Little Victories

Last night I had a terrible nightmare about our open house coming up.  We will be hosting one for our congregation so that they can see the new updates to the parsonage and as a way of saying thank you for everything they have done for us this last year.  They are amazing!  But in my dream nothing had been done, the house was a disaster, I wasn’t fully dressed, Jake was not helping with the kids because he “had a sermon to write” and my father-in-law let everyone in even though I was shouting at him to stall!

Disaster.  Unfortunately, it’s par for the course for my dreams lately.  I woke up anxious and by lunch time I was having a meltdown.  Yelling-at-my-dear-four-year-old-daughter-for-tampering-in-the-cupboards-until-my-husband-told-me-she-was fixing-the-silverware-her-brother-had-disorganized kind of ugly meltdown.  Yeah I was losing it.  But in the midst of the craziness.  In the midst of all that needs to be done in such a short time frame, God has spoken peace into my heart.  A peace that definitely goes beyond any of my understanding.

Adding sweet Janna to our adoption has filled our hearts with joy, we love her to death.   But the reality is… she complicates things.  This was not an easy decision, and the follow through is going to be even harder.  We are now looking at admission to the hospital directly from the airport.  She is in a place that is far more unstable politically and militarily than Juri is.  We went from being fully funded for our adoption to being short $7,000.  We are going to be a family of six, and there are only five seats in our car.  And the list goes on…

Where will the money come from?  The time?  The resources?  How Lord??  I find myself asking… but I don’t know.  I don’t know how He is going to provide.  But He has spoken peace into my heart today that He will.  I have taken that peace and milked it for everything it’s worth!

I got laundry almost caught up.  Little victory!  I actually know how I want to set up the kids’ bedrooms.  I haven’t done it yet, but I know what I need now!  Little victory!  A generous anonymous donor and our awesome congregation, who are letting Jake be gone from work just a little longer, have helped us shave off $2000 from our needed adoption expenses.  Praise God that her ransom is being chipped away!  I organized four out of the twentyish cupboards in my kitchen – it’s a start!  I made three meals today.  BIG victory.  We have a few leads on a new van that we will actually be able to afford.  God is showing the way… We had a budget meeting yesterday, and somehow we have enough to cover all of the things I was sure we were going to be short on.  He is providing all that we need.

Only God.  He is in the details, loving us in the little victories… the little victories that remind us of His Great and Ultimate Victory over death.  Thank you Jesus for blessed reminders of your love.  Thank you for this peace that I don’t understand.  My world is totally out of my control, and that’s an incredibly scary place to be.  But in the midst of it all… I feel You.  You are with me.  Thank you for carrying our family when I cannot.  Thank you for telling us to pursue Janna, even though it doesn’t make any earthly sense.

If God is calling you to take a leap of faith, to let go of your comforts and to trust in Him.  Friends… listen.  He’s got you.  The more you lose control of your life, the more in control He is, and as terrified as I am – this craziness is an oddly beautiful place to be.

Thanking all of you for following our journey.  I have been asked if there are tax deductible ways to give to our adoption and there are.  You can donate to either of the links below, and the funds given will be used for our adoption expenses.

https://www.adopttogether.org/mueller
http://reecesrainbow.org/63824/sponsormueller

Your prayers and words of encouragement have blessed us in ways you will never know.  It brings tears to my eyes when I consider the great love God has shown us these last weeks and months through His Church.  God’s blessings to you as we travel this Lenten journey together, as God slowly peels away our comforts and asks us to trust that He is enough.

When Words Cannot Express…

When words cannot express how precious…

Janna

Amazing…

janna 6 (1)

Delightful…

Janna 2

Cherished…

 Janna

When words cannot express how loved a person is, we must act.  Meet Janna.  She is incredibly loved.  She is a daughter.  A precious, amazing, delightful, cherished child of God.  Who will tell her?  Who will whisper in her ear that she is a beautiful, beloved princess?  Who will show her what truly living feels like?

We will.  Meet Janna, our daughter.  Our words will not keep her warm at night, keep food in her belly, snuggle her when she’s sick, or cherish her like she deserves… but our prayers, our clothes, our food, our arms and our hearts will.  Our family will.  Welcome to the family sweet girl, your family.  We cannot wait to meet you and finally bring you home, where you belong.

