Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane!

Today we received some precious news... we will finally meet our son in a month! We are BEYOND THRILLED at this news and so thankful that in just a few weeks we can hold this boy we love so much!

So here is the deal: in a month we will go to Ethiopia for our court date. At that time we will go before a judge and {Lord-willing} pass court there (please pray that all of our paperwork is in order!) and so little "B" will be officially ours according to Ethiopia!

Today we booked our flights and once again winced at the expenses of this adoption -but we are SOO SO SOOOO glad to do it! Little "B" is worth every penny we have or could scrounge up because one day this orphan will be a son! As Will and I were wondering HOW things would come together, I got a call from Lifesong for Orphans saying that they were processing our grant application! Praise God! We don't know what the process will look like from here as they review our file and assess if we will get the grant we applied for or not, but we are confident that the Lord will provide for our needs.

In the meantime, we are selling Tukula, coffee, and preparing for a yard sale (sometime in February in Jacksonville!).Whew! Lots to do and prepare for as we think about bringing our son home hopefully in April or May!!!!

Praise God who hears and answers our prayers! You have been an amazing, amazing community for us and we are so thankful for all of the prayers that have been said on our behalf. We are humbled!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Glorifying God in My Unique Path

My husband is a great preacher. Since moving to Alabama in August, I have been blessed to hear him preach more often and I love hearing his skill develop and to see how God uses him as a teaching pastor at our church.

Today was no exception; I felt that God used him greatly to speak to my heart in this season. Will taught on John 21, which is where (resurrected) Jesus calls out to the disciples in the boat while fishing, Jesus and Peter eat together and Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him, and where Jesus forewarns Peter the cost of following Christ (his death).

This is where it REALLY hit me:

"Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”   Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)  When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
  Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
We can't compare our lots with others. God has asked us to follow him, and that will mean different paths for each of us. Specifically, some families God calls to adoption will have quick, painless adoption journeys while others (ours) seems to drag on and on!

Also, in Hebrews 11 we can see how God uses different paths to get glory:

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,  quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.   These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

Sometimes God will use us for his glory by having the mouths of lions shut, the quick adoption process, the miracles of paperwork being found at the right time.... and sometimes God will choose to receive glory through the long waits, the barriers to be clawed through, and the trials to seem endless. God isn't less glorified in the different paths! He is working in both seasons.

I was a bridesmaid this weekend for a dear friend's wedding, and the pastor preached from Habbakuk as a reminder that their marriage is rooted in Christ, even in the hard seasons to come. It was a beautiful picture of the gospel and it seems fitting to share it today: 

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
   nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
   and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
   and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
   I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

 GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
 he makes my feet like the deer's;
   he makes me tread on my high places. 

Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Praise God for being my joy and for the security of salvation! He ordains our steps and I must CHOOSE to give him glory when the "fruit is not on the vines" and for giving me a specific path for His glory. Our case manager last week told us that our case was "unique"- they had not experienced a family being "skipped" over like this before. Instead of being angry or envious, I should be glad that the Lord would use this to build my faith and glorify His name in a "unique" situation.

As always, thank you friends for praying alongside us!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Preliminary Court Date (Still waiting on Ours)

We found out today that our preliminary court date was this week, which means that our file IS at court and we could expect to go to Ethiopia within 2-8 weeks for our court date! This is a huge relief for many reasons, but I will just say that we ARE moving forward, and one of the potential roadblocks has been lifted. I can't really go into more details than that but I am praising God for this good news and so glad that the Lord is faithful in the details!

This week I had to deal with a hard choice: to trust God in the uncertainties and possibilities of if we would lose our referral for "B"- and I am glad to be on the other side of it BEFORE God gave us this good news today. Lord-willing, "B" will be our Israel and we are going to have him home one day. Hopefully very soon we will meet this boy who has completely stolen our hearts!

Sorry if this post is confusing but I don't want to share more of our son's story than necessary. Remember that this blog is a documentation of the process for our son!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

OH BABY Giveaway Winner!

Thanks for entering the giveaway - I love doing this and may do another one soon! :)

I did the entries on paper since the people who bought stuff got 5 entries!

The winner was Hannah Edwards!

Hannah bought something SUPER cute from our Tukula products and so I hope she's enjoying it already!

Thanks again for following our blog and for being such prayer warriors for our son! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fingerprints Again!

Today we went to Birmingham to redo our US CIS Immigration Clearance fingerprints. These allow us to bring a child in-country! Like last time we did these (November 2010!), the process didn't take long. It was about 15 minutes total, and a very entertaining 15 minutes at that! Our worker had a great time teasing me about my weird thumbs and teasing Will about a few things :)

So glad that we will NOT have to renew anything else for this adoption! Since these fingerprints last 18 months we should be fine! Doing things for the second time (homestudy, USCIS fingerprints) are not as fun as the first time, trust me!

It is nice checking another thing off the paperwork list! Hopefully we'll get our updated FDL in the mail very soon to have on-hand for travel purposes.

