Monday, November 24, 2008

Blessings and prayers

Our adoption process has been one of the greatest journeys of my life.

I can remember when I was pregnant with Bryan, how I literally spent hours praying for his life. When he moved inside of me, I prayed for his health, for his future, for his salvation. The first moment I saw his face, I remember feeling as if I were meeting an old friend. I already knew him; he had been with me for so long that it just felt right to hold him and care for him. He was mine.

Obviously, I don't have the opportunity to feel Ellie inside of me like I did with Bryan. Another woman had that privilege, and I would not take that from her for anything in the world. I am honored that she carried the child that I will call my own and even more honored that she is entrusting that precious girl to me. But, you know, even without a pregnancy, Ellie is growing within me. She is growing in my heart.

With every new step in the process, I feel her more and more. I believe that when we meet, it will be natural. I believe that God has intended for us to be together since she was being knit in her mother's womb. And I am humbled by that. Like I said, this has been an amazing journey. God has reminded me of His unfailing love for me, how he adopted me into His family too! Wow...

I have had a front row seat to watch God work throughout this past year, as He puts everything together to bring Ellie home to us. He has answered so many prayers. He healed our hearts when we lost everything with Vietnam. He gave us new hope in Ethiopia. He even answered the seemingly simple requests I have made (like the hair questions!). He has been faithful to let us know that He is in control of everything, including the timing of bringing our girl home (think t-shirt that I posted about not long ago). And He continues to blow our minds with how He is providing the finances for this process.

Make no mistake: Adoption is very expensive. We make a good living, but we don't have that kind of money laying around here, for sure. In the beginning, we vowed to God and to each other that we would do this adoption debt free. We have been blessed by parents who have been so gracious to help us financially (thanks mom, dad and Joann!). But I have to tell you about something that I consider extraordinary!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned (as I always do) our adoption as a prayer request in my Sunday school class. I mentioned specifically that we will be coming to some very expensive parts of this process soon (we hope!). After class, a lady that I have never met before came to me, introduced herself and said "My husband and I would like to give you some money". I won't go into all of the details (not sure if she would want me to), but suffice it to say that she blessed our socks off! I was literally blown away by the generosity of these two people who did not even know us! It was yet more proof that God's desire is to unite us with our Ellie.

To the couple who gave so lovingly, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. God has used you mightily, and our daughter will know that you loved her unconditionally before you even knew who she was. Thank you for being disciples of Christ that gave willingly and lovingly. We can't wait for you to meet our girl!

To our parents... what is there to say? I Know you have given because you want Ellie home about as much as we do. Yet, you didn't have to do that for us. Your love has been incredible and encouraging throughout this entire process. Thank you for being so excited about your granddaughter! Thank you for celebrating with us along the way. We can't wait for you to meet Ellie (soon, we hope!)

And most of all, thanks be to God, who has faithfully blessed us, answered us, directed us and loved us always. May we be true disciples of you always.

Please continue to pray as we continue to gather the finances we need to bring our Ellie home.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Special Delivery

This week has been hard for me. Maybe it's the holidays coming upon us so quickly. Maybe it's the cooler weather. Maybe it's just me. I don't know the "why" but I know that I have been missing Ellie this week. It's strange to miss someone you have never met. But, you see, I already love her. She is already a part of our family, in our hearts. We already refer to her as ours. We just need to know who she is and bring her home!

I had hoped and prayed that we would have her here with us by Christmas this year. Obviously, that is not going to happen. And that's okay. Our prayers have been for God to bring her to us in His timing, which we trust is perfect. But still... how I wish she were here.

I've done some Christmas shopping, wishing that she were here to see the lights and hear the music. I've wished that she were here to take to visit Santa. I've wished she were here to see all of the families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've wished she were here to tell the Christmas story to so that she will hear of the miracle of Christmas.

As I have had these wishes, I have prayed so much for her. I've prayed protection over her from illness, from poverty and not enough food to eat. I've prayed for her heart that may be breaking as her mother chooses an adoption plan in the ultimate sacrifice to save her precious girl's life. I've prayed for that mother, whose heart must be breaking to make such a decision. I pray that I am worthy of her trust.

I'll admit that I have questioned whether God has heard my prayers. There have been no new girls listed on our agency site, and that is disheartening. My humanness has led me to question at times "Will this fall apart again like Vietnam?". And once again, God has answered my prayers perfectly.

Yesterday, Jeff went out to get the mail. In the box, he found a small package that held a child's t-shirt. On that shirt were the words "Special Delivery from Ethiopia". It was as if God Himself were saying to us "She is on the way. I am bringing Ellie to you. Just be patient. Trust my plan".

I do trust His plan.

Ellie, we can't wait to meet you. We can't wait for that moment when we get to see your sweet face and know that you were chosen for us. We can't wait to hold you, kiss you, and bring you to your forever home. We're coming, baby girl. Just be patient, and trust His plan.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Make A Difference

Today in the mail, I received one of my favorite things. It wasn't a magazine or a sales add. It wasn't anything to do with our adoption (although I got our correct birth certificates today too!). Today, I received a letter. And not just any letter. This letter was from Susan, the child that we sponsor through Compassion International.

We began sponsoring Susan through the youth group at FBC when Jeff was Youth Minister. However, after his position changed, we decided to take on the sponsorship ourselves. You see, we are connected to Susan. In many ways, I feel like she is a part of our family. Heck, she is a part of our family!

A few years ago, we were blessed to travel to Uganda for a mission trip. While there, we were able to meet Susan. She traveled more than 10 hours from her village to meet us at the Entebbe airport. I will never forget her face as she held that little sign with her name on it, standing there on the sidewalk waiting for us. We spent an afternoon at the zoo, holding hands and looking at the animals and flowers. We couldn't speak the same language, but we connected. I left that zoo changed forever, all because of the smile of a little girl.

You see, Susan smiles despite the circumstances of her life. Susan smiles even though both of her parents have died from AIDS. Susan smiles despite poverty. Susan smiles because she knows a loving Father in Heaven who holds her. Because of Compassion, Susan gets to know of the love of Jesus. Because of Compassion, Susan gets to eat, to study, to thrive. She aspires to be a lawyer, and she would love to come to America one day to visit and "see the airports".

When we first started to support Susan, I thought that I was helping her. What I know now, is that she has helped me far more than I ever dreamed. She has helped me to see beyond my selfishness. She has helped me to aspire to be more than I am today. She has helped me to find joy in all circumstances. She helped to ignite a passion in me to adopt, and I believe it is no coincidence that we are adopting from Africa.

Would you commit to sponsor a child too? For $32 a month (Note: we pay $40 due to Susan being in a HIV zone), you can help save the life of a child. And you just might find that that child saves you too....