Happy (super late) 2013!

Oh my, how I have been slacking within this bloggo world! Here it is almost February, and I see I haven’t updated this site since October! It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years blasted past us and are now all completed…Without trying to sound extremely melancholy, I’m so grateful they are gone and done. This year the Holidays were quite odd for me between emotions, stress, and just plain exhaustion and I’m somewhat relieved things are in the past.

But among the craziness we have truly been blessed with time for each other and with family members-both here and in Iowa. The time spent was so valuable to both me and Travis, and of course it made us contemplate dream about what this coming year may bring. There’s a constant battle within both of us of trying to think logically throughout this adoption process, yet there are times we just desire to openly dream of what our lives may look like in the near future.

We are officially 17 months DTE TODAY and that excites us, yet reality sets in to say that we have a looooong way to go…especially considering our request of twins and the fact no one can tell us an approximate wait time. Many people wonder why we are not open at the moment to a single adoption or a sibling set with varying ages…but the only simple answer we can give is…We truly believe God has put that request specifically on our hearts. There’s a longer story to this, but I will say you will have to hear it in person in order to truly understand this. Let me just say, God gave Travis an awesome gift one Sunday that solidified our request….

So here it is, 2013. We started this adoption in 2010 with the application, homestudy, and Dossier paperwork…and here we are still here waiting. But I can’t say we are complaining. We have needed this wait. We have needed to grow as a couple, prepare our hearts to accept little hearts, and allow God to continue molding our lives to better accept the children He has planned for us. Overall, this wait has blown us away at times. We have been able to accomplish several fundraisers, and along with them have been given wonderful blessings of meeting  supportive individuals in prayer, encouragement, and financial purchases.

Granted, we have an unknown amount of time left on this adoption journey, yet it’s been just like God to give us little blessings along the way to say He hasn’t forgotten us. What a joy to know that in 2013 God is STILL WITH US! 🙂 Some of these proofs of His love and faithfulness have come our way within the last week and have literally blown us away. Stay tuned within the next several weeks to learn of these crazy-amazing miracles of God’s blessings!

In the mean time, I just want to share a very special video that speaks to us to continue along this journey WITH our GOD!

(I don’t know about you, but every time I see this video I want to stock up on paint powder!) 🙂 What FUN!

update #…..?

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I have absolutely no idea what number I should assign to this update. But I feel as if I am overdue for an update to whomever reads about our life in these few words…We are still around. Not a lot of new info to share, but I must say that doesn’t change how full our hearts are right about now. Our hearts have been stirred in various ways, both in faith and in doubt; praise and sorrow; peace and unrest.

Let me just start by stating the obvious and easy to explain: we have been DTE now for almost 14 months. But we started the adoption process a year before we became DTE…we needed to wait to turn in our dossier until we had the appropriate funds. So here we are, 14 mos DTE and still raising money. Talk about a humbling time. This is the part I dislike. Granted, God has truly given us the time to raise funds, but it most certainly hasn’t been easy.

The adoption process in general is a roller coaster of emotions, but on good days it’s an intense blessing…one in which I have a hard time grasping the reality of. The idea that some people can place money in an envelope and send to a complete stranger who is a friend-of-a-friend is just a tiny example of a God-spoken miracle.The encouragement that gives to us is uncanny! And then there are days in which we sign on to our adoption yahoo group or facebook group and see the panic in others’ words regarding how wait times have now been changed to 24-31 months from DTE date…it’s hard not to have the hope we gained from a complete stranger’s envelope of blessings become completely diminished because we only have uncertainly in regard to when we may see the faces of our children.

But among the ups and downs, and among the weeds of doubt that have grown, we try desperately to hold onto the blessings that have been planted among our journey. One of these has been the 4 craft shows we have now completed. The first weekend in October brought our 4th show, and we are once again blown away by God’s provisions. Not only has He given us the abilities to complete the items we work on, but he has blessed us with the patronage of others to our adoption! From Travis’ mother and sister’s willingness to work on taggie blankets, my mom’s ability to crochet (AND TEACH ME) and my dad’s help in setting up and tearing down, Travis’ ability to SEW ALL the sock monkeys (and does a pretty incredible job I might add), and the blessing that I was able to pick up crocheting relatively fast, and meet an incredible photographer that has turned into a friend who is willing to use and photograph our items…ALL have been incredible provisions.
All in all we have certainly been blessed beyond measure. And we are more than thankful! And to prove to you of the blessings, we want to share some pictures from last weekend….

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one year

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People, it’s been exactly ONE YEAR with our paperwork in Ethiopia! Yesterday (August 26th) we were one year DTE (dossier-to-Ethiopia).

