Three months??

Since my last post. I apologize to those of you who have been trying to follow.

There has been progress in our adoption, but it has been so slow and tedious and painful each step of the way I seem to overlook the small steps forward in my anticipation for the FINALE. Not a good plan, is it? Because now here we are, and it’s almost September, and Lord-willing, my children are ALMOST HOME.

April 25th we “had” our son. He was legally made ours by the Ethiopian courts. GLORY.

May 25th we “had” two daughters. PRAISE GOD, they passed court, and all the hugely problematic issues we discovered four and a half months prior had been straightened out and corrected. “WE GOT THEM, WE GOT THEM, WE GOT THEM!!!” was all I could think or say. I do remember receiving the news via email from Ethiopia. I was working in the ED that morning, and I walked into a room to do something like sew up a finger (that was going to take a little bit of time), while I was actively stalking my e-mail every five minutes. I knew something would happen while I was in that room watching “Swamp People” with my finger laceration. (Well, listening to them hunt gators while I was sewing up this hand.)

I came out of that room and refreshed my e-mail and THERE IT WAS. “Congratulations – the judge has approved your case.” That was all I needed. There was an eruption of joy in that ED, and I couldn’t contain the jumping and giggling and GUSHING. It had taken 14 months since our referral to GET them, and according to law in Ethiopia, after seven -count them, SEVEN- court dates for this specific purpose, we passed. GLORY, indeed.

So we ordered pizza and cookies and had a little party that afternoon in the ED.

Next comes embassy. It takes a few weeks (or two and a half MONTHS in our ever-complicated and document-error-ridden cases) to have the files completed and submitted to embassy. Our son’s first embassy appointment (for birth family/guardian) was almost three weeks ago. They found a little red flag and asked us to find another individual we didn’t know anything about. (“Anything” as in, the person’s name, location, or living-or-dead status.) After two weeks of searching, on our “last straw” day, just before we hired a private investigator to go and get ‘er done, THEY FOUND HIM. Appointment is this coming Friday for THAT interview, and we are really hopeful that this will clear our little boy with an invitation to come-and-get-him.

Two days ago (August 23), we had birth family/guardian interview for our girls. One of them passed, one didn’t. Go figure. SO, we were CLEARED for our oldest (complete with a come-and-get-her invitation), but we need one more document for our younger daughter. We are praying that this is as easy to obtain as people think it will be, and she is cleared this week as well.


The last leg of this journey has been tremendously hard, and incredibly stressful. It is the third trimester (well, we’re feeling way overdue by now) to the extreme. It’s a good thing this process involved awful, painful waiting all the way up to this point, so you can bear this part when it’s happening. And happening. And happening. Most of the time we feel like we can’t take another minute, day, week, month, but somehow (i.e. by the grace of God alone), we have.

So many people have asked us how we can “handle” this. They’ve asked for months and months and months. To say it is the grace of God is an understatement. It has been a great learning process for me (and still is), how to “handle” this. His grace is the only explanation I have, and I’m continually discovering more about what it means to take that grace and apply it to every.single.disappointment. Every new hitch. Every new hurdle. Every new hoop we are forced to jump through. Everyone we have talked to (from our friends who’ve adopted to our agency directors to the Department of State) have been bewildered at some point (or many) about why these things are happening in our cases. Weird, senseless stuff much of the time. And still is happening. And while I want to say, “but that’s okay – it’s almost over”, I don’t know when it will be over. I think it will be; I surely hope it will be. But it is not about just enduring to the end. We have longed for the end for a long time. (Mind you, I tread lightly here. 18 months is a long time for our situation, but it is NOT a “long time” compared to a great deal more situations.)

There is something about the enduring itself. About the patience itself. The steadfastness. The strength and peace He wants to work in us during utter emotional and mental turmoil. It has been torture to our minds and hearts (and so much stress and so many sleepless nights, our bodies). It has weighed heavily on our son who so wants his brother and sisters home. But the actual process going on here is much more than we know. I know that underneath the surface there is something beautiful about to emerge. God is preparing something to blossom – to explode from this dark soil, rich with months and months of investment and anticipation and prayer. The work He is doing in us is as significant as the work He is doing for our kids. And, I absolutely, in our kids. How could we have ever planned to show them how to wait in faith and in hope for something they don’t see and can’t touch until it happens?? There is a foundation of faith and love and trust being built, I absolutely believe, in their hearts and minds.

