Friday, December 31, 2010

Counting Blessings

As I am getting ready to take down my wall calendar in the kitchen and put up a new one (yes, I still use a wall calendar), I thought I would look back on the year and try to write something special that happened each month of the year... so, here goes...

January - We had lunch with Chip K (from Thebandwithnoname). I know this won't mean a lot to some of you... but it is a band from the UK that my kids LOVE!! Somehow Jon hooked up with Chip and they wanted to get together to talk about music in missions, possibilities and all that kind of stuff. Unfortunately the band is no longer together, but Ty and Devon loved meeting Chip!

February - Ty competed in his first Middle School Science Olympiad. This is a county wide competition that the kids train and study hard for.

March - I was able to travel back to California for my Grandma's 90th birthday party. I also got bumped up to first class for the first time! Thanks God!

April - Our family took a week's vacation on the gulf coast of Florida. We had our own Easter service sitting on a dock in the bay! Jon and I also celebrated 17 years of marriage!

May - School is out for the summer! (this is always a blessing at our house!)

June - My brother Rob and his family along with my parents came out to visit us for a week. We had fun showing them around and hanging out! Also, Ty turned 12!

July - We got to add 3 more countries to our been to list! Spain, Morocco and Italy! Great prayer trip that we got to take as a family! Also, Jon turned 38!

August - Devon turned 10 and started his first football season! He is a natural!

September - I turned 38! I also started a new job at Compass Dance Academy... such a blessing in my life! Jon and I (along with the boys) decide to pursue an international adoption!

October - I learn how I truly can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

November - A visit from Jon's parents! We are surrounded with friends and family for Thanksgiving... such a blessing!

December - A quiet Christmas.

We are so thankful for all that God has done for us, and hopefully through us this past year. This is just a small portion of the blessings that we have seen, there is no way to list them all! It is always good to stop and count your blessings... as the old song says "name them one by one! Count your many blessing see what God has done!" God is so good, I can't wait to see what He has in store for us next year! Happy New Year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mary's Reflections...

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-20

Her body lay sapped of strength, her eyes were heavily closed,but her mind refused to give way to rest. She ached for her mother. She wondered if she yet believed her. She heard the labored breathing of the man sleeping a few feet from her. Only months before, he was little more than a stranger to her. She knew only what she had been told and what she could read in occasional shy glances. She had been told he was a good man. In the last days, she knew he was far more than a good man. No man, no matter how kind, could have done what he had done. She wondered how long it had been since he had really rested.

A calf only a few days old awakened hungry and could not find its mother. The stir awakened the baby who, too, squirmed to find His mother. Scarcely before she could move her tender frame toward the manger, He began to wail. She scooped Him in her arms, her long hair draping His face and she quietly slipped out of the gate. She sat down and leaned against the outside of the stable, propped the baby on her small lap, and taking a strip of linen and tying back her hair, she began to stare into His tiny face. She had not yet seen Him in the light.

She had never seen the moon so bright. The night was nearly as light as the day. Only hours old, his chin quivered - not from the cold - but from the sudden exposure of birth. His eyes were shaped like almonds and were as black as the deepest well. She held Him tightly and quietly hummed a song she had learned as a child. She had been so frightened of this moment. So sure she would not know what to do. She had never held an infant so small. And He was God, wrapped in soft, infant flesh. With bones so fragile she felt like He could break. She had pictured this moment so many times. What would the Son of the Spirit look like? She never expected Him to look so normal. So common. Must have been the part He inherited from his mother. She was so sure she'd feel terribly awkward. So afraid she'd drop Him. The Messiah. And God would be awfully sorry He had given Him to her. Instead, every fear, every doubt, every inadequacy was momentarily caught up in the indescribable rapture of a mother's affection.