How crazy is that?!

And it’s been over TWO YEARS in the adoption process.

Praise be to God we have come this far!!!!! What a blessing it’s been to see who has been encouraging us throughout this process. We’ve gained friends and lost friends, we’ve gained grey hairs and plucked a few, we’ve felt God’s grace and fretted about where He is, and we’ve laughed a lot and have cried even more.

It’s a roller coaster, my friends. A roller coaster for real. One day we tend to be so excited because we saw some miraculous things happen in our journey and also in some of our friends’ journeys, and then there are other days where we find ourselves asking God how long we have to keep going while we hear everyone around us asking “where are those babies?” “have you heard anything”, “we can’t wait to see your children”, etc… Don’t get me wrong….we LOVE that our friends are feeling they can ask us questions, but some days we’re just tired of saying “No, at this point we’re just waiting on a phone call, and we have no idea when that will be”…It’s not like we’re growing a belly here that we can estimate a future delivery within a 9 month time range.

But altogether, we do thank so many of you who have been following our journey of faith and grace. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the various types of support many of you have bestowed upon us: whether through prayer, purchasing something from our fundraisers, or even for an anonymous donation.

And with that, we trudge on in the journey God has designed for us. We truly are excited to see His fruits, but in the mean time we celebrate how far we have come and continue to surround our next (however-long) in prayer.

We’d love to have you continue on the roller coaster with us!

so what, Mr. Robertson? So what….

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The adoption bloggo-sphere and facebook blew up yesterday. Many people may have seen it, and yes, I’m going to continue it… 🙂

It all began because of a “little” known fella’ by the name of Pat Robertson…You’ve probably heard of him. You know, the man who has been associated with Christian television for the past several decades…the man who many people put Christians in the same “box” as… a self-centered, open-mouthed, American Christian with controversial statements spewing out of his mouth more and more as he ages. Recently he did not “disappoint” in statements on the 700 Club regarding his opinion concerning adoption.

I invite you to take a look at his “message” HERE.

The two words that ring out directly after his “speech” to me is…So what? So what, Mr. Robertson if someone were to adopt a child with sexual abuse in their past? So what if a family chooses to take “the least of these” into their home? So what if a child has a brain disorder? SO WHAT if there is any problem whatsoever with a child across the world that you desire to give them a home and a family?

Christianity is about BEING Jesus to ALL PEOPLE. Giving money and giving a tract to people across the world is not good enough in my book. Somehow, I believe we are called to be Jesus to each and every person. This INCLUDES the hurting, the lost, the leper, the AIDS patient, the sexually abused, the gay/lesbian, the sinner. I do not feel that just giving money for people is the only way to “minister” to that group.

I don’t believe Jesus gave his money to the people he came across….HE GAVE OF HIMSELF in such a personal and God-honoring way. He SPOKE with the prostitute and asked for water from her hands. He INVITED 12 worldly men to become his disciples: tax collectors, fishermen, a political zealot…He worshiped, prayed, loved on, cried with, and ate with each of these men. His FELLOWSHIP with them spoke so resolutely to them that they dropped all that they had to become His trusted disciple.

I know that I have personally missed the boat in regard to being Jesus to all people: I have scoffed at individuals; I have been careless in relationships; I have not given all that I could to someone. But all in all, Mr. Robertson, your statements have not only hurt many people- hurt your reputation (not that I believe you had much left after the divorce-your-dying-wife-comment and many, many more), but altogether, your statements have sparked a new desire within me…To truly CHALLENGE the Christians around me to continue FELLOWSHIPPING with the “least of these”…to get down on the same level as the “weird”, to understand the feelings of the hurt, and to get hands dirty for the sake of cleaning the feet of the broken. God wants our lives to reflect who HE IS.

THAT is what a Christian’s life is supposed to be about…to not be afraid of being judged because of who you are with, but to be known as His follower who has been called to LOVE the way Jesus loved.

THAT is biblical Mr. Robertson. I’m afraid your response had nothing Biblical in it. And yes, as an American you are entitled to your opinion, but when people are writing to you as a CHRISTIAN “elder” you should be backing up your statements with TRUTH from God’s WORD.

I’m going to end my rant there…I could go on and on. I’m challenged by statements Christians make in relationship to how they believe ministry should look like. Much like Robertson, many people don’t believe we are called to go to the other side of the world just to adopt, but my Jesus would. And He did. He went to the other side of the world to DIE on a CROSS for ME….and YOU! Why should we not be called to do the same?

