Thursday, November 7, 2013

Update: What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Foster Placement - 11.7.2013

In my 9th month of pregnancy I was told the baby could come “any day now”.  With that sense of anticipation my priorities shifted.  I was urged to do as much reading and sleeping as I could because “once that baby comes….nothing will be the same again.”  Although I could only understand this warning in theory until I experienced it for myself, I tried to get everything done that I knew needed doing and would be exponentially harder after the baby arrived.  Prepping meals, organizing, reading, researching, keeping up with emails and phone calls…etc.  I can remember making sure there was never a dirty dish in the sink or a load of laundry left unattended, because I didn’t want to come home from the hospital to uncompleted chores.
And here I am now – a foster mom– no bulging belly, no swollen ankles, and no due date.  But, with the same sense of urgency I am striving to accomplish all the same tasks I did before my daughter was born.  Grocery shopping – because what if we get a placement and can’t make it to the store right away?  Organizing….because once we get a placement I want to be able to focus on them and their needs rather than hunting for matching socks.   Researching, reading, and keeping in touch….because we all know that’s going out the window when I have a hand to hold, a mouth to feed, or a baby to swaddle.  I know our world is about to be rocked and I’m trying to prepare while I still have time.  So, in some ways it feels very familiar. 

 And yet, in other ways, I know the parallel is not there at all.  When we were expecting our daughter…the due date came and went, but still we waited with eagerness to meet our little one, knowing her birth was inevitable and her presence in our lives was all part of God’s perfect design for our family. Relatives, friends, and coworkers all sent gifts, shared wisdom, and gave encouragement as they awaited the new addition.  They shared their hopes, willing to risk a committal love because she was going to be ours…and in a way…theirs.  We were all curious, excited, and hopeful.  We didn’t know when she was coming, but we knew she was coming from the safety of my womb, to the safety of my arms and she would stay forever. 
As we await a foster placement, our eagerness is bittersweet.  We’re ready, we’re waiting, we’re even excited to help…. But, we know that if we get a call, it is only because a family has been broken in some way, a child’s life has been disrupted, and God’s perfect design has been violated.  An arrival won’t mean the miracle of birth. It will mean a traumatic departing from the life they knew and a painful separation from loved ones.  This scenario is not natural, familiar, or a reason to celebrate.  So, as we hope for the phone to ring, we also hope it never will.
Because we know when we meet a placement for the first time we'll want to scoop them up and shout, “We’re so glad you’re finally here!”   But, instead I picture myself holding a terrified, frail little stranger and whispering, “I’m so sorry we had to meet under these circumstances.”
We pray for courage as we face these unknowns. We share updates and rally support, but we’re unsure about how much to ask of those around us, knowing we can’t stop our battle from soon becoming theirs.  Most of our friends and family are curious and hopeful for us, but cautious.  They aren’t sure what to give, what to say, or how to help, even when they desire to show their support.   They express fears and concerns with honest hearts and try to understand why we would risk the heartache.  This is reasonable.  Foster care is complicated and confusing…especially from the outside.  It doesn’t fit the mold.   When I stock up on baby bottles, onesies, crib sheets, and other supplies at garage sales and thrift shops, I get strange looks.  They stare at where my baby bump should be and ask cautiously, "Are you expecting?"  
YES.  I am.  I’m expecting a child to need a refuge. I’m expecting to be that safe place. I’m expecting to give everything I have during their stay. I’m expecting to say goodbye before I’m ready.  And I’m expecting the call will come “any day now”.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Foster Care, Adoption, Davion Only, and the Church

Warning: This post has been written from my soapbox.

Will the real body of Christ please stand up?  Will God's children please put down your hymnals, and live out the words you're singing: "Hast Thou, O Lord, a work to do?
Here am I, send me! The field is white, the lab’rers few, Here am I, send me."
Why do we, who claim loyalty to Christ, who preaches the gospel (the adoption of the lost and hopeless into the family of God through His sweet amazing grace), and who are supposed to be known for our love - lack the faith to open our home, our hearts, and our lives to the lost and helpless little souls who need us most?  Why does a 15 year old boy need to borrow a suit and tie and march into a church to advocate for his own needs?  Shame on us that the hurting need to come hunt us down in our pews and appeal to our guilt.  We are Christ's body - his earthly members.  We should be obedient, attentive, and seeking ways to minister one to another.
Yes, foster/adoption can be scary, intimidating, and complicated. But, perfect love casts out fear.  We find perfect love only in Christ.  We are to be His vessels - willing vessels. Willing to take risk, take action, and take on the burdens of others in obedience. When Peter told Jesus he loved Him, Christ challenged him to prove it with his actions. He commanded, "Then feed my sheep."  So, how shameful it is that we sit singing "O how I love Jesus" with nothing to show for it.  There is work to be done, church.  If we can't taken an orphan in, we should be praying for those who can. If we can't offer a bed, we should offer a meal, clothing, supplies, or encouragement to those who will.  We shouldn't wait until Davion Only comes strolling in to our congregation and begs for a home, for his own pillow, for someone to love him. 

