Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! We bought the kids traditional Chinese outfits while we were in China. The kids love to dress up and wear them around the house. When deciding Halloween costumes, the big boys asked if we could all dress up in our Chinese "ninja" outfits. Mike and I quickly ordered ours and here we are together before we left to trick or treat. We made it to three houses before we decided it was time to come home and hand out candy. While out, we stopped by the kids' second favorite home in town, John and Julie's. We owe them a special thank you for the extra yummy treats! They go above and beyond to love on our kids and make them feel special! Thank you John and Juju!!

Lord, thank you for our super silly moments together as a family! Thank you for the people that you place in our lives to bring such joy to our family. We had such a wonderful time together! Thank you for these four crazy kids. They bring greater joy than we could have imagined. We love them to the heavens and back! Amen

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's a BOY!

We are expecting again! And it's a boy....from Ethiopia!

Since I was a little girl, God planted the seed of adoption in my heart. I specifically have always known that God has called me to help those most in need. He was asking me to adopt orphans in China and Africa. On our first date, I knew that there was something so special about M, that I shared with him my dreams to adopt in the future. M, himself, has been called to go on mission trips and serve in some of the poorest communities. His heart is big and I knew that he would say "Yes". And there we were, over 8 years ago, planning our future family. Little did we know the impact that it would later have on our lives. Adoption is an incredible experience!

So why Ethiopia? Here are 20 reason:

Every day 5,760 more children become orphans in Ethiopia
* There are 153 million orphans (approx) today in this world, 4.6 in ETH
* Every year 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone)
* 1 in 10 children die before their 1st birthday, one in six die before their 5th 
* Life expectancy is approx. 40 years old with the median age being 17.8
* Woman have an average of 7 children and the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 14
* 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
* Malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world with 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
* 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
* 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone
* Every 15 seconds another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa
* Orphans today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home
*Every year 14,050,000 children who grow up as orphans will age out of the system
* Every day that is 38,493 children who are left to fend for them selves, begging for food, living in trash dumps, and selling their bodies to sex slavery
* That is a child every 2.2 seconds with no family or place to call home
* Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
* 88% will never attend secondary school, that means only 12% will
* Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
*Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half of the population lives on less than $1 a day, with the average annual income being $100.  
* Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa

Why not the US?

The answer is simply because this is where we feel that God is calling us to adopt. We love kids and love adoption no matter where the children are born. Some families are led to adopt domestically, while others follow their hearts to adopt internationally. We advocate and support adoption all over the world, including right here in the US.

A boy?

This question has been asked so many times recently. Again, simple answer. We feel like it is what God is asking us to do at this time. That may change. Adoption is full of unexpected. We love girls too. C'mon, do you really believe that we would complete our family without a sister for K?!? I think not :)

What age?

We have been approved and are asking to adopt a little boy under the age of 15 months at the time of match. He may or may not be older than that when he comes home, depending on several factors.

Where are we in the process?

We have completed our part of the home study and are just waiting for the finalized copy. Once it is complete, we will send it along with our I-600a to USCIS. Since we do not have a specific child matched yet, this basically just clears us to adopt a child and apply for a visa when the referral is accepted. We will then be invited to get fingerprinted again at the Homeland Security and Immigration office. Once approved, we will submit our dossier to Ethiopia. We are hoping that this all happens before the New Year. 

What is our time frame?

We are praying and hoping to be matched in the spring, with travel in the late summer. It's in God's hands and we know that this is only our best guess. We will continue to pray for His perfect timing.

God, we are ecstatic to be adopting again! Thank you for making your plans so evident and for opening  doors to make our paths clear. We pray for our child in Ethiopia. We ask that you bless him and pour your love into his little heart. Please hold him in your hands and keep him safe and healthy. I love that our children are so excited to have another brother. Q & C ask about him nightly at prayer time and we dream together about what he might be like. Q thinks that he will love to read, while C believes that he will like to race outside with him. We love learning about Africa together and look forward to learning more about his culture. Thank you for the blessing of having friends with adopted children. It is so amazing to be able to learn from other families and have support from parents who understand the adoption journey. Thank you for so many of our awesome friends who have love on all of our children no matter what their birth country happens to be. Thank you for our dear friends who pray for us often and encourage us along the way. Words cannot fully express our gratitude for making adoption such an important part of our lives. Adoption Rocks!! Amen

"I will bring your children from the East and gather you from the West" Isaiah 43:5

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tata...Looks Like Rain

We couldn't resist sharing this photo. We had so much fun dancing in the rain and enjoying each other on a stormy afternoon. Thank you, Lord, for so many precious moments with our children!

Frame of Faith

We recently walked through a couple of beautiful houses in the Street of Dreams. These homes were immaculate inside and out. The lines were clean, the decor was stunning, the lighting was incredible and "the price was steep" according to my husband. As you walked into the homes, you were met in awe of its beauty. I couldn't help but think about all of the plans that were orchestrated in a way to make this house a home. It took numerous people and countless hours of hard work to transform wood, nails, drywall, and paint into this amazing piece of art. 

