My Family

My Family
Summer 2015

Monday, December 22, 2014

All Is Well

It's been a while since I've posted but the Fall was busy with finalizing paperwork.

We were DTC (paperwork sent to China)  11/13/14
We were LID (Logged into their system) 11/21/14
Then OOT (out of Translation)  12/4/14

Now we wait for a few months for China to do what they need to do for their examinations and approvals.
We have some more paperwork coming but I don't think it's super intense.
And of course we have financial things to take care of in the meantime.
(more on that in another post)
We are still hoping to travel sometime in April or May to bring our sweet Joshua and Emma home.  Yes they have American names finally. =)

We found out in August that Joshua was taken to Beijing for surgery on his foot.  We inquired again mid-Fall and he was still gone.

Today I got a precious email with a picture and a note...here are my babies in China.



When I opened my email and saw this I cried.
Really no greater Christmas gift.
My "babies" together in an updated picture.
We're comin'
We're comin'

As I was having my "moment", a new favorite Christmas song came on the radio...

All Is Well




Indeed All Is Well.  
And the Birth of Our Savior makes it so. 
What a precious gift He has given.

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, September 26, 2014

That We May...Believe and Obey (7 of 7)

This is post 7 of 7...
Seven
The number of perfection right?
I'm not God, so don't expect perfection...lol

(this is post 6  all the other posts are listed in this post, so you can read all of them if you'd like.)

In the Fall of 2013, after Peter returned from a mission trip to Thailand he had a bout with Guillain-Barre syndrome which really caught us all off guard, but God used it in His plan and for His Glory.  Peter recovered better than anyone expected but it was a moment of "checking in" with life and our purposes and making things matter.  This disease landed him in the hospital for 5 days, but had the potential for paralysis and breathing machines.  It took him many months to fully recover but he is now back to normal. In it we both were hearing from God that we should stop running and submit.  I had anxiety issues over money because we were about to send a child to college and adoption is expensive.  Especially if we are serious about TWO!  I think we both struggeld with releasing everything in our lives with open hands and submitting ALL.  God had supplied for our needs, but it was hard to release it ALL.

In the spring (2014), I was having some real anxiety issues waking up at 4 a.m. thinking about "how could we even make this happen?" 
One Sunday in April, Peter had headed off to church early to serve and I laid in bed praying and pondering this thing.  I got up and suddenly the name "Todd Peterson" popped into my head.  I was in search of some wise counsel on the subject.  Todd works at our church  and is our community group leader.  He is also on the financial oversight team. But I didn't know him personally that well. We go to a relatively large church.  I felt like God was telling me we needed to meet with him. Would he even meet with us?

Random.
Maybe.
Or Not.
I thought I would talk to Peter about it when we both got home from church.

In the meantime, 
I went to church that day, with Lucas.  Planning to talk to Peter later in the day about this sudden development.

Most Sundays our pastor Louie speaks.  It's only ocassionally that he has someone else do the speaking.  And we don't know who is speaking ahead of time.

....guess who was speaking that day?

Todd Peterson. (he speaks just a few times a year)
Um.
OK.
I was surprised to see him there.
Care to guess what he was speaking on?
Care to recall what I was struggling with?  
(hint: stepping out in generosity with our finances and our lives)

Todd was speaking on Generosity!

It rocked my world again.
We were reminded it is a Privilege to be Generous--That We May.
That theme kept coming back around.
He had so many rich things to say but here were some that stood out that day:

"We cannot outgive God"
"God wants FAT- Faithful, Available, Teachable --people"
"God calls us from obscurity into extravagent lives"
"What we believe affects what we give"
"When we enter into the work, it points people to God"

The messages kept getting stronger and more obvious.  And the tug at both of our hearts was getting intense.

We ended up meeting with Todd and seeking wise counsel from him about our thoughts and ideas about adoption and he was very encouraging saying our community group would support us in our decision if that is where God would lead.  He offered a phone number of a friend who also had adopted from China with Special Needs kids.  This was huge to us since we had such a tight community when we walked other journeys in life like with Jacob.  Neither of us realized until Todd said that, how important that piece was to us.  Since we live away from family, our community becomes our family when our family cannot be there.

In our conversation he also brought forward:


Mark 9:24  ...“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!
and 
Proverbs 11:25
“A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Paraphrasing something else he said:

By adopting these kids and being generous not only with our finances but with our lives we would be a part of “refreshing” them and in it we would be refreshed.

