Thursday, December 17, 2009

Birthdays for Boys!!!

Just a quick post to honor Kelvin and Asher who both have birthdays this week. :)
Happy 7th birthday to Kelvin on Tuesday, and Happy 8th birthday to Asher in 2 days (Saturday)!! Brothers with birthdays in the same week... pretty cool, I'd say.

Thank you, God, for my boys.
I love boys; they're just the coolest little beings. I love their energy and their intensity, their sweetnesss and their smells.
Love 'em.
Grow them up to be like you, Jesus... to be intent on the Father's will, to be tuned to the needs of others, to be strong and mighty warriors for your kingdom, to be leaders with integrity through servanthood, to walk humbly with their God.
Thank you, God, for my boys.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Wait" continued... and a Birthday

I have been avoiding writing this post for 4 weeks now. Sorry, but my heart has just needed the time to acclimate. The US has officially stated that they will not push the adoption issue with Liberia any further... and that families like ours will just have to wait and see what happens with Liberia's laws in this next year. In other words... "we can't help you."

Not really what we wanted to hear, but it's true. We need God to reveal his ways to Liberia's leaders and lawmakers... so that they will make wise decisions about things in the months to come. What they decide will determine whether or not adoption is continued in Liberia at all, and if Kelvin and Hawa can come to be part of our family.

We can no longer say we know that the kids will one day live in our home and be our family. We don't know, not for sure. What we do know is that we love them. We will take care of them from afar, and we will ask for the Lord to bring this to completion in the way we have always hoped. He may not... and we will deal with that, if it comes with finality, at some point. For now, we still hold on to the hope that comes in trusting a God as big and as worthy as ours.

I had a few weeks in the last month or so when I lost that hope. In a way, I let go of that image of them being held by me and being part of our lives everyday. I got cynical and bitter and my heart was hard. It was really difficult to think of adoption at all... because this last 2+ years have been filled with disappointment. I just kind of gave in to it finally. Yuck, huh? Thankfully and mercifully, God is patient with me. He is the lifter of my head. He showed me that I was disappointed and bitter because my hope has been placed in an event; Kelvin and Hawa coming home. Not on HIM, and him alone. If my focus and hope were in Christ, then I would never be disappointed by circumstances. Don't get me wrong... circumstances can be extremely disappointing... but if my focus is Christ, then that disappointment does not lead to dispair or loss of HOPE, it is just a refining circumstance. This is not coming out clearly, sorry. I just know that God replaced my hard heart with a softer one as I kept asking him to do so. I knew I didn't want to be in that place, and he has been faithful to soften me and hold me.

So, here we are. I wish I could say that we'd be picking the kids up tomorrow, but the truth is that I just need to be content where God has all of us. I'm really peaceful right now. I long for them, but I am certain that the Lord is caring for my children so much better than I could right now. I am choosing to wait upon him; to ask him, and trust him, for his will. It's not always easy for me to choose this attitude, but God has said "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
I want to respond like Paul did when he replied, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:9-10)

Hawa's 5th birthday is tomorrow. We sent her a birthday e-mail today. :) Apparently she is aware that it's her birthday, and she asked Miss Georgia for a cake and a party! Anika, Asher and I are going to make cupcakes to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, and party for her... as we thank the Lord for her life.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Liberian adoptions featured on Oprah

From Angel (our adoption coordinator);

Sorry for the short notice, but I just found out the Oprah taping we did in the spring is going to be on tomorrow. The episode is entitled "Fascinating Families."
Go to to see what's on Oprah for the week. You can click on the photo for 10/2 to see a short clip from this episode. You can also go to to get more information about when it will be on in different areas. If you are sending out info. about the show to friends and family and want to use it as an opportunity to update them about what is going on with ACFI's continued ministry to the children in Liberia, you can direct them to .

Here goes...

So... the reason I haven't written much in the last few months is because I don't want to sit down and really think through it all. It's easier to distract myself from reality regarding Kelvin and Hawa. It's just hard to feel the emotion of all of this right now. For me, writing it all down requires me to really hash it all through to come up with what I think about the matter... and I just don't know what I think. But I'll try... so here goes...

If you read the post before this one, you have an idea of where the process is. It is going nowhere, and nothing is happening. Not even for the children whose adoptions were virtually completed. We have been told that our best chance to get our children home is to find someone in the US State Department who can advocate for us.
Well, I called that person, as have many adoptive parents, and I had to be borderline pushy in talking with her just so she wouldn't cut me off. There doesn't seem to be much compassion or hope for advocacy there... but I hope I'm wrong, cuz she's supposed to be our "best shot".

We are facing the reality that things may not turn out the way we had hoped and planned. We still have hope, and we continue to press into the Lord for a miraculous turn of events.... for the heart of President Sirleaf to be moved into God's agenda... for these many children, for Kelvin and Hawa, to come home. But the question has settled on my mind often...

What if God brought us to this place so we could care for their needs... but not to be their literal parents?

We have no doubt that the Lord has directed us here. None. But I do find myself unable to fully be confident of the outcome that I always had assumed would take place. I can no longer say that I KNOW that God will allow the kids to come home to us. What if he brought us together so that we can help them to be raised in Liberia; providing food, schooling, and medical care long-term? What if? Would we do it?
Absolutely... no doubt, and with great joy.
Is that what I want?
I want to hold them and love them and raise them to know Jesus, and watch them develop incredible bonds with Asher and Anika. I want to watch the clouds together and take them to the lake, read good books and spin and dance in the living room. I want to be their Mama.

