Wednesday, December 14, 2011

waiting

How difficult the waiting is, all the unknowns just hanging out there. It forces us to believe that there is warring going on in the spiritual realm. We have to trust that even though everything in us wants to make progress, wants to force people to go quicker, we simply can't. So we wait. The first day after we get news is always the hardest,has both a good effect and difficult effect on us. For instance on Tuesday it was "I will talk to some childrens relatives but they live very far away and can only get here next Monday" that kind of news gets us so excited but also leaves us feeling like we should be doing something more! After prayer and talking we decide we must trust our advocate - earthly one and heavenly one - and wait for things to play out. We kill ourselves thinking "what if this or that" but we realize that we are closer now than ever, but so many obstacles still stand in our path. God can topple them in an instant or they could be things that stop us from becoming parents to certain children. We don't know. But we keep trusting, and fighting.
It is a battle in our minds and hearts to stay focused on tasks for the day that often have nothing to do with adoption.a battle not to wish the next step would come quick, the thing that will give us more answers but is still a week away.
God has blessed us with a comminty here who is ever gentle and always encouraging and understanding. I don't know where we would be with out them. Even when we are angry and frustraited they listen and understand.

So today we go to the village, to be with those we do have in front of us to love.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"it takes a village" reblogged

i am not sure if this is illegal in the blogging world, but i just stumbled on a blog i have to copy and paste here. i wil give credit, and i hope you enjoy this insight.
so the below is Jen Hatermaker's blog and then another bloggers response to her blog post. confusing i know, but i think you can follow - 2 bloggers, and me the third in the line posting these thoughts that are not my own, but i really appreciated hearing.
they come first from:
http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/02/how-to-be-the-village#.TrG5yC5r1Pl.facebook

and then the responses are from:
http://james127.blogspot.com/

"It takes a village" AMEN!
Share
Jen Hatmaker just posted on how adoption 'takes a village'.

Here’s what we would love to hear Before the Airport:

1. Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases. We don’t actually need for you to fix our wait. We just want you to be our friend and acknowledge that the process is hard and you care about us while we’re hurting. That is GOLD. I was once having lunch with my friend Lynde when AWAA called with more bad news about Ben’s case, and I laid my head down on the table in the middle of Galaxy CafĂ© and bawled. Having no idea what to do with such a hot mess, she just cried with me. Thank you for being perfect that day, Lynde.

2. Your questions are welcomed! We don’t mind telling you about the court system in Ethiopia or the in-country requirements in Nicaragua or the rules of the foster system. We’re glad to talk about adoption, and we’re thankful you care. I assure you we didn’t enter adoption lightly, so sharing details of this HUGE PIECE OF OUR LIVES is cathartic. Plus, we want you to know more because we’re all secretly hoping you’ll adopt later. (This is not true.) (Yes it is.)

3. When you say you’re praying for us and our waiting children, and you actually really are, not only does that soothe our troubled souls, but according to Scripture, it activates the heavens. So pray on, dear friends. Pray on. That is always the right thing to say. And please actually do it. We need people to stand in the gap for us when we are too tired and discouraged to keep praying the same words another day.

4. If you can, please become telepathic to determine which days we want to talk about adoption and which days we’d rather you just show up on our doorstep with fresh figs from the Farmer’s Market (thanks, Katie) or kidnap us away in the middle of the day to go see Bridesmaids. Sometimes we need you to make us laugh and remember what it feels like to be carefree for a few hours. If you’re not sure which day we’re having, just pre-buy movie tickets and show up with the figs, and when we answer the door, hold them all up and ask, “Would you like to talk for an hour uninterrupted about waiting for a court date?” We’ll respond to whichever one fits.


I particularly liked her 'after the airport' tips, so I wanted to share them here. My thoughts are after the // and in bold.

(Note: I personally do not think airport celebrations are helpful to our adopted kids. They are incredibly overwhelmed, and we want to keep those neurotransmitters safe and sound by keeping the stress as low as possible!)

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.//This is why I think the airport celebration is too much for them. Wait a season...until our kids are good and 'settled' like our dear friends the Youngs, and then have a HUGE celebration for their homecoming!! This is also why I would not recommend immediatlely sending our adopted kiddos to school. They need to bond at home. They need that time to become a family unit and learn the surroundings of their new life (keeping those neurotransmitters as calm as possible).

