38 Weeks Along

38 Weeks……. according to my counting (which may or may not be reliable…..however, I grew up attending a private school at one point, home-schooled for a short time and, finally ended my academic career in the public school system so, who do you blame?!), 38 weeks that we have been on this journey. I have multiple friends and loved ones that are currently expecting babies. I watch their tummies grow, attend their gender-reveal parties and, excitedly anticipate the arrival of their sweet little ones! This, I do with joy. I don’t want to steal a single ounce of their joy over their blessing!! My reality is just different. 38 weeks of pregnancy involves doctors appointments, shopping for maternity clothes, feeling the baby move, cravings, mood swings, decorating a nursery, shopping for baby items…….and much, much more! 38 weeks of international adoption involves filling out paperwork, fundraising, waiting, filling out more paperwork, jumping through “hoops”, dreaming, mood swings, and did I mention, filling out MORE paperwork?

This is what a baby looks like in the womb at 38 weeks………

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This is what 38 weeks looks like in adoption……..

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I’m not quite sure why, but, the reality of holding our child in my arms feels farther away right now than when we began this journey.  I wonder what my baby looks like right now.  What developmental milestones are they reaching?  Have they even been born yet?  

I hate to sound depressing, but, this is where I am right now.  I feel like the girl off “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (the old-school one) that demands, “I want it NOW!”  

With all the frustration and anxiousness I am experiencing, I keep being drawn to Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.” (NLT) and the words of a song by Kari Jobe…….”Be still my soul, be still.  Be still my soul, be still.  Wait patiently upon the Lord, be still my soul, be still.”

Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t do “still” very well! lol  I’m a fixer, a mover, a shaker(and not just when I dance)!  However, being still in the greatness, light and beauty of God brings comfort, healing and hope to my tired and weary soul.  So……..I’m workin’ on it!  

ANY Progress?

Progress……..hmmmm…………… a word that is all about perspective and relativity.  Have we made progress?  Well, we are still waiting on documents that are being corrected so that we can try, once again, to have them certified.  Upon doing that, we will submit our dossier to our agency and wait for our “turn” to send it to the Haitian government.  So, this is what I call “silent progress”.  Yes, every step is bringing us closer, but, they’re very small steps, therefore, it feels as though our progress is more like walking in place.  We may be moving, but, not really moving forward.

I’m going to end this post with a plea………..a plea for prayer!  Please pray with us…….for our souls to simply be still, for our hearts to be content to wait upon His timing and for us to find joy in the journey!  Thank you for your incredible support!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYRXoVmUFmA

 

 

 

Sabbathing…….

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Yes…….these are my feet……..my pigeon-toed feet, propped up, no shoes on yet…………..Sabbathing feet.  And, this has been my day so far.

I woke up this morning with the list of “To Dos” running through my mind…….laundry, grocery-shopping, 5K planning, adoption papers to be re-done, dishes, vaccuming, work………the fact that my STUPID scale will NOT move from the number I’ve been stuck at for…….oh, EVER…….and, so on!!  And, as these thoughts began to consume me, I realized I was exhausted before I even got out of bed!  Then, I remembered something a friend asked me recently.  I was having an emotional, stress-filled day and, she was gracious enough to allow me to whine, throwing all my “junk” out there as she listened with understanding.  And, in the brief moment that I stopped talking, only to take a breath, I’m sure, she asked me, “When was the last time you took a Sabbath?”  She didn’t ask when the last time was that I had been to church, or gotten to sleep in, or even, spent a day at home.  The word, “Sabbath”, literally means, “a time of rest”.  I had to be very honest.  My very spiritual, pastor’s wife response was, “I’m not sure I know how”.  

