It's a bedtime tradition that began with Little Nutbrown Hare, and each night we try to outdo the last...I love you to the moon and the beach and the mountians...and one of my favorites, "to Jesus and the angels" and back...We never imagined we would be saying, I love you to Africa and seems like the furthest imaginable place, but yet in God's perfect timing, we plan to go.... to Africa and back!!! And when we get back, we will have another little cheek to kiss goodnight...please keep us in your prayers and enjoy this journey with us!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Learning to TRUST

 It had been a year since my second miscarriage. The loss of our baby, once again unexplained, at 12 weeks. Between these losses we had been blessed by the miracle of giving birth to a perfect healthy baby girl. But even that pregnancy had been stressful. At our first ultrasound we were told that this baby had a fifty percent chance of surviving. For us, pregnancy was stressful. My heart was fragile, I didn't feel like I had it in me to potentially experience this kind of loss again. But there we were, with a three year old whom we wanted to have a sibling, trying to decide whether to allow our hearts to possibly be broken once again or to raise an only child.  We prayed a lot. We knew our experience was not uncommon, but we also knew how painful it had been for us. Then one night, I began to get a glimpse of what God had in store for us. As I laid in bed, tossing and turning, worrying and praying I heard God speak to my heart. "Why not adopt?" I sat up. The thought was so loud and so clear it was as if someone had spoken the words out loud in my bedroom. That night was the first step in this amazing journey. God planted a seed in my heart that I could not ignore. It took a year, to really process the thought, and the commitment, and to begin to develop the trust that was needed to take that leap of faith into the adoption world. One year ago, this story officially began to unfold and I am learning that its when we step out in faith to follow God's plan we can never, in a million years, even dream up what He has in store for us. Last month, we thought we had it all figured out. We were given what felt like such a sure sign about our little boy. We accepted his referral, we paid the next set of fees and now we just wait for him to pass court so we can start planning our trip to bring him home. But last week we learned more about our sweet little boy, Dauphin. We learned that he is the oldest of 3 children. He is 4, turning 5 in May and he has 3 year old twin siblings...we were told the twins would be staying together but had been referred to a different family. I was heartbroken.  We never, ever, wanted to be a part of splitting up siblings and our agency had known this from the beginning. Prayerfully we told them that if the other family would consider accepting Dauphin, we would let his referral go if it meant keeping the children together. At 11:45 at night, I received an email. This email, left us frozen and in shock. There was no "other family"... The twins had not been referred and if we were interested we could consider taking them along with Dauphin...Seriously, God must have a sense of humor! I have one, quite self sufficient 5 year old. We're adopting an almost 5 year old...we had it all figured out..really?... We said we would be interested and asked for pictures and more information about the little ones. Once again, I feel God saying "Trust Me". Dauphin's little brother is also wearing a t-shirt that my friend recognized as one of her son's from the donation made last fall. God reminded us that this whole adoption idea was His in the first place. We are here because of our willingness to trust. We feel a connection to little Dauphin because we feel like God led us right to him. And now, we also feel a connection to his little siblings. Maybe we have been placed right where we are to fight for these kids who can not fight for themselves. They sit together at an orphanage, together, with no voice. We are their voice and we will trust.

Last week after learning about the twins, but having not shared this with Emmaline, I asked her if she was getting excited about her brother. She replied, "yes mommy, but I REALLY wanted a sister" she went on to say, "you know what would be perfect, if Jesus gave me 2 brothers and a sister, that way we would have 2 girls and 2 boys"... The twins are a little boy and a little girl. Sweet Emmaline, it looks like God is answering your prayers. We plan to do everything we can to bring all 3 of these sweet children home, together. When I ended my last blog post with "greater things are yet to come" I had no idea!

So, where does this leave us now? We have an amazing caseworker locally who has already updated our homestudy for us to include approval for adopting 3 children and she has sent the needed paperwork on to USCIS to update our I600a. This should hopefully be processed in the next 4-6 weeks. Since our homestudy has already been updated our agency sent us the official referral for the twins last Thursday! This means we have 2 weeks to gather the needed documents to accept and make another payment for their referral fee. This is where we take a huge leap of faith. We thought we were so on track financially (thanks to so many of you who have generously made donations), but now we owe $13,000 more, in 2 you have ever felt the urge to make a tax deductible donation to our adoption fund, now is the time! Details of how to do this can be found under the "support us" tab. We've been trying to think of more fund raisers to do and this definitely puts it into high gear for us. If anyone has any fundraising ideas, please share them with me! So, here we are...feeling like we are crazy to accept all three and even more crazy if we don't! We truly feel like God has big things in store for us and for these kids. We know we will be so blessed to have them in our lives. Thanks for being a part of this adventure with us!

