Each time that I come to a new place with God, I feel like such an idiot that I could have been missing something so big all this time. I feel that way about the orphan. I feel like I have been walking with God for far too many years with my eyes closed to His purpose in my life regarding the fatherless. Then all of a sudden, I surrender to God's will for my heart and I can't escape this feeling of having missed so much by not getting this all along. My heart breaks watching videos of starving children, children without homes, children with an empty look in their eyes-all the while enjoying this nice, neat, warm family..Yet pitifully, I have spent so many of my believing years doing absolutely nothing to make a difference. In spite of this, God has blessed me so much on this journey and He continues to challenge me. Challenge me, in ways I never imagined, to surrender my life to His purposes. I don't really know what that looks like or how it will be accomplished yet. I know that at times, I will fail miserably and without a doubt there will be trials and I will fall short. The only thing that I know for sure is I want to stop wasting my breath being about me and this American dream. I want to be about doing God's will..when it hurts, when it's hard, when others call you crazy, when it doesn't make sense.. I just want live out this life like I am a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Oh that his splendor might be displayed all over my life and that I might desire above all else to look into the face of my Savior at the end of my life and hear well done my good and faithful servant!
My heart is overjoyed to have received so much good news this week...the update and LOC. I am ecstatic and counting the weeks until Jill will be in my arms.
At the same time, I think about those sweet nannies in the photographs with her. The ones who are caring for her, and many others, day in and day out. I have been thinking about how hard there job must be-watching some go and seeing some stay forever without a family ever coming after them. I think that clothes and food must be in short supply. I think how frustrating it must be sometimes to be a mother to so many. I think about what special people each and every one of them must be to say yes to a job like this one. Praying for these nannies tonight. Praying that they know the Lord and that they find strength each day in his power. I will forever be indebted to them for the care they are giving my baby!
We have LOC!!! In just seven and a half weeks, we have LOC!! God is moving mountains to speed things up so that this momma can get to her baby girl!!! Burning the midnight oil working on another round of paperwork! PRAISE HIM!!! PRAISE HIM!!!
It was Wednesday night and I was running late as usual. I knew I needed to get to my ministry post as my students would be arriving any minute.
Then it happened...the sweet, chubby face of that beautiful girl who is my friend's foster daughter appears at the other end of the hallway. She spots me and, running the length of the hallway, jumps into my arms. I say over her again and again...I love you..I love you..I love you. Oh those beautiful girls, at 5 and 8, have no idea the impact that they have had on my heart. They have no idea how God has used them in my life and how I can't help but simply see the face of Jesus in their eyes. Each and every time that I see them I am reminded of God's call to care for the least of these. I praise the LORD for these girls every time I encounter them. What a precious blessing they have been. I think how God has used the less than perfect beginning of their lives for good already because it brought them into my friend's home and that has allowed me to know them. It is just magical to me as I watch these girls become the daughters of my friends. Ten months ago they were complete strangers, but now they are their family. Oh how that overflows my heart with the love of the LORD.
As I stare into the eyes of my beautiful baby girl this week, who doesn't even yet know me, I am more thankful than ever that God brought these precious treasures in my life so that I too was prompted to open my heart to the orphan. :)
I have been waiting for this day for months. To say that I am overjoyed is a deep understatement!! I opened my inbox to find her there today..our Jill. She is so big, just like her sister was at that age...plump, robust, and tall! There are pictures of her nannies with her and I have a peace about the care they are giving her just from seeing their faces. Can't wait to grab those cheeks and kiss them! Don't you just love a chubby toddler? Look at those dimpled hands..
Please continue to pray. She is not walking yet and is almost two. That is not too uncommon for kiddos living in an institution. Also pray that we receive LOC before the offices close for Chinese New Year next Tuesday. If we don't receive it before then, it will slow us down considerably. (I know God is in control of timing, but I really want to get to her.) Thanks so much for all your prayers. You are precious to us and we can't wait for you to catch a glimpse of her in person!!
I have been doing some studying in Isaiah this week.. Love, love, love, Isaiah 61:3 that ends with They (that's the people of God) will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor! Oh THAT all in Him could grasp this truth. God calls me an oak of righteousness planted by him to display his splendor! What a glorious privilege to belong to the King. Hope you grasp that today my sweet friends..You are planted by him to display his splendor if you know him as Savior. Show it!
