The Journey Home

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!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Great news!!

Guess what, guess what, guess what??  (I'm a tiny bit excited!!)  As all of you know, we were referred to a beautiful little three-year-old girl from Ethiopia on Monday, March 7.  We fell head over heels in love with her the moment we laid eyes on her.  For real.  We have been praying and praying that the Lord would match us up with the child who was meant to be in our family, and boy did He.  After we accepted the referral we hurriedly filled out all of the paperwork, marveled at the way the Lord provided the money we needed, and sent everything off to our adoption agency.  

Here's the great news...

We heard back from our agency who said that everything looked to be in good order and they were sending our acceptance of Abigail Biruk Travis to Ethiopia!  

I thought that I was feeling impatient before we got matched, but since we know who our child is and what she looks like I feel like I could walk across the Atlantic to go get her!  Please continue to pray for wisdom and discernment for the Ethiopian government as they make decisions concerning adoptions; and please help us to pray our Abbi home.  We'll keep you posted!  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Child's Perspective

We just started an Amanda Bennett unit study on Easter today.  All four of the kids.  At one time.  Doing one family study, notebook-style.  I'll have to let you know how it goes - doing it with ages 12 to 6 was a little bumpy, but I'm hoping to work out all of the kinks by Friday!  Anyway, one of the questions they had to answer was this:  In your own words, describe who Jesus is.  I had to share their answers with you.

Leah, age 8:  He is the Messiah, Savior, and the Son of God.  He is lovely.
Eli, age 10:  He is God, Savior of all the earth.
Kristen, age 6:  He is powerful.  He is Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Always and Forever Love.  He is THE Jesus.  He is God.
Emma, age 12:  Jesus is perfect, powerful, merciful, humble, and loving.  He cares more about people than He cares about Himself.  He is God's One and Only Son.  He sits at the right hand of God and is waiting for the command to come back and deliver His people from this sinful world.  

What a treasure to have their thoughts on Him written down!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Beautiful Progression

What a ride the last week has been.  I have been thinking over the past years and realized what the Lord has done in us and to us.  It's been said that hindsight is 20/20, and this is absolutely true.  I love how we so often are called to walk by faith having no idea where we're going or what He's up to, and years later He allows our faith to become sight and see from where He's called us and sometimes even the purpose for which He called us. 

I think back to my young teenage years and see how He gave me a deep love for children and their well-being.  In my early 20's He broke me over the plight of the poor, the implications poverty has on children, and called me to see myself (even as a college student with not a penny to my name) as rich and blessed in material things beyond measure, and to share my wealth with those He called me to.  He allowed me in my mid-20's to love on kids from every manner of background and taught me the intrinsic worth of each.  He also started talking to me specifically about adoption at this time.  In my late 20's and early 30's I started to make the connection as I studied His Word that all of us are adopted, and He made gratefulness well up inside of me that I'm one of His kids because I've been grafted in by His great, great love for me; for all of us.  He broke both my husband and I and made it clear that adoption was part of His perfect plan for our family shortly after this.  But in my mind, the most amazing leg of this journey has taken place this week.  He's brought us from thinking, "We're adopting a child from Ethiopia" to "We're adopting our daughter from Ethiopia."  This may seem silly to some of you, but I think it's a real, live miracle.  You know that amazing moment when you give birth and the doctor lays that red, wriggling, screaming, messy baby up on your belly so you can see him?  In a manner of speaking, the idea of becoming a parent (the abstract) became very much a reality at that moment.  The same thing happened when we first saw the picture of our daughter.  That abstract notion of becoming a parent to a child in Ethiopia has now become a reality.  "Becoming an adoptive parent" has switched over to "Becoming Abigail Biruk's Mommy and Daddy."  It's so hard to explain well...but I am so very thankful that it's happened. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our God is Good...No Matter What

 Aaron and I were so blessed to have our mentor, Mike Baer, marry us.  He wrote our vows for us, and at the end we said to each other, "Together, Forever, Whatever."  I can't tell you how those 3 words have helped us over the years, but it feels like never more so than now.  Currently, there are rumors swirling about the Ethiopian government slashing adoptions by 90% in the very near future.  This, of course, could have major implications for those of us right in the middle of the adoption process.  Here's what the Lord has taught me over the past few years through a dear friend of mine:  "...whatever is true , whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things...and the God of peace will be with you."  (Phil. 4:8-9)  We can choose to drive ourselves crazy with all of the "what if"s and "what about"s, or we can choose to think on and believe only what we know to be true.  

So, here's what I know to be true:  
1)  The God of the universe, who created everything and holds everything together, is our God.  He has plans for us that are perfect in every way.
2)  He is "the God who performs miracles" according to Ps. 77:14
3)  Nothing is too hard for Him, according to Jer. 32:17  ("Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you."  Isn't that a fantastic verse??)
4)  He is strong, and He is loving according to Ps. 62:10 ("One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:  that you, O God are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.")
5)  He invites us to rest our weary souls (and racing minds) according to Matt. 11:28. ("Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest...for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.")
6)  He will work ALL things to the good of those who love Him according to Rom. 8:28.
7)  He called our family to adopt.  

