April 16, 2014

still fighting.

As I reflect back on the past couple of weeks, I am in awe. The outpouring of love, support and encouragement from so many has truly strengthened my weary heart. Prayers on behalf of our daughter have reached God's ears from all over this globe. I am immensely grateful and hopeful that all of this work will bring awareness and a solution to bring her home to our waiting arms. 

This message to waiting families from Kelly with Both Ends Burning (leading the advocacy campaign) sums up the hard work of the past two weeks: 


CONGRATULATIONS! What you have accomplished in less than ten days is nothing short of spectacular! Over 100,000 letters to Congress were sent for your children. It appears as many as 200 members of Congress are stepping forward to extend a hand to the President and Prime Minister of DRC to seek a solution to whatever it is that stands between you and your children. You all became the news in over 20 markets, and more stories are coming every day. For the first time in the history of my work in this field, members of Congress are reaching out to me to see what they can do to help you be united with your children. 


On Monday, we were interviewed by our local news station about our story. The sweet reporter called and asked if "we could talk this afternoon." Thinking she wanted to talk on the phone, I agreed. Thankfully, I clarified asking if she meant "talk in person - as in, on camera" and she said yes and that she would be at our house in about an hour. 

Y'all. I was a mess. I had been doing laundry and unpacking (the never-ending supply of) boxes all day. I called Dave frantically leaving messages and texts to COME HOME NOW. His brother finally got in touch with him (he was working on some piece of equipment and didn't hear my calls) and he came right home to save the day and clean the house while I showered. 


{Important side-note and lesson learned: we clearly need to practice our emergency procedures - I could have been in labor}!


You can view the story HERE. I wish they would have shared the petition to Congress so folks watching had a specific way to help do something. Yet, I think they did a great job editing down our hour and a half of talking and crying into a short segment.


{Another side-note; I fully realize that I don't actually look pregnant because of the strange way I'm sitting - could someone had told me to sit up straight, would that have been too much to ask?? I'm sure people watching thought I had just been under so much stress this past year and a half that I've taken up competitive beer drinking, hence the beer gut. To clarify, that is not the case. I'm actually growing a human here}. 


Then, after all of this good news and momentum, we were knocked off our feet with really shocking news yesterday. There was a delegation from DRC headed to the US this week and next to meet with our government, as well as families and children that are home. We found out yesterday that the delegation trip was canceled. There are rumors as to why and what happens next but it is all speculation at this point. I am feeling a supernatural peace about this news. I'm praying that this is God's hand and He will turn this surprising news into something good. He isn't surprised, He knew this would happen all along. He has a bigger plan and He is working. 


More than ever, I know that we are not fighting against flesh and blood in this battle. There are innocent lives caught in the middle of a power struggle with the 'spiritual forces in the heavenly places'. 



"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ..." {Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV}

Please continue to pray fervently with us for all of the children growing up thousands of miles away from the love a family. Pray for their little hearts as they wait. This wait is hard on us but there is no comparing the pain of a parent longing for their child to the pain of a child longing for a parent. Please pray that the wait is coming to an end very soon.



April 13, 2014

weekend links.

A couple of links that are too good not to share...  

This post from 'the Nester'.

Source

She basically went into my head and wrote my thoughts down on her blog. I'm not entirely sure how she managed this but she did it. Practically word for word. This is where we are with this crazy farmhouse renovation and staring imperfection in the face all day, every day. Yet, we are choosing to embrace the beauty and the joy. We are inviting friends over to hunt down the beauty alongside us.
"I have never had to stare imperfection in my home in the face more than I am right now in this mess of a fixer upper that we bought. Apparently, I’m not done learning to live with the imperfect, the undone, the slow change. 
What does being okay with our imperfect, beautiful, potential filled mess look like in real life? 
For me, it looks like inviting people into the midst of the mess."
Source

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This video I viewed at my recent retreat. Powerful, powerful words by author Brene Brown.

My heart found rest in her words. Particularly as I try to make sense of why we are still separated from our daughter.

The thing is, I believe God turns everything for good. I trust that He is sovereign. I trust that His timing is perfect. Yet, I also know that we live in a fallen, broken world. And, I know that my Jesus is weeping with us. He will take this pain and redeem all that has been lost. Even still, He did not orchestrate or author this pain. In His perfect plan, she would never have been made an orphan in the first place.