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.// This is very good advice, and another reason I would not recommend newly adopted children going to school immediately. Take time off and bond. Kary Purvis says for ever year a child was in the orphanage, give them a month to be in reaching distance of their parents. Jeremiah was in the orphanage for 3 months, and we kept him cocooned for 2 months. For 6 months, we still didn't let people hold him or be his primary care. Bonding is the most important thing you can do when you come home.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.// This is usually true. This is probably moreso true for internationally adopted kiddos. With our domestic adoptions, we personally didn't experience this. However, with Jeremiah....trauma center is a great description as to what our home was like. A little inside snapshot during our homecoming: kids who were home before adoption are SO happy to see us, yet feeling disconnected because we had been away - they are in need of lots of attention and one on one time/eye to eye time. Jeremiah is terrified of everything that comes within a foot of him. So, make that work? Mommy wears Jeremiah, but he screams and vomits every time other kids come within a foot of him. It was exhausting. Jeremiah takes TWO months before he'll set skin on the floor of our house (he only felt safe on mommy's back). On mommy's back, he was gold. Vomiting, diarrhea, and a whole sanitary station (that looks like a hospital changing station) in our bedroom. No children allowed in our bedroom to keep them from 'accidentally' touching something that would pass on giardia or Hep A. Blowouts....no, you don't know what I mean when I say blowout. BLOWOUTS - pj's FULL of liquid poop - every single morning for 2 months. Jeremiah vomiting his food, Micah coming behind and eating his vomit. Going to the dr with bm samples over and over. bleach. lots of bleach. Washing laundry multiple times a day. Survival friends. Survival.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.// Yes.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.// I agree with some of this. However, I absolutely believe that our kids were ordained for our family. If they weren't, then that would mean God made a mistake. He doesn't make mistakes. I believe our adopted kids were ordained before there was time to be in our family. Adoption is absolutely the result of a broken world. But if we believe that God didn't ordain our kids for our family, then we don't believe God is 100% sovereign.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.// AMEN!!!!!! Thank you, friends, who never left us!!!



Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag.// YES! And it allows us to focus on becoming a family w/o thinking through food! Leave it on the front door with a note that we can read to the family ;) And do what my sweet Gisele did, grocery shop for the essentials (toilet paper, cereal, milk, etc), and leave it on the doorstep. Text and tell her the cost, and she can leave a check on the doorstep for you. Awwwww...amazing blessing for us!

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart.// I hadn't thought about our other kids leaving during that time. I don't think I would have liked that (maybe because our kids were so little?), but the rest is absolutely true. But asking and being available NEVER hurts!! ;)

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.// This is huge. I would post victories on fb. It was a HUGE victory the first time Jeremiah spent 2 minutes in the floor w/ his siblings in my lap! We celebrated with dancing, people!!! It was HUGE. Then 5 min without even looking for mommy! I made it to the kitchen while he was in the living room on the floor playing with his toys with his siblings. AWESOMENESS!!! Then the day he sat in his exersaucer for 2 minutes!! Everybodies victories are different, but they are VICTORIES!!!

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.// O man. What a fabulous, fabulous idea. We didn't do this, but we should have!! I think because we were asleep at 8:15 (see above comment) due to exhaustion. But a fabulous idea. Brilliant.

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.//Yes. It's always SO encouraging and gives us strength to press on!!!

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.// AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!


Thank you for being the village. You are so important.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

promise



I walk around, staring at women who have tight protruding bellies, women who know soon they will see their little one, whether it is a joy or a stress… they know that at a certain time a baby will appear! When I see these women I feel such fondness, such comraderie, but I have no belly, so maybe I live through them. But I feel as though I am about to burst, about to see my baby.
I know I might be in the space longer than the women I see, but that is ok. Just to know I am in this stage is a feeling I haven’t often allowed myself to feel.
But there is such joy and hope it. There is also a feeling of desperation, of only God can bring about the children He has promised.
Faith…
Children of a Promise. Not just any children, but those God has for us. As he grows specific children in a womb of a mother, He has set a part children for us. They are in His hands. So we will trust, and believe and have faith!

in all this God is drawing us to himself. To desperation: in Him alone.
Regina gave me this devotion:
“The Faith for desperate days. The Bible is full of such days. It is record is made up of them, it’s songs are inspired by them, it’s prophesy is concerned with them, and it’s revelation has come through them.
The desperate days are stepping stones in the path of light. They seem to have been God’s opportunity and man’s school of wisdom. There is a story of an Old Testament Love feast in Psalm 107, and in every story of deleverance the point of desperation gave God His chance. The ‘wits end’ of desperation was the beginning of God’s power…
Desperation is better than dispair
Faith did not make our desperate days. It’s work is to sustain and solve them. The only alternative to a desperate faith is despair, and faith holds on and prevails.”
Hebrews 11:6
English Standard Version (ESV)
6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God(A) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Faith…
Children of a Promise. Not just any children, but those God has for us. As he grows specific children in a womb of a mother, He has set a part children for us. They are in His hands. So we will trust, and believe and h
ave faith!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

our wacky process


So people have been asking, about the papers in our hands in the picture we posted on Facebook. For those of you who have walked with us on this journey step by step, you already know, but for most everyone else, it isn’t so clear.
And to be honest – our process of adoption has been anything but NORMAL!
Which I am sure adds to the curiosity of what we are sending in!

We are just now completing our US immigration requirements –
The I600A form (which is for preapproval by the US to adopt a child internationally) which we needed to wait to send in until Dan and Regina returned from the States to Zambia to get their fingerprints done by the US embassy here for the federal fingerprint check. We also had to get the fingerprints taken, but we needed them for it all to be complete before we could send it in for approval, which takes 2 to 4 weeks!

So that is the final stage – unless the US has issues with our home study or I600A application – for the State side requirements
-Most families do all this then it gets sent to the country adopting from, then they wait for the people in that country to find a child who matches their specifications on the application to adopt.
But we are not most families! Though sometimes I wish we were…

But on the other hand we get to be proactive about finding and identifying our children. But that doesn’t mean it goes any faster… it just means the social workers who are working on our behalf know us, and we get to bug them, even when they have 100 other crisis’s to handle.

Before we can apply for the next step in the process, the I600 – the immigration form to petition to make the orphan your adopted child – that child must be legally adopted by Zambian Law. So that is what we are working on now.

While the US process is in motion, we are working to get the Zambian process in motion and completed! First step (well more like 4th or 5th step) is to indentify the child/children. We would love for it to be 2 children. But under the age of 2. We know this might be wishful thinking, but we believe God’s desires are our desires. So we will be content with the child. Or children. He provides.

So we are holding, sometimes barely clinging to the hope we have so long pined for. Believing even when it seems nothing is moving. It all feels so close. But it is so hard to get my hopes up just to be disappointed. This is what I fight constantly, the fear of being disappointed. This week God spoke to us a few things through people, and prayer.

1.Delight in the Lord
2.Be still and Know He is God
3.1 Cor 13:7 “Love never gives up, Never looses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance”

Pray these things with us, over us and for our Babies. That we can give them this kind of love, even when we don’t know them, can’t touch them, or watch them sleep.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

screams


so lately, Paula and I have both had encounters that unfortunately are not all that uncommon. African Children screaming when they see us, or if we wave at them or try to hold them.

in the book What is the What (i totally recommend it) but Dave Eggers - one of the Lost boys in Sudan describes the first time he saw a white person "I thought i was seeing a ghost!"

so i am wondering, is that what these children think!? most of the time when it happens, we laugh, the parents laugh, and the baby continues to scream until we are out of sight.

will this happen the first time we see our little one!? ahhhhhhh!!

but seriously.
i voiced my concern to Jeremiah and he said, "well first of all it depends on how old the child is"
- ok i think this is true, maybe we will get a baby who doesn't know the difference.
he continues,
"and in the USA when social workers place kids in foster homes, they often scream, but they have to leave them." - he says so unworried like...

i can just imagine the scenario... the baby sees me and screams bloody murder, so i pass her the Jeremiah and she instantly falls a sleep :) this would happen!

i can't wait to find out!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

hope deferred



King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 13:12-

Hope Deferred makes the heart sick

But a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.


Hope that is delayed, hope prolonged, hope that is slow in coming to fulfillment...

this could be true in so many things for so many people.

Hope deferred -- is at least still hope.

with out hope, there is only dispair, lack of belief in good things to come.

so today i am grateful for the hope or things to come, the hope of things promised.

i am comforted not only by my own hope, but the hope of so many more for us! it spurs me on to believe that the promise will be fulfilled when i think of how many others in our life are believing, hoping with us and for us. in this i have increased hope even when the hope i have is deferred.

today i give thanks for all of you-
who
through prayers
through encouraging words
through emails
through comments
through skype conversations
through phone calls
through reading and engaging with us on this journey

have indeed made this journey so much more bearable.
thank you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The gritty details


If you want to hear it!