And for what all He is teaching me… I’m still chewing on so much and waiting for so much to develop into a clear understanding… I’ll have to get back to you later.

Praying for clearance this week for the little two. Asking to move forward.

New activities

Maybe it’s just a way of occupying my attention and energy while we wait to bring our kids home. I don’t know.

I’ve taken up running.

I was an athlete ages ago, and in then in college ran for fitness something like maybe a max of 3 miles consistently. Then as I developed arthritis in my knee I quit for fear I would progress the problem. And haven’t really run in about 7-8 years.

BUT! There is a group I love called Project Hopeful that is putting together a team to run the Chicago Half Marathon this September as an awareness/fundraiser. Heavens. If anything could motivate me to train for a half, this could. PH advocates for the adoption of HIV+ and special needs orphans internationally. They are a wonderful organization and are so effective in their advocacy and education. I love them, and I would run for them. So once I overcome all my chicken and throw down the cash to commit to/register for this race, look for me on their website and sponsor me!

I have never run a race in my life. Not a real one. And I’m definitely not running competitively against anyone but myself. I think I will do a local 5K for an awesome cause next month to practice the whole race thing…

Anyway, I started about a month ago at approximately 1.5 miles. A running friend gave me a basic training regimen and today I did my second 4 mile run (interspersed with walking breaks, mind you). I am trying to run my “goal-for-the-week” distance at least four times each week. Today I did 4 in 46 minutes, which is GREAT improvement for me. I love watching those minutes creep down, even though I’m still totally a novice.
This morning’s run was great. I was outside for the first time in nearly two weeks (when we were vacationing in the Smoky Mountains, and my workouts were really strenuous hikes that for sure taught my legs what real pain was, and wasn’t). Btw- I did to a trail run 2.5 miles down a trail, which was really incredible. Felt great… minus the three falls, ankle sprains, and abrasions. Glad no one was within sight at those particular moments.

There is something wonderful about outside early in the morning, with your body working. I’m the overly-focused beginning type so far that can’t really look around and enjoy the view – I have to watch the road in front of me and pay attention to my task, or I will stop doing it for pain or fatigue. But this was by double the longest outdoor run I have every done (minus the all-downhill trail), and though I had to push myself relatively hard I felt great afterwards. My calves don’t protest like they did the first two weeks (thank you, Mountains), and my cardio endurance is absolutely improving. Love progress!!

This is a good activity for me. Requires a lot of discipline because I have a lot of don’t-feel-like-it days still, and am having new and significant knee pain (will be getting that checked out – I really don’t want to lose my momentum in training). And no one will commit to training with me. So if you’re interested… please tell me. I need a buddy. Especially for September 9th in Chicago.

So, I’m off to a new realm of “beat my flesh”, and I’m excited about it.

Join me??

April 25th. section 2

Just when you thought it almost couldn’t get better.

It could.

This is what else happened on April 25th: another miracle. Pure & simple, yet incredibly complex & incomprehensibly detailed. A miracle made of pure love straight from God, straight to some little girls who have felt a heavier weight of this world than you and I could imagine most days.

Let me start at the beginning.

Nearly four months ago now we met a darling little 11-year-old girl in the same back-alley-off-a-side-street-orphanage that my darling little girls live in. She was sad the day that we met her because, we learned, she was our oldest daughter’s best friend, and she did not yet have a family. This joyful day for her soulmate was for her a painfully piercing reminder that she would soon have to say another goodbye, and she was still alone. Feeling unwanted. Just like my little girls just a few months earlier. We did not get to spend as much time with our girls’ friends as we’d have liked to, but we learned enough about her to know that she needed a family. Of course all the children do, but this child was a special burden, and God pressed her so deeply into our hearts. We discussed even that if she did not have a family “within a year” we would adopt her. (Even Bob said that!)