PS Don't forget to enter our "OH Baby!" Giveaway!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Testimony of God's Faithfulness

1. Thursday night I had another meltdown where I ached to meet my baby. Some friends of mine were en route to Ethiopia to meet their children and I wanted to be on that trip with them. I always thought I would travel with my friend Erica, so I was very disappointed that we weren't going together. I felt like my repetitive prayers were not doing anything and that God must have forgotten us. This is so stupid, yall, because this adoption is not possible without God! He has finely orchestrated every single detail. He created adoption in the first place. He is working when we can't see Him.

He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1: 8-9 
2. Friday morning I woke up to three pictures and a PRECIOUS video of my son. What a blessing and timely received gift after my heartache Thursday night! God hears and answers! Things I love about the pictures/ video: his skin is getting darker, his hair is so long and curly (the hair on the sides of his head is coming in, so the mowhawk is growing out - bummer!), he makes an adorable cooing sound on the video! I love his voice! We've watched the video probably 100+ times and then Erica sent us ANOTHER video this morning! What a friend!

Showing off his long hair!
3. I've already made one trip to the post office to send off some of the super-cute Tukula products I'm selling! I can't thank my friend Leigh enough for being not only a huge support for me in this adoption (and a great friend in general) but also for helping me in so many ways with fund raising for our son. She is amazing and I could not imagine this journey without her!

4. Last night/ this morning I woke up around 3:30 and didn't go back to sleep. I woke up from a vivid dream about Ethiopia and couldn't get my son off my heart. I went downstairs and had a much needed time of prayer and Bible reading where the Lord confirmed His faithfulness to his purpose- not just our adoption but for the gospel to be made known in all seasons and circumstances. I am such a poor vessel, but I pray that people would see the gospel through my weak testimony. 
Oh, that I could mean this from my whole heart when I pray about the "thorn" of waiting for our son to come home:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I know I have asked for this many times, but please, friends, pray for us! Pray for my heart during this process. Pray for God's glory to be made known even when I am weak. I feel like this is my theme verse right now: 

"Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in your to will and to act according to his good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13

Thank you for walking through this with us, and praise God for being faithful when I am not.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

OH BABY Giveaway!

I am in the cleaning & purging stage as we get ready for our yard sale... which gives me a GREAT reason to do a GIVEAWAY! Also, I am so GIDDY to announce that we are now selling TUKULA products! Check out the top right tab "Cute Stuff for Sale" and consider buying one of these amazing bags!

For this giveaway, you could receive 1 Blue/Green Owl, 1 Green/Yellow Flag Burp Cloth and 1 Blue/Yellow Duckie Burp Cloth!

Even if you aren't in need of something gender-neutral and for a baby, surely you know SOMEONE who could use a baby gift! And this baby gift could be yours FREE!

Here is how you can enter the giveaway:

1. Tweet, Facebook, or Blog about this entry (1 entry per social media outlet- leave a comment telling me what you did!)
2. Buy something from our etsy shop or purchase one of the amazing Tukula products we are now selling- Look at the top right tab for "Cute Stuff For Sale!)! (5 points per purchase!)
3. Become a follower of this blog or if you are already "following" this blog using the "follow" tool on the right! (1 point). Comment saying that you are a follower!

All of your entries will be tallied and I will draw a winner next Wednesday, January 25th at Noon EST!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Third Time's The Charm

Many of you remember back in 2010 (it seems so long ago!) we did two yard sales in Scottsboro and Raleigh...

Well now that we are in a new town and have a son who is worth the hassle of scrounging our pennies for....

We're having a yard sale in Jacksonville AL!!!!

Date: TBA hopefully February or March!

So if you don't mind, could you clean out a closet or two and give us your treasures to sell? (You know, one man's trash is another person's treasure!)

We still haven't heard back from our grant application and we're hoping to get the funds in order to be able to pay for BOTH trips to Ethiopia for our son!

And if you're also a fund raising family looking to do a yard sale this spring, check out our yard sale tips!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perfectly Apportioned Grace

This week has continued without court news.

After sending a frantic email asking why every other family has a court date but us, our precious case manager sent me a lengthy email encouraging me in the wait. I'll spare you from copying & pasting the whole thing, but here is part of it:

This season of your adoption journey is not just important for court or legal reasons, but also because as you move through each step and milestone- the piles of legal documentation, waiting for court dates, and navigating through the embassy process, the Lord is working on you.  He is molding and shaping you into the parents He already knows you are by testing and refining your patience, trust in Him, perseverance, and adaptability.  The adoption process in its entirety is tough—there are delays, setbacks, fluctuating time frames, expiration dates, process changes, new requirements that seem to come out of nowhere…  We have these ideas—perfect pictures—of everything just falling into place perfectly, but the reality is, there is no such process, and sometimes, although we fight it with the super strength of a parent - it’s important to experience these difficult situations.  They prepare you for the days ahead of frantic packing, red eye flights on zero hours of sleep, legal proceedings, and the most difficult experience yet- saying goodbye to your son between trips.  While you have a few precious and emotionally restorative photos of your child, it is so very difficult to wait at this stage. And… even though you don’t yet know the feel of his touch, or the sound of his cry, this child is yours already.

