Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I told you there'd probably be more...

So, because of crazy suitcase and carry on weight regulations, I had to pack my Jesus Calling book in my suitcase and not carry it with me.  My suitcase somehow got left in Frankfurt while Shane's made it to America with us just fine.  I've been waiting for it for 3 days now.  It's still not here. And I'm dying without my Jesus Calling book!!!

I'm embarrassed to admit that there are very few times in my life that I have actually THIRSTED after the Word of God.  Reading the Bible has always been something I've known I need to do to grow in my relationship with the Lord, but I have not often NEEDED to read it like I need to breathe.  This morning, I awoke at 5:55 (I'm not even sure what time my body thinks it is because we switched time zones so much last week) and HAD TO HAVE the Word.  I asked Shane where he'd put my Bible after Sunday School on Sunday and he told me and I went and found it and asked the Lord on my way back to the bedroom where I needed to read to hear what He had for me this morning -- which I have ALSO done before and have ended up reading in Chronicles or somewhere that didn't make any sense to me...but I read it.

This morning I felt strongly that I needed to read in James (which is one of my favorite books, by the way) and I want to share with you what I found.  First, I took a little detour as I was on my way to James and read the last chapter of Hebrews.  Here are some of the verses that I've underlined at different times in my life from chapter 13:

verses 1 & 2 "Keep on loving each other as brothersDo not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

verses 5b & 6 "never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, What can man do to me?"

verse 8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

verse 16 "And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

verses 20 & 21 "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen."

That spoke straight to my heart.  Then I went ahead and read on in James, the next book, since that's where I was feeling led to read. Here's what it had to say to me this morning:

Ch. 1, verses 2-8: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

I will admit that I have been wondering "did we miss what you were telling us to do, Lord?"  My answer came this morning in these verses and the ones following.  We asked for wisdom and guidance (as I do every day in my parenting and life because I know on my own, it's gonna get messed up -- but specifically to this situation with Alex) and for the Lord's hand to guide us and to stop us if we were making a mistake anywhere along the way.  There were MULTIPLE opportunities for the Lord to just let "circumstances" put a stop to us going.  But instead of our passports not coming, or our documents getting "lost" as many do, or the doctors being too busy to get us in right away for physicals or a MILLION other things that could have gone "wrong" on their own to stop us from being able to get our paperwork in on the VERY THIN deadline that we were working against, the Lord threw open those gates and cleared the way for us to have time to spare with our deadlines and the papers arrived in plenty of time to be filed and for our trip to be underway.  He could have stopped us at any time, but we had "green lights" the ENTIRE time.  It is obvious that we were supposed to go -- these were not "just circumstances falling into place." 

So there's more:

verse 12: "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."  We pray that we will persevere in whatever ways the Lord has for us to persevere with this situation.

verse 22: "do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says."

Then shortly after that verse, in the same chapter:
verse 27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

I kept reading in chapter 2 of James and, though I've always known these verses, I didn't remember that they were in James 2...they were exactly what I needed to hear:

verse 17-22: "in the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that -- and shudder.  You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. (verse 24) You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." (verse 26) As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

Reading this morning from God's Word was like taking all the time I wanted to drink from the purest water in a cool spring on a day that I thought I was going to thirst to death, until the thirst went completely away.  I so desperately needed for the Lord to put this "band aid" on my wounded heart to help it begin to heal and to realize that we DIDN'T miss what the Lord was telling us -- we were obedient and followed through until He told us that it was over.  We had asked last Thursday morning for the Lord to make it CLEAR to us what we were supposed to do with regard to staying in Ukraine.  The answer came CLEARLY that afternoon from the mouth of our sweet Alex.  He said it was time to come home. 

We may never know why we went 1/2 way around the world for this boy to NOT accept our love for him, but we know that we did what we were supposed to do and extended it to him.  My daily prayer for Alex is that the Lord will use that act to show His love to Alex and draw Alex to Himself so that even though we may not spend our days on earth with him, we might spend eternity in Heaven with him.
Well...I know if you have read this with any regularity, you've noticed a dearth of posts lately.  This is because we have been in Ukraine!  We weren't able to post that we were gone on this blog as it is public and we couldn't risk anything going "wrong" with our trip, etc.  It's a big, ugly world out there!

I will fill you in on a few details.  It could get long, but I will try to keep this as brief as I can while still covering the highlights.

We flew to Kiev, Ukraine last Saturday arriving on Sunday afternoon.  Kiev is a nice city.  They had the EuroCup going on while we were there which made things expensive (for Kiev) and crowded.  I don't think the EuroCup had anything to do with making it hot 8-) -- but it was DEFINITELY that while we were there too!  We were in Kiev 2 days and headed out on Tuesday night to our region, Kherson where the orphanage is.  We took a 10 hour train ride in a train that we think had to be at least 30 years old, but maybe closer to 50.  It had been "updated" to have air conditioning -- but only when the train was moving.  So, every time the train stopped for 10-20 minutes (TWENTY TIMES DURING THE 10 HOUR TRIP!!) the air conditioning went off.  Shane and I agreed that it's the hottest we've ever been for the longest period of time without being able to do something about it!!!

We met our facilitator (an INCREDIBLE young woman named Ludmilla aka Luda) who is one of the hardest workers I know.  Our train got in at 7 am.  She was there and we hit the ground running...almost literally.  We went to the apartment which had already been cleaned from the previous people who had left at 5:30 that morning.  (The Ukranians that we met work very hard.)  It was a "luxury apartment" which basically meant that there was hot water 24/7 and you could flush the toilet paper.  It was VERY NICE by Ukraine standards though...and had AIR CONDITIONING which, to me, was the luxury part!!  It was basically the only place that we were that had it with the exception of a few restaurants and the grocery store...but apparently, there's never a guarantee that they will work very well.  We were able to rinse the sweat off in the "shower" (which is a bathtub where you sit and hold a shower head over your head) briefly before we started all the running around for the day.  It was an INSANELY busy day.  We went from government offices to the orphanage where they introduced us to the director and she told us they were calling Sasha (his real name is Alexander and his nickname is Sasha) in to meet us.

He came in and we realized that he had not been told about us at all.  He was shocked.  He was very polite and we shook hands.  We talked for a few minutes (through Luda, who translated) and showed him the book we had made of our family photos, etc.  Probably 10-15 minutes later, they asked him if he wanted us to be his parents.  His immediate response was "Yes, no doubt!" and we were thrilled.  Luda told him that he needed to write out a statement saying he wanted to be adopted and he got a little troubled.  He said he wasn't able to write it right then.  So, we left for a few hours and then had to come back that afternoon when he told us that he was ready to sign the paper.  We were over the top thrilled and relieved.

We left him for the day with a promise to return the next morning, but Luda wasn't able to come with us.  We were basically on our own with him...with the psychologist (who spoke maybe 15 words of English) with us as well.  We took a tour of the grounds of the school/orphanage.  He showed us much of his "world" outside...but not inside.  We had taken a bag of snacks for his groupa (the 20 or so boys he lives/sleeps with) and learned that he was uncomfortable with them knowing/knowing about us.  Apparently, they had begun teasing him and telling him lies about "Americans" -- which we didn't know that morning.  We enjoyed our visit with him even though it was a little tough b/c the russian/english programs I had downloaded only worked with wifi and there was no wifi at the orphanage so the language barrier was significant.  We drew pictures and did charades to communicate and laughed and did our best.

We told him that we'd be back that afternoon and he seemed great with that.  We left, had lunch at a nice restaurant (crepes!! Yum! It was some of the best food we had there!) and Luda met us at the restaurant.  She told us that Sasha had expressed some concerns to the director and was waffling on his decision.  We prayed our hearts out the entire afternoon as we sat in the car and waited place after place where Luda had to do paperwork. (Did I mention yet that it was 109 degrees while we were there?)  We went to the orphanage around 4:45pm.  When we got there, he wasn't there.  He was with a caregiver at the store.  He came back and asked her to come to the meeting with us.  We gave him some soccer shoes that we had talked about (he had drawn a picture to describe them) that we had searched high and low for, and a soccer ball with the Ukraine colors/team symbol on it.  He was appreciative and gave us that ADORABLE little grin of his and my heart melted!

Then, quite suddenly, the mood changed and he started passionately speaking to Luda.  I was watching her intently to try to "read" her expression and getting worried the longer he talked.  In the end, she said that he had made the decision to not be adopted and to stay where he is familiar with life.  He will go to trade school (he says -- but I don't think he's thought about how to pay for that...) and become a cook.  Luda says that kids are encouraged to become cooks because that means that they will always have enough food.  That is a pretty sad motivator for choosing an occupation, but it's what his little 16 yr. old heart was telling him to do.  Well, his heart and his entire groupa and possibly some care-givers.  We were told that his groupa was telling him that Americans take healthy children from orphanages and adopt them and bring them back and harvest their organs to sell to other Americans.  They also warned him about us kidnapping him -- going so far as to give him one of their cell phones "in case we tried to kidnap him, he could call them and they would rescue him."

