Friday, March 29, 2013

Plans and planes and pictures :)

We have a plan!!

We have a plane (ticket)!!

And, we received the most beautiful pictures and LETTER from our daughter!!

I'll start with the most fun news first.

This morning I got up first.  I almost always do.  I need some quiet and coffee before the craziness and noise of the day starts.  I have a routine.  I start the water for my french press and then I check my e-mail.  I'm barely awake, but the computer is next to the kitchen, so its something to do while I wait for the water to boil.

When I opened my inbox, there was an e-mail from Karla, one of our amazing Lifeline social workers.  I had e-mailed her a couple of questions yesterday, so I wasn't surprised to see it.  So, I clicked on it and...

 And not only that...


So, of course I was sobbing and I ran down and awakened poor Todd who was sleepy, disoriented and confused and concerned about me.  The first thing I said was "Its o.k., these are happy tears."  Then I told him and of course he rushed to the computer to see the e-mail, too.

She told us a little about herself.  We love having this glimpse into our daughter.

She said that she loves the ocean.  We CANNOT WAIT to take her to the ocean!!

She said, "Mama (I LOVE THAT!!), I can cook chinese and I can help you cook."

What a great way to start the day!!

And, just to help the day I bought our airline tickets.  Todd, Savanna, and I leave on Sunday, May 5 (which happens to be Audrey's 19th birthday, so it will be a bittersweet day).  Todd and Savanna return the following Monday.  Hope and I will return about 9 days later.

Oh, and let me tell you about our tickets.  We are flying out of Tallahassee--if you don't live here, you probably have no idea what a big deal that is.  For being a state capitol, we don't have very good air service.  But, we are flying in and out of our hometown.  Not only that, but our tickets were about $1000 less PER TICKET than we had expected!!  Thank You, GOD.

Tonight we go to Good Friday service.  Riza has recently accepted the Lord and will take her first communion.  The whole family will be in church together (that never happens because our teens usually go to church at a different time than we do).  We will be focusing on the amazing, breathtaking sacrifice that Christ made for us.  And I will try my very best to be solemn and worshipful, but all day today, I have had a hard time not breaking into a huge smile and even chuckling a little when I think about our new daughter and the wonderful way my day started.  So, if you are at church tonight and hear me giggle, just try to be understanding...and maybe even give a little cough to help cover my laugh :)

Psalm 48
O God, we meditate on your unfailing love
    as we worship in your Temple.
10 As your name deserves, O God,
    you will be praised to the ends of the earth.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Holding Pattern

So...the exciting news is that we have Travel Approval!  That means that China says that it is o.k. if we come to China for the purpose of adopting Hope.

This is a huge step.  After Travel Approval comes an application for a Consulate Appointment.  This is the final step before we can make travel plans.  The Consulate Appointment in China is important because the embassy will issue a visa so that Hope can enter the USA.

Actually, we have a Consulate Appointment, too.  Which means we should be booking flights and packing.

But we aren't.  Because we have hit a snag.  Because of Hope's medical history, she has a high risk of being a TB carrier.  Because of her age, she may be required to have a TB test which involves a culture that takes 6-8 weeks for the results.

Oh, and did I mention that she turns 14 on May 13.  We MUST adopt her before she turns 14.

We don't know how this will play out.  We do know that we have an awesome agency, Lifeline, working diligently on our behalf to determine the best plan of action.  We also have the assurance from our social worker Karla that she will not let Hope age out.  She is our daughter.  We will get this done.

And most of all, we know that God loves Hope deeply.  He has promised to set the lonely in families and He will work to bring Hope home.  We are waiting and trusting to see how this will work out.

So, what do we do while we wait?  Work in a circus, turn into mermaids and eat ice cream, of course!

My mom and I took my two little girls on a short trip down to the Tampa area for Spring Break.  As I will be away from them a couple of weeks during our trip to China, it was really nice to be able to spend some special time with them.  We had a great time :)

It was a fun distraction, as we continue to wait...

