Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pump You Up

Hi folks, I'd love for you to watch this video that's been circulating.  This will get you pumped.  The great need that Eric Ludy talks about is exactly why we have this blog, why we humbly beg for your support, your prayers, your help.  Our child waits, and we pray she does not wait one moment longer than absolutely necessary.  We pray that God will cover the sin of our indifference, our lack of urgency, our delay and that she would not suffer one moment longer than she absolutely must before we scoop her up and carry her home.

In case you're wondering, we have quite a few kids' sizes (M and L) as well as crew L and XL left in our fantastic, custom T-shirts designed by the one and only Stacey Simeone.  We'd love to sell out of these shirts as soon as possible.  You can order online to the right, or contact me directly by email at whereourhopeis @ (remove the spaces).

As we work through getting all of our doctor visits, blood tests, forms and paperwork completed, we are moving closer to our home study.  Pray with us that as we complete our application, the Lord will provide the funds we need to submit it.  We are so blessed by the generosity of friends and strangers, but we are still far from our goal.

Thanks for coming back.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Practical Providence

Our God cares about one child.  About one family.  Here's one encouraging story from one family adopting one little girl.  Our God does provide.  We come to Him with impossible, unreasonable requests, and He happily provides for his children whom He loves.  In ways that we should, but dare not, expect.

This past weekend, we saw families in our church come together to support this family with their adoption fundraiser, a massive, well-attended yard sale.  Although our efforts to help another family raise adoption funds with a yard sale the weekend before were washed out, all of our collecting over the recent weeks was not for nothing.  The rain last weekend meant that blessings rained down for the Youngs this weekend.  Pretty amazing.

Thanks for coming back.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Video Games and Orphans

I'm sharing today one way adoption has changed me, or at least changed my perspective.  No, we're not any further in the process, and no, no generous benefactor has materialized yet to write the single check that will remove all financial barriers to our adoption.  (I think $30,000 would do it, FYI, and I think this would cover us if we were able to get siblings.)

But as we take baby steps procedurally and fundraising wise, I continue to observe what I consider significant spiritual progress for myself and my family.  And this week, what I've noticed is how I count orphans where I see dollar signs.  Sounds a bit crude, but this article from USA Today illustrated this phenomenon for me this week.  $360 million.  One day sales for a new video game.  $360 million.  A number so big I can't really grasp it.  In one day.  For a video game.

My overriding thought when I saw this massive, obscene number, is that, assuming $30,000 would help one family bring home two orphaned siblings from Ethiopia, then the amount spent in one day on a new video game could unite approximately 24,000 orphans with their forever families.  24,000 orphans.  One day of video game sales.  And still the orphans and their families struggle and wait.

It's not crazy to think that the folks who bought those games would give the price of one game for one less orphan.  So how do we get those discretionary dollars to the families struggling to finance their adoptions?  How do we convince the masses that a relatively small donation, collectively, can have such a profound effect?

I don't know.  But you can bet it keeps me up some nights.  Brighter folks than I have wrestled with this and work to make the funding of expensive adoptions a reality for real families.  They work tirelessly to offer grants, guidance, interest-free loans, and support to families working to finance their adoptions, and for their work I'm grateful.  They make life-changing differences to orphans and their forever families.  But they are able to help so few, and so many more families and orphans wait.

All it takes is one idea, one gift, to make a huge difference.  So, do you have an idea?  What's standing between the people of a church with an attendance of around 4000 each week from helping as many families as are willing to adopt their waiting children?  I'm inviting you to offer ideas and suggestions here in the comment section.  Got an idea for an individual family fundraiser, or a big idea to help fund a church's Orphan Fund?  Share it here!

Thanks for coming back.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eat Mor Chikin for the Allisons

On the list of adoption fundraisers, this has to be one of the most fun.  The Allison family from our church is raising money to adopt and bring home their son Wyatt from Rwanda.  Everyone in the RDU area is invited to help them out by printing out the flier below and bringing it to the Falls Village Chick-fil-A (6701 Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh) tonight (Wednesday, November 10, 2010) between 5 and 8pm.  20% of the proceeds raised from sales with fliers will be given to the Allisons for adoption expenses.  So come on out, and eat more chikin for Wyatt and his family!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Coffee and a Girls' Night Ouch

I'll apologize in advance.  This one stings a little, but here goes.  Mothers and wives need spiritual, physical and emotional healing from the brutality of our job.  It's hard.  Hard on the body, mind and soul.  Our Creator acknowledges our need for rest, and in fact, He tells us that HE will give us rest.  He will fill our cup to overflowing.  He is our fortress and refuge, as if we're doing battle, and He is how we regroup for another round.  So please know that what I'm about to say should in no way be construed as suggesting that moms don't need a break, a retreat, a recharged battery or that we should not take time for those things.  I'm not saying that.  I'm talking about where we get them.