Love,
Mommy

 

The Great and Humbling Gift

This is my fourth post in the series about our adoption journey.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the first three parts of our story here:

Our Adoption Story
I Waited Ten
The Long Wait

The Great and Humbling Gift

After the door was slammed shut to adopting Heath, I spent a few weeks just mourning him.  I was crushed and heartbroken, but I knew that this was not the end of our story.  God did have a child out there for our family.  I didn’t know who and I didn’t know where, but I knew that He had someone in mind for us.  I was talking to one of my dear adoption friends who had been walking with me on this journey, as they were also in process to adopt a sweet boy from Bulgaria.  She sent me the picture of a most precious little girl.

She was about four years old, olive skin, dark hair… gorgeous.  Sound familiar?  She was not the girl from my dream, but she did resemble her in a way I couldn’t deny.  Again, on my own, I made up my mind that we should pursue her adoption.  She had Cerebral palsy, which was a special need both my husband and I felt drawn to.  Jake was reluctant, of course he was!  He didn’t want to see me go through this all over again.  But our circumstances had changed.  The tiny little window of opportunity we had to adopt at that time had passed.  He let me dream and promised we would look into committing when we could.  But it would be a while.

In the meantime another family swooped in and began pursuing her adoption.  It was hard, but not nearly as hard as losing Heath.  I began to wonder if any child would tug on my heartstrings the same way that he had.  By the time Spring came around I had some new life and new hope for our family’s dream of adoption.  Jake would be receiving his first call very soon and we wouldn’t be in school anymore.  I convinced him to start looking at the waiting child lists with me.  ”If we do have a child out there, we could be  starting the process soon, we should know who it is so we can pray for them!”, was my argument.  How could he say no to that?

So he very generously sat down and looked through a page of faces.  We had done this several times… always the same, “I feel bad for all of them and I wish I could help all of them, but I don’t feel like any of those children are mine,” was the common refrain.  I, on the other hand, felt like I could bring any of them home!  But during the last of these “scrolling sessions” as I liked to call them, one child did stand out.  One child did touch his heart.  He forgot about this incident later on, but I didn’t.  I knew from then on, that was our son!  It had to be!

I didn’t want to push it though, Jake still needed some time.  We weren’t ready to adopt yet anyway, so I held my tongue for a while and tried something new, revolutionary even.  I just prayed.  I prayed that God would make it 100% crystal clear.  We focused on preparing for graduation and another move.  Jake received his call, we were to go to a congregation in Missouri.  We began packing, preparing… and then on Mother’s Day morning God surprised us both with a great and humbling gift.  I woke up to sick children, we were going to have to skip Church, but Jake worked with a congregation so he still had to go.

There were no flowers or chocolates for the occasion, but before he left he told me that he had a Mother’s Day present for me and that after he left I could check my email.  Off he went and I logged on to see what on Earth this could be.  What I read next still gives me goosebumps…

Dear Love of my Life,

You are an amazing wife and mother!  You sacrifice so much for our family, especially for our children whom you love so dearly.  As a little surprise for you this Mother’s Day I have to tell you about a surprise God gave me.
 
You see, I had a dream last night.  A very strange dream for me.  It was my last dream of the night and you were in it.  I don’t know where we were exactly.  There was a broad street with a one story long greyish-blue house or building.  I was sitting across the street on a long metal bench waiting for you…  Then all of the sudden you appeared with a little boy in your arms.  You said he was about 4.  He was white with dirty blonde hair and somewhat fattish cheeks.  You were holding back tears as you gave him to me.  You sat him on my lap and I was unsure about him for a couple seconds.  Then I saw how afraid and terrified this little boy looked and  I asked “What’s his name?”  You said, “His name is Jacob …”  I said, “Really?”  Then I turned to the boy who was looking even more afraid and lonely.  So I talked to him and said “Is your name Jacob?  That’s my name too!”  He smiled a little bit but didn’t say anything.  Then I said, “You know what our name means?  It means the angels in heaven are watching out for us special because God loves us even though we wrestle with him.”  Then I wanted to cry.  I asked you what his conditions were and then …….. I woke up.

I don’t know what his conditions were … just that we were supposed to take him home but I don’t know anything about him.  I wasn’t expecting a dream like this … in any way shape or form.  I think I know what it means like you do, I just don’t know where he is or if he is or what this dream was really about if not about getting this boy.Your mother’s day gift from me is to see if you can find this boy while I’m at church … I don’t know if it can be done but I believe in you!

