Counting…

Home from a weekend away, trying to catch up on so many things before we leave again, my mind overflows with thoughts to share – adoption news, ministry happenings, and an update on 7, plus life in general.  But today it seems fitting to start with a heart of thanksgiving, to begin by singing praises to the One who so faithfully provides for all our needs and graciously gives so much we don’t deserve.

2439.  dates with two more girls – special times with them

2440.  snow – a blanket of falling white

2441.  thunder and lightning mixed in – spring wrapped in white

2442.  Haiti movement – not for us, but at least for someone

2443.  when God opens your eyes/heart/mind and shows us what we’ve been missing and what He’s been doing

2444.  realizing I’ve taken on too much of the world again; ready to lay it all down

2445.  more snow – a foot of white wonder

2446.  two quiet days at home

2447.  snow ice cream

2448.  clusters of white mess on the dog

2449.  gear strewn all over the house – evidence of memories made

2450.  lots of laughter with friends

2451.  a three mile run – getting back into the groove

2452.  news of one Lifeline kid about to go home

2453.  more snow

2454.  coffee – without creamer (thanks 7)

2455.  my beloved

2456.  coming before the throne in corporate prayer

2457.  girls quiet while we prayed

2458.  little answers to unsure prayers

2459.  quiet Fridays

2460.  four miles run – farthest in some time

2461.  husband slightly better

2462.  a night out – a date with the iPad in lieu of a sick husband

2463.  adoption class at church – so many families on this journey

2464.  I600 approval – only two more steps!

2465.  pot hole – first signs of spring (this one is just for Nikki D.  🙂 )

2466.  God’s timing

2467.  a Visa appointment scheduled!

2468.  wild joy, Ellie screaming with excitement

2469.  family road trip, long-awaited vacation

2470.  a day in Denver – downtown, the science museum, spectacular weather

2471.  Casa Bonita – horrible food; fun family memories

2472.  visiting adoption friends

2473.  meeting Patrick – our caseworker and friend

2474.  Lost Valley Ranch – oooo aaaaah!

2475.  hiking to Helen’s Rock

2476.  riding horses in falling snow

2477.  accepting God’s plans for our vacation and being flexible

2478.  girls sledding behind four wheelers and on inner tubes

2479.  plane tickets booked – Gotcha Day scheduled!

2480.  sun rising over Rocky Mountains, snow a million diamonds sparkling

2481.  one more ride

2482.  ending vacation well, with joy

2483.  the everlasting drive home – arriving safely at 1 am

2484.  girls sleeping in on a Monday off from school

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For His Glory ~

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Lay It Down…

It seems I’ve done in adoption what I do in pregnancy.  I have decided I am DONE with this process before it’s even over.  The end is in sight, with her arrival somewhere in the foggy distance, but I have no idea when “the day” will actually be (much like pregnancy when you don’t induce – which we didn’t).  And I have officially become a little insane about the whole thing.  I check email constantly.  And I restrain myself from emailing or calling USCIS because there’s a fine line between being the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and being the American whiner that gets stuck at the bottom of the stack.  If March weren’t such a crazy month I would seriously consider just going down there and camping out until she’s ready to come home.  I haven’t seen my girl since June.  It makes me hurt when I stop and think about it.

Like physical pregnancy, this is a growing process, both figuratively and literally (stupid anxiety-induced-eating).  The Lord is stretching me.  I can hear His voice faintly behind all the crazy in my head.  And He breaks through in unexpected places, like in this Elisabeth Elliot quote in a Facebook post last night from my friend Jenna….

God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to. 

And these things in my quiet time this morning….

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 27:13-14

And this gem from Jesus Calling

Keep your eyes on Me!  Waves of adversity are washing over you, and you feel tempted to give up.  As your circumstances consume more and more of your attention, you are losing sight of Me.  Yet I am with you always, holding you by your right hand   I am fully aware of your situation, and I will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear.

Your gravest danger is worrying about tomorrow.  If you try to carry tomorrow’s burdens today, you will stagger under the load and eventually fall flat.

And today as I’m driving I realize it’s time to repent.  Time to repent of my own timelines and trying to hold God to my schedule.  Time to repent of wanting my own way and release that to Him and trust in His timing.  Time to let it all go and lay it all down at His feet.  Because even though I may not always know what He is up to, I know that it’s something good.

Lord, I am sorry for my lack of patience in this process and for not trusting you and your timing.  I give this back to you, Lord.  I lay this child and this process at your feet and choose to trust that your plan is best.  Lord, give me the courage and the peace to do this every day and to continue to rest in you.