I pray that the Lord will work through the publicity afforded this young man in his search for a family.  I pray that it will be an awakening in our sleeping churches - that we will rise in obedience and show our love for Christ in our care for others.
Please read this amazing testimony of an adoptee who has benefitted from Christ's healing power in the home of those willing to love:  Thirty

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Adoption Update: Going In To Battle - 10.9.2013

I know this journey with us has been a wild ride. We have tried to obey the Lord's call each time we've been asked to take a step in faith. You have all been so gracious to follow along with each change. Most recently Charlie and I described the risk in the term “legal risk”, assuring you that the hope of adoption would be worth it in the end. Now, two months out, our hearts have been turned again.  Not away from that risk as logic would dictate, but straight toward it - in faith.

Charlie has felt the draw to enter this spiritual battle for some time and in response to some news articles regarding the typical caliber of foster parents in some states, the quality of care offered these temporary orphans, and the brokenness of the system itself, Charlie finally declared “This is war. We need to foster.”

My heart took a little more tugging.  This past week I was led to Psalm 10:18: Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge (vindicate) the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress (terrify).”

My heart soared as I thought of our great God vindicating the fatherless and oppressed… I thought, Charlie is right – this is war! The enemy must be defeated! Send in the soldiers!  …But then I realized we were the soldiers.  I cowardly listed off as many excuses I could think of to disqualify us for battle.  Fostering is a deep, dark world. We’re not ready. We can’t do it. It’s too risky.  It’s too hearbreaking. Aren’t there other soldiers you can send?  I read Psalm 11 and hid behind David’s apprehension: “…how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.” See? It’s too dangerous.  It’s hopeless.

 As I struggled with the fear that came naturally and the faith that had failed, I glanced again at Psalm 11:1 and realized I had totally skipped the first line. The conviction came immediately: In the Lord I put my trust.” 

The Holy Spirit continued to work on my heart… until I turned from the fear….until I stood in faith...until I was ready to put on the armor and fight.  Tuesday night when Charlie got home from his FBI (Faith Bible Institute) class I shared with him how I had spent all evening in the Word and God had given me courage to face our new battle.  He looked surprised and said, “That is so weird. The whole time at class tonight I just had this feeling of peace, like we are ready for it now.” 

We meet with our caseworker on Thursday (the 17th) to open our home to foster placements.

To clarify the difference between our original license and this one….A foster home is to be ready for emergency placements upon need.  These children come in to care for refuge while the courts work out their home lives -for better or for worse. They need immediate care and comfort; some will arrive with only the clothes on their back. We see this is as an opportunity to teach Tessie the principles of Matthew 25:35-40 and purpose to share as much truth and love with them as we can while they remain in our care – whether that means 2 days or 2 years.

Letting go of the hope of forever and focusing on the need of today is bigger than we thought we would ever be ready for. It is something God has readied our hearts for bit by bit as we grew in courage and faith.  Tess is older now. She understands the process and has healthy expectations of potential loss. We believe she will gain great strength from the trials ahead as we all grow. Since her temporary siblings will all be younger than her, we are hoping that Tess’ calm nature and example will be a benefit to them as their hearts are healing. 

We ask for your prayers.  Please pray for victories, for resolve, for faith.  Pray that we always remember to put our trust in the Lord – no matter the circumstance, no matter the enemy.  We know our God is bigger than this system. We know as His soldiers, we don’t get to choose the battle we are called to.  We are simply to lay down our lives in obedience to the great Commander.

Our prayer for each child we care for will be for a miraculous restoration of their family and a healthy reunification.  We know this will mean heartbreak for us each time we have to say goodbye.  We are trusting the Lord to use each transition/loss to grow our faith and show us a little more about what it meant to give up His son for us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Adoption Update: Blessed Contentment - 8.23.2013

The news has had a little time to sink in now and we are still blessed with contentment.  God had prepared our hearts and trained us in faith to await his blessing in either direction.  We know these children need a home, a promise of care, a commitment without cowardice.  And despite our willingness, we were not the family chosen for them.  But, a family has been selected and we pray that they will enter into this work with a heart turned to God.  We wonder about God's will in the lives of these children...and what miracles still lay ahead on our own path. We know the Lord's work is not finished here and we look onward in faith.

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." -Philippians 4:11


*artwork by 13Pumpkins. Click here for shop info.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Adoption Update - Resting and Waiting - 8.9.2013

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." -Psalm 37:7

Wednesday we received our new license in the mail.  It was official. The doors were now open. So many doors. All the unknowns were too much to process. We thought of the children we were now licensed to care for.  Who will they be? What will the circumstances be? How long will they stay? Will God call us to adopt any of them? How will the Lord use us during this time? We determined to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
Our waiting was met with a surprise phone call the very next day. Our caseworker called to tell us she will be attending a selection meeting for us on August 22nd. Wow? Already? For who? The answer almost knocked me off my feet. 
...."The little boy and girl you spoke with the foster parents about...the adoption case."

God's will be done.




Monday, July 29, 2013

Adoption Update: Two Licenses, Hundreds of Possibilites -7.29.2013

We have just completed the final requirement for our dual foster license.  We are licensed for ages 0-4 years old and are still open to sibling groups.  We don’t know what God’s plan is for our family yet, but we are now ready for adoption or fostering – or both!  We are trying to prepare our hearts  for all the possibilities.  A quick overview of the two licenses:
Adopt Only (an adoption placement):

The children will come in to our care as “legal orphans” after months (or years) of protective placement. Their parent’s rights will have been terminated and they’ll be labeled ‘wards of the state of Texas’.