I think we've often looked from a "flesh" perspective on this whole thing and how we think it might tap us dry.  How could taking care of special needs kids from another country that are "older" possibly "refresh"?  
Yet this is a great reminder of how things operate flipped upside down in God's economy.  He wants the last to be first.  He wants to refresh through things that seem like they could make us thirst.  When we are generous and pour out our lives or service or finances, in some way, He gives back to us what we are fearful to lose.  Of course we don't enter in with an expectation that He will give us a million dollars or make the path "easy".  
But, we Trust.  
We Believe.  
We Obey.
Because of what Jesus did for Us.  We need to live extravagent lives.

In April, I also had a precious dinner and conversation with my dear friend Katherine, whom I respect dearly. This is a journal entry I made on

April 29, 2014 (Jacob's heaven date 2004)

Katherine said: “Can I say something to you?”  
with a very penetrating but precious look.  

I have to admit I was a little afraid of what she was going to say. 
 (maybe she'd say "you're crazy" or "what are you thinking?"  or "you need more counsel on this")

But, she welled up with tears and she said, 
“Go get those babies”.....
I started to cry and got shivers.
I was overwhelmed.
She also said our life has really mirrored the life of Job.  And look at what happened to him...
He lost all 10 of his children and after the storm was through, God restored to him 10 additional children.  The exact number he had lost.  She said we too had lost 3 children.  And perhaps God is restoring what we have lost.  Not that these kids would replace our other 3 kids (Ben, Sam and Jacob) by any means.  But, perhaps God is trying to restore to us what we have lost. 
Again I found myself choked me up.  In no way are we trying to "replace" the numbers, but God is in the restoration business.  He can restore anything or anyone who has been lost.  What a wise and precious friend she is. (we didn't go in search of this, God brought it to us through our Lucas boy)


Regarding the finances, we talked about how God has been faithful in the past.  We need to remember His faithfulness.  If He is indeed calling us to be generous with our lives and money in doing this, then we don’t need to worry about what our future looks like.  He will provide.  

Today is Jacob’s “anniversary” date again.  One year ago today "the boy" appeared back on the list.  And he’s still waiting.  Maybe it’s time we get the lead out?
About one month later...
May 27, 2014 (journal entry)
(keep in mind we were processing all of this and listening to Lucas's prayers as they were intensifying, but he had no idea about all the conversations we had had or the wrestling we were doing or how intense the pull was getting at this point)
Lucas woke up this morning and these were the first words out of his mouth from upstairs.
L.  “mom, guess what?”
me: “what Lucas"
L. "I think we might get to adopt (the girl) and (the boy)”
me: (slightly shocked that those were the first words out of his mouth...)
“oh? why do you say that Lucas?”
L: “Because God just told me in my dreams”
me: “what did He tell you in your dream?”
L. “He said, You have to be patient and tell your mom and dad your going to be able to adopt (the girl) and (the boy)”
…pause..a few tears rolled down his precious cheeks…

Mom, I just can’t let them go”

shaking my head AGAIN!
I mean really?

sort of gives me a pit in my stomach that we apparently aren’t listening and he says God told him…
you have to be patient and tell your mom and dad”…

I’m rather speechless.
I emailed the above to Peter.  His response.. “Wow”.  

Later that day...
Peter came home told me he also had a revelation in the morning in the shower before all of this even transpired but he hadn't had a chance to tell me yet.  He felt God stirred this up in his heart:

"Do we believe or not?"

We looked at each other while sitting on the sofa and realized this thing was Sealed Up.  The conviction was strong.  We both knew the answer had to be "yes" even though we didn't have all the details figured out.  We both knew we were being propelled forward into a new adventure.  

God had spoken directly to my husband and challenged him and in doing so had challenged me.  Of course I did find it funny at this point that I had 80 (yes EIGHTY) pages in a journal on the subject, and he gets FIVE words from God in the shower...and it's Done and Sealed up!  =) hmmmmm  
I love God's sense of Humor!

We waited to tell Lucas until we had some initial footwork done.
and here is his response:



video

He was overwhelmed with all the implications of having his "friends" become a part of our family.

Precious boy.

Believe it or not, I could give even more details on Bible verses and songs and sermons and conversations and prayers and circumstances that led us to this place.  But, our prayer is for all who read and follow this story, God's Glory is the Top Theme.  It is obvious, we have struggled and doubted and prayed and sought and even attempted to run or wait.  But, God's Sovereign Plan is greater.  His Timing is beyond perfect.  His Glory and His Renown are to be Praised.  This story is His.  This story is not about perfect people.  And His Extravagent Generosity toward us could never be repaid in anything we have to offer.

We've been called to
Believe
and
Obey

To God Be the Glory Forever

stay tuned.....