All my love,
Jake
I could find only a few children who somewhat matched the description in Jake’s dream.  But it was obvious to both of us very quickly… the little boy who Jake had felt something for the other month was meant to be our son.  What was so great and humbling about this gift?  All along I had been wrestling with my “reluctant” husband.  It was as if we were never on the same page.  I dragged him into the adoption ring for failed attempt after failed attempt.  But if I had only listened, listened to his leading voice, the voice that God had put over to lead me!  It could have saved us both so much heartache.  It was never our time… until it was.  And when it was God made it perfectly clear to my husband.
God’s wisdom was working in Jake the entire way.  I was foolish not to listen to Christ’s wisdom in my husband’s headship.  When it finally was our time to begin, God moved Jake’s heart and mind in a way that was swift and decisive.  Learning to trust, to wait, to be still and know that He is God is such a hard lesson, and I’m still learning it.
To be continued!

The Long Wait

Today our Dossier was submitted and our wait begins!  In 5-7 weeks we should be on a plane to Eastern Europe to go meet our son!  And to celebrate this milestone on our journey I’m going to finish up the series I started forever ago about our adoption journey.  You can read the first two parts at the links below:

Our Adoption Story
I Waited Ten

Here is Part III of the series!  The Long Wait…

I was a mere fifteen years old when I was first introduced to the idea of fostering and adoption, with the accompanying dream that confirmed this calling on my life.  I knew then, that it would be a long wait before I would even be able to begin putting my new dream into reality.  So I put it in the back of my mind, and figured I would revisit it when I was 18.

But, I went to college at 17, so the lines between adolescence and adulthood were blurred and soon overtaken by all the cares of a college student.  I was overloaded, and way too busy.  My sophomore year I was taking 20 some odd credits, working 30 hours a week, and still fitting in (or not) extra-curriculars because I couldn’t seem to say no.  In all that time I do remember still having moments of pause, thinking of my sweet children who might already be born.  Were they loved now?  Were they fed? Clothed?  Cared for?  Did they know there was a God who loved them?  I would say small, silent prayers for Him to watch over my little ones… the ones I didn’t know.

I would close my eyes and remember the bouncing black curls and the deeply wounded eyes of my daughter from the dream… and I would pray that we would be together soon.  Soon Lord… please let it be soon.  But it was not to be.  I am glad I did not know then how much longer I still had to wait.  It would have pained my heart to know.  While at university, I met my dear husband.  We got married the week after graduation and I followed him to seminary.  Almost immediately after the wedding I told him we should look into fostering.

I am sure he thought I was crazy, but he humored me and allowed me to check into it.  I was about ready to sign up for the introductory classes when the inevitable happened… God blessed our marriage with a child the home-grown way, and we were no longer eligible to be foster parents until after she was born and we had settled into life as a family of three.  I understood the requirement, it made sense… but I didn’t have to like it any.

I was determined to continue preparing myself for adoption.  I knew it was in our future, and I wanted to know as much as possible.  I started googling it and found a plethora of adoption blogs to enjoy.  They became my constant companions during the next few months of morning sickness and waiting… along with the Office and Scrubs but I digress…

One of those blogs was an internationally adopting family.  I was fascinated by their journey and all the details of the process.  Along the way I got linked to a Youtube video that changed my life.  I know I’ve blogged about it before.  After I saw this, I would never be the same.  I found Reece’s Rainbow shortly thereafter and spent the next few days just pouring over the pictures of precious little souls in precarious, unimaginable situations.  I will never forget.  Almost immediately I started looking into the requirements to adopt internationally.  Our lack of income due to Jake’ being in graduate school was an immediate shut door.

No foster care.  No international adoption.  What now?  Nothing to do but wait.  I had to do something about those children though… I had to help.  I could not just sit and do nothing.  I began shouting, advocating, begging to anyone who would listen.  My sweet husband tolerated me, of course.  My heart literally was unable to continue if I wasn’t doing something.  I found a jar, we started saving our pennies.  We called it the “Baby Jar”.  Every single coin I found went into that jar.  When it was full we would roll them all and start over.  We didn’t have much, but we could save our pennies for our future adoption – and that’s what we did.