Recently, I had a discussion with a dear friend via email.  It started with talking about the frustration moms can feel at not being able to finish just one cup of coffee while it's hot, not being able to just sit through an entire lunchtime or finish our lunch before it's cold, not getting the respite we're so hungry for, day in and day out.  Oh, when will my kids be old enough for me to get a quiet moment?  I mean, I deserve to finish just ONE cup of coffee while it's hot, right?  I can't remember the last time I slept through the night (and my kids are not tiny babies).  I serve all day long.  I plan, I love, I work.  Just one cup of coffee is not too much to ask, no?

The usual answer to this is, "oh, your kids will grow up in a blink, and you'll miss it and forget how hard it was," or "this is such a short season of life, and it will pass and get better," or "here's how I cope" type tips.  These words are meant to be encouraging, and there can be truth to them.  But I think that ultimately, they undermine the TRUTH.

Oh how I have struggled, agonized, fought the war in my head over the need to tend to my little ones and my need for a full cup.  It's easy to think about how to do that, too, when you spend so much time at the end of your rope, as so many moms do.  (Incidentally, I think this is by design, since the end of my rope is usually at the foot of the cross.)

After six years of struggling, asking friends how to fit in the quiet time, the hot coffee, get the kids to play nicely just long enough to have my lunch without mediating, intervening, spanking, comforting or serving, I have my answer, hallelujah.  And the answer to whether or not my hot coffee is too much to ask for is:  yes.  Yes, it is.  If that coffee is what I need to make it to nap time, bedtime, tomorrow (not physically, but emotionally), then yes, that hot coffee is not what I need.  I have not earned it.  I do not deserve it.  I am not entitled to it, and to think otherwise is to believe the lie.

For years, I've pitted in my mind and my heart to serve in the mission field of my family against the message I was getting from other well-intentioned moms, from Oprah, from the super-fit, lycra-clad, perfectly coiffed and showered and Starbucks-toting BOB jogger-pushing mom leaving the park after her 2-mile jaunt at an hour I was proud to drag my crew into it.  Their answer?  You deserve a break, and you too can get your act together if you follow these 7 easy steps, so that you can get the hot coffee, the lunch, the quiet time, the spa escape you need to feel whole again.

But I had such guilt at feeling like I needed a break.  I beat myself up over strategizing and fantasizing about sending my kids off for a week, for thinking I NEEDED to fit these retreats from responsibility into my regular schedule.  Then I felt bad for feeling guilty about feeling like I needed a break.  Oh, the angst I suffered over this tugging.

But to you, guilt, I offer my apology.  I know that you were just my conscience.  To the Holy Spirit who persistently and patiently pursued me in the desert of my wandering, thank you for not giving up.  I know now that I was being lied to.  I was being led to an idol of my own comfort and entitlement.  The Enemy dressed itself up and told me that I was entitled to a hot cup of coffee, to going to the bathroom uninterrupted, to a full night's sleep, to new clothes, to more frequent girls' nights out (OUCH).  That I deserve and need them.  Oh, the lies.  Hold all those lies of entitlement and neediness up to the light of Scripture, and they wither and flake away like the gross two-foot high collection of wall boogers I've started noticing around my house.

Sweet Holy Spirit, you stirred my conscience, and I didn't understand why I felt uneasy about the advice I was getting.  But now I do, and I'm so slow to recover and call that spade a spade.  Forgive me!  Here's what I'm entitled to:  a sinner's death immediately.  Every moment I draw breath and serve is an immeasurable mercy to me.  I do not deserve hot coffee.  And I do not need it, either.  If I need it to do my job, I am trying to cross a spiritual gulf on stepping stones.  Here's what's really not fair:  my perfect Savior died my humiliating death FOR ME.  He died, that I might live.  And here is what I NEED:  Jesus.  Not coffee.  Not a GNO.  Not an uninterrupted viewing of Swamp People (or whatever your poison is).  Just Jesus.  If He's not more than enough, we have a serious problem.

Friends, no one is a worse offender than me.  I battle daily, all day long, my sense of entitlement, my need for my own time out.  I even give up the battle all too often (so many times every single day) and just give in.  I am bad at this, and I am not a good example.  But sinner that I am, I've heard the Truth.  I've outed myself  before as an idol worshiper, and I'll do it again.