I thought I was going to stop breathing.  I couldn't believe that we were sitting there listening to those words from his mouth.  We questioned him about why he had asked so many people to find him a family and he said that what he meant when he said that was that he wanted them to find his biological family...which was a bunch of bunk as that family doesn't exist.  His father isn't even listed on his birth certificate and he knows that.  His mother relinquished her parental rights the day he was born -- clearly indicative that all along she had planned to give up her child -- whether he'd come out with perfect hands or not.

We asked several questions of him trying to help him think clearly, but the peer pressure had gotten the best of him and he was unwilling to change his mind or even think about it.  We had asked him if he would be willing to talk to another former orphan (15 yrs. old) who we'd met on the trip who was adopted a year ago from Ukraine and was back on a trip to adopt his sister and was one of the happiest kids I've ever met.  Sasha said no.  We wanted him to get on FB and see pictures of other children who've been adopted from his orphanage and see that they are happy and healthy.  He said no.  We had nothing left to offer as he was unwilling to even listen.  We could almost visibly see the wall he'd put up.  Shane grabbed his hands and told him that he'd always be welcome in our home and then the 3 of us prayed together holding hands.   He thanked us for coming, for our efforts on his behalf, hugged us and then walked us out.  It was the most heart-wrenching scene I've ever been a part of.  I felt like I would never be able to catch my breath again.

We talked to Luda later that night to see what she thought about us staying and she said that she didn't think, based on their conversation, that he had any intention of changing his mind, but that of course, it could always happen.  We felt like if we went back to the orphanage after that final "goodbye", we would watch the wall that he had up, reinforce itself and become even thicker.  He was resolute in his intentions and, having dealt with teenagers, we know that if they're pushed/pressured, they will only run further in the opposite direction.  We certainly didn't want that to happen.  So we confirmed our reservations for our grueling trip home on the only flight available, talked to our families, told our children (among the hardest things I've ever had to do) and started packing up.  Neither of us slept worth a hoot that night (about 3 1/2 hours) and woke in plenty of time to get ready and leave our accommodations in really good shape!  Luda came by to wrap some things up and we left with our driver, Leonid (who was wonderful, but didn't speak hardly ANY English) for the airport 3 1/2 hours away.

We flew from Ukraine to Poland, Poland to Germany, Germany to Denver and Denver to home...over a period of 2 days -- about 31 hours.  We are spent.  Emotionally, physically, spiritually and are looking forward to regrouping and celebrating our son's birthday (which we were going to miss) and being together as a family this summer instead of separated by a LOT of water and land for a good portion of it -- though we were completely willing to do it (eventually totally united as a family on the decision to adopt) for the sake of Sasha's life. 

The parallels we have been able to draw thus far are many.  The main one I want to share right now is this:  God loves you.  He gave the ultimate sacrifice for YOUR well-being.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ from Heaven to earth to DIE a horrible death to pay for YOUR sins because YOU couldn't.  HE GAVE THIS TO YOU AS A GIFT.  Whether you choose to accept His gift that will save your life and give you hope for the future (eternity) is up to you.  You can choose to listen to the influences of friends or those around you who will try to steer you away from choosing right, or you can listen to the voice of One who loves you most and receive the gift He's giving you.  He has no ulterior motives.  He has no desire for your future other than what is good and beautiful and right for you -- though sometimes it may come after walking down a path that doesn't really LOOK like it's the best path, but in the end leads to more beauty than you could ever imagine.  He doesn't really ask anything of you but to obey and receive His FREE gift.  No strings attached.

I'm certain there's more to come...

Friday, June 15, 2012

We are packing with frenzy around here!!  As our travel date nears, we are overwhelmed with all that is ahead of us!!  We are amazed at what the Lord has done thus far to get us to where we are in this process: Renee meeting Sam while adopting her daughter & him asking her to find him a family, a mutual FB "friend" of Renee's and ours posting Sam's picture on FB, Shane and I both seeing it and hearing a call from the Lord to "do something about it" & our kids being on board with it, the whole crazy world of paperwork & passports falling into place so beautifully, meeting the deadline we had to get it all done on such a short timeline, the support of our family and church family and now, our travel dates in place and our adventure into the unknown finally beginning!!!  8-)  I am completely overcome with emotion when I think of where we are today and where we were February 23 of this year -- when we didn't even know Sam existed!!!

Our lives changed on Feb. 24.  We don't really even know how at this point -- but I'm certain it's for the better.  Soon, we will know the extent of those changes as we meet our son.  Please continue to pray for his heart to be prepared for our family and for our family to be prepared for him.  We are asking a lot of this child -- to leave everything comfortable and come to a world of unknowns.  But we know that the Lord has been working to get him to where he is and will continue to work to unite us as a family.

We will keep this blog updated as much as possible.  We are unsure what our accommodations will be with regard to wireless, etc. there.  Hoping for wi-fi everywhere we go!!  8-)

Blessings, friends!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ok...so I realize that I have this need to "control" (though I don't like to admit it) and that it can sometimes cause me to worry.  I am being really transparent here...and admitting that I'm being bombarded with issues over which to worry and (here's the transparent part) I'm succumbing to them & worrying!!! 

See, I HATE worry.  I battle it -- have for a long time.  I have people close to me in my life who worry a LOT!!  They worry sometimes that they don't have anything to worry about!!  It bugs me to no end!!  I battle it!!  I'm frustrated/embarrassed/ashamed to say that I'm losing the fight this time.  It's not that worry is consuming me.  I'm totally functioning.  I'm able to eat.  I'm still smiling and laughing and enjoying life...it's just that there's a nagging worry-bug in the back of my mind that I'm having trouble stomping out.  When I had anxiety (before Adley's open heart surgery at 4 months old when I got exhausted, dehydrated & anxiety took over) I stopped eating, laughing, sleeping, functioning -- though it was just for a couple of weeks till things got "ironed" out (and my temporary meds kicked in)!!  This is NOT that...this is just the controlling part of me thinking about ALL the things & possibilities that are coming up for us very soon that will be so COMPLETELY out of my control!!!

So, I picked up my Jesus Calling book...(tired of hearing about this little book yet??) and read yesterday's entry.  Ready?:  "I'm all around you, like a cocoon of Light.  My Presence with you is a promise, independent of your awareness of Me.  Many things can block this awareness, but the major culprit is WORRY (emphasis mine!!).  My children tend to accept worry as an inescapable fact of life.  However, worry is a form of unbelief; it is anathema to Me.  Who is in  charge of your life?  If it is you, then you have good reason to worry.  But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive.  When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me.  Back off a bit, redirecting your focus to Me.  I will either take care of the problem Myself of show you how to handle it.  In this world you will have problems, but you need not lose sight of Me." 

Well, after I looked up anathema (which, incidentally means a thing detested or loathed = God HATES worry!!) and stopped shaking my head in disbelief that it had happened ONCE AGAIN that the Lord spoke to me directly through this little book (that I believe is so inspired!!!) the Lord started bringing to my mind scriptures about how HE handles this stuff for me.  John 16:33-“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (not just the United States, but EE too!)”  John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (even when you're traveling over lots and lots of water)" and Matthew 6:25-34 - “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? (or "How shall we leave our children for 2 weeks and get on a plane to a foreign country?") 'For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."

So, there you have it.  The Bible speaks clearly to worry and, I'm telling you -- it's NOT from God.  So, again today, I relinquish control.  This is a different kind of control.  Before I had to relinquish control of the EE government and all their people to get this show on the road (since clearly, I had NOT ONE OUNCE of control over any of that!).  Today I am relinquishing control of my family into the Lord' hands.  The One who fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us and knows the number of hairs on our heads.  The One who holds the whole world in His hands.  The One who is SO MUCH better able to care for my children and me than I am.  I'm merely His hands and feet to my children & husband -- I'm not the one who will shape and mold them into who they need to be.  The Lord can do that WITH or WITHOUT me!!!  I know that if He wants me raising my kids, that I will come home to them healthy and waiting for me.  And I know that if He wants someone else to do that job, then He can take me "out" on my way to HEB just as easily as He could allow something to go wrong on my trip to EE!!!

A long time ago, when I used to sing in church a lot, one of my favorite songs to sing was called "My Life is in Your Hands" (by Kathy Troccoli - yes, I'm old!)  I'm putting my money where my mouth is today and singing that song to the Lord.  Heck, I just saw the option to make it my ringtone...I think I may.