I did fundraisers for the orphans that grabbed my heart.  I did them for families who were currently in process.  I kept reading, and waiting… when would it be our turn?  In the meantime we expected to get pregnant again quickly, but the Lord had other plans.  I was impatient, but His timing was perfect.  We moved from seminary to vicarage (our internship) and we had an income – hooray!  We also were not pregnant and our daughter was a year and a half old.  We would qualify to adopt from foster care now, I mentioned it to Jake and he agreed that we could look into it.  Again, I began finding out what we would need to do to get the ball rolling.

A month before our foster care orientation… it happened.  We were expecting our second.  Well played God… well played.  I was ecstatic, but it still hurt, and I went on a fundraising/advocating kick again.  Not everyone appreciated it.  I didn’t care.  Those kids needed out; I couldn’t bring them home, but I could help someone else bring them home.  I got burned out, and stepped away from the adoption world for a few months.  With the new baby and another move coming up, I just needed a break.  I could not emotionally cope with all of it.

Heath BeforeThat autumn, no sooner had I started dabbling in the Reece’s Rainbow community again.  A little here and there… I saw him.  A small boy called “Heath”.  He was twelve years old and had Down syndrome.  He was in a mental institution, a bad one.  His eyes seemed to be searching my very soul… he was beautiful.  I loved him.  I did… I still do.  He will always have my heart.  With some fancy, shmancy number games we would qualify to adopt that year.  Heath’s adoption was fully funded.  We could technically do this.  I begged and pleaded with Jake to let us go for him.

It was a H.A.R.D. month.  The fact is, Jake knew it wasn’t our time yet, but I didn’t (or wouldn’t listen).  We got counseling from a pastor, we had some really rough nights.  Were our priorities even the same anymore?  I knew we were in school.  I knew it would be crazy hard.  I didn’t care, I loved Heath like my own son and I couldn’t just leave him there.  Jake reluctantly agreed to take the first steps, and I began contacting some social workers in our area.

We didn’t get far in the process when we were told it would not happen.  We were too young to adopt Heath.  My heart was shattered, but it was a merciful ending.  God decided, and that preserved our relationship.  We began the healing process.  I was grief stricken.  I have heard adoptive parents relate the pain of losing a child in this way to the pain of a miscarriage.  I believe it.  I had spent the last few weeks dreaming of what it would be like to have him in our family, loving this child in my heart, trying everything in my power to keep moving forward past huge, insurmountable obstacles that God kept peeling away.  Until it happened.  We hit a brick wall, he was ripped away from me and I would never be his mother.  He was still stuck in that awful place, with no way out and no one to tell him how very much he was loved.

It hurt for months, and it still hurts sometimes.  But only selfishly.  He is home now with his wonderful mother and he is thriving.  It is only me who is missing out on his wonderfulness.  I still hope to meet him some day.  He is doing so wonderfully now and I could not be happier for him or his family.  Adoption changes lives folks.  Adoption is restoration… healing… life.

Heath After Pic

But at the time it was just pain.  It wouldn’t be until months later that a family stepped up for him.  And we are forever grateful to God for that miracle.  But at the time… that was the nail in the coffin.   Adoption, again, would have to wait.  We only had a few months left of seminary, after that maybe…  we would see…

To be continued!

So close! So close!

Ahh!! All of our Dossier (adoption paperwork) is safely in Eastern Europe and we should be submitted by the end of next week!  I am so excited I can hardly stand it!!  Many people have been asking us what the next step is.  Well, nothing for a while!  Now we just have to sit tight and wait for Juri’s government to process our Dossier and give us travel dates!  I have been told that right now it is taking about 7-8 weeks from the time of submission to our DAP appointment.  The DAP is the very first thing we do when we get in-country, so that will be when we travel!  It’s looking like probably mid-May and boy is there a LOT to do before then.

I haven’t been blogging a lot, but our life is about to get a billion times more interesting, so look for some more updates as we gear up to meet the boy that will change our lives forever! (In a GOOD way!!)  Hang on Juri, Mommy and Daddy are on their way!

 

Juri in the Ball Pit

Adoption Updates

Hello!  I know I haven’t been posting many adoption updates.  There weren’t any for a couple of months and now we have lots to share!!