I am not advocating throwing out the coffee maker or quitting the gym.  I'm encouraging you that leaning on them in the place of on Jesus is to tread into dangerous waters.  It is idol worship, and we must stop it.  Enjoy your coffee; don't worship it.  Go to your GNO, and encourage your sisters in the Word, not the world.  I cherish my time with dear friends over coffee; I am recharged by naps and time alone.  These are gifts that the Lord has given me, because He loves me.  Not because He wishes for them to usurp His throne in my life.  I'm encouraging us to lean wholly on Jesus to do the battle we do in raising godly children and being godly wives for His kingdom and His glory.  And I'm encouraging you to keep one another accountable.

Thanks for coming back.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Give, Go, Tell: See Our Shirt In Africa!

Since the Lord established our family, He has led us to amazing churches.  The church we have attended for over eight years now is no exception and truly a blessing to us.  We have found wonderful friends there, we are involved in ministry there, our kids love it, and the Lord has blanketed the hearts of the leaders and congregation with a holy desire to see the nations turn to Him.

One central way our church obeys Christ's Great Commission that we should go and make disciples of all nations is by planting churches, 1000 in 40 years, all over the world.  How blessed we are to see the gospel at work in the lives of so many of our friends who have been part of this going and telling the Good News, many times in the farthest, darkest, least loved corners of the earth.

As I may have mentioned before, as Believers, we are adopted by God, grafted into His family permanently.  We hope that our decision to adopt our baby girl form Africa and our love for our daughter would be a demonstration of the love shown to us.  We decided to adopt not only because of our desire to grow our family and to raise godly children, but in response to the immeasurable love poured out on us in our own adoptions.

And as part of our adoption, we are selling some pretty amazing T-shirts with the story of our own adoption amidst words describing our heart for adopting our own child.  Get a closer look at the shirts here, right on the shirt designer's very own website.  You, too, can own one of these, by the way.  We still have lots of Large and XL crew shirts left, and we'd love for you to partner with us in sharing the gospel in this way, as well as advocating for orphans while looking pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves.  100% of the proceeds from our T-shirt sales go toward our adoption fees and expenses.  I have many favorite parts of the shirts, but one of my very favorites is the part that says, "GIVE GO TELL."

This brings me full circle to the fact that our shirt has made it to AFRICA!  One of our very own church family has been serving in South Africa, and her mother took her one of our shirts on a recent visit.  Look HERE to see the shirt and what sweet Amber has to say about it.  What a thrill that she has shared the very first picture of our shirt being worn by a missionary in Africa (notice the wildlife in the background!).  Pretty good stuff.

Thanks for coming back, y'all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How Joyfully?

How joyfully would I clean up the spilled milk, how gladly would I read one more book, how patiently would I wait on my little ones to find their shoes when we're late for church, how gently would I correct my sons, how selflessly would I rejoice at my friend's blessing, how kindly would I speak to my husband, how quickly would I forgive and forget when I am wronged...if Jesus were the spiller, the spouse, the child, the friend, the offender?

Of course for so many of us, Jesus seems easier to love.  He is perfect, after all.  But if we are to love one anther as God loves us, and if we are to do all things as unto the Lord, and if love is all of these above, then how miserably I fail at loving even Christ.  When I consider that I should love my family as if they were Christ, it is easier to serve and love them with a happy heart.  But how short I fall at loving even Christ.  I must submit my mind and heart to the truths that I must love and what love is anew each morning (and mid-morning, and afternoon, and 4:00).  I require perpetual, increasing grace and mercy just to walk worthy of my blessings, just to love Jesus.

Our family's adoption process has been more a spiritual journey for me thus far than anything else (i.e., no updates for now).  While the day when we will bring home our little one seems very far off, the reality of how and why we love her already has done a work on my heart.  Total obedience to the whole counsel of the Bible is required, not simply those I'm excited about.  I've long considered my position as mother and wife and homemaker my mission field; that's not a novel idea for evangelical families.  But the requirements for a job well done and how long it is taking me to grow into the role amaze me still.  Loving simply is not easy.

So I hope for a moment to encourage mothers to consider your little spillers, dawdlers, offenders, friends and even spouses as Christ in your kitchen.  Recall what love is (hide it in your heart if you haven't already).  Hold your heart up to the light of scripture, and conform to it.  And remember that you are loved by love's Author, who is love and who loves you perfectly even though He knows how you love.

Thanks for coming back.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Would $13,000 Help?

The reality is that the expense of adoption, whether international or domestic, is what prevents many families from considering adoption for themselves.  Money is very often the deal breaker.  Wide eyed wife pleads with pragmatic husband to consider the many faceted blessing of adoption, and he admonishes her to recall that they have bills and obligations and no such money lying around.  But what if you would be eligible to receive up to around $13,000 back as an adoption tax credit?  Would that change the discussion?

Consider watching a free webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, October 5, 2010, offered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), at 12:30pm Eastern.  See the invitation here.  And join the webinar here.

FINE PRINT:  I'm not a tax attorney.  Nothing on this site should be considered legal advice.  Please consult your adoption agency and tax professional regarding your eligibility for any tax credit.  I know I will.

I hope this helps.  Thanks for coming back.

More Fees Increasing

In the world of international adoption, there's no shortage of acronyms, agencies, forms and fees.  And the fees would appear to be ever increasing.  Here's one more example.  I mentioned last week that we received our passports in unexpectedly short order, though we had not asked for them to be expedited.  We did, however, have to pay the recently increased fee for passports.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) plays a part in international adoption by performing a federal background check on prospective adoptive parents, processing visa requests and processing petitions for the advanced processing of an orphan and classification of an orphan as an immediate relative (I-600/I-600A).  There's a substantial fee associated with some petitions and services, and they're about to go up, effective 11/23/10.

Among the services commonly needed by prospective adoptive parents from the USCIS are:

Biometrics (fingerprinting) - fee rising from $80 to $85
I-600/I-600A - fee rising from $670 to $720
N-600 (IR-4 visas) - fee rising from $460 to $600

Check the USCIS website for information about their fee changes here.

Please check with your agency, adoption attorney and the USCIS to make sure you clearly understand the requirements for your adoption and that you're paying the correct amount.  Filing for these documents before the deadline may not be of any help to you, as some documents expire or will not be accepted if not validated within a maximum number of months from the approval of the adoption, and you must observe the proper order for your adoption process.

FINE PRINT:  I'm not an adoption attorney.  The information on this site is not intended as legal advice but as general information.  Please consult your adoption professional regarding the requirements for your particular adoption.

I hope this is helpful to folks navigating the international adoption process.  Thanks for coming back.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Orphans and the Justice System

This weekend has been mind blowing and heartbreaking.  The suffering of orphans, the oppressed, the marginalized, the modern day slaves has been so present and so offensive to me this weekend.

I started out my Saturday serving with a local ministry called JusticeMatters, a group very close to my heart.  We kicked off our year of free Christian legal clinics by laying on the hearts of local attorneys and law students a vision for serving our city in Jesus' name.  Among our long term goals:  free or reduced fee adoption services for families living out the gospel in their own family through adoption.  This thrills me to no end that the Lord uses even lawyers to bring Him glory in this way.

Throughout the weekend I've also been following the Together for Adoption conference in Austin, TX.  How I wish I was there.  Knowing that an adoption spares a child from a life of sex trafficking, fatherlessness, hopelessness, suicide, prostitution, crime, abuse.  And there are so very many children.  I know what joy and promise just one child brings.  What joy and promise for a child and for obedience to the call are families foregoing by refusing to adopt?

These two events have so much to do with one another.  A child brought into a family where he can know love and Truth and hope is a child who is spared from being a statistic in our legal system.  10% of children aging out of orphanages commit suicide.  90% of persons in US prisons were in the foster care system.  So many attorneys are employed and an enormous portion of our state and federal budgets spent on the aftermath of fatherlessness.  How different would our court systems, our cities, our families look if Believers intervened and loved the fatherless child, a child with no family to care for and protect her as their own?  Vastly different, vastly better.

That's about all I can do for now.  Thanks for coming back.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Quick Turnaround

Here's a tiny update.  We got our passports today, much more quickly than expected.  In just 11 days from when we applied for them, actually.  Well done, Feds!  Maybe it's due to the recently increased fees for passports.  Whatever it is, it was unexpected.  We were giving ourselves 6 weeks to get our passports back and complete our paperwork in that time.  There are still some other items we're working on now.  I submitted a list of questions to our gracious application assistant at our adoption agency today, too.  Her answers will help us with our paperwork.

As far as travelling goes, at the start of this process, I thought a lot about our little girl waiting for us.  After the initial excitement, I really didn't allow myself to think about the actual travelling to Ethiopia and meeting her (and leaving her) and going back to bring her home.  But lately, I'm going there in my mind.  Purchasing plane tickets.  Packing bags.  The smells and sights of the city.  Marathon flights, one with our little one.  Arriving home, our baby girl's HOME.  HER house.  HER brothers.  HER room.  It's a thrill to think of our family all together at the dinner table.

And then I get all teary and remember why this is a hard place to let myself go.  A little bit encourages me and reminds me why we're going through the work and expense of the adoption process.  Dwelling on it is hard, a reminder that our family is not complete.

But our Father endures with much patience and work and at great cost to Him a world where His family is not yet complete.  A worthy and not remotely coincidental example for me.

And in other life outside of this adoption.  I'm blessed to be working with a nonprofit in our city called JusticeMatters.  Tomorrow is our fall kickoff and training.  As the resident (read: only) poverty law attorney on the board, I have the privilege of addressing volunteer Christian attorneys and law students about the substantive law questions they can expect when they volunteer in our free legal clinics.  We have timed the training just right so that Duke law students wanting to escape their camp-out for basketball tickets can attend our approved training.  So we're expecting a crowd.  I'd appreciate your prayers as I address the group (along with other volunteers and some local dignitaries) and that they would see the need and respond to the call to serve and advocate for people of modest means in our city.

That's all for now.  Thanks for coming back.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What About the Tax Credit?

One question I get a lot from folks considering adoption is, "what about the adoption tax credit?"  Well, the Christian Alliance for Orphans announced that the IRS issued guidance today on the current tax credit available for your 2010 return.  You can read CAO's article here, outlining some of the confusion and benefits of the current tax law.  Among the highlights of the Affordable Care Act, according to the article:

1)  The amount of the credit is up to $13,170.
2)  The credit is refundable.  This means that even if you don't have a tax obligation for the 2010 tax year, if you are otherwise eligible with eligible adoption expenses, you may still get the money back.
3)  Eligible creditable expenses include reasonable and necessary expenses of a legal adoption, including adoption fees, court costs, attorney's fees and travel.

Fine print:  I was not able to find the new guidance bulletin myself on the IRS site.  So I don't know exactly what it says.  I am not a tax attorney or tax professional, and nothing in this site should be construed as legal advice.  Please consult your tax professional of choice for advice in how you should make the most of available tax credits.  I know I will.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We Yard Sold

We had our first yard sale on Saturday.  I'm not the yard sale type.  But as I stood outside Saturday morning getting an irregular sunburn with strangers in my driveway perusing mine and others' pre-loved goods, I thought that I might could be a yard sale type.  Because I think that being an adoption type is requiring that I should be a yard sale type.  I mean, people were coming to my house to take away stuff no one else wants, and they were paying me for it.  Really.

We knew we'd have to have a yard sale soon.  On the list of ways to raise adoption cash fast, yard selling (saleing?) is high up.  So when we received an email from our neighborhood association on Tuesday of last week that they were advertising for a huge neighborhood-wide yard sale, Curt and I decided via IM that we'd host a yard sale four days later.  Incidentally, this was perfect for me, because I'm the last-minute sort anyway, and any advance time would have been spent agonizing that I wasn't doing anything to prepare.  Because I do have a few other things on my plate.

So, the word went out on Tuesday afternoon.  And y'all gave!  By my count, 16 families donated their wares for our yard sale in a few short days.  And the Lord worked in those few days to encourage us that we are on the right track and have not yet thwarted His plan for our lives.  (I know.  We can't do that.)

But when our list of family woes grew exponentially in number and severity in the months since we decided to adopt, I confess that it has given me pause sometimes.  That's exactly what the Enemy of adoption and the author of fatherlessness wants.  But last week, our Champion showed Himself faithful to our family through the encouragement of our friends, the blessing of family, the gifts of generous folks who don't even know us and a joy that comes from obedience.

My mom swooped in unsolicited to help out for a few days and came bearing groceries and diapers, bless her heart!  Strangers called offering their yard sale donations.  Friends brought pizza and fed and watched our boys while we spent our date night making yard sale pick-ups.  We were offered items to auction off and sell (news of this in coming posts).  My dear friend Dana and her family came to our rescue, and Dana walked me through the yard sale.  She was here for everything.  She was at my house before 7am after staying late the night before.  That's a friend.  She also educated me about the book on Cake Wrecks.  I laughed so hard I cried.  She's also doing a half marathon next weekend.  Seriously.

The yard sale itself was even an encouragement to me.  We had been given quite a few large items by my dear friend Eli who wears amazing earrings.  Among her donations, a darling crib.  The crib caught the eye of another Summitteer preparing to open her home to our city's fatherless.  Do you see the sweet circle of blessings here?  One friend gives a fine piece of no longer needed furniture to another (me) who sells it at a great price to yet another opening her home to children in need.  And I loved that I had friends there supporting us.  Bless your hearts, friends!

And all this while our T-shirt sales continue.  We've got some crew L and XL and youth M & L left, by the way.

So, there's the update.  We decided on a moment's notice to have a yard sale.  People gave generously, and we raised just over $600.  Not bad for a few days' work.  Thanks folks!  We're that much closer to submitting a mountain of paperwork to our adoption agency.  We'd love to be able to do that at the end of six weeks, when our passports are expected to arrive.  At that point, it would be great if we had the money ready, so that we can turn in the next set of paperwork.  We're needing and expecting big things from the Lord in the next few weeks.

Please join us in praying for the completion of our application process, so that we can move on to the home study without delay.  Thanks folks for coming back here and for following our story.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Update-free Update

I wish I had time to write an update on all the encouraging ways things are coming together for us this week, but I don't.  I hope to update very soon with how we're coming closer each week to being able to submit a mountain of documents along with a sizable check to our adoption agency so that we can move on to our home study.

For now, we'd love for you to pray with us that our very first yard sale (ever in the history of our little family) will be successful tomorrow.  Thanks to those who have been donating for this impromptu event and who have encouraged us.

We're blessed.


Friday, September 3, 2010

A Milestone

As we head into the weekend, I want to share a message about how hopeful and encouraged we are.  Thank you, friends, for helping us hit an exciting milestone this past week:  $1000 in donations and T-shirt sales (and pickles, too)!  We actually passed $1000 at our small group, where yet another of our small group faithful donated for a shirt.

We're seeing God move in encouraging ways.  People in our community are noticing, and remembering, our shirts.  Perfect strangers are learning about the needs of orphans, they are supporting us in bringing home our baby, and most importantly, they are hearing and sharing the gospel.  The Lord has expanded our circle and helped us spread the Good News and that He cares for orphans.

I get chills when I think about a friend from our small group who was asked by the librarian last week whether she had been at that library the day before.  She had not, but the librarian remarked that she had seen that same T-shirt (our T-shirt!) worn there the day before.  Thank you, friends for supporting us.  For WEARING the shirts, and for sharing our exciting story.

This past Sunday morning at church, as I was updating a friend on recent events in the life of our family, I realized she had not heard we're adopting.  She mentioned that she had just seen a cute little girl walk by with an amazing adoption T-shirt that she had to have.  (It was the same little girl whose mom sported our tee at the library this past week, friends from our small group.)  The result?  Two more shirts sold and that much closer to bringing home our baby girl.  My generous friend with a huge heart for children and adoption herself, and her amazing daughter, reached into their pockets after church to support and join with us.  Thank you, friends!

Needing God to provide far more for us than He normally does to cover the cost of this adoption is humbling.  We are looking at raising around $30,000.  What a huge, impossible number for us, but so very easy for the Giver of all good gifts.  Receiving your gifts is such a blessing and an answer to our prayers.  Know that we appreciate you and praise God for how He is working for our family's good through the generous gifts of our friends and family.

So just know that when you support us and wear the shirts, people notice.  I'd love for those of you who have already received them to send in pictures of you or your family in our shirt.  I'll put together a little album here on the blog, with your permission, and share our shirts around town (or around the world).  And stay tuned for more exciting ways to partner with us in the coming months.

You can send your pictures to: whereourhopeis @ (take out the space).

With a grateful and encouraged heart,

Friday, August 27, 2010

He Takes Away

After my last post, I was feeling a bit silly for complaining about some pretty petty obstacles being tossed our direction.  I knew those minor challenges were part of a bigger plan to derail our obedience, though, so I wanted to call a spade a spade.  This week, I feel less petty about calling foul.  

Generally speaking, ours is not a family of planners.  I used to be one myself, but my control gene was silenced over years of marriage and then stomped to death once I became a mom.  It doesn't happen to everyone; that's just my story.  

The events of the past week have reminded me how much I still cling to my plans.  We're still experiencing trials here, as we were last week.  But this week, it's been turned up a notch.  

You see, very shortly after we began our adoption process, we found out that I was pregnant.  With a very long awaited, very wanted, very prayed for baby.  Having lost our baby just four months earlier with a first-trimester miscarriage, my excitement was tempered.  There was no excited announcement to everyone including the lady checking us out at Wal-Mart.  This fallen world had stolen some of my joy in this happy turn of events.  

I was blessed beyond my wildest imagination, and no one knew.  Not only that, but finding out that I was pregnant just after paying our adoption application fee left me feeling conflicted, and feeling guilty for feeling conflicted.  It added a whole new layer of fear also.  Fear of what people would think of our family.  Fear that we would not find the financial support we need to adopt, because people would assume that we didn't need the money or shouldn't be adopting anyway if we were having another child on our own.  Fear that the prevailing world view about children as a luxury as opposed to a blessing would affect how our family was perceived and whether we would raise the support we need.  

This is my confession.  My fear betrayed some idols I was worshiping:  a healthy pregnancy, the health of my children, the blessing of more children, avoiding heartache, and what people think.  I've read that Satan dances when God's people fear things other than God.  I practically threw him a party.  

This past Sunday night, after we sent off the last of our small group, one of my idols failed me.  This was not a healthy pregnancy.  And this week, we have lost our fifth child.  Since the wound is still open, the reality that two fifths of my children are awaiting me in heaven has yet to sink in.  I expect I'll write more on that another time.  

So how is this relevant to our adoption?  Well, in several ways.  But today, I've been thinking about the mother whose child will be mine, assuming she is alive to make the gut wrenching, selfless decision to give up her baby.  She too will lose her child for reasons outside of her control.  Her heart will break.  And she will wonder what she has missed out on.  

We've been praying for months for our new daughter and sister.  But we must pray for her family as well.  That they would receive comfort in knowing that their child is going to a place where she will be loved and cared for, and where she might know the hope that we know.  I realize I will be reunited with my lost children, and that I will have the rest of eternity to know them.  I know that this separation is painful but temporary and that they are safe.  

But that mother's separation may not be temporary.  I must pray that both my adopted child and her biological family would come to know my Lord and Savior, that they will hear and believe the Truth.  I must plead that the pain of separation they know in this world will likewise be temporary, and that we will have an eternity to marvel at the amazing plan that unfolded in our lives to bring us back together.  


Friday, August 20, 2010

We Were Warned

In all my research on adoption, I did not overlook the warnings about spiritual warfare. I read that our A/C would DIE, that our finances would be stretched in ways previously not thought possible, that our patience with one another would wane, that my kids would act up causing me to wonder whether I have it in me to parent another day, much less another child. Check, check, check and check. All in the last 48 hours.

Camping out in my own house the last two nights, windows open allowing in the sounds of the night along with its heat and humidity, minus the hum of our A/C, has given me time to think and pray.  We knew to expect trials on our long path to adoption.  We knew that our enemy who hates adoption also destroys, lies, and takes no prisoners.  We have no doubt that we are under attack.  But in Curt's words, "bring it on."  I'm not that bold, but I do know that our Champion can handle it and will claim victory for us.  He is faithful, and He is powerful.

I know that God has always provided for us more than we need.  He has always healed any rift in our marriage.  His grace to me as a mother increases daily, so that what I could not handle yesterday, He empowers me to manage today.  Though He did not have to, He has proven Himself faithful and trustworthy to our family over and over again.

I also know that we are not adopting because we want one more child or because we don't want to take a chance on having another boy.  We are adopting, because we ourselves are adopted by our Heavenly Father.  He has called us as His children to care for orphans and has called our particular family to adopt a child with no family to be a permanent part of ours.  We adopt, because He has given us joy in obedience.

If you've read Russell Moore's Adopted for Life, then these words will be familiar:
The protection of children isn’t charity.  It isn’t part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps.   It’s spiritual warfare. (65)

So we cling to our Father's promises, and we pray for protection and perseverance.  Our obedience is required.  Our joy and our good are promised.  Our comfort is not guaranteed, but our refinement and His glory are certain.  And this is why in the midst of discouragement, it is well with my soul.


Friday, August 13, 2010

How We Got Here

When we read a new story, background is helpful.  So realize it might help to share a little back story on how we arrived at the decision to adopt a child into our family.

I do not remember a time when I did not want to be a wife and mother.  In addition to the desire to be a wife and mom, the Lord also put on my heart as a child to adopt.  Witnessing children begging in the streets of Nairobi, Kenya during my time there between high school and college cemented into my mind the reality of the suffering of the fatherless, and my heart broke for Africa in a way only the Lord could make it.  

In our pre-marriage days, I recall our talks about adoption as something that is good and that we'll talk about later.  In our married pre-children days, I recall researching adoption and realizing that we either hadn't been married long enough or didn't have the money.  

Law school and kids kept me too busy for several years to consider adoption much.  After our third child was born in 2008, I dove a little deeper into the research.  Within months of losing our fourth child earlier this year, the Lord had heavily burdened my heart that our family should begin the adoption process.  But my discerning husband was not convinced.  

The encouragement I found from other families through their blogs played a large role in convincing us that we could adopt.  I prepared my arguments for Curt by sharing link after link and video after video.  The more information he had, the more clearly he saw how we could heed God's call to care for orphans through adoption.  

I prayed relentlessly not only for the children that God would bring to our home but for God to lay on Curt's heart what He had placed on mine.  I rejoiced in thinking of the day when Curt would go from being invited on board to captaining the ship.  And then it happened.  One day several months ago, not long before we witnessed the official move of our local church fellowship into orphan care, Curt said, "let's do it."  And we haven't looked back.