Life can be so good
Life can be so hard
Never knowing what each day
Will bring to where you are
Sometimes I forget
And sometimes I can't see
That whatever comes my way
You'll be with me

My life is in your hands
My heart is in your keeping
I'm never without hope
Not when my future is with you

My life is in your hands
And though I may not see clearly
I will lift my voice and sing
Cause your love does amazing things
Lord, I know, my life is in your hands

Nothing is for sure
Nothing is for keeps
All I know is that your love
Will live eternally
So I will find my way
And I will find my peace
Knowing that you'll meet my every need

My life is in your hands
My heart is in your keeping
I'm never without hope
Not when my future is with you

My life is in your hands
And though I may not see clearly
I will lift my voice and sing
Cause your love does amazing things
Lord, I know, my life is in your hands

When I'm at my weakest, Lord You carry me
Then I become my strongest, Lord in your hands

My life is in your hands
And though I may not see clearly
I will lift my voice and sing
Cause your love does amazing things
Lord, I know, my life is in your hands
I trust you Lord
My life is in your hands

This is how I'm choosing to walk today and for the next MANY weeks as we walk through uncharted waters (for OUR lives -- I know MANY have walked before us through these waters!).  Pray with me that I'll be able to REST nestled safely in the loving arms of my Savior and Lord and TRULY TRUST Him to lead, guide, protect and keep me and mine.

Friday, June 1, 2012

There is ONE child left (of the 14 kids who desperately wanted families) whose picture was taken with the rest of the children of the orphanage where our Sam is...He is the ONLY one not spoken for at this time.  PLEASE go to this link and read about him to see if YOU or someone you know are his forever family.  His name is Marcus...you have to scroll down a bit to see him...WARNING: this could change your life.  View at your own risk.  He is beautiful.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ok...a side note.  I'm not as smart as I thought I was...I just don't know how to spell!!  I thought that I made up the word "plentious" -- but I only made up the spelling that way!!!  The correct spelling is "plenteous" and it means just what I intended for plentious to mean!!  Thank you, friends, for your "gentle" correction of this frazzled Momma!!!  I'm always open to helpful instruction!!!!!
"YOU HAVE A TRAVEL DATE."  Words I have LONGED to hear since we started this crazy ride!!!  We got a call at 6:04 this morning from our stateside facilitator telling us of our travel date!!  I'm not going to put our dates on our blog, as it is public, but you can email/txt me if you want to know.

Suffice it to say that we will be able to go have our appointment with the DAP in country, then go to Sam's region and meet him just a couple of days afterwards!!  We DO still need prayers for a miracle court date.  We need to be able to have our court date before we have to come home to re-group or it could significantly delay things and possibly cause a 3rd trip.  That's not seeming like a good option at this point (hello????? or at any point hereafter!!!), so please pray with us that we'll have the Lord's hand on ALL these details and that things will go CRAZY fast and flawless as we head over to this place where EVERYTHING is foreign to us and being out of control here only LOOKED like we weren't in control!!  There, we will merely be puppets at the mercy of translators and team members!!!

Ok, so I just had another miracle in our long list of miracles, which have not been plentious lately, but appear to be picking back up today!! (I just realized that this word that I made up a number of years ago "plentious" has become part of my vocabulary, but the rest of the world has not yet caught on, which is why spell check just got me, but I like it, so I'm leaving it!):

We are supposed to take a photo album of some kind with us to have to show the people we will be meeting with then leave with Sam when we have to come home after our first visit.  I have been working on this bugger on Shutterfly off and on for a week.  I was JUST finishing the back cover (which means that everything from the front cover to the back page was done!!!) and tried to import a picture of Sam onto it and the whole dad-gummed thing disappeared.  Well, as any good Shutterbug, I had been saving my project.  But I logged back in and it was NOT THERE.  I wanted to throw up. I began praying and pleading with the Lord to help me find it.  I searched everywhere I could think to search.  I then spotted the customer service number and dialed.  This poor, unsuspecting customer service GENIUS answered the phone and I, with a slightly shaky voice, told him my plight.  He logged into my account and could not find the book. He looked everywhere.  He was VERY sorry.  I was in tears.  He offered me a free book for the inconvenience.  I told him I didn't have time!!!  He continued to look and as we were talking through things and he suddenly suggested that I might have a second account somewhere.  I'm telling you this man is a GENIUS!!!  I quickly gave him the other email address he might find it under and IT WAS THERE!!!!!!  Almost in it's entirety -- just missing the last 2 pages...which I was quickly able to reproduce!!

I told this GENIUS that if I'd been anywhere near him, I'd have given him a full-on-the-mouth kiss, but instead to find the hottest girl he works with and have her do it.  He was so happy that I was so happy.  I am SO grateful to the Lord b/c I believe that HE prompted the GENIUS to think of an additional account b/c I was clearly NOT thinking about that!!!

I'm SO VERY EXCITED to stand back and WATCH the Lord move mountains for us to get to our son.  I know that He OWNS this situation and He keeps proving to me that I, um, well...don't own it.  Glad to be a spectator on this -- it's way too big for me and my feeble brain!!!

More soon, I'm sure!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today has been a roller coaster of emotions for me!  It started with a text this morning that we have been approved by EE's DAP (the department that has to approve our application before we can get permission to come over to pursue our adoption).  Since I wasn't expecting ANY news until Thursday at the earliest, this was a WONDERFUL surprise!!!  I finally felt like we are getting somewhere!!!!  It's been FIVE weeks and ONE day since we have been submitted, but 6 and 1/2 weeks since the paperwork left our hands.  It has now been LONGER that they've had our paperwork in country than it took for us to get the whole "she-bang" started and completed.  It is a classic case of "hurry up and wait."  Frustration mounts.

I know that the Lord can do anything.  I know that often He does the impossible.  I know this because I watched it happen for the first 6 weeks of this process (see posts from 6 weeks ago and earlier!) among many other times.  I also know that there are lots of times when I pray my guts out and He chooses to answer in a way that is different than what I was praying would happen.  I also know that God will not be manipulated by me.  But I also know that His Word tells us that "the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (yes, I'm so old that I memorized that from the King James Version).  I know there HAS to be AT LEAST ONE "righteous man" (or woman) praying for us and I'd like to think that I might be included in that category at least some of the time.

So, tonight I'm praying that we will be able to have a travel date that will allow us enough time in June to get over there, have our hearing, meet and HUG our son and assure him that we will be coming back for him at the soonest opportunity we have.  We have heard that the 10 day waiting period is NEVER waived...and they probably won't even ask for it to be, so we have accepted that and know that we will be going back after the summer to get him.  But my Mother's heart is LONGING to get to establish a relationship with him, to KNOW him and to be KNOWN by him.  For him to SEE us and not just IMAGINE us.  For us to be able to connect with him.  To become Facebook friends so we can "talk" to one another while we're apart.  For him to try to "get" what being a part of a family is going to be like.  To show him pictures of his family, siblings & his cousins & grandparents & our friends who are longing (some almost as desperately as his mother!) to meet him and welcome him into our world!! 

But I'm also praying for the grace to handle whatever it is the Lord decides.  I want my response to be that of a woman "of noble character" that Proverbs says "is worth far more than rubies."

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm in the 3rd trimester -- about to pop.  I'm miserable and people keep asking "when's he gonna get here?" (though a friend commented today that I look incredible for my 3rd trimester!) ;-)  In many ways this is HARDER than pregnancy because pregnancy actually has a due date!!!  We still have a nebulous date somewhere between now and then...but we're not sure when "then" will be...but that's ok!!  I made a decision during my last actual physical pregnancy that I wasn't going to complain and I was going to enjoy every moment of it (because I knew it would be my last).  I'm not saying I was successful at that...come on, I live in West Texas and it was JULY!!!  I was HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I truly wanted it to be as enjoyable as growing a 30 lb. watermelon inside your stomach to the point that all you can do is waddle around as said watermelon beats the living daylights out of every organ within his radius all night long every night until he comes out can be.

I made a decision earlier this week that I was not going to wallow in our waiting.  I have been letting my life revolve around waiting.  This is NOT a quality way of life!!!  I realized that I need to embrace EVERY moment that I have here and now and make each of THOSE count!!! 

So, we heard nothing yesterday (Thurs.) and I was really pretty ok with it -- even got to give a little pep talk to a fellow "RR (Reece's Rainbow) wait-er"!!  This week has pretty well confirmed that Sam (I'm dropping the "Yuri" since neither of those are his real name, I don't need to prolong it -- sorry for those of you who have grown accustomed & attached to Yuri!) will not be coming on vacation with us and we might very well not be traveling before August to even meet him.  It's not out of the realm of possibility, but it's not probable.

Not good news to this impatient Momma, but I've actually surprised myself a bit with how ok I am with waiting.  I have given this issue to the Lord and for some reason, His answer right now is "wait."  (could it possibly be because I'm so very incredibly "anti-wait" right now???)