We will sign confidentiality agreements to keep case information private.  We will not be able to share much about the children’s case history or other personal information.

We will not know the age, ethnicity, gender, or number of siblings expected to join us until we are selected and matched with the children by an advocate committee. 
The children will come in to our home with a clear plan of adoption and we will joyfully commit to being their “forever family” before placement begins.

The children will live with us for 6 months (a supervised probationary period) before we can apply for finalization (official adoption).

Once the adoption is finalized, the children are legally “ours” just as our bio-daughter is legally ours. Case closed.


Foster-to-Adopt (a legal risk placement):

One or both of the children’s birth parents still have legal rights; however the court has determined that it is “likely” they will eventually lose those rights due to past circumstances or continued negligence. 

The children will have been in protective custody for a few months before becoming “legal risk” and we will be selected and matched with them just like in an adoption placement.

The children will enter our home with a hope of eventually being adopted, but mostly for the security of a consistent home environment while they wait out the legal process.

We will not know the age, ethnicity, gender, or number of siblings expected to join us until a few weeks before we meet them .  We will not know if they are going to leave our care until very shortly before it is time for transition.

During their time with us their case information will be confidential. We will not be able to distribute photographs of the children’s faces or give out other private information.

The children will probably call us Mommy and Daddy because our bio-daughter does.  According to the caseworker, this is good, healthy, and not a life-long promise of care as we (adults) see it.

If the children’s parents are able to work through rehabilitation programs or if other family members complete a home study and are willing to take the children in to their care, we will be responsible for helping the children transition out of our home and in to their new environment. 

If the children become ‘available’ (their parent’s rights are terminated or relinquished and no other family member steps up) we will proceed with adoption.  There is no expected timeline in place.  The courts have been known to make decisions in weeks, months, and years with equal frequency. 
Not knowing if the children will be with us for 6 months or 16 years sounds emotionally excruciating, but God has given us peace, and more importantly the clarity to understand that no relationship in our life is guaranteed for any length of time. Our life is but a vapor and all we have is each day, as the Lord allows.  And as He brings the day, He brings the grace to face it.  So, bring on the possibilities!
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." - Philippians 4:13


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Adoption Update: Beautifully Timed - 7.24.2013

“Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage. And He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” –Psalm 27:14

We have completed 18 hours of mandatory classes in the last 6 days.  We are on track to get our Legal risk license by the end of the month.  Last night we attended our final course.  The class  was full of foster parents, some seasoned (27 years) and some newbies (3 months)..and us(just a week away).  We all introduced ourselves and listened attentively to the instructor for 2 ½ hours. The other students shared stories of experience from their many placements. My husband and I listened, knowing we were entering this strange new world of foster parenting and only God could give us the grace to succeed. Our caseworker happened to be the assigned “monitor”, so she sat quietly at a side table organizing completion certificates for everyone.   When the class concluded everyone made a mad dash for the door, except the couple next to us. To our surprise, they approached us as we gathered our things and said, “You are waiting for children to adopt?”  We nodded.  Then they said, “We have two children in our care that are going up for adoption.  Their caseworker should be sending out a broadcast any day, probably this week or next.”  My husband asked, “How old are they?” while I stood helplessly confused.  The wife pulled her phone out and scanned across a few pictures to show us, “She is 3 and he is 2.”  My husband beamed at me and said, “Perfect!” I still stood frozen trying to process everything.  I managed to ask, in confusion, “Their parent’s rights have been terminated?”  She nodded and said, “Yes, last month. That’s why they are up for adoption.”  Oh…duh. I glanced at their picture briefly and smiled.    I was still confused.  We were there to get a legal risk license.  We had all but given up on straight-adoption cases.  What was God doing in all this?  We were helpless to do anything because everything goes through the caseworkers anyway. Oh! Our caseworker! “That’s our caseworker right there!” I blurted out enthusiastically.  She said, “Okay, well tell your caseworker that the kids should be broadcast within the next week or two so she can submit your homestudy.”  My husband and I both nodded obediently.

She told us the children’s names, birthdays, temperaments, and how loved they are.  I finally asked, “Why aren’t you adopting them?”  They both laughed and the husband said, “We’re too old!  We’re worn out.”  The wife added, “They are really good kids, they have been wonderful, but we just can’t commit long term to them.  They’re too young and we’re too old.”   My husband listened with a huge grin.  We chatted a little longer and then waved goodbye. We approached our caseworker awkwardly as she packed her briefcase to leave.  “Um….those people said they have two children….for adoption.  The parent’s rights have been terminated and they should be broadcast next week or something.”  She said, “Oh, okay. I’ll keep an eye out.”  

On the drive home, my husband and I mulled over our “chance meeting”.  How weird that they approached us like that.  Do you think those are really the children God has for us?  Well, then what would the legal risk license be for?  More kids?  I guess if we would have never come to this class, we wouldn’t have met that couple.  It just seems to good to be true. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what comes of it. If God has chosen them for us, He will work it out.

The next morning I emailed our caseworker all the info (names, ages, location) we had received the night before from the children’s foster parents, so she would be prepared to recognize them when they came through on a broadcast in the next week or so.  I was a little nervous that she might miss them and wondered if we should have exchanged names and numbers with those foster parents (which I was too busy looking dumbfounded to do).  I pondered it all again and again, finally asking God for clarity.

I received a phone call an hour later from our caseworker: “Hey, I wanted to talk to you about those kids you told me about last night.  Their broadcast already went through last week.”  I sighed, disappointedly.   Then she continued, “but, I actually thought they would be so perfect for you, I submitted your home study for them last Thursday.”  “WHAT?  You’re kidding me!” 

“No, I just saw them and thought they were so perfect for y’all I didn’t even call you to ask. I just submitted for you. In fact, I ran in to the caseworker yesterday and she said they hadn’t made a decision to narrow down for the top 3 yet, but you were still being considered. I guess they received a lot of home studies, so it is taking a while to go through them all. I told her to keep you in mind.” 

God’s irony is always beautifully timed.  Even if we are not selected for this sibling group, this was surely not wasted on us. We will continue in His work.  We were told to wait on the Lord, so we did. We were told to be of good courage, and we were.  He promised to strengthen our hearts, and He did.  And so, we are commanded again, to wait on the Lord, so we will.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Adoption Update - Faith Means Getting In - 7.15.2013

When asked for the definition of faith recently, my husband was given several vivid illustrations of what it means to really “believe”.  It was through this revelation that the Lord drew him unto true salvation.  One of the examples of true, biblical, active faith was described to him in this anecdote:

Picture a circus tent, with thousands in the stands watching a high wire act.  The wire is stretched across two towers 50ft in the air.  The performer climbs one of the towers and rallies the crowd, “Raise your hand if you believe I can walk across this wire without falling.”  Everyone in the audience raised their hand.  The performer takes a few steps across the wire and covers his eyes dramatically challenging, “Raise your hand if you believe I can walk across it blindfolded.”  The crowd cheers and raises their hands again.  The performer then carts a wheelbarrow up the tower stairs and says, “Raise your hand if you believe I can walk across the wire blindfolded while pushing this wheelbarrow.”  The crowd cheers again, raising their hands and shouting, “You can do it! We believe in you!”  Then, the performer looks out in to the audience and asks, “Who’s willing to get in the wheelbarrow?”

In the book of Hebrews, faith is described as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  In other words, we have to believe God’s promises enough to take action, enough to sacrifice, or enough to get in the wheelbarrow.

I love how God works…always in the details, and yet with a greater plan than we can even imagine.  Last month when the 4-page list of this season’s Foster Parent Training classes came in I folded it up and set it aside (rather than throwing it out immediately like I did the last 5 times we received it over the last 2 years), with no purpose (of my own) at all. 

Last week, when our caseworker came for our annual fire inspection, she hardly stepped foot in the door before laying out the same proposition she had suggested on her visit a month ago…and the time before that.  “I’d really like to change your license to legal risk.”  Every time before this I had recoiled at the thought, I had stood firm and refused.  “We can’t do that to Tessie.  We can’t handle that emotionally.  We can’t take that risk. We want adoption only…”

But, this time when she suggested it, I had found my heart softened to the idea.  I listened to her reasoning and asked a lot of questions.  She said we would need three additional classes and then she could change it over and get working on a placement right away.  She asked me to talk it over with my husband and get back to her on Monday.  When I presented it to Charlie he was surprisingly receptive to it and said he would seek God’s will in the matter and give me a solid answer by Monday morning.  Sunday we had unexpected visitors at church. They had travelled over 50 miles to come to the service, had a large beautiful family...and 5 adopted children.  The parents were gracious enough to answer every question I bombarded them with during our brief lunch visit.  One of the first things they advocated was opening our home to legal risk or foster-to-adopt.  I knew God had brought them in to our life at this exact moment for encouragement and comfort.  Their experience was invaluable.  I couldn’t wait to tell my husband all the new information.  But, before I was able to relay any of the counsel I had received from our new God-given mentors, Charlie turned to me in the midst of a busy family gathering that afternoon and said, “We have to do the legal risk. It’s what God wants.”    Yay!!! And yikes!!  Although the Lord has taken us on many surprising twists during our journey, we had stayed in the “safe zone”. Our trust was still in the system.  A “straight adoption” meant no risk –the birth parent’s rights have been terminated and the children are legal orphans.   An LR Placement means it is “likely” that the parent’s rights will be terminated (hopefully soon), but there are no guarantees.  They will place the children in our home with the intent to adopt, but family members can still come forward to “claim” the children until finalization (which is another unknown).    God has given us a surprising sense of peace about this and we have come to understand that there are no guarantees in life…and any hope of one (adoption safe zone) is just an illusion anyway.   We understand the risk.  We could get “attatched” to children, and they could go “home”.  We could get our heart broken in a “loss”.  We could get our hopes up and be disappointed.  We could also help to heal hurting hearts.    We could provide safety and consistency to those who have never known it.  We could die to self and give love unconditionally.  We could share God’s word.  We could teach our daughter to give, obey, and love without any expectation of reward.  We could trust whole-heartedly in God’s plan and God’s provision.  And we could bring glory to Him through this test of faith.

We believe the Lord has asked us to “get in the wheelbarrow” as we pursue a legal risk license.  He has not revealed what His plan is in this yet, but only that He is asking us to do it in faith.   We know that Charlie's faith is new and my faith is small, but we're want to see mountains moved for God's glory, so we're getting in.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” –Hebrews 11:1


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Adoption Update: A Season of Silence - 7.10.2013

Sometimes God answers prayer with silence.  Days, weeks, months of "inaction".  During these times we ask, "Where are you, God? What are you doing? Why aren't you answering my prayers?"  We were just there, asking, "Where are the children You have for us Lord? Are they ready for us?" And God's answer was, "You're not ready for them."
It has been unusually silent during this season of waiting. No phone calls, emails, or visits from the caseworker. Just silence.  And now I know why. Now I know, without a doubt, that God's hand has been our covering during this time...In His infinite wisdom, He has carved out these moments in our journey, to divert our path, to put it all on hold, and to save my husband's soul (Read His Testimony Here). 
And now we're truly ready to move forward, united in Christ, empowered by the Spirit, and faithfully waiting for God to bring the rest of our family together.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Adoption Update: Periods and Question Marks – 6.17.2013

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it – psalm 127:1

We heard a sermon yesterday about how the devil puts question marks where God has put periods.  He emphasized how Satan tried it with Eve in the garden: “Yea, hath God said…?” When I heard that I thought, He just tried that on us last week!  Just a few days from when we took our stand in faith, the serpent came slithering in with two tempting sibling groups and asked, “hath God really said under school age?”  Both groups had children over the age limit. We didn’t have peace about either one. But, they were there…and available…and we struggled. But, by God’s grace we were able to lean on His truth and resist what we ultimately saw as temptation.  In His strength, we stood firm, “God hath said under school age. Period.

And hardly 3 days later…we received a phone call from our caseworker (yes, this has been the most activity we have seen during our whole 16 months of waiting) reporting that she had heard from the caseworker of one of the groups we had rejected last week (the third temptation in 5 days). She said the caseworker announced that we had been selected (as 1 of 3 candidates) for that sibling group (ages 3, 4, 5……and 10).  Our caseworker reminded her that we were no longer interested (because of the age breech we discussed last week) and the caseworker insisted, “please, won’t you participate in the selection meeting on Wednesday?  We are very interested in your family for this group.”  So, our caseworker called us to see where we stood. 

We have been selected? They are very interested in us? The opportunity we shakily turned down last week was suddenly a little more appealing. The stakes had been raised.  We had been moved even closer to the prize.  Tantalized by the lust of the flesh, like Eve fondling a ripened fruit, we wavered.  And the question marks rolled….. “Is God opening a door that we tried to close? Is He trying to tell us we’re not on the right path?  Is this His will for us?  Did He really mean under school age? Yea, hath God said…?”

A song we sing in our Bible Study class played in my mind as I knelt down to beg for clarity and peace:

Fret not, He’s watching over you
Fret not, His love will see you through
Fret not, He’ll help you pass the test
Commit and trust…delight and rest.

That’s what was missing….rest.  We had no peace. Only questions and doubts.  Knowing God is not the author of confusion; he ultimately revealed impatience, faithlessness, and fear at the root of these questions.  I know God is teaching me to find peace in His periods. Wait on the Lord…period. Delight in the Lord…period. Rest in the Lord…period.  My nature is unstable, but His commands are absolute.   I am learning now to turn to those commands in the face of doubt.  The Lord is always faithful and, once again, He helped us pass the test.  He provided the strength for us to face our fear (that we will accidently miss God’s will) and guided us by the hand as we walked away (again) from a very tempting opportunity.  So, we carry on down this narrow path….a little stronger, and yet so aware of our dependency on God’s merciful hand.  Our heart is strengthened and we are determined to trust that the Lord will be faithful in what He has called us to. We know that God is faithful. Period.  He has called us to adoption. Period.  He will build our house. Period.

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Adoption Update - A Tempting Fork on a Narrow Road - 6.13.2013

For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are yet, with without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16

Making a declaration of faith is always a war cry.  But, never have I seen such a swift response as the temptation delivered this morning.  We had just determined to take God at his word. To commit to a path, to walk a narrow road, to trust in His will.  Then, we received a phone call from our caseworker. She had a question about a sibling group we had inquired on before God gave us such a pointed direction.  It is always thrilling to have a prospect, any prospect (and the devil knows that).  My flesh jumped ahead of my spirit and I immediately justified the parameter breach in my mind: “I know God just showed us that He was going to point us toward younger children, but…”  “Maybe God was just testing us….maybe He wasn’t really meaning under school age…maybe not all the children….maybe…maybe….HELP!

I called my husband to update him on the open opportunity and we both hit our knees, he in his office and I at the living room sofa.  Are we to continue on the path we were so sure He set us on?  Or are we to take this fork?  Which way, Lord?  I begged for confidence, for peace, and for confirmation.

My prayers were answered through a phone call from my sister. She immediately sensed my hesitation.  She identified fear, temptation, and a desperation that was understandable, but still faithless.  I knew she was right.  She delivered a rebuke that encompassed a year’s worth of doubts.  It was high time those were cleared out anyway.  When I spoke again with my husband we each shared our thoughts.  We agreed that if we were to pursue this group it would be out of fear rather than faith and we were ashamed to have considered it.

And as sure as we had claimed a victory, we received another call from our caseworker. Another sibling group. Another temptation. This one even more alluring than the first. What a wicked game the devil played with us. And yet, I’m glad. I feel my faith was strengthened, not only in resisting, but also in seeing the great escape the Lord leaves for us.  How sweet to find grace to help in time of need.  We are going to carry on down the narrow road. May God get the glory.