Long before God placed adoption on our heart, He called us to get involved with providing for the fatherless by sponsoring children each month through Compassion International. We have been sponsoring children in Guatemala now for a couple of years and I was even able to meet both of the kiddos we sponsor in that beautiful country when I was serving in missions there.
I have to say that meeting those sponsored children and their mothers changed me in big ways. Both of the children we have sponsored there lived in mother headed homes-no fathers. They were so poor that the $38.00 a month we had been sending was literally providing for the most basic necessities of their life! I remember very vividly my child's mother praying over me and thanking me again and again. I was humbled and really quite ashamed at the time because I kept thinking about how little I really had to sacrifice to provide financially for this girl. Yet to her, it was the reason she was able to survive..humbling. I left that meeting determined to sacrifice more for the cause of the fatherless. I remember praying for God to break my heart by showing me the faces of these children and allowing me to experience their need.
Through circumstances that only God can orchestrate, we were led to sponsor a child, Peace, through Parental Care Ministries in Uganda this last summer. (Read that post here.)Now, there is a team headed to our child, Peace. They are bringing her a sweet package and letter from us. I can't wait to see what God does through this trip and even more I can't wait to receive news of this precious girl, who-while an ocean away physically-is always in my heart. I want her know that I pray for her. I want her to know that I love her. I want her to know that I dream of meeting her face to face someday and that I know that God has big plans for her life.
For now, I send those things that I wish her to know on paper accross the ocean with a team of others, but who knows..Maybe..Some Day...I may deliver them in person!
I started a new Bible study on Tuesday nights. I have been studying alongside a faithful group of ladies in my church on Tues. nights for a while now and we recently took six weeks off. This is the longest break I have taken in the last three years of being a part of this group and because of it I was starving.. Starving to get into some in depth group studying under the direction of Beth Moore via DVD. Don't let me mislead you..it is possible for you to study and hear from God in any context at anytime via any connection, but for this girl-my Tues. night group just really ministers to me.
So after our first session...
I open my homework book on Wednesday morning only to find that the topic is exactly the one that has been burdening my heart for months. Breaking Free (our new Bible study) has us studying the life of Isaiah. We were looking at his calling from God and its timing..in the year of the death of King Uzziah. We were called to examine King Uzziah's life-full of greatness and shortcoming. We were challenged to consider how this was the only king that Isaiah had known and how he was certainly looked up to as a hero and great man by the kingdom (Isaiah included). The point was God didn't call Isaiah until this "hero" was removed from his life. Until the "hero" was removed Isaiah couldn't really focus on the only "hero" he needs-the Lord.
For seven months..I have been boohooing about how God has removed some of the personal "heroes of the faith" from my life because of a move He led us to make over three years ago now. These heroes were such an example to me as a baby christian. They challenged me, loved on, inspired me, taught me. They were so important for that season in my life. Now, I don't have them. I have been holding on to this for seven months. Using it as an excuse to be less than productive. Using it as an excuse to feel sorry for myself, to be wounded, to point my finger at God. The last seven months this boohooing has become pretty intense and I have to admit I have been playing wounded far too long. The example of Isaiah's calling hit me like a ton of bricks. The ultimate hero in my life needs to be my Lord. Removing the earthly heroes, while they were so important to me and were used by God over and over, is God's way of putting my focus back on Him. Causing me to rely on Him for all of my needs.
Does it ever still just completely blow you away that God can know your heart so personally, that he can speak to you so directly, that he can know just exactly what you need and deliver it through a bible study book that is over ten years old on just the day you need it? Man, it blows me away. I just love that about my God!! He so knows my every in and out..I love Him so and am so anxious to see what this study is going to teach me about Him!
If you live locally, I would love to call you my sister in person and study with you face to face. We meet on Tuesday nights and are studying Beth Moore's Breaking Free for the next ten weeks.
Here is the study promo video..
Wrote in the margin this morning of my study book.. Aching today God because of this wait for Jill, but I know that this wait is yours and I will wait in you and expect that you will renew my strength each day just as you promise.
