Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hope: Adoption Story pt. 9

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 

This year has been one of significant challenges physically, spiritually, and emotionally which makes everything difficult.  Everything feels like a chore.  I am not sure that I would have made it without a couple of my friends constantly reminding me of their prayers for me even in my darkest days.  The texts with Scripture and prayers gave me hope in a dry time.  It reminded me of our church's (Candies Creek Church, www.candiescreekchurch.com) byline:  River of Hope for a Thirsty Land.  I was feeling thirsty, and the body of Christ brought me water.  Hope is a powerful thing when discouraged.

The adoption front has been very dry.  Some times we will have several opportunities that arise where babies may be adoptable in a matter of weeks, but this year has been VERY dry.  We have considered using another agency, but the amount of paperwork, time, energy that takes to apply to any agency is a bit overwhelming when you are discouraged.

This morning I was reading from Brennan Manning's Souvenirs of Solitude.  [I so enjoy Brennan Manning's writings.  If you have never read anything by him, I highly encourage you to read something.  Some of my favorites are: The Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba's Child, and Ruthless Trust.]  I was feeling beat down spiritually, and he reminded me God's love of Israel, and their continued lack of trust in Him.  I read Psalm 105 in conjunction with Manning's book, and read how God fought hard for His people.  He loved them so much that He not only rescued His people, He destroyed those who fought against them.  God loves us that much too!  He sent His only son to leave Heaven to become a lowly human for 33 years, and then killed Him, so that we could spend eternity with Him.  I want a child so much, and to think that God loved me so much that He killed His one and only child to show me how much He loved me . . . There are no words . . . only humble gratefulness.

Overall, as I look back, Miles health has had some slight improvement.  Our house is beginning to see some changes as he is sometimes able to work on it.  When you live with chronic illness, it is very discouraging. We added Cali (an adopted Chocolate Havanese off a kill list in Los Angeles) to our family.  I had some wonderful friends who were very encouraging to me.  I have a job that I love, even when it was very stressful.  God provided much more than we anticipated with the adoption fundraising.  I was hoping for $2000 on our 2nd auction, and God brought in $2448, plus 2 donations totaling $2250.  One of those donations was from a total stranger who gave us $2000!!  Who does all of that?  God does.  In the dark days of hopelessness, we can't see the big picture, which is why a new year often brings hope.  We tend to look back on the big picture for a few minutes.  When I do that this year, I am hopeful as the new year approaches.

As a new year begins tomorrow, I will probably begin the paperwork for a more expensive adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services.  It is one of the more used agencies, so they get more babies than the one we are using.  I stayed away because of the expense, but now we are only $5000 shy of what we need for that agency. Silly me for not having faith in a God Who is so Big!  Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for us and support us in so many ways.  You are part of the way that God brings hope in our lives.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Adoption Journey pt 8: Waiting is AWFUL!!!

*** Warning:  This blog is not uplifting and inspiring.  It also may not be very easy to follow, as I have a lot of emotions and thoughts going through my head and heart.***

I have been thinking about my blog a bit over the last several months, and I keep avoiding it.  I am in this awful period of the adoption process that everyone dreads.  No one wants to hear my whining.  Many never have to go through it, but many do, which is why I am taking the risk of appearing to be whining.  May you never have to go through this . . .

It has been months since we have had any calls about a possible child situation.  In some ways, I'm glad, as the emotional roller coaster isn't as stressful. However, not hearing anything gets really old, really fast.

Over the last 2 years, I have rejoiced with those who rejoice because they have gotten pregnant or have been able to adopt, and I have wept with those who miscarry or an adoption opportunity falls through.  I have spent the last 12 years learning to handle it when people get pregnant, and I can honestly rejoice with them now.  Then I had to learn how to rejoice with those who are able to adopt children, as I sit back and wait.  The hardest ones for me at this point are the ones who have been in the process less time than we have, and get a child . . . just like it was hard to get used to people getting pregnant who weren't married or who got pregnant quickly.

[SIDE NOTE:  One of those things that I have had to learn over the course of my life is to learn that everyone's pain is real and we all need encouragement . . . even if their pain seems ridiculous to you because you have been enduring the same pain twice as long as they have or their pain doesn't seem as painful as yours.  We are all at different points in our lives,  Everyone's pain is unique.  God is leading all of us on a journey towards Him, and the lesson He is trying to teach me, may not be the same lesson that He is trying to teach someone else.  God is sovereign.  God is love.  He is for us.]


