1.31.2009

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed...

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel...

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

--from the 12th chapter of Hebrews

1.30.2009

The REAL test

Vince & I believe it is crucial to have a deep understanding of Christian doctrine...doctrine meaning what we believe about God. Our view of God & our understanding of His character penetrates every crevice of our being. A flawed understanding of God (or even a shallow understanding) leaves us frustrated & discouraged. We have come to appreciate this more than ever through our adoption journey.

God has confronted us with this one thought: believing that 'God can', but not being as confident that 'God will'. Don't misunderstand me, I am in NO WAY suggesting that there is power in positive thinking, but rather strength is found in being anchored by Biblical thinking.

Here's what God's Word has to say about His ability, AND willingness:

...declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart..." Ish 46:10-12


...so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Ish 55:11


The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Ps 138:8


Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. The LORD has made everything for its purpose... Pv 16:3-3

1.29.2009

THANKYOU to my Barnes & Noble angel

3 days until court...

This morning I met a friend (fellow-minister's wife) for coffee at Barnes & Noble. As I was waiting for her to arrive I perused the New Release section. While I was looking, a woman walked up beside me and picked up a book that I had just returned to the shelf -- she then asked me if I had read any good books lately. I hesitated, but shared with her that my husband and I are adopting and that our recent reading regimen consisted of mostly adoption materials.

She lit up and told me about her 4-year old, and that she and her husband were also considering adoption (because she knew so many children need mommy & daddies). Our conversation was very brief, but before she wandered off, she told me that she would remember me on Sunday. I must admit, my heart skipped a beat. Sunday, of course, is the day before our court date. I had not shared with her about court, or any details about our adoption for that matter. I quickly tucked the encounter into my heart as a sweet-something from God.

A few moments later, my friend arrived and we found a corner table -- I didn't tell her about the mysterious woman who promised to remember me on Sunday. But not long after we were engrossed in conversation, this same woman approached our table holding a B&N bag containing a book. She then told me about a ministry at their church that gives books to new moms for their children -- and she wanted to give me a book because I am going to be a 'new mom'. And that's what it was - a children's book - Love You Forever. I'm sure most of you with boys have this book -- it's an account of the love between a mother and her son. OK, I did not even mention to her that we are adopting a son!

Of course I teared up, but was still unable to have a meaningful conversation with her because all I could think was, is this really happening? I graciously thanked her and shared with her that we are adopting a boy, and that I had seen the book before and loved it!!

I know to many of you this might seem 'coincidental', but not me!! I believe God moved that woman to say & do what she did because He loves me...and because He loves our son.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven––for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” ... And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
--from the Gospel of Luke

I am at peace.


1.26.2009

a c t o f GOD

Well, that is what we need…an act of God.

In a little less than 7 days we will know the outcome of our 2/2 court appointment. We are not discouraged about facing court, but we have come to understand how extremely subjective an international adoption can be. We’ve prayed/solicited prayer for the complications that are foreseeable, but because of the unforeseeable problems, we now realize that what we really need is an act of God. I know we are to pray specifically, but I can’t even predict a fraction of the specifics; so now I am simply praying for God’s favor…for a miracle.

Whether we pass court the first time or not, I now know that the completion of our adoption (or, of any adoption) will be a miracle. And let me clarify: for me, the word miracle does not suggest that something is impossible. I am not hopeless…with God, all things are possible. Man can do a few things, but God can do all things. And our adoption just happens to be in the realm of God’s ‘all things’.

It seems we need several acts of God at this point in our life. We also have a house to sell…in the dead of winter…in a terrible real estate market. But, with God all things are possible…

We are hopeful, optimistic & resting in God’s purpose. And we are so grateful for all that we have. Our circumstances pale in comparison to many other's…friends who’ve had homes on the market for many, many months…acquaintances who have been waiting for over 2 years to bring their son home from South America.

So we patiently & thankfully wait for what is next...
God is good.
His love endures forever.

1.22.2009

Again, found 'hoping'

Earlier this week we were so blessed to receive an update from our agency for our Little Martin. It included a new picture, as well as his recent measurements. The update shared that our little guy can lift his head when he is placed on his tummy. He cries when he is hungry or has wet diapers. He smiles. [Little Martin] is happy, and healthy! Oh, what a joy!!!!

We also had a conference call with our agency yesterday. The call included families who have received referrals and are awaiting court. There wasn't any new, earth-shattering news for them to share -- but we do GREATLY appreciate how diligently AWAA keeps communication a priority -- it is so good for all our 'mommy' & 'daddy' hearts!!!

Our own court date is 10 days away (the Chan's, Black's & Reno's share our date). Vince and I are so full of anticipation. We're trying our best remain realistic about ALL the possible outcomes, but even still we are peaceful. We have peace that God's timing is perfect.

Our waiting continues to be an interesting balance: the reality vs. expecting great things. Actually, the balance has become more of a relay...taking the what is, the reality and passing it all to our Savior. Laying our family's circumstances at God's feet: petitioning that He turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and that He make the impossible possible!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
--Jesus (Matt 7:7-11)
“In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”’ And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily."
--Jesus (Luke 18:2-8)
Thank you for 'crying to Him day and night' with us!!!!

1.19.2009

MLK, Jr & Reconciliation

Martin Luther King, Jr's dream echos from yesterday...the Word of God still speaks today...