So tonight I was reading....drumroll please..."Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young (anyone guess that prior to reading it?  I'm feeling a little predictable!) and I read today's entry (will post that in a sec*) and then went back and read the one from the 22nd because I missed it.  Get this: "When things don't go as you would like, accept the situation immediately.  If you indulge in feelings of regret, they can easily spill over the line into resentment.  Remember that I am sovereign over your circumstances, and humble yourself under My mighty hand.  Rejoice in what I am doing in your life, even though it is beyond your understanding." 

Ok, ready?  Here's today's...but just the second paragraph: *"When you turn from your problems to My Presence, your load is immediately lighter.  Circumstances may not have changed, but we carry your burdens together.  Your compulsion to 'fix' everything gives way to deep, satisfying connection with Me.   Together we can handle whatever this day brings." 

I'm telling you, people, this little devotional book is TOTALLY RELEVANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So there you have it.  God's got this.  I don't.  I'm trusting Him.  He will work it out exactly as it's supposed to be worked out.  It's probably not about me...but very possibly about those in my circle: Sam, our kids, our families, our friends, strangers even.  Maybe we're not on a plane right now because the people that WE need to minister to are going to be on a later plane.  Maybe we're not in the country right now because there's some outbreak of illness that the Lord's sparing us from.  Maybe our kids need us here for something that they're going to be facing in the next few weeks and we shouldn't be away from them for that time.  Maybe....well, you get the drift.  The possibilities are endless...

Now, I'm not going to lie.  I dirt prayed today -- a number of times.  I prayed that the person who is supposed to sign our documents and give us our appointment date will not be able to eat, drink or sleep until they have signed them and have delivered them to the person/place that they need to be for us to get it all issued on Monday -- even if that means working over the weekend, which, I think, is like a cardinal sin in their country, they DO like their holidays!!  8-)

So here I sit at my computer, ready to head to bed (possibly even a bit early tonight after MANY late nights of nearly fretting) truly completely peaceful and resting in the arms of my very capable, completely sovereign, fully-aware-of-our-circumstances Lord and Savior.  Ahhhh....it feels good to be here.

Thank you for your prayers and concern...I love it when you ask about our son!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ok, prayer warriors.  I'm in a quandary.  I have mixed emotions/feelings/learnings about whether we can change the mind of God with our prayers if we pray earnestly enough.  Well, I'm willing to, once again, try it.  We found out today that our travel date will at least be after June 7th.  This is not good news.  If it's around the 7th, we can work with that...but if it gets much further back, we're gonna be in a bit of a "situation." 

Before we even knew Sam/Yuri existed, we planned a trip to Scandanavia for our family.  This (most likely "once in a lifetime") trip is to reunite with our exchange students and their families -- some of whom we've met, some that we have not and also to meet our new exchange student (also planned before the existence of Sam/Yuri in our world) that is coming in August.  If our travel date is much further out than the 8 or 9th, we will not make it home in time to get ready for our other trip and recover from the time difference, pack, and be ready to travel again (but with 3 kids!) etc.which means that an orphan will be sitting in an orphanage still not knowing his family for months longer than he needs to be.  This does not make sense in my feeble mind. I still realize that the mind of God is too wide, deep, high and long for me to even begin to grasp, but this just doesn't add up.

So, I need you to storm the gates of heaven and petition the Lord on our behalf and on behalf of Sam/Yuri.  We need a travel date TOMORROW or the next day at the LATEST!!!  We need to get over there to at least get the first trip out of the way so that he can "wait" (that stinkin 10 day waiting period) while we're on vacation and then come home in early August.  Heck, while you're at it, just ask the Lord (with us) to waive that 10 day waiting period so he can come on the trip WITH us!!! (our desire!!!)

I will certainly keep you posted...Thank you for praying!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately!!!  I simply have nothing to post about because we are STILL WAITING for the phone call!!!!  Once again, I'm reminded (daily now!) that I'm not the One in control and that the One in control is actually in control!!!  Though we are anxiously awaiting our travel date, we are carrying on with life as usual and making plans -- as much as we can -- for the summer not knowing where we will be when (except for our trip to visit our exchange students!)!!!  It's been a crazy lesson in patience.  DO I HAVE IT YET, LORD???

Will post as quickly as humanly possible as SOON as the phone rings!!! 8-)

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Mommy heart is sad today.  I have achy arms and a hole in my heart the size that only a soon to be 16 yr. old boy can fill.  My "son" (not quite yet -- but hopefully VERY soon!) turns 16 soon, or so we think, and he's without a family to help him celebrate.  I can hardly bear the thought of him waking up with nothing "special" to look forward to for his day.  I don't know whether he'll have his favorite breakfast, or whether he'll have a great lunch with friends or his favorite dinner.  I don't know whether he'll have a cake.  I don't know whether he's looking forward to being 16 or dreading it because of the uncertainty of the coming year.  I don't know whether he'll be happy or sad on his birthday.  I pray it will be happy, but I'm not sure what a 16 yr. old without a family (that he knows of) in a country that doesn't value him much and has put him away in an orphanage because he is "different" feels on his 16th birthday. 

I wish he were here.  I wish I knew what his favorite breakfast is.  I wish I knew what he thought a great lunch would be and that I could go pick him & his friends up from school and take him to get it.  I wish I knew if he has a favorite dinner or if he's eaten the same thing for dinner every night of his life that he can remember.  I wish he knew what an ugly (but tasty) cake maker I am and that he was anticipating "Mom's special icing" on his cake.  I wish I could go in to his bedroom in the morning and wake him with "Happy birthday, precious Son!!"  I wish he could hear our family rendition of "Happy birthday to you!" with all the "cha-cha-cha's" and "kumbyah-HUH!" at the end (Adley's specialty!).  I wish I had been wracking my mind for the past few weeks about what to get him for his birthday that will make a lasting impact on him and that he will remember for life as a special gift from his Mom & Dad on this very special birthday. 

I wish I could ask him how THIS birthday is different from other ones he's had. 

But I can't.  Because he doesn't know us yet.  Because he's still in an orphanage in his country.  Without a family to celebrate him.

I have to admit I'm struggling with the Lord a little on this one.  I have left the timing up to Him, and I know that it is PERFECT -- I just don't "get" it.  Why?  Why another birthday -- and such a BIG one -- alone?  Why not work another miracle (like the crazy number of others that have been worked so far in this adoption process) and at least let US be THERE on his day so we can give him a birthday gift in person??  (And that gift would begin with MANY Mom and Dad hugs to make up for the lack of them for the first 15 birthdays.)

The Bible says that we as humans can't "know the mind of God" that "His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts." Most of the time, I'm really glad about this because I know there's no way my human mind could fathom even a minute fraction of the vastness of the knowledge of God.  I can't even pretend that I could "get" the tiniest portion of it.  But as the days tick by and I know we're ready to have Sam/Yuri in our home and family, I wish for just a brief minute that I could know how this all plays out and WHEN it will be that he is here feeling safe and loved and not worrying anymore. I know none of that is possible, so...we're back to that whole TRUSTING thing I've got going on.  Seems to be a recurring theme. 

So, as I go to sleep tonight, I'm planning his next birthday party...and it's gonna be a good one!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tonight I'm celebrating 16 years of being married to my amazing husband.  This crazy journey of our lives together has shown us incredible happiness, intense sadness, insurmountable joy, insanely difficult decisions, (I just realized I have an "i" pattern going here...but I'm going to break it now) unparalleled friendships, heartbreaks, victories, wonders, surprises, and this list could go on forever.  We've seen it (almost) all.  Now we are  embarking on another aspect to our journey -- one we've never done before -- adoption.  The Lord has carried us through so MANY different adventures thus far and I have every confidence that He will continue.  It's intense and exciting and stressful and crazy and we love it!! 

We keep finding things out about Sam/Yuri that confirm over and over that he is such an amazing "fit" for our family.  He is a leader already in areas of his life and I just know that that will continue as he has the proper encouragement to do and be everything that he's been created to do and be.  I can't wait to see where this path of our journey takes our family.

Please continue to pray with us for the Lord's timing on our adoption hearing, travel, etc.  I just feel so strongly that he is supposed to come on our summer trip with us this year, but if the timeline holds true to what it's been for other families, it doesn't look like he would be able to join us.  Please continue to pray for mercy and compassion for the officials who will be making the decisions on our case.  Pray they will be compelled to let us get him home in plenty of time for us all to be prepared for our trip as a WHOLE FAMILY.  I would hate for him to miss it just by a few days as it will be a lifetime of memories for our clan and he would not have them with us.  It breaks my heart to think about.

But, once again, I publicly declare (puts a little more pressure on me that way...) that I am RESTING fully in God's timing for all of this.  He knows and He is at work in a mighty way!!! 

