So, what is my idea of motherhood?
Motherhood, whether through birth or adoption, is a gift from God. And I believe that each individual combination of mother and child(ren) is ordained by God, and that each combination is pregnant with purpose, and hope.
And why do I strive to be a mother?
That’s a good question. My answer today is probably much different than it would have been several years ago (and, hopefully, this answer will mature increasingly in the years to come).
But my answer today is: hope.
Not ‘wishful-thinking’ hope, but ‘expecting’ hope. When I look back over my life and contemplate how God has revealed Himself to me through circumstances and relationships, I am able to put together the pieces of something very deliberate. A process. A purpose. I struggle to put it into words.
There is a great joy and certain satisfaction found when the meaning of life is grasped – there’s even greater significance when you’ve drawn near to the Creator of life. Through God’s Word, prayer and fellowship with other Christ-followers, I’ve intimately experienced the very character and essence of God. And it is in knowing God that I have been consumed by this ‘expecting’ hope.
And from this God-given hope, a hunger for motherhood has also surfaced. Again, God’s plan:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…"
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them.
And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”
See the progression? God blesses and commands to mankind to multiply and fill the earth. But what was it that God blessed? Look closely: the creation, in His own image and likeness…this is what He desires to be duplicated!! Not simply our mutated genes that proliferate disease and indifference, but His perfect holiness.
Wow. Where am I going with this?
A mother can fulfill many roles, but after studying God’s Word, I believe a ‘mother’ is at foremost a ‘teacher’. “…forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.” (Pr 6:20-22)
My hope for motherhood is to be obedient to God, and faithful to my children. Obedient to God’s purpose for me to live a holy life, and faithfulness to teach my children God’s precepts and wisdom. I fight every day to not numbly coast through life, but to be proactive, deliberate, purposeful.
What is my hope?
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed…
I've been pathetic about updating our blog, especially during this season in our lives when there's been so much to talk about!! We are settled in AL and made it through Christmas. Although, for some reason it just didn't feel like Christmas! Don't get me wrong...we contemplated and celebrated Jesus...but, "something" was just missing!! Hmmmm, wonder "who" that could be??? :)
Actually, yesterday felt more like Christmas to us than the 25th (hey, no one can prove Jesus was born on the 25th anyway) -- we received pictures from the Caldwell's, who delivered Little Martin's care package for us. It was so wonderful to see him holding his stuffed lion, with our photo album/pictures lying next to him. There were also pictures of Rebecca picking him up and holding him close...my heart just melted!!!
The Caldwell's, Stager's, Burk's & Witter's are all safely home with their children (check out their blogs, they have wonderful stories). And the Tennant's, Savage's & Sparr's are spending their first night with their children in Ethiopia!
It was such a blessing to receiving specific details about the finalization of our adoption! Having an actual court date has made this process 'feel' even more like reality! I'm a type-A/details personality, so I'm always in need of "the facts" (I drive my poor husband crazy).
Although our court date is 2/2/09, below describes possible scenarios:
--Roughly 30% of families do not pass court on their first issued court date.
--If a family does not pass court initially, court dates are then issued approximately 1-2 months after the original court date.
--Once your family has successfully passed court, you can expect to travel to Ethiopia roughly 2.5 to 4 weeks later.
for our son's health and a successful court appointment! Little Martin is doing well, but the quicker we get him home, the better (for many reasons).
We're doing great -- getting settled in our new home & church in AL (by the way, it's almost 70 degrees today...ahhhh). I haven't started on Little Martin's room yet (still trying to clear out boxes), but I have made my list of all I need to do/get so we can start ASAP. I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed about being a first-time mommy...the baby paraphernalia is endless!!
We've also been super busy switching our home study from MO to AL...God's grace is definitely carrying me through--I am so paper work-weary!! But, God has been one step ahead of our transition, and led us to an awesome agency who is expediting our case so we can travel on time!!
Please continue to pray for Little Martin's health and paper work, and our spiritual and physical preparation!!
