The Journey Home

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quotable Quote

It seems that lately I've been running across some really amazing quotes that God is using to speak into my life.  Here's the latest one:  

"Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think."  ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This one jumped out at me because I got through the end of the book that's been consuming me, there is no me without you.  The last story she relayed was about a child she had met in the orphanage in Addis Ababa.  Both she and her brother were dropped off at the orphanage by their aunts, as their parents had died and the extended family was unable to care for them.  As she was guided in through the gates, she started to scream for her family not to leave her.  She cried and was inconsolable.  She ran numerous times into the gate that closed behind her, trying to follow her aunts who sat just outside the gate crying into each others shoulders.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever read.  Thankfully, some time later, this sister and brother were adopted.  She started talking about that day to her mommy after they had settled into their new home.  She said, 
"Yabsira cry a little.  I am scream."  
"Why did you cry, baby?" asked her mother.  
"I don't know this Ethiopia.  I want my Ethiopia with Goshay (Grandfather) and Fasika (Aunt).  I don't want new Ethiopia."  
"You were sad," said her mother.  
"No hope, Mommy.  I have no hope."  
"Oh, honey..."  
"Because no one told me, Mommy."  
"Told you what?"  
"That you are here in America.  I will not feel so sad if I know you are here."  "Yeah, I was here getting ready, getting your rooms ready.  I was here, me and your daddy, waiting and getting ready."  
"I am cry because I don't know you will coming." (pg. 384)

Sometimes I find myself thinking, "What do I have to give?  I truly am no one of consequence.  We don't make loads and loads of money.  We don't have a gigantic house.  I'm fallible and make mistakes..."  And on and on I can go.  Then, the Lord whispers to me, "My power is made perfect in your weakness.  I will show this all-surpassing power through your common little jar of clay, if you'll let Me."  So I'll give what I have.  I'll give copious amounts of love, hugs, snuggles, kisses, and tickles.  We'll do our very best to help them grow in the love of the Lord.  I'll give myself fully to God everyday, and watch in amazement at what He does through me.  I pray that to two (actually, six) little ones, giving what I have will be better than I dare to think. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

there is no me without you

I am reading a book right now called there is no me without you by Melissa Fay Greene.  This book is turning my world upside down...or maybe it's turning it right side up.  As I read this book, I am beginning to piece some things together, starting to see things a little more clearly.  Or perhaps it's the Lord helping me to get my eyes off of me and onto things and people that truly matter to Him.  There's a song that I sometimes sing to Him that has this line in it:  "Break my heart for what breaks Yours...everything I am for Your kingdom's cause."  This song has become a prayer for me.  I'm tired of being selfish.  I'm tired of thinking so temporally.  I want this one life to matter for the Kingdom.  I want to fulfill His purposes for me in my generation.  Here's what's really cool to me.  Many things break His heart.  What He chooses to break your heart over is probably going to be different than what He breaks mine over.  But when you step up and take action with the empowerment of God's love and His Holy Spirit inside of you and I do the same, He's able to do exceedingly abundantly more through us, His Church, than we could ask, think, or imagine.  

Here is an excerpt from this book.  I warn you, you may want to read with a kleenex in your hand.  "In 2005, Ethiopia had 1,563,000 AIDS orphans, the 2nd highest concentration of such children in the world; and 4,414,000 orphans from all causes, the 2nd highest number in Africa.  Out of all these children, 1,400 departed for new families abroad that year."  "Adults stood on the rocky road outside [the orphanage] gate, politely knocked, then waited in the rough-cut shade of a juniper tree, holding the hands of frightened children.  'Please, I am sick; I cannot feed him.'  'Please take them, we will not live much longer.'  'I cannot bring him up, I have no money and his father is dead.'  'I found them in my yard - I don't even know who they are.'  Some ragged children were given a rough shove in [the orphanage's] direction by the neighbor or distant relative in a hurry to be rid of them; others were petted and wept over by grandparents too poor and frail to keep them..[she] saw the small, pinched faces, the heads hanging so low on the chests they seemed to have been unpinned from the necks.  Like sacks of grain, the children were transferred to new ownership.  They shuffled forward without looking up, ashamed."  (pg. 144-145)  

