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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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!

Good Good Father

 

In church on Sunday, we sang this song that has been playing in my head on repeat ever since.

It’s “Good Good Father” by Housefires (or Chris Tomlin, if you’d rather).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/djrY_eFDOwE“>Good Good Father

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I am singing this all day today, over  my own heart…over my sweet husband, over all six of my beautiful babies and the two boyfriends in law…over my seventh baby in Eastern Europe; the one who has never known a father at all.

And I am realizing something for the millionth time as the words sink in deep.  (God is faithful to teach me the same lessons over and over…as often as I need them.)

He is Good.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who He is.  Yes, even when things are Extra Hard and Really Scary.  In the Big Life Things…He is perfect, loving, kind, and He is For Me.  He is For Sylvia.  He’s not a magic genie that makes life easy and makes it all okay…but He is For Me.  Perfect in all of His ways to us.

I am loved by Him.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who I am.  Yes, even when I struggle to hold onto that Truth.  Even when I don’t feel very lovely…even when I don’t feel loved by Him, I am loved by Him.  It’s Truth.  Even if I reject it…it’s still true.  It’s who I am.

Sylvia is loved by Him.  Nothing can change that.  It’s who she is.

And so I have newfound peace moving forward.  I’m eating this elephant one bite at a time…I’m freezing my hand to the sword.  He stands with me and I know that this is not my own battle that I fight, that this battle belongs to Him, the Good Father.

And when a Daughter asks a good, good Father for bread, He will not give her stones.

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Good Good Father by Housefires

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
but I’ve heard the tender whisper
of love in the dead of night
You tell me that you’re pleased
and that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

I’ve seen many searching
for answers far and wide
But I know
we’re all searching for answers only you provide
Because you know
just what we need
before we say a word

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh it’s Love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so Unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still into love love love

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are,
It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am,
It’s who I am

Eleazar and Me

On Monday, I basically had a nervous breakdown.

I just need to tell you, adoption is NOT for the faint of heart.

Things were very shaky on Monday and we were scared.  Really, really scared that we had failed miserably and the whole thing was going to fall apart.  More scared than people who belong to the Most High God really ought to be.

But we are just people.  And He knows that.  He knew who I was when the plan was made to spend eternity with me, He knew who I was when He died on the cross for me.

Monday scared me.  Because what if we failed her?  What if we did things wrong and we didn’t get to her?  What if we cost her a hope and a future?

We asked for prayer, we asked for good thoughts, we asked for advice.  We hustled with paperwork and phone calls and FedEx and emails to Eastern Europe, to Maryland, to Richmond.

Please Jesus…don’t let us get in the ways of your plans.

So many prayed and so many hustled along side of us and we figured out what will most likely be a solution- a letter that will give us one more month to get it all done.  Please Jesus, have mercy.

Other adoptive moms spoke into my ears and into my heart:

Keep wrestling til you see the blessing.

The Lord is fighting for you.  He is above, beside and behind.

You can do it.  Just keep swimming!

This IS scary, but if you look at all the warriors in scripture, they had NO time. They were NOT prepared. They had NOTHING to offer. Most of them even looked stupid. How many times did they march around Jericho…really?

Take a second to look back at your situation. Do you see God working? Do you see the enemy getting mad? Do you see the enemy’s plans of destruction? Gods plans CANNOT be thwarted!!

Do you believe God called you specifically to Sylvie?  Yes?  Then that’s the answer.  You keep going, you focus on THAT reality and not on the what ifs…They aren’t coming from you, they aren’t coming from God.

Here is what I know.  God is not surprised by this.  And He is not restricted by timelines or deadlines.  And when it all seems impossible, all the more probable that God has a miracle up His sleeve.

We are praying her home.

And then someone gave me an old Testament story from 2 Samuel 23.

 

9Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammimd for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. 

Yes.

Yes.  Freeze my hand to the sword, Lord as I fight.  The anxiety, the fear, it ebbed away and in its place was this surety that it wasn’t really up to me.  It might not turn out all right.  It might be more amazing than we can even imagine.  It’s going to go how it’s going to go and that has nothing to do with me.  I am not in control, but I will fight the fight that is before me and I will trust His will to be done.  I will trust God in this fight.

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So, I breathe again.  I dry my tears and seek the One who holds everything together.  I renounce fear, I ask for new mercies and they are freely given.

We ask for prayer and it is lavished on us, on Sylvie.

We ask for a solution and possibilities rise up.

We sleep and it seems less desperate the next morning.

“Redemption is costly,” says John and he is right.

Redemption is costly.  It is worthy.  But it is costly.

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The Powers that Be

It’s gray and gloomy outside and we are just under blankets and watching Peppa Pig.  The day has not unfolded as expected.

I have a bad headache and fibro is aching deep in my bones.  This weather does it to me every time.

Today, I saw my doctor for my routine bloodwork and check-ins.  We talked adoption and I told him what his part in the whole thing would be.  He has to say that he thinks I can handle adopting this child, this little girl who is already ours in our heart.

“They’ll want to know if you think health wise if we can handle another child.”

“Well.”  He said.  “Do you think you can handle it?”

“Yes.”  I said.  “I can do anything.”

He laughed and agreed.  He’s been my doctor for 15 years.  He knows.

As I drove home, I thought about the weight of his words with the Powers that Be in Eastern Europe..  How all of this rests in the hands of “Official” types of people.  Our social worker for the adoption, our home study social worker, our social worker in Sylvie’s country…the judges that will read over our files.

There is so much at play here and so many little windows for the Enemy to try and climb through.

So…today, as I snuggle in my chair with Nora and a heating pad…will you pray for us?  Will you pray for favor with the Powers That Be?

We’ve got to pray this Daughter home.

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On Hurricanes And Provision

I think I had an epiphany this morning.

I have friends in the adoption community now.  Mamas I’ve never seen in real life and maybe never will until heaven.  It’s kind of neat, because they’ve walked or are walking where we are, built-in relational equity.

Several have checked in, fearing for our safety with these impending storms.

And I just say to them over and over:

I’m not worried.  The thing about hurricanes…there is literally NOTHING you can do about them.  You can not be in control.  All you can do is be smart, pray and wait it out.  Just wait it out.

And suddenly I realized, that’s how I need to approach adoption.

Adoption is frightening.  So many uncertainties.  The paperwork, the costs- financial and emotional, the process, the unknowns.  All we really know is that Sissy is our daughter and we need to bring her home.

But just like God knows how the path of this hurricane is going to blow, He knows the path this adoption is going to take.  He already knows.

We’ve seen Him in this process.  He taps us on the shoulder and whispers- “I am here.” I had a dream where He came up behind me, touched my shoulder and said these words:  “It’s not going to be as hard as you think.”  He is doing things.

He’s with us in EVERY storm…not just this hurricane.

And maybe this doesn’t seem like the most amazing epiphany ever…but I feel a shift in my spirit this morning and I feel less fear.

Fear lies.

God can do this.  He can bring Sissy home.

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The Chair of Healing

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When I came home from the hospital after having Nora, there was a new chair in my living room.  My sister and my friends had banded together and bought it for me.  I named it the Chair of Healing because that is where I lived life for months.

It saw me through days and days of recovery after Nora was born.

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I dreamed of holding Nora in the Chair of Healing and the day came that I did.  The days.  We got to know each other in this chair.

Time went by and life fell into a normal pattern.  The Chair of Healing became my safe place.  I learned to doodle in it, I rested in it, I learned to Be Still in it.  It is where I want to be when I am feeling yucky.  When fibro flares up, this is the only comfy place.

How many days have we snuggled in this chair, me and my three littles?

It’s ragged now, Caroline has deposited her slobbery ball on it approximately 3840283048 times and it shows.  Foster pups have chewed on it here and there.  This was all okay with me, just character!  But now.   It is broken.

It does okay when it’s opened up into the reclining position.  But if you try and just sit in it, it kind of leans forward.  It doesn’t want to rock.  I’m having to face facts that its days may be numbered.

I struggle with this, more than seems practical or sensible.  Yes, it’s been my faithful friend but it is also just a chair.

And then I realize.  I had one more dream for me and the Chair of Healing.

I wanted to sit in this chair and hold Sylvie.  I wanted her to experience mama in the Chair of Healing.  I wanted to have those moments with her.

I have been picturing it in my heart since we first saw her picture.

So, perhaps we’ll turn the Chair of Healing over again and try and fix it again.  Maybe it can limp along a while longer and that dream can come true.

Hang in there, Chair of Healing.  You can not retire yet!

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Worth It

We are surrounded by encouragers.

What a gift a positive word is.

Yesterday was a wild day, lots of ups and downs and stressors.  Today looks brighter, but fibro has come to visit today. I’ll be forced to be still and know today.

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I believe in speaking truth about where you are in your journey.  Feel awful?  Say so.  Feel overwhelmed?  Say so.  Feel heartsick?  Say so.  I’ve long believed that things hidden, things in the dark lose their power when drug into the light.  So I tell the truth.  And my village receives me in my truth and speaks life and light into me.

Texts, Facebook messages, calls…all came through as we waded through the muck and mud of yesterday.  All with the same word:

God has GOT this.  He is with you.

And then this picture of this recued one in my Facebook messenger this morning.

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She’s the reason we know we can fight this thing all the way through.  She’s the reason we know that we can handle whatever comes our way. She has given us a face to the needs of the orphan. She has shown us the joy of being in a family, of being rescued.  She illustrates how we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and she is so specifically Aila, created in His image….

And her mama typed these words to me:  “She is here.  You can do it.  It’s going to be worth it.”

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I want Sylvie to have the joy that Aila does. To know that she belongs to us.  We want to teach her that she is created in His image.

God’s got this.
We can do it.
It’s going to be worth it.