*If you want to see one amazing and highly respected response to Robertson’s statements. Please check out Dr. Russell Moore’s knowledgeable and BIBLICAL rebuttal….HERE

challenges

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So yes, I know most of you are aware there are many, many challenges within life. Whether  it is a personal struggle through a tragedy, or an internal battle trying to distinguish between what type of peanut butter is best for your family (yes, we are a Jiff-only family)-challenges are everywhere. But for us as a couple, both Travis and I have experienced some crazy weirdness and struggles throughout the last few weeks.

We have been “on the go” since June 10th. (Yes, we’re STILL on the go as I sit and write this) We have faced challenges of several kinds while also reaping blessings along the way. Shall I start the journey within this post? Why yes, I shall! HA!

Our traveling and “on the go” lifestyle began in early June with us traveling to Virginia to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in 4 years. (We met at Liberty Univ. while taking a class together for a week. She lived in Savannah at the time, but she and her husband moved to VA a few years ago). What fun it was to meet up with her again, officially meet her husband, and have Travis meet both Jen and Shawn with their twin babies!!!! What a blessing it was to stay a few days and catch up/meet/and just have fun together! I can’t tell you how many things we have in common between the husbands looking similar to one another to both couples knowing how to play Dutch Blitz! It’s the little things, people that keep relationships going! 🙂

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We came home from VA to begin a week of Vacation Bible School at our church where both Travis and I were “crew leaders”, and at the same time had Travis’s 12 year old nephew staying with us for a few weeks. VBS was a challenge for both Travis and I as we both felt like pulling our hair out for various reasons, but mainly for some taxing behaviors from one or two kids we were responsible for, including our nephew! This VBS week was a complete whirlwind as we were forced to call T’s brother and his wife to pick their child up because of some behaviors we were seeing and could NOT have the scary behaviors in Niagara Falls, which we were planning on taking him to the day camp we were working with the following week.

The following week found us in Niagara Falls, working with Hope Club of Niagara Falls, NY- a ministry run by some of our dearest friends. (I’m planning another post about Niagara Falls in the near future to further explain this amazing ministry). But needless to say, the week was FILLED with planning and teaching the love of Jesus to some 150 kiddos from the surrounding community. Travis and I were in charge of the Bible lessons, and let me tell ya, I think we learned more sometimes from the lessons as we needed to be reminded that Jesus is continually directing our purpose as individuals and as a couple!

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And finally, as our community in NW Ohio was cleaning up from 90 mph winds during a storm Friday, we were headed home to stop for a brief night to wash clothes, repack, and check out the local damage from the storm, and attend a friend’s husbands visitation, we headed out to Iowa to visit Travis’s family while leaving my parents staying at our house because they had no power for 80+ hours.

Soooo, now you have a slight picture of the little whirlwind of business and some challenges we have been experiencing within the last month. We still sit here in the 100 degree humidity in Iowa, but there have been some good times to finally get to relax a bit. But even through the relaxation, God has been reminding me in various ways that He is still needed each and every day. (Why do we tend to forget this little important nugget of Truth!?!)

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Several weeks ago Travis and I began leading a discussion group/study at our church on the book Radical by David Platt. A-MAAAAZING book. It’s truly a must read for any Christian who desires to learn more about how Jesus has directly called each of His followers to be disciples. Eyes are opened differently after reading the authors commentary on what it truly means and takes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Our purpose is challenged, and our life-calling is surrendered.

I’ve been personally re-reading a favorite book of mine- Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore. And like always, am completely challenged in ways I tend to forget about…This book follows a wealthy southern couple and at the same time follows a poor homeless black man. It’s a true story and totally worth the time and the tears to be reminded how God moves in ways we don’t understand. But one gem of a lesson in the book happens to be one of my favorite quotes: “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless-just workin our way toward home.” -Denver Moore

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It’s important for us to remember that no matter our wait to learn of our life-purpose or even as we wait to hear anything about our adoption, we must not just sit…we must be working our way toward Home-toward heaven, and live each and every day as purposefully as possible- even through its challenges and craziness. Are we up for THAT challenge????

no magic words or statements, but TRUTH.

I don’t have any marvelous words or stories to tell, but I am feeling compelled to share something that I recently read on another blog. This family is in the process of adopting their 15th child. Yep, you read that right! They are going to have 15 marvelous children given to them by our Creator! Their Ugandan daughter, Esther, has some special needs and this is what this beautiful momma says that I think is sooo poignant…

“That’s how I think about Miss Esther.  If she can walk and talk “normally” someday….awesome!  If she is not neurologically typical….so what?!  When you boil everything down to love…life is just simpler.  More Kingdom, more grace, more beauty, more joy.  Control is just an illusion anyway and when we give up “the way things are supposed to be” we get to enjoy what God is doing right now, in this moment, without burdening our minds with hypothetical futures and outcomes.  All we have is right now to rejoice always, give thanks in everything, and pray without ceasing.  That’s God’s will for your life!”