So, we are continuing to pray for God's mighty intervention and for our children to truly be "ours" one day. But if the Lord asks us to surrender that to him, we will need his deep grace to do it. We want to please him above all. Believe me, I don't say that flippantly or lightly. It is a sacrifice of praise to say those things aloud, or to write them down, and often, just saying it makes me cry because it's painful. What I want and what God wants for me are often two very different things. I need him to mold me to be more like himself so that I can truly say, "Lord, not my will, but yours."

On a last note (not because it is unimportant, but because it is of the utmost importance), I talked to two dear friends of mine yesterday who told me that their children are praying for Kelvin and Hawa everyday.
No exaggeration.
That alone blesses me and makes me want to cry. But you know what is even cooler? They have faith that God will answer them. They're kids... we tell them to trust God to take care of the things on their hearts, and they do.
I want to be just like that.
One of the little girls (she's 4)prays that God will open the gates of Liberia, and that their President will let Kelvin and Hawa come home to us. In her sweet child-like mind, she imagines there's a literal gate around the country of Liberia, and she prays the God swings the gates open so that my kids can come out. You know what's funny in a profound sort of way? That's exactly what it is. The gate may not be literal, but it is real... it's just a spiritual reality instead of a tangible one.
The battle belongs to the Lord.

Letter to US Legislators

I'm sorry for the lack of posts about the adoption for those of you who check for updates... it's just that nothing is happening... and there's nothing encouraging to say about the process right now. Below, you'll find a pretty good synopsis of the situation.

The following letter is one composed by our adoption coordinator to our US legislators. We have been given permission to post it and to copy and send it to our representatives in the Congress and Senate. If you have any interest in sending it on our behalf, just to raise awareness of the issue within government offices, we would be grateful.

Here is a link to the contact information for your representatives:

As one of your constituents, I am writing to request that you contact Ruth Lincoln at the State Department and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the US Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia for answers about when Liberian children who were matched with adoptive families before the current moratorium will be allowed to finalize their adoptions and come home to their US families.
In January 2009 during her annual address to the legislature, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put a halt to all adoption activity in Liberia citing concerns with two adoption agencies and corruption by Liberian officials who were asking for bribes from American families. However, eight months later, little action has been taken by the Liberian government to process adoptions again, and the same officials who were accused of corruption continue to sit on President Sirleaf’s Adoption Committee. Furthermore, to date, the two adoption agencies who were accused of abuses have been cleared, one by the Liberian court system and one by members of President Sirleaf's Adoption Committee. Meanwhile over 25 children who have court decrees of adoption, making them the children of American parents “as if they were born to them,” remain in institutions and foster care in Liberia. In addition, over 75 more children who were matched with American families before the moratorium also continue to wait as President Sirleaf’s unannounced halt left these children and US citizens without recourse.
Adoption service providers as well as adoptive families have been in contact with the US Embassy in Monrovia for advice and assistance as they have waited to bring children home. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and former Consular Alma Gurski provided little help in these matters. For six months, service providers were told that adoptions would resume as soon as new adoption laws were passed in Liberia. In the spring, the House of Representatives in Liberia did pass a Child Act that contained revised adoption laws. However, the legislation stalled in the Senate while President Sirleaf and her Adoption Committee decided to ratify the Hague. While ratification of the Hague is a worthy goal, it is a process that took fourteen years (1994-2008) for the US to accomplish. The Liberian children who were matched with US adoptive families before this moratorium cannot wait for a process that could take decades in a developing country.
Adoption service providers have continually warned the US and Liberian governments in meetings and through the Liberian media that the consequences of delaying action on this issue would be tragic for the American families and Liberian children involved. Eight months into this halt we have lost three children to death who desperately needed medical attention. This medical attention was blocked by the Liberian Ministry of Health in one of these cases. The basic human rights that these children have to survive and be raised in a family, rights that are outlined by the Hague Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, are being violated. The United States cannot stand by and allow such violations when it enjoys a close partnership with Liberia.
In a recent speech by Secretary Clinton, she said:
“Whether in Latin America or Lebanon, Iran or Liberia, those who are inspired by democracy, who understand that democracy is about more than just elections – that it must also protect minority rights and press freedom, develop strong, competent and independent judiciaries, legislatures and executive agencies, and commit for democracy to deliver results – these are the people who will find that Americans are their friends, not adversaries. As President Obama made clear last week in Ghana, this Administration will stand for accountable and transparent governance, and support those who work to build democratic institutions wherever they live.”
As seen in the way the adoption issue has been handled, Liberia has not yet taken the necessary steps to become an accountable or transparent government. I encourage you to keep this in mind as a legislator who is responsible for voting on millions of dollars in aid to Liberia each year.
In addition, I would like your assistance in making sure that the children who were matched with families before the moratorium was announced on January 26, 2009 are allowed to come home to their families quickly. Remember that out of approximately 100 children who are part of this group, three have already died in the past eight months. It is dangerous enough to survive as a young child in Liberia. It is even more life threatening to be a child without a family to raise you in Liberia. That is why it is imperative that a resolution be reached quickly.
Thankful for your assistance,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some of you have asked whatever happened with Clinton's visit to Liberia... did she bring the subject of adoption up with President Sirleaf?
The long and short answer is "I don't know". I followed all the media I could find, and there was no mention of much of anything beyond her support for President Sirleaf and Liberia's growth and development. I think that if she brought adoption up, it would have happened in their closed-door meetings, and certainly is not important enough of a subject (to Americans in general) to be covered in our media.
So- hopefully, it was spoken of, and some of us families will see some movement forward in getting the laws passed and our children home.

Keep praying!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Secretary of State to visit Liberia

Sorry about the lack of posts, but that directly correlates to the lack of movement on the adoptions in Liberia.