So last week we thought we would send in our I600A to USCIS in Johannesburg, South Africa, to be approved, but we found out that along with that we also must get our finger prints taken by the US Embassy in Zambia (Lusaka) and send those in at the same time. BUT
We must also send in Dan and Regina’s finger prints, because they are in our home study. And they are also still in the states…
So we will wait until they come back (Nov. 3) to all go up to Lusaka together to get our finger prints, and also work out (Hopefully) our visa issues.
AND THEN we can send everything in to South Africa for pre approval – basically them saying we will be suitable parents and they approve us to pursue adoption of a child from Zambia.

BUT
In the mean time, the home study is more or less complete, so we will go Tuesday (Monday is a holiday here) and give the social workers our home study, in hopes that they will take that as proof enough to place a child with us as soon as a child is discovered, we are praying for an abandoned child (well, no one prays someone else will abandon their child, but we pray that a child who is really in need will be discovered, or abandoned).

This is where we are, I was very discouraged at first, but in the end it wont make much difference, and I have to trust the God who sees the bigger picture, the one who knows the details I do not, or else I would go crazy (I have been on the verge of crazy).

We did buy a crib! So no we can at least tell social welfare we are prepared.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

so close!

We are so close to being able to complete our home study. But we are waiting on our work permit/permanent visa still! They say it is approved but they are waiting for the booklets they give us to come in (from who knows where). But we don’t need the booklets, all we need is our number. We are trying every avenue we can right now, and the soonest we can go up to Lusaka is Tuesday – which might be our only/last option. Which we are avoiding because we will need to go back to pick up the booklets once they come in. so please pray that we are able to get through to someone and that they will give us our numbers! Then we can start the approval from USCIS and give the completed home study to Social Welfare here!
Thank you! We will keep you updated!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I often wonder how becoming parents will change us. Because I know it will change us. As we wade through the waters of life, trying to discover and feel out what makes us happy, really happy. What brings such joy to be doing. I am speaking of everyday things, not the big overall calling we have but how specifically in the little details of life that calling us walked out, talk about muddy murky waters to wade through. Lately instead of clearing up, the waters just seem to get muddier, which of course is disconcerting! HA!
How strange our life is, has been. We always seem to seek out difficult paths. Either we are a bit masocistic or just think we need a challenge. Either way we never seem to do things the easy way.
Which of course brings me back to adoption. I knew the obstacles that would lie in our path, I knew they would be there. And that has of course been true. There are days I walk down the road are numerous mothers with their little babies (all African of course) and I think "that will never be me" it all feels so far away but so close.
Back to my original question - sorry for the rabbit trail,
How will becoming parents change us?
I pray it fulfills some of those questions we have been asking ourselves in the recent months and years. The questions about daily what we are doing. Wanting our day to day life to have more meaning, more than just the work we do, although it can be fulfilling at times it still feels like something or someone is missing.
I have always felt I would be a mom who will need to be doing something out side our home as well. Counsellung women, or working in social work field, mentoring etc. And I still think this will be true.
But
I am longing for a season of focusing on my childen getting to know them, their personalities, likes dislikes, expressions and routine. Just for a season.
As a family. not just for me as a mom but for us as a family. The anticipation and longing only grows daily which makes focusing on other things very hard.
But how can i nest? sometimes life here makes it very difficult. Again I feel the weight of the life we have chosen. But I feel like I can persevere because when those kids are in our arms all the obstacles will be in the past.. and the new challenges that will be in front of us will be of course difficult but but the effort will be in pouring into their little lives, something so lasting.

Friday, September 30, 2011

branches



As I sit under my cozy mosquito net, fan pointed directly on me, waiting for Jeremiah to come home from the long day at the village, I am reflecting on my longings, my passions, where I have felt most alive, free and happy. I have spent the day in bed – I think I food poisoned myself last night – but it has given me time to think.

Jeremiah will attest to the fact that for the last 2 years – but more concentrated in the last 3.5 months, I have been searching for names, but not just any names, names with real meaning. One time he commented on how many names I must have written down in my journal! This is a mostly private obsession, but I am now letting you in on my little secret. And yet, still I don’t know! (Well this isn’t just me who is deciding, but well I appear to be the only one looking). But Jeremiah has opinions, which of course helps narrow it down a great deal, maybe a great deal more than I would like, but hey we signed up to be parents together, so I guess he should have some say…?