God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. -1 Corinthians 10:13


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Adoption Update – Commit Thy Way Unto the Lord – 6.12.2013

-Psalm 37:3-4

After dinner a few nights ago our daughter carefully ushered my husband to the couch with a sly smile.  He knew she wanted to watch the homesteading dvd we had been saving, but she had been told not to ask about it.  So, instead, in the nature of the serpent himself, she said, "Are you going to go sit on the couch, Daddy? I think that's a good idea."  After he retired to the living room, she hunted down the tv controllers and asked, "Do you need these, Daddy?"  He answered, "No, I don't think I need those."  She then placed them on the arm of the chair beside him and said, "Well, I'll just put them right here...even though we're not doing anything...just in case."  The blatant manipulation was shocking and truly truly wicked. 

When we first began this adoption pursuit, our faith was shamefully small.  We weren’t sure what to believe in, but our own zeal.  We eagerly “left our options open”, giving God a nice wide range of ages, genders, group sizes, and states to choose from.  Our caseworker introduced herself, talked with our daughter for 5 minutes, then made an immediate judgment, “I’m going to find you a small sibling group…young children…under school age…”. My husband and I were taken aback by her precision.  We quickly argued, “Oh no, we’ll take any age, any gender…we’ll take singles, large sibling groups… any combination of children… we’ll go to any state to get them...we just don’t know what God has for us!”  We thought we were acting in faith by submitting to the unknown. Noble, I suppose, but foolish just the same.  When friends and family suggested a narrow focus, we insisted that we wanted to be open to anything.  When we felt a tugging in a certain direction, we saw it as clashing with our idealistic desire to be dead to a personal preference.  We were determined to be available for God’s will, no matter what it was, “just in case” that’s what He wanted for us. We were enthusiastic, but aimless.  When we felt a no, we returned it with a, "okay, but I'll just put these kids right here next to you...just in case." And with all eagerness to avoid our own will, we followed a selfish desire nonetheless…a desire to “be ready for everything”…without allowing God to prepare us for anything.  And He let us flounder in that for a while.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and how foolish and shameful it seems now to think God would need a “just in case”. How wicked we were to think God needed our intrusive suggestions. How clever the devil was to use fear to fuel our directionless approach.  We didn’t want to open any doors or peek down any corridors God hadn’t sanctioned, and so we buzzed in circles until the lesson was learned.  We had no business trying to add extra lanes on this highway, we were to follow the Lord's way.  We were commanded to "Commit thy way". Which way, Lord?  Please show us which way, and we will commit. Give us a desire, a direction, and we will go, show us the way and we will trust in You.

For 16 months we insisted on trusting in a god who we were sure would keep us on our toes, come out of left field, or drop a surprise in our lap, rather than a God who promises to lovingly lead us by the hand. How patient our Lord is with our foolishness. How sinful it was to have an evil heart of unbelief, to think God needed our suggestions, our assumptions, our plans. And yet, in His mercy, he has taken this time of waiting and wandering to reveal His true character and show us what submission really looks like.  How plainly we see it now. Did the Lord tell Noah, "Start building an ark... but be ready just in case you are to lead a people through the wilderness, endure imprisonment, suffer a martyr's death, face Goliath, spend some time in the belly of a fish, lead a battle, face a famine, or rule as king?  No. He told Noah to build a boat...and the Lord filled it.

So, when the world expects us to broaden are parameters, God has called us to narrow our aim. He has changed our hearts and directed our path.  Our Mighty Father has taken our enthusiasm and given us a new and entirely unexpected desire:  a small sibling group –young children -under school age -in Texas.  We stand in awe at the boldness expected of us.  We know it is a very small target…only a Wondrous God can hit.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Adoption Update - Tying a Knot and Hanging On – 6.3.2013

We received a card yesterday from our pastor’s wife that had this quote from Franklin Roosevelt on the front cove: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”  

As friends and family join us on this roller coaster of hope and disappointment, we receive words of encouragement, empathy, and support with each announcement.  “Think positive!”, “Stay strong!”, “Don’t give up!”, and “It will all work out!”.  But, when my heart was heaviest (last week) these vain promises just pulled me deeper down.  I yielded to a desperation fueled by fear.  I looked to my husband for strength, but he was as angry and hopeless as I was.  We had lost sight of God.  We were looking to the process, the works of men, to logic, and to our own strength. And when the devil had just about convinced us to walk away, we opened an email from my newly saved sister-in-law.  She did not try to sympathize. She did not try to coax us in to a false hope. She did not promise that it will all work out. She simple wrote:

"Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage. And He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” –Psalm 27:14

God is not One for subtlety.  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword.  It surely felt like I had been struck as I read that verse over and over.  “Wait on me” (not negotiable).  “Be of good courage” (I know you’ve seen a lot of disappointment- do it anyway).  “I will strengthen your heart” (That is a promise) “Wait, I say” (in case you thought it was a suggestion) “ on Me”.

I felt the power in this verse.  It was a command and we were to obey. But strangely, I found peace in that.  I said, “Yes, Lord.” and hid it in my heart. My daughter and I quoted it daily, sometimes hourly when needed over the next week. My husband and I sought council from godly friends and family as we prayed for a renewed hope in this process.  Right now, we’re living on faith. We have all these empty beds and no prospects to fill them. We’re at the end of our rope.  But, Psalm 27:14 is our knot.  We have nothing else to cling to but the promise of God, so we’re hanging on.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Adoption Update - Just Keep Gleaning - 5.21.2013


By sight, that sibling group seemed perfect. By sight, they seemed so near.  And yet, by faith we carry on.  Just keep gleaning, gleaning, gleaning...


