Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Year Later

Yesterday marked 3 years from the day we found out we were expecting Anna.  She is a little spunky 2 year old now and we adore her!

Today also marks one year that our USCIS approval came in and we were placed on our agency's referral wait list.  So much has happened in a year, and yet, we are still here waiting.  I'm not complaining, I know that God has us exactly where He wants us.

Today a friend got placed with her first foster baby.  This weekend another friend was placed with 4 and 5 year old little boys.  My good friend Meredith finalized her 2 daughters adoption earlier this year and my other good friend Valerie was placed with her forever girls and is awaiting finalization.  Numerous other friends have finalized or began their journey of obedience, near and far (China anyone??).  In a year Eric and I have completed our 'official' online international adoption training, have read numerous books, and have been involved in our friends lives that are pouring into these children's lives.  We are blessed with a thriving adoption ministry at our church and I've been attending our monthly ladies nights with amazing training by local advocates and psychologists and counselors.  In the midst of waiting, I try to turn back my gratitude for what I do have.

Monday was a hard day.  I finally was able to speak to our social worker.  A year ago, we were told 6 months for a referral.  In January we were told to expect 12 months.  In October we were told 12-15 months, and our agency has had 0 referrals since early October.  I was hoping this whole time, maybe the lengthened time will be best for us!  Referral around February or March, travel 3-4 months later, get in before the courts close for a month 7/15-8/15.  Take a few helpers who are off during the summer, as well as it being better with Eric's job.  God has GOT this timing thing!

Then I got the words I was hoping not to get: realistically, it probably won't be before August.  I'm not going to lie, it made me sad.  It just doesn't work for so many reasons.  Eric will be busy with work, helpers won't be as available with school starting.  And truthfully, I had my heart set on spending June in Uganda.  Introducing my kids to the Kirabo Seeds kids and my friends there.

However, I know my God is in this.  I've seen the many things He has been teaching me that keep preparing my heart for our 'next.'  But what is so amazing about Him, is that He doesn't have me living for the next, He's got purpose for my now.  We have had a pretty amazing fall so far.  We prayed and listened and 3 weeks into the new school year that God was calling us to be home.  So we quit our homeschool co-op (not our science one!) and preschool.  It is allowing us to save money as well as spend more time together, loving, praying, preparing our home for our new brother, and prepping our hearts for what is to come.  We've also gotten involved in a ministry called Pruning Hooks.  And I say we because we are all involved!  We drive down a couple times a month delivering lunches for 56 kids and their teachers at the Generation One Academy with some friends.  Our kids love going down there and seeing the kids.  We pray over each kids bag lunch and put a scripture in it that God has been speaking to me for the kids.  It's so fun to be a blessing to them.

I know how blessed we are.  I know in the wake of such tragedy in our nation, and abroad, that I'm clinging a little tighter to my babies.  Deepening my clinging to God's word.  And seeing the good in others.  It's there.  And in that I'm praying for our future son.  That he is safe.  That his first mom would come to know how much she is loved by Jesus, and he would as well.  That he is getting the care he needs, the food, the diaper changes, the medical care.  Thankful that God is already knitting our hearts together, and we can't wait to meet him!

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Part 5 and a new start!

So, I have so many posts that I have started in my head.  Things God is revealing to me, teaching me, things I think others could benefit from, or I could just benefit from writing down.  Plus, posts about my kids, and remembering where they are in this phase in our lives (Micah still says upspide down instead of upside down and Eric and I just LOVE IT), but I am a finisher.  And I haven't posted about the last day in Uganda, there was some drama (which is not mine to share), so I won't go into details, but God was still moving!  We did move from a guest home to the Speke resort our last day there, it was beautiful!!!  So alas, here you go!
Part of our team: Carly, Katrina, Misty, Jack, Ashley, Tonya, Kevin, Donny & Kira
The last day there I just kept praying that God’s light would shine over the situation, and that everyone working with the Kirabo Seeds home would be strengthened.  I prayed for people that looked as if they lost a friendship, that were mourning.  Psalm 31 was constantly on my mind, and verse 5 has since been a daily prayer: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.”  It sums up my trip well, that when I commit my spirit to God, my redeemer, my trustworthy lover of my soul, that His hand is in my life! 
More team: Claire, Carly, Katrina, Jack, Kevin, Misty, Ashley, Donny & Kira