"There is a continent--Africa--being consumed by flames. I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did--or did not do--to put the fire out in Africa. History, like God, is watching what we do."
~Bono (2006 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.)
And these families will be in Ethiopia meeting their children this Monday (they might even get to peek at Little Martin):
So, when we received our referral this week for our precious boy, we began to talk more about this name. Sorry...we do not feel comfortable sharing this name on our blog until we pass court. The more we actually said the name, the more we realized that it is a name that would be 'hard to spell and easy to forget'...NOT our intention! :)
So, at last, here we are full-circle -- returning to the original name I began to ponder many months ago...well, at least, I think??? :)
Our little man is 3 months old, and ADORABLE!!! He has the biggest brown eyes!! As a matter of fact, when our Family Coordinator (Duni) called us yesterday, she said she thought he even looked like me!! :)
So, when is our court date?
We're not sure -- we will not be given the actual date, but we will be given tenative travels dates in the next couple of weeks (which will give us a clue about our court date). If all goes well with court, we will be notified the day of (we will also be notified even if we do not pass...several attemps at court is not uncommon).
When do we expect to travel?
Again, hard to tell...possibly the end of January or early February.
We will be sending our care-package for our little man with a family who is traveling to get their littel boy mid-December!
This verse was my meditation this morning -- peacefully waiting, reminding myself of God's sovereignty!
We got THE CALL!
It's a BOY!!!!
We are so honored that God has chosen us to raise this precious little one in the "fear and admonition of the LORD"!!!!
For all you stalkers, I'll keep posting updates, even if there is no news --- it's so much fun/consolation to know you're all out there cheering for us!!! We love you all dearly!!!
Although Vince & I are very excited/anxious about Baby Martin, we are also very peaceful (I'm even teary-eyed as I type this, because God is just so good)!!
BTW, the term "Baby Martin" isn't much fun....any other suggestions or nicknames??? :)
What is the likely-hood of getting THE CALL Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday???
I have absolutely no idea. What seemed so certain has become, well...actually, I have no words for this part of our journey...
...resting in God's sovereignty over our child's life....
although, I have developed what might be termed as a 'twitch' -- let me explain:
I have started randomly & spontaneously waving my arms around, as if cheering at a football game. I do not seem to produce any noise with this condition, just a flailing for the arms for about 3 seconds.
Guess I will call it anxietus happimus, or how about thewaitiskillingme syndrome.
Boy, am I weird, or what!!!!
After a long two-months of delays, our agency started issuing referrals again last Friday -- the referrals issued were for toddlers, but we're on the infant waiting list. The unofficial news is that we should hear something by the end of the month.
Follow me here...Since Thanksgiving is next week, our agency's office will close for the holiday, but I'm not sure when (note to self: FIND OUT!) -- because, if they're closed , say, Wednesday thru Friday, then the end of the month will be the 25th...maybe??
In the mean time, Vince & I have registered for baby items at Target. Some of our dear friends are hosting 'going-away/baby showers' for us -- we are so excited & honored that our needs are heavy on their hearts....even though we haven't received our referral yet!
And let me just add, I have no idea what I am doing...baby stuff, I mean. What have I been doing all this time??? I should have been shopping/researching for the items we'll need -- but, of course I haven't done this, and now I am CLUELESS!! :) So, all you mommies out there: what in the world do we need??? What are your favorite items?? Seriously, HELP!! :0
Note the cuddlies below...Vince & I have been sleeping with them, hoping they'll absorb our smell -- because as soon as we receive our referral we will be able send a care-package to Ethiopia with gifts for our little one: cuddlies/toys, photo album of mommy & daddy, and an outfit or two.
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates...
Now, I want to do something special for you!
Please, take a moment to post a prayer request , a praise or even just a word of encouragement to be read by those who frequent our blog!!! It would be our honor to pray for you & celebrate with you....not to mention, our blog gets much traffic by many 'praying' people!!! :)
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! … Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Prayer for Baby Martin:
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
▪swift processing of this child’s paper work in Ethiopia
▪for God to reveal the identity of this child to us…soon
▪for the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health of our child
▪spiritual & physical peace for our child’s birth family
▪immediate trust & bonding with us
Prayer for Paper Work:
From where, then, does wisdom come? God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.