So we bid our girls goodbye, and came home to an unpredictable and painful waiting period (still here). One of our comforts during this process has been kind of a weird pay-it-forward emotionally. As you remember, our son’s best friend waited for months for seemingly meaningless reasons. We were so thankful, though, that he was still there all that time for our son! (I know, utterly selfish.) The patience that his parents displayed was remarkable, and we told them several times how sorry we were that it was taking so long, but how grateful we were that our child had not had to say goodbye to his buddy so long before he met his own family. If you didn’t read the previous post about how God worked all that out, you really must. So especially after meeting sweet girl at KC, we accepted the same bittersweet gift of giving “what-should-have-been-our” time with our girls to their precious friends. (Really God takes the liberty of giving it, since we wouldn’t have even known what He could do with it, and may have somehow justified that our own pain was worth relieving and just brought them home. If we were the orchestrators of the universe, of course.)

Consistent with our first impression of sweet girl Y, we continued to feel pressed to advocate for this girl once we got home. We told friends about her, and asked them to pray that God would send her family soon. We told them all we knew, which was not much, and what agency she was with. And just prayed.

I don’t remember exactly how many days –yes, days– it was before a woman who holds one of those dearest-people-to-my-heart positions told me, “We’ve been praying for Y, and this morning [my husband] said, ‘I think God is asking me to be Y’s father.'” You cannot imagine the inward squeal (and maybe a little outward… probably… or a lot…) that took place in that second. WHAT??? GOD is telling them this incredible girl is theirs?!?!

It could not be more perfect. And I hadn’t even really thought of that. (Me. Who delights in attempting to reveal to others God’s plan for their lives. Ha.)

And you truly should hear all of the miracles along their journey, so I’ll refer you to their blog to read about it. Give her grace, though, if it takes a while to post. She has been completing a new homestudy and dossier and readopting their first child after moving across the country and suddenly in the whirlwind of papers and the need to paint a little girl’s bedroom in their home. Let me just say that God showed them this on no unclear terms, and has laid out the way for them to get this girl. We are anticipating a summer court date. (!!!!!!)

So, April 25th.

Now that everything is official and moving forward rapidly and being made known all-over-the-world…. now that even though my friend’s care package hasn’t made it to their daughter yet… now that another dear friend, who has also had a senselessly wild ride waiting to go to court for her own sons has made it to Addis THIS WEEK… (this friend who is the only person I know who would enSURE that this critical letter and photos be delivered by hand & explained by another friend we and our daughters love & trust, who could translate… and capture it on video!!!!!… and “happened” to finally get there THIS WEEK)…

NOW our daughters know that God has NOT -NOT EVER, EVER– forgotten them. That He had planned all along to knit these girls together in such a way that their families were already best friends before they had even been placed with us. He has given them a future not only with parents and siblings who love them immeasurably, but He has done all this to even preserve this very special friendship they have, forever. Everyone who has seen them together has been impressed by how close they are, how special their relationship is. It is a sacred one, and I can’t even quite understand it, but it is an amazing grace God has given them for these years they’ve shared in a very hard place, and He is so kind, and so tender, and so mighty, and so sovereign that He is not even going to make them say goodbye. He has PLANS for these girls. Don’t you ever doubt it.

And when you think of this, I hope it utterly awes you. These children that by most of the world would be considered trash. My children, trash. THESE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD AND THEY ARE INFINITELY, IMMEASURABLY, EXCEEDINGLY, AWESOMELY PRECIOUS. HE LOVES THEM. He LOVES them, He LOVES them. And the very least of the citizens of the world have such a place of dearness in His heart of hearts that He writes stories like this for them! Far beyond what even I could ask for or imagine for them, and I have seen my God work wonders for years!! And I promise you, this is just one of the stories, still! There is more! And there is more than I know.

And I hope that when you think of this, you find yourself on your face because you and I are just exactly the same as them. We who feel so obscure sometimes, and so confident in our own presence at other. We are exactly the same, and our GOD has LOVED us. He has LOVED us. And I hope you chew on this, and consider in your heart what it means, and what it means for us. And for them.

I see His hands all over their stories, all over their past, present, and future. I see His hands all over their relationships and all over their faces. I look at the photos of their faces three years ago, one year ago, and four months ago… and I imagine the image of their reading the news of the latest great thing He has DONE for THEM. And His grace, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His might, His hope is all.over.them.

And these are but the fringes. Hallelujah.

April 25th. section one

Dear friends:


Yes, officially, legally, finally, permanently.


What more can I say, really?

We first saw his face March 16, 2011, and those huge, bright, brown eyes swallowed our hearts forever. You will see soon, and you will understand. He was on the waiting child list, then he was off. Then, when it was time, there he was again. And now he is ours. The road to become his parents has been much longer than we anticipated, much harder than we expected, and more redemptive than we had planned. God snatched him up out of hopelessness before he even knew his imminent demise, and He put him in a place that has loved him and nurtured him and cared for him every day and every night. He placed incredible, precious, wonderful brother-friends in his life. In his room. They found such love and companionship in one another. And by the grace (beautiful, matchless grace) of our sovereign and intimate GOD, he will grow up staying in touch with his brothers and friends, and we pray visiting together in the summer times.

I won’t forget the first e-mail I received from his best-friend-#1’s mother, when I asked her to take photos for me at the orphanage: “Our son’s best friend is named [A]!! I hope it’s the same one!!” She attached a photo of her son with mine, and it was the same photo I had in my file of my son & his best friend. Mind you, this was a couple of months past our referral, so to see his face really, truly existing in someone else’s world was a.w.e.s.o.m.e. That sweet boy & his family had such process issues (we empathize), that he ended up waiting months “too long” before he finally got to come home (which he did in January!!!).

Simultaneously, best-friend-#2’s mother found me through BF#1’s, and asked for photos of her son when we went over. As it turns out, God had miraculously sped their process into a frenzy that landed their family in Addis at the same time that we were there!!

Oh, and did you put together that BF#1 went home in January? While we were there for court? YES, our three boys and their three parental sets (minus one mommy who had to stay home with BF#1’s siblings) were all together for a few days. In Addis. One after months of waiting-too-long, and one still spinning from how quickly it was all going.


It is also far more than noteworthy that my BF#1 & BF#2’s parents both love Jesus and TRUST HIM with their lives. And their children. And this is the type of faith we needed while we were there in January. Remember how we were told that we might lose all the children? How our son’s case was close to considered ‘impossible”, and we were nearly told to “choose another referral”? How our girls’ case revealed such complications that we had to start over from scratch and pray that the truth would be honored? All of that came down on us just a couple of hours before we had scheduled to have dinner with these families at their guest house. You can believe that we had some intense prayer time together, and that we were beyond grateful for their presence.

God knows every sparrow before it falls, and He knows every tear before it falls. He provided everything.

Not just for us. Not just for our tears.

We were there when our boys had to face the fact that their best friend was gone now. We were there to hold and hug and snuggle and play. They were hard days for the boys, but they were also days filled with the promise that they DID have a family, and even though we couldn’t take them home now, we will be back.

BF#2 went home a few weeks ago as well. And while we wish we could have been there for our son then, the story of their parting was so intensely precious. God poured out grace on my boy, I know. And I know he was loved on greatly by my friends.

And now I can see the judge’s face looking us in the eyes and saying, “Do you understand that if you give your consent this child will be yours forever? This is permanent.” “Yes,” we said. Yes.

God said it was done. It is.

We will go to embassy next; we pray the process is smooth. We know there is more-than-we-know before and behind everything that is happening in our cases. It has been a struggle many days, but great victory always follows great struggle. Keep praying as the process continues!

Give me a second…


I still need to pause and try to grasp this story whenever I tell it.

We are STILL patiently waiting for forward movement in our cases. We have had many emotional ups and downs over the last two and a half months. We have been told four or five times now, since we came home in January, by one person that our files are completely corrected and can be re-opened in court… only to be told shortly thereafter (by the person who is meticulously making sure things ARE correct this time) that they are not. And still aren’t. It is hard to think, Finally! This is it!! to be brought back down this many times. While we had to come to grips a few months after our referral with the fact that our “file-ready children” were not, in fact, file-ready (by any stretch, apparently), we’ve essentially been playing this “you’re-ready-now-just-kidding!” game full-speed since last October. But we are picking up pace every month, with more frequent experiences and shorter intervals between the-news-we’ve-all-been-waiting-for and the downer that follows just a day or two later. We are emotionally exhausted, struggling not to be critical and depressed, and some days aren’t sure how to keep breathing while our hearts are being suspended by this invisible line hanging across the Atlantic between rural Indiana and Addis Ababa. Well, that’s how I feel a whole lot of the time.



Then God does things like this, right smack in the middle of my deepest pity party.

This past weekend my church hosted the His Little Feet International Children’s Choir. We had stumbled across this group at the Summit VII conference last May in Louisville. The directors and their global partners prayerfully select countries for the year’s choir to have participants from, then orphanages, then children to sing in the choir. The kids then train locally, and before the tour begins (last fall for this group) they come to America and record their album, then begin traveling the States singing worship to the God who has LOVED them and NOT forgotten them. They simultaneously advocate (powerfully) for orphans globally, share bits of their stories, and totally bless the host families that give them a place to stay at each location.

SO. Last May we came across their booth at this conference, and it sounded wonderful, and when they told me that “next” (this) year’s choir would be composed of children from Ethiopia, Honduras, and India, there was not really a choice but to sign my church up to have them come. They arrived March 18th at Bethel, we had a dinner with all their host homes, they did their program (which was phenomenal), and everyone went home to the host homes.

Due to a wonderful last-minute “fall-through” of a host home (that I am SO thankful for), I got to have two little girls from Ethiopia, aged 10 & 13, in my home. They were so precious. They filled my back seat with Amharic and giggles. They squealed and hugged me when I offered them berberi (an Ethiopian spice) instead of ketchup for their food. They climbed all over the swingset laughing and intentionally frightening me with their antics and made my little boys love them. They left black curly hairs in my shower and the delicious smell of their hair products in the air. They went to the zoo with us ate pizza after and sang along with songs on K-love. They helped me with some of my Amharic, and snickered at my poor attempts to say things. They walked down the hallway Monday morning, and E could see them from his tiptoes in his crib, and when he saw beautiful brown faces he pointed and made his grunty noise with a huge smile and much urgency to get out to them. No doubt he thought that the girls he’s been looking at all his life were finally in his house. But no. The very sad and hard part was that Tuesday morning I told everyone to load up in the van so we could take the kids back to their tour bus. Samuel got this expression of loss on his face and said so sadly, “But… where are they going??” I know, son. These aren’t ours. Not yet.

I am fully confident that those girls (and I pray the entire choir) will have homes waiting for them by the end of the summer.

So all that is good. But then it gets really good.

Sunday night, around 9:30, when we’re all exhausted, and I’m ready to just collapse, having spent all my excitement on meeting the kids and seeing their program and wanting to adopt them all…. I’m showing the girls their bedroom (my girls’ bedroom), and they start looking around. The 10 year old sees photos on the shelf and begins to investigate, then starts jumping up and down and pointing at our photo from January saying, “I know dis gehl! I know dis gehl!” I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, and their staff person says, “I think she’s saying she knows the girl in this photo”. I was so frozen all I could think was don’t say their names… let them say their names, just to be sure… She summoned the older girl over, who immediately recognized them. They proceeded to name each one of our girls, and then the orphanage they are from. “Zey sing wit us. We sing.” The older girl said, “Yes, dis is [H]. We share dress.”

I e-mailed the choir’s director that night to see what was happening -how did these kids know my girls? They were not from the same orphanage. There are 5 Million – 5 MILLION orphans in Ethiopia. Many – most of them in the capital city. How many orphanages are in Addis? I don’t know. I know there are three different locations to just the orphanage my girls are from. As it turns out, our girls were selected to tourwith His Little Feet. The directors had ended up in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, at KC orphanage, at their location, and chose THEM to sing in the choir. THIS choir. THIS year. THESE children. They have photos of my girls they’d taken for the album cover, and all. The girls were not able to come on tour because they were matched with a family (us) before they left. (The thought was that they would be coming home soon.) They had their passports and everything.

Three of the boys on tour were from KC and knew the girls well. All the children (from Ethiopia) remembered them, and just ate up the photo albums we showed them. One of the girls asked if she could have the book with all the girls’ pictures.


Then I remembered the orphanage that the girls staying with us were from, and because it was “impossible” (there are four different locations by this name) I hadn’t asked before…. but I thought I had to just ask and see if they remembered another child I love. One of my dearest friends adopted her son from this orphanage last summer. He was critically ill and I had asked everyone I knew to pray for him, so lots of people know of him here stateside. My friend had stayed there in Addis for weeks caring for him while they waited to pass court and embassy processes. The older girl thought for a moment (this was nearly a year ago, and one baby’s name that might have been at the same location… then started yelling excitedly his Ethiopian nickname. “Yes, yes, he was very sick.” I pulled out photos of him and his new parents, and she just about melted over them. She recognized my friends, and just stared and stared at this little guy, who was on death’s doorstep last she saw him (and now, praise God, is a THRIVING one-and-a-half-year-old). She was describing to me his i.v. and everything (which was correct). I quickly texted my friend (who now lives about a million miles away) with a little photo of this dear girl in my kids’ school room, to ask if she remembered her. The girl (“A”) then began to beg me for a photo of this baby to take back to her friend, “B”, because “She love him very much, and she cry when he go.” My friend texted back not two minutes later, “YES, I remember her! I think she had a good friend named “B”….” Indeed. Within a few minutes I been e-mailed a photo of my friend with her baby, and “B”, who loved him. I printed off two copies and gave them to dear little “A”, who perhaps was seeing her best friend’s face for the first time since she left Ethiopia last fall. She created a special paper folder that night, beautifully decorated, to carry her precious photos in. The photos didn’t make it into her pack Tuesday morning. They stayed clenched in her hand.

Please do not try to tell me that this is a freaky coincidence. Please do not try to figure out the odds that these two little girls KNOW my little girls, and my friend’s little boy. Please do not say that it’s perfectly reasonable that my girls would have been chosen to sing in this choir (even though it is perfectly reasonable because any choir director that might have seen them would have seen how beautiful, how energetic, how joyful and full of life, how smart and talented, how great of singers they ARE… once they found them, in their quite small compound, in the corner off an alley off a side road near the edge of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia). Please do not think that this is the only, or biggest, or most well-known orphanage for beautifully-singing children in Addis. My agency’s in-country workers didn’t even know where their compound was when we got there. Please do not think “Oh, if only they had gone ahead and come, they would be in your house right now!” (Well, yes, I did think that.) But we were with a different agency, and we would not have been able to get them. Plus, they are so amazing, we’d probably then be competing with twenty-five other families who’d met them and wanted them. And if we were with the choir’s main agency, we would have missed our son. And his story is woven just as beautifully. Please do not think that it was an accident that we encountered this choir a year ago, at the first adoption conference we’ve attended, and signed up to have them come in hopes the actual decision-makers at our church would agree. No, my friends, this is a miracle. Another little diamond sparkling against a painfully black backdrop of battling to get our children home.

And now I have photos of my daughters’ friends here in their own soon-to-be home, where we’re all waiting for them to arrive. I’m telling you, friends. This is a beautiful tapestry, and so many pieces are sovereignly connected.

(By the way, the Ethiopian man who is touring with the choir kept telling us how blessed we were to be getting these two precious little girls. We know, we know! Also, last summer he worked with our son’s orphanage to make some media productions for them… and he kept telling us how much he loved those children, and how much he loves that orphanage’s work. There will be more stories on him soon.) :)

Circumstantial Contentment

Some Most days I feel like my mind is just chewing on things all day long. Different themes for different days. Or sometimes a hundred things. This is one a recurring one, and I think that’s good, because the point is I’m bad at it.

Contentment. So much consideration of this is is regarding material things, but it certainly also relates (necessarily) to most areas of life. Right now it’s nothing material that I really want. It’s nothing that would make my life more comfortable, more convenient, more attractive, more prestigious, more intelligent, more indulgent. Honestly and obviously, I want my children home. (This likely equates to more discomfort, more work, more bags-under-the-eyes-and-unwashed-ponytails, more facing prejudice, more brain-cells-killed-by-exhaustion, and more sacrifice.) I want the beauty and irreplaceable wealth of loving my God-given children…. comfortably, conveniently, and beautifully in my current home in suburban America. Today.

Let it be known that God likes to give me a little chance to practice my mental “themes” for the day. I made it no further than halfway through that paragraph, my first actual attempt to blog in months (outside of sitting on an airplane on drugs about four weeks ago), when I got the opportunity to be content with my position as Mommy…. and not sit to complete a thought in written expression, but stop, pick up two rooms-full of toys, comfort a sleep-disrupted toddler, read bedtime books to a three-year-old, wash a sink full of dishes, and respond to text message questions about constipation treatment. I was really tempted to 1) not get up, and let Bob do the work :) or 2) be short-tempered and do it all begrudgingly. But wait, didn’t I sign up for this? Don’t I LOVE this? Doesn’t the world not revolve around me… EVER? Yes, gloriously. Yes.

So. My greatest lesson in contentment lately has (again) been contentment with my circumstances. It somehow seems that the heavier the weight of pain in my chest grows, to bring my children home, the more deeply the peace that passes understanding rests in my burdened heart. There is a purpose. There is a plan. There is so much unfathomable BEAUTY in what Jesus called “life more abundantly.” Now, we can either believe that or not, but we can’t really choose to believe it halfway. God’s plan is not just purposeful, wonderful, and beautiful when we understand it. What kind of GOD would that make Him? We certainly would not be understanding Him as He is if we thought He was as finite, self-concerned, biased, prideful, insecure, short-sighted, unwise, insufficient as we are. He has known the end from the beginning, and my entire life is like one cell in the human body (being one out of 80 trillion or so make you feel insignificant?). And yet each cell, as a tiny little building block, is so alive and so complex and so detailed and so gifted… there are many “threads” to even my one life. I can trace some of them back as far as I can remember, and others are coming that I could never predict, but they will complete this tapestry, and I have complete -COMPLETE- confidence that it will be a wonder to behold when it’s all done. I guess I say that because I have seen so much wonder in even the partial picture now.

Or like a watercolor painting. There are layers and layers of color and intensity, blending and defining. If I were to tell the Artist: “STOP! I don’t like that hue! That shadow is too large! This line is too definite! That area is too vague! What are you thinking to include such dark shades on my happy little canvas?” If you have ever seen an artist create, or a writer write, or any project be completed, or any child grow up, you know that there are many awkward stages. Many unrefined, even indistinguishable, even downright ugly moments. These are not mistakes – they are part of the process. Sculptures must be cut. Rosebushes must be pruned. It is growth and flourishing, this pain. And if I were to tear the brush away from the Artist, or try to hide from His hand…….. I cannot help but assure you, what glory I would miss.

I saw this so clearly (again)… SO clearly… while we were in Ethiopia with our children. I do not believe that everyone should adopt an orphan, or that everyone should wear the color yellow. Some of us simply are not made for it. :) But I tell you with absolute sincerity, the implications of these thoughts were very penetrating. In the beginning of an adoption process, you must choose your perimeters. This is not exclusive to adoption, though, and you know that well. There are many times that we don’t recognize it fully, but we are constantly, daily choosing our perimeters. What are we willing to take or not take? What are we willing to risk? What are we willing to give? We all have to draw boundaries at some place, and while they are not identical to anyone else’s boundaries, and they change over time, they must be defined at specific times. Some situations make you define them quite clearly, and before the whole world. As it was with our children. We had to choose what “type” of child we could or could not (would or would not) accept. And we drew lines. All three of our children were unwanted by many, even after being orphaned. They fell outside of the perimeter. There are dozens more that we could have chosen – and fell outside of our perimeters. But if we let God select our perimeters… if we let HIM stretch the boundaries to where He knows they belong… where He knows the very best thing is… where He knows He will provide everything needed… what wonders await.

We did NOT go into this chapter of our lives expecting what we have received. We expected long and hard and unpredictable, but we expected a degree of easier-in-the-process even because of our initial perimeters. (And surely God would help us out, since we were being obedient, right?) ;) We didn’t expect our children’s wait to be this much longer. We didn’t expect so many updates with bad news and so few with progress. We didn’t expect to learn of our children’s heartbreaks what we did. We didn’t expect three children, or ten-year-olds. Or seven-year-olds! We didn’t expect to have to tear down what progress had been made in the name of truth and justice. We didn’t expect to jump into grade school (at two different levels), or driver’s licenses and boyfriends within a few short years. We didn’t expect so many of the challenges we have (and have yet to) encountered, and while we counted absolutely on many hardships not even mentioned, we didn’t count on these in our planning and strategizing date nights.

But can I tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that it petrifies me to think that we could have missed this?

To think that, if we had not allowed God to stretch us further than we thought (at the time) we wanted to go… if we had allowed human reason and our own short-sightedness to dictate our perimeters… if we had not chosen to believe that what He said He will do… if we didn’t think that the impossible was within reach, or that the sufficiency of grace was real… if we would have backed down and shook our heads timidly and said, “maybe next time… right now we just can’t handle it”…….. to think we could have missed THIS! This love! This beauty! This redemption! This joy! This provision! This HOPE! This regeneration! This miracle of knowing and loving with all we are these three precious children of ours. This realizing again that God is SO FAR ABOVE all we could imagine, and GIVES SO MUCH MORE than anything we could ask. He doesn’t give what we ask for… He gives what we didn’t even consider possible, if we’ll take it.

And already, in this thread of one more (be it major) hang-up in our cases, in this thread of our adoption, in this thread of our parenting chapter, in this thread of our lives… already I can see glimmers of joy in what He is weaving. If we were to choose discontentment with where He has placed us now, and if we choose to grow bitter with waiting in the dark, or faithless for being given something hard and painful… if we were to count THIS LIFE, this life, undesirable… my mind can’t even wrap around the loss we would inflict upon ourselves. And our children. And all they would love and be loved by. And all they would influence to know the grace and beauty of our God… especially us.

“So let us fix our eyes on JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its pain, and was set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:2

He walked through the dark because He knew the light very well, and knew it overcomes. I have known glimpses of that Light, and see more all the time. It’s far worth the dark journey through this wasteland of a broken world, so long as my eye is focused. Walking with Him alone is absolutely worth it, but my goodness, the extra & abundant joys that are found at His side… even in the painful stretches! Especially in the painful stretches.

I know that I don’t even have a clue about the depth of this ocean of grace and provision and pain and redemption I’m writing about. I’m in the shallow end still, in so many ways.
I know that you have probably experienced deeper heartache than I have, or more seemingly hopeless situations. All I know is that trusting Him with the lives and well-being of my children is one of the greatest steps of faith this young mama can take. And my fears or discomforts in my own circumstances could never, ever, ever stand up to His grace and His promise.

So, since I love hearing feedback & especially love learning the stories He’s writing in other lives, I’d love to hear your accounts of times when your crazy steps of faithfulness led you to greater places than you ever could have known. Times when you embraced the hard with all your heart and waited for the dawn. We all have plenty of stories of times-we-didn’t. I have far more chicken-out stories, or flat-out “no” stories than I’d ever want to admit, and cringe to think of. And He still redeems those if we let Him. Those can be another day. :)


Rough Waters

January 10 (e-mail)


We have just learned some really difficult and complicated news. Our processes for all three of our children are potentially in jeopardy (not being dramatic). We need everyone (and everyone you know) to pray for us and for our kids, and for the grace of God to cover us all as we take necessary steps in a situation new to anyone here.

Sorry to be so vague…

thank you.

January 10
Just to follow that up…

If you don’t want to hear adoption horror stories, don’t ask us.
If you want to hear about God’s faithfulness, ask us.

He is in control and all will be well. We never asked for an easy road, and we’re not walking one. In some of our most difficult moments we’re already seeing His work, and while a really crazy story is unfolding we can already sense little bits of what He’s doing. The picture we are a tiny part of is much bigger than we ever could imagine, but it’s a painful realization to know what it means we will have to feel. This world is broken, but God is faithful. Adoption is a redemptive process. We don’t get to pick the circumstances – only how we respond. We choose to trust Him. Please keep lifting up our family, in all its little pieces!

(The short of the very long is that our son’s file is still not complete, and the needed documents are not expected to be easy to obtain. And that our girls’ files will need to be re-started from scratch because of some paperwork discrepancies. UGH.)