This blog is titled Beautiful Branches, that is the scripture God gave me over a year ago, Isaiah 4:2-6. Now I am very aware that hermeneutically these prophesy was meant for Jesus, so I don’t want to blaspheme, but it is a picture of what I feel our children will be. I will quote the NLT
But in that day, the branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of all who survive in Israel… who survive the destruction of Jerusalem and are recorded among the land of the living. The lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion…”
This land is full of pain and suffering, of destruction and dark forces. Here, they are more visible – not to say they don’t exist in other places, but it is confrontational here. There is no escaping the injustice, the lack of education, the life expectancy, (38 years). I believe God has called our children out, not for their glory or ours but For God’s. For His people whom he cries for. These children will be what Isaiah 11 calls
A new shoot, yes a new branch bearing fruit from the old root.

So a name, for our children (God willing 2). Any suggestions? Anyone know the word for branch or other things that could make reference to these verses? In another language perhaps? Of course we are not limited to these meanings, but we are praying God would give us a clear word for our children.

It is a strange feeling; a place we cant let ourselves go very often, the yearning with out seeing fruit of the longing. In thinking about names, I think it gives me something to hold on to, one thing I am in control over out of the millions I am not. Yet, my hope cannot be found in these children to be, even when they are in our arms. I think God is teaching us something more valuable than we know right now, something that will become like gold. A gift to us, a baby gift from God, how to wait and trust. I am valuing what this is doing to my character more and more. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get angry at the system here, or feel like giving up, or ask God when!? But it does mean, my hope must Be in God, the giver of good gifts, because it can all be taken away in a blink of an eye. Living now, hoping for what is to come, but holding tight to what I have, holding tight to Jesus now in the midst of the trials. This is what creates gold in me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

suffering


- You know those days you lay down in bed at night to go to sleep, and you think to yourself “if I had known at the beginning of the day, what today would hold, I never would have gotten out of bed!” but after the fact you realize it was God’s grace you didn’t know because it would have been too much to handle? Looking back, that is how this last year has felt, like one of those days.
I must put a disclaimer here – I am being a bit dramatic, I can do that sometimes. There have been moments of pure joy and real victory.

When I think about this last year, think on all the funerals we have been too, and some we were not able to attend; think about disappointments, the unmet expectations; the huge life transitions; the prolonged waiting for what we hoped beyond hope would already be a reality, having kids in our arms by now; through accidents; bearing of others burdens, sometimes unable to share our own: when I think of all these things, I am glad I didn’t know before hand because I never would have gotten out of bed.

These words haunted me this morning, in the wake of struggle –

The earth will soon dissolve like snow
The sun forget to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine

He called me to be on this earth. For His pleasure and love…
I have been asking large questions, feeling isolated and lonely in them. Seeking God’s wisdom because as the message puts it in James 1 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” seek Gods wisdom.

Often I pray, God, why? It is too hard, why? Holding everything, and then more bashes us when we think it can’t get more difficult.

But there it is, here we are, in it.

There have been joys this year.
Both of us achieving the long worked for goal of completing our bachelor degrees was one of those times.
And there were many more with good friends, and family. Really connecting with people, many times over suffering, but real depth growing in our selves and in relationships.
Sharing in others simple joys in overcoming hardships. In seeing the release in others of things long hoped for, that has been especially sweet.
That is what has made this year bearable.

Now coming upon October, walking into each day, not knowing any more what to expect. Around the next corner could be unexpected joy, or unexpected sorrow. Last night Sarah said something to me, “For some reason God has called us to this place where there is so much suffering. And for some reason he causes us to suffer too.” Even now it makes me cry.
In this suffering I want to run. I want to escape to the safety of good friends, to the comfort of knowing we will have running water in our house, today and everyday. To the familiar spaces that make life sweet. To the places where I largely know what to expect out of people, systems, and products on the grocery store shelves. To the place where people respect each other despite gender or class. Where craigslist and speedy Internet is only a click away. To a place where we aren’t always looked to either as a target, an outsider, or as someone who is going to solve their problems.