▪our home study update & I-171H immigration renewal to be finalized before we travel
(which could be any time from Mid-Dec to Mid-Jan)
▪favor with Ethiopian judge(s) in court proceedings
Prayer for Finances:
Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.
▪for us to be good stewards with our income, as we make personal financial decisions & continue to save for this adoption
▪we are in the process of applying for grant monies…favor on our applications
We are confident that our God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” while we eagerly continue to learn more about His character, sovereignty & love for His Children as He grows our family!
no news yet...
our agency told us that if referrals are not possible by the end of next week, they will give us a heads-up regarding November possibilities.
Yesterday was a long day. Not only was it my one day-off for the week, but it was also full of emotional events.
We started the day off remembering Andy Brown & celebrating his life during his funeral services -- a 28-year-old Christ-follower who was a member of our ministry at SBC -- he lost his battle with cancer Sunday morning at 9am. He is greatly missed...but...he is with Jesus.
Then after lunch we participated in a conference call with our agency (all families waiting for referrals were on the call). The main topic of interest for most families was our agency's recent fee increase. Ethiopian adoption is becoming increasingly expensive due to the nature of humanitarian work involved with each adoption. Ethiopia's program is the only adoption where the agency takes custody of a child once the child has been referred to a family. That means that the agency is responsible for the housing, food/diapers, medical and staff expenses for the two-three month period before a family can travel to pick-up their child. Most of the children come to the transition home malnourished and sick -- combine this with the famine and inflation in Ethiopia -- the process quickly becomes very costly.
The second topic was related to families who are expecting referrals in October (us!!). This is a long story I will try to shorten: during the court closures (Aug-Sept) families could not finalize adoptions, and therefore could not go get their children. So, because children were not leaving the orphanages/transition homes during those two months, all institutions have reached their capacity -- meaning that new children have not been permitted to move into these institutions due to over-crowding. This problem will correct itself by the end of Oct, as families begin to bring their children home. But here's the issue: it takes about one month to process a child's paper work...so if these new children's paper work cannot begin until the end of Oct, they will not be ready to be referred until mid to late-Nov.
So, a November referral could be a reality for us. But, then maybe not...it's hard to tell. Our agency tends to give us worse-case-scenario, to spare us from utter disappointment. Could we still receive a referral this month? It is possible.
Yesterday, we were emotionally exasperated -- but, today we are once gain hopeful. We have no desire to micromanage or manipulate this process. God knows the specific child He chose for our family, He knew this even before He set the earth in motion. Although the waiting can be unbearable, we steadfastly cling to His will for our family. We are not just waiting for any child, but our child...if that makes sense??
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
We know there is a much larger purpose at hand, even above God uniting us with our children:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
...we ARE more than conquerors....
Many of you have asked about our China adoption...so let me give a brief update. The following is a statement from our agency's blog:
October 09, 2008
China Wait Time Report: October 2008
The current wait from LID to referral is 32-33 months and increasing. This represents the wait time for families who have a mid-February LID in 2006 and who are next to receive their referrals. For families with LID dates after that time, the wait time trend continues to increase half a month to a full month each month. Families are encouraged to calculate their wait time as a projected estimation, knowing there is no way to predict the actual wait time for each family.The wait time changes as it is based on the number of LID’s from around the world and the number of referrals paper-ready each month. America World will continue to report monthly wait time trends. Families should continue to anticipate a long wait for a healthy referral.America World is committed to uplifting your family in prayer as you wait to be united with your precious child.
So what does that mean for us?
If we continue to wait for a healthy infant female, we could wait, well, forever. OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration - but we could realistically wait up to 7 years. That's a long time...and our desire is to meet the need of a child who is currently institutionalized & in need of family now.