Here's a song I want to share. I heard it and really listened to the lyrics for the first time the day before we learned about the twins.  It has become my favorite song since learning about them. It makes me so excited to know we are really doing something to make a difference!

Listen to the song here:  Kings and Queens

Friday, March 1, 2013

When it rains it pours!

On a Tuesday evening we went to bed expecting a good nights sleep and work the next day...instead we awoke at 3:06 am to our weather alert saying "Tornado Warning". In a fog I did my usual, "Warning?/Watch?...Warning!!! We felt the urgency to get downstairs, and fast! Thank God He had sent Emmaline downstairs into our room during the night so all I had to do was grab her from our bed and run for the 3:08 we heard the infamous "train"... I had never heard that sound before and it will forever be ingrained in my mind. As quickly as it had roared upon us, it was gone...silence. We sat shaking in a pitch dark basement...OK...I have never felt such instant fear, not for my life, but for the half sleeping child in my arms. After saying a thank you prayer we ventured upstairs. The sound of rain, pouring rain, inside our house... We scrambled for flashlights and headed to the second level. Water was dripping from around lights, smoke detectors and registers, we pulled down the attic stairs to be splashed with water. We started racing around to find buckets, bowls, towels anything to try to minimize water damage. We curiously shone flashlights outside into the yard to find our metal roof tangled up in our fence out front, explaining all of the water! We were so blessed to have family arrive by 5 am to help us place a tarp where the roof had been, as soon as it started to get light. In the meantime we emptied buckets and watched water pour in, running down the walls of the office upstairs and into the kitchen below. Water ran freely off of the counter in the kitchen onto the floor where it would next find the basement level...but we were okay. Three hours after the tornado had hit we had a tarp covering the center portion of our house. I felt so helpless...there was water everywhere but I couldn't figure out what to do with anything! Our insurance agent told us first of all to call a water extraction company. As we waited for them to arrive I felt the need to help neighbors. We ran out to find food around 10:30 and I saw neighbors everywhere trying to make sense of displaced metal, wood and trees. I knew I wouldn't be much help running a chainsaw but I knew these people must also need food. I decided to go to McDonald's and get food to pass out. I was so blessed by the people I met, my neighbors. The water extraction company arrived by 3 pm and began assembling equipment. Industrial size fans, dehumidifiers and lots and lots of other noisy equipment... Those guys became our best friends! They came daily for a week to move equipment and to asses how everything was drying. We went a week with our roof in our front yard, our stove and dishwasher in our living room and all of the items from the affected rooms moved into other parts of the house. But we also spent a week realizing how much we have to be thankful for!!! My parents have moved recently from 9 hours away to 3 miles down the road! That couldn't have been better timing! We are so fortunate to be able to stay with them, for that first week, and as needed throughout renovation. Speaking of timing...Monday after the tornado, I stopped by home to asses everything and told Chad I really thought I should make a coffee run to our local coffee shop for a little pick me up for us both. As I sat in my car waiting for my Mocha, my life once again began to spin around I waited there I browsed my heart stopped as I saw one from our case worker with the subject "3 year old boy"... Could it possibly be our turn, in the middle of this mess?!?!!! It was! The email asked if we were interested in learning more about him, to which I immediately replied "yes!!!!!"... Shaking I tried to keep my composure while accepting the coffees then quickly called Chad. The next hour was filled with memories I want to remember forever...Chad, Emmaline and I huddled around the iPad in our bonus room (trying to find a place in our house away from the noise) and seeing our first glimpse of a sweet little face of a precious child. It has been almost a month since the tornado and almost 3 weeks since that email & it feels like a very long blur. A stressful blur, in which my mind continues to theme throughout this adoption journey has been "in God's perfect timing" is definitely turning out to be a lesson in trust! We have yet to learn more about this cute little boy. We have one picture. We don't actually even know his age. We have sent many requests for any shred of information that can be shared with us, but for now we will wait. In Gods perfect timing we will know, if this child is our son. In closing I want to share a quote which my Grampa kept on his desk and loved to share. This seems so appropriate for this time..."We must wait patiently and not fail or be discouraged, for God has his plans all arranged." be continued...

Part Two:

A picture worth a thousand words...