Our homestudy was supposed to be done a month and a half ago but we just now have it in our hands, and that feels so awesome!  A bulk of our Dossier is already finished and mailed off.  It should arrive in Juri’s country this weekend!  It will all need to be translated and then it will wait there for the rest of our paperwork to be finished and sent.  We are still waiting on a few things to be done before we can submit our entire Dossier to Juri’s country.

The only piece we are really waiting on is our USCIS approval.  They could not move forward approving us until we had a completed homestudy.  That arrived to them yesterday, so we will hopefully have approval in a couple of weeks!  After that our Dossier will be ready and we can submit it to Juri’s government.  After it is submitted it takes about 8-12 weeks for them to process everything and invite us to travel to their country to adopt.  We are getting really close!

We have been so blessed by all of your prayers and encouragement.  What blessings our family and friends have been on this journey!  We are also now fully funded for Juri’s adoption thanks to an extremely generous donor to whom we will be forever grateful.  We do ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as we move forward and to pray for Juri that God is preparing his heart to meet us!

Silent Nights

There have been many a silent night on my blog as of late.  Forgive me while I try to move from one floor of my house to the other, compile a dossier, fundraise, get my life in order and think about the many deep mysteries of life… while also trying to have an awesome Advent season.  But I am still here!  I would love to give an update soon about where we are in the adoption, but today this is going to be short and sweet.

I thought I should blog about this milestone for my two little ones… new bedtime milestones.  They are always bittersweet aren’t they?

First, Evangeline is now in her very own room!  Since she was born she has always slept in our bedroom, either in our bed or in her bed pushed up right next to ours.  She has always been close enough for me to hold her hand if she woke up and needed me during the night, but as of Friday we have four newly refurbished bedrooms in our parsonage and… it was time.

We had been telling her about her bedroom for a while and she was so excited to have her “own” room. I always assumed our children would never have their own room, they would share once the first two were ready to make the leap.  But I’ll just say it… it was time.  Stephen isn’t going to be ready for a while and who knows when another girl will come along for the girls’ room.  She seemed ready so we decided to go for it!  And she is doing fabulously.

The first two nights she did not make it the whole night.  We ended up carrying her into our bedroom around 2:00am because she was just restless and, hey, we wanted to sleep!  We still have a second bed in our bedroom (back to that in a second) so it was just like old times and it worked perfectly.  Last night I went to go retuck her in once but she fell back asleep and didn’t need us again until morning.

Now for that second bed :)  Evangeline’s twin bed went with her to her room, but we just happened to have another, so we scooted that up next to ours and that is officially Stephen’s bed now!  We are transitioning him over a few months sooner than we started with Evie, but with the new room and everything it just made sense.  It also helps if I have to get up for Evie in the middle of the night, I don’t disturb him and he will eventually sleep better.  Right now he’s not quite used to the new space so he isn’t sleeping as well.  He has always been very space oriented.  If he’s not in HIS bed, he fights sleep.  But  the second night was better than the first!  He still hasn’t made it an entire night yet without cuddling with mommy by the wee hours of the morning, but I don’t really mind :)

All in all we are very happy with the smooth transition and hope it continues!  I have two blog posts coming up the pike for you, one is an update on our adoption, long overdue I know… and the second is a little more heavy in content, but necessary I think.  Hopefully as the days go on and we continue getting more settled around here I will have less and less of those silent nights on my blog!  Praying you are all having a wonderful Advent!

Facebook Piety

There is something about the ease of internet communication that is really… dangerous.  In seconds I can share a brilliant article written by some other person and get a dozen “likes” for his work.  I can receive compliments and comments on the masterpiece written by this person whom I don’t know and will never meet, and all by saying “I totally agree with this.”

Now it’s not exactly pure plagerism, but doesn’t it make you feel smarter when people affirm your linked articles… almost as if you had done the work of researching and writing on the issue yourself?  Instantaneously we become informed, vindicated, victorious activists for a worthy and noble cause… that we didn’t particularly know existed five minutes prior.

Or think of how simple it is to jump on the unexpecting comment of a total stranger that we found on our friend’s post while scrolling through our news feed.  Aha!  We say to ourselves, that person is utterly wrong on this and I must correct them in the swiftest and surest of ways!  How often do we do this before asking sincerely, “That is an interesting perspective.  How did you come about it?”  Or, “Do tell me more about why you think ______.”  If we do not know to who we are talking, how can we assure ourselves we are not breaking a bruised reed or offending a weaker brother?  How can we know to speak gently or firmly, to give law or grace?  Are they ignorant or belligerent?  It’s easy to think we know from the three sentences we just read… their intonation and tone and background seem obvious to us.  But their reality may be totally different than our perception.