For His Glory ~

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Awesome….

Right now I wish I was sitting on a Haitian porch, covered in a fine layer of dirt mixed with sweat, nuzzling a head full of fuzzy black hair, watching kids play soccer.

I miss my baby.  I miss Haiti.  And it’s obscenely cold here right now, so 90* sounds awesome.

Seriously, though, today my heart and my mind went somewhere they’ve never gone before.  I actually pictured Amania in our home, in our family, living life with us.  I’m not one often given to daydreams or fantasy and her being here has always been some far-off, abstract concept, so I have just never given a lot of thought to what that would look like.  But today, in my  mind, she was here – in my SUV, running up our back stairs, doing school with us, playing Legos, eating dinner with us, sitting in my lap.  And it was beautiful.  And it will be hard I know, but to no longer have someone missing, to no longer have part of my heart so far away, to all be here to live life together….that sounds awesome.

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For His Glory ~

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An Update….

I have been trying every day this week to put thoughts into words.  They just won’t come.  Instead, a sweet photo and some news to share…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugThis beautiful girl was issued a passport this week and Visa paperwork is on its way to our adoption agency where they will do whatever they do with it.  Oh my heart….she may actually come home soon!

For His Glory~

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*a big thanks to our sweet friend Daniela for this amazing photo of our girl

Week in Review {2013, Week 2}

We come to the end of another week and I find that we’ve made it through that tremulous first week back to balancing school and life.

I practiced peace while wrestling testy appliances and a messy house.

We found our way through some new curriculum and found that the second grader absolutely LOVES it.  After a few days of doing school from breakfast until bedtime (not exaggerating!), we found a little bit of rhythm and were done by dinnertime.  Now if I can get a certain child to stop disappearing between classes, we could have something close to a normal school day.

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All week we walk a dark road with a daughter who wants to choose her own path and we continue to learn what it is to pray and beg mercy and be humbled because we really have no clue what we’re doing in this parenting thing and by the time we think we’ve figured something out everything changes.

We pass another week with no word of movement in Haiti while on Facebook I see an acquaintance post pictures of their Haitian children at home.  An acquaintance we met standing in line nearly a year ago at the embassy in Port-au-Prince both waiting for our I-600 appointment.  I marvel at how their kids are home and will myself to say the Lord’s ways are higher and His timing is perfect.  Because I am done with this being “pregnant” and there are no old wives tales to test to start labor.  I must simply wait.  And I’m reminded as I do of some of the wisest adoption words I’ve heard so far, and we heard them early on in this….”Respect the process.”  No amount of grumbling or being impatient or thinking how this or that could be done better will change the adoption process in Haiti, at least not right now.  My safest and most peaceful place is to trust God and respect the process.

Last night we celebrated the new year with our Sunday school class and as I crawled into bed at nearly 1 am, I prayed thanks to Jesus for the community He has been quietly building around us this past year in our own church, a place where we had felt painfully disconnected for many months.  We are blessed.

I realize today it’s been three years since the earthquake, since Haiti appeared to almost fall in on itself.  Three years since we watched unimaginable images on television screens and prayed for our own loved ones and friends to come home safe.  It’s been three years since we felt compelled to move, to act, to be involved. Three years since a massive community-wide sale that really was the beginning of our involvement in ministry in Haiti.  And I sit and reflect on all the mighty ways God has moved in just three years and I am amazed and how can I not worship and praise His name, for He has done good things.

For His Glory ~

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2012 – Year in Review

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This year – it’s been a wildly fast one and yet the last five weeks have somehow seemed longer than the 47 before them.  As this year comes to a close, it only seems fitting to reflect on all that God has done in our lives in 2012.

We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries.  We traveled to Haiti, twice for each of us, and the oldest child made her first trip as well.  We wrapped up a really, really hard school year, soaked up the summer, and kicked off a new year which has been so much better thus far.  I painted more furniture than I can count and discovered this relatively cheap form of therapy and realized that I need a creative outlet far more than I knew.  We made more trips to the doctor’s office this year than all our other years of parenting combined, or at least it seemed that way.  We had two broken arms, a split open ear, pertussis, and a myriad of other minor illnesses.

We learned that the adoption process is wildly unpredictable and that a pregnancy with no due date is unfathomably hard to endure.  I started the year with a focus on attentiveness and found the word hope written all over it.  We took some little trips and focused on time as a family, preparing our hearts and our home for our Haiti girl to join us.  I experienced the hardest holiday season I have ever known and God gave me a glimpse of the desperate love He has for us and how He longs for us all to come home.

