Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two Gifts.

We've been a little busy with jumping into K's adoption, but I have a little something I want to share with you. When we started our adoption journey to bring Samuel and Joseph home, we anticipated Samuel, we received Vaylo. 

What do I mean by that? We chose Samuel. We knew (in our tiny, little human minds) that he would fit nicely into our active, busy lifestyle. He would surely have a blast at soccer practices and tournaments, he would enjoy Sunday School and all the playmates he'd have there. If God was asking us to take this journey and bring home a little boy with a little something "extra," then, Samuel filled the bill for our family. We knew we could handle him and he'd be a nice "fit" for us. We were right. He is and does fit well into our active lifestyle, exactly as we anticipated.

Vaylo was a gift from God to our family. We weren't looking on the "older" child page. We weren't looking for a 7 year old, who is non-verbal, doesn't walk, shows signs of autism, and lights up our whole entire world. We received Vaylo, because that's how you get a gift. We were willing to go where God said to go. I've shared with you before how I wanted to hit the door running when they first handed me Vaylo. I'm so thankful that God calmed my fears. He knew. 

We couldn't see it. This child wouldn't "fit" as easily, would he? Was it possible that he was just what we needed? The reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. The very child who would keep our hearts soft to the call of God. Eli recently commented on how when Vaylo smiles you HAVE to smile back. You really don't have a choice. What I think he understands in his 9 year old mind is that if Vaylo can smile through all life has handed him, then, really what does he have to be sad about. Our boy really does light up our world. 

So, what does life look like at three months home with our two newest sons? Surprisingly, it looks a lot the same as it did before. We're still doing most of the same things, we've always done. Our one exception is church. We've not quite figured out how to navigate church, but other than that, we're trucking along as usual. We've also added in quite a few doctors' visits, but it's not as bad as I expected. Honestly, we're almost finished with those and then, the boys will just be seen as needed, like Eli and Julie. Yes, things are harder to do with four kids than with two, but there is more JOY and laughter in our house than ever before, from the gift we anticipated and from the gift we received. 

Are your hands open to receive whatever gift God wants to send your way? Will you let Him delight your heart and light up your world with a gift fitly given? He knows the desires of your heart and how to fill the secret places. There are children who are waiting to stretch you, to broaden your horizons. Are they worth it? Well, we're heading back for another, so I'd say that speaks volumes on where we stand.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy


Monday, August 27, 2012

Halfway There!

Tonight, we received a very generous gift. Did you see the ticker? I had to squeeze in a 1 in front of the $105! That's right! $1,000 closer to our goal. Always from the most unexpected of places, a single Dad, doing what he CAN to make a difference for our girl. He gets it. He understands that our daughter is waiting on the other side of the ocean. He believes that she's important and that no matter what the world says, she has value.

I know, it was a sacrifice. We're humbled by the gift, by the choice to help our family. His gift didn't go unnoticed. We are so very thankful for this gift and for every gift that is given. They humble us and they reaffirm our mission. God has called us to this task. Where He guides, He provides. We're resting in the knowing that He is weaving new, brilliant threads into the tapestry of our daughter's life and ours.

If you're here, it's not by accident. God is probably asking you to do something! Whether it's to pray, advocate, support or adopt your own treasure from the other side of the ocean. Will you yield to His will for your life? It takes each of us saying, "Yes" to whatever He asks to accomplish His purposes. They're waiting for us to DO SOMETHING!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reflections

My view of the world, life and our plans for the future have changed so much in the past few years. Remembering where we've come from and how we arrived at this moment in time is important. The Bible is full of stories of remembrance that build our faith. So looking back over our own lives and seeing the hand of God at work encourages our faith.

My own love for orphans began many years ago, as a teenager on the mission field. I started going on summer missions at around 15 years old. At 17 years old, I found myself in a South African Hospital, holding a baby whose Mother had abandoned him at the hospital. He was very sick, but I could tell by the weight of him, that before becoming sick, he was a treasured child. Clearly, his family had been able to provide for him. However, once he became sick, they had no choice but to leave him there. If he survived, the workers said the family still might not come back for him, because they wouldn't be able to pay his medical bills. So, he lay sick and possibly dying in hospital bed, alone. Not because no one loved him, but because real people were making life and death decisions about caring for their entire family versus one child. It wrecked my heart and from then on I was never the same.

The orphan crisis had come to live in my heart. I did what I could. I prayed. A month after I had my encounter with that precious baby boy. Marty was on the mission field in Central America, experiencing first hand what it was like to be born into a place where you may never have enough. God was uniting our hearts for a mission. Marty and I gave, we taught our children, we sponsored a child through Compassion. We dreamed about "one day" becoming adoptive parents. The seed had been planted and was taking root in our lives. God was preparing us to say, "Yes" when the time came. We didn't see it, then, but like all of life reflecting back, it was the clear hand of God.

