Lots of Catching Up To Do.

Two months ago, my dad died.  9 days later, we left for China.  A few days after that, we met the little person whose picture we had been obsessing over for the previous 6 months.

It has been a lot.  So much BIG all at once.  Really, I’m just now starting to get a little less numb.  My brain just clicked into survival mode and stayed there a while.  Honestly, it already felt like I was in survival mode even before my dad died.  All of 2015 has been one big, intense, season of total insanity for us.

These have been the hardest two months of my life.  I can’t remember the last time I got a decent night’s sleep.  We saw my dad almost every week.  My boys were so close to him that they’re really grieving.  My older daughter probably won’t remember him, and my younger daughter never got to meet him.  I can’t put into words how heartsick I am about that. Plus I just miss him – how many people do you have in your life who are always on the sidelines cheering for you no matter what?  Not that many. The adjustment to being home has also been more of a challenge than I anticipated.

But, of course, in the midst of the hardest time of my life, God has been faithful, and there has been joy.  Our Both Hands project brought in the exact amount of money that we had prayed that it would, almost to the penny.  The two weeks in China were a sweet connecting time for my husband and I, just like we had prayed.  Meeting and getting to know our daughter has been incredible, and we’re so thankful to have her in our arms.  Even though it’s been 6 weeks, I still look at her sometimes in wonder that she’s actually here in my arms in the United States.  Seeing her start to blossom as a dearly loved daughter and sister can’t be described.  Our community has continued to rally around us for this entire crazy season, and I am so thankful.

I’ll share a few pictures now, and I’ll try to get caught up with travel, attachment, and all of that as soon as I can.

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*Airport pictures were taken by the amazing Beyond the Blue Studios

Both Hands!

We were so blessed to be able to participate in a Both Hands fundraising project! We are within a few thousand dollars of being fully funded! One month ago, I sat with my sweet MOPS group, nearly in tears, telling them we were probably traveling in March,  but still had almost $20K to come up with. We all prayed together for miracle, and God has provided! So many of our family and friends have rallied around us, my husband got a raise and a bonus,  and we’re going to be able to use our tax return to help. We’re very close! We are so, so thankful.

Here are most of the members of our amazing Both Hands team. Love them!
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2 years

Two years ago today, we officially started this journey by applying to the Ethiopia program with our adoption agency.  What a roller coaster it has been. At times, I’ve been able to tangibly see our faith grow; and other times I have felt like we are wasting the trial, rather than choosing to grow from it.  Some parts of these two years, we have felt so encouraged and held up by our community; and for other parts, we have felt very alone.  Right now, I think we’re just a little numb.  We want our girl in our arms so badly, but these last few hurdles feel mountainous.  It’s so close, but feels almost as far away as it has for the last two years.

Will you pray for our perseverance, please?  And also for a miracle as far as funding?  We got some discouraging news about one of our grant applications today.  We’re weary, but trying to take one faithful step at a time.

Here’s a Throwback Thursday for you, from when we first started this process:

Daddy and Baby Girl just hit "submit!"

Daddy and Baby Girl just hit “submit!”

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one step at a time

We’ve prayed for the last two years that God would use our adoption to show Himself to people.  It’s hard to talk about money, and it’s hard to talk about taking faithful steps without being (or sounding) prideful.  Plus, many of my steps have been with a considerable amount of fear and anxiety, rather than faith!

But, we just found out that my husband’s annual bonus is almost exactly the same amount as the payment that we have due.  And he’ll be receiving the bonus two days before the payment is due.  We had no control over the timing of either event, or over the amount of either payment.  I guess it’s possible for people to see that as a coincidence, but I certainly don’t.  Especially since it isn’t the first time in this adoption process that it has happened that way.

That’s the last round of fees for our agency.  From this point on, it’s time to save for travel!  That’s a pretty overwhelming amount, but we’re just trying to take one step at a time.  Hopefully, this time they can be faithful steps!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

oceans

We really love music here.  My husband and I met in algebra class, but we became good friends in band.  We were both in choirs and music groups throughout childhood, and in band through high school and college.  We listen to music at the house all the time.  I know music means different things to different people, but it is really important to me – like a soundtrack to my life.  Some songs take me back to certain times in my life so strongly that it’s like I’m there again.

Probably most of you reading have heard the song, Oceans, by Hillsong United.  I’ll admit that I didn’t like it that much when it first came out, and then it was seriously overplayed on the radio, so that didn’t help me like it.  Right now, though, every time I hear it, I get goosebumps and start to tear up.  It is such a perfect song for where we are right now.

After waiting and dossier building and feeling like we were making no progress, now our adoption is moving so fast we’re dizzy.  We know this is a good thing – our girl needs a mommy, daddy, home, and medical treatment ASAP.  But, it’s a little overwhelming.  The task before us is so big – like an ocean.  There is absolutely no way that we can manage it on our own.  There is no way we can raise the money, no way we can figure out the practical details, no way we can be prepared for our girl the way that we need to be.  It’s not unlikely.  it’s impossible.

You know what else is impossible?
Walking on water.