(PS. Many close family members and friends were a part of the wise counsel and prayers associated with getting us to this place.  Like I said I have 80 pages of journaling from this process.  I would love nothing more than to mention every one of you by name and the sweet words and prayers you shared.  I'm just limited here for sake of everyone's sanity and eyestrain.  So please know you were also an important part of this and I cannot possibly name you all...but thank you thank you thank you).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

That We May... surrender (6 of 7)

(Post #6 of 7)
post #5 is here
post #4
post #3
post #2
post #1

We can never enter into big decisions without wise counsel and there have been many who have given us counsel and wisdom in this journey. God has not been silent in offering His own counsel.  God has been working over many months and dare I say years in this journey. The story would not be complete without realizing that behind the scenes and sometimes even right in front of our eyes, God was revealing things to us and touching our hearts as we saw in post #5.

In August 2013 a dear friend asked me a challenging question:
“If I found another family tomorrow to adopt these kids...would you feel “relief” that the burden is gone or “regret” that you didn’t adopt them?"

That's a convicting question we wrestled with.  I found my "mama bear" showing up.  Could I really release them to someone else?  Was I in this simply to find them a family?  I suppose if I had to, but really?  Is that what God is leading us toward?

Another mama with a spina bifida kiddo said this to me after a long back and forth conversation about life with sb:
So....just do your homework and prepare for the worst possible scenario.  If you think you can handle that....go get her(them)! “
In February 2014 I wrote down more of Lucas's thoughts and Prayers.
He prayed:
"God told me something:" (laying in bed speaking sweetly)
"If you have a chance, you should adopt them."

"...to [bring her] and [him] into our family 
... to adopt [them]
and the time has come.
...
he is putting my friends in the right hands.

...She’s always been my sister.  
[he's] about to be my brother.

I don’t want you to leave [them] behind because God really told me I could have [them] in my own hands"

God also spoke through Praise and Worship:

February 2014 at PCC
Everlasting God:
(Lincoln Brewster/Chris Tomlin)

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord 
Wait upon the Lord
We will Wait upon the Lord 2x

Our God
You reign forever
Our hope
Our strong deliverer

You are the Everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Strength Will rise
as we wait upon the lord

wait upon the lord

Our strength will Rise as we Wait Upon the Lord.  He alone will give the strength.  We don't have to try to ramp up our own energy and strength.  He promises to give it to us when he calls us upon us to do something outside the borders we have set up for ourselves.  

Moving forward...


In March of 2014 God spoke to Peter through reading a book 
No Longer a Slumdog by K.P. Yohannan
 p.68

“In Matthew 18:10 (NASB), Jesus said, ‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.’
According to the dictionary, the meaning of the word despise is ‘to regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern.’
Jesus is warning us that when we hear about needy children, we need to be careful not to see their plight as unworthy of our attention.  We can’t simply say, ‘Yes, I know it’s awful.  Those terrible people hurting children should be stopped, and the little ones should be loved and cared for. But there’s nothing I can do about it.’
Do you think Jesus cares about children who live on the streets? Do you believe he sees the boys and girls laboring long hours in the fields and firecracker factories?  does he identify with the pain of devastated young girls caught in the degrading life of prostitution?
He sees. He cares. He feels their pain.

Now He has given us the opportunity to see them too.  The question He is asking is, How will we respond?  Will we look away and steel our hearts against their pain?”

On yet another day, I was listening to Francis Chan--
Living a Life of Urgency
James 4:16
“...anyone that knows the good that he is suppose to do and doesn’t do is sinning...”
sin of omission (not just something that is “optional”).  "If you know you are suppose to do something based on God’s calling for you and the Word of God and you don’t do it, you are sinning."  FC  

"You are crazy...if this earth is all there is.  But, if the resurrection is real, then you are not crazy.  Surrender yourself to God.  (paraphrasing from Francis Chan)  That’s the kind of life God’s calling us to lead.  
Jesus Christ left heaven. 
That’s crazy.  
He basically said, “I’m going to empty myself of everything.  I’m doing this for the people that are nailing me to the cross.”
Be eternally minded
Wherever, whatever.
surrender to God
He is Trustworthy"

Peter and I both knew we didn't want to "sin" by "not doing something" God had called us to do.  We needed constant reminders of the call to "That We May".  The privilege we have to serve a God who gave Everything for Us.  
How could we continue to hang our heads low and be weighed down by the "impossible"?  Have we not seen God work before?  Have we not walked the hard journeys of life before?  Have we not seen His faithfulness?

This song continually showed up in worship at church, on the radio, on my iTunes...(I guess I did put it there).  So so powerful.
It is a challenge to sing/hear/worship with this song and to do what God calls us to do in it.  It cannot, and should not be sung without full surrender to God.  

Oceans
Hillsong United



you called my out upon the waters
the great unknown where feet may fail
and there i find you in the mystery
in oceans deep
my faith will stand

I will call upon your name
keep my eyes above the waves
my soul will rest in your embrace

I am yours and you are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed 
and you won't start now

so I will call upon your name
and keep my eyes above the waves
when oceans rise
my soul will rest in your embrace
for I am yours and you are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
let me walk upon the waters
wherever you would call me
take me deeper than my
feet could ever wander
and my faith would be made stronger
in the presence of my savior

I will call upon your name
keep my eyes above the waves
my soul will rest in your embrace
I am yours and you are mine

God was reminding me once again that He may be calling us out onto the water.  But, once again HE would be faithful.  We needed to be buried in His Ocean of Grace and Trust.  We should remain focused on HIM not on Our abilities, our limitations, our fears.  He wanted us to look to HIM and seek HIM and LISTEN to what He was saying through all of these pieces of Counsel.

Sunday April 6, 2014
Peter added this to my journal:
“So we started worship this morning with the song "White Flag".  It brought me to tears.  How can I sing that song about surrendering everything to God and continue to struggle against Him when He is telling me that we are to adopt those children?  Do I surrender, or don't I?  Are these just words, or do they mean something?”

More wise counsel continues as God moves us to believe and obey...






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

That We May...search God's Word-"But God" (5 of 7)-

This is post #5 of 7
Post #4 is here
Post #3 is here
Post #2 is here
Post #1 is here

Lucas's prayers continued, of course, and here is just one brief example of things he prayed from August 2013:
He prayed that they would have "FREEDOM and that they are the Chosen Generation."  He thanked God for this “gift”.  

Since God was astonishing us, and prompting us in very direct ways, I needed to know more directly what he was asking of us.  I needed to search His Word and hear from Him.
One day, He prompted me to search His Word for the simple phrase 
"But God"...
why? I had no idea.  
He just seemed to say..."go look at what my Word has to say when it's all about ME and what I am doing..."
I just felt led to plug it into a search engine on my Bible app...

Let this blow your mind...
John 11:52 "...and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one."
1 Cor. 1:27 "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."
1 Cor. 2:5 "so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."
2 Cor. 3:5 "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God."
Gal 4:7 "So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."
Phil 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

These are the things that soften my stubborn heart.
These are the things that open my eyes to more of who He is.
These are the things that humble me.
These are the things that rattle me and shake me to the core.
These are the things that bring tears to my eyes.
These are the things that remind me Who is Really in Control.
Thank God He is in Control.
"But God"....did it, is doing it, and will continue to do it.
Over the next days and weeks, more things appeared:

 (a friend shared this quote on Facebook one day)
Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries)
Being uncertain and scared and riddled with doubt some days isn't a sign of bad things to come. It's actually quite the opposite. After all, if great things weren't on the horizon, I don't think the enemy would be so bent on attacking us.

The enemy.  Yep, he was on the prowl.  The closer we got to deciding things the more he messed with my mind.  So I buried myself in more of God's Word...

The story of Joshua came forward in an email devotional:
Joshua 3:1-17
If you don't know the story, read it. It speaks about Joshua leading the Isralites right up to the edge of what looked to be an impossible river to cross while leading thousands of people.  How would they cross? How could they cross? It was not possible with the equipment they had with them and all the people.
But here is the convicting thought from that day:
But God...
He did it.  
He told Joshua exactly what to do and the flow of the river stopped and they walked across on dry land. Read the full account.  God tells it better than I.

The flow of the water in the Jordan River did not stop until the priests took the first step.  They stood at the banks of the river with something seemingly impossible before them, not knowing how they would cross that river.  It took faith.  It took taking the step first before that river stopped flowing and then what happened?  
It was not just a muddy river bottom.  
It was DRY LAND!  
They crossed with confidence.
And then on the other side they set up 12 stones of rememberance.  

Sometimes all the details of the plan are not laid out before us "first".  This is where the term "step out in faith" comes from right? This story became very significant in the final decision to move forward.  
And we needed to remember God's faithfulness to us in the past.
If you know us at all, that is HUGE!  

Loss of child #1
Loss of child #2
Loss of child #3
Financial crisis
Loss of parents
Move across the country away from family
Walking through crisis with friends
Surgeries/illnesses
Teen issues
and more

But God has Always been faithful.  
Even when we have doubted or been afraid.  
HE has been faithful.
How could we doubt that now? 
Were we questioning that faithfulness?


Several days later, God continued to weave more words of wisdom into this thing:

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This was significant in the days when I feared the unknown.  Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat from worry?  
Pray that verse.  
over and over and over again.  
The enemy has no power over THAT!