"Be assured that God is grieving today. God is weeping too.
...That changes everything." 

Happy weekend, friends!



April 9, 2014

holding onto hope in the wait.

The past week has been a whirlwind. I can't thank you all enough for joining us in this rally cry to get our daughter home. The support and encouragement has been amazing and humbling. I've been moved to tears many times in response to the outpouring of love this past week.

It has also been an incredibly stressful week. I've been glued to my computer and phone waiting for updates and next steps to be announced. Emails, phone calls, text messages, and status updates have been all-consuming.

Unfortunately, I've received my fair share of hateful remarks and spam comments from complete strangers with absolutely no regard for the truth or the facts. They are simply using this campaign for justice and twisting it to fit their personal agenda full of propaganda and lies. I wish I could say that the comments and the "shares" that have included my name and my daughter's name didn't bother me, that I shook them off and kept pushing forward. But, I can't say that. The words rattled me and shook at my resolve. I wanted to turn the computer off and go into hiding. I wanted to stay silent and be left alone.

To be perfectly honest, I am exhausted. I am weary. I am so hopeful that this advocacy will make a difference yet I'm ready to be done. I'm ready for mundane moments of normalcy with my family... my complete family...moments that don't require a 'call to action' or a political campaign. I just want to tuck ALL of my children in at night. I want to wash the extra set of dishes. I want to wipe another snotty nose and dry more tears and kiss my daughter's boo-boos. That may sound completely crazy {who would ask for extra dishes or extra laundry or another snotty nose to wipe?!} but that's where I am. Craving normal.

Which is why, I decided to step away this past weekend and attend our church's women's retreat in the middle of nowhere- with no cell service or access to internet. Just peace and stillness.

These signs marked one of the trails on the property. Beautiful reminders from a loving God. 
I even hauled my eight-month preggo self onto a bunk bed to sleep. If that isn't proof that I needed some time away, I don't know what is. {My sweet roomies did give me the bottom bunk and the only full bed in the cabin. Bless them}.


The theme for the weekend? All Things New.

He Makes All Things New.

It was a powerful message for my aching, longing, weary heart. The teachings were rich, the community was refreshing, the worship was passionate.


Amber Haines spoke on Friday night and her message centered on holding onto Hope in the wait. Umm. Yeah. Sort of what I needed to hear right now.

The thing is, "the wait" {no matter what it is that you are waiting for... an adoption, a pregnancy, physical healing, financial burdens to be lifted, a marriage to be restored... whatever "it" is) is dreary and long and we can become impatient easily. That impatience leads to a loss of hope. We start to turn our gaze away from the One who sustains us.

I've seen this play out over the past year and a half many times in my own life. When I take my eyes off of Jesus and His promises and I place them on the obstacles, the "what if's," or the failures, I lose hope. Even when I know, I trust, that He is good and He is working. Because, sometimes, in the wait, it feels like nothing is getting done. I look around at my circumstances and I don't see the change I have been praying so desperately for. I doubt. I wonder if God hears me. I try to make sense of what is happening with human logic. I look to the efforts of man instead of the ability of God.


Amber said something very powerful in her message, "Every time we are being asked to wait, we are being asked to look to Jesus. To move toward Him - believing in the unseen."

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
{Hebrews 11:1}

Faith is in the unseen. 

The miracle? Oh, it's hard to admit this but I don't need the miracle in order to hold onto Hope. 

I need to fix my eyes on Him and trust and wait full of His Hope. I can rest in knowing that my faith isn't too weak or too small. I didn't cause this. Even though this hurts and He weeps with me, He is using this to draw me closer, allowing me to endure my cross in order to reach the Hope set before me. He loves me. He knows my pain. He hears my prayers and catches my tears. This wait isn't a punishment. He is working even when I can't see it. 



After Amber spoke, a sweet, sweet moment with my Abba Father occurred. I felt a gentle nudge to turn to Psalm 40. As the words soaked into my heart, I realized that the worship team was singing a song I had never heard before. I lifted my eyes to the screen and saw the words being sung displayed... 


I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord

    and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40: 1- 3

The exact verses I had been reading were being sung over me. 

For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm your fears. He will exalt over you by singing a happy song. {Zephaniah 3:17}



I pray that whomever reads these words is encouraged today. And, you are able to hold onto another reminder from Amber's message that seeped into my heart...

"Winter always comes before Spring. Every time."