So, today, I’m attempting to Sabbath………at least for half a day, anyway!  Now, “rest” is defined in many different ways, for different people.  To me, rest, TRUE rest not only rejuvenates my body, but my mind and spirit as well.  So,  I have spent the morning, in my sweats(oh, who am I kidding…….these are my pajamas!), feet kicked up in the recliner(rest for my body), reading my Bible (rest for my spirit), watching TV(rest for my mind) and, now, here with you.  I’m not sure where blogging falls in the area of rest, all I know is that it’s somewhat therapeutic.  This has been good.  And, I believe, necessary, in all the chaos of the reality that is our life.  I’m sure your reality isn’t much different.  It’s not my reality that will define my physical, spiritual or even mental health, but rather, my intentionality.  I must be woman of intent.  

Now, I am INTENTIONALLY going to close this post because I have a hot lunch date to prepare for……..with my hot husband……whom I have lovingly nicknamed, Pastor Hottie…….no joke…….this is how he is programmed in my cell phone and, at our community rec softball league, you can hear me cheering for him by this name as well!  Because…….well, he’s mine and, he’s hot and……I choose to be intentional in my marriage as well!

So, here’s your challenge:  do nothing today, if not with intentionality.  Be intentional in your relationships, your time and in your activity.  It’s far more rewarding than allowing your day to dictate to you what is important!

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.  Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.  It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

-Psalm 127:1-2

Tears, Not Cheers

We have worked and worked, and worked some more, compiling the documents for our dossier, getting appropriate things notarized, etc. so that we can submit our dossier to the Haitian government, which is one of the biggest steps in this whole process. Amidst all of this collecting is still the ongoing fundraising necessary to move forward.  Right now we are currently planning a 5K, have an online jewelry show taking place, and, have a friend who just finished making a beautiful quilt to be raffled! 

This week, my sweet husband and I had the opportunity to participate in a leadership board retreat.  It was refreshing, fun and, an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by and learn from seasoned believers who have been in full-time pastoral ministry much longer than we have.  We have been holding onto our dossier documents until this trip because 20 of those documents have to be certified and authenticated at our state capitol building, which, just happens to be on the way home from our retreat destination.

I’ll set the stage………we pull into town, giddy, smiling and, already planning the celebratory ice cream we were going to eat upon the completion of this monumental step in our adoption.  The beauty of the detailed architecture of the capitol building is absolutely breath-taking and, we were both enamored as we walked through the doors, encountering marble staircases, intricately carved stone pillars and tall ceilings. 

You know those moments when you’re so excited about something, you feel as though everyone that sees you automatically knows your excitement and the reason for the smile on your face?  I think of our first doctor appointments for my pregnancies, my wedding day, even, my 16th birthday………….this, was one of those moments.  We eagerly greeted the man at the front desk and, as I was smiling ear-to-ear thought surely he must know the reason for our excitement!  He directed us to the office we needed and, upon walking through the doors, we were met by Roz.  You know, the older, kind of cranky woman(technically, monster) from the movie, Monsters, Inc.?  Okay, maybe that was a little harsh.  She could have been having a bad day, week or year.  I don’t know her story.  All I know is as soon as we told her what we were there to do, she proceeded to pull documents out of the file we carried and start stacking them, with a very cold, “can’t do this one………can’t certify this one……….this one either.”  And so on, and so on. 

I am a big girl.  I am an adult.  I have the ability to control myself…………all these statements are things I began telling myself as “Roz” continued to dissect our documents and my bottom lip began to tremble like a toddler who just got knocked on her tooshie.  My lip listened, but the tears did not.  I tried to stick out my bottom lip to blow some air up to my eyes and dry them before they fell, but, alas, that first one trickled out very rebelliously and, as soon as it did, others followed.  I quickly stepped out of the room and left my man to finish what could be finished. 

Of the 20 documents we walked in there with, only 7 of them were certified and authenticated.  Some of them will have to be mailed to other states, others redone, simply because they were not notarized properly.  Now, I know, this is not eternal.  It is merely one “bump” in the road, but, it’s a very uncomfortable bump that will make this journey take longer. 

I thought of yesterday as an experience at the airport.  You know when you’ve been anticipating a big trip, and get to the airport, watching out the window, anxiously awaiting that plane pulling up to the gate?  You walk down that corridor, sit down and buckle in and, although you haven’t yet reached your destination, you know it won’t be long before you’ll officially be “on your way”……….until the pilot apologetically announces that, for some, unforeseen reason, the flight has been canceled.  Yeah, that’s how yesterday felt.