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is on a tour of Africa right now to speak with the leaders of a handful of African nations. She will be in Liberia on August 13th (tomorrow) to speak with President Sirleaf. The adoption agencies and families affected by this adoption halt have been working hard to get requests to her that she address the adoption situation when there. We have requested that she ask that this issue be resolved and that children are allowed to move forward to be adopted. Two children have now died during this wait, and it cannot go on. I was told by my Congresswoman's office that they also have contacted the Department of State to request that Clinton take her opportunity to address adoption with President Sirleaf. They were told that the item is on her agenda, but she does not have to address all the topics they suggest, although she typically is good at covering the items they give her. It was encouraging to all of us to know that our letters and posts and calls have been heard enough to get the item on her list!

Please pray that God will cause this topic to be covered, and that he would cause the President's heart and mind to take action for his good purposes!

I am always encouraged by the times in the Bible when God moved people, even those who were opposed to him, to accomplish his will. God can cause, direct, set-up, depose, move, etc. people to do HIS will. That is what we're praying for. That God would use people who are otherwise uncaring of his ways, to advocate for his children in Liberia by advancing the cause that they be raised in families who love them instead of in institutional care.

OK- the rest of this post is more to do with "touchy-feely" stuff, so if you are here just to get the update as to what to pray about, then there's no need to read on! :)

I've been quite "numb" recently, since coming to the realization that it could take another year or so to get Kelvin and Hawa home. I think I've gone into this mode to protect myself from feeling things that are difficult to feel. Truly, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" as the Bible says.
Last week I felt the Lord chastise me though... I've stopped looking for what he wants to teach me now, in the midst of this waiting and struggling. I have had my eyes on my circumstance instead of on Jesus. No wonder I have felt discouraged and a loss of heart.

Yesterday, the emotion came. Every once in a while, my logical brain can't stop the tide of feeling that I pen up, and so it washes over me. I feel all the things I don't want to feel; grief, loss, the what-ifs (what if the kids aren't allowed to come home... ever?), hopelessness. I fight against feeling all these things because I know they are not from the Lord. But sometimes, I have moments where I lose my strength (because my strength in those moments is not founded in God's power) and I lose heart.

I'm not saying it's not OK for me to grieve and feel sadness. That part is healthy; I need to feel that heaviness and burden because it brings me to my knees and causes me to recognize my need for God. What is not OK is for me to give in to the despair that God is not the author of. That's just what the enemy wants, he wants me hopeless and impotent, he wants me to give up trusting that God is in control and mighty to save.

As he so often does, God used Jason to encourage me and remind me of all the things my head and heart know to be truth. I'm so thankful for a husband who is rooted and grounded in God's ways, but who holds me and doesn't condemn me for struggling at times. What a man. :)

Anyway, the Lord always seems to meet me exactly where I'm at in those moments when I am trying desperately to think the right things in the face of discouragement. He used a portion of a verse that my cousin posted on her facebook page (go figure) to lift me out of my situation, and re-focus me. (Thank you Chrissy... seriously, it was a word from the Lord for me!) I looked up the verses in context, and found that the Lord had something to say to me!

Lamentations 3:20-26
"... my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

I mean, seriously, isn't God good? Right as hopelessness sneaks in, he tells me exactly why I can have hope! Right as I question if he's really gonna pull this through, he reminds me of his faithfulness! Right as the wait feels like it will be never-ending, he tells me that HE is enough, and that he is good to those who wait for him!

That is why I want to love and serve him. He is so real and he cares about me so fully!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Few Details...

Angel and Ellen just returned from Liberia last week, and I was able to talk with Angel this morning to get an update on Kelvin and Hawa. The kids have been moved into a foster home because the orphanage cannot care for so many kids anymore, according to the new laws that Liberia has passed. They have to become a boarding school instead, which allows them to provide care, food, and education for the majority of the year to the almost 400 children who desperately need it. There will be a monthly fee for their care in this foster home, which will go toward school costs, food including fresh fruits and meats, clothing, medical costs, and toiletries.

I found out that Kelvin and Hawa are in the home of the adoption director in Liberia, who is over the adoptions that happen from our christian orphanage! She is a wonderful woman who deeply cares for all of these kids, and she specifically requested to have the younger kids in her home. 2 other children who are matched with families in the US are staying there as well. This woman has 3 kids of her own, so I can imagine she will have a very full household until we are allowed to go and pick the kids up. We should be able to e-mail them a letter every month.

Angel said that Kelvin & Hawa are the first kids to come running to her when she visits, and they are all smiles, though quiet. She describes them as being very dear to her. :) They looked to her to be healthy, although things like malaria are not easily detected until symptoms show themselves. Apparently, Hawa is very tiny. She is the size of a 2-3 year old Liberian child, so much, much smaller than her American counterparts. Angel believes she is most likely 4 (indicated by her speaking ability), and not 5 as the paperwork stated. Angel is hopeful that having fresh fruits and meats available, instead of just rice, in the foster home will enable her to gain some weight and begin to grow in a healthy manner. Kelvin will attend school with the director's children in Monrovia once fall comes, and even Hawa may go to what they call an "abc program" for young children.

The not-so-fun news is that adoption law has not moved forward in the Liberian government structure at all. Angel does not see it doing so in the near future for several reasons. The main reason is that there is just a serious culture of misinformation there regarding adoption. Many still think that adoption is child trafficking as has been reported to them by Save the Children and UNICEF, instead of the reality of it being a way to provide children with families and homes and joy and love. The barriers to the truth seem very big and high right now, and I fight discouragement because of that. The people in charge of what happens with adoptions in Liberia are not really in favor of adoption at all... so you can see that they have no motivation to get things moving.