April 2, 2014

It. is. on.

Five hundred and seven days.

It was five hundred and seven days ago when our world was rocked. Our hearts were forever changed.

Five hundred and seven days ago, we saw her face. The face of our daughter.


These beautiful big, brown eyes have greeted me every single morning for the past five hundred and seven days.

This photo has remained on my bathroom mirror, on our refrigerator and on our dining room wall for five hundred and seven days.

Five hundred and seven days ago, my boys became big brothers. We have all been head over heels since that first glimpse.


Five hundred and seven days of prayers; desperate prayers of a mother's heart...pleading, begging, facedown-on-the-floor-sobbing prayers.

Five hundred and seven days of dreaming. Imagining what life will look like with her here. Picturing her running and laughing with her brothers. Envisioning her in my arms.

Five hundred and seven sleepless nights. Awake in the dark, worried. Restless thoughts invading...has she eaten today, is she sick? Where is she laying her head tonight? Is she afraid? Is she alone? Is she safe?

Five hundred and seven days ago, I had no idea where my feet would walk. I had no idea that I would fly halfway across the globe and hold this precious child, the one who has stolen my heart, and I would board a plane to come home without her.


I had no idea how long and how treacherous this road would be. And, for that, I am grateful.

I am thankful for His goodness and mercy. Five hundred and seven days ago, my heart could not have handled the battle ahead. If I had known, my knees would have been weak and I would have been afraid.

Yet, His grace is sufficient. Strength doled out each day. Reminders of His Faithfulness marking each footprint left behind.

There have been days when He has asked us to fight. We are battle-worn and bruised. We have seen glimpses of Glory and we have toed the pit of despair.

But, today. Today was a day when He whispered, "be still, my child."

Today, we watched Him fight. A flood of renewed Hope has been poured over our weary and worn hearts.

A print hanging in our daughter's room. Source: Etsy.com

"If you are His child, He's on the front lines battling on your behalf." - James MacDonald, Always True.

As I sit here in tears, refreshing my browser, I am in awe.

Over the past 48 hours, families have bound together to advocate for justice. We have sent out the rally cry and have decided that we can remain silent no longer. We can not fight on our own any longer. We have to stand together. Arm in arm.

Friends and family have spent the day emailing, mailing, and calling representatives and senators on behalf of our family and the hundreds of others with legally adopted children stuck in Congo. They have shared our daughter's story and are joining alongside us in pleading for justice.

A friend, who is in the middle of her own adoption, sent this photo. 
These are letters she wrote on behalf of our daughter. Tears. Overwhelming gratitude. 

In less than four hours, an online petition created by Both Ends Burning Campaign to help families with children stuck has sent nearly 20,000 letters to members of Congress.

God is on the move.

I have prayed for mountains to crumble, a pathway to be created where there was none, walls to fall down, seas to part ... I have begged God again and again for a miracle. A miracle beyond anything I could hope for or imagine. And, tonight, I am watching one unfold.

I don't know what lies ahead on our path but I do know the One who goes before us. I know how the story ends. I know victory awaits and joy is just within reach.

Please join us in the fight by signing the petition asking for a resolution for families separated from their legally adopted children. It only takes a few minutes and we need every signature to create change. Find the petition HERE.



*I've included photos of our daughter's face for the first time on this blog only because she has grown and changed significantly since this photo was taken. We are still unable to share current photos publicly. {Can we just have a moment to talk about the overload of CUTENESS?? I can hardly handle it. See why I have been dying to share photos with you?!}.



March 31, 2014

a BIG week for Feed Their Tummies!

Another round of food was delivered over the weekend for the Feed Their Tummies program. I LOVE seeing these photos and knowing that these children, whom I have held and laughed with and prayed for, are going to be given the gift of food for another two weeks. 

Two more weeks of security. Two more weeks knowing that their bellies will not be rumbling as they lay their heads down in the dark night. Two more weeks of knowing that they are not forgotten. 



It is not too late to be a part of this work. We need you. We need more friends to step out in faith and give up $10 each month for these children. 

An update from our Pure Charity site:

We continue to work toward securing ongoing support in order to ensure the monthly deliveries are funded. The majority of our monthly sponsors donate $10 per month and we are grateful for the opportunity this week to push for a BIG goal of another 50 monthly sponsors (or a total of $500 in monthly support)!!