My God is big.  He’ll help us persevere and, we will, in fact, reach our “destination”.  But, today, in my disappointment, I’m simply going to lean on Him.  Does this make me weak?  Certainly.  But, He promised that His strength would be made perfect in my weakness so, I’m going to rest in that knowledge.

 

God Is Fighting For Us!

So far, this has been a full and exhausting week………..and it’s only Tuesday!!! :-)

I mentioned in my last post that I have the opportunity to preach this weekend at our church and, I’m super excited about it!  Every time I’m given this opportunity, I feel as though I need the world to come to a screeching halt, allowing me a good……oh, two weeks or so to prepare my sermon!  I mean, no pressure, right?!  I’m ONLY supposed to convey the heart of God Almighty, the Creator and King over all the earth to His people!……(cue the sweating profusely)

All joking aside, (I promise, I really CAN be serious sometimes) I believe all this other “stuff”………obligations, appointments, busy work schedules, etc. are simply serving as distractions.  God is NOT dead.  (hope you knew that one already. if not, we should talk!)  He’s HERE.  Speaking.  Guiding.  Leading.  I simply have to tell my heart to “be still”.  So, today, I’ve been playing this song (the one below this post) over and over…….and over, and over, and………..you get the picture.  The words that just keep resonating in my heart are, “God is fighting for us, pushing back the darkness, lighting up the Kingdom that cannot be shaken.”  There’s much more to the song, and it’s good, really good.  But, this is the part that my soul is leaping over, just that reminder that, God is on MY side!  He’s going to Haiti before our dossier even reaches it’s soil and fighting for us!  Jesus is advocating to the Father on behalf of US!  And, whatever the monetary amount we need, whatever timeline challenges that may appear—-come what may………..He. Cannot. Be. Shaken. Just reading those words typed across the monitor on my computer brings such peace to me.

So, before I post the song that has been rockin’ my day, I just have to tell you that I’m ready for more from our relationship……..(chirp, chirp………awkward silence)  Okay, nothing too commitment-heavy, I’m just finding that I REALLY enjoy writing…….typing…..blogging…..however you want to say it!  (which probably all boils down to the fact that, I just talk WAY too much) And, although this blog was started as a means of documenting our adoption journey, I plan to start writing about much more.  I will, of course, continue to journal and share throughout our adoption, but, our “adoption journey” is only a part of who I am.  Now, don’t expect fabulous recipes, crafty projects or anything pinterest-worthy, but, you can expect an honest and authentic part of who I am and what God is doing in me!

For those of you that are ready to break up with me……..I’m sorry, don’t go!  ;-)  Just stay tuned!  Enjoy the song– makes me want to jump……..ok, so, I totally have been today…….and, after two pregnancies……may or may not have peed myself a little! (Sorry, Mom) ;-)

 

The Things I Never Knew I Would Miss….

I remember when I would walk around the house constantly picking up binkies, blocks, bibs, etc.  I remember unloading the dishwasher, mumbling to myself as I tried to match the proper sippy lid to it’s coordinating cup.  I remember the baby-gurgling squeals and the smell of baby-lotion mixed with pee/poop/spit-up and……..here’s the kicker…….I miss it all!  I have NO idea or even inkling how old our baby will be when we bring him/her home, but, I’m trying to prepare myself now to remember to enjoy every inconvenient smell and mess and to be joyful in every challenging moment because they go by so quickly! 

Just as now, in this stage, I find myself mumbling under my breath, walking around the house picking up headphones, Kindles, books, school books and almost man-sized shoes……….I sometimes have to take a moment, imagine it all gone and remind myself how quickly my time with them will pass.  Someday, I will miss these things as well!

Savor the moments.  Enjoy the noise.  Encourage laughter and make the most of EVERY day!  For me, these are the sights, sounds and smells of answered prayer!