But here we find ourselves, in the midst of hardship and peril. Walking this road I feel ashamed to say is really hard. Harder than I thought it would be. With obstacles unforeseen, and difficulties in relationships unexpected.

just a few days ago, jeremiah and i were reflecting, after yet another funeral in the village, someone related to Joseph, we said, how can one person take so much suffering in his young life? in just the year and a half we have known him there has been about 5 people close to him who have died. that doesn't include his dad who died we don't know how many years ago. the fact that his mom lives 2 villages away but he never sees her. yet he bears it, maybe he just disconnects? how else can a person continue living?

5 years from now when we are living who knows where, I am sure I will look back at this post and think, oh I was so emotional, and too free with my words. I will feel embarrassed that I shared such intimate thoughts, because the truth is, no matter how much we question things; we are here, until God calls us somewhere else. My complaining, I will tell myself, did no one any good, least of all me. This is how I now look back at myself and my former moments of weakness. But right now, in this moment, I am entering into the sorrow, the fears, the loneliness, and attempting, praying to see where God, where Jesus, is in it all. Sometimes it feels like our entire lives are an open book, everyone knows everything about us – either to build us up where we don’t deserve or to criticize. But this is it, little us, broken, searching, hurting people. That’s it. We need God. Why does it take something so painful to get our attention, to make us see our need for him?

Monday, September 12, 2011

in zambia


Support

We are now living in a society where adoption, foster care and the act of caring for children is thought of very differently than in the west, than in America.

Most people in Zambia, in Africa it seems, take orphaned or vulnerable children not out of choice but out of obligation, out of a cultural stimulus. They care for their own.
End of story.

Because the problems: HIV, disease, poor nutrition, poverty, and the list goes on: people must care for their relatives. No one is untouched by HIV/AIDS. Therefore no one is untouched by the orphan crisis.

When I speak of adoption to people here, as a choice we have made, the way we are going to grow our family, most people, from the impression I get, just chalk it up to being white, to being American, to having the freedom to choose. But for them, they have no choice but care for those around them who are in need, their sister’s cousin’s husband’s dead brother’s kids…. Seriously.

But then, there are so many, the problem is so big, they must choose to turn some away. Then what?

“The kids we want to adopt, the babies God has for us,” we explain gently, “ will have no family, totally unwanted, those are the kids…”
They question us… especially those who have never known anyone who chose adoption. At social welfare, the most wonderful social workers assistant; we have known her since last year, and she has always been so helpful. When we spoke to her a few weeks ago about wanting to adopt, her response, “You? You are not from here. Why do you want to adopt when you are not from here?”

They fear we will take their children away, some think we will abuse them, some simply don’t understand.

“Children are our inheritance. In our old age, they take care of us, just as I took care of my parents, and their brothers and sisters if they had no children of their own.” How do we explain that we don’t want to take away their children, we just want give a chance to those who would have never had a chance to have a family.

We just want to give them a chance, and to pour out our love, and to open up the world to these children, to give them opportunities they would never have had.

We are not naive, these children will talk like us, they will probably like the foods we eat and of course be used to how we live. Because they will be our children, but that does not make them less Zambian.

We have had to wrestle with what is important…

Kingdom culture, kingdom values, no matter if they talk like a Zambian or American, what matters more, what supersedes all culture in our mind, is Jesus, his values, his kingdom. We will make every effort to give or children a chance to be Zambian. But in the end, we are American, but above that, we are followers of Jesus.

We will do our best to instill a love for their fellow Africans, to give them a heart that values the poor, to live our lives so they serve along side us and along side Zambians.

But they are God’s children, and they will be our children, and they will also be children of Zambia.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

here we are


How do I begin?
How do I express the range of feelings the overwhelming (and sometimes underwhelming) emotions?

I think ill begin where it started…
Sometimes life feels like this journey I am in the middle of, but cant remember how exactly I got here.
Things began and kept going.
Now I am standing in the middle of a beautiful jungle, sounds and smells are like nothing I have ever know, the risks and fears are just as great, the path has ceased to exist, so now the choice is mine…
But never the less, here I am.

Adoption: This blog is about adoption, but I cannot start there
I must begin much before this specific decision, I must start with a struggle.

Tension: pulling of two worlds, two lives, two passions.
This tug of war is sometimes a vague feeling, but sometimes palpable experiences. To quote Chariots of Fire “I feel His pleasure when…”
when…
I am standing up for the voiceless.
I am creating, with my hands, things that make this world beautiful.

I have had a newfound love for Pottery, ceramics.
Creating art from mud, from the mire of the earth, brings me more joy than I can express. I loose my self, and I find something of God when I am sitting at the wheel. Now, by no means am I even very good at it, but oh how I feel His pleasure in those moments.