I head to bed tonight a VERY thankful wife...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm battling a rush of emotions today...First of all, the Lord kind of knocked me on my behind today with another excerpt from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I've been "waiting" for the call for our travel date.  Kind of feeling like once we get THAT, we can get things in place and move on from there.  Today's devotion reminded me that TODAY is a day of it's own and that I need to embrace ALL that IT has for me to do -- and do it!!!  Here's a little bit of it: "You are on the path of My choosing.  There is no randomness about your life.  Here and Now comprise the coordinates of your daily life.  Most people let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived.  They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place..." Oh, how much time have I wasted by waiting...???  What have I missed out on because I was longing for _______ ?  When our oldest child was a baby, I spent so much time saying "I can't wait until she can ________" I realized that I was wishing her little life away and knew that that needed to stop so I could enjoy the moments that I had with her RIGHT NOW!!!

Obviously, until we get the travel date and are on the plane, the Lord has things for us to be about RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.  I am making a commitment to Him and to myself that, though I long for the day when we get to meet Sam/Yuri for the first time, I will be present in THIS moment of THIS day and not try to rush/wish/dream/yearn my life away.  God has something each day for me to do/be/accomplish/learn.  I have to be present  to do/be/accomplish/learn whatever it is for that day.

So, then a new fb friend sends me a link to a blog of a family who has just brought their 16 yr. old daughter home from the same area/orphanage where we will be going.  They are just past where we will soon be.  They have written of the wonders of gaining this new daughter which make my heart soar!  But they have also written of the emotions wrapped around her (the daughter) tender heart as she had to choose to leave EVERYTHING that she is comfortable with -- EVERYTHING she's ever known -- EVERYONE she's ever known and come with them to join their family.  She speaks very little English.  She is sad to leave her friends.  She is grateful to have a family -- for sure -- but is also dealing with VERY REAL 16 year old emotions!!!

In my "dream world", when we meet Sam/Yuri, he gets a huge grin on his (adorable) face and comes running to us to give us the biggest Mama & Papa hugs that have ever been given (which would have to be substantial because we have the BEST hugger in the world in our family already -- little Adley wraps himself around me every day to give me amazing hug after hugs after hugs!!!)  Then the orphanage director asks him "Do you want these people to be your parents?" and he unhesitatingly and emphatically answers "YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" with a fist-pump in the air and we walk arm in arm out of the orphanage and live happily ever after!  The reality that I'm coming to, as we're seeing more and more pictures of him and finding out that he actually DOES have a life & friends & activities & talents & dreams is that he's going to be sad.  Possibly REALLY sad when we say the final goodbye to the only life he's known.  He has friends that he's been with since he was just a toddler.  He will be leaving them -- possibly to never see them again.  He has security there.  He has "safety" there provided by people who are fiercely protective of him.  He has NO IDEA if we will be that for him or not -- he's going to be giving the most precious gift he has -- himself -- to complete strangers, trusting that we have his best interest at heart.

So, my prayer, though it has been for the Lord "to prepare him for us and us for him" is changing to be more specific as I ponder the vast emotions he will be feeling as he realizes what gaining a family is going to cost him.  Though a family is what he wants more than anything...it's going to cost him everything.  This is an awful lot for a 15+ year old to process.

Please pray with us that the Lord will even now be preparing Sam's/Yuri's heart to make the hard choices/decisions that are ahead of him and that the Lord will put a healing salve on the breaks of his heart -- maybe even before they occur and that He will equip us to be everything that we need to be for him as his world is turned upside down and inside out!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

So, I had lunch with a friend (DW) today who is moving out of state.  We were enjoying our last lunch together sitting outside in front of a restaurant where we could see everyone coming and going.  It was enjoyable...the weather was nearly perfect and the company was great!  We talked and talked and I watched people as we were talking.  I love watching people.  (I have about 4 hours in an airport this weekend -- MAJOR people watching opportunities abound at an airport!!)  So, I noticed a friend on the phone and just waved to her.  She waved back.  After she was done on the phone, she came over and said she needed to give me a phone number.  I got my phone out to put it in, but she said she didn't have it with her now, but wanted to give me the story for when she DOES get it to me.  Her dad has been in the hospital for some time and in that time has had a number of nurses.  One of them is from Poland (I'm pretty sure it was Poland...but in the excitement, I may have gotten that detail wrong...) which is not Sam/Yuri's country, but she understands his language quite well!!!  She said she doesn't speak it as well as she understands it, but if that's anything like our exchange students have been, she's nearly mastered the language!! (they always underestimate themselves!)  She had heard through visiting with this friend while she was tending to her dad that Sam/Yuri is coming soon and the nurse wants to help with translating for him!!  My friend said that this nurse is SO EXCITED to meet him!!  This is a woman I've never even met and she's so excited to meet our son and wants to help him adjust to our country!!  How crazy is that?? 

So I thanked that friend and then DW and I finished up lunch.  While we were sitting there chatting more, another friend (DF - this could get confusing!) came up with a friend of hers whom I've seen at my son's gymnastics classes, but had never met.  Adley was in a commercial for the gym yesterday with DF helping tell him what to do & when, etc. and we were talking about that - and then she asked if I'd ever met her friend LJ.  LJ asked "are you Adley's mom?"  I said I was and that I didn't think we'd ever officially met.  She told me that her husband and mine had met with a mutual client in a meeting together the other day and my husband had shared the story of Sam/Yuri with him.  She said that they thought it was so exciting and that they wanted to help in ANY way they could.  She told me that her husband coaches younger boys soccer teams and that they'd love to have Sam/Yuri help with that if that's something he's interested in after he gets here!!!  I'm not sure if I've mentioned before on this blog that one of his passions is soccer.  He told the woman who met him at the orphanage that when he needs to think or blow of steam or almost any other reason, he goes out and plays soccer.  He has been to a soccer camp not all that long ago and he wants to play soccer when he comes here.  (We've already let the soccer coach at the high school here know!!!)  8-)  Anyway...I think it's safe to say that this kid's passionate about soccer.  What a gift it would be for him to be able to be involved in soccer on a regular basis in addition to playing...  Wow.  I thanked her for her kindness and told her we'd definitely be in touch.

Two people in one lunch -- neither of whom I know -- waiting to love on our son -- that I don't know!!  LJ said she was really excited to meet Yuri/Sam and the only answer I could give was "Me too!!!"  I LOVE that our community is SO excited to meet this kid and that he already has people who want to help him adjust and develop his passions!!  God has put SO MUCH in place to make Sam/Yuri's life here full.  We are SO anxious to get him here (have I mentioned that yet on this blog??) to give him all the things he's never had -- not necessarily material things (but that will be fun too -- he'll have his first pair of his OWN shoes, his OWN jeans, and can develop a sense of style, etc...) but love, support, parents, siblings, activities, opportunities, and an introduction to Jesus!!!  I just know that the Lord has big things in store for this young man!!!

Thank you, ladies, for sharing your hearts with me today!!  I am filled to over-flowing!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just a quick note for tonight to let you know that we KNOW that our documents got submitted to the authorities today for approval.  We know that we will be traveling soon...but soon is relative!  We are expecting to hear of our travel date sometime between now and about 6 weeks from now.  Of course, we are praying sooner rather than later...but the Lord knows the perfect time frame.  We have been otherwise distracted this week with some other things...which has been nice, actually.

Well, one of the distractions wasn't all that "nice" -- but it has allowed us to be focused on other things.  My sweet friend who was experiencing health issues got an almost positive report today.  They are waiting for the results of a test they did today to find out for certain that it's a good report!  We have had the joy of keeping one of their kids -- a VERY special boy to my heart...as he was adopted from Russia and I thought WE were supposed to adopt him...but Shane wasn't sure...but we both knew we needed to find him a home and it all worked out SO BEAUTIFULLY as he is with his amazing forever family IN OUR TOWN!!!!!!!  I am "Aunt Kim" and I LOVE it!!! I've tucked him into bed the past 2 nights -- just like I imagined that one day I would!!!  8-)

Another "distraction" was my foster daughter and her family who came for a visit this weekend.  What a wonderful woman she's turned out to be...and all because the Lord snatched her from a life that was hard and headed down a bad path and "redeemed" it and formed her into a wonderful wife, mother, boss, friend, daughter and a myriad of other roles she fills.  What a privilege I have had to watch her grow into a woman after God's heart as she seeks to be a godly wife & mother.  Funny side bar: one of Cammie's friends asked this weekend as Cammie was telling her about our company "Oh, is this your new exchange student?" "no"  "Oh, is this the one you're adopting?"  "no.  This one's my foster sister"  [puzzled]  "Well how many kids DO you all have???"  It's been such a joy to help raise my foster daughter (now 35) and see her raise her kids and blossom into the roles she's been called to.

One other "distraction" was a very emotional time in our Sunday School department (which, incidentally, is AMAZING!!!!) on Sunday.  After announcements/prayer time, they asked Shane and me to come to the front of the class -- which caught us both completely off guard (even though he's the teacher!!)!!  They told us that they wanted to be a part of bringing Sam/Yuri home and are paying for our plane tickets for our first trip over to EE and bought him his first Bible!!!  We were COMPLETELY overwhelmed, and for once in his life, Shane was speechless!!  8-)  It was a very special gift to us and we will cherish the memories of that time forever.  This group has walked with us and prayed for us and Sam/Yuri for several weeks (almost as long as we've known about him!) and we know that they already love him and are almost as anxious to get him here as we are!!!  8-)  It's a great feeling knowing that he will be so very loved from the beginning of his life here.

We also got to see some pictures of our boy from recent and also the distant past.  He looks happy and is laughing/smiling in most of them.  He is "out" places in the pictures and has been to movies, museums and McDonalds!! It does my "mommy heart" so much good to see that he has not had as difficult a childhood as he could have to this point.  Though he has had no mother or father, he has been well loved by those who have very attentively cared for him for all of his growing up years.  He is a blessed young man and that, in turn, blesses me.  I can't wait to hear all his memories of growing up and of the things he's done. 

I love that we have "family" all over the world -- and it just keeps getting bigger and better!!  I know the Lord has big plans for Sam/Yuri and that He's continuing to prepare the path He has for us all to go.  I'm just ready to get this show on the road!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I got the FedEx confirmation this afternoon that our papers have arrived in EE safely into the hands of the person to whom they were sent!!!  This means that they now have everything they need to file for adoption of Sam/Yuri on our behalf!!  We have no idea yet of the time-frame for travel, etc.  We are continuing to leave that in the Lord's hands and trust that He will provide the right time for it all to happen. 

Today has been a great day, but a tough day.  Great from the adoption standpoint, tough from the standpoint that one of my friends is hurting.  She got a bit of "bad" medical news -- nothing serious yet, just that she is not "fine" though we don't really know what is wrong yet.  More tests to follow.  But I LOVE that even on the "not fine" days, God shows up.  Today in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young part of the devotional read like this (specifically intended for me and my friend and her family, I think!): "Don't let unexpected events throw you off course.  Rather, respond calmly and confidently, remembering that I am with you.  As soon as something grabs your attention, talk with Me about it.  Thus, I share your joys and your problems; I help you cope with whatever is before you.  This is how I live in you and work through you.  This is the way of Peace."  Isn't God good to have inspired Sarah Young to write this 8 years ago to be on this page on this day for my friend (and me)???  How can I doubt for even one second that He has it all under control if He's even planning so far ahead to bring comfort to my friend when she needs it?? 

My God is SOOO big!  He's working, knitting, weaving, forming, cultivating ALL things together to accomplish His plan in my life, in my family's life, in Sam/Yuri's life, in my friend's life, in the life of our church, in our city, in our state, in our world!!!  It's not just for me He has these devotions. They're not just random "fluffy thoughts" to make us feel good that are in this devotional book (and so many God-inspired others...this just happens to be the one I read on a really regular basis!).  He uses His Word that is "sharper than any sword" to penetrate our hard hearts and then when they're "open" He spreads the balm of His love all over our gaping wounds.  THEN, we can begin to heal...knowing that the Savior is tending our wounds for us. 

My friend isn't the only friend who is hurting from a medical "twist of events."  There are SO many who are walking in unfamiliar territory...territory they wish they never knew about.  (Shane calls it a "million dollar education, one penny at a time.")  Our job for these, as well as the orphans, widows, disabled -- physically and mentally, elderly and young is to stand in the gap and be Jesus with skin on to them.  I pray that the Lord will open my eyes to the hurting and that I will be sensitive to see who/what I need to see every minute of every day.  I pray that for you too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Well, friends -- IT.  IS.  FINISHED.  Those words have been ringing a lot in my mind these past few days since Easter, etc.  That is probably one of my favorite parts of the Easter story.  Knowing that the work that Jesus had come here to do was complete and that the "glory" (that only He knew about!) was about to begin.  I can't imagine the POWER with which those words were said.  I'm going to take the liberty to take a little side bar here (since you are free to stop reading any time you want!!) and make sure that if YOU are reading this blog and YOU don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, YOU have the opportunity to do so.  YOU can know that you are going to heaven for eternity.  We (my family) will be there.  Most of the people we love will be there.  If you want to KNOW that you will be there, but you don't, I want you to either FIND someone who can tell you how much Jesus loves you OR message me and ask me to tell you.  Briefly, He loves you SO much that He was willing to DIE a horrible, cruel, inhumane death by being nailed to a splintery, wooden cross and left to die so that He could pay the price for YOUR sins and MINE.  We have ALL done at least ONE bad thing and that qualifies us to be labeled "sinner."  For every sin committed, there must be a sacrifice.  Jesus came to be OUR sacrifice so that we didn't have to pay the price for our sins which was eternal separation from Him.  But He didn't STAY dead (which is the part that always gives me chill bumps!)!!!  Three days after He died and was buried in a tomb in the side of a mountain, HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD!!!  The Lord Jesus conquered death because HE IS GOD.  He gave us victory over death as well with that act because when I die, I will spend eternity with Him in heaven.  It's an amazing story and it's one YOU should know.  So, find someone to share it with you...or contact me!

So, those words come from me to you with substantially LESS authority and power...but with the same amount of truth: It is finished!! The final paperwork is on it's way to EE where it is waiting to be received, approved and appropriately handled (I say this because I have NO idea what's going on with regard to all this over there!!!)  We have a simply AMAZING -- ASTOUNDING even -- team of people who have worked together with us to get all of this completed in such an incredibly short time.  SEVEN weeks ago today is when we found out that Sam/Yuri existed.  When I try to wrap my mind around all that's happened since that time, it's overwhelming.  No wonder we're tired!!!  8-)

Please pray with us now that the people who are making the decisions as to whether we can have Sam/Yuri as a part of our family forever will be moved with compassion for him and will grant us the petition for adoption.  Also, we want the Lord's timing on all this.  We have a long trip overseas planned for July.  It's been in the works for MANY months.  If he's here by the time we're supposed to go, he will go with us.  If not, we will go to get him when we return from that trip.  There are lots of factors involved and ONLY God knows the best timing on all this.  Will you pray with us for the Lord's will on the perfect timing?  The trip will be intense and FULL.  This may not be the best thing for Sam/Yuri to have to do right after leaving the ONE place he's lived his ENTIRE life.  He may need some down time to process everything and get a grip on what his new life with a family will entail.  On the other hand...he may look at it as the biggest adventure of his life and grab at it with gusto!!  We have NO idea what he's going to need as we don't know his personality yet...but GOD does.  We want what's best for him and for our family as a whole.  We trust the Lord to work out those details as HE sees best.

As I may have mentioned before...waiting is not my forte'.  However, I have COMPLETE peace about where Sam/Yuri is and about the care he is receiving.  He is healthy and strong and happy from all we have heard.  That comes with being well-cared for.  So...as much as I want to wrap that boy in his first "Mom" hug and kiss and have him meet his siblings and tuck him into bed for possibly the first time he's ever been tucked...I will wait.  And, I am kind of feeling like it might just be something that resembles "patiently" too!!! (not sure I've ever felt that before...so I can't truly put my finger on it!!!  8-)  )  I feel the Lord's hand so STRONGLY guiding and directing each step of this journey, that I know He's not going to bail on us now just because I can't "see" the progress being made with papers coming in and approvals being granted...Gods got this one bagged.  He already knows the outcome.  He knows the dates, minutes & seconds till we meet our son.  He is working to make sure that all things will come together for all of our good. 

It's a pretty safe place to be....right here firmly in God's hands.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Well, there's not a whole lot to post today about adoption stuff...we have all our paperwork complete.  There are a few things to be apostilled and then they will be sent to our team in EE.  I read lots of information today on what things are like in the country and how it will likely be when we are there.  It's COMPLETELY intriguing and entirely overwhelming.  I believe it will be yet another lesson in relinquishing control (hmmm...wondering if the Lord is trying to teach me something here...I seem to see a recurring pattern...) as we will be totally at the mercy of those who are there who speak the language, know the "rules" of the area and will be telling us where to be and when!!!  It will be so very interesting to "surrender" ourselves to their leadership.  These are people we know about but that we don't know personally yet at all.  They are already working on our behalf to make things happen there now that we know nothing about -- yet. So many are giving of themselves on behalf of these kids who need their forever homes - just because they love kids.  It will be a sheer privilege to meet them and work with them.

I wish Yuri/Sam could know of all the people who are working, all the phone conversations being had, all the texts back and forth, all the time and money being invested, all the prayers being offered, all the excitement by those who have never met him, all the efforts being put forth by so many people -- ALL on his behalf!!!  I wish right now he could know how much he is loved!!!  It fills me to overflowing knowing how many people care about his well-being.  Please don't stop praying for him.  Please pray for us.  Please pray as we are that the Lord will prepare him for us and us for him.  We want this transition to be as smooth as it possibly can for him as he is leaving EVERYTHING familiar to him and coming to an entire world of all things new with almost complete strangers...we will have gotten to spend some time with him in the days while we are there, but there will be LOTS of trust involved on his part to leave all that's comfortable to go to a world of unknowns -- permanently!!  Please pray that his heart will be well-prepared to make the necessary adjustments.  There will be many!!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Well, today FEELS like the beginning -- but it's actually the END!!  It feels like the beginning because we JUST became "official" as Yuri/Sam's family on Reece's Rainbow (see our link to the right on this page) -- the site where our FB friend found him and posted a link to his story.  It feels like the end because we got our LAST piece of paper that we needed today and will be sending our last documents to complete our dossier over to EE in just a few days.  They have to be apostilled first and then we'll FedEx them over!!  Then we REALLY wait -- to hear from our team there of the status updates about things which we are almost completely uninvolved in but tremendously affect our lives!!  It's a bit of a surreal situation. 

So, please continue to pray for favor for our documents.  That every hand that touches them will feel an urgency to handle them properly and get them to the next place.  Time is still of the essence.  We continue to trust the Lord -- and I must say He's done a bang-up job of handling things thus far!!!  He is SO good and has been SO "present" in all this.  It just makes me smile.

We have several new fb "friends" as of today...there's a whole network out there of adoptive parents who are in similar situations to where we are.  It's pretty cool!!  I think it will be most beneficial to have the wealth of their experiences and knowledge as we make preparations for what lies ahead. 

We are so very blessed...

Monday, April 9, 2012

DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG POST IS GOING TO BE LONG! Not because I'm trying for it to be, but there's a big story to tell, and a couple of paragraphs just isn't going to cut it!!

We have had a big day around here. First of all, our fingerprints are taken and submitted, and we should hear back from USCIS soon and have our final paperwork submitted hopefully by the end of the week/beginning of next week. This is truly incredible, as I mentioned last night! SIDE NOTE: This fingerprint place was the Taj Mahal of fingerprint places!!! It was like the extreme opposite of the last place we went! And I praised the Lord for it!!! 8-)

This is the LONG part: Most of you do not know that there has been another side to our story. One that we weren't at liberty to tell – until now. When we first “found” Yuri on fb a little over 6 weeks ago, we called to inquire about him. At that same time, a couple of other families had inquired as well. Eventually, another family was given the “go-ahead” by Reece's Rainbow (a ministry that helps connect families to orphans in foreign countries) to pursue adoption of “Sam” (that's the name given him on the Reece's Rainbow website – reecesrainbow.com). We were given the “go-ahead” to act as a “backup” in the event things fell through with the other family due to the incredibly short time line that everyone was working against. The team felt that if there were 2 families working toward the same goal, the odds of Sam “falling through the cracks” would be substantially reduced.

From the minute we saw Sam's face on the website, both Shane and I felt like we were to be his parents. Apparently, this was happening in the other family as well. We each have a deep concern for this child, and each wanted to see him find his forever family – both believing his forever family was our own. However, our only “race” was the race against Sam's time-clock that has been steadily ticking -- as when he turns 16, if there are no prospective parents with paperwork ready and the process started in his country by that time, he's given a small amount of money and turned onto the streets to try to make his own way after living in an orphanage his entire life and being labeled “unemployable” by his country because of his hand differences.

As we have sought the Lord's guidance in all this, we have prayed all along that He would “slam the door closed” if we were to stop pursuing this. Instead of any doors slamming shut, they have been thrust WIDE OPEN and we have felt very strongly that we were to continue moving forward. So we have. The other family began their paperwork at about the same time we began ours. We have completed our paperwork in a practically unprecedented time-frame and the other family came up against some snags. This morning, we got notice from Reece's Rainbow that the other family has decided that because of the snags and delays that have come up, they needed to terminate their adoption pursuit so that we can pursue him fully and bring him home as soon as possible. It was a completely selfless act for them to step back and let us move forward. Their hearts are hurting as they will need to grieve this loss – which would be very hard to understand if you've never been through this process. Yuri/Sam is already deeply embedded in our hearts – as he is in theirs. When something is already in your heart, and it gets “taken away” it's a definite loss -- the loss of their dream for this boy they thought would be their son.

I am so impressed by their love for this child that they have never met, and I am truly grateful to them for listening to the Lord's leading in their lives. Please pray for their hearts to heal quickly. I feel confident that this time in their lives was to prepare them for something that the Lord has for them in the future, and I hope someday I'll hear what that is. But for now, we are sad with them -- but at the same time, thrilled for our family as we can embark full speed ahead on this crazy journey!!

We have been simply awed at the Lord working in and through the people in our world who have been put in place “for such a time as this” to walk with us through pursuing this child for our family. He has orchestrated a beautiful story that I hope will be used to encourage people who are wondering if the Lord is telling them to do the same thing He's pointed us to. I know that the Lord has promised that “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) and there have been many times that I've just had to cling to that as I don't understand how something could possibly work for good (as the other family is feeling right now, I'm sure).

As Shane and I drove the 2 hours to our fingerprint appointment this morning, I told him how extremely cool it is when you KNOW that you're right where the Lord wants you at that minute. The confirmations that we have received over and over and over through this process have just helped us feel SO SAFE about where we are headed. It doesn't make sense to us that the Lord would guide us to do this right now – with Shane's work schedule being SO busy, a three-week trip planned for the summer to see our exchange student kids and their families, and some other commitments, but once again we fall back on the fact that “'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8) and in that we rest, as we have many times before.

We have been blown away at the times that the Lord has directed us to HIS plan for us and it's been so much better than the plan we thought we wanted for our lives. Even when it looked like the plan might fail...He's still in control and still working – even though we might not see how it can all work out for “good.” There are probably things that we won't see how “good” came of them in each of our lives (and THAT list I'm compiling for the Lord when I see him in glory), but that's where trusting comes in. This story is one where the good can definitely be seen – right now and hopefully for a LONG time to come! Though Yuri doesn't become “officially” ours until ALL the paperwork is approved by ALL the right people (and that number is large!), Yuri says “yes” to us becoming his family, and the judge signs the Decree of Adoption, we feel like those things will fall into place as the rest of this process has been so seemingly anointed by the Lord.

Thank you friends, for walking it with us. Please continue to pray as the Lord leads, for His hand to work out the PERFECT timing for us to travel, etc. Leaving our other kids is going to be rough. I'm a very over-protective Momma Bear. But, I know that the Lord is going before us, and I actually even have peace about being gone from them for so long, knowing that the Lord's hand of protection will be on each of us as we're apart. That might be a couple of months from now, or it very well might be sooner. Only God knows. And we rest in that.

P.S. We have NO idea what we're going to call Yuri/Sam when he gets here, but we doubt it will be either of those names. He has two other names – his given name and one that he goes by!!! We are going to let him help us make that decision and will keep everyone posted on that. 8-)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Well, I took the Easter weekend off as we were spending time with Shane's family who came into town as is our Easter tradition.  It was a delightful weekend...I am so proud of our nieces and nephews who have grown and matured into amazing young people.  God has been so good to our family -- even through some EXTREMELY tough days.  He is good -- ALL the time!!

We got home last night to some exciting news!!!  We had our letter in the mail from USCIS giving us our fingerprint appointment!!!  We will go tomorrow to get that done and hopefully get our final clearance ASAP so that we can get the final few papers apostilled and sent to EE for them to complete the paperwork/application process for us!!!  This is just an AMAZING answer to prayer -- our "team" is completely awed each time we talk about how quickly this process has moved.  We are watching the Lord just plow through anything that would be a "road block" and clear the path for us.  It will be very interesting to see how quickly we end up getting over there.  Typically, this process we're completing can last anywhere from 4 - 9 months...we've been at it 5 weeks now.  The fact that we are this close cannot be chalked up to anything other than a serious MIRACLE.  We have said from the beginning that we are on the "miracle timeline" and that is exactly what has happened.  We are SO POSITIVE that "Yuri" belongs in our family as the Lord just seems to be confirming it over and over as His hand seems to be all over this. 

We had a talk over the weekend with a family member who expressed some concerns about all of this and how much it's going to require of us as individuals, as a couple and as a family.  We TOTALLY agreed with them and it led us into a conversation in which we delved into how funny/interesting it is of God's call on our lives when things like this come up.  Neither Shane nor I were looking to adopt a teenage boy.  This is probably among the most inconvenient times in our entire lives for us to do this. (well, when Adley was having heart surgery might have been somewhat less convenient...)  We don't really know how it's all going to play out -- sure, we have our ideas, but we are well aware that those can be blown to smithereens in a second!!  But we KNOW that this is from the Lord as we each have such peace about it and have watched the pieces fall into place so miraculously.  We talked about how if the Lord called us to do something and then immediately showed us exactly how it was going to happen along the way, as well as how it will all turn out, where is the faith in that??  If we can be obedient and truly TRUST that the Lord is working it all out even when it may look like it's a little crazy to others, that's where real faith takes shape. 

Believe me, sometimes this all looks crazy to us, as well, but there are lots of stories in the Bible about things that looked crazy to everyone other than the one God called.  Don't get me wrong, we've received overwhelming support from our family and friends, but we also recognize that all this carries with it a lot of concern for us and our current children.  We understand the concern and appreciate it and the many prayers being offered on our behalf, as well as for "Yuri."  We cannot help but be excited to see what God has in store for him, as all these miracles point to something really special.  For all of us. . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The other night, we were lying in bed and Shane was looking at his computer at a great email that I get every day from BradsDeals.com  They send a list of "special deals" for the day.  We've bought a TV from there, a few pieces of running wear, etc.  They had some Underarmor shirts for men advertised that day and Shane said "I'm gonna order one for me and one for 'Yuri'."  So, in the mail today we got a package that held our first piece of clothing for our new son!!!  I can just see him in it!!  In talking with one of our team members the other day, she told me that we'd have to have something for him to wear -- top to bottom for our "gotcha" day (the day he comes to live with us) as he won't be able to bring ANYTHING with him (unless he'd received it as a gift at some point) from the orphanage.  He won't have his own pajamas.  His own toothbrush.  His own jacket.  His own favorite pair of jeans.  No pictures of family to bring with him.  The fact that his ENTIRE past has been lived within the "same 4 walls" seems unfathomable to me.  Oh the things he's missed out on!!  How much there is for him to learn about!!

My name's Kim and I am a shopaholic...I admit it.  But the thought of beginning to accumulate all the "stuff" that a 16 yr. old needs is quite daunting!!!  I'm gonna have to get busy REALLY quick!!  The hardest part is that we don't have ANY idea what his sizes are!!!  I want to shower him with ALL the things he not only needs, but wants...

Just like God.  His desire is to shower us with all the things that we not only need, but also want.  He WANTS to bless us.  He has GOOD things in store for us...but like I was telling one of our girls the other night, He CAN'T bless us unless we're being obedient to Him.  That's not to say that good things aren't going to happen to people who aren't obedient to God and that bad things are going to happen to those who are disobedient...we all know that's not true.  But I often wonder how many blessings I've missed out on during rebellious times in my life.  What did God have for me that I missed?  I'm so glad He doesn't show me the blessings I DIDN'T receive and doesn't hold a grudge so that I continue to miss them.  He has been so amazingly generous with me even though I've had lots and lots of times that I know that He was just shaking His head at me wondering when I would come to my senses and turn back to a right relationship with my Savior. 

I want to bless "Yuri."  God wants to bless me.  This is my prayer for us both.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Today is mostly a waiting game (and from past posts, you ALL know how I so ROCK this game!).  I waited at the cardiologist for Adley's appointment  first thing this morning for almost an hour till the doctor got there. (sigh).  I am waiting for notice from the USCIS to go to a fingerprint appt.  We are waiting for the last few documents to come in so we can have them apostilled & sent on their way.  I am waiting to make some plans for the kids to see when we're going to be here and when we'll be traveling...and the list goes on and on.  Have I mentioned that I am NOT GOOD AT WAITING???? 

By nature, I am a "doer" and though those people often are the ones who get things done, there is a LOT to be said for waiting...and the Lord reminded me again that He's calling the shots and I just need to sit tight (one of these days, I'm gonna catch on...) In Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, a portion of today's devo reads: "It is impossible for you to have a need that I cannot meet.  After all, I created you and everything that is.  The world is still at My beck and call, though it often appears otherwise."  When I want a "plan" the Lord reminds me that I am TOO SMALL to grasp His plan.  If He told it to me, I'd just be overwhelmed.  I know me.  So does He.  There's too much to take in for me to be "in on it" -- He just calmly works everything together for good.  Because He loves me.

So, we keep waiting.  But in the meantime...I can do a lot of the other things that have been put on hold while we were "busy" with paperwork and errands!!  ;-)

Please continue to pray with us for the Lord to keep working as He has been and that the papers will all go exactly where they're supposed to go when they're supposed to go there!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ok...I must confess.  I got frustrated today.  It was with the lady on the phone at the place that sends us our state fingerprint results.  She wasn't very understanding of my plight that we NEEDED these results NOW so that we can get them to EE so we can get our boy!!!  She said they won't re-send them until it's been at least 10 business days.  It's only been 7 today.  Those of you who know me well, know that patience is not a virtue I possess much of.  I don't even really pray for it anymore.  I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that, like Paul, I will have a thorn in my flesh and mine just happens to be "lacking patience".  So, my phone conversation with her did not end as chipperly, chippily, pleasantly as it could have.  I was a little ticked. 

I confessed it to the Lord shortly after I abruptly hung up the phone (I did NOT hang up on her, I just hung up quickly after saying goodbye) (and muttering "thanks for nothing" under my breath - AFTER I had pressed "end"!!!)  He reminded me of the devotional I read last night that said (in part) "Talk with me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings.  Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me...Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life.  Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment.  He will keep you close to Me."  Ouch.  My "to do" list is long and pretty much on my time-table.  Relinquish.  Relinquish.  Relinquish. 

So, I relinquished.  Went to run some errands, picked Adley up from school early to do his therapy and while he was doing the part he does by himself, I checked the mail.  Guess what?  BIG mail day.  HUGE!! 
We got: 3 passports (the kids'), our State fingerprint clearance and the letter from the USCIS saying they'd received our paperwork/application and they would be sending us a letter soon to tell us to go get fingerprints!  (oh, and 2 cute tank-tops that I'd ordered for workouts!  BONUS!!!)  Did I mention that I got an email from FedEx this afternoon saying that our paperwork had been delivered to EE and into the hands of the person it was intended to go to?  Did I also mention that our wire went through with the initial money?  Did I mention that we could be going to meet our son VERY soon?? (like within the next 6 weeks or sooner...) 

When I relinquish, the Lord is able to work His plan AND get the glory!!!  When I intervene...sometimes I might be tempted to take some of the credit for the cool stuff HE wants to do/is doing.  I do NOT want to get in His way, b/c He wants to do so much more than I could ever get done and to do it FOR me!!!!!!  WHY OH WHY do I continue to have to learn this lesson?  Please, Lord, make me a FAST learner!!  It's the prayer I pray for my kids...guess I need to include myself in that one too.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

So here are the prayer requests as they stand now:

1)  We need a "worker angel" to get our paperwork for USCIS and expedite it as quickly as can be done.  It should get to the main office on Tues. of this week and we need our "order" for FBI fingerprints ASAP as that is one of the last steps to getting everything done.
2)  We need our state fingerprint results to arrive.  Austin says they were mailed either Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.  We have yet to see them.  It shouldn't take 5 days to get mail from Austin.
3)  We need our documents to get to EE as quickly as possible and for there to be NO GLITCHES in getting them translated and our adoption applied for there.
4)  Please pray for the timing on all this to be perfect.  We NEVER take a BIG HONKIN' vacation (like, in 16 yrs. of marriage, we've never been gone for more than a week!), but THIS year, before we even knew "Yuri" existed, we planned a 3 week trip to Scandanavia in July to see our foreign exchange student kids & their families.  Because we will be spending 2 1/2 weeks in EE the first time and 10 days the second time, we don't know how this is all going to work out...but God already does.  We just want it all to be in HIS timing, and I need to stop trying to work it all out -- at least until we have an actual court date (which could happen as quickly as 3 - 6 weeks from now!)!!!  Our preference would definitely be to NOT miss the end of the school year here as that is always a super busy time.  However, there's not really a GOOD time we can think of for us to be gone, so...we're back to the Lord's timing on it all!!!  8-)  Not easy for this control freak!!!
5)  Continue to pray for our family and the adjustment that having a permanent big brother will be for the kids and what having another teenager in the house will be for Shane and me.  We were talking the other day about hearing a "man voice" say "Mom" or "Dad"...our exchange students called us by our first names...this will be quite a switch -- for us ALL!!!  But how that warms my heart each time I think of hearing it!

We are so thankful for each one of you who is walking through this with us.  So many of you mention regularly that you are praying for us and I am positive that this is why/how it's all fallen into place so incredibly quickly.  Having never been through this process before, I guess we didn't realize just how fast it's gone.  I was talking to our social worker the other day and she asked me "When did you agree to adopt?" and I told her it was like March 5 or 6...she said "Um, yeah, a home study usually takes around 6 weeks or so to complete.  Yours took less than 2."  Everything has happened so amazingly fast.  The Lord placed people in our lives, and in the lives of others on our "team" who have helped expedite this process in a MIRACULOUS way.  It truly is a Miracle Timeline we're on and I'm LOVING watching the Lord work!!

Ephesians 3:20-21 says: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  This is definitely more than I could have ever imagined!!!!