More Obedience

Have you forgotten me?  I PROMISE I haven’t forgotten about you……….promise!  I’ve been avoiding posting for quite some time and, I’m not even sure why………ok, maybe I am.

Every time I post on my blog, I’m reminded of this journey.  And, that’s just it, the word “journey” makes me realize that we still have a ways to go.  There is STILL money to be raised.  There are STILL papers to be filled out.  There are STILL prayers to be said.  There are STILL tears to be cried.  It. Is. A. Journey.  HOWEVER, the voice of God told us to, “Go” and it is the hand of God that will sustain us.  I know it to be true!  So, before I give you an “update”, I just want to share a little more about what God is speaking to my heart.

Last night, during our family prayer time, I was reminded how much we need this time, this step of faith, this journey into the unknown.  I’m paraphrasing from the book, The Circle Maker we are reading as a family, but, it said, “If faith is the substance of things hoped for, then, not having faith is hoping for nothing.”  This process, this journey, is literally an act of us, taking our hopes and God-given dreams, stepping out in faith and trusting God to bring them to fruition.  It’s truly faith-filled obedience.

Right  now, aside from gathering a few pictures, the only thing we are lacking to be able to submit our dossier to the Haitian government is about $2,000.  Life has been busy, circumstances overwhelming.  I have no fundraiser going at the moment, and yet I have peace.  I don’t have that money in the bank, or even tucked away under my mattress, but I am living expectantly.  How?  Why?  Because I’m walking in obedience to my Father.  Savior, Friend, Protector, Healer, Comforter, Provider and so much more.  That’s who He is.  And, He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion! (That’s a promise from Philippians, just FYI)

So, as I continue to pursue fundraiser ideas and look for opportunities to save, or make a little extra money, I refuse to become stressed out.  I will NOT take on worry.  I will simply continue on in obedience. 

In a couple of weeks, I will have the opportunity to preach to our congregation. Eek! YAY!!! ;-)  I truly am excited (and maybe a little nervous) about this opportunity.  I will be preaching one of 5 weeks out of a sermon series our staff is tag-teaming on called, “All In”.  As I was re-studying the portion I will be sharing, this line spoke VOLUMES to me this morning, “We want more revelation before we obey more, but God wants more obedience before He reveals more.”  Ouch!!  (that one stepped ALL over my piggies!) So true!  So, my act of obedience this week is to complete EVERY part of what we need (photo pages) to complete our dossier.  I will continue to obey, knowing He WILL reveal more!

WHAT’S NEW?!

I HAVE to share with you about our immigration process!  We were told to expect it to take anywhere from 4-7 months from the time we submitted our application to immigration and got our fingerprints until we received immigration approval.  Well………we went through this ENTIRE process in a month and a half!  Now, somebody needs to let loose and get their praise on right about now!!  (This reminds me of a hand-clappin’, foot-stompin’, spoons-playin’ song we sang in church when I was younger……..”Look what the Lord has done!”)

So, that’s where we are……….waiting, anticipating, dreaming and believing.  The picture below is a picture of our family a few weeks ago on Easter morning.  I posted this to my Facebook page and the caption read, “Happy Easter from our family………praying that by this next time next year we will have added another little Todd!”  Yep, this is my prayer!

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Can We Do This????

So, it’s here……….the day singles dread and the Pinterest-practicing moms look forward to.  The day we gorge ourselves on chocolate, decorate, dress and accessories in pink or red and spend an outrageous amount of money on flowers that will be dead in a week.  Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day! 

I will warn you in advance, this post will not have any depth, life lessons or philosophical content whatsoever!

The Best Laid Plans……….

I would be in the “Pinterest-practicing” mom category, ESPECIALLY on holidays, birthdays, or any day, really that you could find a greeting card for!  And, today was no different.  My kids awoke to cards, colorful plateware(I’m POSITIVE there’s a better word for that, but my brain just can’t seem to get there at this moment), strawberry milk in “fancy” glasses (see, the pink theme there?) and red, sparkly pancakes in the shapes of hearts and X’s and O’s.  I woke up super early to ensure plenty of time to make this morning extra special………but, sometimes, even our best planning is foiled by……………..well, today, it was kind of everything!