So 4 blog posts and I still haven’t answered the question: How is God calling me to live differently in light of what I experienced?  It is partially answered and I am still seeking.  I think through my experience in Uganda, one of the first things I did was make myself get quieter.  For me, that meant quitting 2 of the side jobs I had.  In my journal when we were stuck for an extra day, I wrote “You’ve taught me this week Lord that I need more quiet in my life.  I need to retreat to you more.  Make you my shepherd all day, every day, not just when I feel like I need it.”  I had already, before I even left the continent, tried to do it without Him.  When our plane was delayed, I went into go-mode and it was almost a full 24 hours before I intentionally sat down to quiet myself in His word.  So I knew when I got back to 3 small children and jobs and responsibilities that I needed to seek His will and cut some things.  I can’t do it all, and I definitely don’t want to try and do it all poorly, so those things went almost immediately.  And I have been so relaxed since. 
Breathtaking scenery!
I also learned that I can proclaim His name boldly.  I was burned this past spring by someone who made me feel almost shamed for speaking out for Uganda.  That I didn’t love the orphans in America enough.  Thank God I was in my perspectives class at that time and was continually reminded that God’s promise was for every nation and every tongue!  But, I did withdraw and stop using my voice as much as I once had.  I hadn't yet blogged about my trip (which is why I finally made myself write this to Tonya and then put it on the blog) because I truly felt like I couldn't put it into words.  However, God has put in my path a few conversations about why I went, or where we are in our adoption, or who the picture of the black boy and girl on my fridge is if it isn’t our referral, and God has enabled me to share my heart for this beautiful country and the orphan crisis that is going on, and my true love for Kirabo Seeds and it’s vision.  I feel like I have my voice back! 
The young girls and I (except I'm 14 years older than they are!)
Beautiful waterfalls
Since being back, I keep praying Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  That I continue to seek being in His presence, fully, every day, and that He will make known to me the path of life.  In that, He has been refining me with a time of confession.  Ranging from not seeking Him first in regards to our homeschooling curriculum (i.e. thinking it’s too minute for Him), to not craving His word as deeply, not trusting Him fully, falling back into being selfish, but most importantly, for trying to take back the spiritual leadership of our family.   I love that He chooses to refine me and not just cast me aside.  I deeply yearn to go back to Uganda. I've been praying that God just touch Eric’s heart and let us all be on the same page.  When in fact, that wasn't really what I should have been praying.  His word doesn't say, “You make the path I want made known to my husband.”  I need to continue to seek His path for us.  And also commit to listening to my husband’s guidance.  He’s taking perspectives right now and I can feel it.  Change is coming, and I’m excited. 
One thing God made clear to me was that we are not moving to Uganda right now.  He did not take that desire out of my heart.  But, in this waiting period, God gave me a renewed sense of urgency with the 3 children He has already placed in my home.  That we seek every day to glorify Him and His calling on us to be sowers of the word. 
Through that, and in this transition, He has also called us to be a part of a new church plant.  When originally we began praying about this last January, it was easy to say, ‘No, Kingsland is where God wants us!  It has an adoption ministry, our friends are there, our support!’  But God would not take that tug out of my heart.  And so instead of waiting for the call that we weren't really listening for, we went!  God’s word never says to stay content and comfortable and wait on me when souls are at stake, it says Go!  And He showed me in Uganda that I can go and get out of my comfort zone and it be even more amazing than what I thought ‘comfort’ could be!!  He took the fear away, and I think He taught me that through my experience in Uganda.  He’s given me a renewed passion for finding where I fit NOW, HERE, TODAY!  I know there are people seeking Him that might not come to a large church setting.  We as a new church body have been passionately seeking and praying to God to bring the exact neighborhood we are to serve to us, and to begin softening their hearts to hear His gospel; that new members are added to His kingdom through this new work.  Which leads me to one of the final things that I learned and that is causing me to live differently now that I’m home.
This was near our original guest home.  Our friends recently adopted from Ethiopia and her name was Fasika, I couldn't pass up the photo!
And that is prayer.  I have always prayed, but I saw and felt the power of it so deeply while on my trip that I came home to a desire to pray without ceasing.  Not just praying but also listening for God’s voice.  I have a renewed passion for prayer, teaching it to my kids, keeping a journal of who or what God is burdening my heart for.  So that I can look back and see His answers.  And something new I’m experiencing is not feeling weird to just stop a conversation and pray right then and there.  It’s what I did in Uganda, why wouldn't I continue it at home?  The first time I was on the phone with a friend and I did that, it was such a renewal.  We've prayed together before, but she was sharing a burden, and instead of me getting in the way and trying to help or answer, I just immediately felt the need to turn to God for answers.  That has been an amazing part of this journey. 

I am so thankful that God called me on this journey.  Tonya and Craig let someone they barely knew into their home last year, even if I only gave them the name of a friend who would actually do the accounting J.  I felt a connection to their ministry before I even really knew them and I am so glad I didn't shy away and let fear or rejection keep me from partaking in Kirabo Seeds ministry.  It has been an extreme blessing in my life, and I am thankful to be able to call them friend.  And to be able to share the vision of Kirabo Seeds with people I meet!