Now, Curt was no stranger to orphan care.  When we met, he worked in a children's home primarily for children in the foster care system.  And since the loss of his brother just 8 moths ago, I have witnessed him become a father figure to our nephew, caring for him physically and spiritually.  My husband knows what it is to be fatherless.  And I am grateful that even through painful circumstances, our Father was preparing both of us for this decision.  

If you are burdened to care for orphans (and if you are a Believer, you are burdened), then I want to encourage you to prayerfully seek how our Father would have you obey that call.  And I want to encourage you to act.  Not every family is called to adopt, but we are all called to care for orphans.  You may have time to spend supporting a family in your church who is or has adopted by volunteering to babysit.  You may have money to support an orphan care ministry or a family struggling to raise the funds to ransom their child.  You most certainly can pray.  

If you are called, know that our Father will provide a way for you to obey.  And if you've listened to our pastor for any amount of time, you know that God's Plan A for obeying His commands is through His people.  We are grateful and humbled (if somewhat uncomfortable) to come before His people for help in heeding this call on our family.  But as I keep saying, there's nothing I would not do for one of my children.  And my discomfort in exposing our family's personal decision and asking for support is not worthy to be compared with the blessing of ransoming our baby girl or encouraging others to care for the least of these, much less the glory yet to be revealed in us.  

Our long-term goal is not to afford an adoption.  Our dream is far grander and far more daunting:  to raise our children for His glory, that we might see them in heaven and that they might be effective witnesses until then, to confidently send them out into the world with hearts full of the Word and heavy for the nations.  

Thank YOU for being part of our story.  


Saturday, July 31, 2010

He Gives

I want to thank our dear friends who have shown such support and love for us since we announced that we're adopting this week and kicked off our fundraising.  We've had someone donate babysitting, we've had donations for a future yard sale fundraiser, we've had a friend watch two of our boys while I took the other to the doctor (this benefited my sanity), we've had notes of heartfelt support, we had a friend take a stack of shirts to sell herself, and we've had friends go on their knees before our Father on behalf of our family.  We even sold or reserved enough shirts in a few short days to cover the application fees and get us on our way to the next fees.  We thank God for this support and encouragement.

While this week was the start of our fundraising, it also marked the beginning of our formal adoption process.  Our phone conversations with the agency have been very encouraging, and we are working to get the necessary documents together to complete our application.  We have decided to adopt from Ethiopia.  We received an estimate of 18 months or more before we bring home our baby.  (When the agency contact said these words, I teared up at the thought of arriving back in the US with our baby girl in my arms.)  We know that little is certain in this process, or in our life for that matter, and we cling to the loving promises of our Father that He goes before us and is working all things for our good.  There is nothing to come that He is not sovereign over or incapable of carrying us through.  

To say this has been a whirlwind week would be an understatement.  Our dear friends know the loss and heartbreak our family has experienced in the last 7 months.  This week felt like the very opposite.  Our Father gives, and He takes away.  This week, He gave.  Blessed be His name.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Starting Blocks, and 7335 miles to go...

I've composed this first post in my head too many times to count, so I hope for your patience with my posts as I try to explain something bigger than we can wrap our minds around.  The purpose of this blog is for Curt and me to share the hope that we have within us and bring glory to our Father and Creator, who adopted us and gave us an inheritance beyond compare.  We want to share about our family's heart for adoption, why we chose to adopt, and how you can be a part of it.  If you are also adopting, we want to encourage you.  If you think we're crazy, we want to tell you why.  And if you want to join us in caring for orphans, we want to tell you how.

We are so grateful for the encouragement and prayers we have received so far.  We are in the very early stages of our adoption and are excited to share the ups and downs and God's certain faithfulness throughout.

Adoption can be expensive.  In this marathon, we have to raise funds.  We are starting out by selling the T-shirts in the sidebar.  Since we anticipate an international adoption from Africa, we designed this shirt with that in mind.  We want to be a picture of the gospel in this process, and the shirt is a part of that.  Please let me know if you have questions about ordering or anything else here.  And if you're local and can pay me directly, I'd be happy to deliver your shirt with a smile!  :)  The shirts are $20 each (feel free to give more!) with 100% of the proceeds going directly to our adoption fees and expenses (we've already seen the generosity of the body of Christ at work in amazing ways)!

To our friends we didn't get to tell personally, I apologize.  This ball rolled faster than I thought it would, and here we are.  One final note of gratitude to Stacey Simeone for her selfless work on our T-shirt and this blog.  Without her, we would not be at this point.  I'm truly grateful for her loving my family and that she is my sister in Christ.

Edited to add this pic of our shirt: