The Yes On The Table

It started with a yes.

We were at Next Level church and this was long before Next Level was our church.  We were there only because one of our absolute favorites was there too, speaking and meeting people.  Even us!

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Jen had come to speak and we had come to hear.  It was a holy moment because at the end, Jen said, “Just put your yes on the table.  Give Him your yes.”  And we did.

And it didn’t seem like such a big deal.

But it was.  Because a very short time later, we saw this photo.

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And we heard a whisper.  “This is your daughter.”  and we began the process.

19 months later and we thought the hard part was over.  She was home, she was safe, we had our seventh child in our midst.

But we didn’t know what hard was then.

We didn’t know that when we put our yes on the table and we said yes to Him, the One that holds all things together, that he was going to do more than just bring a little girl home.

He brought a little girl home but he also changed us.

And it kind of makes me want to say to God, “I see what you did there.” because I thought the whole point was bringing Sisi home.  And for sure that was one of the whole points.  The Bible says it clearly.  “Care for the widows and orphans in their distress.” and “He sets the lonely in families.” and “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God.” and “the Lord sustains the fatherless.” and “defend the weak and the fatherless” and “love one another as I have loved you” and that was all very clear.  Bringing Sisi home was the work of God.

But there was more to unpack in this “yes”.

Parenting a child from trauma meant that all of our ugliness was forced to the surface.  The stress of working our daughter through her grief and through her stress has changed us.  Because adoption is so beautiful, yes, but it is born of loss.  And Sisi has faced the loss of her birth family and then the loss of her foster family.

And as our characters were being refined, we found that what was being pushed to the surface was stuff we didn’t like.  Stuff we were ashamed of.

And that is where the YES that we gave comes in all over again.

We were also saying yes to refinement.

God has never promised easy.  He has promised presence, He has promised endurance, He has promised faithfulness.  He has never promised that if we name it we can claim it but he has promised that all things work together for our good.  He has never promised that this was an easy road, in fact he promised that in this world there will be trouble.

He promised us His peace.  Peace that is not like the world gives.  There is a peace, even in the midst of trouble, that comes from knowing you are where he wants you to be.   His presence in my struggles, in my selfishness, it is the healing gift that I need most.

He has promised us love and I have learned much about love in my 45 years.  What some people call love is not love at all because it is conditional, it is fleeting.  The love of God is permanent and nothing can take it from me.  It is not based on my performance but based on the one who is Love.  It is a love that lasts, that endures, that shapes and that transforms.

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And he is transforming us.

Our yes is still on the table and we don’t know where it will lead us next.

But we know the One who does.  And we start with this.

Do small things with great love.

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We go from here, with our yes on the table ready to go wherever that takes us.

 

 

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MayDay!

When you give birth to a baby, you see their first moments.  The baby is born, she is placed on your chest, you nurse her or feed her.  You hold her and marvel.  Your breath catches.  You realize your dreams and your imaginings of what she would be like are nothing compared to who she really is.

You breathe her in.  These are holy moments.

These are those moments with my daughter, Lila.

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When you adopt a child, it is different.  The first moment I saw Sisi, I was in a car in a foreign country.  She was standing in the window of her foster home and I could see her jumping up and down saying, “Mama Chris!  Daddy John!”

The first time I held her was in her home and she was big and beautiful and excitement was all around us.  It was different, but still holy.

Sisi became my daughter in an office.  We hugged her close and marveled.

It has been two months since we stepped off that airplane onto American soil with our newest daughter.

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It’s been a wild ride.

But here we are.  I love Sisi as wholeheartedly and as fully as I love my other six children.  I love her fiercely.  I have crossed oceans for her, I have walked through fire day by day.

She is beautiful, she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  She is wild, filled with Great Big Feelings- love, rage, laughter, mischief.  It’s amazing to watch her learning English at the speed of light.  It’s amazing to watch her interact with her sisters and her brother.  I love how much she loves her brother in law and her dear friend, Chichco Musica.  I love watching her at Busch Gardens or going down  a slide.  I love watching her figure out English words and I love how she tells us Bulgarian words.

I love her wild hair and her long eyelashes.  I love her ferocity and tenacity.

It’s been hard but every day, it gets a little easier.

I think to myself, what if we didn’t answer the call?

We could have missed this.

On March 11, 2015, we went to Next Level Church to hear Jen Hatmaker speak.  It was the most amazing talk.  When it was winding down, she challenged all who were present to “put their yes on the table” for God.  John and I stood there with our palms uplifted and we put our yes on the table.