I heard sermon after sermon that spoke to our situation as well, but when we were gone one Sunday, I listened to a Sermon online given at our church from July 28, 2013 (Jeff Henderson - pastor from Gwinnett Church)

A few things popped out from that one:

You rob God of His glory when you move forward in pride and arrogance”
“You rob God of His glory when you don’t move forward in confidence.”
(that one kicked me in the gut)

Searching, seeking, listening we began to see the unfolding of something much bigger than ourselves.  That's really what this story has been about from the start. 

It's just too much to comprehend,
But God was draw us to adoption again, 
The child we adopted was having such a tender and passionate heart and stretching us to expand our boarders even further.  
But God was flipping our hearts upside down teaching us about the Privilege of generosity and living out our service to Him with joy.

Have you ever had a season in your life where you were searching for answers and realized, God is speaking all around you?  That's what this became.  

He was writing a story far beyond our ability to create.

(to be continued...)

Monday, September 22, 2014

That We May...astonished, shaken, and prompted (4 of 7)


This is post #4 in the series
Post #1 is here
Post #2 is here
Post # 3 is here

On July 4, 2013 I got an email from another Inner Mongolia mama, Shelly, who was actually advocating for another little boy at the same orphanage.  She had some pictures of him in a dropbox from some people that had gone on a mission trip in 2011.  I thought I'd "just take a look at it", not because I was interested in the little boy, but just to "see".
He was very precious.
But, there was one thing that caught my eye.
One of the pictures was actually a video.
So, as I sat at my kitchen table, I casually clicked on it.  Not thinking anything of it, I began to see the little guy playing with those who were visiting.  He was adorable.
Then shortly after that,
just seconds into the video,
a "little girl" showed up on the video
---with a crutch
---just one crutch
I choked.

It was as if I'd seen a ghost.
My heart raced.
My heart began to break.
I was on the verge of tears.
I knew immediately who it was.
There wasn't a doubt in my mind.
I was completely choked up, and my heart was pounding out of my chest as I sat alone looking at it.

It was her!

---and as I watched the brief 2-3 minute video,
at about :36 in, I also noticed "a boy" walking behind her with a turned in foot and a football.
No WAY!
Yes, way...
It was him.
Keep in mind this was sent by a mission group that went to the orphanage in 2011.
So the kids are a lot younger in it.
I did Not seek this out.
I just "fell into my lap"

video


My world was rocked.
I was visibly shaking.
I was Astonished!

Could it be?
I wasn't looking for this.
I didn't ask for a visual.
It was like a precious gift but I didn't quite know what to do with it.

I was only looking to see the other little boy my friend was advocating for.
I'm innocent.

WHAAATTTT????

I hit play again...
and again....
and again....

I was still shaking.
I was still Astonished!

Out of the 100+ kids in the orphanage, BOTH of the kids were on that video.
There wasn't another video--
Not of them, not of anyone else.
And the video was MOSTLY of "her".  With a bonus photobomb appearance of "him".
Not even as much of the little boy it was intended to be about.

Have I said, I just about fell off my chair?
I called Lucas over and he verified that those were his two friends.
"yes, that's.."the girl" and that's "the boy".
I didn't have anyone else telling me who they were.
I didn't have any connections to anyone that worked at the orphanage to check to see.
But, I didn't need that.
I had Lucas.
He had LIVED with them.
He probably knew them better than anyone.
They were his peeps.

Can I just say, it's a whole lot easier to say "no" to something when you don't have pictures and/or videos that make things come to life?
It's a lot easier to say "no" without a real person, like Lucas, to tell you all about the kids.

It's easy to say "no" to a "need" or the "cost" or "age of the child" or whatever barrier or wall you can come up with in your mind until you "see" the reality of a precious person/people in front of you.

Suddenly, the impossibilities and unknowns seem to fade into the backround.
A real person is attached to a list of "issues" and "needs".
And your heart begins to soften, melt, and see the privilege God is placing in your path.
I became very nervous.
Oh my.

Of course, you do appropriate research and get prepared.  You don't jump into something like this based off of emotions only.  But, it had been over a year of Lucas's prayers remember?

We began to wonder...

Was God beginning to seal this for us?
Was he prompting us and nudging us?
I still get a lump in my throat when I recall how I felt that day.  And how many times I have seen that video.  My friend had no idea that the video was even on that set of pictures.  She was simply trying to show me pictures of the little boy she was advocating for.

(update on the little boy Shelly was advocating for with those pictures....She just got home from China because she brought him home and into her own family... that is one of the hazards of being an advocate---but a sweet "hazard"---)

I began to search around and ask an adoption agency some questions.
Just questions...
I was "just curious"...

I needed to know if "the girl" was even available or on The Special Needs List.
Remember from my previous post, China has a list of special needs kids that are available for adoption.  If a child is not on that list they are not available.  Not all special needs kids are on that list.  If she was not, then I would have to deliver a hard message to Lucas. And I'd have to rethink a few things myself.

