Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful in Our Walk of Faith



Before Jason and I married we spent some time considering a very important question, "Could God use our lives more effectively together than separately?"  We often challenge dating couples to consider that question.  While we knew the significance of marriage we never fully understood the multilevel powerhouse that the union of a man and woman under God represents.  When Levi joined us our hearts ached for children not nurtured and protected by both Mom and Dad as we've seen Levi thrive under God's family structure.  I was reminded in a post by the CEO from "our agency" of many waiting for that protection and encouraged thinking about those now thriving in it:
This Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for the adoptive families that are waiting eagerly and expectantly during a process that is taking much longer than it should.  I’m thankful for the families who have saved and sacrificed for an adoption process when money is tight and our nation’s economy is stagnant.  I’m thankful for the families who faithfully and obediently follow God’s call to adoption, even though it doesn’t logically make sense.  And even though thousands of orphans remain homeless, I’m thankful that the 9,320 children who found families through intercountry adoption this past year will have a Thanksgiving in which their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, moms and dads will look at them and say, “I’m thankful for you this year.”
We long to bring children into our home but now we are in a holding pattern.  Our hearts are thankful for this season even though we look forward to the time it will come to an end allowing us to proceed forward.  But in the waiting, God has been giving incredible gifts.  


I was in chapel just over a month ago when God opened a door.  Over and over I had the thought of taking a girls' trip to India this May, but there were no obvious avenues to get there.  So I told God about it.  Every time the thought came.  


The avenue appeared in chapel one day and as the director talked to me afterward asking me to lead the team to India (he had no idea what I'd been thinking), I was encouraged that I was to take this team.  Soon the door closed with the first organization but I was sure this trip was supposed to happen and certain another option would emerge.  There were other possibilities but one night huddled around the computer screen watching videos with a student, one Youtube video led to another and unexpectedly an organization made it's way to the screen with the residual effect of my heart pounding inside me.  I emailed to ask if teams could come to visit and to my surprise they only had one opening in May, which so happened to be the only week we could come.  Additionally, the director wrote me with a sweet message inviting us to come for that week even though others were requesting the same time.  This was God-ordained.


The organization works throughout the country and we simply requested to use our education degrees/training to love on orphans and vulnerable children.  Slowly a team of girls began to form and we got our assignment:  two centers serving children in neighboring states.  We were going to India!!


Team India
One of the centers teaches seventy-five children from the lowest caste system.  Children from Hindu backgrounds who would never have an education otherwise.  And the other I discovered is a vocational center reaching out to one hundred children coming from various backgrounds. And this incredible vocational center, as it turns out, is located in Kolkata, India!! 


So in May, the girls and I {while Levi stays with Jason} will travel for a week and a half stay in India teaching, playing and loving on kids with a portion of that time spent in the heart of Kolkata serving orphaned children.  


It's a most unexpected surprise worthy of great thanks to God!  Here's the video of the precious lady we'll get to work alongside and of the children we'll teach.   You can view it here.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as you give thanks for God's many blessings!  We're enjoying time with both families and with an abundance of friends and sweets {hooray}.  Thankful certainly sums up our hearts today.  We hope you find yourself in that same place.   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapters



Recently I came upon a book that I rushed out to buy and couldn't put down.  Each chapter left indentions on my heart because God was molding me through the words.  And then I did what anyone who finds a good book does.  I talked about it a whole lot and bought a crazy amount of copies to hand out.


Sick students waiting to see a doctor and Levi's new hideout.
Last week and this one have been a blur of activity.  All-night trips to the emergency room with students, bats in the stairwell, crazy haircutting sprees, Homecoming, incredible moments with God, callings to obedience (and I say amen to this post), Levi's new toddler room, working through student issues, football on the lawn.  The list goes on.

An intimidation haircut for Saturday's Cross Country race.
This year has really been one that stands out.  We predicted it, didn't we?  All because God did some incredible heart work in me this summer and has both Jason and myself at a place of being totally present in the here and now.  It could be likened to reading a really challenging book with rich, shaping chapters. And taking in every single word before moving on to the next one.  We are so thankful for the current chapter God's writing this year.  Just plum thankful.



And since we're talking about chapters, might we recommend a really amazing book?  =]

You can one order by clicking here.
Looking forward to sharing a sweet surprise from our current chapter soon...and a few more awesome book recommendations!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

India, Part II



While making Kolkata clear to me, he had simultaneously spoken to my friend.  She was sure he had spoken but uncertain of what he meant.  When I asked what he'd said to her I was astounded.

"He said, 'She's there.'"  And then she added, "But I don't know what he means.  What did he say to you?"

I blurted it out, chill bumps and all.  "He said Kolkata, India."  Then she repeated reverently, "And God said, 'She's there.' "  It was surreal finishing our talk sensing God was so near.

Days later when Jason and I went out for extended time to pray and process, I was already convinced we'd be signing papers that day to begin the adoption process.  But when we came away with confusion and a growing sense to wait, I was crushed.  How could all this happen and it not be time?

It was a rough few weeks in August and September.  But with October came clarity.  Our current house does not and cannot have enough bedrooms.  {Believe me, we've tried to finagle a third bedroom.}  And secondly, India has announced a temporary hold on new applications until the end of December.  God knew.  We didn't.  We simply had to trust his leading and specifically his leading of a very attentive, listening husband.  A precious husband who hated to tell me he sensed we were to wait and was heartbroken holding me as I cried myself to sleep some nights.

But I am realizing something so critical in this journey.  It's so obvious but has the deepest meaning when we have personally learned it.