Not to mention our cultural addiction to instantaneous gratification.  Have online friendships without even bothering to get out of your pajamas and go on a play date!  Make sure everyone knows exactly how you feel without marching down the street with a sign or getting involved in your local community!  Instantly tell the world exactly how you feel and get gobs of sympathy thrown at you from every direction.

Now… I am certainly not putting the best construction on our Facebook activity, and I’m sure most of us are not consciously posting in order to garner attention to ourselves or because we feel the need to be superior and find others to put down whenever the opportunity arises.  BUT are we doing the exact opposite of that?  How intentionally gentle, loving and gracious are we when we go online?  How much of our activity is reactionary rather than proactive?  How often do we take the time to sit and think through our next post or comment and check our motives and consider the unintended consequences?  When we post are we posting for the sake of others… or are we mainly just thinking about ourselves, our interests, our needs, our hurts?

As Christians we believe that sin is actually a turning in on oneself.  It is the doing of something for one’s own sake.  We are to live for God and for others.  We are to be other focused, focused on how to bless, care for, help, encourage, strengthen, admonish, teach and lift up the people around us.  But Facebook… Facebook was created for you.  For self gratification and for surrounding yourself with those things that you like and for quenching that thirst for attention.  Not only does it tempt us to concentrate on ourselves, but it goads us into trying to make everyone else look at us and focus on us too.

It’s time for our Facebook addicted generation to own up to the reality.

Facebook is a spiritually dangerous place to be.

I have considered many times removing Facebook from my life, but as one person put it, Facebook has really become a part of the infrastructure of our society.  There is so much that you simply do not have access to without Facebook.  And not just frivolous things either, but important things, like people and ministry opportunities.  Support and encouragement from those who you have no contact with otherwise.  Networking that provides both knowledge and teaching opportunities.  Etc… etc…

But enough is enough.  I have realized that if Facebook needs to stay in my life, we need to set some ground rules.

Facebook might be a mine field, but there are ways I can diffuse those mines and avoid them.  I can’t be perfect, but I don’t have to succumb to every spiritual pitfall that comes my way.  Being aware of the danger and taking responsibility for avoiding that danger is half the battle.  And then, at least, when we fail we can have the presence of mind to ask forgiveness, repent and receive grace.

With all these things in mind, I have come up with a new model of using Facebook for myself.  It is tailored to my needs and the needs of our family, but I would encourage you to think through your relationship to Facebook and social networking and perhaps come up with guidelines for yourself.  Every generation has particular pitfalls to avoid, it would be wise of us to attend to our own.  A little discipline can go a long way.

Dalas’ Facebook Guidelines

Rule 1: Only log on to Facebook if there is something I need to do there.

One pitfall of Facebook is the ease of access.  Since I struggle with that urge to just “check stuff really quick” a dozen times throughout the day, I am going to make the rule that I can only log in to Facebook if there is a specific task I need to accomplish there, and not just to peruse and waste time or get into trouble.  To help me, I am going to set up an online journal with a list of all the online tasks I have to do each day.  When I sit down at the computer, I do those things first, and if I have time I can maybe scroll through my news feed once.  As an additional aid I will be disallowing my browser to automatically sign in to Facebook.  Instead I will need to *gasp* consciously type in my username and password.  One click makes it too easy to just log on without thinking.

Rule 2: Do not post or comment unless I have prayed about it first.

Remember the instant gratification problem?  No longer am I just going to type up whatever feels good in the moment and send it without praying and thinking through the repercussions.  Words can’t be taken back, sure you can delete them, but they might leave permanent scars.  You can’t delete impressions that you make on others.  If there is something I need or want to post I am going to step away from the computer first and take at least fifteen minutes to think and pray on the matter before returning to type up a thread or a response.  If I have to pray about my words for fifteen minutes before I write them, I foresee two things happening: I will write less.  And what I do write will be better.

Rule 3: Use Facebook for other people.