In three and a half weeks of waiting and waiting for any glimpse of information about the sweet little boy we saw in our referral picture, I had lots of time to pray. In our first picture his image was blurry...the angle was so skewed I truly could not determine if this child was 3 years old or if he was 7...and we had no other information. The only thing we really could see was his Spiderman T-shirt. Since this was Chad's favorite childhood superhero I teased that maybe that was a sign that this child belonged in our family... We began this journey of adoption for two reasons. One to add another child to our family, a younger sibling for Emmaline, and two to give an orphan a home and a family. So here we were, after praying continuously for God to send the child He has chosen for our family to us, now debating if we should adopt a little boy who very well might be a year maybe two years older than our only mind was exhausted. Every time I made up my mind to accept the referral or decline I was almost instantly sure I was making the wrong choice...I somehow in my mind had pictured this moment of seeing our child's picture for the first time so differently. I was supposed to see his face & just know. But, we were so thrown off by the thought that he could be a school age child vs a toddler or preschooler. So I began to pray, really PRAY. Not the kind of prayers you say quickly at mealtime or bedtime when your fighting sleep. I said the kind of prayers where tears flowed freely, searching for God to reveal Himself...I prayed 2 prayers continuously for 3 1/2 first prayer "God, please show me one more picture of this little boy, in which I can really see how big he is" I needed something concrete to compare him to, a desk, a chair, anything! My second prayer, "God, I don't even know what to pray for, but you know exactly what I need to see to have peace about making this decision"... There it was, I left it in Gods hands. I was done worrying about it. And then, 2 days ago, God came so close to us. Finally in my inbox it arrived, a new picture!!! I was shaking as I opened the file. As it popped up, my heart jumped out of my chest, this was MY little boy! I felt it, I knew! He had the sweetest face & the kindest eyes. And he was standing next to a desk! And he looked so much smaller than the child my mind had created! God had answered my prayer and given me answers, I felt confident that this little boy was at least not any older than Emmaline. I immediately sent the picture to Chad and called him. We both agreed we felt very differently about this picture...I felt God had answered our prayer, quite specifically. But, hadn't I prayed 2 prayers? Although I felt like both prayers had kind of been answered with this one glance, God had more... Next, I excitedly called my mom. I rambled on and on about how cute this little boy was and I just felt like he must be our son, I really felt sure. She quietly listened and then said, "I know, you saw his shirt right?" I replied I did, it said something about a crocodile and maybe it was from Jake and the Neverland Pirates (Emmaline's favorite cartoon). Maybe God really was using his shirt to give us a sign. She said no, look closer...I didn't have my iPad with me so I asked her to read it to me. Above the writing "Crocodile Dock" it read "Madison Campus Church VBS"... Time stood still for me at that moment, that is the name of our church...In Nashville...this child was in Africa...God, really? No, I was disbelieving...I quickly messaged one of my best friends, asking if our church, by chance, had ever held a VBS titled Crocodile Dock? There must be churches all over the country with this name... Her reply, "yes, 2 summers ago"...deep called my friend. We talked about the miracle taking place before our eyes. We talked about the donation which she and 3 other friends had made of clothing to be sent to our orphanage last fall. In November on our way to Disney, we had met our caseworker at a Starbucks, downtown Atlanta, and loaded up her car with clothing to be sent to Kinshasa, DRC. Not knowing, when these items might actually make it to the orphanage. This is a friend whom I have grown up with, a friend with a son who is 7 weeks younger than our daughter. Her son is the little boy, whom my daughter claims she will marry someday. And as I learn that my son, in Africa is wearing her sons t-shirt, tears stream down my face...I am completely overwhelmed with awe and gratitude...God has answered a prayer that I didn't even know how to pray! I now know EXACTLY how big this little boy is...this shirt was too small for her little boy last summer, when he was four. He and Emmaline have always been the same size. Therefore, our son is, without question, smaller than our daughter. My EXACT concern and reservation about excepting his referral! Once again, I have heard God speak, as clearly as I did that night laying in bed when He said "Why not adopt?" God is real, and this is His child. Praise God that we had the courage to act, when He spoke. To think I could have missed out on this miracle and all of the miracles and blessing to come as we watch our story unfold! I can't thank you enough for all of the thoughts thought, and prayers prayed. God is hearing our prayers. I know this journey is still long, and I know there are still deep valleys ahead. Praise God for such high summits to reflect back on when we reach the valleys...God is good. And I believe there are still amazing things to come! As I type this a Chris Tomlin song has come across Pandora: "You're the light in this darkness, You're the hope to the hopeless, You're the peace to the restless, You are...For greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done...there is no one like our God"