Oh, this year, it’s been a good one.  We have grown and changed and hopefully become more like our Jesus.  I am eager to open the door on 2013.  I’m cautiously hopeful we will be a family of seven by year’s end.  I’m trusting Him to continue to complete what He has started in each of us.  And I’m looking forward to where He leads us in the coming year.

Wishing you a blessed beginning of the coming year.  May 2013 be the best one yet.

For His Glory ~

When It’s Hard to Say Thanks….

The end of November, it drags like an eternity, and it’s hard to give thanks and laugh delighted when your heart pounds raw with every beat, and so I just stay quiet.  A season that is normally my favorite comes and I wish with all my heart we could just skip it this year.

Christmas just doesn’t feel the same when part of our family is so keenly missed.  And the glitter and lights and music just make her absence more obvious.

We Skype on Friday night and my heart, it just can’t take it, this saying good bye again.  We promised the girls we would decorate the tree and nothing goes right – not enough lights and a broken tree stand and a DVD player for watching Elf that only works when it wants to.  And late I sit in front of the tree, lit without ornaments, and I sob heavy over this pregnancy with no due date and I surrender my hopes – small and foolish as they may be – of her being home by Christmas.

Saturday dawns, head pounding and heart still aching, and I curl up on the couch with God’s word…

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

~ Lamentations 3:21-26

And as I work and run and pray my way through the day, my soul it finds rest.  And I am reminded He is still God and He is still good.  I write it on the kitchen chalkboard.  And joy, it creeps back in, and peace, it floods my heart.  And every ounce of me still aches to just have her home, but I still have so much to be thankful for because He is still so good to me.



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244.  slow, quiet Monday

2245.  not sleeping; talking to God in the dark

2246.  time on the couch with my people

2247.  going to bed early

2248.  children who see their own sin and seek change

2249.  quiet nights with easy bedtimes

2250.  days that are long  and I want to run and hide

2251.  a sweet girls night out, even for just ninety minutes

2252.  feeling raw and stripped bare

2253.  Friday…blessed Friday

2254.  long dates

2255.  laughing hysterically at the Tim Hawkins show

2256.  lingering over dessert

2257.  breakfast and more time to connect

2258.  a cleaner garage

2259.  tank tops on November 17

2260.  fifth date in two days and feeling so loved

2261.  child who helps me through grocery stores

2262.  another child who puts dinner in the crock pot

2263.  grace when things are broken

2264.  twelve hours of sleep for this sick mama

2265.  a new day and feeling much better

2266.  a season of thanks

2267.  long weekend ahead

2268.  family together

2269.  a day at home

2270.  a less-than-quiet Quiet Time

2271.  girls’ Christmas shopping nearly done

2272.  a movie, late on Friday night

2273.  another child turns seven

2274.  a Christmas project kicked off to benefit the orphanage

2275.  a God who can move mountains

2276.  a God who never stops being good

2277.  hard Mondays, fought with tears

2278.  cold, cold mornings with candle burning and quiet before the Lord

2279.  running

2280.  running on empty

2281.  news of more friends adopting – oh the wonder!

2282.  an evening to be creative

2283.  Christmas decorations partly up

2284.  doggy snoring

2285.  a God who leads gently; asking Him to change my heart

2286.  Skype and a broken heart

2287.  the tree that would not be decorated

2288.  tears that won’t stop falling; holding on to hope

2289.  peace

2290.  new friends; a community God is building around us

2291.  house finally decorated; tree a-glow

2292.  that Christmas feeling finally coming on

2293.  date night – every time a gift

I am blessed beyond measure….

For God’s Glory ~

~ Sara

Waiting on the Good

Yesterday I stared into the mirror and applied eyeshadow knowing I was one moving song away from this time being wasted.  The whole weekend had felt heavy, and not just because of too much food.  My heart has hurt for families – friends now – ahead of us in this adoption process, who have waited so long to exit this stage we recently entered.  I long for a word, for news, for hope, because when they move, it’s good for everyone.

Honestly, and everyone asks this , the wait hasn’t been that hard.  Perhaps we are strange in that regard, but the past almost two years since we first met our girl have simply flown by.  There have been moments when my heart has hurt because of her absence, but for the most part, life is just too busy to stop and think much about it.  We know she is well-cared for and loved and truly quite happy where she is, and so we do not worry.  And we know that God holds her closer and loves her more than even we ever will, and we rest in His timing for her home coming.

