Monday, November 18, 2013

still pluggin'....

I am at home with sick kiddos today, so I decided I should take advantage of the solace and update my blog! I had no idea that it has already been 2 months since my last posting! Time flies when you're up to your elbows in raising little boys and completing adoption paper work!

Just an update of where we are on this adventure...we have done all our initial application paperwork and orientations...had 2 home visits with our wonderful social worker...and have now completed the homestudy process. We just have to wait for the home study to be edited and reviewed by our agency, and we then get an opportunity to read over it and make sure everything is documented correctly. (It's apparently 17 pages long...who knew we were THAT interesting!) When we get that back- which could be this week or next we will send it off to the Department of Homeland Security for our initial approval- pretty much a form from the US government telling the Chinese government that we are suitable to adopt a Chinese child. They have up to 90 days to process that form- please pray they don't take that long! That document is the last and final piece of our dossier- the honkin' huge packet of documents that we will send to China as a representation of our family!

We are currently working on several grant applications, and fundraisers. It has been such a blessing to see all the people who have come together to help bring our mei mei home! So many have donated clothing to mei mei's closet. My best friend Sarah has donated countless hours organizing all the clothes that have been sent to us from all over the place! We will be posting information about other things you can be a part of soon...pancake breakfast, photo mini-sessions, bags, jewelry, present wrapping! But, for right now, please pray for mei mei- that she's healthy this winter, that she feels loved and secure, and that her belly is fed (that's what our boys pray every morning!), pray for our family as we continue to plan and save and prepare our hearts and the hearts of our boys, pray for protection from the Enemy in our home, pray that we would see and seize opportunities to testify of what He's doing through adoption in our family!

So, that's it in a nutshell (very, very small nutshell)...but we are pluggin' right along! It has been a tedious, but exciting process! I've thought a lot during much of the time I've spent filling out papers to convince others that we are worthy of their trust to care for our sweet girl. It's reminded me of how much time and patience God has when wooing us, calling us, whispering to our hearts..."You can trust Me. I'll take care of you. I will always love you." Yet another beautiful reminder along this journey of how it mirrors God the Father adopting us as His Sons and Daughters!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Isaiah's legacy...

So, now that you know the back story…I am so excited to tell all that God has done to get us to where we are today! As I shared before, the Lord had given me such a heart and passion for adoption. I felt so strongly that this would be part of our families story. I think it’s amazing the confidence that can come from the Lord when He has called you to something. This was exactly what I felt!
Long story short…God told me very clearly that His desire for our family was to adopt- but, Jason had not so clearly heard the message yet. After being unemployed for 7 months the Lord miraculously provided above and beyond what we needed and we were able to pay off all of our debt. We worked toward this goal with adoption in mind. But, when we arrived at that debt free moment, Jason just wasn’t there yet. He had not gotten the same message as me! That was so hard. I didn’t understand how I could feel so strongly and passionate about something, and he not. So, I began to pray, asking the Lord to unite our passions. And, if adoption wasn’t something we could rally behind together, that He would replace that with something we could. I asked God to make His plan clear to our family. There were several really difficult conversations during this time- when I did not so much patiently wait for the Lord to work things out. During our last of these conversations it was made clear that Jason felt strongly that this was not the time for our family to adopt, and that if and when that time came he would let me know. This was devastating for me- my hope for my calling felt like it had been deflated! The week following I continued to pray with fervor – asking the Lord to help me to be respectful and submissive in Jason’s response. And that God would just have His way with our family and the direction we would take- adoption or not.
It was very hard for me to remember that God is always working- in ways we cannot see, and would not believe!
The next Sunday morning as we sat down, and church began, one of our Pastors began to share a terrible tragedy that his family had experienced that week. He and his wife were in the long process of adopting a precious little boy, Isaiah, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They had already been in the process close to two years, and were one document away from getting permission to travel. I cannot imagine the excitement and frustration that fill those days waiting on one piece of paper, so that you can go and bring your child home. During this wait, they received a phone call from their agency. It was bad, terrible, the worst news. Isaiah had contracted cerebral malaria, and had not survived. The son they were so close to bringing home- to a family- was gone. Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the place.
Then, Seth began to preach. He spoke of God’s faithfulness to His people, in spite of how we worry or try to change things to make them better in our own way. The message really impacted me in that I needed to just live in the here and now- love and teach and raise the children we have now. Be content with where we are now- adoption or not. Knowing and claiming that He’s got this and His plan is always the best- regardless of how much I worry and fret over how different it is from my own.

After the message during communion Jason and I were praying before taking the elements. He looked at me and said, “It’s time.” I just assumed he meant to join the church- as we had discussed this after visiting for several weeks. So, I smiled and said, “Ok.” We finished the service and got our boys from their classes and then headed out to have lunch with some friends. We’re pulling out of the parking lot and Jason looks at me and says, “So, what do you think about what I said?” And I responded in my typical long winded fashion (as you can tell from this epistle you are now reading!) I went on and on about how much I loved the church. How every week the sermons meet us right where we are. Our kids love it…etc. He starts smiling really big, and tells me that’s great and all but that “It’s time.” So, I’m super confused. He then goes on to explain that he believes that now is time to go find and rescue our daughter.
Shocked! ….full on ugly cry! He went on to explain that after hearing about this family’s loss of their son he was so impacted. A child they were committed to saving for months, passing away before you could be united with him. He talked about how devastating that would be to lose him when you were so committed to fighting for him so hard.