He is with us, whispering, "Together, Forever, Whatever."  Oh, how I love Him. His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  They are infinitely better.  This in no way surprised Him.  He can be trusted no matter what happens.  A wise friend told me that through her adoption process (which was very difficult towards the end), the Lord reminded her that her children were never hers to begin with...they are His, and He will do what is best (not good; BEST) for them.  We. Can. Trust. Him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

At a Loss for Words...

So I'll borrow some verses from the Word:  "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant."  God just blew our socks off yesterday, and I can't wait to tell you about it!!  

This month marks 1 year since we began the process to adopt a child or children from Ethiopia.  Patience does not come naturally for me, but I've been so grateful that the Lord has poured His patience into me and helped me to ride out this long, long process without losing my mind.  To tell you the truth, though, this past week has been tough...really, really tough.  I've been nesting in the worst way.  Cleaning the trashcan with a toothbrush and Mr. Clean?  Yep, that was me.  Figuring out rooms for the kids and wanting to start on the new kid's room even though I didn't know gender or age??  Yep.  Crying all day Saturday because the wait was getting to me and I just needed to hold our newest addition?  Absolutely.  Like I said, it was a tough week.  So Monday morning I got up, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat down to cry with the Lord.  I knew at that point that we were still way down on the list and realistically wouldn't be called with a referral for another 4 or 5 months.  I asked Him to be my Help, to pour His patience into me, to love and protect our child and his or her family, to sing hope over them to let them know that Mommy and Daddy were coming!!  I felt better after that, but I must admit that I felt more of a resignation than a joy in my heart at that moment.  I got the kids in the car, went to co-op, had lunch, and then hung out at a dear friend's house until it was time to take the girls to gymnastics.  Just as a side note, I love my friends.  They are pure gifts to me from the Lord and I so appreciate how they can minister to me and lift my spirits.  We got back from gymnastics and I started supper around 4:00 p.m. Monday, March 7.  At 5:00 my third-born brings the phone to me and says, "It's for you, Mom.  I don't know who it is."  Anytime the kids have said that over the past 4 months, my heart stops inside of my chest for a second.  As it turns out, it was (drum roll please....) 


I listened in stunned silence as the kind woman on the phone told me that they were referring a child to us and we should be receiving the e-mail any moment with her paperwork and picture.  What??  But we're number 41 on the list!  I have to wait another 4 months!  Only 1 child, not 2?  Questions swirled in my head.  I told her thank you (I think) and hung up the phone, running to tell Aaron.  He looked as shocked as I was.  We waited, not so patiently I don't mind telling you, for the e-mail to arrive.  It finally did, and we skipped past all of the formalities and went straight down to her picture.  There was not a dry eye in the place.  We sat and stared at this precious little 3 year old girl, and somehow knew that she was the one we had been missing.  She was the one we had been waiting for.  I called the grandmas, my sister, my brother, and my friends who all rejoiced with us over this completely unexpected news.  We called our adoption agency at 6:30 to accept the referral and got voicemail (argghh); she called back at 7:00, and at 7:05 we had officially accepted the referral.  Her picture is the wallpaper on our computer and hangs on our refrigerator.  She is Abigail Biruk, and she will be coming home in the next few months.  Our God delights in surprising us, I'm convinced.  I imagine that the week of nesting (which I went through for each of the children) prior to this call was His way of saying, "She's coming!  I'm just getting you ready."  We have a baby girl!  O Lord, you gave ear to my words in Your graciousness; You listened to my cry for help, for I prayed to You.  In the morning, O LORD, you heard my voice; in the morning I laid my requests before you and waited in eager expectation. (Ps. 5)  I just had no idea to expect...our daughter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Blessing of Trials

I'm going to be honest with you.  I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day yesterday.  One of my friends posted this on facebook:  "I know I'm supposed to see everyday as a gift...but I've got my gift receipt and I want to exchange today for Saturday."  Amen, sister.  I felt the same way.  It was a day in which I felt beaten down, discouraged, and just tired.   I'm dealing with  a situation like what Paul described in 2 Corinthians:  "...there was given me a thorn in my torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me."  It's something I've been dealing with for a very, very long time, and yesterday I wearied of still having that thorn in my side!  I was very glad to go to bed last night, to end that most difficult day...and then morning came.  I woke up, made a pot of Ethiopian Yiracheffe coffee, curled up in a chair with His Word, and let Him bind up the wounds I had received.  I asked for strength, and He gave it to me.  I asked Him to help me respond in the Spirit and not react in the flesh, and He did.  I asked Him to help me to rejoice in my sufferings...well, we're still working on that one.  Someday, I'd like to be able to say (and mean) what Paul said.  "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  

Here's what I'm learning about trials.  They expose how truly weak I am.  They remind me how much I need Him. They teach me to depend on Him.  Have you been watching the news?  The Middle East is a mess right now; we sit and wait and very often have no idea what's going on with our adoption.  All I know is that our babies are over there, and I want them OUT.  I want them safe.  It's a trial; a small one, but a trial.  I can start to feel anxious for their safety.  I can wonder why we must wait with no word on what's happening.  And then I have to remember what Paul learned.  "[The Lord said to me], 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'"  From what I can tell in the Word of God, this lesson can only be learned through trials.  Big, small, and every kind in between.  The trial can bring me into deeper, more trusting relationship with God Himself.  As I think about it, that's not a bad trade-off at all.