adventure, faith, kingdom living, leadership

New Role

In the last few weeks, I have begun serving my community through our church, Christ Community Church, in a new way. Our church has had a relationship with World Relief for several years, but had no one to take up the role of being the point person. This new role will have me developing a cadre of volunteers who are willing to welcome new refugees into our area. It is a role which fits the call of Jesus on my life which is to embody Micah 6:8.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God. Micah 6:8 NIV84

Our goal (mine and that of Christ Community Church’s Community Impact team and the beginnings of our team of volunteers) is to build relationships with refugees in the hopes that one day we will be able to share Jesus Christ with them and see them begin a personal relationship with him.

I have been super excited about this new role and have studied all that it entails. I’m daily reading and educating myself on who is a refugee, the process for identifying them and approving them for resettlement and what happens when they arrive on our soil. I’m reading leadership books and spending a lot of time planning. I am a researcher, it’s a passion of mine. I like to really understand things and dig deep. And I have done so on this issue and especially on this community partner, World Relief.

I’m excited to share with you what I have learned. Look for new blog posts over the next few days. I’m dividing the posts as it is a lot of information to digest. I will be linking to factual data, so please follow the links. I hope you will read all of them.  Feel free to share them with others who are wondering about refugees, particularly those who fear an influx of Syrian Refugees.

It is my humble prayer that God will use these posts to bring about a change of hearts and minds.

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting

Just a little something I had to write this morning…

Family

An ever-changing
moving target
at our house

Acceptance always
our goal
our motivation

Love you where you are
show Christ’s love
believe you want to be
the best you
you are capable of being

Willing to be
a safe place for you
for a season
or for a lifetime

Loving you
is not easy
is heart-bursting
is joyous
is heartbreaking

Tears
of love
of grief
of acceptance
when you choose
to leave

Know you were
and are
loved

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting

It is Finished!!! (Well, almost…)

We finally have a visa appointment!!  I’ll be traveling to Haiti on Monday and going to the Embassy on Tuesday morning for the appointment.  As soon as the visa is printed, we’re going to IBESR for the exit letter.  Please pray that all goes smoothly!

Our current plan is to fly to Miami on Friday, March 1 and stay overnight to get a little space, then fly to St. Louis on Saturday morning. It looks like we might make that 2 year-to-the day mark after all!!

Once we’re home, we’re going into a cocooning stage to give the boys time to acclimate to a  new family and an entirely new way of life and some space to grieve as they leave their old life behind. We’ll also be busy with a multitude of appointments as we begin baseline health evaluations for them.  We’re not sure how long this will take, but we’re planning on at least three weeks.  So, you’ll see either Brian and I and the older boys around, but probably not the whole family for a while.  In the meantime, I’ll be updating the blog with how things are going.

We would love to have you welcome us home at the airport.  We’re flying American home and our flight arrives at 11:30 am.  Check my facebook account for updates throughout the week!

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d post a love story…

But it’s not your typical love story.  Instead, it’s the story of how Brian and I fell in love with two boys back in November 2008 and adopted them as our sons.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  Romans 8:14-17

This post was originally shared on our facebook group, The Ames Fusion Experience. Please feel free to join that group if you’d like.  We’ll be updating the group with information on the adoption of Lowenski and Daveson and how they are settling in.  But I digress….  Here’s the story.

In November of 2008, Natalie ran across pictures of two young boys and had to do a double take. They were part of a gallery of pictures of children who were available for adoption out of the foster care system. There were small descriptions of the boys attached to the pictures and one of the boys said he wanted a family that liked to camp (well, Brian does, and Natalie will learn to like it again) and has a german shepherd (ok, we have a dog that sort of looks like one). The other boy said he loved sports and liked dogs too.

The gallery was put together by our church’s foster and adoption ministry so Natalie checked into the boys and discovered they were still available. She prayed for five days before talking to Brian and each time she did she kept getting a mental picture of Brian sitting on the couch between the boys and reading to them. She also kept hearing the phrase “bring them home” every time she prayed. When she told Brian, he agreed and the journey began.

Amazingly, every worry and barrier at the beginning of the process fell as fast as we could think about it. For instance, our worry about how much it would cost, turned out to be completely unfounded as it costs nothing to adopt from the foster system. We knew we wouldn’t be able to start the training that would be required until after Doug and Whitney’s wedding in January, so we were scheduled to begin our first of 9 foster parenting classes on January 17.