So what will we do?
Vince & I have been praying about that, and we feel lead upon completion of our Ethiopian adoption to switch to China's Waiting Children list. 'Waiting Children' refers to all children who are not considered to be 'healthy'. The reason could be as mild as a cleft lip/palate, but could also mean the child has a severe/chronic medical condition. We would have discretion to specify medical needs that we are open to discuss....and don't worry, we are aware of our limitations. Based on the fact that most families who adopt Waiting Children still request girls, we would probably receive a boy referral.
Again, this is still a currently prayerful decision -- we realize many things could change over the next several months/years in the world of adoption -- and it is also our desire to adopt from Ethiopia, again, as well. But we've learned that being an adoptive family requires a great amount of proactivity balanced with much flexibilty -- we're excited to see where this journey takes us!
Congrats!!! Click their links to meet their kiddos!!
On a frustrating note, a couple of dear families who are adopting sibling groups did NOT pass court today...our hearts are breaking with theirs.
UPDATE: The families who did not pass court are each adoption a sibling-group. While the courts were closed, Ethiopia made some changes to the paper work requirements for sibling-group adoptions. The families will be able to provide the documentation that is needed - their next court date is scheduled for early November.
Many of you have seen this before, but it was good for me today to remind my soul that this is God's work, not mine! By the way, Ethiopia courts have re-opened...please pray for the back-log of families to move through court effortlessly so they can be united with their children!!!
Vince spoke with Duni yesterday - and we will not be receiving our referral this week, possibly not even next week. I know it is her great desire to place a child with our family, but her hands are tied until paper work for this child is complete. This is not a negative reflection on Ethiopia either...it just takes time.
I must admit, yesterday I was broken-hearted.
this morning, I have life & salvation, and I am loved by my God who is working all things for my good and His glory...
what more could I ask for...
I am at peace...
This is the hotel, Casa Mateo, where we stayed at while in Jinotepe, Nicaragua...very cool...like an old western/spanish movie. The owners are Believers and use the hotel's revenue to minister in Nicaragua.
This is the church where the women's conference was held - as you can see, it's location was perfect for passers-by to hear God's Word being taught...we left the windows & doors wide open for all to hear!
This is the couple who pastors the church we used...an amazing family with huge hearts!
Ladies waiting to register for the conference...pastors, pastor's wives & various church leadership came from near & far. Many denominations were represented as well.
By the end of the week, we had 90+ women in attendance. Many brought their children, too. The children were exemplary -- they would sit patiently for the entire day.
Nicaraguan children are beautiful...look at those big brown eyes!!
Worship -- and let me tell you, Nica women know how to worship!!
(L to R) Me; Rebecca Loge (a missionary in Nica -- she is a member of our church & works with Project Hope); Terri Baer (an IMB missionary in Paraguay -- she & her hubby served previously in Chile for 25 years!!)
Snack time! As part of the conference we provided two snacks and lunch. We also reimbursed them for their cab fares/travel expenses each day.
At the end of the week, we gave each woman and a box filled with goodies & a certificate with their name, recognizing their participation in the conference -- both items were very special to them!
Me & Rebecca - she's been in Managua for two years. Her presence was such a blessing! She not only helped us communicate with the Nica women, but was able to minister to many of them - they connected with her immediately!
The two men in the middle are Edgar & Miguel. The flew in for the conference & are in-training to pastor Second's church-plant in Monzanillo, MX.
(L to R) Terri Baer (IMB missionary in Paraguay); Alvaro Alvarez- he is the brains behind the Pastor's Conferences & his passion is discipling pastors all over Middle America; Vince, my dear hubby.
Adoption Update: Referrals were issued while we were in Nicaragua. We had internet access at the hotel & were able to keep informed. As we landed in Springfield on Friday, we checked email once again to see if any additional referrals were issued, and one more was. This family is not far ahead of us in the wait, so we couldn't help but get even more excited! And then, we saw that Vince had a missed call from a 703 # (AWAA's area code) -- we were still on the plane and about to completely freak-out (for lack of a better word). When we checked the voice mail it was indeed Duni, but she was only returning our phone call regarding an immigration issue from the week before --- so disappointing!!! We tried to call her back, but she had already gone home for the day...ugh! But we're still hopeful...soon...