We put our “yes” on the table.

A short time later, we saw this photo on Reece’s Rainbow.

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And it was time to put action to our “yes”.

It took 19 months.  19 months of paperwork and jumping through hoops and panic over missed deadlines and So Much Fundraising.

19 months to bring this child into our family.

And now we are two months into her being home.  And I have no regrets.  My yes is still on the table.  And I still say, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”

I have a challenge for you.  And I’m not saying you have to adopt, but would you go to Reece’s Rainbow or Rainbow Kids or Adopt Us Kids, choose a child’s profile.  Print it off and pray.  Pray for that child like you would if they were yours. Do it everyday.  Put your “yes” on the table and see where it takes you.

Don’t miss what God has for you.

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Spirit Lead Me Where My Trust Is Without Borders

Bulgaria is beautiful.  The mountain through our window, the sound of the people talking, even the roof line … I love this place.

When we were on our way, a precious friend said, “Enjoy the country that gave you your daughter.”  And we are.  We are embracing it as best we can.  It’s hard to be a stranger in a strange land.  We are out of our element.

Everything is different.

The sounds, the smells, the food, the water, the customs, the checking out at the grocery store, the playgrounds, the atmosphere.  Even my mothering is different here.

It is my privilege to mother Sisi.  It’s an honor I don’t take lightly.  She is a treasure. We’ve crossed oceans for her and will do it again in less than a week to bring her home.

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She is fearfully and wonderfully made.  She is a good gift.

But it is different.  I am just learning who she is. She is learning who I am.  I have to make sure she knows I am a safe person, that Daddy is a safe person.  I have to set boundaries that protect our relationship but also help her become who she is meant to be.  This is hard.

Sisi is going through the biggest change of her life.  She’s been taken from all she knows, all that is familiar, all that she loves.  She doesn’t know what’s coming next because we can’t tell her.

Oh adoption.  Beauty, redemption, joy but also pain, loss and grief.

Pray for us.  Pray for Sisi through her grief and through her adjustment.  Pray for Sisi’s foster family who miss her so much.  Pray for John and me to have wisdom as we parent her.  Pray that God will go before us as we get on that plane.  Sisi didn’t even want to go on a cable car, I don’t know what she will think about a plane!

Loss & Redemption

This morning, Sisi’s foster mom posted a photo of she and Sisi when Sisi was just a little baby.  I shed a few tears…because so much of this beautiful redemption story is also about loss.

Sisi’s four years have been colored by loss and restoration, loss and restoration.

She lost her birth parents at less than three weeks old.  But she got her foster family the same day.

She will lose her foster family very soon, but she will gain us.

It’s a lot to ask of a little girl.

My prayer for her this morning is that the brokenness that is born out of all this loss will be the brokenness that makes a space for Jesus and His redeeming love.  That the healing of these broken places will come from Jesus and not from me.

Her foster family will always be our family too.  They have loved our daughter so fully.

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Hopes and Prayers

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John tells me how beautiful Bulgaria is.  And I know that it must be.  It’s the place that gave us our daughter.

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He knows her now.  He has played with her, held her, embraced her, been growled at by her and been totally ignored by her.  He knows her.

I can’t REALLY show photos…she’s still not ours.  She belongs to her country and she is happy and safe and so well loved in her foster family.

So now, we get paperwork together.  We write her new name…Sylvia Grace Virginia Carter.  We get fingerprinted.  Again.  We pray.  We miss her.  John misses the Sisi he knows.  I miss the Sisi I want to know.

And that’s a whole other thing.  We’ve been talking about Sylvie and who she is and what she will be like; but for four years, a little girl named Sisi has been existing and living life.  We have to let go of our dreams of Sylvie and our imaginings of what she is like and embrace the Sisi that IS.  It’s the reconciling of dreams and expectations with reality.  Like when you give birth…and the little life you thought you knew in the womb is different than you imagined.

Sisi is somebody.  She has eternal significance and she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  And while it doesn’t feel much like rescue (she has the most beautiful and loving foster family), adopting her is shifting her destiny and changing her future.  It’s changing things in the world.

I long for her to be with us, to be in the midst of our glorious chaos, shaking things up and shaking them down.  I want to hear her loud voice demanding the “Telefono!”  I want her home.

But I also grieve for her family.  Her foster mom and dad and sisters.  They have adored her…lavished love on her.  They have invested in her ever since she was a tiny baby.  And now they let go with grace and love…There are not words to describe how I feel about them and the brutal beauty of their sacrifice.