Psalm 62:5
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Prayer circles and Travel plans

In my prayer journal, I have the exact date that I began praying for our China travel plans...July 16, 2012. On August 1, 2012 I began praying for the right time to bring Hope home. At some point, I began praying that we would travel over Savanna's spring break so it would be easiest for Savanna (in terms of needing to make up school work). During this time I read "Prayer Circles" by Mark Batterson and I began to pray these verses:

Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.  Genesis 21:2

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.  
Galatians 4:4 

These verses assured me that my child would come at the right time, at the time God promised.

The LORD answered Moses, "Is the LORD's arm too short?  You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you."  Numbers 11:23

A reminder that God can accomplish everything He promises.

As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame."
Romans 10:11

And a reminder that I can completely trust in God.

So...we are a few days away from spring break.  We don't have Travel Approval.  We won't travel over spring break.

At first, I was stymied.  Trusting God, but confused.  I had felt very sure that God wanted me to pray for a spring break travel date.  Was I wrong?  Did I miss something?  

I don't know all of the answers.  But as I have prayed, this is what God as showed me...

First, there are many times that as Christians we pray earnestly, fervently for something (I think especially of those prayers for ill family members) and it seems that God doesn't answer.  We all experience these times.  In these times, we must make the decision on whether we believe that God still loves us and wants the best for us.  I have decided that I do believe God loves me and wants the best for me.

Second, God has reminded me of another verse...

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

There are happenings in the spiritual world that are occurring beyond my knowledge and understanding,   Prayer is essential for fighting these battles!

So, in the midst of it all, I choose to pray and trust and wait expectantly. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Lifesong Update

"And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" Matthew 25:40

One Child. One Life. One Soul.
An ongoing theme of our ministry is the power of ONE. Not to ignore the often overwhelming 147 million orphan statistic, but to focus on making an impact on ONE child. As Andy Stanley says, "Do for ONE what you wish you could do for every one. And when do you for ONE, you often end up doing for far more than just one." 
Please enjoy these ONE child stories...


In Zambia, like many parts of the world, witchcraft is very prevelant. At Lifesong School in Zambia, we teach the children that God is more powerful than witchcraft and the witchdoctors that practice it. They can have power through Jesus Christ to fight off evil, through HIS NAME! Listen in as Paul shares the experience that he and his friends had with a local witchdoctor...
Pray that God will continue to show himself to Paul and use this experience to build his trust and faith in our Father God.
Learn more about Lifesong Zambia >>


Thomas grew up on the streets without any parents to care, protect or provide for him. A missionary brought Thomas to Lifesong's Master's Home of Champions, knowing he would be cared for. Listen in as Thomas shares his heart for the people of Liberia and the role he sees for himself to bring Christ's name known!

Pray that Thomas will continue to grow in His relationship with Jesus Christ and with boldness, share the gospel to others. Learn more about Lifesong Liberia >>

Read more ONE child stories...

Katie Rescued from Orphanage -- Katie, born with down syndrome, was 9 years old and weighed only 10 pounds when Joe & Susanna traveled to adopt her. Read Full Story

Natasha Breaks the Cycle -- "I was looking for someone to understand me, to love sincerely...I received all this!" Read Full Story

"I am your mommy!" -- Beautiful account from one of our Lifesong Adoptive families, sharing their first moment they met their son Cohen from Congo. Read full story

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Wonders of the Deep

Many years ago, when I was going through a difficult journey, a sweet friend shared some verses with me from Psalm 107.  I love to remember these verses whenever I am going on a long (to me) journey.  Here are the verses with a little comment on our current journey.

23 Others sailed out on the ocean in ships.
    They traded goods on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord.
    They saw the miracles he did on the ocean.

We set sail in this journey of adoption...on these mighty waters.  We have seen so many miracles-- in our own process and in the lives of others who are adopting.  So many little blessings--a special verse during my quiet time, a friend letting me know that she is praying for me, a song on the radio that ministers to me-- these are whispers to my heart.  I try to write these down and treasure them in my heart as reminders of God's unfailing love.  These works strengthen our faith. 

25 He spoke and stirred up a storm.
    It lifted the waves high.
26 They rose up to the heavens. 

In the storms, sometimes we are lifted up like a ship riding a crest, and we lift our hands in prayer.  We see God at work...