She remembered asking Elizabeth things she dared not ask her doubting mother. Once when they were walking together at the end of the day, the wind blew her cousin's robes against her and, like a curious teenager, Mary tried her hardest to catch a good glimpse of Elizabeth's rounded middle. She, herself, had no physical evidence that God's promise was true but she had enough faith to ask endless questions. "What am I to do when He comes?" Her cousin's reply would remain etched upon Mary's heart long after He had saved the world. "He will tell you what He needs from you. Beyond what He needs, all He wants is for you to embrace Him and talk to Him." She looked back in His delicate face and watched Him closely as He seemed stare deeply into the moonlit sky. And she began to talk. "Sweet baby boy, do you know who Your Daddy is? Do you know Your name? Do you know why You're here? What do you see when You look out there? Can you see the stars? Do you remember their names? Do you think I'll do okay? Will You love me, too?"

A tear dropped from her chin to His. He yawned and made such a funny expression, she grinned, wiping her face on the yellowed rags she had draped around Him. The fussing calf had obviously found its mother. Not a sound was coming from inside the stable. The earth stilled. The infant slept. She held the babe next to her face and, for just a moment, all the world silenced to the breath of God. She closed her eyes and listened, stealing time like a hidden metronome. As high and as wide as she dared to think, she still could not begin to comprehend. She, a common child of the most humble means, who had never read the Scriptures for herself, was embracing the Incarnate Word. The fullness of the Godhead rested in her inexperienced arms, sleeping to the rhythm of her heart. This time she hummed a song she did not know. A song being sung by the choir of angels hovering over her head but hidden from her carnal senses. The deafening hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts were silent to mortal ears except through the sounds of a young woman's voice who had unknowingly given human notes to a holy score. The glory of God filled the earth. Heaven hammered a bridge. But one young woman sat completely unaware of all that swelled the atmosphere around her. A tiny baby boy had robbed her heart. "So this is what it feels like to be a mother," she mused. She crept back into the stable, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger. Just down the path, the sun peaked gently over the roof of an inn full of barren souls who had made Him no room.

© 2000 Beth Moore

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Drowning in a sea of paperwork...

I really want to keep you all updated on this adoption process... but right now I don't really know what to write about. We have started our home study, and are trying to get through the mountains of paperwork that need to be done. I think there are at least 3 background checks that we need to get through. We cleared the background check here in our county, and have mailed our fingerprints off to the FBI (this will take 10-12 weeks to get back), and we still need to go get fingerprinted for the State of Georgia. It is nice to know that these will all come back clean (at least they better!)! We had our first meeting with our home study agent, and will meet again after Christmas. Along with everything that needs to get done for the home study, our adoption agency has sent us a binder full of information to read! Good thing I will have the next few weeks off of work, so I will be able to get through it!

People keep asking me if I know how old our child will be. We have requested a child that is 0 -3 years old. Last week when I really started thinking about it, I had a bit of a panic attack. If we get a 3 year old, that means she is alive right now. Knowing the conditions of orphanages and government run facilities in this area of the world has my "mother's" heart worried. I just want her home with us. Most facilities have no heat, and it gets really cold during winter. It has definitely brought me to my knees in prayer. God keep her safe and warm, protect her heart, body and mind. Guard her eyes in what she sees, guard her ears in what she hears. Let her know that she is already loved and wanted. I know in my last blog I mentioned that we weren't guaranteed a girl at this point (which has been another subject I have brought up with God lots!), but I keep hearing God ask if I am going to trust Him. Yes, Lord, I do... I know you will bring the child that is right for our family. Deep down in my heart, I still believe it will be a girl. The other day, someone left a beautiful quilt on our doorstep (if you are reading this, thank you!), we don't know who it was... but it is so perfect! Pinks and brown, flowery, polka dots and stripes. I love it! I am hoping God told someone else it was a girl, and was prompted to buy it for us. I guess time will tell.

Anyway, that is all I can update you on for now. I will try to keep posting as we go along in this process. Now, Jon and I have to do another hour of the 10 hour online class that is required for adoption!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Are you ready for this?

