Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Home Study Shome Shudy

Well things are not moving along like we would like for them to.
Actually it's kinda a stand still right now. Boooooo!
And I don't like it!
As part of the international adoption process, one must complete a Home Study
This is done through a 3rd party agency for us.
Things were plugging right along.
The closest agency to do this was not too far South of us.
there were crickets chirping.
and more crickets
Until finally my daily emails and phone calls produced a response we sure didn't see coming.
This 3rd party agency is STOPPING their service of International Home Studies.
Soooo...we go shopping.
And phone call after phone call produced nothing but voicemails being left.
Please someone answer your phone or call back soon.
Finally a voice, who said "I know we are the closest thing you have, but honestly, don't choose us, we just can't help you right now."
I appreciate her being honest.
An email response from another, much further away was a punch in the gut with their fee schedule.
Not expecting that.
And so here we are...what to do.
Wait a bit.
Pray some more.
And then a dear friend with out knowing what the details of today were all about ,
sends me a pod cast to listen to about what???
And then a very new friend sends me an email with a Big 'Ol Picture of our (praying for) daughter's face with the words under her picture
"Praying for _______"
Ok, so it's NOT about me, or us, or this Home Study.
It's about HER, who ever she is.
So I've refocused on praying for HER.
Here's the thing.  Does our enemy want us to pray for her...nope.
Does he want this process to go smoothly or quickly...nope.
Big Jerk!
But God has her in the palm of His hand
But God has this whole stinkn' Home Study process in His hand
One might say that the enemy is trying to mess this all up, and that's why there are days like this and more to come.
But I say that I really don't want to give him ANY CREDIT.
I want to commit each part of this process to God to where the enemy has NO PART IN IT WHATSOVER.
So there big jerk.
God has got this!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The need to brighten things up

My family and close friends know that I've always got some project going on.
And by going on I mean sometimes my ADD issues cause the "on" to be on and on and on.
There's my confession.
So when we bought this house almost 7 years ago, there were certian things about it I just had to change.  Our entry way drove me bananas.
In 1971 the rod iron and clay tile flooring was hip.
And often these vintage items still look good 30 plus years later.
We've got an open entry way with THIS going on...

And let me point out a few things..
Yes, there are bulbs out in the light (classy)
The white patch in the wall next to the stairs going down, is where a hole is where a railing used to be.  I think it was busted out with in a month of being here!
I wish I would have taken a video of one of the kids shaking the railing, it's a wonder no one fell over the side, it was hanging on by a thread! And I think it was under "legal" height by like 12 inches. (ok maybe not 12, but alot)
And yes, the 75% off rug from IKEA there has a "water" stain on it.  Lovely.
Check out the grout on that tile! WOW!
But what is really lovely is the "ragged" effect all over the wall.
I think at some point I just need to blame Pinterest, it's all her fault (it's a her... come'on, recipes, clothes, crafts, home decor ideas...it's a her)
And then poor Nate got involved, soon after he heard me banging the 10 ft ladder around the chandelier (maybe he would change the light bulbs now)

Yep,it worked!
So we painted the whole thing a very light khaki
Then started marking out the stripes.
The laser level was stinkn' awesome, that is until I lost the tack in the back of it. Not so awesome after that. Oh, and having a wall that bows, that's not awesome either.
And the people that say that PAINTERS TAPE DOESN'T BLEED...
big fat liars!!
So we spend the big bucks and got the frog tape stuff most of the way through...ughhh.
And mid way through the stripes we had the railing replaced.
Let's pause for a minute with all this fun stuff and let me tell you about the painting for real...
Painting stripes will be something
Let me make this clear...
But look at this pro!
All of a sudden he wanted to make sure the edges were PERFECT.
Well ok
I'm not going to stop you.
Because after HE completed this...
he is now the pro at stripes!
SO here's the finished entry...

And thank you dearest daughter for bombing my pic

Ignore the random socks on the basement floor.
We loved the look of wood on the floor, but wanted tile, so we found this at Lowes and LOVE IT!
Carpet still needs replaced, but when we decided to pursue our daughter in China,
the carpet didn't seem to matter anymore. 
So that will be a "after China" project.
More project posts to come soon...


Friday, February 15, 2013

There's a Risk to Choosing to Love...

Choosing to love another soul is RISKY! Watch out! So we have options...
1. don't love and don't care.
2. kinda love, but still selfishly hold on to your heart.
3. Love with EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!!!!!

Love is a choice, and picking #3 is scary sometimes. What if, what if, what if????
I used to struggle with living IN the "what if's", which pretty much made me useless. It all comes from fear, and fear is NOT from the Lord. So living in the "what if's" to the point where it consumes you...well that is sin.  There I said it.  The S word.
Living in the "what if's" separated me from God.  That's what sin is.
So I confided in a mentor.  I shared with her that I struggled with being consumed with the "what if's".  And she shared with me that she had been there herself and then she was challenged with this...

Philippians 4:8 "Finally brothers, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think on these things."

