Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Out of My Hands, and Sharpening my Focus

Friday, I sent all of our dossier papers to the various Consulates to be authenticated. We had two documents that had to go to the US Secretary of State first, and then they will be forwarded to the Embassy in DC. They are all out of my hands now. All documents were received on Monday and are being processed.

We sat down on Monday night to work on our adoption parent education, but started with our dossier checklist to see what we needed to get done this week as our papers are being authenticated. We were able to check off all the various boxes on the list! There is such a sense of accomplishment when I get to place a check mark in the little box. Once the documents are sent back to us from the Consulates and the Embassy, we can put them all together and submit them all to the agency, who will submit them to the CCAA in Beijing.

It seems like a lifetime ago since we began this journey, but it was only October. Since then, so much has happened, and I am forever changed because of it. My father went to be with the LORD on December 28, 2007. He taught me so much about life and love. Even in my rotten, rebellious teenage years, he loved me unconditionally. He had the courage to stand up to me when I was wrong, and tell me so. It wasn't easy, and there were years that I thought my relationship with him was irreparably damaged. By God's grace, and my father's faithfulness, our relationship was restored. At the time of his death, he had become, once again, my biggest encourager and prayer partner. I spoke with him at least weekly, and I miss him dearly. I am not writing this to make you feel sorry for me. No, I know with all confidence that my tears of sorrow will be wiped away and I will be reunited with my earthly father one day when we meet again in heaven.

There are many lessons that my father taught me over the years. One of my most treasured lessons that I learned from my father's life is that success is measured not by the amount of monetary profit at the end of the day, rather it is measured by the lives that are touched by our service. My father would not be considered wealthy by most American standards, but he was richly blessed in his service to others. He told me more than once that I could not have anything I wanted, but that I could have anything I was willing to work for as long as God was glorified through my actions. This has become the cornerstone of what I want my children to learn.

I know this is wordy, and you are probably wondering if my rambling has a point. Well, here it is. Can you look back on your life and see how your purpose has been shaped by those around you? Can you see how the ones in your past have shaped your future goals and desires? There are too many people to list in one little blog post, but I can say that I can look around me and see those who have influenced me toward where I am today. Some people, like my father, have been positive influences in my life, and others have been shining examples of what I do not want to be. I can name many, many people that could be labeled as successful by worldly standards, and yet I look at their lives and see squandered potential. It breaks my heart to see amazing, talented individuals who could have used their influence to God's glory, but for whatever reason, they do not. I am not saying that these are bad people, don't get me wrong, they are not bad, only short-sighted. Have you ever been given a God-sized dream, and realized that you can be part of His purposed to bring it into reality? Think about Noah for a moment... others thought he was crazy, but he followed God's plan and humanity was redeemed for it.

This adoption process has sharpened my focus on the needs of orphans around the world. James 1:27 says "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" (NIV). I have always had a heart for humanitarian aid organizations. But the needs are so great and diverse, it is easy to get lost in the sea of needs. All of these needs are real. They all need workers who will toil towards an end goal that is bigger than themselves. Many of these needs overlap and mesh together. For me, orphan care is the need that affects my family in a very real way. I am touched by the amazing families who work in this area through adoption. But what of the millions of children left behind?

That is where organizations like Children's Hope International, Compassion International, East-West Ministries, Shaohannah's Hope, and so many others come into play. These multifaceted organizations have humanitarian aid divisions that can focus on the care and need of the orphans who are not yet chosen for a forever home. And they need our help. Fundraising, donations, and raising awareness to the needs out there are all important. And, I guess this is just one little way for me to help out. I know that there are many causes out there that need help, and I am not trying to say that one is more important than another, no, this is one of many good causes, and unfortunately one person cannot focus on them all. I will not tell you that you have to choose orphan care as your primary focus, but it is a very real, viable option to consider.... just a little food for thought.

God Bless.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Adoption blog surfing...

So what do I do when I am in need of inspiration and encouragement about this adoption process? I go blog surfing. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. Now, keep in mind, I have not even met these folks in person, but they have all touched my heart in one way or another. And, you know me, when I find something good, I have to share. So, here are a few of the people that I follow and pray for on a regular basis...

Cindy has the most beautiful set of triplets from Ethiopia. Her blog is always inspiring with photos and videos about living life through the boys' eyes. And, they are cute beyond words. Seeing them grow up and change over the course of the blog is wonderful.

The Bushel and a Peck blog wows me over and over. I have to say that Lisa is one of my new heroes for her ability to balance faith, family, and 10 children.

A blog that I just found last week is by Farmboy and Buttercup. Oh my, their humor is fabulous, and I was blown away by some of the scripture references they posted. I can only say that God has blessed me many times over through reading about their journey to adopt twins from Ethiopia.

And, I would be remiss to leave out one of my absolute favorite blogs ever, for Mac. Mac's story is not about adoption. He is a precious little boy battling a horrible illness. But I have to say, his mama amazes me. Her courage and grace in the midst of the toughest battle I can imagine is the most inspirational story I can think of. Mac's smile can brighten a room. I have only met this handsome little fellow once (at my father's funeral), but Amy (Mac's mama) is one of my sister's best friends, and I try to keep up with his prayer requests as best I can. And on that note, I want to give God praise and glory for the wonderful report that Mac's little brother is not a carrier for this disease!! For any of you who may go blog surfing, please hop on over to his page and say a little prayer for this wonderful, precious boy, and for the researchers who work daily to find a cure. God bless you Mac.