On January 16, we received a call that made our heart sink. The boys were going to be “staffed” and we were not going to be allowed to be presented. A “staffing” is when the child’s decision-making team gathers to make a decision as to which family the child will be adopted by. The staffing was to take place in February, about three weeks into our training. We did find out later that neither family was selected and we were back in consideration.

That brings us to today. We have finished our foster parenting classes and are in the middle of our adoption class (last weekend and this coming weekend – March 29). Next week, we’ll finish up the home study, at least I think we will. Then we should be ready for the staffing.Ok, there you go, you’re now up to date.So what happens next?Once the class is over and the home study is completed, then we submit it for the next staffing. If we are chosen as the family to adopt them, then we will begin the transition process. From what we understand, that will probably begin with a few trips to McDonalds, the park, etc and eventually going to an overnight visit to a weekend visit. We’re 95% sure they will not move in until after the school year is over. Once they move in, then that begins a six month to nine month “trial” period before the adoption becomes finalized.

****BREAKING NEWS******************

April 30 – The staffing was held this morning and Marcus and Denny will be joining our family very soon!! We’ll meet the boys for the first time next weekend! We’ll have a meeting early next week to discuss the transition into our home.

************************************************

May 8th – The boys will be coming tomorrow and spending the night. They’ll move in permanently on the 21st or 22nd. 😀

Marcus and Denny have been our sons now for almost 4 years and our life is much richer since they joined the family.  We are so grateful that God led us to them!

Here are the pictures of them that I first saw.

Image

Marcus at age 10

Image

Denny at age 9

And here’s a great picture of the whole family on adoption day!

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And here is a picture of them at Christmas this year.

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Do you have a love story to share this Valentine’s Day?

If not, I hope you will let this one become yours:

But to all who believed Him [Jesus] and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God – John 1:12

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting

Visa Update

Thank you all for praying! The US Consular Section in Haiti has begun again to schedule these appointments. Families who received approval from USCIS and who began the wait for the visa in mid-January are seeing appointments scheduled for February 20 and later.  We received our USCIS approval on January 28.

March 1, 2011 was the date of our first court appearance in Haiti.  It would be ironic if our visa appointment were scheduled for that day.  We certainly did not expect a 2 year process at that point.

On that trip in March 2011, our orphanage director told me we were looking at an 15-18 month process in Haiti.  I refused to believe her because I knew I had a big God who could move mountains and the laborious process was nothing against His power.  And I maintain that all of that is still true!  The pace of my adoption does not negate His power and does not mean that He wasn’t involved, didn’t care about me or my family.  Instead, He used these 24 months to teach me a lot about myself and to sculpt and mold me more closely to His image.

I don’t regret the last two years of this process. I am a different woman because of them.  He’s not done molding me yet and the arrival of our boys will start a new chapter in that process.

Thank you for praying for my family.

How can I be praying for you?

adoption, faith, kingdom living, worshipping

The truth…

Someone recently said to me, “I so admire what you and your husband are doing by adopting all these boys.”

Please do not admire me. It is neither me, nor my husband, who has any reason to be admired. Five years ago, we both had far different plans for the rest of our lives. Our son was in the middle of his senior year and the day we had been waiting for for 22 years was fast approaching. We were going to retire in Florida and spend the rest of our years doing exactly what we had not done in our early twenties.  We had our children early and so we were not out doing what we wanted to do, we were raising and supporting children and broke most of the time. We ached for the day they were out of the house and our lives would finally be about us. We’d buy whatever we wanted, go wherever we wanted, do whatever we wanted.

I promised you the truth… some days I still ache for that day, especially when the parenting road gets difficult.

But God wooed us and we fell in love with Him and we changed.

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

Our adoptions (both of them) have been about obedience to the Lord’s call and hoping to bring glory to His name, not our own.

Admire God, for it is to Him that we direct all the glory!

adoption, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, spiritual warfare, Uncategorized

Answered Prayer

I was doing a study this morning as part of facilitator training for our church’s women’s ministry called Friend 2 Friend.  We’re going through a book called “Growing in Christ” by the Navpress. I’ll be willing to confess that I wasn’t all that thrilled to be asked to go through it.  I mean, I’ve been a Christian since I was 19 (wow, is it really almost 30 years). This is pretty basic stuff, I thought. I was reminded that even the most basic stuff is what we need sometimes.

