking in the wonder of God's creation

~The church bus breaking down just outside the tiny town of Custer, South Dakota; kids and leaders alike praying fervently that the Lord would provide a mechanic who would know how to fix it, AND HE DID!!
~Girls playing frisbee with 2 sweet little girls
~Girls snuggling together in the upstairs bedroom scarfing Jolly Ranchers and talking about how to love God and be godly women

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  How good He is.  One of my favorite snapshots has to do with the adoption.  On Thursday our oldest daughter Emma called to tell us that we'd received an e-mail telling us that Biruk had been moved to the capital!!  We, of course, told the entire group who clapped and celebrated with us.  What a precious moment to share with them.  The other two little girls whom I asked you to pray for were also moved!  We ask for your continued prayer as moving is very hard on them.  They also have to undergo doctor's examinations and blood draws so they can be given a clean bill of health to enter the U.S.  Only a few more weeks and we should be able to go get her!!  Please also pray that the Lord provides an assistant soccer coach for Aaron.  We really, really, really need this so that when we get the call he will have someone to stand in for him while he's away.  Thank you for praying!!  We're getting closer!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Please help us pray her home......

It's been a while since I've been able to sit and update this blog.  Summer in a youth ministry is C-R-A-Z-Y busy.  We have seen God move in subtle and overt ways through all of the trips and camp, through Sunday nights and Bible studies.  We are grateful to play a small part in what He is doing, and continue to pray for student's hearts to be drawn to Him.  

In the midst of all of this, we are still in the middle of our adoption.  There have been circumstances take place that have halted it temporarily, and for this we ask you to pray.  The orphanage in which Biruk was (which has been her 2nd home since November) has been shut down by the government.  She and the rest of the children had to be moved to a non-Holt affiliated orphanage in the same town.  This, of course, is a very difficult thing for the children.  They are now having to get used to a brand-new orphanage with brand-new care givers.  My heart breaks not only for Biruk but for all of the other children.  Please pray for them.  Please pray for the perfect love of their heavenly Father to cast out all fear.  Please pray for paperwork to continue to be processed so that we can finally get the call to bring her home.  Please pray that these children will hear the song that Abba sings over them, according to the book of Zephaniah.  We don't know what the kids were able to bring with them and what they had to leave, so we're praying that the family book we made for Biruk was able to go with her.  If not, we're just praying that God will remind her of Aaron and I often and that He will whisper over and over and over that we are coming for her.  We have not forgotten her.  We want her. 

I need others to pray alongside us.  We received a picture of her just today, and it is ripping my heart out.  The saying goes that the "eyes are the window to the soul."  As I looked into those big brown eyes I saw confusion, sadness, and fear.  I.want.our.baby.girl.home.  I want for all of those sweet children to be home.  There are 2 other Holt families besides ours who had children moved to this new orphanage.  Please pray for them as well.  We need prayer that they will be moved to the Holt-affiliated transitional center in Addis Ababa to await our Embassy date.  We were told that our kids would be moved there after the court decree was issued, and that happened for us on June 17th.  For reasons beyond our control (but thankfully not God's!!) she and the 2 other little girls were not moved, and now we're kind of stuck due to the orphanage closure.  

Thank you friends, for helping us to pray Biruk home.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Hard Eucharisteo

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good."  1 Thess. 5:18-21

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:4-7

So I'm in the middle of learning something beautiful....and hard.  I feel like I'm on the cusp of understanding.  I'm reading, I'm pondering, I'm praying, I'm asking questions, I'm meditating on the truth of Scripture; today, though, I got an object lesson.  The kind that plays itself out in the everyday-ness of life.  The kind that tears a hole so that God Himself can fill it.  

There are few phrases that can inflict a wounding like the words, "I hate you."  Especially when those words come out of the mouth of a precious child whom you would give your very life for.  A poor choice was made.  A privilege was taken away for the day.  Anger and hurt bubbled over and the words spewed forth venomously, hitting hard and wounding deeply.  Hot, stinging tears behind (disbelieving) eyeballs. 

Now, Lord??  Give thanks now??  Don't you mean "Give thanks in every circumstance except when your sweet child hurts you with those terrible words."?  

"Now, child.  Even now.  Give thanks to Me now."  

So I tried.  I asked Him to help me to be thankful even now, even in this.  I found a quiet spot and sat still for a moment, soaking in morning breezes and sounds.  I took a breath, and I thanked Him.  He gently reminded me that I'm not the only one who hears those words.  He hears them too, from hurting, angry children.  He whispered to me to rejoice, because in a small way, I was "fellowshipping in His suffering."  Why rejoice in that?  Because He tells us in Romans that if we share in his sufferings, we also share in His glory.  

I still felt hurt.  But strangely, better.  I'm beginning to understand that God can use everything, really everything to draw us into deeper relationship.  Even this hard hurting can serve a purpose.  I'm still learning.  But the hole created today may very well have opened a door to understanding Him a little bit better...and love Him more for it.  

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Update on the adoption!

This is going to be a short post, but I had to let you all know that our MOWCYA letter came in, our file is complete, and the government officials are working on Biruk's birth certificate and passport!  WE'RE ONE STEP CLOSER TO HAVING HER HOME!!  

I'm learning so much about the Lord, and some of the most precious things I've learned about Him have to do with His character.  He's helping me to know that through all of the things that happen in my life, good, bad, or otherwise,  He is the loving God Who is in complete control and has our absolute best in mind.  He is teaching me to actively trust no matter the circumstance.  To give praise even (and maybe especially) in the frustrating, the difficult, the dark.  

I am itching, itching  to hold that sweet little squishy body in my arms again, to kiss and snuggle and read and rock and sing and wash and play and feed and swim and walk with her, and the rest of our little family feels the same way!!  We so appreciate you keeping us in your prayers.  We still have a few hurdles to jump, and are eagerly anticipating the joy of watching the Lord move.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for."  Hebrews 11:1-2

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Waiting as...Sacred?

Hello, all!  I want to take a minute to fill you in on our adoption of Biruk Abigail this month.  As you know, we went to Ethiopia and stood before the court on June 1.  We were in court with 3 other families, and none of us "passed" because we are missing the much-needed letter from the Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs.  We need that letter for our files to be complete.  After this letter comes in, our cases will be submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Addis and we will wait another 8 to 12 weeks before we can travel to go and get our sweet, sweet daughter.  

As you may imagine, this waiting is not our first choice.  It feels llloooonnnggg.  It feels frustrating.  It feels like a gigantic hole is in our family and we so long for Biruk to fill it.  And in the middle of all of the conflicting and difficult emotions, there is our Savior.  The Sovereign Lord over all things.  The Light for the step we're on and the Great Architect of our lives.  A wise woman whom I've just had the pleasure of meeting over Facebook (of all places!) said that she would be praying for us in the sacredness of the wait.  That phrase caught my attention and I've been meditating on it for a week now.  Can waiting really be sacred, holy, a set-apart period of time?  The more I think on it, the more I believe it's true.  I can whine, fret, and be frustrated over this situation and completely miss the presence of God in and through the wait.  To what end??  To feel down and devoid of joy?  OR, I can choose to look at this period of our lives as holy ground, a place to take off my sandals and behold the glory of God.  To bask in the Presence.  To allow Him to be strength in my weary soul.  To allow Him to draw me near and speak truth over me and love into me.  To watch as He knits my husband and I closer together and more deeply, and relish it.  This seems like a better use of my time :)

"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."  Exodus 3:5

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Motherhood as a Mission Field

Motherhood as a Mission Field

For all of us mothers who are weary and sometimes question our importance in the Kingdom: be encouraged today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Homeschooling

The education of my children is always on my mind.  There's not ever really a break from education in our home, and I love it that way.  I ran across this quote this morning and it's given me something to chew on today as I make jam, laundry soap, and fabric softener.  Hope it gives you something to chew on as well.  Blessings to you today!

“Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”

– Sir William Haley

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thoughts and Snippets...

While I was in Ethiopia, I recorded some sights and experiences in short little snippets.  It was a good way to help me not to forget without having to write paragraphs at a time!  Here they are.

Clouds on mountains
Shanty with flower roof to shade the sun
Child-shepherd with long shepherd's pole, standing watch on a rock and guarding his family's cattle
One hump camels eating the low leaves of an acacia
Tears in Abby and Jennifer's eyes as they see their babies for the first time
Carts being pulled by old donkeys
Cattle, donkeys, and goats crossing the roads
Clothes and diapers hanging on the line in the orphanage courtyard
Small brown hand on the other side of my van window, my own on top of hers...a wide smile, a sparkle in the eye
Teenage boy reading in English "Vacation with a Purpose" off of Aaron's shirt
Small boy hiding below the van window; slowly slips a black, plastic bag through the window for Aaron to grab; he does.  Giggles erupt.
Spotting Biruk on the playroom floor of the orphanage, eyes cast down.  Butterflies in my stomach.
Wanting so much to touch her but patiently giving her time to warm up.  Shaking hands that will not still.
Helping her to look in our eyes as we roll a bouncy green ball with her
Wide smile, but no teeth!, as I paint her thumbnail pink.  Wondering, will her nails still be pink when we pick her up?
Biruk holding up her other fingers expectantly for me to paint...she climbs into my lap by herself!  Ohhhh, the feeling of having her in my lap, finally!
Blowing on her nails together to dry them.  She tucks her upper lip under when she blows!
Jennifer and Jae's baby cries; Biruk stops our play to walk over to the baby.  She picks up the baby's book and tries to make her smile.  Me thinking what a tender, kind, sweet spirit she has.
Thinking over and over how very brave she is.
Watching Aaron pop bubbles Biruk blows.  My heart filling with love.
Noticing how tired Biruk looks; the heart swelling when nurse tells me Biruk refused her nap because she was too excited to meet us.
Mother instincts kick in...I walk over to see if Biruk will let me pick her up.  She's limp, but she lets me!  My heart throbs and swells with joy!
I kiss Biruk on the cheek; she giggles.  We play a game where I kiss, kiss, kiss; she smiles wide, and the first true giggle escapes her throat.  I feel as though my heart will burst inside my chest.
Biruk proudly showing us her bed, her space
Aaron picks up Biruk and whispers in her ear, "I love you, sweet girl."  My eyes fill with happy and sad tears.
Learning from nurse that she loves milk, loves rice and beef, hates macaroni.  Being glad to learn more about her likes and dislikes.
Feeling sad at how much I've already missed in her life...feeling happy to know I have a lifetime to get to know her.
Loving being able to hold, touch, watch, STARE, smell our sweet little girl.  She smells of Johnson's baby shampoo.
Being amazed at all of her hair!  Feeling determined to learn how to do her hair so that she'll love it.





















Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Amazing Journey

It is now Tuesday, June 14th.  We got back from Ethiopia on Thursday, June 2nd, and I still haven't update this blog.  Not because I didn't want to.  Not because I lacked the time.  It is because I'm still not certain how to convey in words all that I saw, felt, heard, smelled, and thought on this short but powerful trip.  I'll try to be as concise as possible, but when a girl prays that the Lord would open up all of her senses to fully live in each moment while she's in a third world country...let's just say that there is much to write about. 

We arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and were blown away by the beauty of the landscape.  It sits at about 8000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by mountains.  We tried to recoup from a nearly 14 hour non-stop plane ride and 7 hour time difference that first day.  Then on Monday the 30th, we hopped in a van and began the 6 hour ride to the southern region of Ethiopia to meet Biruk. 
Bird's eye view of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
On the road...one of the many heavy-laden donkeys we saw
 I prayed on and off the entire trip, sometimes covering our first meeting with Biruk and sometimes for protection to get us there safely!  There are few rules on the roadways of Ethiopia...I kept thinking that the wonderful (Christian, we found out later!) driver who got us down there was worth his weight in gold.  If they had asked me to do the driving, we'd still be on the road.  Multitudes of people, animals of all varieties, bicycles, donkey carts, and other vehicles to dodge kept our driver on his toes.  I can't adequately explain what it felt like to drive up to her orphanage.  I had ever so many butterflies fluttering in my stomach and kept thinking, "She's right through that gate.  Our daughter is waiting right through that gate."  They led us through a small courtyard and into a playroom where we and the two other wonderful couples with whom we traveled were to meet our children for the first time.  We slipped off our shoes and entered the room, and there she was.  Our picture that has been the wallpaper of our computer and a permanent fixture on our refrigerator since March the 7th was sitting there on the floor in the flesh, a timid little girl dressed in a yellow Old Navy shirt and striped leggings, no shoes, hair pulled up in a bun with a red scrunchie, playing with a ball on the floor just inside of the door.  I remember my breath catching in my chest and just looking at her for a second.  Someone recently asked me if Biruk feels like my daughter.  The answer is miraculously YES.  God did not grow this little girl in my tummy.  I never got to feel her move inside of me, never got to watch my stomach grow as she grew, but I can confidently and gratefully say that the Lord grew this little individual in my heart.  We love her.  The flood of emotions was overwhelming and so, so sweet.  We sat down in front of her and handed her a book of pictures of all of our family which she never let out of her sight the whole time we were with her.  We blew bubbles.  We rolled balls.  And I painted her nails.  A wise woman whom we met at the house we stayed in while we were there suggested this, and I am so thankful that she did.  She thought that, if I
Biruk and Daddy
 painted her nails, she would be able to look down at them after we had to leave and think of us.  Such a simple thing that broke down walls in one fell swoop and went a long way to open up her sweet little heart to us.  Needless to say, a couple of bottles of nail polish will be traveling with me when we go to pick her up!  I wish that I could post pictures of her face, but we are not allowed to until the adoption is finalized.  I hope that you can feel the tenderness in this picture, though.  Such a sweet daddy and daughter moment that will be forever etched in my mind.  She allowed both of us to hug, tickle, snuggle, and rock her.  I breathed in the scent of Johnson's baby shampoo as I rocked her and stole kisses whenever I could.  Aaron gently rubbed her back and stroked her hair and whispered into her ear that her little tickly self would fit right into our family.  We asked a nurse to please tell her that, even though we had to leave, we would be back soon to get her.  Our driver told us an hour and a half later that we had to leave, so we left her in the care of the truly wonderful women at the care center and got back into the van.  We drove away, and I think for the first time I understood what it feels like for your heart to break.  My head knows that it is best for her to get to know us gradually through pictures and allow the nannies time to try to help her understand what adoption means.  My heart had no such understanding.  Leaving her was hard.  Whoever said "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is right.  This last bit of waiting is so much more difficult than all previous months!  

I'll stop for now, but I want you all to know how much we felt your prayers and the presence of Christ at all times on this trip.  Thank you so much for taking the time to lift us up to the throne room of God.  He faithfully answered each one of your prayers.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ponderings from Ethiopia




Does wealth lead to isolation? Does poverty necessitate interdependence? I watch life happening in Addis from my room's window. I watch a wealthy woman in her courtyard ringed with razor-wire. She sits alone with her beautiful toddler boy. Her estate shares its walls with a tiny village of homes made from crinkled sheets of silver metal, scraps of cardboard, and rope. This tiny village of homes has constant activity. A woman emerges from the makeshift gate to pour her dirty dish water from a bright red bowl. A boy walks from his house across the small courtyard to the open door belonging to a man who momentarily steps out to greet the boy, tweak his nose, and send him skipping on his way. Visitors walk in uninvited to chat with a woman starting a fire for the noon-day meal. And I wonder. Does this stark contrast, this picture of abject poverty sharing walls with wealth and razor wire hold a lesson for me? How beautiful it is to watch human beings NEED each other. In my world of the wealthy, no one truly needs another, depends on someone to help them in the hard job of surviving. I watch three children in brightly colored t-shirts scamper into the small courtyard of this tiny village made inside of this city and the quiet walkers passing the gate of the wealthy and I wonder. At what cost does my wealth come?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Transforming Miracle of Marriage Page One

The Transforming Miracle of Marriage Page One

I read this just this morning and was challenged by it. I think he helps me to understand the way God looks at marriage; it rights my perspective in the day to day living of marriage. I pray it challenges and blesses you as well!

Monday, May 23, 2011

"I need Thee, Oh I need Thee...Every hour I need Thee..."


I love this old hymn because it's true.  I used to think that the Lord called us to adopt to care for the widow and orphan as He commands us to do in the book of James.  That's true, but certainly not the only reason.  He wanted to bring our family to a new place spiritually; a deeper place of trust and sweetness of relationship that we were missing.  Yesterday was Sunday.  I love Sunday.  I especially loved yesterday because I got to hear my man preach.  I'm tellin' ya.  The Lord gave me a man who is willing to listen to His voice and learn from Him; a man who is learning to walk the adventurous walk with Jesus and is willing to take his family with him.  I am blessed beyond blessed to be his partner in this crazy life.  After church we had a pitch-in to welcome our new worship minister, Jonathan Smith, and I dearly love me a good church pitch-in.  When we got home, some good friends down the road called my kids to enjoy the day working on a fort they've been building together over the past few months, and what kid doesn't want to spend the afternoon traipsing through a woods and using saws and hammers??  I took the opportunity to pick up a book I bought about parenting an internationally adopted child.  I so want to do this right.  We love this sweet little girl and want for her to know and love the Lord, to know that she is deeply and unconditionally loved by us, to know that we will care for her and care deeply about her.  We want her to have a love for who God created her to be, to love her birth family, birth country, and culture.  The weight of this tremendous responsibility caused me to search for answers in "experts" who disagree on a variety of issues, and I broke.  I cried and couldn't stop.  I needed the physical release of all of those feelings, but this morning I realized that the cause of those feelings was that I was relying on man's limited wisdom.  I need GOD's wisdom.  He created Biruk for a specific purpose.  He loves her and knows her in deep ways that even she may not know yet.  This morning, I asked Him to show us what she needs and to help us to meet those needs.  I asked for discernment as she learns and grows so that we can understand her.  We desperately need Him.  We cannot do this without Him.  We won't do this without Him.  We need Him to fill us, to fill our home, and to tune our ears to the sound of His precious and powerful voice.  "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you."  There's nothing better we could do for our family.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ethiopia, Here We Come!

I cannot believe what I'm about to type:  We are leaving for Ethiopia to finally meet Biruk in nine, count 'em, NINE days!  Every time I think about it I get anxious and excited butterflies in my stomach.  Every night for the past week I've laid in bed thinking and wondering, planning and scheduling.  I've finally got the kids' week planned, and THANK YOU to all of the fantastic people who are helping us feel confident that they will be loved and cared for while we are gone. My thoughts have now turned to Biruk.  Thoughts fly through my mind, and just as quickly I offer a prayer up to the Lord.  He commanded me to be anxious for nothing and to pray about everything; I've taken Him up on it in a big way.  Will she be afraid to meet us?  (Oh, Lord, please fill her with Your peace and somehow prepare her little heart to meet us for the first time.)  Will I burst out crying the moment I lay eyes on her?  (Of course I will Lord; please fill me with the fruit of self-control so I don't freak her out.)  Will she want to stay close to the nannies who have so lovingly cared for her while she's been at the orphanage?  (Please, Lord, bless those who have been a blessing to Biruk, and thank you for anyone who has shown her Your great love during a most difficult time in her sweet life.)  What I know is this:  The Lord will go before us to pave the way, and come behind us to be our rear guard.  Through all of the wondering I can know that God is with us.  God is with our daughter.  His Spirit will be thick (and most welcomed) at our first meeting.  I will not fear.  I will not be anxious.  I will hang onto my Jesus and enjoy the adventure about to come.  It makes me smile to think how sweet He is.  He commands us to do things far beyond our capacity, and then blesses us with an abundance of His presence.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Please pray with us as we prepare to go and we'll let you know what He does as soon as we get back!  Much love to you all!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Thoughts...

Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mommies out there, and also to the women who are waiting for children but are already Mommies in their hearts.  I do pray a blessed and relaxed day over each one of you.  This morning, the Lord woke me up at 4:00 a.m. to pray for a friend.  I did pray and fell back to sleep, only to be awake again at 5:00 with the same thought:  Pray for your friend.  Now, I don't know what all of that's about, but I've learned over the years to trust the Spirit's leading and do what He tells you to do, when He tells you to do it!  After praying, I got up in my dark and very quiet house, made some coffee, got settled into my "quiet time chair" (as my children call it) with my dog, and spent some time with the Lord.  What I heard from Him was very eye-opening for me.  Before I begin, I need you to understand that I am not against holidays by any stretch of the imagination.  As a matter of fact, they give me a great excuse to cook up some food and enjoy time with friends and family.  This year, though, has been tough, and I found myself thinking this morning about Mother's Day.  What did I want to do (or NOT do!) today?  What do I hope to "get", both emotionally and physically?  Didn't I kind of deserve this day?  

I have to preface this part by telling you a little bit about yesterday and a lesson I was helping my third-born daughter to learn.  Her younger sister got a beautiful headband for her birthday, and big sis wanted to wear it.  Little sis, however, was having none of it.  "It's mine, and I just got it!"  she told us.  Third-born retorts with, "I let you use my bike yesterday, so you should let me wear you headband!!"  I sat down with her and explained that she should have allowed little sis to ride the bike out of the kindness of her heart, not expecting anything in return.  She made it sound like she was entitled to wear the headband. 

Well, this morning, the Lord helped me to see that I was doing the same thing.  I was feeling "entitled."  What I heard Him whisper to me was that I should love and serve my family out of the kindness of my heart, out of love for my Jesus and to bring Him glory, not expecting anything in return.  There is not a thing wrong with celebrating mothers.  I accepted the well-wishes of other moms at church today.  I received sweet homemade cards from my kids.  I squirmed and blushed over the praises of my handsome man.  The Lord just helped my heart to be in the right place as I did. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Overwhelmed

As I type this entry, I am still crying tears of gratitude.  I am overwhelmed and at a loss for adequate words.  Today, I was showered with love, support, gifts for Biruk, encouragement, hugs, kisses, and did I say LOVE?  More love than I've felt in one room maybe ever.  My family was thrown a surprise baby shower by my wonderful, one-of-a-kind, lovely, amazing friends.  These are the kinds of friends that you would call at 3 a.m. if you really needed something and not hesitate doing it.  I was kidnapped this afternoon by a former youth group member (now blessed to call 'friend') having no idea where I was going.  I was brought to a roomful of people who love us and we love just as much.  I walked into that room completely aghast at the scene in front of me; women whom I've had the privilege of pouring into over the years, women who have sacrificed time and love to pour into my family and I, family who mean the world to me, and women who have supported me by being faithful prayer warriors through many a difficult situation, not the least of which has been this adoption process.  Not only do they love me, but they made it abundantly clear that they already love Biruk Abigail (we've decided to keep her beautiful African name as her first name and the name we've loved for a long time as her middle name).  To say thank you seems so very, very small.  Gratitude wells up inside of me thinking about each one of those precious women who are such gifts from the Lord to me.  I stand amazed and grateful before such a gracious God who bestows blessing upon blessing on His kids. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

http://carpologist.blogspot.com/2011/03/gateway-worship-stay-amazed-from-god-be.html

If you have a minute, click on this link and worship our amazing God with me!

~Jenny

AND THE NEWS OF THE DAY ISSSS..........

WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!!!!!  Seriously, guys, if you think that God doesn't work in the lives of men and women today, re-read all of my posts.  He has totally blown me away AGAIN.  As you might recall, my last post was about how I had to surrender my frustrations and sadness over not having any idea when we would be assigned a court date to make our adoption of Abigail Biruk legal in the country of Ethiopia.  In this adoption journey every time He asks me to surrender to Him and I do, He moves on our behalf.  It hasn't always worked like this in my life, but it has certainly been the case over the past year and two months.  

So here's the low-down:  We need to be in Ethiopia to stand before the court on June 1st.  That means that several things need prayer!  
1)  That the Lord would provide the money we need for the trip
2)  That the Lord would work out all of the details for the kids and our dog while we're away 
3)  That He would bring us peace and safety as we travel
4)  That He would bring our children peace as we travel
5)  That He would allow us the honor of meeting Biruk's family while we're there and give us exactly the right words to speak into them when we do
6)  That her family would be given peace the moment they meet us; that the Lord would also confirm to them that He brought us to their cherished loved one 
7)  That He would prepare her sweet little heart to leave everything she's ever known to come live in America and that the transition would not be traumatic for her


...and anything else that the Spirit lays on your heart to pray!  We so love each of you and are so thankful for your encouragement and for interceding on our behalf.  We'll keep you posted!  AND WE PRAISE THE LORD JESUS!  Woo-hoo!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Learning Lessons in the Midst of Waiting

If there's one thing I know for sure about myself, it's that I'm not good at waiting.  I know that since becoming a daughter of the King, however, my heavenly Daddy wants me to learn while in the midst of waiting and even (GULP) to learn to be patient and trust Him.  I'm now convinced that this waiting is for my own good.  (Do you have any, ANY idea how hard that was for me to type???!)  I haven't updated this blog for a long time because I felt that I had nothing new to report, and quite honestly I've been in a funk the past three weeks.  Who wants to read a blog written by a woman who's hope was waning and was quickly losing her joy?  Not me, and I can honestly tell you that I didn't like being that woman.  I started talking with the Lord about it, and guess what He told me?  Not even kidding.  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God's people who are in need.  Practice hospitality."  And again, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  My joy was dependent on my circumstances, and at the first sign of difficulty I could feel it slipping away.  I can be demonstratively JOYFUL in the midst of these circumstances.  Why?  Because I can trust that my God will bring Abbi home and the story of how He does it will be something that we will tell to our children and they will tell it to theirs.  I can smile knowing that His faithfulness is great, and that He cares even more about the plight of the orphan than we do.  I can laugh out loud when I think of how He is changing this chronically impatient woman into one who bears the fruit of patience.  Do I want Abbi home with us?  You bet I do.  Do I have to be honest with the Lord and sometimes cry in His presence as the prospect of waiting even longer for her looms over us?  Yep.  Can I ask Him to replace my spirit of despair with a garment of praise?  According to Isaiah 61:3 I can.  And I will.  I'll wait patiently on my Lord, and learn to praise Him in the wait.     

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Remember, remember, remember

I dearly love being reminded of Biblical truths by fellow brothers and sisters walking this journey with me, living out our God-stories together.  I'm feeling down today.  I'm wondering many things about the timing in our adoption.  I'm missing Abbi.  I was just reading a blog and she reminded me about the faithfulness of God.  She reminded me to remember the faithfulness of God in our life.  Thank you, Lord, for using a sister I've not even met to encourage me today with this passage.

Joshua 4
"When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 'Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.'
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, 'Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.'
So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been
in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.......... On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God."

It's just what I needed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Fundraising Adventure!

I have a dear friend who really wanted to help us raise funds for us so that we can bring Abbi home.  I have such A-M-A-Z-I-N-G friends.  One of the families who we are blessed beyond measure to know has a 12 year old girl who wanted to help us.  She set up her own Etsy account (which is unfortunately closed now) and made the most adorable Christmas tree ornaments out of clothespins.  She called them Acorn Angels and sold a bunch of them to help us.  How cool is that??  Well, we have another friend who is making earrings, bobby pins, and alligator clips to sell for us.  What's so fun about this for me is that she is the lone girl in her home, making all sorts of beautiful girly things!  You can check out her link here. 

Check it out and see what you think!  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Waiting and praying and waiting and praying and....

"I am confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."  Psalm 27:13-14 (emphasis mine)

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  O (believer), put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption."  
Psalm 130:5-7

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength...Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the LORD is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!"  
Isaiah 30:15a & 18
"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry...Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust..."
Psalm 40
As we wait and pray, will you pray with us?  God has been so good to us in every way, but I've been ever so grateful that He has filled us with a blessed hope as we wait to bring Abbi home.  We are moving forward with all that we can do on our end (like get vaccines and make other preparations for us, the kids, and even our dog when we're called upon to travel...round number 2 of shots is today!), and in the meantime God brings rest to our souls and pours hope into our hearts that the wait will not last forever and soon we'll be able to hold Abbi and look into those great big brown eyes and tell her how much we love her!  Our paperwork is in the court system and now we're waiting for the government to issue us a court date.  As soon as they do, our agency will call to let us know and we fly over to make our adoption of Abbi legal in the country of Ethiopia!  Thank you so very much for all of your prayers.  I'd also encourage you to look on the Ordinary Hero website as they've put some new items up.  Please don't forget to go to the affiliate names and choose our name if you choose to buy something!  We appreciate your support!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Encouragement for All Believers

I just got onto the Ordinary Hero blog and ran across this excerpt from a devotional that Kelly is doing.  I hope it encourages you like it encouraged me!

Stop trying to work things out before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time. When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today's agenda. If it isn't, release it into My care and go on about today's duties. When you follow this practice, there will be a beautiful simplicity about your life: a time for everything and everything in its time. 
A life lived close to Me is not complicated or cluttered. When your focus is on My Presence, many things that once troubled you lose their power over you. Though the world around you is messy and confusing, remember that I have overcome the world. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. 
(Eccl 3:1, John 16:33)

 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Amazing News

We've been gone this week on a family mission trip to Wayside Mission in Louisville, Kentucky.  What an amazing trip...this week we learned that orphans are not necessarily only young.  They can also be men and women who, for reasons far to many to write, are separated from their families and any network of support, and find themselves alone and homeless.  If you ever get a chance to support Wayside monetarily or with your time, don't hesitate to do that.  They are working tirelessly to make those who are oftentimes overlooked feel loved, protected, and cared for.  They are Jesus' hands and feet to those in dire situations.  

In between times of working at the mission, my husband and I learned from our adoption agency that our paperwork has indeed arrived in Ethiopia and they are in the process of looking it all over to make sure everything is there so that they can schedule a court date for us!!  This, like everything else, came much sooner than we had anticipated and we are praising the Lord!  Please continue to pray for the Ethiopian government and the adoption network working in this country.  There are changes being implemented and they need Godly wisdom and discernment.  Please pray that those making decisions will remember that behind every statistic, every stack of paperwork, lies a child waiting to be adopted.  Please ask the Lord to stir up His compassion inside of their hearts for these precious ones, their birth families, and their adopted families.  


Now onto more mundane things :)  As you know we are fundraising with Ordinary Hero.  If you haven't checked out their store, please do!  I just got my shirt in the mail and I L-O-V-E it.  If you're not interested in shirts, bags, or onesies, you can also choose to buy something for an orphan in Ethiopia.  However, those of you who have been kind enough to buy something on our behalf have to choose our name from the drop-down list (called "Affiliate List") when you check out.  We've not yet received any credit for the shirts already bought for us because of this, but seriously and in complete honesty:  It's no big deal.  God knew that someone else needed that commission more than us at this time and we're so happy to know it's helped someone else bring their sweet child home!  If you have any questions about this, don't hesitate to leave a comment and I'll try to answer them!  Enjoy this gorgeous (cold??) Indiana day!


Jen