John, Shirley, Stanley, Brenda, Harold, Mike, Vince, Alisa, Terri, Rebecca, Alvaro
Proclaim God’s Word, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, compassion & respect for the people of Nicaragua; unity among our group
(I will be teaching from the Beatitudes)
Bonding & trust between us & those in attendance
Rain to NOT hinder attendance
Pastors- a commitment to be challenged by God’s Word, despite cultural beliefs/practices; passion to accurately study, apply & preach truth of God’s Word
Pastor’s wives- deeper understanding of respecting & serving husbands, despite cultural beliefs/practices; devotion & compassion to the women & children in their congregation & community
Congregations represented at conference:
Conviction of sin, and repentance
Assurance of salvation (by faith, not works)
Commitment to their local body of believers; commitment to their families
Last, but not least, our adoption & our child’s paper work…the details are coming together on the other side of the world, but until things are finalized in Ethiopia, we continue to wait to meet God’s child for us.
~Remember the family I mentioned who lost their Ethiopian daughter to pneumonia? I am very pleased to share they have received another infant girl referral & hope to travel in November to get her. They had a memorial service for their first daughter and have expressed their joy because God has allowed both girls to be apart of their life!
~~Our adoption ministry at SBC, Chosen Lives, is hosting a lunch on Sunday for families interested in/pursuing/completed an adoption. We're expecting about 80+ people to attend -- we're very excited!!! Our goal for the event is to help families network & share theirs stories!
~Next week, we're heading south for a few days - and then Saturday, we're headed to Nicaragua. SBC has hosted Pastor Schools in Nicaragua for several years, and this year I have the awesome/humbling opportunity to teach for Pastor's Wives conference.
Where were you seven years ago, today??
I was at home getting ready for work (LSU Medical Center) when I received a call from a friend, who told me to turn my TV on. I did, and in disbelief, watched as plane #2 crashed into a WT tower. In a daze, I went to work only to sit by the radio and sneak to various waiting rooms to catch the news. That night I attended a prayer service at Broadmoor Baptist Church. I still don't think I fully comprehend how deeply the events of 9/11/01 have impacted our lives/society. God bless the people of America!!
PS- thanks for checking in :)
Stay tuned...I'll let you know how you can pray for us & Baby Martin!
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
This week an AWAA family received news that their little girl (still waiting for them in Ethiopia) had developed pneumonia and was in the hospital.
Our agency also gave three referrals for families waiting for toddlers/older children. Although we are waiting for an infant, my heart absolutely soars when I hear of older children being matched with their forever families. Maybe it's because they are older and can somewhat grasp the gravity of their situation. Some are old enough to dream, or despair, about their future...old enough to wrestle with their desire to belong & be loved...old enough to understand families are adopting children, but perceive they've been left behind. I can only imagine the explosion of hope an older child experiences when they learn that a family is coming for them this time.
Back to the AWAA family's sick baby. She didn't make it. Devastating. This family received their referral almost a month ago...a month of planning for their daughter, looking at her pictures, praying for her, celebrating with friends and family... but, The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Even in the midst of this tragedy, we Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.
On Tuesday, we had a conference call with Duni, our Ethiopia coordinator. Several exciting updates include: ET staff moving to a larger transition home (more room for the kiddos), another partnership with a new orphanage is being finalized, and more staff has been hired in ET to assist with court procedures.
And more exciting news...the wait for our referral seems to be right on target (5-7 mos). AWAA issued 10 referrals in July, and anticipates issuing 10-15 in August. So where are we?? According to our 'unofficial' list, there are about 15 families ahead of us. Another hint Duni gave about referrals is that all families who specified 'either' gender were always referred boys...hhhmmm :)