From dropping a red-pancake-batter-covered-ladle on the floor(which of course splattered that red pancake batter everywhere),not being able to find the “right” pink leggings that match the outfit (that girl of mine), heart-shaped bacon that refused to stay in a heart shape, that same little girl falling on the ice on the way to the car and, many, many more details that appeared to “foil” my plans for this morning………I had to choose……….be irritated……or laugh at the ironic hilarity of it all.  So, I laughed. Of course, I waited until the offspring were off to school before I did, but, I still laughed. 

After I laughed, I seriously doubted my ability as a parent.  Can we seriously do this whole, adding a third child thing?  I mean, for crying out loud, we only have two children now.  TWO!!  I have friends who have 5, 6, 7 kids and seem to have it together WAY better than I do!! 

However, I can think of nothing I’ve wanted more than to have more children to make red pancakes for, study spelling words with, kiss boo-boos when they fall on the ice and, yes, even console during a “bad-mood-morning-meltdown”!  So, in the words of Bob the Builder, “can we build do this?  YES WE CAN!!” 

So, here’s to you, moms!  I raise my “fancy”, strawberry milk-filled glass to you in a toast, not to Valentine’s Day, but, to motherhood!  May the kisses be slobbery, the meltdowns be few, and may you enjoy every single moment of sweetness AND chaos, for all too soon, they will be creating those sweet and chaotic moments in a dorm room, apartment, or a home of their own and, we will regret wishing away these precious days!

Now, I’m about to indulge in my Valentine’s Day gift to myself………. a nap!

A Place To Belong

Almost two weeks ago, I got a call from my Mom that my Granny was not doing well and that the doctor had said to call in the family to spend her last moments on this earth with her.  So, a suitcase was packed, a road trip was taken and, I arrived at the hospital with my Mom to find Granny weak, lethargic and just not doing well. 

There were quite a few family members already at the hospital when we arrived and, within just a couple of days, many more trickled in, having had a great distance to travel to get there.  And, I have to admit, when we stepped off the elevator upon our arrival and were immediately greeted by all this family, my heart skipped a little giddy beat!  I quickly erased my over-enthusiastic smile because, after all, we were not gathering for a happy occasion, but rather, a somber one. 

See, for the majority of my childhood, we lived a fair distance from our extended families and, typically only got to see them once or twice a year.  I grew up envious of friends who had grandparents picking them up after school, or cousins to play with on the weekends.  Baking cookies with grandmas, fishing with grandpas, sleepovers with aunts and uncles were all experiences I craved…………..but, why?  I believe it was the longings of that young girl that created such a special place in my heart for all things family-related. (no pun intended)

Back To The Hospital……

As all 7 of the siblings gathered at the hospital, we thought it a great opportunity to capture the moments………yes, of course, on our phones!  And, THIS happened:

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Now, the quality is horrible, and I have NO idea what I was doing with that flash, but, THIS snapshot certainly captures the silliness that is my family!  And, I wouldn’t have it any other way!  But, to be fair, they can act rather dignified when absolutely necessary:

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See?!  I told you!  And, one more of just the siblings:

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As we sat in the hospital room, waiting room and, just in the hospital in general, I was taken back years ago, when, as a little girl, I so loved and cherished time with these very people.  As the weekend wore on, I believe I began to understand exactly why.  When I see the humor and hilarity that constantly comes from my uncles, I see me.  When I see my Granny’s smile, which is the same as my mother’s, I see me.  When I listen to my soft-spoken aunt, I see………..oh, who am I kidding, that’s CERTAINLY not me! But, what IS me, is this.  This place where I belong.  Here in this place, I’m more than a pastor’s wife or a 32-year old woman from rural America. I am a daughter, a niece, a granddaughter and, I’m loved, accepted and cherished, right here, in this place where I belong.