I wondered if this isn't just like our life. If God is waiting for people to transform. To change. To build. To make beautiful inside and out. I wonder how many times people wish away dreams or chalk our lives up to luck. Our moments in life are not coincidental moments, but what we see (and don't see) are God ordained deliveries. If we ask, God will give us an explosion of blessings. He will make His master plan ours. And even if we don't have all of the pieces yet, He will bring each piece in a time when it will all make sense. God will build a strong foundation. He will knock down walls and open our hearts. He will strengthen the frame of our faith and place a fire in our souls that will light up the world.

I remember praying one night asking our Lord, "God please make clear the path that you have for my life. Please break our heart for what breaks Yours. Help us to be sensitive to the needs of those around us. Fill our hearts with abundant love and help us to be a blessing to others. Give us grace as we move forward and lean into You. Help us to stay focused and carry us when we don't understand. Please speak Your word into our lives and help us to listen when the distractions of life seem to drown out Your voice. We know that you are faithful and always good. I am expecting great things from You Lord for our family. We are believing big that You will bless our lives abundantly. Please help us to be patient as we know that your timing is perfect. Our faith is in You Lord as You transform us into everything that you have created us to be. Amen."

I needed time to be still. Time to soak it all in. To dwell on Him. To seek God and his plans for my life and our family. And in the silent moments He has taught me lessons. He honored my prayers and responded in faith. God has work to do in me. Lots of it. As soon as the prayers left my lips, He said, "go".  He didn't wait for me to say "when". Trust me when I say, "Be careful what you ask." He will take you on the best ride of your life if you are willing to say, "Yes".

This is what I learned.

Listen to His voice and respond in obedience. God will take your life and move mountains to get you on the right track. He will give you obstacles and trials only to bring glory. He will place people in your life that encourage growth, even if at the time, it is someone who makes you uneasy. He will begin to stir in your heart a desire for change. He will ask you to step out in faith. To let go of everything that you had thought that your life would be. Our God will ask you to come to the edge. To jump. To trust. To surrender. He will ask you to walk away from everything that does not lead to His plan or encourage growth.You will feel uncomfortable as change begins to take place, but a peace will remain as you step into His will. "I never asked you to do this alone. I am here." He will whisper, as you scream inside with selfish sadness of having to let go of your plans. You may feel like a 2 year old throwing your best tantrum ever. He will take you to a place where life seems dark, only to remind you that He is your light. And in those moments, as you give up control, He will take it all. He will say, "It is done."

Hold strong when you pray. Do not limit yourself on your circumstances or your past. Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of all of our sins. Not just some of our sins, but all of them. God has already forgotten, so it is time that we do too. The depths of our past will determine the height of our future. God will bless us beyond measures and turn our weaknesses into passionate strengths. Do not rely on others opinions to measure your self worth as God measures life differently than we do. He will prepare a table in the presence of your enemies. He will anoint you. His cup will over flow with great love. As God slowly takes away people in your life for a season, embrace the gift of good bye. He is waiting for you to blossom where you are now. To take victory of your life and claim the blessings that He has stored up for you.

You will know that there is a new season of growth around the corner. New seeds that need to be planted in order to reap the benefits of their fruit. God will ask you to keep pressing into His plans, though in the realm of this world, what He is asking seems impossible. It may seem inconvenient or even chaotic at times. But then we remember the power of His love. He will take the impossible and make it possible. You know that He isn't in this world, but that He created it. He will bring balance back to your life and give you more hope than you knew existed. He who promises is faithful.

A wonderful transition will take place and God will gently guide you in a direction better than we could have planned ourselves. The blessings will continue to be abundant and His love consuming. You will have come to understand the gift of every day life and the blessings that He provides in each moment. You will appreciate the little miracles and the small favors that accompany each day. You will choose to spend each day in amazement of His purpose. God will show love in places that haven't seen the light in years. He'll bring restoration and strength in areas that you didn't know existed for change. I love that about God. There is grace, forgiveness, mercy, and healing that will meet us wherever we are.

Just as the homes that we visited took months to create, God is stead fast in His timing to bring us the desires of our hearts. After all, He placed them there. The more time that we spend in His word, the more our plan starts to line up with His. We must believe that He has the master plans. We need to anchor our lives in His love. He knows where we are at this very moment in life. He already designed the blue prints before we were born. God didn't make any mistakes in His plan. He knew every hair on our heads. He cares about the details. He created us each beautifully. He is in awe of His children. We are His master piece. His work of art.

Lord, thank you for reminding me the beauty of Your plans. Thank you for creating a love in our hearts for our family and for others. Thank you for reminding me just how far we have come, but how much work there is left to do. I love that you love me even though I am a work in progress. Thank you for dying on the cross to make us new as if we have never sinned. I believe Father that you want us to enjoy the journey of life. That You want to be involved in every aspect. You didn't promise that our journeys would be easy, or wouldn't come with a steep price, but you did promise that it would all be worth it. I know that sometimes life doesn't make since, but if I press into Your will, that You will give me exactly what I need when I need it. Help me to keep my eyes focused on You instead of the world. Guard our hearts and help us dismiss others' opinions when they do not line up with You. I want to be audacious in our journey. To enjoy our everyday moments together. To seek you fervently. I ask you to stir the fire in my soul that burns for you. Please use us Lord to do Your will. We want to be Your hands and feet. To be hopeful, loving, compassionate, joyful, giving, and thankful for each and every day that you choose to breathe life into our lives. Please help us Lord to be your light for all to see. We ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.