"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

To Tell of His Grace

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vacation ~ November, 2012 / Thanksgiving

We took the kids out of school last week and the best family trip that we have ever had! It was perfect timing since we had just been matched with our Kaylee Grace and we could just RELAX and make special memories as a family ;)

About to get on the plane ~ our kids' first time flying!

Keegan enjoyed having his own single seat

Kols is ready to go

Sis and I are getting excited

Keegan eating calamari

Of course there were a few stunts ;)

All three kids stayed in the water the WHOLE time!

Keeg found coral

Kols brought his home with us :)

It's hard to believe that 14 years ago we came to Maui on our Honeymoon!!!

Heading to Dukes for Dinner (our favorite eating spot)

Kols - 8

Sissy - 12

Keeg - 10

It was hard to believe that Christmas is around the corner when the weather was 85 degrees the whole time
Brod and the kids as we are heading to dinner

On the beach

Our kids would have eaten at Duke's every meal if we let them!

Sis with her Hawaiian flower

Mommy and Sis

Kols surfing ;)

Sis dancing

Keeg surfing

Mommy with the flower that Keeg gave her

Daddy and Kols

Keeg and Daddy

Sissy and Daddy

Our last night there

Wishing we could stay longer!

~Thanksgiving 2012 ~

We had our family over for Thanksgiving Dinner -
we're so blessed to have my Grandpa with us still! We love hosting Thanksgiving and having our house smell like turkey all day :)  It's the BEST!!! Sissy and I made a yummy apple cobbler as well - actually she made it mostly all by herself and it turned out delicious ;)
Can't wait to see Brod's family and do Thanksgiving with them ;)

Hoping to hear an update on our paperwork and approvals soon ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LOI (letter of intent)

Last Friday (11/9) was the day that we officially submitted our LOI (letter of intent) to adopt this sweet little one. Brodie and I woke up the Thursday morning before and as I mentioned in our last post, we were really wrestling with the doctors reports that we had received and what we thought the Lord was pressing on our hearts. We were praying for clarity - we prayed together and then each had our own time seeking the Lord. As Brod was praying, he saw this sweet one sitting in the room in which we saw her in the pictures and he saw a very bright light shinning on her. He also saw joy on her. He felt as if Jesus was showing him that His light is on her and He will fill her with joy.

Earlier that morning as I prayed, I felt as if I could see a door opened with God's Hand welcoming us in - we couldn't see anything through the door - everything was unknown...all we knew was that God was inviting us in; inviting us on a journey where we would see His glory. We had the freedom to choose whether we went or not - it was our choice and He wouldn't be upset if we didn't. But if we didn't, we would miss experiencing Him in this way. It was an invitation - not a demand or something we were being told to obey. I felt as if the Lord was saying, "Come with Me on this journey, take My Hand and come and see My Glory!"

We have to "officially" transfer agencies (which we are already in the process of) and then we will wait for PA (pre-approval). Once we receive PA we wait for LOA (letter of acceptance) - this is the one that usually takes the longest to receive -  in which we will be officially approved to adopt this particular girl. Then we have a couple of other quick approvals and we will be off to China :)

Just like every other adoptive parent, we are praying that we will get these approvals quickly and be able to travel soon - especially since she is already over 2! We know that the first 3 years are SO critical in brain development so we are asking the Lord to make a way for us to get there soon and begin forming those critical attachments. Above all, we know that HE alone has carried her since HE knit her in her mother's womb and HE WILL continue to carry her throughout her whole life! His timing is perfect ;)

Over the last week we have researched and gathered so much information that has been helpful in getting us prepared to bring our sweet one home - our agency has been so wonderful in helping us!

We will post some pictures of what we've been up to this last week once we have some down time next week before Thanksgiving ;)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Adoption Update!!!

This journey has been long and beautiful in every way. We wouldn't trade all that we have learned and all the ways that God has grown each one of us. It's been nearly a year and a half of waiting but we are finally matched with a precious little girl who is desperately in need of God's love and a family to hold her. Here is a copy of an email we sent out to friends/family earlier today...

We received a referral on Tuesday (11/6) of a 28-month precious little girl! Let me back up a few months - both Brodie and I have been feeling the Lord open our hearts to more difficult special needs. Constantly being reminded that our lives are not our own and that we are to count everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus.  The needs of this little girl were greater than we had originally felt comfortable with and as the social worker described her file to us over the phone, both Brodie and I felt excited but anxious. Her needs that are listed are, "polydactyly (extra thumb on each hand), strabismus (crossed/lazy eyes) and mild cerebral palsy". 

After our social worker read her file to us she explained that her greatest need is that she is coming from a welfare institution where the kids are severely neglected and malnourished. Never held. No toys at all. Only touch is an occasional diaper change. Even their bottles are propped up for feedings. ;(   I said to our social worker, "I know you pray over each child's file - what made you choose us for this little girl?" She said that she knew that this child was going to need extra love and compassion and she thought of our family, she felt that not many families would have the compassion it will take to love and nurture her little life. This immediately reminded me that this process is not about us or what we want or imagine- it's about a child that God is asking us to love; it's about His glory. Our lives are not our own.

We prayed before we looked at the file where we would first see her pictures. As Brodie prayed I sensed the Lord asking me in my spirit, "Will you be My Hands and Feet to her?" In my heart I said yes but was fearful. I asked the Lord for something - a birthdate that stuck out, a name, anything significant where we would know it was our daughter right away. We opened the file - nothing stood out. Her picture was so sad- she looked SO sad and hopeless. Our kids were 100% in from the second they saw her picture. I sat them down and explained what her needs may look like for our family- that just made them want to get her and love her more. 

Brodie and I processed and decided to have some doctors look at the file. The first Dr that got back to us was our friend - he mentioned the possibility of her symptoms being related to some type of syndrome. This took us a couple of steps back. The next Dr was even more concerned - very concerned. She said the chances were too great that these symptoms were related something life threatening down the road. She advised us not to move forward.  

We sat our kids down again - we explained in great detail what the doctors were concerned about. Again they were even more sure that we should go get her and love her. Kennady said, "Mom, we can't just leave her there! She could just die there - if we get her then at least we can tell her about Jesus and she will get to go to Heaven." (Whew! God's love is fierce! Just the thought that He would love this precious girl enough that He may call us to bring her into our home to love on and teach her about Jesus so that she can spend eternity with Him!)  The boys agreed. Brodie and I wrestled. On one hand we knew what we were to do - on the other we were so fearful of all the unknowns. It's so crazy because we went right into protective mode for our other 3 kids - like we wanted to protect them from the potential of such deep pain. Brodie wanted to protect me. We needed a clear Word! If He said Go, we would Go.

Yesterday we finally talked to a Dr who went to China to visit her in April (she lives in America and volunteers her time to go overseas and examine these children for our agency so that they can give us a more accurate report). She believes that she is developmentally so far behind due to her neglectful environment and lack of stimulation. She is the size of a 12 mo old and is 28 mo. They put her at 9 mo developmentally. She feels that this precious child will THRIVE when in a loving home!!! She feels that she did not see any indication of any type of syndrome. She said that on day 1 of her visit she was very concerned about this precious one - no eye contact, non-responsive, they got nothing out of her. Day 2 they went in and she smiled and made eye contact (this was HUGE progress and made her feel like this girl is so far behind because of environment and severe neglect). **Sidenote: It is such a praise that they went back the 2nd day - most of the time they only get 1 day to evaluate these little ones but in this rare case they were able to go back a 2nd day - which gave them a better chance to see each of the kids and what a difference 1 day made for most every one of them! This gave the doctors confidence that environment was a HUGE factor in why these kids were so delayed**  She is not even on the chart for height or weight BUT her head is on the chart and has tracked really well which leads this doctor to believe that her growth delays are due to malnutrition and what little nutrition she is getting is going to her brain. She feels that the cp diagnosis could very well be that she has spent 28 months in a crib and she may not even have it. She gave us a game plan for the first 3 months of having her home to begin to catch her up and felt really HOPEFUL and even SURE that she will start to blossom once she has love. 

All I can say is that we got off that call and both felt complete PEACE about going forward. Our fears turned to great excitement! We are realistically knowing that this will be a ton of work - our kids are fully aware of what this looks like and we all couldn't feel more ready to start being Jesus' Hands and Feet to her!!! For now we feel led to not even label her with ANYTHING (of course the doctors here will know all they need to from her medical file). But we're feeling led to just get her home and love on her and give her a chance to begin to be all that God created her to be with no labels.  If after being loved on for some time she still has symptoms then we know she will have wonderful care here at Children's Hospital and God will use all that He has chosen her to be for His glory! We just want to give her a chance and see what a difference LOVE makes - we are aware and prepared for what to be cautious about and whatever God has for this precious little one, we will trust Him and His great plan. He is good! 

So now we will submit our letter to adopt her and have a series of approvals to get through which will take about 3-4 months and then we get to go get her :) We will post pictures as soon as we receive "pre-approval" (which could take a few weeks since we have to officially finish transferring agencies).

We will spend the next few months preparing by studying more about attachment and bonding for these little ones who come from such extreme conditions. And we will continue to PRAY that the Holy Spirit will knit our hearts with hers so that she feels His love and peace right away when we hold her. We are trusting God for a miracle to bring wholeness in this child's life in every way!

Even after we sent this email out, another doctor called us who had reviewed her file and expressed his concerns for our family moving forward with this sweet one. For a moment fear tried to creep back in but right away we stood firm in the PEACE that THE GOD WHO CREATED HER gave us yesterday...His plans are always BEST - they may not look best or feel best...but they ARE best!!! Here is the verse that I am clinging to right now:

"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; 
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and assurance forever." 
Isaiah 32:17

A commentary from M. Henry on this verse said this: Quietness and assurance forever... that is, a holy serenity and security of mind, by which the soul enjoys itself and enjoys its God, and it is not in the power of this world to disturb it in those enjoyments.

In other words, when we have this holy serenity and security of mind that ONLY Jesus can give us, our soul is so at rest, so filled with enjoyment that even the worries of this world will not and cannot disturb the peace He fills our souls with when we rest in Him and follow His Way of Righteousness. 

We were able to experience this peace, this assurance today when the "power of this world" came to disturb our peace and assurance and that peace and assurance He has given us was so real and so true that although it stumbled for a moment, it was not disturbed. Thank You Jesus that You are far above the ways of this world - Your Ways are not our own!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sissy's Birthday :)

Sissy is 12!!!!!

Happy Birthday sweet-girl! We love you!!! You are such a JOY to have as a daughter :)  You are always filled with Jesus' joy...always laughing and full of fun energy! It really is hard to believe that it was 12 years ago that you were born ~ it truly seems like just yesterday that we were in the hospital with you. You were born in the evening and I have such a sweet picture of you and Daddy that next morning - your first morning :) You were such a peaceful and sweet baby.

We had more of a Birthday weekend for you since today was also ORPHAN SUNDAY at church ;)  Yesterday we went to the tailgate for the football game and then to In and Out for dinner and opened your gifts from our family. You got some Ugg boots from us and a cute outfit from the boys ;)  From Nana and Papa and Uncle Dave and Auntie Tera you got gift certificates to the pet store to get a fish tank and some fish - wahoo! This morning Koslon helped Daddy make waffles for breakfast and we headed off to church and this afternoon Auntie Julie took you to go shopping for a couple of new, cute shirts :) Then we had your family party at Nana and Papas - a FUN B'day weekend!

Our sweet 12 year old!

Opening your gift from the boys

The boys made you a sweet card

Grandpa got you a special gift - a music box that was Grandma's favorite. It plays Happy Birthday and was from one of her very best friends! He misses Grandma so much everyday and I know it meant a lot to him as he was able to pass something so special on - what a sweet and thoughtful Grandpa!!!

Working on the treats for your classroom

Yummy Pumpkin Cookies ;) Your favorite!!!

SO.... we named about 25 things that we LOVE about you...but here are 12:

1. You are an ENCOURAGER - always building others up and "cheering us on"
2. You are PLAYFUL and FUN
3. JESUS SHINES in you as you love and FOLLOW Him!
4. You have such a GIFT of working/playing with/helping young children - they all love you!!!
5. You are a SERVANT- ALWAYS willing to help even without being asked ;)
6. You are very THOUGHTFUL and THANKFUL
7. HONESTY is ingrained in you
8. You are FULL of ENERGY
10. You are HOSPITABLE - you love to bake, decorate for parties and welcome others into our home
11. You have great JOY - non-stop JOY!!!
12. HELPFUL - "when your sad she'll come and help"

We love you sweet Sissy!

Dear Jesus, please cover Sis with Your Love. Fill her with Your Spirit ~ she is Yours and we ask You to guide her and strengthen her so that she may follow You well all the days of her life. Please go before her and behind her. May You be her Best Friend ~ her Everything! Thank You for blessing us with her as a daughter. Help us to parent her with Your wisdom and love. In Your Holy Name, Amen!