I also have a conviction, a purpose in life I can’t ignore. That is, as Isaiah 51 Puts it, “and my justice will become a light to the nations. My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way. My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant land will look to me ad wait in hope for my powerful arm.”
Justice, Mercy, Hope
This gives my life purpose in a way doing ceramics all my life never could.
– Just to clarify, this is me. No finger pointed, but judgment passed, just God’s sweet voice to me.

So how do I reconcile this? It has always been my struggle, since the time I realized how messed up the world really is. How we, how I, can bring a piece of God’s kingdom to earth now.
How I use the gifts God has given me, how I live my life. But knowing this purpose does not making living for it, easy.

In perfection, in Eden, had the world stayed that way, my joy, my contentment would have been to worship God all day long, through creating. When I “feel His pleasure.” But this isn’t the world we live in. Knowing the suffering, I can’t ignore the pain. So here I am, fulfilling the call God has on my life. The purpose he has called me to fulfill…

No, that purpose is not being fulfilled because I live in Africa, because we are with poor daily. Not because I feel the cost of sacrificing the life I have always known, none of this is relevant.
So what is?
Responding to the cry of His people. Hearing the voice of the unheard. Doing my little piece in the world to reverse the curse that is heavy upon us all. And yes, that took me to Africa, but it is not about Africa. It is about my heart.
It is about the people I surround myself with, the risks I take to fulfill this purpose.

Do you know how often I think… what if we never left Eden? I could be creative and muddy all day! (This is my selfish side). Then I think what if Eden was still our home… that little girl whose mother was raped, as a result was born with HIV, this little girl has never seen a bathtub, let alone a real meal: has .001% chance of ever leaving the life she was born into. I think, that little girl would be a princess, if we still lived in Eden.
This is the part of me that can’t ignore the purpose God has called me into. If we were still in Eden I would have no need, none at all, to even think about anything but doing ceramics, because that little girls life would not be in shambles.

This luxury is not afforded to me, not to any of us.
This is the world we live in. this is the pain that exists.
In Livingstone district (the district we live in Zambia) 30% of people are HIV positive. That is almost 1 in every 3 people we shake hands with.

This tension… the tug of war in my heart will never stop. Entering into this kind of pain is not what I want to do. Sometimes everything in me says run, just get away, it is too much. The problems are too big, the perversion of good that runs deep into the fabric of society will never be made right.
And maybe this is true.
Maybe I can’t change the whole society. Maybe I can’t solve the problem of HIV, or rape or abuse or poverty.
But I can bring God’s kingdom into one person’s life. And that has to be enough.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with your reasons for adoption?

Jeremiah and I decided, early on, that we only have so much energy to give as people, as parents. We asked ourselves, how do we want to spend that energy?
There are many kids, in fact millions, literally, who have no parents. So why shouldn’t we be their parents. We would be priveledged to love them, those who God loves so dearly.

That is where it started. And now, every baby I see, every little African girl walking down these roads, holding her mothers hand, I think “ that will be me some day.” What will my daughter be like and a 3 year old, as a 10 year old? What will she struggle with, whom will she marry?

I used to try to image what it was like for my friends who so badly wanted to be mothers. To be honest, I couldn’t quite understand it. All I could see was what they were giving up. And now, I see… now I feel it! And oh, the longing is like nothing I have ever experienced. It feels like we are incomplete, we are bursting with love for our children who we don’t even know.

But here we are, like so many who have gone before us, so many who have played the waiting game.

Here we are.

Have spent almost 2 years now investigating Zambian law, talking with people about the specific process we should go through. Finding out that Zambia, unlike many African countries, allows international adoptions. Deciding to move here, to adopt and also to live and do ministry. Deciding to do an independent or parent initiated adoption. Deciding to do our home study here in Zambia instead of in Minneapolis – to save money and to explore if it can work this way. Deciding to still do an international adoption not a potential easier but riskier adoption where after 2 years the child naturalizes with us to the US. Deciding to risk all these things, because we felt God asking us, asking if what we so strongly desired, becoming parents through adoption, could also be used to pioneer something new.
So here we are.
In process… still.
Waiting, dreaming, believing, hoping, and trusting.
Sometimes doubting, fearing, questioning, and crying.

But here we are.

follow!

Follow our new blog specifically for our adoption journey