We’re still anxiously awaiting news from Haiti. We know that four or five dossiers from our orphanage have received presidential dispensation in the last two weeks.  We still do not know which dossiers. Why? Because as soon as this news was received, Haiti began to erupt in political violence. A prominent police officer was killed prompting riots throughout Port au Prince. In addition, seven kidnappings took place. A group of 50 ex-military men stormed parliament demanding back pay. A prominent governmental official was accused of killing a store owner. The list just goes on and on…..

As I went through this study this morning, I was reminded again of the battle that is taking place in the spiritual realm in Haiti.  There is active opposition to children coming home both spiritually and in the natural world. As much as I have written about this spiritual battle, you would think that I would have been girded and praying and engaging in that battle. Instead, I heard these were signed and have been fretting and pestering the director of the orphanage trying to get any information at all, to no avail.

Lessons from today:

1. Don’t stop asking in Jesus’s name

John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

2. Ask according to His will – I John 5:14-15

3. Abide in Jesus, trusting in Him, reading and applying His words. – John 15:7

4. God’s answers to my prayers will be great and mighty, beyond what I ask – Jeremiah 33:3 and Ephesians 3:20

5. The wrong reaction to this uncertainty is for me to become anxious; the right reaction is to keep asking God with thanksgiving. – Philippians 4:7

6. When I do, He will give me peace and guard my heart and mind. Philippians 4:7

I’m thanking God today for the reminder.

Prayer Requests for the adoption this week:

  • Those with dispensation will be told this week.
  • Dispensations will be published in Le Moniteur even this week.
  • Files will exit IBESR by Friday next week.
adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting, spiritual warfare

I Feel Great and a Thank You

For those of you are closely following my blog, you know that I was hospitalized last weekend through last Tuesday.

I just wanted to say, “Thank You” for faithfully praying that my health would be of no concern on this trip. I am feeling great.  I still wouldn’t say I am 100%, but probably 95%.

The meeting at the embassy went well, even though I didn’t have everything they wanted. Praise God, I have been able to gather it all and by tomorrow afternoon, I will have a clear process in place for all other families adopting privately from our orphanage and our I600 will be filed.

The boys are great. it has been wonderful to see them. Their English is so much better!

Keep praying. God is still on the throne and we know he hears.

adoption, faith, kingdom living, parenting, spiritual warfare

So, I’m Here

The hotel is nice and I have a meeting with the lawyer in about an hour.  I’ve been asked by our government friend to push the lawyer into moving more quickly.  So, if you know me at all, you know I’ll be pushing.

We’ve had a bit of a hiccup unfortunately in the embassy processes.  Somehow, I managed to only email one of the birth certificates for translation into English.  In addition, the hotel’s business center is 1998 style.  So printing is a big issue.  I’ll try again tonight, but the computer I was working on didn’t have acrobat reader on it and it wasn’t downloading easy.  Oh for a travel printer right about now…. It looks like filing the I600 might have to wait until next Monday or maybe on Thursday when Brian comes down.  Who knows.  We’ll see what happens at the appointment tomorrow morning ’cause I’m still going.  At least I can get some questions answered.

On the upside, we are working on a better communication method between our lawyer and the adopting families.  I’ll post more on that in the OLTCH Adopting Families private group. So if you’re one of them, be looking for a post soon.

adoption, faith, parenting

On the Way

I’m writing this from a Newark, NJ hotel room (which I’m blessed is a decent room). Tomorrow morning I’ll meet up with 2 traveling partners and we’ll be wheels up to Port au Prince.

Tomorrow afternoon I will be meeting with our lawyer and with our government friend for a status update on all the cases currently in process and hopefully getting some answers. I’ll be overnighting in Port au Prince as I have an 7:00 am appointment at the embassy on Tuesday morning.  I have no idea if I will be able to file the paperwork, but I’m hopeful.

We are still trusting the Lord for March 25. I should mention that we have no information from either our lawyer or our government friend that this is the date, but we are believing our Lord.

Nevertheless, not my will, but His will. 

There will continue to be attacks this week. I specifically ask for prayers for the following:

  • The flight
  • The meeting tomorrow afternoon. Pray that we’ll have some solid answers.
  • The meeting at the embassy on Tuesday morning. Pray for favor, that our documents are in order, and for a clear process for all adopting families.
  • The trip back to the orphanage and my time with the boys.
  • Please pray for our boys and our married children at home. That they will be protected from attacks on them.
  • My mother-in-law who is taking care of the boys in our place. Pray that all goes smoothly.