If it were just my wants and needs, I would get rid of Facebook.  But I keep telling myself I am here because it helps me to serve others.  If this is actually true, I need to start using Facebook with that in mind.  I can’t get Facebook out of my life, but I can get rid of the selfishness that Facebook has fostered in me.  Before I sit down to post or do anything on Facebook I am going to ask myself why I am posting.  What is my motivation?  How will this help someone else?  Who am I hoping to help and why?  Is there a more helpful or constructive way I can put this so that those I am wanting to serve will get more out of it?  Am I posting this just because of my own feelings?  Am I writing this to vindicate or justify myself in front of others?  These are the mental exercises I will go through in the praying and considering phase before I post.  If something needs to be adjusted in my heart or in my post, I will do that before clicking the enter key.

Rule 4: Follow the leader.

I am a strong believer in Biblical roles.  Jake is the head of our household, and with that position comes both respect and responsibility.  His job is to be the public face of our household, the responsibility of preserving the reputation of our family name rests on his shoulders.  And since he is in ministry, that task is even more crucial.  So when I know that something I want to say online might not be something my husband would have me say (and trust me I usually do know…) I need to clear it with him first.  I have a really hard time submitting to him on this, and several times I have adopted the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” stance.  I will post it, knowing he won’t like it…

This is a reprehensible sin of mine.  And it needs to stop.  There is nothing that I need to post to Facebook that is more important than respecting the will of the authority that God has placed in my life, namely my husband.  I am called first to help and serve him, and any service to others online is a distant second to that.  He is a much better judge of these kinds of things than I am anyway.  I am blessed to have him.  So, if I am going to be posting something potentially controversial, I will clear it with my head first.  And I would encourage you ladies to do likewise.  (If you are underage, make sure you follow your parents’ authority for your Facebook usage.)

I know I won’t be perfect.

But it’s a start.

Growing Up in Pictures

I remember when I was pregnant with Evangeline and I thought that I must  be the worst mother in the world.  I didn’t feel a particularly strong connection with her before she was born and it took some effort for me to consciously think of her and build that love.  And she was growing inside of me!  Sometimes this adoption has been the same way.  I find myself emotionally disconnecting from the who and focusing on the what.  Getting the next paper notarized, mailing things, fundraising, scheduling home study appointments and physicals, etc.

There is certainly enough busy work in adoption that it is easy to get yourself buried in all the immediate details to escape from some of the more painful realities of the situation.  That’s not necessarily helpful or healthy though, especially when it prevents you from praying for your child or from blogging about the adoption because that would mean you need to confront what’s in front of you.  But it’s hard to pray for him, and it’s hard to even blog updates or talk about how our process is going.  It’s just harder than I ever knew it would be.

I always thought I would be one of those adopting moms who blogged constantly about all the little details of our adoption, who prayed multiple times a day until he was in our arms, who was always lost in whatever pictures or video we might be able to see of him.  But I’m not doing any of those things… I am avoiding them.  It’s usually not a conscious avoidance, but I was looking at some of his pictures today in preparing our November newsletter… and I realized how long it had been since I’ve looked at them.  I even forgot we had a few of them.  It’s been months since I’ve watched his video.  It’s too painful.

We have pictures from about four different times over the course of a few years.

He has grown so much.

Here is the earliest picture we have of him…

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Every time I look at it my heart breaks all over again.  All I see is “Where are you mama?” etched all over his face.  He is so little here.

The next picture we have is after he had been at his new orphanage for some time.  There is a little more life in him…

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And then he gets a little older…

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And finally those chubby baby cheeks are gone altogether…

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It is painful to watch your child grow up in pictures.

And though I am thankful to have them, most days I simply cannot look at them.

I should have been the one playing with him on the floor and showing him toys.

I should have been the one taking pictures and making him smile.

I should have been the one tickling him.

It should have been me there… but it wasn’t and it isn’t.

How I cannot wait for that day that it will be me.

P.S. – Please help us bring our boy home!  If you haven’t yet, check out our current fundraisers:

Juri’s Birthday Party

November Auction for Juri

Juri’s Christmas Storefront

The Battle Plan

Are ya’ll ready for this?  Yesterday was my Battle Cry for Sutter.  Today we’re getting to the Battle Plan.

Sutter has until February to find a family.  He will be turning 16 then and will lose his chance to be adopted.

Let’s not cut it that close folks.