In addition to this email, I have been awakened to the thought that it's not a matter of "IF" our son will come home but "WHEN" he will come home! And IF we "lose" our son's referral due to different circumstances, God will sustain us then, and we will move forward in this call to adoption, no matter how difficult or lengthy the process is.

There is not only a REASON for this wait period, but I have been given the exact amount of grace needed to survive it. 

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. Ephesians 4:7

God is sustaining me each day, even in the times that I don't know if I can handle this wait any longer. God has ordained this moment and season with perfectly apportioned grace.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Months Old!

Dear Israel,

Happy Three Months baby boy!! Israel, you have NO IDEA how loved you are sweet son. I am overwhelmed by all of the people who are praying for you! It is so encouraging as your mama to hear other people praying for you to come home to us. We are praying so many things for you, baby. We are praying that the Lord would protect you from illness and that the Lord would already be softening your heart to Him so that you will know Him. We are praying for your birth family and for the Lord to be gracious to them. We're praying for your little heart as you deal with the many transitions to come. We are praying for all of the details of your homecoming to come together (quickly!) so that we can kiss you every minute of the day! You look incredibly kissable!

We have been busy getting your nursery together, and your closet is becoming fuller with lots of plaid shirts like Daddy wears! Your daddy and I go in your room every day to imagine what it will look like when you're there. We are sure that it won't stay neat and tidy when you are there- and we are okay with that! In addition to your nursery, we are setting up the rest of the house for you to come home- the kitchen has your baby cups and bowls and even a high chair! Although right now I can't imagine ever wanting to set you down because I want to hold you so much!

This month we finally saw a picture of you smiling, and darling, you have us wrapped around your sweet fingers. Your hair continues to grow longer and crazier, and we know the other kids at Hannah's Hope must be jealous!

For your three month birthday we are going to start packing our bags with donations for Hannah's Hope, the amazing transition home you are in. Lots of people have given formula to take and we are so ready to bring it there in person!

We love you Israel. We miss you and ache for you. We can't wait to see that gummy smile in person and to rock you to sleep every night in the glider your Aunt Rachel gave us! (I have caught your daddy using it already and he says he is practicing reading to you!) We're coming, son!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Thank You and Announcement

First, I want to say thank you for your kind comments and emails encouraging me in the wait. Still no court date here, but definitely feeling refreshed by the word of God and the reminder of His faithfulness. I also appreciate the grace given to me from some dear friends at a bachelorette weekend who took the time from celebrating the bride to weep with me in the wait. I tell you, this is a humbling and refining process!

The announcement is... my etsy shop is back (for now!). I will be honest, I haven't loved etsy so far, but since I have no craft fairs on the horizon, I am going to try to sell some stuff on there in hopes to get that last $5K that we need for Israel's adoption. If you don't mind, could you pass along my etsy link? Either on facebook or blogs? I want to thank my bff Leigh for making those beautiful wreaths that you see there! She worked hard to make wreaths when she was bringing home her son, and generously sent us those wreaths to sell for our son. In addition to etsy, we have applied for a grant and hope to hear soon from that as well. We're also contemplating another yard sale, and the idea of an online auction is still lingering. For now, let's get this etsy stuff sold! :)

Other exciting news is that we are having a baby shower! Our friends in North Carolina threw us a shower before we moved, and now our new church family is hosting one in a few weeks. I can't tell you how much it means to have people support us and get excited with us about Israel.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Waiting for a Court Date

This week my husband and I took 30 college students to the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Among many things discussed was the injustice of slavery that is rampant in the world right now (27 million slaves - the highest # of slaves in history). As we were learning about the different trafficking and slave issues, both of us were just aching at the thought that orphans are highly susceptible to trafficking and slavery. Who will fight for them? Who will search for them and bring them home?

So we listened and prayed, and we are ACHING for news to bring our son home. Heart-wrenching aching, I tell you. I hear news of other December referral families getting court dates for January, and my thoughts go from hopeful to jealous.

It is so frustrating, because if I were to classify this last year (well let's even go back farther to the beginning of our adoption 22 months ago)... my life has been classified in "waiting for _____". Fill in the blank: paperwork, waitlist numbers, job interviews, moving to AL, referral, now court date. We've been waiting on SOMETHING forever. And let's be honest, we will ALWAYS be waiting on something until Christ returns and redeems his bride.

Submission is not easy for me. It is hard for me to submit to Christ and to my husband. It is hard for me to trust that other people are doing things right or putting our adoption as a priority. And you know what? That is sin. That is not right, and I can't justify my impatience or selfishness out of "a mother's heart" or "my personality is that way"- not being submissive is sin.

It's okay to long for a court date. It's not okay to be angry in the process or forget God's faithfulness in His timing.

So pray for me and my heart. Thanks.
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