I was really hoping to receive an update from the sweet family traveling to their son in January, but that was not God's plan and the family was denied access to the orphanage and not permitted to see our Jill. So Plan B, I have sent a package and requested an update through a contact I met on the list serve. (Big sister was happy to see the princess blanket in the picture of stuff we sent because she really wanted to make Jill's room a princess theme.) It may be a long shot, but it is worth it if we can catch even a small glimpse of that face! There haven't been any updated reports on Jill since January of 2010. I so want to know something..her size, her favorite activities, what she eats..anything! Praying that this contact is able to get some information for us. If not, I have a few other leads I have found and will pursue them if necessary. Can't wait until I have good news to share.
Until then..Please pray. Pray for our girl's safety. Pray that she feels loved, that she is fed, and that we will be to her soon.
Do you ever just come across people who live such big lives for the Lord that you are left saying..WOW!! Who does that? I want to do that..I was blessed this week to have a moment like that when I "met" this family on line.
Many of us saw pictures of this boy on line this week and read his story.. 16 years old in just two weeks, in Latvia, no family, no hope, no future, aging out of the orphanage in two weeks, to be turned loose into the streets, a family who has promised adoption backs out, left with no options-without hope.
THEN..this family hears of this boy, is adopting a son from Latvia already, was approved for two children in their home study (despite only planning for one), has the paperwork in place, is challenged by God, and by Faith living through the Spirit they answer God's call to reach the least of these by adopting this boy as their son! They had no extra money, no plan, no time to consider whether or not it would work for them. They just commit to do it! $10,000 dollars comes in from across the country in one day!! Her blog is a must read and follow as they journey to not only bring home one son from Latvia, but now two. She blogshere . You must check this out! I have been inspired by this family so much this week.
Obedient, Faithful, Living Beyond Themselves...This is what I desire in my life above all else. This is the life I want to live. I have such a long way to go.. Yet I know that by God's Spirit all that He calls us to do is possible. Praying for this special family as they travel this journey to their sons!
We are so blessed to be able to parent darling kiddo..to watch her grow and mature..to see her develop her own identity and passions. She loves to play ball! She lives for it and to see her take charge, gain confidence, and experience success doing something that she loves is just pure joy for this momma.
Especially joyful because basketball is one of her daddy's passions too and it is so neat to see them side by side on the floor. He coaches her teams and she plays for him. Sharing the same passions with the ones you love is truly a double blessing.
We have found a way to use our passion for basketball to serve the Lord too. We are coaching and playing in the local Upwards basketball league in a nearby town. Upwards is a national ministry that uses sports to reach the lost with the gospel! (They have an awesome site here.) We get to play ball and spread the gospel side by side this season. God is so good to give us something in our lives that we enjoy so much while also giving us an opportunity to bring Him glory and serve Him while doing it! Hope Jill likes ball too. I think she may have many years on bleachers watching her big sis ahead of her. There are worst places to be.
All along a sweet, praying friend said that she felt God reassuring her that we would have Jill home by Easter.. As much as I appreciate her support and love her prayers..I was not getting my hopes up.
Another precious family on my list serve posted today that they received LOC in just 8 weeks. If it keeps up, we could be receiving LOC from the China side in just three more weeks. Then we would have another step from the US side taking 2-4 weeks. Then another step from the Chinese side taking 4-6 and we are united with our girl (before Easter)!!!!!!!
I really don't want to get my hopes up, but I am longing for my girl and would appreciate every prayer I could get for a speedy shuffling of paperwork so that she can join our family ASAP.
So, I have been saving and scrimping little by little to decorate Jill's room. I have gotten a beautiful antique bed for free (wasn't so beautiful before ten coats of paint), a free mattress, a free rocking chair..Slowly it is coming together and it is beautiful. Decorating is a pleasure for me and I want her room to be picture perfect.
I found a really great toy box at a local store about four months ago. It was the perfect style and color.. I began to "plan" my saving strategy and Christmas money from my folks came in quite handy to make my "plan" a reality. So last night I go online to order the toy box (free shipping offer) to be delivered right to my door only to find out of stock under the image of this perfect toy box..The toy box I had to have..The one I had envisioned in her room at the end of her little white bed. (I certainly realize that in the grand scheme of things, it's not the end of the world...But hey-I really wanted that toy box!) BUMMER!
I click on find it in the store and see that the local branch had one left on it's shelves. It was late, freezing cold, dark, I had company coming, and it was a school night, but don't you know that this CRAZY momma jumped in the car and drove the thirty minutes to the store to get the toy box-the last one! It is perfect at the end of her bed.