A generous donor has offered a one-time gift of $500 to be given when we reach this goal of $500 committed monthly!! 

We have until this Friday, April 4th to raise the monthly support!!

After we reach our monthly goal and ensure food is delivered, we will be able to provide medical care and education opportunities for these children!

Thank you again for being a part of the work of transforming little lives through love!

Please consider joining us in this work and please share this with your friends and family!! Every dollar is vital to this goal!!!!


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, {Matthew 25:35 ESV}



March 28, 2014

meeting the neighbors.

Just because it's Friday and I'm able to sit at my kitchen table, sipping a hot cup of coffee {miracles do happen!} and watch my boys play outside my window with no worries about cars or strangers; I thought I'd share a few photos of our recent encounter with the neighbors out here at the farmhouse.

Sidenote: the boys are currently obsessed with "digging for gold". They got this idea from the show Gold Rush. Maybe not the most appropriate for almost-four-year-olds. But, they love watching with daddy.  In the photo below, Nate told me that he found all of the gold in the red cup "last season" and then he dug up more "gold" and exclaimed, "Holy awesome! This is the best season ever!"


Okay, back to the neighbors...

They are quiet and curious about us. They mind their own business and love when we bring over treats. They are quite possibly the perfect neighbors...we couldn't ask for more.





We are all loving the act of slowing down. Even though we have to drive an extra 15 minutes "into town" for activities and errands, when we are out here, we are grateful. We are peaceful. We are full.





The boys would not smile for a photo. These expressions just exude "peaceful," don't you think? :)


Fittingly, we have planted fruit-bearing trees in expectation of what they will become. Creating a visible and tangible orchard that will bear fruit, as we work to bear spiritual fruit in our own lives...

...so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you have great endurance and patience, {Colossians 1:10-11; emphasis mine}


I particularly like the Message version of these verses and how they apply to our lives in this season...

9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. 
{Colossians 1: 9-12 MSG; emphasis mine}



March 27, 2014

trust & hope.

My parents were here this week for a quick visit. We had a wonderful week and time passed all too quickly, as always. They drove up and brought all of the goodies I received at my recent surprise shower for Charlotte in Florida.

While they were here, we worked to get the disaster that was the girls' room into some semblance of order.

Why, yes. This is a nursery and toddler bedroom. Isn't it beautiful? Go, on. Pin it. I wouldn't mind at all if you use this as inspiration for your own little girl's room...


There will be no "room reveal" photos in this post. It's still a major work-in-progress. But, we are getting closer.

We spent hours sorting, organizing, washing and hanging adorable little-bitty girlie-girl clothes...

{Yes, you may also want to use the below photo as inspiration for a major landscaping project. As you can clearly see out the windows, we have been hard at work creating a serene garden landscape out there...ha!}


Anyone that has ever prepared for a newborn knows that this is all very exciting. Holding up the little clothes and imaging that an actual person will be wearing these ridiculously adorable frocks very soon is incredibly fun. The fact that this precious one is a complete miracle that we never could have imagined in our wildest dreams makes it all that more special.

Yet, it was there.

That ever-present ache.

We had to move our S's clothes out of the closet to fit Charlotte's vast wardrobe and newborn gear. We boxed up many of the adorable outfits we had for our S because she has already outgrown them.

While it's amazing to wrap my mind around the fact that we will have another little girl to wear these clothes someday, it doesn't make my heart hurt any less for all that we have missed with our oldest daughter. And, mostly, all that she has missed. All of the loneliness and pain and loss that she has experienced in her short life... none of that can be filled with a cute room or clothes or toys, I know that and I would never even imply that it could... but what about the love of family? Or, trust? Or, security? Or, laughter?

Several times over the past few days, I have been overwhelmed with doubt and fear. Suddenly finding myself facing IF she will come home, rather than WHEN.

I had to make a very concentrated effort to turn my eyes back to the One Who is the author of this story.

I have to stand on Truth. I have to trust that He is not written the last page.

Renewed hope seeped into my aching heart this morning through these life-breathing words...

Great is his faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him." The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. {Lamentations 3: 23-25}

For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed. {Proverbs 23:18}

So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. {Romans 15:13}

Precious friends, whatever mountain you are facing, whatever fear you are fighting, whatever grief you are walking through; it is my prayer that His mercies will refresh your heart today. They are real. He is real. He is wholly, completely and wonderfully good. Trusting Him at His Word with you.