Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two Little Girls

Years ago we would never have dreamed that two little girls would be part of our family waiting for Grandma to visit. Yet here we are.

Obeying God's call on our family to adopt was a complicated endeavor. There were so many obstacles between what we knew God was doing in our hearts and the end result.

One very "unknown" piece of the puzzle for us was not knowing how our extended family would respond. We just didn't know how that would all go over and it was a very difficult part of the puzzle for us. We felt so torn. In our own home and little family we were ecstatic with incredible joy over what God was doing in our lives. But to know that others might not share in that joy ..... well, it's just very difficult to describe.

I only share all this now because I know many of you fellow adoptive families are going through similar struggles. Perhaps you grew up in a family that didn't embrace diversity and other ethniticies. Maybe you grew up in a home where racial slurs were heard. It's quite possible you fear that by adopting a child that looks different than your current family will risk being shunned by the family. These are tremendous things for the adoptive family to consider.

In some ways I wish I could say that every member of our family just fully embraced our adoptions ... that they worked alongside us to help fulfill the goals of bringing our daughters home. However had that been the case, I would have missed out on seeing God do such a work in our family's hearts. I would have missed the opportunity to learn to trust and follow my Heavenly Father first and foremost ..... even before my earthly family.

Just over 4 1/2 years ago I was walking the streets of Houston, TX, having just gotten a bite to eat while our new daughter was working hard to recover from open heart surgery. I will never forget looking up past all the tall buildings to the sky feeling quite alone. At that time I hadn't heard from my family yet after landing in TX. By this time some of them were tolerant of what was happening, yet others I had no idea if I'd really have much of a relationship with them once we returned home. While I felt very far away from my earthly family, I struggle to even find the words to describe how close I felt to my Heavenly Father. I knew without a doubt I was right where He'd called me. There was such an overwhelming sense of His peace, presence and joy.

God has not only worked in my life over these last years, but He's worked in my families' lives as well. So recently while preparing for "Grandma & Pa Pa" to come for dinner I found the girls sitting by the window waiting so expectantly for them. And the beauty behind it is that Grandma was just as over-joyed to see them as well. One little girl born here in America in desperate need for a family .... one little girl born across the world in Africa .... now brought together as sisters. But not only has God given them each a home and a family - while that's huge in itself - even more so He has transformed the hearts of that family to better love Him, to better serve Him and to better know Him.

No matter what challenges you are facing in your adoption, be encouraged that the God of the universe is bigger! .... and He will see you through.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where Do We Begin?

There are probably an extreme few who even check our blog anymore, because of our horrible negligence in updating it. Each month I think ..... man, I HAVE to get a blog post update done ... and it just doesn't happen. It is difficult to know where to even begin.

This photo is of our new location. As you can see when we arrived it was in major need of help. The board across the front picture window was completely broken, as were many other windows. The yard was very sparse and those walls have NO insulation which made for a very cold Illinois winter. As I look back at these photos, it painfully reminds me also of the condition of our lives at the time. No doubt we were really feeling the affects of being uprooted and starting over. After just completing a major remodel with the North Dakota house, we ventured once again into a house needing massive TLC.

Our incredible remodel crew went to work, yet it was just incredibly overwhelming. Plaster walls and ceiling crumbling; old wire needing repaired; dirt, dog hair and who knows what all needing swept and washed .... it nearly did us in. My stomach turns just recounting that time.

The good news is that God had gone before us .... oh without Him we would not have made it! We were embraced by our church family with such genuineness. They asked nothing of us, but just loved us right where we were at and were used by God as a soothing balm to our hearts.

All during this time we were trying to discern what God had for us in this new chapter of our lives. Over time God gave David vision to launch a Handyman business here that has proven to be a really good fit both for our family and for the needs here in our area. As you know, our deep passion is adoption and orphan care and we are blessed to be serving with the ABBA Fund here from Central Illinois.

Just as we were getting the house livable, we were plagued with the Chicken Pox. That ended up being 5 weeks of utter misery. Chicken Pox IS as awful in adulthood as you can possibly imagine. Let's just say I never care to repeat that Mother's Day again as I sat collapsed in the bathroom wondering if I could even make it 10 steps to my bed.

The house remodel continues ... boys all still waiting to be settled into their living quarters which has drug on months passed what we'd anticipated. North Dakota house STILL awaits a buyer (recent interest in leasing option which we'd covet your prayers about!!!). Through it all God has poured out His grace on us and kept us going. He has filled the barren walls of this big 'ole house with much fellowship and ministry. He has ministered to our hearts and blessed us deeply.

We enjoyed a wonderful summer including many memories made with extended family ..... a rare treasure that we have missed incredibly across the miles! There are many photos to share .... here are a few. Seeing these smiles just bring me such encouragement after such a long journey.

A little landscaping, a bountiful garden and sweet fellowship have created much beauty at this new homestead. We promise to update again soon. :)