I imagine that many of the adults who spoke to this orphanage director did so tearfully, mourning the loss of the children they love so very much but cannot keep.  Some children who find themselves in orphanages were tragically not wanted, but many, many of them were.  What great love their family members show when they give up their children in hopes that what they cannot give them (even if they desperately want to) will be provided by someone else.  When my children ask, "Why didn't my family want me?"  I will do my best to explain that, in all likelihood, they DID.  I've been praying already for the family members of our children, that they will all come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I've already begun praying for our children to come to know and love Christ.  One of my biggest motivations beyond their own eternal security is this:  that the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who lovingly gave them up for a season will be able to spend all of eternity with them.  What a day of great rejoicing that will be!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Know Our Number!

Our adoption agency has been wonderful so far.  We feel so blessed to be working alongside a Christian agency who cares not only for orphans but for the plight of their parents.  We were trying to keep up with all of the goings-on in Ethiopia and ran across a blog from a family adopting from there.  They were elated that they were number 21 on the list.  We immediately wanted to know, what is this list, and where are WE on it??  We contacted our agency and asked them about it, and learned that we are currently #41 on the list of families waiting to be matched in Ethiopia.  Actually, that was a couple of weeks ago...maybe we're #39 now!!  This is just a general guideline to help families know where they are in the process, because this waiting and not knowing anything about your particular adoption can be really hard.  However, time and time again, the Lord has reminded me that we do not wait on man; we wait on His sovereign and absolutely perfect timing.  The last time I was getting a little bit anxious about the whole thing a friend of mine said, "Maybe you're still waiting because your child hasn't been born yet!"  Only the Lord knows.  We'll get the call, and it won't be a second too late.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Gentle Nudge

Happy late Valentine's Day everyone!  This may very well be one of my least favorite holidays, but how I pray that you know and feel the great love that our Father has lavished, and I do mean lavished upon us today and every day.  

Today I wanted to share what happened in February of 2010, the month and year that the Lord gave us the gentle nudge to begin the adoption process.  As you may recall, this was the month that the devastating earthquake struck Port au Prince, Haiti.  We all watched in horrified silence as the pictures from this already poor and in many ways desperate country poured into our homes.  The human toll was so large that my brain simply could not compute the numbers.  Shortly after this earthquake occurred, we received a letter from a missionary who lives there.  She was in Port au Prince when the quake hit.  I think that she just had to express the horror she was seeing, trying to process what was going on around her.  She miraculously escaped the collapsed building she was in, and as she walked the streets she tried to describe the sights and smells that assaulted her.  I read this e-mail, stunned, trying to understand what she was saying, when I stopped cold at reading this line:  "There are children milling around everywhere, unattached to any adult...filthy, terrified, crying, dragging dirty blankets behind them, screaming for their missing parents."  God broke me.  He whispered in my spirit, "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed."  (Psalm 82:3)  I called for Aaron who also read this e-mail, and all of the fears and what-if's about adopting felt much smaller.  We prayed that night together, "Father, we are available to You.  We will adopt if that is Your desire for us."  

This part of the story is my favorite part...I love how gracious God is to answer our prayers; I love how pleasantly surprised and tender toward Him I always feel when I hear His voice whispering to my spirit.  Less than 48 hours after praying that prayer, we received a phone call at around 8:00 in the morning.  I'm up with the chickens, so this is not early; however, I was surprised to hear the phone ring at that hour.  The voice on the other end of the line was a nice woman who is an acquaintance of mine from our church.  As soon as I heard her voice, I was afraid that she had called to ask me to speak at a lady's event or something terrifying like that!  These are exactly her words as I remember them:  "Jenny, I know this may feel like it's coming out of the blue, but my brother is going to try to use the jet his company owns to fly to Haiti and bring orphaned children back to Grant County.  Would you and Aaron be interested in adopting one or two of them?"  Bless her sweet heart, I started to cry.  I startled her and she began to apologize profusely until I could finally tell her, "You have no idea what Aaron and I just prayed!!"  She started laughing, obviously quite relieved that the crying wasn't her fault, and we marveled together over the timing of this phone call.  All this time, Aaron and our children were standing in the kitchen with me watching me cry and wondering what in the world was going on.  After I got off of the phone and told him, he just kept saying, "No way.  NO WAY!!"  He talked with his sister about it a while later and said, "We sure think the Lord has opened the door for us to adopt."  She replied, "More like He opened the Grand Canyon in your front yard!"  