We had grown complacent and while we were doing all the "right" things, according to the people around us. We had left our first love. Did you hear me? We were attending church, tithing, serving, teaching our children the Word, but we were not living our faith out in a meaningful, purposeful way. We began to struggle and to search. We had an urgency in our Spirits to find our way back. We knew something was off and that something needed to change, we just weren't sure. We began to search the Scriptures and realized we had bought "lock, stock and barrel" into the lie of prosperity teaching. We had looked away from the bloody cross of Christ and the scripture that tells us to share in His glory, we must first share in His suffering. If that's what the word says, then how did we decide that God wanted to "bless and prosper" us while others around the world (people we had met and ministered to, served alongside, people who so passionately loved Jesus) were not prospering. Man, God really began to shake away the sandy foundation.

Around the same time, He began to show us the orphan crisis, again. As friends traveled to Africa, my heart was torn. Did He want us to go? Could we go? Marty said, "No." He really didn't feel like God was leading us in that direction. So, we waited and prayed and then, I read a blog post. No really, I read a blog post that would change our lives forever. I read the story of a girl who had Down Syndrome and was about to be transferred to a mental institution where she may or may not survive the year. Thankfully, God had prepped our hearts. The children and I spent hours pouring over the faces on Reece's Rainbow, reading blog posts and sharing with Marty what we were learning. It took Marty two weeks to go from "No way" to all in, because God was clearly saying, "Go!"

We have two beautiful sons, today, because God planted and grew a seed in our hearts. We had no hesitation in committing to bring our daughter home, because we are, now, firmly planted on the "Yes" side of life. Yes, God, we will go. Yes, God, we will love. Yes, God, we will walk through the open doors and have open hands to receive whatever blessing you have for us. The Word says that children are a blessing. How many of us are rejecting blessings, while we chase after the world?

They need us, Church! The orphan crisis is our greatest opportunity to be Jesus here on earth. To see God's Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. If you're not a part of ministering to the least of these in some way, you are missing out on a blessing.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fundraisers In Progress!


We have two fundraisers happening, right now, and it occurred to me that I didn't tell all of you. That's a fundraising FAIL. I'm going to try to make it right.

I hope you have facebook, because that's where both of these are happening. First, a wonderful friend and fellow adoptive Mom, offered to do an Origami Owl Fundraiser for us. If you're not familiar with Origami Owl and their Living Lockets, you are missing out! Here are some examples of Lockets that people have created from our party.



You choose the locket and then, fill it with charms from the website to tell your story. I love this! What a wonderful way to share our testimony. You know, people are going to ask about your beautiful necklace and if you fill it with your blessings, then, you're testifying to God's faithfulness every time you share your story!

Our other fundraiser, just started, yesterday and it's already over $400! I'd say that's a success, but really don't want you all to miss out on the fun! It's a Facebook Auction to Bring "K" Home. There are lots of fun items up for grabs and you'll be helping to bring our girl home. The Auction ends on Sept. 2nd, 2012, so be sure to keep watch. Feel free to invite your friends, too. Here are some items you'll find on the auction page


.Go ahead and have a look! I know, you don't need incentives to give and if you want to just make a donation, the chip-in is always open. (Still not tax-deductible) These are events are a lot of fun, too. It's nice to be able to help and pick-up something you need or a gift for a friend, at the same time. Thanks for looking and continuing to pray that God will bless our efforts to bring our girl home.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Refocusing

This week has been emotional for me. When we committed to bringing "K" home, there was a whirlwind of initial paperwork and fundraising that HAD to happen. Now, the dust has settled and the hard work of getting her home has begun. I've always attempted to be honest here, so here goes. My "flesh" does not want to be doing this. I want the end reward of having "K" home, but not the effort and sacrifice that comes along the way. How pathetic is that?

It is. I know, it is. I keep reminding myself and Marty as I whine about paperwork, phone calls and fundraising, that this is NOT about me. It is a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to serve as parents to our precious children, to answer the call to care for the orphans. I'm praying for my JOY to be restored and my focus to be renewed. When I'm having days or weeks like this, there's only one place I know to go for help.

I open up my Word to Hebrews 12:1-3 and I find these words...

Do you see what this means-all the pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running-and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sin. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls. 