I often wonder if God is trying to tell us that we weren't ever meant to have children in our home, and I still wonder that some days.  Yet, God has brought in over $10,000 on this journey.  It could cost us up to $30,000, and to have God provide all of this money at this point is humbling.

A few weeks ago, I bought this hand painted wooden sign from someone's fundraising auction that I don't even know who is adopting a precious baby girl from China. It sits on the dresser in an empty room waiting to be a nursery.  If He doesn't bring a child into our home, it is going to be an awesome gift for someone else.  In the mean time, it reminds me to pray for God's will for our lives.

Our friends have been so supportive, and we are so grateful for the friends that have rallied around us, encouraged us, and asked about the process.  I'm really grateful for friends who continue to ask, even though nothing is happening.  I'm grateful for the friends who continue to share their joys of pregnancy and adoption with us, in spite of where we are.  It is hard to know how to handle people in this situation, and I for one am grateful that our friends haven't hidden their joys and trials from us.

I'm sorry that this blog isn't all exciting and encouraging, but I decided that I needed to be raw.  You got raw . . . Now you know how to pray for us.  Prayer is what we need more than anything else at this point.  We are eternally grateful for your prayers.  

We are going to have another facebook auction over Black Friday in late November, and we pray that God will continue to bring the funds in. If you want to be a part of the fundraising auction by donating items or services, or if you just want to be added to the auction so you can bid, let me know.  I will be sure that you get added.

As always, you can donate to our gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/gr2e5s.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Christians: Don't be lazy; Get to work!

This year has been a difficult for Christians in the United States.  We feel as if we are under attack, and we are.  It isn't about us though; it is about God.  The world hates Him, and when you follow Him, they will hate you too.
Matthew 10:22, "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved."  
John 15:19: "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

Satan's attack on the US has been subtle, but with each passing year, it becomes more and more obvious.  I remember thinking, "I think I'll just move to China.  I loved my time there."  Then I remembered that as attacked as we feel in the US, the attack there is much harsher.  Why is it different here? Because I am home.  Home is supposed to be comfortable.  When I go to China (or any other country), I go with a purpose.  When I am in the US, I am home.  As I was processing this, God said to me, "Liz, this world is not your home."  I shouldn't be living in a lazy fashion as I have been doing because this is not my home.  I am here for a purpose, and I need to fulfill it.  I can't get lazy because there is work to be done.  I cannot fear; I need to be strong and get to work. 
Haggai 2:4: "But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ [Governor] declares the Lord, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, [Religious leaders] and all you people of the land [All of us] take courage,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the Lord of hosts." [explanations mine]

So no need to worry.  Be strong.  Keep your eyes on things above.  Be about the work that God has called us to.  Go and make disciples . . . The nations are coming to us, and that includes the United States of America. 


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Exhaustion

I'm tired.
  
I'm tired physically.  I didn't sleep well last night.  I have worked all summer with no real break.  I have been working on the house this summer.  I am taking care of alot of things that I shouldn't have to take care of.  

I'm tired socially.  I'm an introvert, and when an introvert is tired, social interaction is exhausting.  I have done a ton of social interaction this summer with work.  Lots of "being on" (my introvert friends will get this). The things going on in our nation over the last 6 months have been exhausting. 

I'm tired mentally.  I have been teaching online most of the summer, and some questions that I get blow my brain . . . really?  Did you read anything I wrote? Then the facebook arguments over social issues, and the talking heads on television that I refuse to listen to anymore.

I'm tired emotionally.  My husband's health has been poor, and that is very wearing on both of us.  For some reason, I want to add a child to this caretaking role, and we just keep waiting with no news of anykind.  The waiting . . . for the treatment to help my husband's symptoms or for a phone call from the adoption agency or for our home renovations to be completed or . . . the list is endless.  We need to raise funds for adoption, but I am completely spent on everything else going on.  

I'm tired spiritually.  All of this exhaustion plays a role spiritually . . . or maybe it started with this one.  The things going on in our nation are a direct attack from Satan.  God has turned us over to our depraved minds (Romans 1:26), and I just cry out "Lord Jesus, come quickly". There is little hope of it getting better, though I know that if God wants to, at any point it could be better.  I'm not trying to be negative here, but have you read Romans 1?  I'm not even just talking about the Supreme court decision.  I'm talking about Bruce Jenner, Planned Parenthood, TV advertisements & shows, etc.  And what am I most exhausted about?  Christians responding poorly to these events.  

I feel like we are living in a Sodom & Gomorrah time where Lot asked God to spare the cities for just a few righteous people.  Some days, I just want to say, "God just destroy us all, and come quickly."  The world continues to get worse and worse.  I know people have been saying this for years, but this year has really been heavy.  And an election year is coming up . . . ugh.  Commence bickering, mudslinging, negative, negative, negative. 