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Adoption Update: Letting Patience Have Her Perfect Work and Finding Sweet Peace - 5.15.2013


But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. – James 1:4

It has been more than a month since we have officially yielded and handed this adoption back in to the Lord’s Mighty hands.  Our submission is in the form of trusting alone on the actions of God…even with the resources at our fingertips.  The temptation has come in tiresome waves, but the Lord has provided strength. I don’t know His will for all adoptions, but I know He has called us to this test of patience and we have grown mightily under the pressure.  He has especially worked a miracle in me and I have never known such peace amidst such unknowns. 

Our pastor preached on the story of Ruth this past Sunday. I am visual person, so as he retold this well-known story, I clearly saw a picture painted: A lowly outsider, dependent on mercy alone, diligently gleaning in the field, probably crawling at times, or at least hunched over and focused on the task at hand.  And I saw a benevolent Lord who instructed his reapers to walk before her and leave handfuls along the path.  I suddenly saw Ruth as a picture of a believer and Boaz as our merciful Father.  She was steadfast and focused on God’s will….and the path before her was purposely strewn with the mercy and benevolence of God.  And yet, if Ruth had been impatient, distractible, or stubborn, if she would have held her head high, peeking over the other rows and hopping from field to field, she would have missed the blessings the Lord had laid in her path.  She instead, worked steadily along in humility, following on one path as she was instructed, until she came upon a generous handful, and another, and another.  This picture was a game changer for me. 

Faith means keeping my eyes focused on Him until I stumble over the blessings underfoot?  God has used this adoption to grow our family (spiritually) more than I could have ever imagined.  I have TRIED (by my own strength) to focus on the process rather than the product, the journey rather than the destination, but nothing has ever made it so clear to me than this picture of Ruth.  I am to glean for my daily bread. I am to follow a narrow path. I am to be grateful for the day’s gathering. And I am to expect (by faith) that there will be blessings poured out along my path, with no concern to what or where they are.

I can’t help singing “just keep gleaning…just keep gleaning, gleaning, gleaning” (to the tune of the fish in Finding Nemo’s “just keep swimming”) every time I feel the devil’s presence, a twinge of fear or doubt. The Lord has given me this gracious clarity to keep me on the path, knowing He has set a handful before me and only if I am steadfast and continue in faith, will I find it there.  The commitment God has expected of me all this time is finally clear.  This is what it means to rejoice in tribulation. This is what it means to let patience have her perfect work.

When I am not singing goofy parodies to resist temptation, the words of this hymn rest on my heart, bringing constant conviction and truth:

You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His Word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.

O we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.

Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made,
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Adoption Update - Dancing in the Rain - 4.28.2013

We got 6 inches of rain in less than 3 hours yesterday.  Our curbs swelled with rushing water,  and the rain continued to pound against the windows.  As I watched the time pass and the lightening flash,  I thought of an encouraging note I received from a woman (much wiser than I) at our church.  The inside of the sweet little handmade card read:  “Life (adoption) is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it is about learning to dance in the rain.”

We have been waiting for a break in my husband’s work schedule for a long time. The long hours were wearing on our family and giving me little confidence in our ability to take on a great transition like adoption without my husband’s calm, reassuring presence to stabilize us all. As the Lord has been teaching me about prayer over the last few weeks, I have been seeking His will in everything and His mercy even more. He had given us grace to "weather the storm" thus far and I was learning to accept His comfort and trust His timing.  But, when our daughter casually said, "I miss Daddy." for the first time on Tuesday morning I was heartbroken. I went to the Lord for mercy, asking for a schedule change, for a break for my weary husband, for our daughter's daddy back.  When I got a suspiciously early phone call that afternoon from my husband announcing he was on his way home, I asked why.   He said he met with his boss that morning and she "randomly" told him to work fewer hours, to leave early for family time, and to take breaks when he can. AMEN.

With that answered prayer in mind, my confidence grew tremendously. I thought, “Maybe we should start looking now.”  After “losing” the last sibling group we decided that my heart can’t take much more of the ups and downs. I’m weak and my heart aches for each profile picture burned in my memory, each rejection, each unknown.  We determined to take a break, to not to be actively involved in the adoption process unless we were contacted.  My husband and I agreed not to pursue anything (a 180 degree turn from the hourly inquiries and daily disappointments) and put it in God's hands and just wait for a phone call from our caseworker. After two weeks of shocking restraint on my part (I know two weeks doesn't seem like a long time, but when you have been living in a house with 4 empty beds for over a year....the days seem a little longer than usual), we still heard nothing and my resolve was starting to waiver. In my weakness (and self-will) I went online to begin the search.  I hesitated and thought I should check my email first for some reason.  And there was the mercy of God… in a perfectly timed email from a recruiter with the program.   I stared at the email, feeling God's hand on my shoulder, and bowing my head in shame.  Why do I think God needs help? Why do I believe I need to be involved at all? This is His plan, His story.  I opened the email and read about a sweet sibling group in Texas looking for an in-state placement.  I read their profiles and saw their picture and thought, “God, why did you show me their picture? These have to be our kids or you wouldn’t have shown me their picture. You know my heart is weak.”  I dropped to my knees in desperate prayer and remained there until my pleas turned to praises.  Two girls and one boy…their needs suited so perfectly to our home, our skills, our hopes.  I inquired in confidence, tucking their picture away in my heart. But, I know this could just be another bend in the road.