But yesterday, oh my heart hurt and I asked God “why” and “when” and I cried out “oh, please, let someone hear something soon!”  And I left for church, kids in tow, eager to worship with the body of believers and excited to kick off a campaign to benefit the orphanage, but still somewhat raw.

As I stood there in that pew we occupy every week and we sang, my heart was comforted by the music and the words, but when we began with Mighty to Save and the words “Savior, He can move the mountains” flashed onto that giant screen it simply made me stop as I was reminded….He is able to move the mountains.  And He is good.  No matter what happens, no matter how long this process takes, no matter if we are stuck in passports for another year – He is still good.  He can move the mountains, and if He chooses not to, I must trust in His good purposes anyway.

I don’t want to wait any longer.  I don’t want our friends to wait.  I really don’t want those kids to wait.  But there is purpose in the waiting.  This time of preparation and waiting have opened my eyes to things we need to be working on here, now.  We have drawn closer to the Lord and learned to lean harder on Him.  And we continue to wait on His timing.  We wait on Him to move those mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy that keep these children too far away.  And we will continue to trust in Him because He is good.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

 

Where Hope is Found

This was written last night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to come and posted this morning…
 

So tonight I lay here in bed. Tired from an early morning and a busy day, with my heart and stomach doing flip flops over our news.

Today we learned that we have exited IBESR. Excellent news. Amazing news. Praise God news. Because that means she is one step closer to being home.

To being here.

Forever.

A while one part of me is kid-on-Christmas-morning excited, another part is oh-dear-God-what-have-we-done terrified. If we’re being honest, that is.

From the moment I laid eyes on this little girl in a grainy photo sent from Haiti via Blackberry Messenger, I have known she is ours, she is one of us. Our fifth daughter. And yet this isn’t a child who has grown in my womb, developed to the sound of my voice, my heart beat. She comes with her own strings attached to someone else, no matter how much she may think she loves me in her 5 year old mind. No matter how much I love her. She comes with a story and a history and a lifetime of hurt.

And what that means for the rest of us scares me more than a little. This great unknown of what are we inviting in. Some days we’re barely hanging on as it is. What happens when a little girl who doesn’t speak our language gets here and realizes she can’t pinch these other children when they want my attention because she has to share me with them forever? Or when she cries at night and wants a mama with her skin color, her hair, her history? Or when one day she longs for her homeland and in her personal wrestling forgets what a gift it is to be here with us?

How do we deal on those days?

I have no idea.

But over the past few months I have watched as God has taken last year’s impossible and overwhelming schedule and opened it wide, making time for the six of us here to bond, connect, and slow before she comes. I have watched as God has given both of us more of a heart for our children. Still not where we want to be, but more including, sharing, doing life together. And I have watched as God day after day puts hope in my path. In devotions. In blog posts. In scripture reading. In a quote. Everywhere there is hope. And I cling to it. As we travel this road of adoption. As we struggle through home schooling and parenting all these girls. As we fight for our marriage against an enemy who hates it. I cling to hope. I cling to the point that I write it on my skin, a daily reminder of what I have in Christ.

And this little girl, she will carry this hope with her always. Amania Hope: faith in God, hope. What a name for a little girl whose part in our story has only begun to be written. Faith in God. Hope. That is where our strength is found. That is where her strength will be found. That is where all strength is found – as we continue to wait. As we continue to weather. As we continue to walk this path that He is leading us down.

And Ann writes today“hope, it can split right open in the dry places and yield up life”.  And as I read that post, God gives more hope as she writes on, “Sometimes if you wait until you really know what you are doing – means you don’t know really God and what He can do.”

And peace comes as I realize I don’t have to know how this will all play out.  There are no guarantees with our biological children, just as there are no guarantees with this adopted one.  But as we follow Christ is serving the least of these, we know we are doing right and He will lead and never abandon and we can trust in His plan and we can have hope.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Hope

In the middle of a week when I feel like I’m drowning, when my feet can’t find ground to stand on and I wonder about this school year and will I ever find time to cook my family a meal or vacuum the floors, and as I drive to the minor emergency clinic to confirm my suspicion about the hacking coughs born by the younger two, I get a phone call from my beloved.

We have received our presidential dispensation and **should** be out of IBESR soon.

And my heart skips a beat and I don’t know what to say, other than Praise You, Lord!  While many months and steps still lie ahead, my heart is blessed and we are all encouraged.  As we have watched others in the process with us, we had begun to give up hope she would be home before next summer.  But hope returns.  Amania Hope.

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For His Glory ~

~ Sara