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 10:12

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Col 3:11

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34-35

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deut 10:17

And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Matt 22:16

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...And God saw everything that he had made, and behold,
it was very good.
Gen 1:26-27, 31

1.16.2009

Urgent Prayer Needed

These two families deperately need your prayer right now through next Tuesday:

Kulps
Semlows

For more specifics, you can find links to there blogs under my Kindred Spirits list.

1.13.2009

Not much news to share -- we're still waiting for our home study addendum (reflecting relocation/job change), and we've begun working with a travel agent on some flight options. As it stands, we hope to arrive in Ethiopia Saturday morning and arrive back in Birmingham Saturday evening (the 28th)......of course, assuming/hoping/praying all goes well with court and outstanding paper work.

Currently there are four other families in our travel group. Over the past several months, we've gotten to know them through email and blogs...we've all been faithful followers of one another's journey. And Lord willing, if we all travel together, three of us will be first-time parents. Uh-oh! :) Heh heh!!

As we wait to be united with our son, different families who've traveled to ET have been able to snap some photos of our little guy -- and, we cherish each of them!!! But about two weeks ago, as I was looking through the most recent pics from a family, I received an extra-special blessing!! As you can only imagine, it's been quite an experience, bonding with two-dimensional glossy 4x7s. In most pics, our little guy is wide-eyed and serene. We've poured over every photo, looking for just a nugget of his personality. Well, so what was my special surprise?
A SMILE!!!
I think I gasped out loud when I saw it!! Actually, I know I did! I was so caught off guard...he's getting so big!! And he's SMILING!!

Vince wasn't home when I first saw the photos, so when I showed him I, of course, saved the 'smile' for last. Yup- his response was exactly the same as mine! Oh, it was so much fun for me to watch him enjoy the moment as much as I had!

Prayerfully, on 2/2 we'll get to let you in on all the fun!!

Please continue to pray for Little Martin's health, our court date, paper work, travel....

1.08.2009

Tentative Travel Dates!!!!!

Our 'tentative' travel dates for our trip to Ethiopia are:
2/21 - 2/28/2009!!!!!

The word tentative implies that these will remain our travel dates, ONLY if all goes well on our court date:
2/2/2009

Dear friends & family...please,please, please pray for our court date...this is so important:
-for all required paperwork from all agencies involved to be present & complete
-for a favorable court outcome
-for God's will to be done in this adoption

Little Martin...here we come!!!!!!!

1.06.2009

Tomorrow is...

Christmas is Ethiopia!!!

Tomorrow the country of Ethiopia will celebrate Christmas. Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in Africa and follows the Julian calendar (thus, celebrating on Jan 7th). The Ethiopian Orthodox Church's celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. Ganna is actually the name for a hockey-like game played with wooden sticks and a round, wooden ball -- it is believed to have been played by shepherds and still played today.

Christmas trees are not apart of their celebration, however, the manger scene is!

On Christmas Eve, Christians attend church (for some, this service can last well into the morning). On Christmas day, many Ethiopians wear a traditional shamma, which us a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends – it is worn somewhat like a toga. Everyone goes to the early mass . Upon arrival, everyone is given a candle and the congregation walks around the church 3 times. Then they gather in second circle (men and boys are separate form girls and women). The choir sings from an outer circle, and the inner circle is from where the priest serves Communion.

Traditional Christmas dish includes Injera, a sourdough pancake like bread, which serves as both plate and fork (which we will get to sample while we’re in Ethiopia). Wat, a spicy chicken stew, is also served. Giving gifts is not customary during an Ethiopian Christmas (hmmmmm!!! – don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving gifts, but commercialism has warped our celebration of Jesus’ birth) -- children will typically receive clothes as presents. Families dance, play games and feast for the rest of the day.

On Jan 19th, twelve days after Ganna, Ethiopians celebrate Timkat – a commemoration of Christ’s Baptism.

I’ve read that Christmas is important in Ethiopia, but that Easter is a much larger celebration. This is because death is considered more significant than birth.

We will include these Ethiopian celebrations into our own family traditions, so that we will have a deep understanding and appreciation for Little Martin’s hertitage/culture…yes, he is becoming an American, but we are likewise becoming Ethiopian!!!

Merry Christmas, Little Martin...see you soon!!!

1.03.2009

Happy New Year!!

We’ve enjoyed our leap into 2009!!
We had dinner with Ryan (from Springfield) & Anna on New Year’s Eve, then hung around the house on New Year’s day & met several of our neighbors (BTW, some gave us a ton of boy clothes…thanks Holley & Geoff)!! Oh – and, of course, watched some football.

Yesterday, we made a trip to a local clinic to get yet ANOTHER physical exam for yet ANOTHER home study update…insane, I know. But it was a great experience! Our physician was so encouraging about our adoption – and, he prayed for us, Little Martin & our new ministry here at HSBC. What a blessing!!

Other than that, I‘ve been like a mad-woman getting ready for our trip to Ethiopia. It really is quite an undertaking…doubled, since I’m a first-time mommy. Bottles, clothes, meds, diapers…donations...plus, all the gear that we’ll need as soon as we land in Birmingham. I must admit, it’s so much fun getting prepared for our little guy (praying every step of the way)!!

Thank all you for your continued prayers:
- Little Martin’s physical, mental, emotional & spiritual health!
- A successful court appointment on 2/2/2009!
- For Vince & I to enjoy each other while we’re still “2”!
- For our diligent spiritual & emotional preparation to be parents!

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