I find myself creeping in her room just to sit on her bed. I remember doing that when I was pregnant with darling kiddo too. Going in when the house was quiet and running my fingers across her little clothes..dreaming of the moment that I would finally see her face and she would be born. This paper pregnancy is no different. I have been sneaking in there all weekend..sneaking into what will be my Jill's room. Darling kiddo keeps asking me, "Whatcha doing?" To which I reply, "Dreaming of having her here!" Rooms almost done and waiting...So are we! Hope you like green Jill..Momma does.
While I love, love, love Christmas and everything about it...celebrating the Savior's birth, gift giving, singing, baking, decorating!! I am so very thankful that this year is behind us. Thankful because celebrating without Jill was heart wrenching. There were so many moments that I was too overcome with sadness because of her absence that I could not love anything. I miss her so..it hurts my heart deeper than anything I have ever felt. Adding Christmas 2010 to the scrapbooks just means that one more celebration on the timeline of celebrations has passed and that there is one less thing to get through until Jill is here with us!
Just think..Next year, she will be here with us! WITH US!! She will be an orphan no more! She will be home with her family. Oh to see her face in the glowing candlelight of the sanctuary as we sing silent night. To see her little chubby hands rolling cookie dough. To see her running down the stairs in her pjs on Christmas morning. Most of all, to hear her laugh at all her daddy and sissy's silly antics that seem to make an appearance at all our "traditional" family gatherings.
Despite not being here, she did receive gifts....
Her first stocking from Grandma and Grandpa.
Her cousin G and sissy enjoyed unwrapping her gifts at MeMe's house.
Counting down the days until we meet you and dreaming of seeing your face. Love you so much Mei, Mei. So very much!
Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.
This was the verse that God reminded me of during my quiet time this morning. I memorized this scripture last March and keep it hanging in my kitchen. It popped in my head during prayer time this morning and I felt a peace and trust in the Lord that I have been lacking in the last few weeks. Isn't it just like God to wash over and strengthen me before a blow...
Instead of finding photos of Jill in my inbox as I had hoped I found..Access Denied.
The family who was supposed to be allowed to visit Jill was denied access to the orphanage. Apparently, no family that has adopted from Weinan has ever been allowed to see the orphanage. Each family is given the same reason-they are renovating. Apparently the director has given this reason for years as a family who traveled and adopted there in 2007 was given the same reason.
Devastated! Not as I had hoped. Not what I wanted. Hard. Stinks.
But..as God had planned. As God sees fit. I am trusting. I have His peace. To be honest, being a world away from my daughter-this is one of the hardest things that God has ever called me to do. At the same time-one of the most beautiful things He has called me to do. I love this girl, who I really don't even "know", so much that it is painful to be separated from her. How is that? How can you love someone so much that you've never even met? Oh God is so good to give me so much love for this one who isn't even of my flesh, but who God ordained as mine from the beginning. At times, I let myself imagine the day that I finally meet her. Oh the goodness of it. Oh to get to the moment that I don't have to spend so much time missing her and I can spend time getting to know her.
Praying that this time flies by. Praying for God's peace. Praying for trust in the Lord. Just plain praying at all times..
To say that I have been obsessive about checking my inbox for word of Jill would be a gross understatement! The sweet family that is going to be making contact with her has made it to their boy and he was deposited safely to their arms Monday (yesterday for us). They already have pictures up on their website here !! Their little Joshua is so stinkin cute and the nannies came with him and look like they adore him. I have a good feeling about the care he has received. So hope the same is true for my Jill. I feel like this precious family may be with Jill even as I type this post. I am praying that the hours pass quickly while I wait to receive word about my baby girl! When I get my photos, they will up faster than you can say..momma. I know you aren't waiting as restlessly as I am, but I appreciate you working with me here. Afterall, every momma loves to show off her babies. :)
I am a Christ follower, wife of 20 years to my best friend, and a stay at home momma to five amazing daughters. I am currently waiting for one precious special needs treasure to come home from China. I am passionate about the orphan and special needs adoption. I love to teach God's word, am involved in youth ministry alongside my dh, and love,love, love cooking. Above all, I desire to serve God and surrender my life to His call.