I realize that my blog has been very negative and heavy until right now, but I want to take a turn here.  We can't fall prey to the negativity.  We must not grow weary in doing well (Galatians 6:9).  Read Galatians 6:9 in its context.

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:7-10.

I especially like the wording here "God CANNOT be mocked." We will reap what we sow. There are consequences. We are already reaping what has been sown which leaves us in this very dark place in our society. I often want to bury my head in the sand, and just continue to pray "Lord Jesus, come quickly" (and I do pray this).  However, He calls us to not be weary in doing good.  He calls us to fight.  

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:10-17

What does it tell us to do? Be strong.  Put on God's FULL armor:  Pray, be in the word, live righteously, revisit the gospel, spread the gospel, have faith, rest in His truth.  STAND FIRM.  

What does it not tell me to do?  Judge people in sin.  Sinners will sin . . . hence their name.  I shouldn't be shocked; I should take them to our Savior in prayer.  I can't hold people or a nation to a standard that I personally have chosen for my life.  I can fight for them in this war against Satan, and may I remind you of his eternal destiny.  

GOD WINS!! 

Satan knows his time is running out, so he is amping up the attack.  We need to amp up the attack and fight this spiritual war in prayer, the gospel, faith, truth.  Stay in the Word . . . and remember GOD WINS!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Adoption Journey, part 7: God is Sovereign & Merciful

So yesterday we had our first interview with the birth parents of twins.  It was nerve-wracking, but my wonderful husband who handles nerves so much better than I calmed me quickly in the interview.  I stumbled around at first . . . What do you say to a couple who knows that the best thing for their babies is to give them to another couple?  I'm humbled that they are considering us.  I respect them highly for making that kind of decision.

The couple was extremely level-headed, and it really was impressive to watch.  It wasn't your typical scenario.  They both had full time jobs, and they were 26 & 30 years of age.  They just are in a tough financial spot at the moment.   I can't imagine what kind of guts it took for them to come to this kind of decision.

We built great rapport with them.  We enjoyed our time with them.  We were ourselves because we aren't going to fake it and try to be who they want us to be.  We wanted to be real.  We wanted to show them love.  We could tell the father in particular needed alot of affirmation, and we both gave that to him.  We tried to show them the love of Christ.

When we left, we felt like it went so well that we were both a little excited.  I was trying to contain my immediate desire to plan.

We were almost home, when my phone rang with that familiar number.  I answered, and she said, "You did a great job in the interview, but they chose the other couple."  She was a little surprised since we had done such a good job at building rapport with them, but she guessed that the thing that had them choose the other couple was that the lady had been a nanny for 10 years.  I wanted to scream . . . "I've been caring for children since I was 10!  I've been an aunt since I was 5!  I should have told them that!  I knew it wouldn't matter at this point, just accept it and move on Liz."

disappointmentI was so disappointed, and yet so glad that we hadn't even gotten home yet.  I was ready to start planning, and yet knew I was going to have to refrain from doing so until we knew for sure.  I cried . . . tears of sadness and relief.  We were really unsure if twins were a good idea for us at this point in our lives, and I prayed specifically that God would have them choose the other couple if He didn't want us to have them.  God is so faithful and merciful.  He made the answer ABUNDANTLY clear, and He did it very quickly.

So many people have encouraged me to blog through this experience, and the response to my blogging and facebook posts has been overwhelming.  People have been encouraged by my postings and blogging, and we, in return, have been extremely encouraged by comments and prayers.

Pain is real.  It is part of life.  God grows us through each event in life.  The prayers of the Body helped me grow tremendously in trust this past week.  It helped prepare me for the answer of "They chose the other couple."

We know that there will be other opportunities, and whether we are chosen as the parents of these children or not . . . we know that God is sovereign.  When you have TRUTH like that to hold on to, life becomes much more bearable.

We chose to be very open about this process knowing that disappointment (and having to communicate that) is difficult.  We have watched so many couples struggle through this process in silence, and so we wanted to do this openly.  We hope that even in our struggle and disappointment that many will be encouraged.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Adoption Journey, part 6: Watching God's sovereignty in the waiting

So we have been waiting for about 4 months for a baby.  The first few months were a little easier because I was busy at work, but once the summer started, I began to get a little more antsy.  I had read a book about a lady's experience with adoption called Peace in the Process by Kristin Hill. I was looking for ways to get ready without buying actual baby items.  So I purchased some kid friendly decor for the bathroom that the child would be using at Target, and made a plan to remove the wallpaper and paint this weekend.  