 "Adoption is a perfect picture of what God has done for each of us in making us His children through Christ." Steven Curtis Chapman

Our family is on yet another journey... one unlike any we have attempted before! We feel God is leading us to adopt a daughter from Kazakhstan. I wanted to get my thoughts and the pre-journey written down here for you to read... and to process it myself and see how God is moving.

4 years ago, I had a dream of a little Asian girl who was a part of our family. This might not seem strange to some, but I don't usually remember anything in my dreams, nothing... so when I do, I usually take it that it is from God. I don't know why that is, just something I feel.  Anyway, I felt like God was telling me we were to adopt a daughter. I always wanted a daughter, but God blessed us with 2 boys. Ty and Devon are the best, and I can't imagine our family without them, but for years I felt like we needed a daughter. I had prayed for God to take that desire away from me many times (Jon and I decided to only have 2 children). I wanted to be satisfied with what God had given me, but the desire wouldn't go away. So, after this dream I brought the idea up with Jon and it was pretty much rejected immediately. I was frustrated with thinking that this was from God and Jon not getting the same message as me! Why would God tell one of us this and not the other? Maybe it was just a dream... I couldn't shake it, and continued to pray that God would let Jon in on the plan as well! This went on for another 2 years, me praying and not really saying anything to Jon about it. Then one day it came up again. Jon was a bit more open to the idea. I felt like God was telling me to be patient and to continue praying. I have to admit the past few years, I hadn't prayed with as much passion about the whole thing. I think I was protecting myself from disappointment. And let's face it... we are closer to 40 than we were years earlier when this was all started. Did I really want to start all over with more kids? Deep down in my heart the answer to that is yes, of course I would start over, if that is what God had planned for us.

So, fast forward to 2010. The idea and conversation has been brought up again. Jon is actually pretty open to the idea, but we still don't move on it. Fear maybe?  Let me also mention that in the past year we have had a family move in next door that has an adopted son from Ethiopia. Getting to know them, the desire has really been stirred up again. I found out the agency they used and got on their web site and got an application package sent to us. When it came, I just put it away and never opened it! Also, sometime in this year I read an article on how adoption should be considered spiritual warfare... that the enemy doesn't want these kids to be in families. That shook me up as well. Then, at the end of August, Ty and Devon decided to move into one bedroom (totally unprompted by me!). Jon made the comment, "well, now we have one less thing in the way of us adopting."  Looking back now I see how God is putting pieces of the puzzle together for us, preparing us. Then it happened: on Sept. 9, 2010, Jon came home from an OM prayer meeting where they showed a video that toward the end had some orphan statistics from around the world. And God spoke to him, telling him we need to adopt. He came home and told me that (as I was walking out the door to go to my job!) and I was FLOORED!!!!!! Finally, we were both officially on the same page!!!! 4 years in the making, but it was going to happen!  I think I cried all the way to work! That night I pulled out the application and we stated filling it out and going through it. We knew it would be an Asian country. Both of us have a heart for Central Asia. But, we knew there was no way we could adopt from China with our current income status.  We mailed the application, pictures of us, the boys and our house on Sept. 21, 2010.  Much to our delight we were accepted into the Kazakhstan program just a few short days later.  November  29, 2010 we mailed our adoption agency contracts and home study contract. We had a slight delay in getting all this filled out, and notarized with Jon out of the country for 5 weeks, but we have to believe that God's timing is perfect!

Kazakhstan is currently not accepting new paperwork while they join the Hague Convention (which regulates adoption laws and helps prevent corruption). They are supposed to start accepting paperwork again in March, which gives us plenty of time to get our home study done and paperwork in order. If you think about it, please pray for us to be able to request a girl! In the past you were not able to give a gender request. But, again, we are trusting God to pick out the perfect child for our family (and I am not painting the bedroom just yet!) This whole process should take about a year... please pray that it goes smoothly and quickly!  Please also pray for us as we start looking and applying for different grants to help with the costs of bringing home our daughter!