 I know our Lord is good when He opens doors and just as good when He closes them.  He has given me a peace (that passeth all understanding) about this possibility.  And really, the more I see the path behind us, the more eager I am to see what is around the next corner.  I am learning  to lean on the mercies of God and invest in the power of prayer.  I really feel strengthened for this next leg of the journey, whether it be finally meeting our new blessings or continuing to wait on God.  The Lord has replaced my anxiety with anticipation and my fear with fascination. Since I know that all things work together for the good of them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose, I can’t help but wait eagerly for the big reveal.  And although my impatient heart desires to see this storm (waiting) pass, I am ever grateful for the dance lessons we are getting on the way.

May God get all the Glory.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Adoption Update: A Confession of Humility - 4.19.2013

First of all, let me officially announce that we were NOT selected for the children mentioned in the last posting. We found out April why the delay in the update?
A confession: Although I thought I was prepared for that possibility, because of the circumstances (the reason given for not choosing our family) I had a really hard time dealing with the reality. I was so confident that it was the Lord's will that I had broadcast my hope to all who would hear. When it didn't pan out like I had planned, I wondered why the Lord didn't "follow through". I was in a state of defiant hope for about a week, thinking "God could still give those kids to us if He wanted to. He could still get the glory." I knew that wasn't logical. I knew God knew better than me. But, I was deeply discouraged and I didn't know why....
until I sang the 25th Psalm in my Bible Study class.

Unto Thee, O Lord do I lift up my soul
O my God I trust in Thee

Let me not be ashamed
Let not my enemies triumph over me

Yea let none that wait on Thee be ashamed
Yea let none that wait on Thee be ashamed

....I was ashamed. I had limited God's reach to the here and now. I had limited God's power to what I could dream up. I had put my faith in an expectation, a time frame, a hope of a happy ending. And I was ashamed to be back in the position of waiting on God. "Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed." How weak we are. How utterly foolish in our flesh. I had tumbled into bitterness before I could process it all. Another triumph for my enemy. And the devil is no gentlemen, never hesitating to kick us while we're down.  So, God found me battered by self-pity and fear when He came to me with Psalm 25. He found me ashamed and lacking a week of rejoicing in my life. He found me to show me His glory is not in fulfilling our expectations, but in restoring our soul.  How sweet it is to know we can always come to our Father for restoration, to restore the years lost to locusts...and the weeks lost to spiritual defeat. So, I am up again. I have been strengthened by this fall and I'm back on the fighting side. The glory of God was revealed through humility in my life. And I am restored.... Trusting again. Lifting up my soul. And shamelessly waiting.

"Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies." -Psalm 25: 1-10


Monday, April 15, 2013

A Sustainable Home Garden - God's Way

I just watched an AMAZING documentary describing God's creation and His plan for sustainability in the home garden. What a blessing!
Here is the link:


Friday, April 5, 2013

Adoption Update: An Unexpected U-turn 4.4.2013

We were so sure we had found the kids God had chosen for us.  They were the right age, the right genders, the right temperaments…they were even in our city!  We didn't even know what they looked like, but we were ready to call them ours. Out of 60 families, we were chosen to be one of the 5 possible candidates…but, we didn’t make the last cut.   Our caseworker endearingly scolded the children’s caseworker for “missing out on the best family ever” and called us to break the bad news.  I was disappointed, but I had a feeling like it just wasn’t over yet. Although the door was obviously closed, I was sure there was a window waiting to be opened.  So, I didn’t delete their info like I did the others, I stowed it away, waiting for God’s big miracle...looking back a little as we sped forward once again. 

Forward in to the unknown, waiting for a landmark, rest stop, or road sign.  And as it had so many times before, the waiting turned to doubt (I am a slow learner, I know). And in my weakness, I reverted back to my desperate searches online, hunting for “the right” kids, or even the “close enough, let’s just get this over with” kids (shameful, I know), inquiring on as many as possible to “turn the odds in our favor” (faithless, I know). We even extended the age range to accommodate children way out of our comfort zone...and even our time zone. 
 Then, last night I went to bed regretting all the inquiries we submitted and I prayed, “God, I’m doing it again. I’m back to trying to do everything on my own. I’m being Sarah…trying to find an Ishmael when I should be waiting for an Isaac. I’m sorry. We don’t want any of those kids we inquired on. We want the ones you have for us…sight unseen….just bring them to us.” 

And as if to remind us that His grace is sufficient (and He's still navigating), we got a phone call from our caseworker this morning.  She said, “Well, your prayers must really be working.  Remember the two little kids that we thought were definitely going to be yours….but you weren’t selected for?  One of the families dropped out…and y’all are back in the running. The selection meeting is next Tuesday (the 9th).”

So, this is an update on our winding journey.  An unexpected U-turn back toward hope. But, more importantly it is a plea for your prayers.  There are two little children waiting for a family.   Our caseworker and the caseworkers for two other families will meet with a committee of advocates for the children next Tuesday to determine who that family will be.  We want God to get the glory.

His will be done.
"And the LORD shall guide thee continually..." -Isaiah 58:11