We will once again be doing anything we can on the US side of things to get attention for this issue. If any of you have contacts within our Representatives or government, please let us know. Typically, families like ours who have been matched with children are grandfathered in to be able to finish their adoptions, even if the rest of adoptions have been halted... so we're going top be asking for that specifically. One precious child already died of malaria as a result of not being able to be home with their American family where they could have received the medical care they needed. It is heartbreaking for us all.

I will not stop doing whatever I can to get my children home, and yet I realise that this is all MUCH bigger than I am. I have no power here, but God does. I have no authority to be heard, but God does. I have no way to scream the truth so that people understand, but with a whisper to a heart, God can change everything. I acknowledge that we desperately need God to accomplish this, and that we are nothing without him.

On a personal note, we are OK. Not much is any different than it has been all these months. We have had little "good news" all along, and so we trudge on... trusting God to hold Kelvin & Hawa, and us. But I deeply feel the loss of the time that keeps slipping away. I feel like I'm mourning the time that they cannot know the love our family has for them, or the time that we are not able to hold them and help them to heal, or the time that I cannot be their Mama. That is heavy on my heart, but I am holding on to the hope that God is gracious to give me.

Please pray for the kids... for protection, health, love and joy and the ability to adjust and endure changes. Pray for us... for continued patience, wisdom, hope, joy, and endurance. Pray for Angel... she had worked tirelessly, but this work is emotionally draining, especially when all her efforts seem fruitless at times. Pray that God refreshes her and redeems the time she has with her husband and kids. Pray for the Liberian government, and the US government... that God would open eyes and hearts and cause them to MOVE on behalf of all the children of Liberia.

Thank you...

To read more about what Angel did in Liberia, see pictures, and get her take on things, read her blog at

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Dream

I almost forgot to mention my dream! Several weeks ago, just after we got back from our trip out west, I had a wonderful dream. It was probably the best dream I've ever had.

I dreamed that I was in Africa, at the orphanage... and about to meet Kelvin and Hawa for the first time. I remember feeling hesitant, like I wasn't sure how to say "hello" for the first time, I wasn't sure that they'd like me or want me to hug them.

But then I saw Hawa... and I went to her and scooped her up, and all my fears were gone. She wrapped her arms around me and I knew she had waited for this moment as much as I had.

I was holding my girl.

After that, it was time to meet Kelvin. He was already playing a pick-up game of basketball with Jason. (what... how'd he get there before me?? Aren't we supposed to do things TOGETHER??) :) Anyway... I watched them play for a bit, and then I walked over to Kelvin and hugged him tentatively at first. Then I grabbed him and picked him up and held him tight.

I was holding my boy.

I just can't explain how amazing that dream was. The best part is... it will come true. I just don't know when.

I'll be holding my kids.

Soon, Jesus... soon.

The "Latest"...

Lots of you have been asking if there is any news on the kids. Well, not as far as the timeline goes. We still have no idea when we may be able to move forward with adoptions & eventually go and get them. The adoption laws are being re-worked right now in Liberia, and the government there is trying to get these laws passed. We are praying that this happens quickly, and that we are allowed to continue with the process as soon as possible, but we are still very relieved and joyful that Liberia looks to allow adoptions to continue in their country for those children who qualify.

Since Angel will be going to Liberia, we will be able to send letters and a few pictures to the kids again! We have also been asked to send 2 outfits each, since the orphanage cannot simply give away the extra clothes and supplies needed for these foster situations. We are able to help gather the simple things that the 25-30 kids will need, such as Tylenol, flip-flops, soap, conditioner, lotion, band-aids, etc. Any time we get to send ANYTHING to the kids, I am amazed by how excited it gets me! It's the only way I can care for my children, so it's quite the privilege! I thought long and hard about each item of clothing! :)

God is so good to us. This wait seems endless... we're very near 2 years since beginning our adoption process, first in foster care... and have now been awaiting Kelvin and Hawa for almost 9 months. The longer its gotten, the easier the wait seems. I know that sounds backwards... and I know that on some days it isn't exactly the case. BUT, God has been so faithful to show us His rewards for patience and endurance! It's been difficult, but I guess that the long journey with the Lord has shown him ever-present and ever-trustworthy and ever-good, so walking with him to the place where He allows those kiddos in our arms is not as hard as it felt before. Don't get me wrong, IT"S LONG!!!!! But, he cares for us so well that our burden is light... because, for the moment, we've figured out how to let go of it so that HE can carry it.

We have pictures of the kids throughout the house. They're just a part of everyday around here, even though they are not present. They each have a blanket and special stuffed animal waiting for them in their room, some clothes in the closets, hair products and lotions in the bathroom cupboard. Anika and Asher think of them and talk about them, and pray for them all of the time. When the time comes for them to come home, we will be BEYOND ready! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"I will recount all your wonderful deeds..."

I just heard that our agency is cautiously optimistic about the adoptions being able to move forward relatively soon!!!!!

( Let's just take a break here and PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!!! )

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your

wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.

For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving

righteous judgment. "

Psalm 9:1-4

The Child Bill will most likely be passed in Liberia, and will allow adoptions to move forward with very strict guidelines.

Our agency will have to apply for a new accreditation with the country to do adoptions. This process sounds like it puts the timing of being able to move forward with adoptions at 2-3 months. Now, if the Bill does not pass, we will just have to see what comes then... but all indications point toward it passing (without the intention of HALTING all adoptions!). After that 2-3 months, then our paperwork can begin to be processed in Liberia. I won't even guess at a time frame for that. It could be a long time b/c of the new policies we'll be working with.


I almost don't believe it. I mean, the ups and downs of the information in the last several months has got me pretty cautious. I almost don't believe information at all unless a good chunk of time goes by without it changing!