So here's the deal.  I started that day asking myself "is it true?"  "is it pure?" NO??  Well then Amber WHY are you thinking about it? WHY is it consuming your thoughts?
So I gave over my thoughts to the Lord! I learned how to LOVE with out worry! So now it's SUPER EASY!!!
Uhhhh NOPE.  Not super easy at all!
So I'll ask one more "what if" question. "what if it WAS super easy to love?"
Well then that would change a whole lot of stuff!
If true unselfish love was easy, then why would we need God?
Then Jesus's perfect unselfish act of love wouldn't have much value. It would have been easy for Him.


So right now I'm choosing something that is risky...I might get my heart broken...I might get attached to her.  I might be disappointed in how this whole adoption thing plays out. What if, what if, what if??? ( here I go again with the what if's, darn it!)
I've had dreams about adopting a daughter from Asia for as long as I can remember.
When you've dreamed about something for so long, and now it's REAL.  It's kinda freaking me out!
And there's where the "what if's" start sneaking in.

You might have heard how head over heals we have fallen in love chosen to love this precious one, or maybe I've trapped you and shoved pics of her in your face from my phone, or texted them to you at random times (sorry 'bout that).  I'm gonna be honest here and tell you ( just you, not everybody) that when I see pics of her, and even hear her name, I get shaky inside! I pretty much fight(or give in to) tears every stinkn' time! I will be kind and not share with you that Nate might just have the same responses.  Might.

So it was TOUGH to hear from our agency that having her placed with us will be a flat out miracle. It just is not looking like it's possible. Did I say tough?  How about a punch in the gut. How about the feeling of your heart falling out of your chest.  Yep, that's more like it.

And then there is Nate.
The eternal optimist...he always has been.  Not one person that knows him would argue that.
I love that about him. He is continuously challenging me to let it go and let God have it.
But with her, I hear him call her *ours*.  I see him tear up over her pictures.
I hear him pray for her.  But he always closes his prayers with "your will Lord, not ours"
In everything thing we have heard, she won't be *ours*.

But let's go back to "whatever is true". 
What I know is TRUE is that she is His. And we are His.  And if HE wants us to be her forever family, the HE WILL and CAN make that happen!
So we continue to choose to love her with risk that she may never be in our arms.
And so there was the night after we heard it's just not looking like that will ever happen.  Well, we had a rough night, lots of tears, lots of praying for peace.

And the next morning I woke up to my verse of the day which JUST SO HAPPENED to be...
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable...think on these things." Phil 4:8
I smiled when I saw that was my verse of the day, I texted it to Nate. "Amen"

When I got home from work that day, I got on fb to see if her foster home had posted any pics of the precious kids that day.
I pulled up their page.
And this was the pic that was posted. And yes, that's HER (sorry, not showing full pics of her face)
Enough said.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chinese New Year ~ Celebrate!

What a special day!  A day that for the past 30 some years of my life (ahemm) went on like any other day.  How many of us celebrate the Chinese New Year? It was a first of us. And it will now be a day we will celebrate for the rest of our lives.  I love that!
We want her to know her heritage, the traditions, the culture.  It will all become a part of our family, because SHE will!

I remember as a little girl my favorite day of the month was when my Dad's National Geographic magazine would come in the mail.

I would get out a blanket and a pillow and spread it out on the floor in the living room of our military base housing home.  I would read it cover to cover, over and over.  I loved learning about other lands, other people.  I wanted to go there! I wanted to try their food, celebrate their holidays.  I've had a fascination with other cultures for as long as I can remember! I love the world God created! He's so creative! I'm thankful my parents encouraged us to learn about our world outside of our little one we lived in.  We always supported missionaries, invited them into our home, and prayed for their field.

When we shared with our friends who recently adopted their son from China, that we were ready to move forward with our adoption of our daughter, we were invited to celebrate the Chinese New Year with them and other friends who are also adopting.  How exciting!!

I've done a bit of reading about the CNY celebrations and preparations.  It's fascinating!  I've also been reading in the Old Testament about what the Lord required of His people to prepare for the Passover.  I've thought alot about that.  The cleaning, the color red, banners over doorways...
So thankful that to come before our Lord, we no longer have to go through an extensive ceremony.  He is completely and totally WITH us! We have access to Him at all times.  Thank you to His Son for removing the complicated space between us and our Father. 

The CNY for us was pretty emotional, all good though :)
I brought dessert. And there is a little problem with that.  The Asian culture is not nutso on desserts, pretty much a complete contrast to our Western culture.  We are obsessed with sweets!
So I tried my best and came up with this masterpiece...
Let me explain the method to this madness...
Red.  It's *good luck*
So I made Red Velvet Brownies.
Rice Pudding.
So I made Chocolate Rice Pudding with Dark Chocolate & Red Chocolate Chips, blended with whipped cream
Fortune Cookies.
So I crushed them (after paper fortune was removed)
Layered it all up, and there ya go!