This story belongs to him.

He has never existed to accomplish my purposes.  Adoption is not about me.  Repeat, it's not about me.  It is about his heart for belonging.  I exist to belong to him and obey his voice.  And as he blesses our family with children, it is for the purpose of wrapping them in our arms so we can then point them to his.

So now in November we hold our hands open before the giver of all good things refusing to clench our fists around things he has not yet given.  We pray for our daughter who will join our family and we absolutely believe God will open the next doors when he is ready to entrust us with his daughter.  It is hard to wait but so good to learn to truly trust and lose control.  This is, after all, his story.  A story of him asking his children to walk by faith.


May 6, 2011 
It's been two years and four months since God began to speak about India and a little less than that when I saw you in a dream.  I often wish I could speed up this process but a God-ordained story has to continually belong to him and stay in his timeline.  That's hard.  I wish I could find you now.  You are already a part of our family.  When I think of family pictures, I think of you.  When I go to family events, I miss you.  I am eager to teach you all the things a mom teaches a daughter and let you unpack the aching your heart has been through to let us help you carry the load.   
We will love you and cherish you.  And you will be safe here by God's protection.  We will give you all that we can and faithfully share with you the most valuable treasure we possess:  our relationship with God as a compassionate Father, loving Son and life-giving Spirit.  He is our hope, our purpose, our everything.  And we will share all about how we have come to know that he is the one, true God among all the world's others.  He is indeed wonderful and we want you to know of his deep, deep love for you. 
Tonight I have looked at adoption agencies, thought about how to expand our two bedroom apartment and added agency fees.  Right now it seems impossible.  But I have discovered the secret that with the one true God ALL things are possible.  Granted, sometimes there is waiting involved. 
I love you sweetheart.  Tonight I cannot listen to you or put my hands on you and pray or tuck you into bed so I have to settle for writing in this journal that you've never touched and praying prayers without knowing where you are or how to get to you.  I am praying tonight that the God who sees will tell you these things and begin to build anticipation and hope for you. 
We will keep listening for God's leading and we will follow him to you.  We are coming in his time and loving you more with each day.  How I am aching to bring you home and have a complete family picture.  Sweet girl, you have been set apart by God for our family and we believe, ultimately, his. 
Tonight, I am praying you home. 
Mom


  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Walking by Faith: Part 8



For many I've had the conversation across a phone line, in our school lobby, or across a table.  But the problem with this level of communication is that I cannot look across from where I sit or even make out one feature of your face.  So I request, we request, that you'd introduce yourself.  So we know as we share deep things from our heart with whom we've shared and who stands beside us in this faith walk waiting for our daughter of promise.


Since discovering the open door of India's new age requirement, God has graciously opened other doors too.  But in the midst of open doors, He continues to teach us the discipline always involved in adoption: waiting.  It's a process of aching, writhing, pouting, repenting and trusting.  Maybe we will learn in this process to skip the writhing and pouting and instead move immediately to trusting.  But these are lessons for us, and for me especially with my mother's heart.  We know God is good, all the time.  Belonging to him has taught us that we can always trust his heart.  The hard part is thriving in the present with him without begging for the promised future.


In May he told us to wait three more months.  So we waited, wrote, talked and decided to begin pursuing foster care.  But when we discovered our new eligibility in August everything stopped as we prayed.  We were uncertain of an agency to contact to ask questions.  But since God had revealed a specific child, we figured he would have to lead us to an agency.  A day after declaring that, He led.  The dream I had of our daughter included a long hallway unique with windows lining the right side and a door on the left.  Not until that day in August did I realize that a hallway at an orphan conference we attended looked just like the one from my dream.  God brought it to my mind and I immediately looked up the agencies from that conference, that were displayed in that very hall.  There among the list was an agency that had opened an India program during the summer while we were waiting.  And I sensed this was indeed the agency.  But Jason would surely be a harder one to convince.


I approached him late at night.  He was tired.  There was no way he'd want to hear about it this night.  But his eyes widened when I told him I had news and he too was impressed with the agency.  And then God showed us both special, personal things to sweetly confirm:  THIS IS THE ONE!


I could hardly contain my excitement.  The doors were opening.  This was happening!


When I sat to tell a friend about these new open doors, God completely interrupted my thoughts.  {He's most welcome to do that, for the record.}  But what he said perplexed me.  It was clear and almost visible:  Kolkata, India.  I stopped talking to my friend and sat silently to let the words sink in.  When she questioned why I'd stopped talking, I told her the truth.  "God just spoke to me."  I was shocked by her response.


To be continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Catching Up

We load pictures on our computer often and they sit there.  Not in books, not printed and not shared. Because when we get behind it's sometimes hard to figure out where to start to catch up.  Add a little one who loves to get into everything, lots of college students who stop by and one disorganized mama.  The results are good but undocumented times.

Today in an effort to catch up and stay there, here are some favorite photos from the last few weeks.
Michelle and Levi having an afternoon chat.
Learning about the adventures that await him when he's older
Grammy and Grampy
One of our few smiling pictures
Sheer joy
Jason's 28th birthday bash

An overnight trip to the mountains
Enjoying leaves with friends Daniel and Amanda.  (And Phil and Kath who aren't pictured.)
Our ride until it sells for a good price.  :)  We also still have our multi-purpose vehicle (i.e. van). ;)
Our little bear
Happy catching up to you too as you welcome the new month.  During November we'll also catch you up on something we've been quiet about for some time:  India.  We hope to start sharing this week!