Obviously, we are incredibly thankful for this news. We trust that God worked the miracles that we have prayed so fervently for in order to have made it possible to continue our adoption. Thank you for interceding for Kelvin and Hawa, for Liberia's government, and for our peace and comfort in the recent months. We are so grateful!! I wish I could thank each of you individually and tell you how much it means to us, and how God has comforted us through you. It is amazing and humbling to know that there are people praying for us that we don't even know. People at our parents' churches and small groups in Wisconsin and Oregon, past teachers, people in Thailand, Mexico, & South Africa, children from families all around us, and our incredible family and friends. We just know he is moving in this, and we are sure that your faithfulness is a huge part of that!

That said, there are still very grave concerns. This struggle is not just about our Kelvin and Hawa. It is about ALL the Liberian children who are caught in the crossfire of poverty and politics. While adoptions may be able to continue for a small percentage of these kids, the vast majority will stay in Liberia, and will need assistance to live. The orphanages extend some hope for life... food, education, etc. The policies that UNICEF and Save the Children are pushing for could drastically change what is required of orphanages. This may affect many, many children and their ability to be allowed to live in the orphanages, thus displacing them. Please keep praying that the officials in charge of these extremely important decisions are influenced by God to do what is truly the best for the children.

Can I just say that I am in awe of how God uses these times of desperation to draw me close to him? He doesn't cause these problems, but he most certainly uses them for my good. He has proven to me, once again, that he is faithful to redeem the times that look so dark and hopeless, even while I have no idea what the outcome will be. In the midst of all this, before I had any reason to have optimism about bringing the kids home, God gave me peace and the assurance that EVEN IF things turned out badly... He would hold us all and show us the way through. He's that trustworthy, he's that good.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I was excited & encouraged today! We got to see the video from Angel's mission trip to the kids' orphanage! How incredible to see and hear of what God was doing on that trip... and continues to do in the hearts of those that went. Also... we got to see Kelvin and Hawa (just tiny little snippets) on the video; Kelvin looking at our album as he learned he had a family waiting to adopt him, and Hawa as she enjoyed the lollipop that we sent! It's the first time we have seen our children moving a little! How exciting for us! If I can get permission to post it, I will do that soon. You can watch it by going to and clicking on the video link on the left side of the screen. Angel's husband, Dan, put it together... I feel like God has used both Angel and Dan's talents and gifts "for such a time as this" (as is spoken of in the book of Esther). I am so grateful. I would highly recommend checking out her blog, especially the entry from today where her husband writes about the "after-effects" of their trip to Liberia.

It's been a heavy couple of weeks for me.... ones that have driven me to my knees even more. God has been so faithful to sustain me and give me hope just in those moments where I felt the despairing thoughts creeping around my head. I have never known the burden of something that meant so much to me. More than anything else, I have been made acutely aware of my desperation for God to move on our behalf, and of my need for him every moment. He's our rock, and our strong tower, and our refuge. So, I can see the value in this time, even as I am willing the circumstance to pass. Those moments when God speaks to my heart in such an obvious and purposeful way, to lift me up and show me that he cares for me, are worth the struggle. He has answered me when I have called to him, he has held me when I needed holding, and he has comforted and strengthened me with others that he has brought into my life.

Although there is no solid news yet on the Child Bill in Liberia, we have gotten a tiny bit of encouraging news today... that the severe restrictions may not be outlined in the bill as we had been told was the worse case scenario. We will have to wait that out and see, but it's possible that there may actually be some good news on that front eventually. We are told though, that UNICEF and Save the Children are still working very hard to stop adoptions, as they did in Guatemala... where because the parents , as well as the government, cannot care for these children... they are thrown into the trash piles. Yes, I'm talking about babies being thrown into the trash. I'd like to ask UNICEF...How is that better than allowing them to be adopted? How is that in their best interests? Unreal. I just cannot fathom the thought process there.

On a infinitely less important note, I got bar stools today! :) As some of you know, we have been in our house for 4 years now, and have never been able to justify spending the money to get bar stools for our breakfast bar, since they need to be tall & sturdy to be safe. Well, I was given permission to find and buy some a few months ago, but was discouraged that they cost so much. Today, I was with my sister and our collective 4 children at Target, and we found bar stools that were sturdy, tall enough, and matched my cabinets... and they were $50 each! Woo-hoo! I am ALL about half-price things! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Child Bill of Liberia

The following information has been confirmed about the bill that has passed in the House of Representatives:
A four month residency would be required in Liberia by adoptive families.
Adoptions would only be allowed for children who have lost both birth parents to death.
A Central Adoption Authority would be established in Liberia to oversee adoptions and accredit adoption agencies.

This bill is not law yet. It still needs to be voted on by the Senate. It would effectively end adoptions in Liberia. It sounds like it is possible that President Sirleaf would take the adoption clause out of the bill, and put that into the hands of the committee she formed to deal with adoptions. The problem with that is that the majority of the committee members are the very people that have trying to stop international adoptions and are very tied to UNICEF and Save the Children.

What we really need is for God to turn the heart of the President in favor of adoptions. Most of the people in Liberia are for adoptions... it is NGOs that have convinced the leaders of the country to see adoption as a form of child trafficking. Somehow they need to be stopped from perpetrating this lie.

There has been an indication that the Liberian government would give permission for in-process adoptions to move forward. But this is not in writing and no details have been given as to when they would be allowed to move forward or how far along in the adoption process a family would need to be to be allowed to finish. While our dossier is in Liberia, and we have been matched with Kelvin and Hawa for over 5 months... Liberia had never started to process our papers. We have no idea what this means for us in regards to being allowed to adopt and bring the kids home.