Now...I so very proudly shared my slightly crazy recipe with a sweet friend who lives in Asia. And she very graciously said "nice try".  I had the red part right, and the rice.  And that was it.  Everything else is NOT Asian.  oops.  :)

We enjoyed music and the little ones danced. 
Her house was blessed with decor that was brought back from their trip to bring home their son.
And we had TONS of super yummy food!
The little girls and the big girls got their precious time together
My friend MADE her own fortune cookies!!! And seriously they tasted amazing! But the best part about the cookies was what was inside.  She placed simple words for the children to learn in the Chinese language.  Mostly numbers and short words.  I did hear one of the boys though say that they would like a new fortune cookie.  He was not pleased with the word he had in his ..."LOVE"...ewwww!
The adult's table had our own special fortune cookies.  She shared with us and the other two couples that are adopting that she prayed over each one of these "prayers for us"
And so then the tears came.
Each one SO special for each one of us.
See the necklace...more tears as she gave each Momma one.  And that's what is says in the Chinese characters at the bottom corner of the necklace "Mother"
We talked about how NEXT Chinese New Year will be sooooo different for us and two other couples who weren't able to come today.  FIVE more little ones will be with us next year!! Praying for more families we know that are being prompted to move forward!
This little guy will have some new friends soon!
This picture will look soooo different next year!! We are praying for each one of our journeys and the the Lord will bless the precious little angels waiting patiently to join their forever families!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What is He doing??

Want a simple answer? He is wrecking it. He is turning our hearts inside out. And the peace that comes with actually wanting and allowing Him to do this is like nothing we have felt before.
Are you ready to see what He's doing? Cuz we are pretty stinkn' excited to share it with you!!!

Rewind to the Fall of 2011, we had joined up with two other couples in our church that had the same heart for the need of an organized orphan ministry.  We took it slow, took months of praying and reading The Word.  We stood up in front of our church family that Orphan Sunday and shared how simple the call and how great the need to DO what God asks of his adopted children...pretty much pay it forward.  It's not a suggestion, it's not an "if it works for you", it's "defend the fatherless" (Isaiah 1:17).  Need more scripture? God talks about the orphan quite often through out the Old and New Testament...there's a theme going on...go find it!

Last Fall, we moved forward to defend the fatherless and started our process to become a foster family and in March of 2012 we became a licenced foster family as well as received our approval to adopt in our state.  We were anticipating a placement call right away.  But months and months went by.  Finally over six months later we started getting calls.  But every single time we had to say no.  It was nothing short of heartbreaking.  I took peace in knowing that even though I hung up the phone after just saying no.  The call went out to the next family, and with in hours, those precious ones were in a loving home.  9 more phone calls, several more months. Yet still trusting His plan. 
Finally in December we got a call to do some temporary care for another foster family.  Two little curly haired brothers joined our home for 2 weeks over Christmas break and we LOVED having them! We learned so much about pain and loving till it hurts.  We don't know what He has planned for them in the future, but we still pray for them and trust He will always have them in His care.

Just a month before the boys arrived, along with our dear friends, we had launched by God's grace, our Hope 1:17 ministry at our church. It was a glorious Orphan Sunday!!! The Spirit was moving! He still is!  Family after family shared what adoption looks like.  We heard teaching that Sunday on what adoption looks like as a child of God.
He pursued us!  It was active. It was purposeful. It was risky.

Last year, I visited with my Aunt Deb, she is actively caring for orphans around the world, and I love hearing the passion that she and my cousins have for orphan care.  She introduced me to a beautiful foster home in Asia.  I started following them on fb and reading their blog.  Their ministry to the special need orphan is miraculous.  He is clearly working there, He is actively caring for the fatherless there and the testimony after testimony is evident of His passion.

In late Fall, I read the story of a precious little baby girl that stole my heart.  Her health concerns were lethal, and then He stepped in and directed a path of miraculous healing for her.  He has a plan for her life! He has healed her! We enjoyed seeing updates on her growth and kept praying for her as a family.  We sent a special Christmas package to her, and prayed that she would be out of the hospital a 2nd time in time to be back in the care of the angels at her foster home before Christmas.  She was!!!

As weeks went by, we kept her in our prayers. Our hearts would melt when we would see pics posted of her getting bigger and stronger.  She's so stinkn' precious!!  In the middle of all this heart-melting, our small group Bible study recently started reading together the book "The Forgotten God- Reversing our Tragic Neglect of The Holy Spirit" by Francis Chan.  Nate and I listen to it on CD...
Let me put it this way. It's rocking our world.
Who is The Holy Spirit?
Jesus said, I have to go, but what I am leaving here with you is BETTER.
Do we live like that?
He is with us ALL THE TIME.
What grieves Him?
Do we trust Him?
What are we afraid of???????   And that's the big one.  Are we afraid to trust Him?
Well He is asking us to do something that many consider scary, risky.
And so a few weeks ago, Nate shared with me what The Spirit is making quite clear to him.  We've got to GO get HER.  With many tears, and much prayer, we jumped in.  We MOVED.
So we are adopting.  It's an active pursuit. It's risky.
So here we go................. let's see what He has in store for our family.  Let's see WHO he has for our family.  We totally trust Him with EVERY detail.  And we can't wait to share with you what He does!