(check out this amazing family’s blog HERE)

Wow. There’s nothing more to say about life than that statement right there…I want to hold on to those words and remember for a long.long.time…..

 

earthly unconditional love

Unconditional love. what does this mean? When I google this term, idealistic Wikipedia comes up with this as its first sentence “Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations”.

But I ask, is that all? only pertaining to affection? No. Yes, affection is part of it. Admiration, respect, trust, etc… it’s all there. But at the heart of the issue, it’s so much more. It’s hard for me to put this into words. I’m still learning what unconditional love looks like, and I truly fail at this type of love sometimes daily.

Some of you may have seen a lovely video floating around facebook called “The Story of Ian & Larissa”. I encourage you to take some time to soak in the beauty of this video. Our earthly unconditional love is so very different from heavenly love, but oh my, it’s still gorgeous when displayed by Ian and Larissa! I only pray Travis and I can continue to develop our love for one another, as well as developing our love for the children God has already planned for our family in such a way that God would smile upon us. And to think this type of love PALES in comparison to how our He loves us! A-MAZING!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/38033654″>The Story of Ian & Larissa</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/christianhedonism”>Desiring God</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Fun times were had….!

Just wanted to load a few pictures for y’all to see where we spent our time this weekend…Travis and I, along with my parents, spent a busy time Friday evening setting up for this year’s 2 day Springtime in Ohio craft show. We had a lot of obstacles getting everything together and some chaos with schedules, but everything worked out wonderfully. So thankful we were able to spend some great time advocating for adoption, working to raise funds for our adoption, and of course getting to chat with a whole mix of individuals!

There were great moments filled with people’s pleasant reactions when they read our cards stating the benefits from each sale go to our adoption, and then of course there were the reactions of some saying “Oh you’re adopting?? My husband and I had fertility issues too and we just went with fertility treatments and had 3 successful pregnancies”.  My response? “Oh. Well we believe God has truly called us to adopt as our family’s first option to begin our family.” Bring God into it and some people stop talking. But I’m NOT going to stop talking about our calling. Nope. Not one bit. I want the stigma of adoption to GO AWAY. So many people think it’s the last option for families. Ummm. not in my book, and I truly don’t believe it’s the last option in God’s Book either. 🙂

Oh my soapbox could get higher and my voice louder right about now, but I will refrain. I’ll leave you with some pics of our booth at the show. We have been tweaking our designs each time (believe me, we are NOT avid craft show venders and it is quite evident to other venders around us as we get comments and “friendly” suggestions every. single. time. I never realized there were so many individuals who do craft shows as a full time job and travel many, many states. Talk about intense!

We had great success again this year with raising more funds, and we are definitely planning on being at the show in October!

We’re going to be posting one-of-a-kind items for sale on our facebook page within the week. These items will be ready-to-send at the time of order, so tell your friends! It will include a number of sock monkeys and of course some of our already made hats!!!

Understanding more of James 1:27

You could say I had something like a slight epiphany earlier today as I was sitting in a Bible study discussion group. We have been studying parts of the New Testament throughout this last school year, and are now covering one of my favorite books of the Bible: James. I think many of us within the Christian adoption community hold several Bible verses dear in regard to orphan care> James 1:27 being “one of the best!” But my passion for orphan care and activism for widows was slightly squelched today. My heart literally skipped a beat.

First, let me give you a little background…this is strictly a Bible-focused study. It’s encouraged not to use commentaries as the developers desire to keep focused upon the Bible rather than what someone else has concluded about the passages we’re studying. I’m totally a-okay with this concept. I think it’s great as it allows individuals to really do some digging and studying within themselves and with the help of the Holy Spirit. It truly is all about God. Not about us, and not about what others say the Bible says. With me so far? Have I lost any one our there???? 🙂 So, each week we have lessons to go over throughout the week and then come together in a small group fashion and discuss the answers we received. This week there was a question that I answered with full honesty and passion, but as I heard others’ answers I was stopped in my tracks and understood a little more about American/Western Church…

Okay….James 1:27 (NIV) 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.” Overall I’d say this verse is pretty easy to understand in my mind…I take it or I paraphrase this as “the acts of my belief system that Jesus Christ looks upon as good is to care for the orphans and widows in their time of need”…. That’s how I take the first part of this verse. At the very core of what I am to believe, I should be caring specifically for orphans and widows.