Part of me is dumbfounded that this is really happening. But a bigger part of me is not really surprised at all for some reason. Each step of this process has been difficult. Why would it get easy now? There are mountains in our way... we can't go around or through or over. They have to be moved. Hmmm.

The faith of a mustard seed, people. The faith of a mustard seed. Ever seen one of those things? They're tiny. I mean... really, really tiny.

Matthew 17:20
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."

I oscillate between being resolved in my faith that God is bringing them home, and getting teary and wondering in my deepest heart, "what if he doesn't?". I know that's just my humanity. But I don't want to waver in my belief. I can't think about the "what ifs" right now. I have to trust in the power of the only one who can possibly get Kelvin and Hawa into my arms.

Eph 3:20
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No news

I was under the impression that we'd know something today, but I was wrong. It may be quite some time before we have any details or information.
That's OK. We're hanging in here and believing God for big things. I'll post again if I find out anything at all.
Thanks for praying with us!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"As I have purposed, so it will stand..."

There is a bill being passed today in Liberia. It will either be pro-adoption, or anti-adoption. Because of the recent things happening there, we can't help but think that it may not be favorable. In their (the NGOs - Non Government Agencies - that continue to influence Liberia's lawmakers) words, adoption is equated to being a "harmful practice" for children. They are very anti-international adoption, even though they are organizations that seek to better the lives of children...and they do some wonderful things for them. Their stance is that it is harmful to take a child from their culture & people group.
If this law passes with the anti-adoption verbage, we may find it leads to the end of adoptions in Liberia.

Today is the first time that I have fathomed the thought that maybe... maybe I won't be able to bring my kids home. Obviously, that tears me apart, and then brings me pleading to the Lord to ask him to INTERVENE!

God led me today to Isaiah 14:24 & 27"The Lord Almighty has sworn, 'Surely, as I have promised, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand...For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?'"

If they are OUR children, then NOTHING can stop them from coming home. We want to be ready to yield to whatever God has planned for us & for Kelvin and Hawa. As Jason reminded me, this is not the first road block we have had, and it's not the first time that God would have to act in a huge way to bring kids to our family. The only difference is that we are a bit more prepared for the battle because we have seen his goodness again and again, even though it is very difficult. And in scripture, over and over again, God strips away any illusion that we can do anything about a situation... so that he can do it, and receive the glory for it.

We are very concerned, but clinging to the knowledge that GOD IS BIGGER AND CAN CUT OFF HIS ENEMIES! We're thankful for your love and friendship, and we ask you to stand with us in asking for God's intervention for the children of Liberia, and for Kelvin and Hawa specifically!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A few more pictures!

Kelvin, probably with his dorm buddies, and his caregiver
(He's the one in front in red.)

We were surprised last week when we received a few more pictures of Hawa that apparently didn't load. They are precious! The one of her looking at Asher's picture is so special to us!

Kelvin being asked what he'd like them to write in his
letter to us! (Which we received last Wednesday night!)

Hawa as she looks at the pictures of her new brother,

The bag of fun things & the dress we
sent her.

Hawa with her gift from us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

As we learn more about the situation in Liberia surrounding adoptions, there is a temptation for me to be discouraged. These are issues I know very little about, and have no control over. These are certain government officials placing a much higher value on making money than on providing care to the children whose job it is to protect. Here, relief is being offered, whether through adoption for some, aid from Christian agencies, etc,... and it is being blocked. Why? Apparently, because there is pressure from Non-Government Agencies (NGOs) who have a problem with this kind of relief, and are fighting it at every turn. Without their support, certain government officials are out of a job. That's not cool with them. So they do what they are told, and they seek to stop international adoptions.

I don't understand why. There's probably a lot more to this than I could ever comprehend. One thing I DO know. This is not a "fight against flesh and blood." It is apparent to me that the things on God's heart, namely caring for the orphan, the poor and destitute, are coming against an enemy. I may not have the ability to change these things, but I serve one who does.

Please pray with us that the snake who is whispering lies into the ears of people who are willing to listen would be CUT-OFF. That these people would be free of the enemy's influence in this matter. That God's agenda for Liberia's orphans would move forward, and that all other plans would fail. We need you! We need your faithfulness in bringing these things to the Father! Please pray.

More than ever, we want our kids to come home, but we are content knowing that God will have his way in this situation. We know the outcome!

Psa 37:4-19
"Delight yourself in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord ; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance."

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Liberian English"

The following is from our Liberia Adoption manual prepared by Christian Adoption Services to help us understand what language differences we may deal with. Many people have asked us if the kids will speak English, and the article answers that question perfectly! Plus, it gives some fun examples of how the kids may sound when we get them home!

