Sunday, January 30, 2011

Created for Care

So Friday morning my dear friend Katie and I will be winging our way to Atlanta, Georgia for the Created for Care conference. It is a three day conference specifically for adoptive mommas! I am just bursting at the seams with excitement! Three days to worship, rest, and spend time with other women who are on this adoptive journey! God orchestrated this conference for us so specifically!

Of course I will miss my family! And the thought of being away from them for so long is hard. But I am leaving little gifts, treats and notes so they can think about me lots! How many more exclamation points can I fit in?

Praise God for this moment of rest in this very busy and wearing season!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jars of Clay

So I know that everyone will be so excited to hear about the week we have had in this house. Lets start at the beginning.

Saturday: The morning began with a shopping trip ALONE to the grocery store. It was a much needed break and I enjoyed every second. Little did I know it was the calm before the storm.

In the afternoon, Elizabeth and I baked cookies and we had a relaxing family evening at home.

Saturday night the whole house fell apart and the plague hit us.

Sunday: Kids and I stayed home while daddy went to B's (our nephew) baptism. And Sunday night both kids were up coughing half the night.

Monday: Kids and I home while daddy was out making money. (Lucky him)

We receive an email from our agency wondering how we planned on paying for the adoption since our monthly budget obviously does not allow room for an extra $20,000.00. Through tears I replied something about fundraisers and grants. And then quickly emailed a friend and asked her to pray.

Monday night was the worst of the coughing. With me sitting on the couch with Claire from about 11-3AM. I ended up holding her in my lap and dozing off for a bit. She was coughing so bad she threw up and was gagging. I held her upright so she could catch her breath. I dozed on and off while she slept and woke up at about 3 AM with my butt and back in agony. I decided coughing or not she was going in her bed. And about 4 AM Elizabeth got up. Thankfully I was WAY too tired to even hear her and Todd got up with her. (I have an awesome husband)

Tuesday: After the awful night before I decided it was time to go the doctor. Both kids had bronchitis and Claire had a double ear infection. (I think the doctor used the term "raging infection") Steroids and anitbiotic for both. Yipeee!

Wednesday: Steroids are in full effect at our house! Coughing has reduced and craziness has ensued. I caught Claire climbing up my ladder shelf in the living room. I am pretty sure that the "roids" are affecting their brains. They are certainly affecting mine.

Thursday: Thankfully we gave the last dose of steroid!!! That deserves a double yippee. I was able to leave the house for a bit and have dinner and a shopping trip with my mom. And my great husband put both kiddos to bed even though I was home. This caused great stress and chaos for Elizabeth who cried for 5 minutes straight because daddy was putting them both to bed. (Not really sure why. We take turns putting both girls to bed each night so they both get lots of times with daddy putting them to bed. Maybe its the "roids.")

Lots of things have been crazy this week. The kids and I were pretty much stuck in the house for 5 days straight. I have not worn a stitch of makeup since last Friday. (Seriously not even coverup) And it was not like some noble I want to try going au natural thing. I was just so tired and really had no place to go. I did not even put on makeup to go out with my mom tonight. I was just too tired and chose to cuddle on the couch with Claire bug until it was time to leave instead of getting prettied up.

One thing I know though. satan (not capitalized on purpose) is tricky. And when we received that email in the chaos of this week I started to doubt. I started to think that maybe we can't pay for this. Maybe we can't handle three kids. Maybe we should not be adopting. I honestly did. My heart was in a real rough place. I cried a lot of tears and I prayed. And I read the book of Proverbs for about 5 minutes and then I took a nap. And when I woke up this verse was in my head.