So there it is... just a small sample of the people who inspire and encourage me, even if they don't even know it.

My Lots of Kids post today:

March is finally here:

Spring is on the way. I know it is. Really. The calendar promises that it cannot be winter forever, it just feels that way. But, March is here, and we had our first days of 65 degree weather on Saturday and Sunday for March to come in like a Lamb... wait, isn't that backwards? Oh well. The temperatures dropped back to 35 for Monday and today, so our little snippet that Spring is coming was short lived.

I love Spring. The spring and fall are my two favorite seasons. The moderate temperatures are perfect for ditching the heavy coats in favor of light sweaters. The trees will soon be sprouting little green buds, and before long, the daffodils will shoot up in all their brilliant splendor. Our wimpy dog (who despises the cold weather) will get to spend more time lazing around in the warm sunshine, and we will be able to keep the windows open for a fresh breeze.

And, as crazy as this sounds, I love rain. Spring tends to be our rainy season in this area of the country. I love the patter of rain on my windows and roof. I love to see the plants perk up as they drink in a soft gentle shower. A gentle rain shower is romantic, and cozy; perfect for snugging on the sofa with a quilt, a cup of tea, and a good book (or with a pile of kiddos and a bigger pile of their books)

But the spring cough and cold season have hit us full swing. Oh the joys of trying to comfort little people who are wracked with coughing fits all night long.... and without cough medicine too. Can you feel the sarcasm? Thanks to the good old scare about giving kids cough and cold medicines, so much has been pulled off the shelf. Now what are we supposed to do? Around here, it means the poor little tykes get lots of warm showers to try and help with congestion, and very little sleep for mom and dad.

Last night, it was Jenna's turn to be up coughing. No fever, just cough. Bless my dear hubby, he's the one who has to get up the earliest, but he was still valiantly trying to give sips of water and keep her propped up on the pillows while I rubbed her back with my eyes half shut. Poor little thing. All 32 pounds of her shakes with every cough. I don't know about you, but around here spring and fall weather changes just reek havoc on our health. And, with 6 of us in the same house, and whichever kid is sick at the time crawling into bed with us at night, we just keep it going around.

But, even this pesky spring cough is a reminder that warmer days are coming. Spring is finally on its way.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Random Thoughts....

1. GOD IS SO GOOD!!! Ok, I just had to begin with that one. I know that so much of the crud around us is frustrating and miserable, but He is still faithful. He never leaves us to our own devices. He is good, even when we don't deserve it.

2. To fill you in on our little Miss Julia, we requested her file from the waiting child coordinator at our agency on Monday Feb 18th. Unfortunately, another family requested it 2 hours before me.... We had to wait. Then, on Thursday, I got a call that her file was available, so we reviewed it, and decided that she was the one for us. I just knew, every time I looked at her face, she looked like my child. Yes, I know, she is Chinese, but you know how you dream of your child for so long, and then as soon as she is born and you see her face, you know that is exactly how she should look, and you cannot imagine that she look any different? Well, that was the case here too.

So, that night, we were beginning our letter of intent and Family information sheet, and I saw an email that said her file was locked by another agency. WHAT?!?! How could that be? I knew it was a chance that we would take, but that was really fast. So, we emailed the China coordinator back and told her that we were proceeding with the paperwork and would submit it to her so she would have it just in case the other agency did not get a letter of intent within the 24 hour period required by the CCAA. We knew without a doubt that if this was our child, God would not allow her to be placed in another home. He places children exactly where He wants them to be.

The next afternoon, we got a call that she was available again, and Ann was having our letter and information translated into Chinese, we just need to submit our passport photos. An hour and a half later, she was locked by the other agency again. Dear Ann, promised to keep checking back. We were riding a roller coaster of emotion, but God was still in control.

Everyday we got an email that said "still locked." Then on Tuesday night we were sitting in our favorite Mexican restaurant after a night of student conferences, and Ann called us to say that she checked the CCAA site one more time and there she was. Since Ann had already had our paperwork translated, she was submitting our stuff right then. Within a few minutes, she called back to say everything was submitted!

Our little girl was locked in for us. We would have a daughter... a precious 5 year old little girl, one month younger than our Jenna... A little girl who was born on my parents' 32nd anniversary. We hope to travel this fall to bring her home. She is absolutely beautiful. Ann later told me that she was touched by our leap of faith to write a letter of intent for a child that seemed out of reach. God is good.

3. I was reminded by Jillienne's blog that I do have 4 other kiddos to talk about too (thanks Jillienne). All the kiddos had super reports from their teachers on their student conferences. I cannot believe that Jackson will be in MIDDLE SCHOOL this fall! And, Jenna will begin Kindergarten! Am I really that old? No, I didn't think so either, but my kiddos sure are growing up fast! Well, dinner is ready, gotta go feed the hungry masses!