I inquired, and found out on July 12, 2013 that indeed her paperwork was prepared. She had been on the list for a while.  I believe they also found out it was currently being updated.

Do you feel the temperature rising on this thing?
We are in summer of 2013 at this point.  I'm still recovering from my mother's loss, but God is working.  Things are heating up.

God was slowly but surely revealing things to us and seeing if we were going to follow His lead.

Since I had never really considered a child with spina bifida before, I have to say I was nervous.  I talked to Peter about it and he was nervous.  But, I thought I should at least get information.  So I found people, I learned terminology, I talked to mama's, and we prayed.  We asked friends to pray.

It would have to be a matter of deep trust and faith.  And we began to see God was placing a privilege before us.  He had shaken us up and was prompting us to do something.  This was not a burden or a "should".  The motivation wasn't guilt.  He was laying out a privilege before us and taking our breath away while doing it.

As we looked further at "the boy's" information we realized he had a foot issue that is correctable.  His issues don't scare us much.  Without sounding simplistic, he was kind of becoming a "no brainer".
Of course the whole issue of adopting "older" children is always there.  But, after weathering our journey with Lucas, we feel a little more prepared than we would have 4 years ago.
Lucas has said he has a wonderful personality.  And others that have spent time with him have told us the same.

"The boy" is almost a year older than Lucas and "the girl" is about 4 months older.  So they are very close in age.  Suddenly we are talking about three children about the same age (currently 10/11).  How would their adjustment be?  What would it be like to bring home not one but two "older" children?

We've tossed around a lot of questions.
We've prayed.
We've heard the prayers of our Lucas boy.
We've been prompted by the Holy Spirit on several occasions.

In August I got an email from someone with this quote at the top:

God Had a Dream and Wrapped Your Body Around It.
-----Lou Engle

and this verse kept coming forward in more ways than one:

Eph. 3:20-21
(20) 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, (21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
These are only 2 of the many promptings we heard.
How do you deny God is at work in this thing?
Some people jump right in Love at First sight with adoption.  God has chosen a different path for this adoption.  Both are valid, both bring children home into families.
For some of us, this whole thing is a longer process.  And God is always at work.  The one thing we know, is it all needs to be For His Glory.  It has to be obvious by now that this is not about "us".  

Our hesitations along the way have been merely about looking at our own limitations and not always looking "Up" to Him who can do Immeasurably More.  But, I do think God used our hesitations for His timing and purposes too.  I may never know all the answers to why they had to stay there for an additional period of time.  But, I do know God has had us on a journey.

He was shaking us up and prompting us more.....(to be continued)



That We May...be open (3 of 7)

(this is post #3 in a series)
Post #1 is here
Post #2 is here

Since the early months of 2013 all kind of ran together, I don't have a particular timeframe on this next piece.  But, at some point in all of Lucas's powerful prayers, and while my mom was sick, he had tossed in a curve ball.  
Keep in mind Peter and I were not even ready for "one" and he decided his other friend "the girl" could not be left behind either.  It turned into "both".  
He could not settle on just one and leaving the other one behind. 

what?

who told you we were even going at all?
(hahaha)

He told us the 3 of them always hung out together in China and were like ...
Well, he didn't even say the word like...
He said they were brothers and sister.  
I knew they are not related by blood, but their bond was as strong as siblings.
In China, Lucas had problems keeping up with the group because of his tiny feet and short legs.
Lucas told us "The boy" had a foot issue too and sometimes struggled to keep up.
and 
He told us "The girl" had a leg that didn't work and she used a crutch so she moved more slowly too.

Lucas reports that they did everything together.

I envision them as the 3 Musketeers.  

We were listening to his prayers and realizing God was speaking through his story and speaking into our lives. 


God was rattling our cage.
He was making us uncomfortable.
He was asking us to be Open.

The prayers persisted.
I would sit by his bedside every night listening to his plea to God on behalf of his friends.  Often his prayers were accompanied by tears.  For months this boy prayed.  By this time, I began to see we could become a barrier to this boy's faith.  He would say things like,
"Why isn't God answering my prayers?"
"Maybe I should stop praying"
He knew God could do this thing, but something was standing in the way.
Little did he know some of the issue was us.
It was all God's timing of course, but when his precious faith would waiver, I kept saying..."keep praying Lucas"

But, what I was really saying was
"Speak to me/us Lord"

All I could think about was how difficult it would be.  I was tired.  I saw my own limitations and I heard my husband's heart was similar to mine.

I knew the children were precious. That I didn't doubt. I had several "reports" of that from people who had seen them personally--face to face on mission trips or visiting the orphanage, etc. in past years, in addition to Lucas's personal reports on them of course.  He told us how smart they were in school but how he actually struggled (and gave the teachers a hard time).  He told us how they hung out together all the time and helped eachother.