My goal is a family for him by Christmas.  Let’s make this happen.  My Battle Plan includes several strategic moves and I need YOU to be my army and make it happen!  This post will be updated frequently with where we are at in our plan and the progress we make, so keep it bookmarked for future reference!

STRATEGIC MOVE 1: PRAY

God loves Sutter more than I do, more than you do and more than anyone ever could.  The absolute best thing we can do for Sutter is to pray for him.  I need 16 prayer warriors to commit to praying for Sutter until his family is found.  Below is a list of the prayer warriors we have already and the ones we still need!  I am hoping that we can cover this boy and the family who has not found him yet with prayer throughout the day.  If you pick a slot you commit to praying for Sutter at least once every day during the day, preferrably within the time frame listed.  I have two overnight slots available for those night owls, people who wake up frequently at night to pray or friends in other time zones who can cover those hours.  This list will be updated as we get new warriors in!

Morning Warriors (5am-10am)
1. Taken!
2.
3.
4.
5.

Afternoon Warriors (10am-3pm)
6. Taken!
7. Taken!
8. Taken!
9.

Evening Warriors (3pm-10pm)
10. Taken!
11. Taken!
12. Taken!
13.
14.

Overnight Warriors (10pm-5am)
15. Taken!
16.

STRATEGIC MOVE 2: ADVOCATE

Other than praying this is quite possibly the most pivotal part of our strategy.  We must advocate for Sutter or his family may never find him.  I need sixteen people to join me in advocating for this child!  Our mission is to introduce him to as many people as possible as soon as possible.  My strategy for this is Letter Carrying (or as my husband lovingly called it, guerrilla warfare).  I need sixteen (or more!) volunteers to sign up for this task.  I will send you a PDF file letter with Sutter’s picture, story and a way for them to get more information on how to help.  Print off as many as you think you might use, fold them and seal them with a note on the outside for whoever is likely to read it (Ex: “Dear Christmas Shopper” if you are at a store or “Dear Reader” if you leave them in a library).  Place them in strategic places around your town and pray that God would soften the recipient’s heart to pray, advocate, give share or adopt!

We still need THIRTEEN more Letter Carriers!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 3: SHARE

Along with advocating independantly, you can also advocate through sharing.  It’s very easy!  My goal is to have (you guessed it!) 16 shares on each post I write for Sutter through the Christmas season.  I will update this with a list of all my posts for Sutter.  Please share each one and check back regularly to make sure you get them all!  16 shares per post would be FANTASTIC in helping me to get the word out and encouraging some more participation.  Please share on Facebook, Twitter, through email or your own blog and let me know so I can update numbers!  Below I will list all current posts:

1. Battle Cry: Shares so far…. THREE
2. The Battle Plan: Shares so far… SIX

STRATEGIC MOVE 4: GIVE

Yes give!  Giving to Sutter’s tax deductible grant fund does a few great things.  After his family sees him for the first time, one of their first reactions might be “How can we possibly afford to adopt?”  If he has a large grant fund that diminishes some of the fear for the family of taking that leap of faith.  It shows them not only that a part of his adoption has already been paid for but also that there are other people out there that want to see him come home and will likely help along the way.

Second, if we reach our Angel Tree goal of raising $1,000, Sutter will be moved up to the next level of Moving Mountains on the Reece’s Rainbow advocacy site.  This gives him a huge bump in visibility, which could help his family see him!  And last but not least, a larger grant means less time fundraising and the ability for his family to move quickly through the process once they commit.  This is a huge blessing, especially for Sutter who has already spent the first sixteen years of his life alone and has so much time to make up for!

As the Lord leads, please go to this link to make your tax deductible gift to Sutter: http://reecesrainbow.org/52642/sutter

If you give a gift of $35.00 or more, Reece’s Rainbow will send you a lovely ornament for your Christmas tree.  You can see the details for that HERE.

In addition, my husband and I have decided to tithe 10% of all the donations we get from Juri’s Birthday Party Fundraiser to Sutter’s grant from now until the end of the year.  If we meet our fundraising goal we can put an extra $2,000 in Sutter’s account!  Please check it out! 

I have another fundraiser coming up the pipe as well so stay tuned!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 5: ADOPT

We don’t need sixteen… we just need one.  Sutter needs one Mommy and one Daddy.

Sutter could be your son.  God has a family for this boy.  Is it you?

Sutter

 

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