You can help in this final leg of the journey.

Pray

  • Pray for us to finish this final paperwork.
  • Pray for fundraising and grants to come through
  • Pray for preparing of hearts for this Bulgarian Princess
    • Mommy and Daddy’s hearts
    • Lila and Claire’s hearts
    • Nora’s heart, this may be hardest for her
  • Pray for her foster family. Their grief will be great.
  • Pray for her to be home by Christmas.  This is my hope and prayer…that she would be with us for Christmas.

Give

 

 

He Sets the Lonely in Families

There are two things people say most often about adoption.

  1.  You can’t save them all.
  2. Do you really need another kid?

And I agree.  We can’t save them all.  And adopting one out of 154 million feels like a drop in the bucket.  But here is what I know.

It would only take 7% of the Christian population to solve the orphan/foster care crisis.  Only 7%.

Imagine if that 7% were empowered to bring these ones into their homes.  Imagine if the other 93% rallied around that 7%.

No, I can’t save them all.  But the body of Christ can.

And frankly, no.  I don’t need another kid.  (I sometimes wonder if I need the ones I have, hardy-har-har.)

This is not about me.  Or us.  Or our family.

This is about a child that God called us to rescue.  This is about a little girl who needs us. This is about giving God our yes.  This is the overflow of our redemption.  The overflow of how very loved we are.

This is about being a family for Sissy, not getting a kid for our family.  Our family already has a ton of kids.

From now until Easter, I’m going to share Reece’s Rainbow kids…I am asking you to pray over their profiles.  Give God your yes and see where it leads.  There are so many things that we can actively DO.

  1.  We can pray.
  2. We can give.
  3. We can show up for adoptive/foster families, helping with fundraising and meals and moral support.
  4. We can adopt.

This is Curtis

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Pray for Curtis today.  He is a person of eternal significance, created in the image of God.  Ask God what your part in these lonely ones’ lives is.

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My Beloved Speaks and Says to Me, Arise

Remember that time I almost died bringing Nora into the world?  Remember how she was super premature and all kind of terrifying things happened?

That was easier than adoption.

Adoption requires much.

You must first prove yourself to your home study agency.  You must then prove yourself to the country you’ve chosen.  You must then prove yourself to grant agencies.  Who also want tax documents for the past 75 years…at minimum.

Through it all, you have to hustle for funds because redemption is so, so costly.  Fundraisers, yard sales (I HATE yard sales), crafts, asking, asking, asking.  And it’s so beautiful to see your village rally, it’s so beautiful to see people come together to be part of a story of redemption.  But you wonder if they are sick to death of you asking…

Then you travel across the world to meet a child you would die for that you’ve never ever met.  You come with your heart in your hands and you savor the beauty of it all…and the heartbreak too.  Because with adoption comes so much loss.  You will take the child from the world she knows, from the only ones she knows…to a place that looks, sounds, smells and tastes different.  To a language she’s never heard, into a family that has spent a year preparing for her but that she is just not prepared for.

You do the hard work of figuring out just what her “moderate to severe special needs” look like, what it means.  You figure out what she needs.  You batten down the hatches and stay close…parenting in a new way, because what she needs is to know that she can trust you.  That she can let her guard down.  That there will be enough food, that she has a place.  That she is cherished.

God has done such a work in me through all of this.  I’ve had to lean hard into Him.  When fear threatened to steal my breath (and threatens to steal my breath), I lean hard.  When things look like they are unraveling or when issues arise or when it’s looking impossible…I just have to remember…

He called us to this.

He loves Sissy.  She is His.

And He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He changes the hearts of kings.  He is One who finishes what He’s started.

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And so I will.  Arise.  Freeze my hand to the sword, just like Eleazar and fight the fight until Sissy is home safe and sound.

You can help.

Donate directly to our agency atPure Charity  This is an amazing way to help us out!  $20 donations also automatically enter you to win a housecleaning by my friend Mabel.

Donate to our FSP at Reece’s Rainbow.  These funds will cover travel expenses.

Donate to our fund at Go Fund Me.  This is where we raise money for ALL costs.  (The two above our tax deductible.

Any amount helps, from $1 to $1000.

Donate items you make, items you sell, services your provide or gently used items with tons of life left in them from your home.  We have a HUGE auction coming up and we need your participation!

Come to our bake sale Saturday morning.  We will have TONS of goodies to tempt your tastebuds!