Liberian English vs. American English
Throughout the adoption process people may ask you if your children will speak English. The answer is, “Yes, and no.” They speak Liberian English, which is very similar... and very different from American English. Practically, what this means is that the kids will understand a lot of what you say to them, but initially it's much more difficult to understand their Liberian English. Here are some tips for understanding Liberian English:
1. The best thing to understand is that Liberians do not pronounce the end of most of their words. So, if an American says, "Give me some of that apple," from a Liberian it would sound like, "Gi me su u da appu."
2. Also, a very important difference in communicating that isn't verbal but still necessary to understand is that Liberians raise their eyebrows to say, "Yes." They only give a slight nod when the, "Yes," is very emphatic.
3. Obviously, the Liberian accent is unique. This is something that is best understood by listening to anyone from West Africa speak for awhile.
If you are adopting a Liberian child, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with the accent. Get a music CD, watch movies with characters from West Africa, or find someone in your community with a similar accent. The book Blue Clay People is written by William Powers, who worked in Liberia for two years, and it has a lot of Liberian conversations in it. One of the moms who has adopted Liberian boys has a blog in which she often records conversations with them. It is funny, insightful and useful for understanding the dialect. ( If you are able to go to Liberia to pick up your kids, the experience will give you a great advantage in understanding their language. After listening to the accent from a lot of people speaking, it gets much easier to understand. If you're not able to travel, don't worry. It will just take some more effort on your part to get exposure to the way Liberian English sounds.
4. There are some common pronunciation differences, like Liberians do not make the "th" sound. Instead, it sounds like "d" or "t". For example, "this" sounds like "dis" and "three" sounds like "tree." They pronounce our short O sound like "aw" so "God" sounds like "Gaw."
5. They have different rules for grammar, so the placement of their words in a sentence is often different or the verb form can be different or partly missing. Like "I am finished" in Liberian is "I fini." Or we may say, "Will you take me to school?" and a Liberian would say, "You carry me to skoow?" Or we say, "How are you?" and a Liberian says, "How you feeling?" Also, Liberians tend to use the present tense of verbs regardless of the time an action took place. This is one of the differences in language that will stay with your Liberian children longest.
6. Liberians will often repeat a word for emphasis. "He ha plenty, plenty toys" to refer to someone having an overwhelming amount of toys or "He funny, funny in de he (head)" to refer to someone who seems mentally unsound.
7. Americans and Liberians use different words for a lot of common things.
Here are a few:
How are you?/How you feelin? or How you comu on?I'm okay/Tryin
I'm hanging in there/Tryin small or I dry ri (I'm dry rice)
throw/chunk (As in "chunk it here")
shirt/blouse (for women) shirt (for boys)
flip flops/slippers
tennis shoes/sneaker
sokay/aw rie (all right)
a lot/plenty
cookie or cracker/biscuit
hot dog/sausage
a little bit/small or small, small
to take somewhere/carry
move or move over/dress
done/fini (finish/finished)
your family/yaw peepo (your people)
pajamas/nega (nightgown)
trash can/bucket
braid/plat (plait)
There are also the bathroom terms that are helpful to know when you are asking if they need to use the facilities. :) They say "pee pee" and "poo poo."

Thank You, God

God is good. Wow... sometimes it's the big things that get my attention, like new pictures of Kelvin and Hawa. But just now, I saw his goodness in a seemingly small way.

We have been writing letters to our government representative trying to enlist US help in getting Liberian adoptions to move forward. Today, for the first time, I called. I am WAY ignorant about government procedure... so I was intimidated to call and try and make myself understood to someone who really might care less.

I dialed. Someone picked up ( a real person, not a machine like I was expecting). I stated I was calling to follow-up on some letters I had written regarding our adoption situation. The woman on the phone said she was so glad to have gotten the call b/c she is the one who deals specifically with immigration and adoption issues! How amazing is that? See... small, but mightily showing God's goodness to my insecure heart. She will be sending us something to fill out to release our official info to them to check into. In the meantime, she will look into the possibility of there being something already in place that our representative can sign onto, or if something needs to be created.

I am just so thankful! I didn't have to fight anyone to be heard. She actually remembered our situation and was willing to look into it! Thank you, God.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Holding my breath

I have felt like I have been holding my breath. Or maybe I'm breathing a bit, but my anticipation for my children is so great that I can't exhale until they come home and are in my arms. I have checked my e-mail at least 4 times daily (OK - maybe more like 8) since Angel and her team got home from Liberia on the 14th. Waiting... Waiting to see Kelvin & Hawa. Hoping to see a smile in the pictures this time. Wondering if they are OK.

Yesterday morning God let me exhale as I saw my beautiful children. (Scroll down to see them for yourself!)
I'm telling you... there is nothing better than a deep breath like that.

Here's what we know:

The kids were told they were being adopted by us, and were given the photo albums that we made for them. The letters we wrote to them were read to them. They know they have a mommy and daddy and a sister and brother waiting for them. :) They were very happy to learn they were being adopted, according to Angel - the one who told them. They were thrilled to receive the little package we were allowed to send to them... an outfit each, book, stuffed animal, lollipops, stickers. Apparently, being one of the youngest girls in the orphanage, Hawa was held almost constantly by the missions team members, and her smile was contagious, I'm told. :) Kelvin was also very smiley, and it was especially cute because of his missing front teeth! :)

One of the mission team members took down "letters" from them to us... and we should be getting those in the mail sometime soon. I can't wait! (Well, actually... I CAN wait. I've gotten pretty used to waiting in the last 2 years. God has worked me over on that one! I may still not like to wait, but I see His goodness in these past years, and I will choose to trust him in "the waiting".) So- I WILL wait... but I am super excited for that letter!! Can I put in a RUSH order, God?

The missions trip went very well. According to the team, there are many, many needs to be met in Liberia. There are overwhelming needs everywhere, including at the 2 orphanages that ACFI runs, but the smiles and joy of the children and staff gave the team the confidence to know that God is bigger than than Liberia's need. Angel was able to meet with MANY people to talk about the adoption suspension, and really feels that the Lord set up appointments that she could never have arranged herself. She believes that this issue is moving up on the agenda of President Sirleaf. We sure continue to hope and pray that this is so.

Please thank God with us for his GOODNESS! So many prayers have been heard and answered surrounding this trip to Liberia. Healing, protection, safety, the ability to accomplish what God laid on their hearts, divine appointments for Angel, and of course, the news that OUR CHILDREN KNOW ABOUT US AND ARE OK!!!!!!!!!!!

The long-awaited pictures!

Our pretty girl...

Silly boy - he'll fit right in! With his bottom 2 teeth filling
in in top 2 empty spaces, he's almost got one complete set! :)

I just can't get over her eyes! She's so beautiful!

Angel showing Kelvin our album...
he's seeing his new family for the first time!