As comforting as this thought is, it also created a slight panic within me that our sweet little Haitian baby may never know this feeling.  Our baby won’t have my mother’s eyes, or my father’s nose.  It won’t inherit my husband’s beautiful Indian complexion, or even my knock knees! (we can praise Jesus for that one)

I literally took a mental “pause” in the midst of all this wonderful time of reuniting with my family………….and, as I did, Jesus so graciously pointed out to me my sweet little cousins, niece and nephew, who have been adopted, yet absolutely belong.  Although you truly could look at them and think they share the same DNA, there is not a thread of genetic material that connects them to our family. 

It is not the blood that courses through my veins, the physical traits I bear, nor the DNA that is unique to me that creates a place of belonging in my family, but rather, the name I have been given! I am not so naive as to think that this alone will solve any future frustrations our sweet little one may experience, however, it gives me great hope that they too will understand what it feels like to have a place of belonging. But, this joyous realization excites me on a whole new level!

This understanding to me, clearly mirrors what Christ did when He adopted us into His family, giving us full access to an eternal, as well as, immediate inheritance!  You may not be proud of your last name here on earth- maybe it represents shame, hurt, or abuse to you.  Possibly worse.  Maybe you have even legally changed your name to escape the heritage that has been passed down to you.  I want you to know, Jesus can give you a NEW name!!  It was with His very life that He extended that invitation for you to take on His name!  He calls you chosen one, daughter or son of The Most High, beloved, wanted.  It is in Him that we can find a place to belong, regardless of our DNA or earthly family!  If you don’t know Him already, I’d LOVE to introduce you!

Jesus Loves The Orphan

Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word, “orphan”, but, this one stood out to me:  “one deprived of some protection or advantage”.  Not all orphans are without parents, some are simply people who have not known love.  Our baby may be orphaned by choice, or by chance, but it will not be by coincidence that they find a home with us.  I believe God is strategically and intentionally placing a child in our home that He predestined to be there, before they were born or even conceived.  A child that will be loved and given our name.  A child that will find a place to belong.

Below is a video to a song that is new to me, but wrecked me completely and also reaffirmed my decision to say, “Here am I, Lord.  Send me.”

It’s Now Or Never

Just now, I walked toward my computer, knowing fully that it is time.  Time for what?  Time to update you all on our adoption process?  Time to throw some letters, punctuation, words, some semblance of a post up on the blog? 

No.  It’s time to do some of that, but, it’s time to share what God has been burning in my heart over the past couple of weeks.

I am completely aware that it has been WELL over a month since I’ve posted.  Completely.  But, to be honest, I’ve been avoiding sharing.  You know in the beginning, when I stated confidently that I would bring you along on this journey with us, sharing the good, the bad and the ugly?  Well, I’ve been withholding from you. (gasp!)  No, we’re not breaking up ;-) 

Let me start with this- our latest news is that our home study is complete!  (cheers going up everywhere)  We are now in the “paper chase” phase of completing our dossier.  This means that there is ANOTHER list of items, documents and such that have to be collected, notarized and, some, have to also be certified and authenticated.  Once this is all done and we have a complete and approved dossier, we will then submit that to the government of Haiti. 

Okaaaayyyyyy??????

Now, after reading that, you may wonder what I’ve been withholding.  At least just a little curious?  Well, here we go.  I am one of “those” moms that doesn’t do whining.  I just dislike it. Seriously. Detest it.  When my kids were very little and started going through that whining “stage” (they just do), I would simply tell them, “I can’t understand you, you’ll have to speak clearly”.  And, eventually, after they realized I wasn’t going there, they stopped.  For the most part. (we still have an occasional whiny moment) 

The past month and a half, practically every update, e-mail or correspondence we have gotten from our adoption agency or coordinator has contained some type of setback, bad news or disappointment.  Such as: the Haiti government has now decided to put a limit on the number of children per year that they are allowing to be adopted, the Haiti government is now telling all adoptive parents to expect the process to start taking much longer, there is yet another fee you will have to pay for your dossier that wasn’t expected, etc, etc, etc. 

Going into this, we knew there would be these types of messages and, lots of them.  But, in these recent moments, I’ve found myself inwardly being pretty whiny.  Oh, the horror!!  Thus, the silence on my blog.  Ain’t nobody got time for that! 