So many have walked and are walking harder paths, than I am. God called our family to a simple task of loving children. Loving children is one of the easiest things God could ask of us. If the love of Christ is on the inside of us, then we love. Then, I turn my thoughts to the cross of Christ, to the ugly, dirty, blood-filled place where Jesus died for me and I am saddened by my lack of perseverance. I am unworthy, but I serve a God who has made me worthy. If I want to share in His resurrection power, I must, first and foremost, be willing to share in his suffering. Let's be real, the paperwork, fundraising, phone calls are really not a hardship, nothing compared to the cross. So, I press on with my eyes focused on Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.

If you hear me whine, please, correct me. My girl is worth the effort and I want to be joyful in my efforts to do this Kingdom work. I need only to reset my focus on the life and cross of Jesus and then, I can press onward toward my goal.

It is a privilege to serve!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Provision!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video of Vaylo in his borrowed Gait Trainer. It's a therapy tool, used to help children, who need to learn how to walk.

video

Some friends, immediately asked how much it would cost for him to have his own Gait Trainer. I told them around $800, but after doing some more research realized it would cost more like $1500. We all began to pray for God's divine provision for our boy. Meanwhile, the therapy center has allowed him to continue to use theirs.

Marty hasn't wanted him to rock the pink Gait Trainer in public, so we've mostly used it around the house or at our family farm. We've been praying about the expense of purchasing one, for what we hope will be the brief amount of time he needs it. Anyway, you all know where this story is heading, we had our But God moment this weekend. I was at an event with some friends, promoting Reece's Rainbow and another Mom said, "Do you still need a Gait Trainer?" Why, yes, we do. She just happens to have one in her storage building from when her daughter was younger and needed it.

I'm thinking...YAY, God! It's probably pink, but who am I to complain when God barrels his way through a $1500 mountain. Well, it gets better. It's not pink, it's green and tan. The family that's giving it to us, used to call it their daughter's John Deere. How's that for Divine Provision? More than we could ever dream of asking for. Our little man will have his very own "tractor" to ride on at the farm.

This Gait Trainer has been a wonderful thing for our little man. He can get all over the house in it and he does! I can't wait to show you pictures of him in his new John Deere, but for now, I think, he CAN rock the pink!


We're humbled as always by the way that God meets each need. We're humbled by the friends who pray for us and for the ones who allow God to use them to be the hands and feet of Jesus, again and again.

We love you!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nastya's Day!

I've been sharing a lot of our story, lately. God showed me, today, what doing your part can look like. So often, people say, "I couldn't do what you're doing." Well, maybe you can and maybe you can't, that's between you and Jesus, but I stand firmly behind the belief that you CAN do something! Today, I watched as my beautiful friend, along with her equally beautiful Mama, sister and daughter hung out in the heat wearing t-shirts with a little orphan girl's face on the front. This little girl, Nastya, has stolen my friend, Sabrina's heart. She loves her and, so now, her whole family loves Nastya.



What could they do? Sabrina began months ago, organizing today. She submitted the forms to secure her spot at the festival. She contacted Reece's Rainbow about magnets and information to hand out. She found people to donate prizes to encourage our community to give to Nastya's grant. She blogged her heart out over on her blog God's Little Princess. She truly loves little Nastya. Can we honor that? Can we all go and give a little to her chip-in? You may win a prize, you may not, but you will bless my friend's efforts to help Nastya find a family. Sabrina longs to see Nastya be chosen and she knows a larger grant can help.



Maybe God is weaving Nastya's story into the fabric of our community. Maybe she has a Mommy and Daddy, who saw her picture, today and had their breath taken-away. Maybe God has another plan for Nastya. Either way, I know, His heart was glad today, to see Sabrina answer the command to love the orphans.


We CAN all do something!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, August 10, 2012

Video of Our Girl!


Swinging with her brother.

video

video

They really are two peas in a pod and we're so in love with both of them. Isn't she precious? Thank you for helping us get closer to our goal of reuniting them, everyday. Keep praying and sharing! We're so humbled to be watching as God melts the mountains like wax, again, for our family.

Enjoy!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, August 6, 2012

Another Picture!

You all are amazing! Another $500+ has come in today, so that means another picture of our girl! Which picture to choose. They're all so beautiful and I think, each one shows a little more of how much Samuel and "K" love each other.

This one captures their personalities quite well. 

And, because I got to mail our home study fees, today, here's one more...


We're so blessed! Thank you all for giving and helping us bring "K" home!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Goal Met and a Picture!

In honor of meeting our first goal of $2400, it seemed fair to share a picture of our girl. So, here she is! 

"K" and Samuel

They were 3 years old in this picture and hadn't been at their new orphanage for long. You can tell they are well cared for and I love how their little hands are touching. So sweet.