We were going to need a new car, so we did some shopping.  We did not want a car payment, because we haven't had one in years, but we knew we were going to have to bite the bullet because a car seat would not fit in my little Saturn.  Well after some research and shopping, we found a car (the one I had been eyeing for 2 years), and we found a good deal.  So we bought a new car on Monday, and by Wednesday, I had sold my faithful little Saturn, to a dear friend who has already been through the adoption process.  She left to go get a check, and in the thirty minutes while she was gone, my phone rang.  It was the adoption agency.  They never call me.  This must be the call . . .  my heart and mind started racing, Is this it?  Is this what I've been waiting for?  Or is it just something else?

When I said hello, I realized it was our caseworker, and she was happy.  She said that Miles & I and another couple had been selected by a birth couple to be interviewed as potential parents of their baby.  The caseworker said, "Are you interested?"  AM I INTERESTED!!?!?!?  YES!!!  She laughed and said, "There is one more thing you might want to know before you say yes."  I gulped.  Is the baby sick?  She said, "They are having twins."  I'm not sure what really happened next.  I almost dropped the phone.  I was completely overwhelmed.  Can we handle twins?  Is this a good idea? What should I do? I heard myself saying, "Yes, but let me call my husband first to be certain he is on the same page."  I asked how far along the mother was, and she said, "Well . . . she is scheduled to have a C-section on June 19."  Uh . . . that is 3 weeks away.  I told her I would call her back after I spoke with Miles.  When I called Miles, I told him everything I knew except the fact that the mother was having twins.  I said, "You should probably sit down.  There is one more thing that she told me.  She is having twins."  Miles' response was, "Well . . . I figured we would probably adopt more than one anyway!"   I called her back, and told her we were up for this, and she said she would call me in the morning with the interview time.

Who knew God would have the perfect car, at a good price, and my car would sell so quickly to a dear friend who knows this process oh so well.  She and her husband show back up at my house with the check, and I tell them about my phone call.  It was so nice to have them here just after the call came.  I had 4 people inquiring about that car, but God knew I needed her.  They prayed with me because I was completely overwhelmed.  One was going to be adjustment enough, but two?

Please pray with us as we have our interview with this couple on Wednesday.   Pray that the couple would choose the other couple if we aren't to have these children.  Pray for this couple, the other couple being interviewed, us, and those two babies . . . a boy and a girl.  Pray for wisdom and strength for all involved.  This is going to be an emotional and stressful process regardless of the outcome, but we are in awe of God's sovereignty!




Saturday, March 21, 2015

Adoption Journey, part 5: The Unexpected Part of the Process

So as we prepared ourselves for adopting we knew a lot of things because we talked to a lot of people who had been through the process.  So we expected the ridiculous amount of paperwork, the excessive amounts of money, the birth mothers changing their minds, and the unbearable amount of time that many adoptive parents wait until they are paired with a child.  So I prepared myself when I found out that a birth mother was considering putting her child up for adoption.  I did everything I could to not get excited, not think about what it would be like, not ask if the child was a boy or a girl, black, white, red, yellow, green, healthy, drug addicted, or when they were due because it was not yet my child.  I have no right to do that to that baby, birth mother, or us.  That is a lot of unnecessary emotional stress on everyone.  I have been doing copious amounts of paperwork for grants.  I haven't put a nursery together, though we do have a room set aside for the nursery, because the child may be a day old, or 9 months old, or 3 years old . . . they have very different needs.  So I have protected my heart to not have any of those things.

The part that did surprise me however was the number of children (of all ages) that people are bringing to my attention.  In the last approximately 7 weeks of being approved to be adoptive parents, 4 serious options (two newborns and two children under age 4) have been brought to our attention, and countless other options.  I was thinking these would come one at a time and with months in between them.  I knew there were a lot of children out there in bad situations, but I was surprised at how many would find us.  It makes the waiting a little better because it seems that at any moment, someone could call us and say, "This child is for you."

We are affirmed by so many people that they think we would be good parents.  We are grateful to God for giving us such good friends that want this for us as well as putting us in places where these children are surfacing.

I have no idea when a child will be for us. There is always the small fear in the back of my mind that God wants us to endure this process to learn something, but there will never be a child. I always try to push that aside, but no one ever knows for sure.  Only God knows for sure, and I need to trust that whatever He has for us is best.  In the meantime, it doesn't feel like God is doing that.  The little details that we see frequently, make us think that there will be a child, and it may not be as long as we thought.