However, it was also in these moments that God began to speak to my heart and remind me how adoption truly does mirror redemption.  You see, God’s redemption of our very souls and lives was not simply an immediate exchange.  So often we see the redemption process as a simple statement- Jesus was born, lived and died so that we might be saved.  It was truly SO much more!!  There was a battle going on, that Jesus LIVED.  The battle to live a sinless life, the battle to be true to His heavenly father, all the while being human.  And, most importantly, the battle on the cross.  Jesus FOUGHT for you.  He CLAWED, SCRATCHED and GRAPPLED his way through the pain, spiritual darkness and loneliness to redeem US!  It was a fight to the finish, but He never gave up, never stopped and didn’t allow His spiritual, physical or emotional fatigue to keep Him from that redemption “finish line”, if you will. 

This is the reminder I needed.  We are committed to this adoption.  Regardless of setbacks, delays and disappointments, God has called us to fight for this sweet Haiti baby.  Our child.  His child.  Redemption is hard.  Redemption is exhausting.  Redemption costs something.  We have answered the call of God to redeem this precious life from Haiti.  Now, we dig in our heels, holding on to the hand of Jesus, as we prepare for the fight. 

This quote from a book I’m reading sums it up- “We won’t come alive, in the truest and fullest sense, until we die to self.  And we won’t find ourselves until we lose ourselves in the cause of Christ.  It’s time to ante up.  It’s time to go all in.  If Jesus is not Lord of all, then Jesus is not Lord at all.  It’s all or nothing.  It’s now or never.”

We need YOU!

So, here we are, preparing our dossier, praying and believing for God to move “mountains” in the form of procedure, government and time and we need you.  Yes, we need YOU!  Please, won’t you pray with us?  For us? And, for our baby?  In order to submit our dossier, which is the next step, we need to have raised approximately $8,000 for translation fees, government fees, agency fees, etc.  We recently sent out a fundraising letter to some friends and family and, I’m simply going to share that letter at the end of this post.  If you would like to receive a letter and did not, just comment and I’ll get one in the mail to you……today!  If God moves on your heart to financially be a part of our journey, again, simply comment and, it will remain private, but I can then communicate to you how to do that!

Fundraising Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

For most of our marriage, Stephanie and I have wrestled with determining what exactly God was doing within our hearts regarding our passion for missions.  We’ve always had an incredible burden to be a part of missions work, whether it be through giving, missions trips, or financially and prayerfully supporting the missionaries we personally know.  

God also began to place an intense desire in the heart of our family for more children.  This has continued to grow and develop even deeper in the hearts of our children, Parker and Chloe in the last couple of years.  

About three months ago, our passion and desire came together as God clearly spoke to our hearts, separately and collectively that He is calling us to adoption.  However, every day that we “walk” this adoption “road”, we are realizing that this decision truly is not at all about making us parents again, or even giving Parker and Chloe a younger sibling, but rather about stepping away from the ordinary and comfortable and opening our hearts, hands and abundance to a child who needs to know the love of a family, as well as the love of our Savior.

As we researched and prayed, we felt God leading us to international adoption; to rescue an orphan and make them our own, just as God so generously did for us when He grafted us into His very family.  We are currently in the process of adopting a baby(gender unspecified), under the age of 24 months, from Haiti through America World Adoption Agency.  The adoption process will take approximately 18 months and every step of the way is literally a step of faith.  

Our greatest need is financial, as our adoption will cost in excess of $30,000-$35,000.  Our adoption expenses include everything from document preparation and translation, agency fees, travel expenses, government fees, to medical and orphanage fees.

So far, we have done fundraising in the form of a pancake feed, delivering phone books door-to-door, selling hand-made bracelets and homemade tamales. We are also greatly depending on God to move on the hearts of those with a burden for orphans to make this adoption a reality.  Therefore, we would like to extend an invitation to you and your family to joyfully partner with us financially to help bring home our baby from Haiti.  While not everyone is called to adopt a child, we believe (and hope!) many will join us on this journey to rescue an orphan and make an eternal impact on this child’s life.