Did you fall in love? We did! Help us bring her home. We still need to raise another $3500 this week to pay her commitment fees. They belong together.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy




A Promise Given

As I attempt to share this story, the thought occurs to me that I can't really go back to the beginning and tell it. Even as miraculous as it seems to me, I only see small glimpses into God's plan. He holds eternity in His hands and we see snapshots of our lives and the lives of those around us. This story has heartache and I want to honor that, while sharing our overwhelming joy at the same time. So, let me tell you what I know, what we have lived for the last 9 months or so and remember that God is in the very smallest details of our lives.

9 months ago, Marty and I flew across the ocean, after months of fundraising and paper-chasing. We were finally about to hold our boys. Upon arrival, we were handed detailed reports on both of our boys. As we read over the information, we were surprised to read that Samuel had a friend, whom he was extremely attached to. In fact, I believe that it's odd for her to have been included in his report, since they are not biologically related. We knew who this little girl was, in fact, we had a package to deliver to her, from the family who was committed to bringing her home. We were saddened by the thought that they would be split up, but happy to be able to tell the orphanage that she had a family coming.

When we arrived at the orphanage and met Samuel and then, met his little friend. We were smitten. It was a good thing we had the other family wanting pictures and videos of this precious little one, because I'm not sure how else I could have explained why Marty was following her around with a video camera. He even looked at me and said, "Why aren't we bringing her home, too?" She had a family coming...

We came home and finished our paper-chasing and I headed back over to pick our boys up. One of the saddest parts of the day, came when the director said, "Where is her family?" I said, "They are coming. They even sent another care package for her." The staff wanted me to promise that if the other family didn't come for her, that we would be back. It was a promise easily given, but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would become a reality.

This is where the telling gets more difficult. I love my friends, who were committed to our sweet girl. I don't know the details and even if I did, it's a personal and painful decision to have to walk away from an adoption. On July 26th, I received an email from my friend letting me know that with very heavy hearts they were releasing our girl. I text Marty at work and said, "K is available for adoption. Are we going?" His immediate response, "I guess so." I then, messaged Shelley, our agency worker and said, "We know K needs a family, don't re-list her. We want her." Her response was, "Are you serious?"

We were and are very serious. Our paperwork arrived in country on Monday, July 30th. After days of jumping through hoops and praying for God to change hearts. We were officially committed to K, today, August 3rd. We're rejoicing to know that God is once again, showing off. His love for our kids blows us away. These two little ones have done everything together since birth. Samuel and K have birthdates that are 3 weeks apart. Samuel arrived at the baby orphanage 2 days after K was born and she joined him there one month later. They were moved a little over a year ago, from their baby orphanage to an older child orphanage.

The workers there sent us home with pictures and videos of the two of them together. They told us how they did everything together and sought each other out for comfort. It was truly heartbreaking to think that we were leaving her behind and taking the only family she'd ever really had with us. I don't know what these last few months have been like for her, but we have watched as Samuel clearly grieved the loss of what was his family. We have seen the real tears and held him as he cries. We have seen him get excited when Julie comes from her room and he mistakenly thinks she's "K" and calls out to her. It has been a burden that we didn't know how to deal with, but God...

God found a way to bring our babies together, again. I am deeply sorrowful for our friends as they now grieve this loss, but I can so clearly see the hand of God, as well. He cares for the little orphan girl waiting on the other side of the ocean. He saw her hurt and her brother's hurt and found a way to make it better. Some would say that having a family should be enough, but our God is a God of more than enough.

So, we find ourselves two months home and heading back. We are tired and honestly, dreading the process and the paperwork, but God didn't call us to do easy things. We know that He is faithful and that He will meet us here, on the road less traveled. We are humbled by each of you, who has already joined our efforts to bring our girl home. We are humbled by each of you, who prays for us and encourages us and just simply loves us. We are more blessed, than we ever dreamed possible.

We do need your continued support and help. I've put a ticker at the top of the blog. We need that $3725 to come in this week. I need to mail our commitment fees and finish paying for our home study. I have pictures and videos of our girl, too, so for every $500 raised, I'll show you a new picture or video.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Friday, August 3, 2012

How do you tell a God story well?

I'm struggling to find the words to tell you all this story. I don't know when I'll stop being amazed by the hand of God at work in our lives and the lives of our children. I guess, I'll start at the beginning. For now, all I'm going to tell you is this...

IT'S A GIRL!!

That's right, Julie and the boys are getting a sister. Do you want to hear the whole story? I promise, you won't be disappointed. If so, we really need to see the chip-in hit $6,000! That's our home study cost ($2400) and our commitment fees ($3500). Once we reach the $2400, I'll begin to tell the story and when we reach $6,000, I'll share pictures and videos.

I know, it's not nice to hold the story hostage, but we need to get this process moving. Our girl is waiting!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy