Just, Whoa!

Whoa.  The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity:  accepting the referrals for three sisters, fundraising like the crazy people we are, and having the realization that we’ll be going from two English-speaking kids to five with varying language competency, one of whom is two years older than my current oldest, in a matter of only six months has hit me like a fully-loaded matatu.  Whoa.

The thought can be overwhelming at times!  But we are certain that God is leading us in this direction, and we’ve had so much confirmation along the way.  I don’t think for a second that this will be easy.  In fact, we’ve heard from several families who are built similarly who have said, one after another, virtually word-for-word, it’s freaking hard . . . but so worth it.  [Side note:  DA and I may have repeated this phrase in conversations with one another so much so that our six-year-old is now saying it.   Forgive us.]  And there is definitely risk involved.   But we acknowledge that any other calling God might extend to us has risks, as well (including parenting the two that are currently under our roof).

So, as we go forward, we’re trusting in his grace.  We’re trusting in the presence of his Spirit.  We’re trusting that his financial provision will grow to include provision for an abundance of wisdom, and love, and grace in parenting. We are also fortunate to live in a community full of adoption-related resources, including other adoptive parents.  And we are believing that God can make something good and beautiful out pain and brokenness, because we have experienced it firsthand.  We know.  We also know, firsthand, that it usually takes time.

God is building our family his way.  It appears that he’s chosen us for the incredible task of raising four daughters and one son in our home–(don’t worry, we’ll make sure Yay has some testosterone-time so that he can grow up to be the baseball-playing superhero he informed me this morning he plans to be.  Plus, he still has his college-aged “brother” Said to look up to).  Thank you for being with us on this journey, for giving sacrificially, and for your ever-increasing prayers.

 

Here are some more of the amazing ways in which God has provided recently:

–I had been harassing calling the good people at Lifesong for Orphans for a couple of weeks concerning the status of our grant application.  On Friday, we were told that we might be considered the following week.  On Monday, we were contacted and briefly interviewed.  They also said that they would have to find a willing “church partner” who would be willing to help supply a matching grant, which could take several weeks.  On Wednesday, though, I received a call that through Lifesong, our church, Antioch, was giving us a $300 matching grant, and the Orphan Care Alliance would provide an additional $7000 matching grant to bring the girls home!  God’s provision!  When I heard, I think I almost threw up.  Just being honest.  You’re welcome.  

(If you would like to donate and have your gift doubled, please make checks payable to “Lifesong for Orphans” and mail them to: Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40 Gridley, IL 61744.  You must include our special ID #3429 in the memo for it to go into our account. 

You can also give online at:  https://www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate/one-time/?giftchoice=Adoption%20Funding&adoptionfunding=Family%20Specific.  Again, we are ID #3429.) 

This will hopefully cover our travel and some other fees, along with the additional $800 that we need to accept the referrals.  Since we received this grant from a trustworthy organization in time, our agency is working with us to use it, so while we’ve paid the bulk of the referral fee already online, they said that they will wait for the rest to come out of the grant.

–A few days ago, I started searching Craigslist for cheap, used furniture items we need. No one outside of our house knew this. That night, I received an e-mail from a new friend who wants to donate her husband’s old twin bunk beds. Monday morning, while DA was chasing down the recycling truck with our orange container, he noticed that a house two doors down had set out a huge, old chest of drawers that are in great shape!

–Our girls’ heart language is Oromo. Most of our Ethiopia connections here in Louisville speak the Amharic langauge.  We were recently excited to learn that our friend who is a local Ethiopian pastor is married to an Oromo woman who recently arrived in Louisville and Oromo is her first language, too! God provides in so many ways! 

Blessings Along the Road to Addis, Part 3

Documenting God’s Amazing Provision in the Midst of Our Adoption Process

We are simply amazed at the ways in which God is providing for our adoption of three sisters from Ethiopia!  [Read our referral story here.]  We just have to recount some of them here for God’s glory and to preserve them for our own memories!  Please be blessed by these stories.

On the other hand, we don’t want anyone to feel guilty about what they can or cannot give (not that anyone has expressed this to me, but I want to make sure that we are emphasizing grace and freedom rather than pressure and guilt).  We are well-aware that we are hammering on this right now on social media (because we have less than a week to raise several thousand dollars).  Fortunately, we believe that God leads different people to respond to such requests in different ways.  Not everyone who reads about our adoption will give money to bring our girls home.  Nor should they.  But others will hear our story and know, simply know, that they have heard it for a reason and that God is leading them to write a check immediately.  The amazing thing is that God wants us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, rather than to a blog post or Facebook update.  So we just wanted to clarify that if you don’t give financially to our adoption, we aren’t judging you!  Please, live in grace!  However, if you know that he is leading to do so, we will be extremely thankful for your generosity and obedience to God.

We do want to share this story that we received in a message a couple of days ago (the giver asked to remain anonymous publicly so that all glory would go to God):

Lindsay,

I have a story for you, a story of an awesome God. In December, we had been looking over our finances and talking about how we were struggling. We needed $1000 for bills, $1000 to put into savings and about $1000 for our mission trip in July. I told B— “it’s not like God is just gonna drop $1000 in our lap out of the blue”. We prayed and asked God to remind us how He takes care of everything. Our whole move here, B—’s job, He has taken care of all of the details and instantly, which has been pretty amazing since God usually likes to remind us how His timing is perfect. So we have seen God do all this amazing stuff and we were having a human moment and worrying and just prayed for God to remind us how He’s got it all under control and so forth. That Sunday, B— preached on faith. That Sunday afternoon, someone put an envelope in B—’s office with nothing on it but our name and inside was $1000. Overwhelming to say the least, remember, I had specifically said “it’s not like God is just gonna drop $1000 in our lap out of the blue” and yet here it was. A clear message from God to have faith (B—’s message). Very humbling and since it was obviously directly from God, we wanted to make sure and use it in the right place, how He meant for it to be used. We prayed as a family for God to show us what to do with it. We hadn’t felt any direct leading so we just put it in the bank and have let it sit until we felt how we are supposed to use it. This morning the $1000 crossed my mind regarding your situation and instantly I did the whole, that’s me not God, He provided that for us. The same thing crossed B—’s mind this morning and he also had the same instant reaction. When I showed him your message saying what was going on, he told me what had crossed his mind and his reaction and I told him the same had crossed my mind and I also had the same reaction and we knew, we knew what God intended for us to do with it. We talked with [our daughter] and as a family we prayed about it and we know. We know God blessed us with a gift that he intends to go to you. B— also preached this past Sunday and in his sermon talked about how He asks us if we are willing to give it all up and follow God where he leads, to pick up your cross and go no questions asked. Lindsay, God blessed us in a God way showing his faithfulness and reminding us how He is in control and for the first time since receiving that gift we know what He wants us to do with it. It was meant for you guys all along, He just wanted to show us His awesomeness in it.

We were amazed by this awesome story of God’s provision for both families.  I also want to share a couple of thoughtful notes we received from people who donated smaller amounts through PayPal.  It’s important to note that we don’t know either of these individuals personally, but that they are friends of friends who saw reposts of our blog.  (Your reposts really are helping!):

I don’t know you, but saw a posted prayer request for you on my homeschool list, here in Louisville, KY and went to your blog. Reading about your faith has encouraged me and I just wanted to send a little help, along with a prayer that others will add to it and God will bless your faith immeasurably more. Please don’t bother to thank me, just give it all to Jesus and keep your faith.

And another:

I don’t know you, but heard your families story through a friend on FB. I am praying for you and asking God to bless your commitment to love His children!

We ask everyone to continue praying, reposting our story, and if you feel led to give $5 or $500 in the next few days, we greatly appreciate it and will praise God for his blessing our adoption through you.  Additionally, enjoy living in his grace today!

The Referral

or, Have You Lost Your Minds?!

Announcing that I am pregnant with triplets via Facebook during my first trimester is not something I would ever do.  [Please, let me be extremely clear that I am not pregnant with triplets.)

Which is why it feels kind of weird to announce here, in such a public forum, that after the seeking of godly counsel and much prayer, we committed to adopt three precious sisters, ages 3, 6, and 8, yesterday.

Most of you know that we felt called to adopt in the Summer of 2010 and then for various reasons dragged our feet:  both David Alan’s and my American, first-born sense of responsibility which says take care of yourself first and when that’s accomplished (and it never truly is), give to others, and a paralyzing fear of our own weaknesses, as spouses, parents, and followers of Jesus.

But over the next year and a half, the Holy Spirit worked in our lives in such an amazing way that we felt assurance that we must be obedient and that God would provide for all of our needs along the way, and he has.  In January of 2012, we submitted a second, updated application and began the long, exhaustive, home study process.  On August 20, 2012, our dossier landed on Ethiopian soil and we were placed on the waiting list at #71.  We were home study approved to adopt a sibling set of two, either gender, between the ages of zero and six.

Fast forward to February.  For a couple of months, we had noticed three healthy sisters on the waiting child list.  We tried to forget about them, we really did.  But we kept coming back to them.  We took into account the number of children, their ages, the fact that many couples [often understandably] want to adopt babies.  All of these things were working against the girls finding a forever family.  We took into account that between the two of us, we feel that some of our life experiences and the multi-cultural community that God has placed us in have been preparation “for such a time as this.”  And the story of the week leading up to this referral is pretty amazing, too.  (I will tell it separately, at some point).

So, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, we accepted the referral for three girls.

What Our Kids Think:

If you don’t know our kids Abigail, age 6, and Isaiah, age 4, you need to know that they are nuts—in the best way.  They’ve spent their entire lives in cross-cultural ministry to East African refugees in our current city.  Abby is extremely outgoing and loves to be in large groups of kids.  David Alan and I still can’t figure out how two introverts made an extrovert.  She is used to floating between cultures and once, quite seriously asked me, “Mama, what is the English word for ‘trash bag’?”

Our kids have been talking about “Africa babies” for years, now.  From day one, when we asked Abby what she thought about all of this, she placed her request for a “big girl,” to which I repeatedly responded, “That’s not happening.  There is no ‘big girl.’  You are the ‘big girl’ in our family.”  Famous last words.

Both Abby and Isaiah are excited that we are pursuing these sisters, although, I don’t think they have any clue what it means to have that many siblings, every day.   Well, maybe they have an inkling.

I asked Abby, “What will you do if you want to cuddle with me and I am already cuddling one of your sisters?”  She replied, “I guess I will just have to wait.”

Then, I asked just-turned-four Isaiah, “What will you do if you want your cup filled and I am already busy with one of your sisters?”

He responded, “I’ll probably throw a fit.”

“Do you think maybe you could wait patiently until I’m finished?”

Finger to his chin, eyes rolled back in head, “Eh, maybe.  But probably not.”  Yep, that’s our Yay.

What We Think:

I don’t doubt for a minute that this is going to be challenging.  In fact, I’m expecting it to be freaking hard.  I’m definitely both excited and nervous to meet the girls.  I can’t fathom what will go through the mind of an eight-year-old who will be making a drastic, life-altering move into a new family with different ways of doing things–a family who will have to learn entirely new ways of doing things, at that.

But I also know that God calls us to do hard things.  I keep going back to that story of Joshua, the one which gave me immense hope when we were just starting down this path.  This time, though, I am reminded of the twelve spies who went to scout out the land that God had promised to them—ten of whom returned too afraid of the giants who lived there, while only Joshua and Caleb trusted God.  As it turned out, of this group, only Joshua and Caleb were eventually allowed the blessing of entering the Promised Land.  Will we fear the giants?  We don’t even yet know what they are.  But we know who God is and that he promises to provide for all of our needs.

Of course, an additional referral costs an additional $5000.  We had nearly enough to accept two referrals, thanks to fundraising, donations, and a [surprise!] mutual fund that we were notified about.  We currently (as of 11:00 AM on 2.14.13) need around $3000 more by next week in order to accept all three referrals.  If you feel that God is leading you to donate financially, please click on the PayPal donate button at the right, or message me for a mailing address.