He looked at me with tears and conviction in his eyes that I have only ever seen a handful of times and said, “ God has called our family to the same thing and we aren’t even fighting! It’s time to fight for her. She is worth the sacrifice of time, energy, emotion, finance and risk. She deserves what Isaiah had in Seth and Melissa- our commitment to do all we can to bring her home.” And to follow such an impactful testimony with a sermon like he shared made it all the more obvious to Jason that fear and worry were holding him back from God’s calling. That God had promised to provide and protect him, so that he in turn could provide and protect our daughter.

I can’t really put into words all the emotions that I felt. Indescribable.

Later that day, I begin to imagine the pain that this family must have been feeling. Where they were in the grieving process, or how they would plan to move forward. It seems as though it would feel a lot like when I miscarried- missing someone that was never there. Then, as I began to think about all that had happened in the life of our family that day as a result of that family’s obedience to walk the long, tedious and messy road to adoption- only to have such pain at the end- we were now beginning our journey down the same long path. Trusting the Lord for each and every step, just as they had.

However, the Lord, our redeemer, promises us that in His hands nothing is wasted. No joy or pain. He makes beauty from ashes. T he story of Isaiah, the pain his family are continuing to wade in and work through right now is not in vain. His story and the bravery of his Mama and Daddy will continue to impact and reach so many.

Because of Isaiah’s story, there is a little girl somewhere in China right now- who God has chosen to be our daughter. Now, she won’t have to wait as long for her forever family because a family was willing to be transparent in their pain, and poured out to be used by His Spirit in the lives and hearts of others.

When we got home Sunday afternoon Jason gathered all the paperwork together that we had collected and began filling out forms, himself. God used Isaiah, His family, and their story to answer my many prayers. And He did so in a way that it is so clear that it could only have been Him at work. One week no adoption, the next our application is mailed.

I will forever be so grateful for the way the Lord moved and began our journey to China. It is my hope that our story in some way has reminded you that God can make beauty from ashes and that He can and will use even the hardest and most painful times in our lives for His glory! Please pray for our friends, as they continue on their journey to DR Congo to rescue to one God has for them. I know that our God is working and weaving together a tapestry so beautiful for their family…thankful for the way it will be forever woven into ours…and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

And to Isaiah…an orphan no more, safe and at home in the arms of his Abba.
Thank you.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Step one...千里之行,始于足下

So, we are on a new and exciting journey as a family- ADOPTION! I’ve not blogged in forever- life with 2 boys is just, well, busy! But, during this special adventure that we are on I would really like to try to be more consistent about writing about our journey, experiences, and how God is working for several reasons. The first being so we can look back and remember all the happenings, and so that she can read one day all that happened while we were fighting and working so hard to bring her home! And secondly, because it’s an opportunity to share…a lot of you will be traveling down this path with us offering much support, love, prayers and encouragement in so many ways. This is the perfect format to keep you in the know of where we are, and how you can pray! And above and beyond all else…we can brag on God, how big He is, how faithful He is, and how He shows up when we walk in obedience to His calling…

Here is the beginning of the beginning…many of you know Jason is a “quote guy” so, this is for him…
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step….” -Confucius

Almost 2 years ago the Lord really began to burden my heart for the orphan crisis, adoption, and the role He has called the church to play as the solution. It began as something that just struck a cord in my maternal heart- thinking of all those babies without homes, families, just lying alone in beds without love. And as time went on it became a passion that can only come from God. I knew that I had to do something, that this passion was there for a reason, and that the Lord had plans to use it somehow in my life.

Ever since my freshman year of college after hearing a presentation by Stephen Curtis Chapman at a concert on adoption- Chinese adoption specifically- a seed of a dream was planted in my heart. He shared the story of their family growing through adoption, and sang the song “When Love Takes You In”. As that continued to marinate in my heart, I felt very strongly that He wanted me to seek out an opportunity to go to China and serve these sweet children who were abandoned. So, I began to scour the internet for summer mission opportunities. The one I found was through the Georgia Baptist Student Union- and Toccoa Falls didn’t have one of these. But, I continued on with the application process. It was a trip to work in an orphanage with children. I was selected to the “interview weekend” and after that was chosen as one of the 4 students who would go to China- out of over 200 applicants. Only God could’ve done that! So, that summer I spent 6 weeks in China. The week before we left our connections with the orphanage we were supposed to help with “fell through”. So, we went on anyway and worked in several cities where no IMB missionaries were currently working to get information on the people and society there. It was an amazing experience.
The country was beautiful. The people were so warm and welcoming (sometime a little too much so, as they would form a circle around us on the street and just stare!...not kidding!). But, most of all, I fell in love with the children! They were so beautiful! We worked with several schools teaching English and it was just a really special experience to see that no matter language, socioeconomic status, or distance…all children are the same!
So, while I loved China’s wall, the beautiful children, the sweet hospitable people, the gorgeous fountains and impressive city squares. I did not love the black smog that I wiped from my face each night, the smell of, well, I’m not really sure what it was sewage, garbage… the effect that their food had on my body, or the ominous,and almost tangible at times feeling of the Enemy’s presence. When our plane landed in America, and I walked out to breathe in the clean air and drink a glass of sweet tea I distinctly remember saying, “If I ever go back there…it will be to save one of those precious babies. Period.”

So….12 years later, here we are…step one.

Stay tuned...I will be writing again soon about the story of a very special little boy that the Lord used to unite Jason and I for the cause of rescuing our daughter!