Then they went down deep into the ocean.
    In that kind of danger the people’s boldness melted away.

but, truthfully, sometimes then we ride the wave down to the depths and we get discouraged.  Our prayers lack faith as our boldness is drained away.

27 They were unsteady like those who get drunk.
    They didn’t know what to do.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord because of their problems.
    And he brought them out of their troubles.

And time after time, when we call out to the Lord., when.we don't know what to do, He answers our desperate prayers and He brings us out of our troubles.

He made the storm as quiet as a whisper.
    The waves of the ocean calmed down.

He calms our fears.  He meets us at our point of weakness, even as we pray "We believe!  Help our unbelief!!"

30 The people were glad when the ocean became calm.
    Then he guided them to the harbor they were looking for.

We have not yet reached the harbor we are looking for.  Our journey is not yet over, but we believe we see the lights of the harbor ahead of us!

31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his faithful love.
    Let them give thanks for the miracles he does for his people.
32 Let them honor him among his people who gather for worship.
    Let them praise him in the meeting of the elders.

We praise Him for His faithful love.  We thank Him for His guidance.  We thank Him advance of the answer because we know He is faithful.  God's word says that "The one that trusts in Him will never be put to shame."  (Romans 10:11)

And truthfully, I am writing this post to myself.  A reminder to me that God will guide us to the harbor we are looking our daughter.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Family Dedication

We are grateful for our amazing church, Celebration Baptist Church, for Yuly's Child Dedication service.

Like many churches, our church has Baby Dedication. Our three biological children had all participated in (slept through) their Baby Dedications. Our church has committed to make this service special and meaningful. One thing that I really appreciate about this service is that the dads write a blessing and speak it to their children.

As Yuly did not come to us as an infant, she did not have a Baby Dedication. But, I am so grateful to our church that we are able to dedicate Yuly now. Honestly, I thought about it only recently, but we want all of our children dedicated to the Lord. Yuly shouldn't have had to miss that dedication just because she was not a baby when she became my daughter!

So...on Sunday, March 3, our family stood before the church to acknowledge that Yuly belongs to the Lord and that we are blessed to parent her.

Here is the blessing:  

Yuly, because “God was kind and decided that Christ would choose us to be God’s own adopted children” [Eph 1:5], your mother and I pray “that light will flood your heart and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people.” [Eph. 1:18] As a family, we vow to take God’s Word and “tell them to (our) children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether (we’re) at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.” [Deut. 6:7]. “so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And … that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” [Eph. 3:17-19]
And after church, we had lunch at Grandparents' home to celebrate. Yuly got a new, really cool Bible (it looks like a comic book!) and some Colombian candy.

Looking forward to the opportunity to dedicate Hope before the Lord, too! I don't know if I have mentioned it, but I am really ready to bring her home!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Latest Pictures!

So...after checking my e-mail about 1000 times a day (give or take a couple of thousand), we finally got an update on Hope. We have four new pictures that we are enjoying...trying to get a glimpse of her personality, her likes, her style :)

These make us even more ready to go get her.  And, on a side note, assuming these pictures were taken in Guangzhou, we are really looking forward to being there.  It looks beautiful!  And I don't know where the picture of her standing on the bridge was taken, but I hope that we can find it while we are there--it looks really cool!

After we got the pictures, we headed to Build a Bear.
Our friend Jennifer helped us record the girls saying in Chinese:
Audrey:  I am your big sister
Savanna:  I am the next sister
Yuly:  I am the big little sister
Riza:  I am the little sister
All:  We love you.

(I had bought the recorder from build a bear and we did that part at home).  Jennifer told us that birth order is very important and this was a great way for the girls to introduce themselves.  At the mall, Yuly and Riza gave wishes to the hearts (actually, I had taken hearts to Todd, Audrey and Savanna to rub on their hearts and to kiss so there are 6 hearts in this bear!).  In the picture the girls are rubbing the hearts on their feet so their sister will be TOE-Tally awesome :)  Then the girls picked out clothes and dressed the bear.  Can't wait to deliver the bear to Hope!  SOON!