Here are the lyrics, in case you aren’t familiar with them:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

garage sale – back into the fundraising swing of things

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We took almost a year’s break from fundraising, and it was a needed break.  But, we are anticipating things to be moving very quickly soon, and we need to get back into the swing of things.  This weekend, we decided (sort of at the last minute) to have a garage sale.  It wasn’t a giant garage sale like last time, just a normal garage sale of mostly our own personal stuff.  We made just enough to cover one adoption expense that we just had, plus a little extra.  Every little bit counts!

getting real about money

Can we get real about money?

We lost some when we switched countries.  And China Waiting Child adoptions are usually very quick.  Which is good, but scary, because that means we need a whole lot of money really, really fast.

I didn’t want some person considering adoption somewhere to be reading my statements about trusting in God’s provision and think that he/she is somehow unworthy because he/she is worrying about money.

So, here’s the bottom line:  I’m unworthy, too.  I do trust in God’s provision.  Or, possibly more accurately, I’m trying hard to trust 100% in God’s provision.  But it’s something I have to work at.

Right this minute, we’re looking at needing almost 2/3 of our annual income for the adoption in the next 10 months.  That’s intense, y’all.  I have to be really deliberate about taking my thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5) every single day, sometimes every single hour, sometimes even more often than that.  Adoption is possibly the ultimate lesson in knowing that I cannot be in control of everything.

Last July, we prayed earnestly that we needed $8,000 very quickly.  We got every cent of it right when we needed it.  (Here’s a link to that blog post.)

God does have a plan, and He will provide.  I believe part of his plan is for us to be creative. I also believe part of his plan is for us to be willing to ask for help.  I believe lots of the money will be hard-fought for, and lots of the money will be a total surprise.   We’ve already had some of those total surprises, and they’re incredible, and remind us that He is big.  If we didn’t need His help, how would we ever learn that we can’t do it without him?  (Isaiah 55:8-11, Matthew 10:29)

2013 – adoption review & update

2013 - adoption review & update

2013 was a whirlwind of parenting, friends, paperwork, and fundraising. It was a year that God stretched our faith and showed us (once again) that He keeps his promises. We have been so blessed by the support of our family, friends, and community with our fundraising this year. We have about 40% of our adoption funded. That leaves a lot more money to earn, raise, and save, but it’s a really good chunk to have under our belts. So many people have prayed for us and encouraged us this year. We feel so loved, and we appreciate all of you more than we can say.

2014 is on the horizon, and the future of Ethiopian adoption is so uncertain. In the next couple of weeks, the Ethiopian Parliament will present a tentative plan for international adoption moving forward. This is terrifying for our many friends who already have children waiting for them in Ethiopia, and unsettling for the rest of us waiting families, who have so much emotional energy, time, and, yes, money invested into adoptions from this place that we have grown to love. The most important consideration, of course, is that if Ethiopia disbands international adoption without an aggressive new plan for dealing with poverty and orphans, then there will be literally thousands of children who will never have any hope of having a mother, father, and forever family. The only word for that is: heartbreaking.

We have dreamed of having an Ethiopian daughter for a year now. We have visualized her, and smile so fondly at little girls who may be her age when we bring her home, and who may look a little like her. We have researched Ethiopian girls’ names, learned about caring for African skin and hair, and done countless hours of reading and researching on bringing home a toddler from a broken past and with a different race than our own.

But now we may be faced with a decision. We may be forced to change countries. Our hearts are in Africa, but there are not really any other viable programs in Africa, unless God has a radical plan that He has not yet unveiled to us.

We know that this political unrest was not a shock to Him, and He knows exactly who our daughter will be, exactly where and when she’ll be born, and exactly when she’ll come home to our family. We have to pray earnestly and wait on Him. Right now, all of the information is numbing, and I have absolutely no words to pray.

My word for 2014 is going to be: STILL. Like Psalm 46:10. I want to learn to be still and know that He is in control. My worrying, fretting, frantically searching for every bit of information I can, trying to make my husband talk in depth about every possibly option… do absolutely not one bit of good. I have to learn to be still. It will be a year of praying, fasting, and learning to let go and truly let Him lead.

We appreciate your prayers for the decision-makers in Ethiopia, for the orphaned children there, for all of the families with children waiting to be brought home, and for those of us families with hard decisions to make.

garage sale!!

garage sale!!

We had a MASSIVE garage sale last weekend! We got donations from about 20 families, had lots of help and prayers from our amazing family and friends, and worked our tushies off on Saturday. We made about $1,000 for our adoption fund! Incredible! We still have tons left over and a few friends who still have donations, so we’re planning another weekend. We also still have several things to sell online.  We feel so amazingly blessed by the people around us who are loving and supporting us in this adoption!  We are so thankful for God putting each of you in our lives to help us in the unique ways that you each have.  We couldn’t be doing this without you.

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**Cute, hard-working guys not for sale.

[Dossier to] Ethiopia or Bust!

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I told you several months ago that we were collecting money in our “Ethiopia or Bust” jar.  This picture is from early Spring, so it got a lot fuller than that.  With the Dossier payment looming, we decided to go ahead and cash it in.  My older son and I each predicted that it would be about $100.  We poured it into a baggie, and took it to the bank!
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Here are my angelic cutie pies, just before wreaking all sorts of havoc in the bank.

I couldn’t believe the total…

…$169.31!!!

That gets us within $100 of having our dossier payment ready to send!  

“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—  to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21-21