In May of 2013, right after my mom died,  Lucas's prayers took yet another turn.
He began to pray with more boldness and confidence and instead of an if they come home, he prayed when they come home.
God was doing something through this boy.
First, he prayed for his friend,
Then he added another friend,
now it wasn't "if" it was "when"...

Both Peter and I struggled with it, but were praying even apart from Lucas.  We started hearing things separately from the Lord through God's Word, in sermons, in songs, in devotionals, from people.  
Yet, we were not quite ready.

During that timeframe our Pastor Louie (Passion City Church) was also doing a series called:

That We May
It was based on this passage:

1 Peter 2:9
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
He taught us how our acts of generosity and service and our lives are not supposed to come from a place of "shoulds" or "have to's" but out of a heart of privilege.  It is our privilege to declare God's praises in and through all we do in our lives and in our Generosity.  That We May serve Him and Give Him Glory.  We cannot out-give what Jesus gave to us at the cross.  With our lives, our finances, our time, our everything.  

It was a privilege...
a privilege to be open to Giving Extravagantly with our lives.
God was opening us up.
He was teaching us through Lucas's persistent faith.
He was teaching us through His Word.

Change was in the air...
God was speaking....(to be continued)


Saturday, September 20, 2014

That We May...listen (2 of 7)

(This is post 2 of 7)
#1 is here

For Lucas's sake, I inquired in the Fall of 2011 (just months after he was home), as much as I could about "the boy" because he was such a close friend.  We began to see how important he was to Lucas.   Our inquiries were primarily to find out any information we could for Lucas to know how his buddy was doing.

The only real information I found was his paperwork from the orphanage was currently being updated.  On the Chinese side of this equation, the preparation of paperwork comes from the orphanage and other sources and is quite an undertaking.  Not every child in an orphanage is simply made available for adoption.  The system isn't set up that way.  So this preparation on their side was necessary before anything could possibly be considered.  Then his name would be added to The List of special needs kids available and be accessible by an adoption agency. This "list" currently contains over 1,000 kids by the way with varying degrees of needs.

Our intention was to at least advocate for him to find a family.  That basically means we would share as much of his information as we could and bring attention to him on various groups and lists we were on and hopefully someone would step up to adopt him...(you can see where this is going right?)
Since his paperwork was in transition it really wasn't even technically possible for anyone to do anything to pursue advocating for him or considering him for adoption.  It was basically inaccessible.

We let that issue lay.
But, Lucas had such sweet memories of his friend, so he continued to pray for him.

In the meantime, Margaret still had these 2 precious children on her heart, having seen them personally, face to face, in summer of 2010 when her family visited the orphanage. (see previous post). She wanted to bring "the boy" here to have surgery on his foot.  She was trying to jump through hoops to make that happen.  We prayed some more for him.  She was advocating for them again on a Yahoo group I was on telling the group how precious they were.  But, again, the paperwork was in transition and nobody was stepping forward to bring home two 8-9 year olds.

Then, in May of 2012, as Lucas's prayers for his friend increased, I tried to explain to him some things about adoption that can be challenging like the paperwork, the time, the details and of course unfortunately the costs.

Without flinching, he walked over to his own bank, and handed me a dollar.  
This dollar.

He offered it to me to help pay for the cost of the adoption.  He was beginning to go there already.  Believing God would bring his friend into our family and pleading his case and need.
Of course all I could see was the inadequacy of One Dollar for the thousands it would take.
(little did I know how God was about to show His adequacy and provision)
I knew what our bank account looked like. It seemed a barrier at the time.
So I just told him to pray. again.
Is this where I admit,  that I told him to pray just so I wouldn't have to tell him "it's not happening honey." So sorry to have to admit that. Or is the 'joke' on me? Apparently, God's Sovereignty and plans cannot be thwarted by my inadequacies or the limitations I attempt to put on circumstances or Him.

My faithful, believing, prayer warrior of a son was at it with full force and not ceasing his prayers.  Who had the issue here?

As I reflect upon that precious boy's first offering, I see the trust and faith it required to lay that dollar down.  I see his innocent heart, broken for his friend, still in a place where he didn't have a family.
I see my own doubt and fears.
He did not see money as a barrier in his precious innocence.
He saw it as an investment.
He was being the most Generous he could.
It reminds me of the story of the Widow's Mite in the Bible.
It's not the size of the gift we give, but the heart with which we give it.  Do we fully Trust God or not?

For some reason I felt led to set that dollar aside--
in an envelope
in my underwear drawer.
TMI?
sorry.

