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.

DSC03849

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.

airport

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.

2506_Sylvia 16-2

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.

CartestersonInk-23

Advertisements

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.

arise

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!

Bless and Keep, Lord

blessandkeep

The other day, as we drove home from Roanoke, our conversation turned to heavier things (as it always does on long drives).  John said something about the day he was saved by Grace, the day he reached out to Jesus and his life was changed forever.  And I don’t have a day like that. I grew up knowing the God of the Universe lived in my heart.  I made a decision for Him so far back, I don’t remember it.  I’ve had to reaffirm that decision over the years, but God just has always been a real Presence for me.  I can remember feeling Him all around me, even at a very young age.

So, that bottom lines to almost 42 years of being a Christian.

But all of a sudden, my faith has become so much more simple.  All of a sudden, I am learning all these new things.  And all of a sudden, I’m figuring out that I have always made it more complicated than it really is.

I read the Word as though i’ve never seen it before and truth leaps out at me.

I pray these simple, simple prayers.  Lord, be my helper.  Lord, bless them and keep them.

And that Numbers 6 prayer is what is on my mind.

I’m the mother of many, as you know.  Six souls that mean the world to me.  Six people who delight and irritate and bless and cause angst.  They are six of the most exquisitely made, creative, interesting and lovely people there are in the world.  I would want to know them even if they weren’t mine.

But having six pieces of your heart growing up and wandering around unattended in the world causes fear and that is what I’m thinking about this morning.

On Facebook, I see scared mommies sending their sweet babies to kindergarten for the first time.  To high school.  To college.  Kids gaining independence and growing older and as they grow…we have to trust the work we’ve done and God on High to bring fruit.  We have to let go more and more and let them try to fly.

And it scares us.  Because we are more invested in their futures than we ever were in our own.

And we know that sometimes they will fall down.  And they may fall hard.  And we don’t want that for them…never mind that we know in our hearts that falling down is sometimes where we’ve learned most.

God has given me a peace in this prayer I pray over my six, every time they come to mind.

Lord bless them
And keep them
Cause your face to shine on them
Lord, be gracious with the light of your countenance
Give them peace

Because that covers it all.

Lord, bless them.  Bring good to their lives Lord.  Bring fruit.  

And keep them.  Is there anything we want more for our babies than that they know the Lord?  That they know that true love and mercy?  God, let them know you hold them in your hand and will not let go.

Cause your face to shine on them.  Lord, let them experience your glory in their lives.  Let them know that they walk in the light.  Use your Holy Spirit to keep them in the light.

Be gracious with the light of Your countenance.  Lavish your love on them God.  Pour out who you are on their lives.  Bring so many opportunities to know your light and your love.  

Give them peace.  There is no peace without Jesus.  Jesus has redeemed. He is true peace.  He is the peace that passes all understanding and that is what i want for my six.

It’s happening.  They are growing up.  It is happening in every moment that goes by.  Every year, another birthday, another grade in school, more and more independence.  It’s happening.  It’s good.  But it’s scary and it’s hard.  Holding a newborn, up all night…it suddenly seems somehow easier than waving good bye as that very same baby drives away in a car.  We are in this place, no matter what, because signing up for that newborn means signing up for the kid off to college.  No getting out of it.

We don’t have to just wave good bye.  We can pray and release them and trust them to Him who loves even more fully and more deeply than we do.

Light of Your Face