All the more reason to pray, pray, pray!

In effort to keep as many people praying as specifically as possible, I wanted to share some news that I just received from a woman with a different agency.  Apparently there is some construction work taking place at the court house in Ethiopia and this woman’s friend had just received a call from their agency preparing the friend to not pass court tomorrow because of the construction and files being stacked in all sorts of places.  While this wasn’t the news I was hoping for, we still trust the sovereignty of our might God even above construction work and would love for you to join us in praying specifically that God will allow our file to make it to the judges’ desk on Friday and that even the construction work would not keep M from passing court.  Please also continue to pray for our hearts…as time is drawing ever nearer to hearing the news of whether he is finally ours or not, we find ourselves growing anxious and wanting to press on in faith.  God has been so good to us this last year through the many valleys and we know He loves and cares deeply for us.  Pray that we remain confident of His goodness no matter what happens this week.

Little Things

After months of no movement with our cases in Ethiopia, I found myself somewhat distancing myself from the boys.  I purposely tried not to talk about them too much and hadn’t really done anything to prepare for their arrival in a long time.  Of course I continue to love them deeply, but not knowing what the Lord has planned for us, I wanted to guard my heart lest I be very disappointed.  When the news of M’s court date finally came, the door to my heart sprung open again and over the last couple of days, I’ve been in full gear preparation mode for this little boy to come into our family.  Of course, I still have no idea what God has planned for us, but I really do believe M will be our son and these past few days have helped my heart reconnect with him.  Last night I was putting sheets on his bed and as I slipped the pillowcase over his pillow I remembered that he is currently sharing a small twin mattress with another child and there are no pillows on which he can lay his head.  I bowed my head and asked that God would soon allow him the sweet pleasure of this little thing…a pillow for a good night’s rest.  And God quickly comforted me as I thought about my Savior who knows his need well as He had nowhere to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). 

Today I am praying specifically for MOWA and that they write our letter of recommendation in a timely manner.  We’ve known of several cases from all different agencies who have not passed court lately because the MOWA letter was not with their file when the case was heard in court.  May God stir the heart of the MOWA representative in charge of our letter and even today have it ready for Friday’s hearing.  May God be pleased and glorified to let M finally pass court.

Psalm 145:9

The Lord is good to all, and He has mercy on all that He has made.

Lord, we pray that we will see your goodness this Friday and that you would have mercy on this little boy we hope to adopt.  May your name be magnified as we proclaim the goodness and mercy You have already shown us in Your Son.  Guard our hearts as we wait for this important court date and help us to trust Your plans that cannot be thwarted.

Hopeful and Calm

Many have wondered how I’m feeling about our upcoming court date (only 5 days until M’s case is heard again!).  Honestly, I’m quite surprised by how calm and yet also how very hopeful I am this time around.  On Christmas Eve, we learned that a family from our agency (whom we’ve become close friends with) passed court for the two brothers they are adopting.  I was ecstatic, but this particular case was even more exciting because their boys and M are from the same original orphanage and came into our agency’s care on the same day.  We pretty much have identical cases and so the fact that they passed is a great indicator as to where M’s case stands with the courts.  Nevertheless, I’ve been praying over the last week or so that I would not concern myself with the circumstances of our case or put my faith in the Ethiopian judicial system, but that I would instead trust my God who cares for me.  I just read over all my posts regarding our adoption journey to date.  I’m somewhat in awe of how much the Lord has changed my heart over the last twelve months.  I look back to the earlier part of the year and see a girl who didn’t quite understand the grand purposes of the God she was praying to.  In my desperation to see these boys no longer suffer as orphans, I was blinded to the great work God needed to do in my soul in order that I might love and serve Him more faithfully.  Of course, there is still great work needed and in the last couple of weeks I’ve been acutely aware of the depths of my sinful nature.  But, despite this nature, God has given my eyes to see His love for me and I am confident that only His best plan is being worked out in my life.  I am praying boldly that M will pass court on Friday and trust my God to do what He sees best for all of us.

I know M will one day be my son.  I also know that there is no way to begin conceiving of the glorious blessings God has in store for us through this little life.  I recall the words of one of our traveling moms regarding her interaction with M:

We saw M first, and true to his reputation, he smiled immediately at me.  He came over and looked at the goodies and we talked through my interpreter.  We explained the pictures (he loved the one of himself.)  We showed him the other goodies and he was very happy.  He seems to be the sweetest little boy you can imagine.  Still smiling when he went back to the group.  You are very blessed to have him.

I am blessed…I have been blessed to love him from a distance and when the Lord chooses to bring him home, I know the blessing will only grow.  I praise God with all of my soul for allowing me to be a mother…it is a rich and beautiful life.

Two Babes in A Manger

I received this story in an e-mail from NightLight Christian Adoptions:

TWO BABES IN A MANGER
 In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.
For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately.. .until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mama and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.
So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?”
And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.”
“So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him…for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
 The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him…FOR ALWAYS.

 

I pray this Christmas that we all desire Christ as much as sweet Misha and long for the day where we will finally see Him face-to-face and behold Him in all of His glory!  I also pray that when our boys are consumed with loneliness and long for the warmth of family that God meet their every need in Jesus.  Merry Christmas to all!

Heaven at Home – Book Review

I’m hesitant to review this book because I know the author has taken an indefinite leave from public ministry but for reasons not mentioned.  Nevertheless, Ginger Plowman has been a very helpful resource to me when it comes to parenting, and I think this book can also be useful to wives and mothers who desire to please the Lord by the way they manage their homes.  The book is somewhat of a fly-by overview of the various components of establishing a peaceful home.  There a five major sections to the book, each of which plays an important part in being able to make your home a haven of rest and peace: 1) Understanding our identity in Christ and finding joy in our relationship with Him; 2) Being unified with your husband and cultivating unity among siblings; 3) Establishing and ensuring right relationships with those around us (including in-laws, friends and our children); 4) Requiring obedience from our children (much of this section is taken from her other book “Don’t Make Me Count to Three“); 5) Bringing structure to your days and organizing your home/life.  As with Plowman’s other book, her writing is fun and very practical.  I especially loved the section on marriage which brought up some great questions that fostered really beneficial conversations with my husband.  If you are one who desires more order and organization to your days and/or home, she also has some very, very practical suggestions in the last section.  Again, while I’m not completely sure of the author’s current circumstances, I do think this book is a great read for all homemakers and one that I will probably refer back to in the years to come.

How Now Shall I Pray?

A particular verse has been circling my mind since we received the news about M’s court date…

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by faith.  2 Thessalonians 1:11

D. A. Carson says this about the latter part of the verse: “This is simply marvelous.  Assuming Christians will develop such wholesome and spiritually minded purposes, Paul now prays that God Himself may take these purposes and so work them out as to bring them to fruition, to fulfillment.  The truth is that unless God works in us and through us, unless God empowers these good purposes of ours, they will not engender any enduring spiritual fruit; they will not display any life-transforming, people changing power…we must intercede with God that He, by His great power, might bring these good purposes, these faith-prompted acts, to bountiful fruitfulness” (A Call to Spiritual Reformation, pp 56-57).

Without question, the decision to adopt M was an act prompted by faith.  Kevin and I began our adoption journey with the intention of bringing home one baby girl from Ethiopia.  Magnificently, the Lord used the precious life of Baby Max-Abush to open our hearts to adopting a baby boy instead.  While waiting on a second referral for a baby boy, God turned our eyes to a picture of a four-year old boy who was waiting for a family.  Something about the picture struck a chord in my heart and for two days, I could think of nothing but this little boy.  “Surely God would not call us to something this crazy, right?” “People will think we are nuts…two kids at the same time?” “We would be interrupting the birth order and making Molly Kate a middle child…that’s insane!”  “How will we afford it?”  All of these questions and many other doubts battled in my mind.  But the Lord continued to tug at my heart and His promises kept speaking louder than the doubts. 

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
  • Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
  • And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
  • A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely;

And as Kevin and I began even slowly opening up our hearts to the possibility, it seemed God was making more and more clear that this was one of the children He intended for us to adopt.  The decision had to be made somewhat quickly because we also received our referral for W and didn’t want to wait too long for our agency to file his papers with the courts.  We also knew if we were going to adopt both, we wanted them filed together in hopes of only making one trip to pick them up.  So we prayed earnestly, sought much wise counsel and after many discussions, finally aligned ourselves with what we believe God was purposing in our hearts and decided to adopt M.

Now, over 11 months later, as I pray for God to make this five-year old boy a part of our family, I believe I can confidently ask Him to fullfill this good purpose, this act that was entirely prompted by faith.  He began this adoption, not us, and I trust Him entirely to complete it.  How now shall I pray as we approach this 5th court date that lands in our 12th month of waiting on this little boy to come home?  I shall pray boldly, humbly and faithfully that God, in His glorious power, will fulfill our good purpose to make this boy our son and that by doing so, He will be exalted and glorified.  And I pray that the final fulfillment of this faith-prompted act would be M coming to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior…that would be “bountiful fruitfulness”!

Will 2010 be the year?

We just received a court date for M…January 1, 2010!  If we pass, what a way to start the new year!  As you all have followed our journey and prayed for us often, we ask that you especially pray these next two weeks that God would allow M to finally have a family.  I know He can do it.

Love and Loss and a Life Well Lived

This has been a hard and sweet week.  When I arrived as a freshmen on the campus of Ole Miss over nine years ago, I had no idea what wonderful relationships the Lord had in store for me.  One of the many that came about quickly was with a precious, sunny-faced junior named Melissa.  She took me in quickly, was a part of the sorority I later joined and became one of those people who I often went to for advice and counsel.  About two months later, she introduced me to her brother Brannon and during the short time that we dated, I came to know a family that the Lord would make a part of my life forever.  His parents, Mrs. Janet and Dr. Jack, welcomed me into their lives and they’ve been a part of mine ever since.  My sophomore year, God gave me a new friend named Catherine and five years later she married Brannon!  Yep, I was definitely going to know this Kahlstorf family for a long time!  I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 2003 and the Kahlstorfs (Dr. Jack and Mrs. Janet, Melissa and her hubby Tom, and Brannon and Catherine) lovingly gave me great financial support.  Then, last summer, I witnessed one of God’s sweetest mercies through this family.  I was visiting my sister in Oxford and began to miscarry our second child.  Being 7 hours from home, I knew there was no way to get back for surgery here.  Trying so hard not to panic, I called Brannon and Catherine who quickly got in touch with Dr. Jack (a very successful OB-GYN) and he told me to come to his office immediately.  I knew the baby had died before we even went into the ultrasound, and in one of the most difficult times of my life, I couldn’t help but thank God for providing me a doctor who was also a friend.  Dr. Jack performed my D & C the next day and so compassionately cared for Kevin and I as we grieved the loss of our baby.  He was quick to remind us of God’s good plan and that there was nothing we could have done to prevent the loss.  The whole situation was covered with an air of comfort because my doctor knew me and I knew he would take care of us.  A very sweet mercy indeed.

This summer, I received a call from my sister that left me crying for the rest of the day.  Dr. Jack had been diagnosed with Stage IV non-smoker’s lung cancer.  I knew what a determined man Dr. Jack was and I knew he would fight the cancer with an intense battle.  I also knew God could heal him if He so willed, and so Kevin and I prayed often that the chemo would be effective and that God might give him more time on this earth.  This past Saturday, December 12th, Dr. Jack received his victory over cancer as God took him home to heaven.  On Monday, Molly Kate and I loaded up for Mississippi so that I could attend the services and let this family know once again how precious they are to me.

I knew it would be a hard week.  I love this family so dearly and am still so broken that one they loved so much is gone.  But, I never could have guessed how sweet a time it would also be as the Lord reminded me of what true faith looks like and the legacy of a life well lived.  Dr. Jack was a great man…he was an incredible doctor, he adored his wife, he treasured his children and now grandchildren.  But above these great things, he loved the Lord Jesus Christ and sought to live his life so as to honor Him.  He made the most of every opportunity and as his friends and pastors gave testimony to such a life, I was challenged to do the same with mine.  In the quiet moments, my mind often drifts to Mrs. Janet.  She served her husband these last few months with great sacrifice and faithfulness…what an amazing witness to the beauty of Christian marriage and God’s strength being shown through her in the most difficult time of her life.  I will pray for her often in the days, weeks and months to come, trusting that the God who sustained her so beautifully through these last months will continue to do so as she walks through this life without her earthly partner.  But I believe one of the most convicting parts of the whole week for me was what came through the words of their oldest daughter and my friend, Melissa.  Melissa had kept everyone updated on Dr. Jack’s treatments through a CaringBridge website.  In her final post, she wrote this:

We prayed for healing and a miracle, and we got them, although not in our human terms – Dad is healthy and free from pain walking the streets of Heaven. And our miracles have been numerous, especially in recent days…

She then listed the miracles they had witnessed, including the early arrival of her third son and Dr. Jack’s namesake.  Because Baby Jack came early, Dr. Jack was able to briefly get to know his newest grandson and felt good enough to enjoy him.  I read Melissa’s words again and again and thought “this is how eyes of faith see the world.”  Though she prayed one type of miracle and healing, when God brought a different one, she still recognized it as the miracle and praised God for it.  Only faith can see like this.  May God grant me such eyes to see His work in my life (even when it’s not exactly what I asked for).  And may the God of all comfort bring His peace and love to this family as they continue to trust His sovereign plan in the most difficult of sorrows.

Happy 5th Birthday M!

Our (soon-to-be) oldest son turns 5 today! Well, technically, his birthday is almost over in Ethiopia.  As hard as I know this day is going to be for me and as sad as I am that he’s not home to celebrate his birthday with his family, I praise God for knitting this precious child together in his mother’s womb and causing my husband and I to see his picture over 4 years later and half-way around the world.  This little boy who isn’t even in my day-to-day life yet has already changed me in more ways than I can count.  Over the last year, we’ve received several videos of M and his quiet, smiley personality has completely won our hearts.  I cannot wait to let this little boy know every day how much we love him and how we thank God for him.  Father, please continue to love him and care for him magnificently  in our absence.