Thank you from, truly, the depth of our hearts!
Steve, Stephanie, Parker and Chloe Todd

A Whirlwind Christmas

December the 18th! WHAT?!  How in the world is it already ONE WEEK from Christmas?!  Surely I’m not the only one that has been caught off-guard by the way the days have just flown by!  I could swear yesterday it was only the beginning of December!

Along with this revelation has also come the realization of just how incredibly neglected my poor blog has been!  It truly has been a whirlwind of a Christmas season for us!  I will do my best to get you “caught up to speed”!

Our family has been very busy with gymnastics recitals, school programs, and the usual holiday activities.  I directed our children’s Christmas program for our church, and the kids did INCREDIBLE!  This is a picture of my own two “shepherds” who nailed their lines and worked the choreography like none other!

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Two days after our church Christmas program, I had a minor outpatient surgery to explore, treat and diagnose some complications I am having as a result of endometriosis.  We also said good-bye to some sweet friends of ours who have recently(as in, within the past week) moved to another state……….lots of tears!  We are now bustling about finishing up Christmas decorations, making goodies and treats for teachers, friends and neighbors, wrapping Christmas presents and, trying desperately to keep our focus on Christ in the midst of it all, which is the TRUE reason we celebrate! 

Last night as I was praying with the kids before bed, I challenged them to be as creative as they can to find multiple ways of blessing others for this week especially.  They can’t buy gifts, but rather, they have to use their words to encourage, or their actions to serve!  I’m excited to see what they come up with!

Adoption Status

I REALLY wanted to buy a stocking to represent our Haiti little one, but, not knowing gender, etc., I decided to wait until next year instead.  I am praying and believing that we will be holding our little one in our arms next year for Christmas!

You may ask where we are in the process now………I planned on telling you anyway, but, I’m so glad you asked! ;-)  Right now, I describe this stage as the beginning of the second trimester! (those of you that have been pregnant will understand this analogy)  I remember the beginning of the second trimester with my pregnancies.  We had gotten past the excitement of announcing our pregnancy and, although my morning sickness still made me VERY aware that I was still very much pregnant, I couldn’t yet feel my baby move and, I wasn’t showing so, it was kind of the least exciting phase of pregnancy, for me, anyway. 

This phase of the adoption feels similar, but for different reasons.  We have obviously gotten past the initial excitement of announcing our adoption plans, but, don’t have a face, gender or name to put with our child……….or even a date, for that matter!  It feels slightly as if the documentation, paper-chasing, research and training overtakes you and it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal!  HOWEVER, we have two items, TWO to cross off our Home Study list and we will have it completed!!!!!  And, one of those items is our in-home interview, which is scheduled for the first week in January and will be the LAST item to be completed!!  Many of the documents we have had to gather and produce for our Home Study are also necessary for our dossier so, we have a pretty big start on that as well!  (seriously, I’m inspiring and rejuvenating myself just as I’m typing this………oh yeah, I’m dancin’………shakin’ my groove thang!)

NEXT HURDLE

This immediately brings me to the final update…..which is a request to you.  In order for us to submit our dossier to the Haitian government, we will also need to include $5,000 with it.  This pays for translating fees, transportation, etc.  We are asking you to agree with us in prayer that there will be NO delay in this process due to a lack of funds.  A recent law change in Haiti requires adoptive parents to stay for a minimum of two weeks for their first visit to meet their child, which certainly adds to the overall expense.  Although the $30,000-$35,000 cost of this adoption is ginormous to us, we KNOW that, in God’s eyes, it is pennies!  He is our source and we know He will provide! 

If you are interested in purchasing some of our Haiti bracelets, or simply want to give a donation to help us “care for the orphan” by bringing them into our family, simply comment at the end of this post and I will connect with you!  Thank you for your prayers in advance!  I want to leave you with this…………James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

God may not be calling you to adopt as your part in “caring for orphans”, but, He is calling you to do SOMETHING.  What will you do to be obedient to His call?