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

How was Uganda Part 4

After that day, and dealing with the things I had learned about some wrongs done against Kirabo Seeds, I just kept praying for guidance and self-awareness.  That if there were any wicked ways in my walk, that God would reveal them to me so that I could repent and be refined by Him; so that my testimony would be trustworthy as He is.  I was blessed by Tonya's leadership and her continued seeking of His righteousness.  It was wonderful to be able to spend a few days with a mentor and experience her walk with the Lord, in trials.  I prayed for repentance for James and his church, for the others that has tried to harm God's children, that God would direct their sights back to being solely on Him.  I prayed that the arrows of the enemy be fewer and that Tonya, Phiona, Julie, Robert, George and the kids would get to experience some of God’s goodness.   What was interesting in my journey that week, was that God never changed my heart for the people of Uganda.  I continually prayed for them, thanked Him for the love He has for them and that He’s given me that same love.  I kept praying for me to die to myself and just be obedient to Him, so that I could discern His direction and path for me. 

 School books 
 Meeting all the kids for the first time
Touring the classrooms.
Traveling to Miracle Destiny School on Wednesday was one of the highlights of my trip.  
The older classes did a beautiful tribal dance for us at the end of our day, and we got to teach Ephesians, and the full armor of God.  We made salvation bracelets, and the kids were so kind and eager to learn.  
Getting to meet Muzei, this boy my family has prayed for, for over a year, to see his school and how well taken care of he was, the food he gets and the care of his teacher was amazing!    
It was amazing to be able to meet his jjajja and see how relaxed he and Kirabo (his brother) were there in their home.  
(About to go into Muzei's JjaJja's felt so surreal, I've seen it on Tonya's blog many times!)
They lit up at home and seemed more at ease there with us bzungu around.  
Praying with his grandmother was definitely heart altering. 
I couldn’t attempt to remember the words that I spoke, because I simply remembering God’s spirit spilling out of me in that moment. 
And I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  It was such a blessing to me to be able to meet this child that our family sponsors.  God began our adoption journey with these kids faces on Tonya's blog. 
 It began by wanting to help educate one child.  Eric and I prayed and believe God was calling us to do that, initially.  Tonya blogged about that day here, she is so much better with words that I am.  But what she missed in her blog is HOW BLESSED my family is that she obeyed.  That she chose to share her world with us through her blog, so that God could use it to call our family on our next mission: adoption!  
She helped open our eyes to the orphan crisis in this world.  I would have never known the love God has for his people in Uganda if a friend of a friend hadn't mentioned this blog
 Praise God that he works through each and every one of us if we quiet ourselves to His spirit and are obedient to Him!  
(Helping Auntie Julie peel onions.)
Getting to spend more time with the kids at the Kirabo Seeds home that evening was a blessing, as always.  To know the trauma they experienced and knowing that it will always be there, but to encounter the love they were beginning to trust from adults was so encouraging.  I just keep praising Jesus for daily new mercies and spiritual renewal.  I had only experienced it a few times in my life, so richly, as I did while in Uganda.  

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Monday, September 10, 2012

We interrupt this Ugandan blogging.....

Well, obviously I interrupted it a couple weeks ago.  Or, starting school, then Tot 2 Tot did.  But I do want to finish telling you about my days there, because oh how they have affected me.

Today however, I want to be real.  People tell me how stoic I am, how I have been handling the waiting so well for our future son.  Let me give you a little glimpse into my life.  I will admit, it doesn't always affect my day-to-day.  I fervently pray daily for his health, safety, care-takers, soul.  I cannot wait to see his picture, and eventually hold his sweet body.  I can't wait to take Eric to Uganda, and pray desperately he falls in love with the nation as deeply as I did.  But there are days, like today, that it kicks me in the pants.  This is not the first time, and I do believe probably not the last time.  It grabs hold of me when I least expect it.

Today, I had a 'hard day.'  New schedule, new co-op, kids still coming off of grandparent 'detox' for being there for 5 days with lots of ice cream ;) , started a new cleanse (well, that was my own fault).  This is coming off a fun, but stressful, weekend of Tot 2 Tot.  I can tell you my shoulders and neck are feeling that!  But, it's MY Monday night.  I bathe and put the kids in bed.  Eric's at his Pespective's class for 3 hours.  I typically get lots of things done.  Tonight however, I declared NO WORK!  I watched a short show.  I got online, and it eventually led me to this post.  I concur with her writing.

But yet, I watched the videos.  And I bawled my eyes out.  I am so happy for those families, and it gives me such peace watching their journeys.  However, it is hard.  We are 9 days away from being on the waiting list for 9 months.  When we started this process in March 2011, we thought we'd be home with our son by now.  We are 12th on the waiting list with our agency, and we hope to be placed by Christmas, but you just never know when you walk this road.  In all my self-pity tonight, and it was great, I got an email.  All I can say is, it put my 'hard day' in perspective.

I immediately began praying for the Kirabo Seeds team in Uganda.  They have been taking a beating.  As has the team here.  So God chose to use my pity and yearning for Uganda, and turn it into blessing and praise-giving to Him.  He is able.  His is powerful.  He gives peace and joy, even through the trials.

So, this may not be the most uplifting post, but I hope it gives you a glimpse into my heart.  And my heart is hurting tonight.

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