We truly thought the Lord was going to allow us to adopt from Haiti, but this of course could not happen.  It is difficult enough to adopt from Haiti sans natural disasters; this earthquake made it impossible.  I heard on the news that the government there was closing all possibilities to adopt from there; I was shocked to hear the news anchor say those words.  Aaron came home and I tearfully told him the news.  He hugged me and said, "Just because we can't adopt from Haiti doesn't mean that we can't adopt.  We'll just have to ask the Lord where our children are."  Turns out, they're in Ethiopia :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Unexpected Gift

My eldest daughter, Emma, just gave me this poem this evening.


It is sad
But it is a miracle
A real, live miracle
The people who do it are blessed!
The kids who are...are home
This miracle is adoption
It is a blessing in sad disguise
The children are orphaned
Without parents, without homes
They need someone desperately
And the "someone" is provided
These people are parents 
Who love, and who care
Who feel like there is a child missing
And they relieve that feeling
It takes a LONG time
And it is nearly maddening
The soon-to-be parents wanting
The soon-to-be adopted, waiting
The dossier sent, the papers signed
The fingerprints taken, the visit to the capitol done
You wait, and you wait
And suddenly, it's the day!
The phone rings
It's the adoption agency
You are matched up with a child
You squeal, you cry, you laugh
You call everyone you know
And tell them that your child is coming home

by Emma Travis
February 10, 2011


I tend to reflect when I'm expecting, and this time around is no different.  I was thinking back over all of those special God-moments in which He told me I was going to be a mommy again.  I'd like to share one of my favorite times with you, if you don't mind.  It happened one afternoon as we were enjoying a fantastically wonderful day on the beach at Dunes State Park with our long-time friends, the Poole family.  I needed out of the house in the worst way.  No actually, I remember having the thought, "I need out of this COUNTY!"  I just needed a change of scenery, needed to have an adventure, so while my husband worked hard at discipling Junior and Senior High students, I rounded up the kiddos, packed a huge picnic basket full of food, and hit the road.  We were all very excited because we'd never been there before.  Seriously, if you find yourself wondering what to do this summer and you know you've got a beautiful day coming, go to this park!  We climbed the dunes, we ran down the dunes, we took pictures, the kids swam in what the adults thought was frigid water, we buried children neck-deep in the sand, watched the kids build sandcastles and forts, ate, talked, and laughed our heads off.  

Anytime I take the kids out by myself, I am constantly counting them to make sure they're all there.  1-2-3-4.  Yep, we're good.  Some time later:  1-2-3-4...I panicked.  Four??  Where was the fifth??  I counted again.  I started to run closer looking for the fifth when I realized...I only have four children.  I laughed out loud thinking how weird that was, and then it struck me.  The feeling that Someone was missing from our family had never gone away.  The understanding that we were being called to add to our family started to sink in.  That's when I started to miss our child who wasn't there.  God has turned this feeling into a longing to have our child(ren) home with us.  I want to read to them and tuck them into bed with a kiss and a prayer.  I want to see them rubbing sleepy eyes in the morning and climb beside me in my chair for an early morning snuggle.  I want to hug them and kiss them on sweet little chubby cheeks.  I want to get splashed during bath time.  I want my babies home.  How very thankful I am that God really can grow babies in a mommy's heart.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How It All Began

I'm so thankful to have a place to write down my thoughts about this.  I'm not much of a journal-er, and this blog is motivating me to write!  I love thinking that our children will have this to read someday.  It's important for them to have the musings and thoughts of their mother as she was traveling this road to adoption.

A sweet woman from my Bible study asked me one evening how this process of wanting to adopt began.  I was about to tell her about the recent events that led us to this point, but as I thought about it I realized that it started much earlier than March of 2010.  When I was in college, I had the opportunity to travel to Tirana, Albania just after communism fell in that country.  Tirana is a bustling city with narrow streets and hundreds of cars with EXTREMELY fast drivers behind the wheel.  Think about the old "Frogger" game and you've got a fairly realistic picture of what it was like!  To get to where our mission team needed to go everyday, we had to walk on the sidewalk next to this crazy-scary street.  And at the intersection of this street with another very busy street, a baby sat on the sidewalk.  She couldn't have been more than a year old, but there she sat, from morning to evening, on a dirty blanket.  Her mother put her there so that passers-by would take pity on her and throw loose change on the blanket.  This is how her family survived.  My team felt sorry for her; I wanted to pack her into my suitcase and take her home.  I think that is the day that the Lord began to break my heart for orphans and their families.  I began to wonder if He would ever allow me the opportunity to do this; whether or not the man I married (because at this point I was single!) would want to adopt.  I prayed about it and put it into His very capable hands.  If He wanted my future family to adopt, then we would.  And that was that.  

As it turns out, I married a wonderful man, one who loves and seeks the Lord Jesus.  We got married in December of 1995 and a new branch of the Travis family started to grow.  Our first child, Emma, was born in 1999; our son, Eli, came in 2000.  Then came our daughter, Leah, in 2002, and our baby, Kristen in 2004.  Our lives were full, fun, chaotic, and sometimes stressful, but we loved it.  Four children in 5 years was a blessing beyond anything we had imagined, but truly, it felt as though someone was missing.  I shoved that thought to the back of mind, thinking that the minimal working braincells I had at that point must be misfiring!!  It was just a couple of years after Kristen's birth that we met a family who had adopted from Guatemala.  She was a friend of a friend, and my friend had asked me to pray for her family during their adoption process.  I found myself praying for this dear family to get their sweet little boy and bring him home.  We got to meet Corbin a number of months later.  As Jessica placed him in my arms, he wrapped his tiny arms around my neck and his little legs around my middle and squeezed.  The nearest thing I can liken it to is what it might be like to hold a chimpanzee!  My heart didn't just melt; it broke a little bit more.  And when Aaron held him, the Lord started to break his heart for children without forever, loving families.  

From there, we began to pray...not fervently, mind you.  We just asked Him what He thought.  He answered in not-so-subtle ways.  We heard in sermons that there are 143 million orphans in the world as we speak.  Africa has the greatest proportion of children who are orphans.  Every minute, some 20 children die around the world from poverty, easily preventable diseases, hunger, and illness.  That is equivalent to 1 child dying every 4 seconds.  I cried my way through most of that sermon and God had Aaron's attention during it as well.  I remember coming home and standing in the kitchen talking these statistics over with Aaron.  I distinctly remember him saying, "How can we do nothing?  We have to do something!"  I love Helen Keller's quote that says, "I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the somthing I can do."   We're just one family, but God can do the impossible in and through weak little jars of clay like yours.  That is one of the many beautiful things about being in a relationship with Him.  You find yourself doing things that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt would be impossible on your own.  I love that He takes us on adventures with Him.  This is our biggest yet, so we'll just trust Him and hold on tight to Him with both hands.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Journey Home

Me?  A Blogger??  Yes, it is true.  I am doing yet another thing in my life that I truly never thought I would be doing:  blogging.  Please bear with me as I try to construct this page!  As is the case with just about everyone I know, free time is at a minimum which is precisely when I'll be able to work on it to make it pretty :)  However, with family and friends all over the world and across the United States this seemed to be the easiest way to keep all of you updated on this amazing journey the Lord Jesus has us on.  In the days to come, I'll try to post how it is that we got here:  in the process of adopting one and possibly a sibling group of two from Ethiopia.  Right now our family covets your prayers as we wait to be matched with our child(ren).  We love you all and appreciate your love, friendship, and support!