It wasn't until 6 months later, in November of 2012, that I got an email from Margaret saying she now knew "the boy's" paperwork was prepared and "ready".  Lucas had been in our family for about a year and a half at that point.
I was still not "ready".
Peter was still not "ready" to even entertain the thought.
But, God was already working on opening things up.

It's important to note a few other things along the way.
2012 and into 2013 was a crazy year for us. We rode some challenging waves in our family, and I know God needed us to be available for our oldest son at that time.  Let alone Lucas.
But, nothing is wasted in God's economy.
Not time, not circumstances, not money, nothing--
When I look back at this journey and write it like this, I'm tempted to get lost in all the things we may have missed along the way.  But, God uses ALL of it to work out his plans.

By this time, Lucas-the-prayer-warrior was intensifying his prayers even more.  Peter and I were overwhelmed with the prospect of the implications of his prayers.  We weren't really voluntarily open to the idea.

"Are we going back to China?"
We'd say that, choke a little, then ignore the thought.
(noble huh?)
The thought was currently a bit overwhelming.  Both of us were on the same hesitant page.

We only saw barriers like: cost, emotional upheaval, starting over with "crazy" like we had with Lucas at the beginning, stepping out in faith again, wanting to settle in to a calmer life not adding more chaos, fear.

To be honest I'm not sure we were listening 100% to what God might have in store.  Both of us were scared and I would say tired.  Yet, we felt a tug.  And God was not letting it rest.  He was using this time to stir us.  It was not wasted time.  But, sometimes I do ask myself if we were disobedient in not moving more quickly and letting these "babies" sit there for an additional 3+ years.  To me it seems like we must have been missing something.  But, now I don't believe that.  I think God was there the entire time watching it unfold and teaching us important things.  It was not wasted time.  And even though it seems like it would have been better for them to be out of there sooner, I look back now and realize God had all the details worked out.

Lucas gave us a window into the life he had in China and compared it what he currently had in being in a family.  His prayers were powerful and turned into a plea for the salvation of his friend.  He loves Jesus.  And he wanted his friend to know him too.

In February of 2013, I got an email that said "the boy's" file had been prepared but was "missing".  We think this meant his file was likely allocated to a particular adoption agency for a few months but we had no way of knowing or tracking where it was or if it would ever turn up again.  Looking back, it was almost as if God "froze" the option in it's tracks.

We could now honestly say to Lucas.
"We can't do this right now"
Confession time:
It was a slight relief.
It sort of took it off the table for a while.
However, I began to feel some things that caught me off guard.  I began to wonder what was going to happen to him and how sad it would be to completely lose track of him.  Partially for Lucas's sake, but my mama instincts were rising to the surface.  "Did we lose our chance?"

But, Mr. Prayer Warrior didn't stop.

In February (2013), our personal challenges increased even more as my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I lived in Georgia, while she and the rest of my family were in Wisconsin/Illinois.  I felt like I needed to be there for my mom and my siblings to ride this next crazy rollercoaster.  My husband was beyond amazing and supportive as I flew back and forth spending sometimes a week at a time working with my siblings to walk mom through her journey to Jesus.

Again, "life" occupied my time and energy.  What if we had gone sooner and I would not have been able to be there with mom?

She died May 6, 2013.
That whole season of life was crazy.  That summer and even Fall were a bit of a blur as we grieved and recovered from a rapid loss.

Can I just say an illness like my mom had and her rapid decline (3 months from dx to death) and then dealing with the aftermath and grieving is just simply exhausting?  I really don't think I realized how exhausting it was until we got through 2013.  I still miss her deeply.  Losing a mom is really rough.  And adding "more" to that, could have been overwhelming.

In the midst of that however, I got an interesting email

April 29, 2013.

(This also happened to be our  6 year old son Jacob's "Heaven Date" (2004).)

And one week before mom died.

"Hi Haidi, (spelled that way by the writer of the email)

How are you! I hope this mail will find you well.

(We) found (the boy) on the shared list .... 

You can ...locate his file now.


Blessings


What was happening?

We had talked to Lucas about the possibility that we may never know where his friend had gone, because it was possible someone else had adopted him or we wouldn't be able to find his file.


But, no. 

God had just taken it off the table for a season while mom was sick.
Now she was gone.
Now he was available again.
How can that Not be God?

God heals.

And when He does, he opens our eyes to things we don't expect.
Once again He showed us life is unpredictable and we need to live our lives with purpose...His Purpose in mind.
He calls us to always be open
And it's a privilege to take the next steps.

My mom was an extremely generous woman.  And she was kind in leaving something to all of us.  Some of our personal financial struggles were finding answers.  And God was clearing a path for us.  


Stay tuned for more "crazy" we're just getting started...