The study question that was asked during this week’s lesson was “Think of people outside your own family and friends in terms of Jms 1:27. List specific groups of people that might be considered “widows and orphans” today.” Ummmm….this question was truly easy for me to answer as I think the verse is quite specific in the “groups” of people I would choose…..ORPHANS AND WIDOWS!

When I first answered this question during my week study I thought to myself “duh! The answer is obvious!” But it wasn’t until group today that my hearts’ passion was stopped in its tracks for a second. My small group members did an awesome job at answering this question in terms of the people they are around daily…which is EXACTLY the way the question encouraged us to take this passage. Totally acceptable, totally honest, BUT totally made me aware of something we do often as a Western culture and Church…we most often categorize the idea of widows and orphans to mean the “needy” and thus, look within our lives to the individuals we are closer with to help. But what do we do specifically for widows and orphans???? The answer sadly in a lot of cases is- nothing.

I believe we have been given a direct command to care for widows and orphans. I don’t believe the use of those two words is a metaphor. Sometimes it’s easier to help someone who falls under the category of “needy” (which let’s face it, we’re ALL lacking something in some way or another) because it’s “easier” and more “convenient” in reference to this verse. Granted there are other places in the Bible where the ambiguous group of “needy” is listed, but why do we tend to overlook these two groups of hurting people: the orphan and the widow. We definitely have both groups in our society and culture. So I ask: why as the Western Church and within our denominations are we not out working to care for the orphan and widow on a larger scale?

I know that I am sensitive to the idea of orphan, and many will think I am writing this because I am just trying to be an activist for orphans strictly because we are in the adoption process….BUT, I think it is so much more. I surmise this is one area where as a culture within the Church we have dropped the ball. We lack great activism for social injustices toward orphans and widows which results in a lack of direct care for both groups.

Hmmm….I’m thinking there’s a ministry opportunity we could be developing here…???  Just an idea….!

So….here’s some ideas…..How about…..

  • weekly dinners with a widow within the church
  • a respite outing for foster parents/kiddos/single parents
  • sponsoring a widow and/or orphan through World Vision, Compassion International, or Samaritan’s Purse
  • partnering with an orphanage for supplies
  • a prayer ministry for single moms
  • a mentoring program for kids who have lost a parent
  • establish a monthly work project (ie: home improvements, yard work, tutoring) for single parent homes
  • an encouragement ministry where notes of encouragement go out from church members to an orphan/widow
  • support group for widows and/or children who have lost a parent
  • setting up a counseling center within the church to cater to widows/orphans
  • ADOPTION! 🙂
  • and the list could go on and on….

Are you still with me??? Am I totally off my rocker??? Are we totally missing the boat? I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to walk on the water and step out in faith to do something…wanna be challenged with me????

For the next month….

Well, the time has come where we are prepping for the coming craft show season! We’ve already been counting and packing items to get ready for one very large craft show coming up on Mother’s Day weekend. Crochet hooks are flying, needles are endlessly being threaded, and the sewing machine is getting its love. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have already sent two bulging boxes of items ready to be sold! My mom has been crocheting away her free busy time. Travis wields a needle and thread with a sock monkey during the tiny moments he has availabile between two jobs, and I tend to spend my days repositioning my rear to get comfortable to complete various crocheting and crafting tasks that must be done within the month! (on a side note, it’s looking like my licensure exam will be in MAY! FINALLY!!!!!)

SO, if you happen to stop by our house and peer inside the front room’s window you’ll notice MANY piles of things atop the spare bed, the table with the sewing machine stacked with many, many fabric scraps, and Rubbermaid boxes EVERYWHERE! There are seriously 7 full size Rubbermaid boxes filled with various stages of the sock monkey building-process. It’s a sight to behold. BUT, it’s thankfully a pretty organized process, or I’d potentially lose my mind!  HA!

So, to add to this transparency of craziness, here are a few pics! 🙂 Please don’t judge. 🙂 It’s an “organized” mess.

Have I overwhelmed you with my organization messes yet? 🙂 Anyone who feels sorry for us would like to help would totally be welcomed!

In all seriousness though, we have really been blessed and supported well throughout the craft shows/fundraiser! It has been so fun meeting new people, coming up with “new” designs, and utilizing skills we had no idea we had! We have truly been blessed, and we send out a HUGE thank you to those who have helped along the way! Now…I’m off to continue twirling my crochet hooks! 🙂 HA!