We beg for your prayers, though.  We do not take this lightly.  Even now, we need to pray that God is preparing the hearts of A., H., and S., to receive a new family, for healing from the loss of their birth family, and for Abigail and Isaiah to continue to grow in their understanding and acceptance of a life that will be different from what they now know.  Pray for DA and myself, that we will be faithful in our obedience, even though we can’t see much farther than the next step right now, and in the world of adoption, nothing is in our control and anything could change at any moment up until it is finalized.  Please love and support us by adding these requests to your church or small group prayer list.  It is God who “sets the lonely in families,” and “provide[s] for all of our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus,” which beyond this immediate financial need, includes the emotional needs that are sure to appear in time.  He is the only one who can ultimately heal such wounds and bind new families together.  As Isaiah is fond of exclaiming, [often loudly, in large crowds], “Our God is a good God and he is a healer, too!”

Blessing Along the Road to Addis, Part 2

Documenting God’s Amazing Provision in the Midst of Our Adoption Process

I wonder what I was doing that day, February 20, 1987.  Probably rotating through my kindergarten teacher’s “learning stations” or pasting some roughly cut shape onto a piece of construction paper.  Maybe it was the day that we got to finger-paint with banana pudding or perhaps it was the afternoon that my name was written on the chalkboard for playing with the wooden blocks while I was supposed to be napping.  Certainly, in my six-year-old mind, I had no idea what my beloved great-grandparents were doing, but come to find out, on that day twenty-six years ago, they were making a decision that would impact the future of our family, long after they were already gone.  On Monday, January 28, 2013, I would discover after checking the mail, what exactly they had been up to.

I skimmed the letter quickly at first, but then had to go back and read it again.  It seemed to say that I had money, somewhere, that was going to be seized by the state if I didn’t respond within 30 days.  ABANDONED PROPERTY the font exclaimed.  I was surprised, confused, and doubtful all at the same time, and I tried to figure out how this might be.  Then, I recognized the logo on the envelope.  That same little green tree reminded me of something from long ago.  It was the same logo from the account statements that came in the mail when I was a child, after my great-grandparents had invested $500 in a mutual fund in my name.  I also recalled that they had ensured that the money in the account would be tied up until I was well into my adult years.  Then, they planned, I would be mature enough do whatever I wanted with it.

My great-grandmother died first, in 1995, during the summer between my eighth and ninth-grade year.  After her death, there was some family discord that continued for years (until my great-grandfather’s death in 2000–and beyond), and I never knew what had become of the account.  Once I was an adult, I couldn’t get any information on it, so I never knew even so much as the company name.  I was assured that it was gone and I had no way of finding out otherwise, so I let it go and moved on.  Eventually, I forgot about it altogether.

It was with this in mind that I tentatively called the number on the letter and the representative confirmed that it was, in fact, in reference to the account set up by my great-grandparents.  She asked me to confirm my address and I told her that it was the one listed on the letter, which also had my married name.  (I’m still not sure how they even had this up-to-date information on record!)   She was confused because apparently many notifications had been sent to our address (which we’ve lived at for the past five years), but every single one of them had been sent back as undeliverable—all but this final notice, which I received.  (We’d never seen any of them until now.)

She gave me instructions to follow in order to collect the money, and finally, I nonchalantly asked how much was actually in the account.  It turns out, about $5000!  Roughly the same amount that it will cost us to accept our second adoption referral.  (The first one is $9200, which we have nearly raised, for a total of $14,200.  This total must be handed over at the time we accept two children’s referrals).

Our fundraiser sales have slowed since the start of the new year and we know that many of our friends and family members have given so much already, some of them don’t have much more to give!  Recently, I was tempted to worry about where the other $5000 (plus additional $9000 for travel) would come from, but God seemed to say, “Be at peace.  I will provide.”  Only he knew that an account set up when I was six years old, by people who simply loved me and wanted to provide for my future whatever that held, would sit untouched—even lost—for twenty-six years and then, at the last possible moment, before it was given away and lost forever, he would allow a final notice to make it into my mailbox so that I could collect this gift at just the right time.  And, it would be just enough to accept our second referral.

At a time when many are unsure whether God is truly at work in the intricacies of believer’s lives while there are so many weighty things happening on the word stage, I can shout, “Yes!”  The God of the book of Acts (our current study in small group) still works such miracles today . . . in this century . . . in this hemisphere of the globe . . . for his glory.  He is with us, and for us, and working through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.   He lifts our heads and empowers us.  He provides for our every need from his own abundant supply.  He hasn’t left us as orphans!  He has promised he won’t.