1st Corinthians 4:7-9

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

That is the truth. We are not anything great. We have no special thing to offer a baby. We are not saints because we are adopting. I heard it put this way and I love this "I am equally a blessing and a curse to all my kids." Our little man will endure a mom who is, at times, exhausted and at her end. He will get me at my best and at my worst. But we have one thing we can offer him. One thing we can bring to our little man. We can show him the Lord. We can introduce him to the one who can heal all his wounds and can wipe away every tear. We can show him one who is ever patient and ever loving. One who is slow to anger. The one is who is completely and wholly different from everyone he will ever meet, including his momma.

satan would love to distract us from that purpose. He would love to stop or even stall us from showing the Lord to that little one. But we are obeying. We are moving forward to do what God has called us to do.

And in the end it will be worth it. I will leave you with telling the sweetest story of my week. This one made the whole week worth it.

Wednesday evening after bible story I was tucking Claire into bed. Our ritual is that I always hold her and sing to her and pray for her and Lizzie. If I forget anything she reminds me, "Sing baby mine and pray for me and pray for Lizzie." I sung to her and was praying for her. And within my prayer I said something about God living in her heart.

Claire: "My heart too."

Me: "You want God to live in your heart?"

Claire: "Yes"

So in the best way I knew how I explained to my 21/2 year old that we all have sin. Jesus came to the earth to die for our sins and if she believes him he can forgive her and live in her heart. I asked if she wanted to ask him to live in her heart. And she did. My sweet girl prayed, with pacifier still in her mouth, that Jesus would forgive her and live in her heart. And thank you for your shed blood. It was the sweetest moment and it was so holy. So simple and so filled with faith. She simply believes. I pray that as she grows God's word would grow in her heart and the cares of this world would not push it out.

So as we go through this process now. Whether hard pressed or perplexed I cling to God. This is all about Him. He has done bigger things than provide $20,000.00 for an adoption. He parted the sea. He healed the sick. He made the blind see. He came to the earth as a baby and took on my sins. He died on the cross on the third day was raised from the dead. He chooses to use jars of clay, so that when the power is displayed people will see that it was from Him.

It is not from us.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Gate

I received a message the other day from a friend. She sent the picture above with a little note that said, "Soon you will be driving through these gates in an old van packed full of luggage, to meet your son." This gate is the entrance to the orphanage where our son will be. The message brought me to tears. In this place that looks so cold and lifeless our baby will be waiting. And our God will redeem! That iron gate that looks like a prison will be a gate of hope. Hope for us as a reminder that we have a goal and one day, Lord willing, we will get through that gate and reach our baby boy.

But also hope for him. You see I love the story in the Bible of Joseph. You can read about it in Genesis chapters 37-45. Joseph's brothers were extremely jealous of him. They hated him. And one day they threw Joseph in a well and sold him to some slave traders. They came back to their father and told him that his son had been eaten by a lion. A lot of really awful things happen to Joseph after being sold to Egyptian slave traders. But through it all Joseph served God and remained faithful to Him. He was even falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. God allowed Joseph to interpret dreams and many years after he had been sold into slavery God allowed Joseph to interpret a dream that the Pharaoh had. The dream meant that the land of Egypt would have 7 years of plenty to be followed with 7 horrible years of famine. The Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he put him in charge of storing up food and ultimately giving out rations during the famine. It was during the famine that Joseph meets his brothers for the first time in almost 20 years. They came to get food from the stores. When they realized they were dealing with their brother that they had treated so harshly they were terrified. Joseph responded to them in this way in Genesis 45:5-7

"And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

What Joseph's brothers intended for harm God used for good.

And what Satan intends for evil in the life of our son God can redeem and use for good!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why Ethiopia?

Many people have asked us why did we choose to adopt from Ethiopia. I never fully answer because if I am honest I never really knew why myself. But today I was writing down some of our journey. I want to remember some things so I can tell them to our boy later but also I want to remember God's faithfulness. And it struck me that we were absolutely lead here. We were lead to Ethiopia in this moment. We were lead to this agency. And we are being lead to our son.

You see I know this because in May of 2010 Todd and I asked a group of family and close friends to pray 3 specific things for us. One of those was that God would lead us to the child he has for our family. We knew he was calling us to adopt but we were not sure if that meant domestic, or international. We prayed and I researched. I researched and called and emailed so many different people. And amazingly hardly anyone responded to me. And the one person I did talk to from one agency seemed very disorganized and I had an awful feeling about it. I would come each night with a different idea to Todd. And one day he said, "you are so swayed every day as to what you want to do." He was right. I was striving and planning and nothing was working right.

One day I had a conversation with a friend about her adoption. She told me about her agency, Wide Horizons and Ethiopia, the country they adopted their little boy from. I came home and shared our conversation with Todd and we began to pray about what was the best decision. After looking into the agency she used we both felt really comfortable and excited about going in this direction.

But the problem was with this agency and this country we needed about $5,000.00 to even begin the process. So we began to pray. We asked God if this was his plan and direction and if it was would he provide the $5,000.00 we needed to begin the process. After a few weeks of praying a friend offered to help us do a garage sale fundraiser. Let me stop here and share that we had not talked with this friend about our adoption since we had given her the request to pray for us in May. But for some reason 5 months later out of the blue she offers to help us do a fundraiser. We did the garage sale. And that garage sale raised $5,200.00.

I was trying to plan and research my way into God's plan. And all the while he had it under control. He was leading us.

So why Ethiopia? Because that is where our son is.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The one about the sweat suit

I am not a fan of this picture. I know everyone probably has pictures of themselves that they do not like. I don't like how I look in this picture. I could dissect it and I will. I could tell you how humid it was that day. You can probably tell. I had gotten up way too early and straightened my hair. It is clearly not straight anymore. I also had a massive head cold that day. And I was really exhausted. So for all the things I really hate about this picture I still love it.

This was day one of our yard sale. I was already sooo tired. We had spent that whole week gathering items. It was a ton of work. Here is what our house looked like.

It was a massive display of the provision of God. I was tired. I was exhausted. But I love the photo because it reminds me of how God so carefully and tenderly orchestrated our every need.

This week has been a little stressful. We are working on all the paperwork for the adoption. It is time consuming and sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all the information I need to gather. We also have decided to put our house up for sale. So in the midst of this craziness I found myself doubting. I found myself doubting that God cares for me. Doubting that he has my every need already cared for and doubting that he cares about the desires of my heart.

I was in such a moment on Monday. I was trying to clean out our bedroom closet. I was folding clothes and came across the sweat suit in the picture above. And I remembered the sweat suit story. I have not shared the story of the sweat suit. And I think it is time I did.

I bought that sweat suit the week of the yard sale. It was laundry day and I was out of clean clothes and we needed detergent. I threw on some really old ugly sweats and a sweat shirt and the kids and I ran into Target to get some detergent and while we were there I saw that sweat suit. I decided to buy it. It was cute and looked comfortable and I knew it would be something easy for me to wear while working all day at the yard sale. So as we are getting ready to leave Target I get a phone call on my cell phone from a lady that says she is from a Gift Shop. She heard about our sale and wanted to donate. She wanted to know if I could meet her at her shop right then. I, of course, said yes. We got into the car and I immediately thought. "I cannot meet her wearing this." And then I remembered the sweatsuit that I had just bought. It was cute and looked nice and I was able to change quickly and get to the store.

It was one of the very many ways that God provided that week. It was a little thing. Something that did not have to matter to the Lord at all. It was not really a necessity. But it mattered to me. And the Lord for some reason cares about what matters to me. And before I even knew that I would need that he provided it.

And honestly I can remember so many times in my life when he provided exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed it.

So while in the moment I could choose to worry about every detail. I could choose to worry about how our house will sell or how we will be able to move and get settled before our baby arrives. I could worry about how we will pay for all of the adoption fees. I could worry about all of that. But I am choosing not to. I am choosing instead to cling to the word of God. I am choosing to seek the kingdom of heaven and allow God to work out the details. He is a far better God and orchestrator of plans than I am anyway.

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?’ 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. Each day has enough trouble of its own."