He looks tiny here to me!

Oh, how handsome!

Asher's favorite picture of Hawa :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maybe you can Help...

Without going into detail, we have been learning a little more about the situation in Liberia, and some specifics as to why adoptions have been halted. While I am so sad not that our hands are tied as to moving forward to bring Kelvin and Hawa home, I am SO GLAD that things are being restructured. This truly is the best thing for agencies operating there, birth families, adoptive families, and for the children. Agencies have been accused of things they were innocent of, adoptive families have made poor choices to take things into their own hands regarding their adoptions, and governmental officials have tried to benefit monetarily. These things need to stop if adoptions are to continue at all. And they must continue! We desire to see our countries working together to find healthy, committed parents to adopt and love the children who are in desperate need of families. If the system tries to continue on in the state it's in, it sounds like it will cease to function at all.

Obviously, we desire that this happen QUICKLY! We are asking that adoptions that are already in progress be allowed to continue, as we work with the new requirements that may be asked of us.

It is time, we have been told, to seek the help of our Congressmen and women, in trying to implore quick action, and a measure of accountability on the matter of adoptions in Liberia. We have written our Congresswoman, and would ask that if you are willing to do the same, on our behalf, that you contact us via e-mail, and we will give you some help in knowing what to ask for by sending you a sample letter and addresses to write. Gratefully, our district is represented by Michelle Bachmann, a godly woman who loves the Lord and boldly stands for the things that we hold dear. You can e-mail her office, as well as your own Representative.

There will be some families specifically seeking the Lord each week on behalf of the children who have been matched with familes, but can't come home. If you desire to pray for them by name, please e-mail me, and I can get you a list of the ones I know of. We desire to see God move to release these kids into their families' arms. God can move hearts and change minds, so we trust that he can and will do that within the government officials that are in position to make these changes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beware; These resources may open your eyes... and your Heart!

If you have a moment, please watch these...

Some excellent resources for learning about God's heart for the fatherless, the orphan, and the widow;

Fields of the Fatherless - Tom C. Davis

Red Letters - Tom C. Davis

Adoption as a Ministry; Adoption as a Blessing - Gardner

The Strength of Mercy - Beazely

The Treasure Principle - Alcorn

I have the top 3 if anyone wants to borrow them... library may have them... ALL are worth owning!


Ways to learn about & help Kelvin and Hawa's orphanage directly:

Paperwork and Thank You's...

Yesterday we were thankful to receive our US Citizenship & Immigration approval document. ( Yeah! )

While I am very glad to have this final US portion of the adoption process finished, I don't feel like I thought I would. I thought we would get this in the mail, freak out a little... jump up and down, act giddy, and be ecstatic. Since the adoption suspension occurred, this all-important piece of paper became less of a "WOW" moment. (It is still very important, and and we are thankful for the processing to have gone smoothly and quickly.) It's just that if the country were still open, it's at this point that we would have sent our dossier to Liberia, the kids would have been told about us & would have begun anticipating their new family, and the Liberia paperwork would have been underway. There would have been a countdown!

Now, of course, this paper will just sit until the policies are re-written in Liberia, or until it expires. OR- MAYBE GOD WILL DO CRAZY-COOL THINGS AND MAKE A WAY WHERE THERE IS NO WAY... and this paper will be used to bring our children home SOON. And by "SOON", I'm asking for SOOOOOOOOOOOOOON! :) Please pray that God moves and acts on the behalf of these many children; those who will be adopted, and those who will be raised in orphanages by the support of people who care for their cause.

We are also incredibly thankful for the body of Christ. And when I say that, I mean our godly families, our faithful accountability groups, our dear friends, and our local church body as well! Since hearing the country suspended adoptions, SO many people have expressed that they are praying for us, and for Kelvin and Hawa... for ALL the children that are struggling to hang on to life and hope in Liberia. We are so grateful!!! We have been lifted in prayer by so many of you. Even if I didn't KNOW it as a fact, I would suspect it, because we have peace beyond understanding right now. We have real joy and are not defeated or dismayed! That is only because God is merciful and good, and because you have interceded on our behalf.


It could be a long wait. It could. But I sense that God is gonna do something amazing. I place my hope in him, and that hope does not disappoint, even if I don't "get my way".

Rom 5:3-5
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quick update

No real changes in Liberia's announcement to suspend adoptions. Our agency coordinator for Liberia, along with another agency coordinator, will be petitioning the government to allow "in-process" adoptions to continue while they revise the adoption practices. They will be offering their help to assist the commitee who will be dealing with all of this. Both ladies will be in Liberia shortly and meeting personally with the decision-makers. We do not have any reason to think that we will be allowed to move forward any time soon, but we are praying for that anyway!!

We have been asked to send in all of our remaining dossier documents... so our side of things is pretty much done at this point. None of the rest is up to us...(as if ANY of this process has been in our hands! :) But it feels good to know that we've done all we can. Angel will personally deliver these things to Liberia into the correct hands for the time when adoptions resume.

We have also sent in the photo albums and letters to the kids, so that when the time is right, the staff of the orphanage can give those to them, and read them their letters from us. I really can't say when this might happen, most likely not for a long while... but to know that things are ready for when the timing is appropriate, is fun.

I must say that I CANNOT wait to get the pictures of the kids that Angel will take for us! We have stared at the 2 little faces in our only photos of them for so long, it will be strange and WONDERFUL to see them in a new picture... especially if they happen to be smiling!

Thank you to so many of you who have been an encouragement to us as we found out that Liberia had halted things. We are incredibly peaceful right now. We have no idea what the future holds, but we trust that the Lord does... and that he will bring this to completion. Obviously, we are praying that he moves in the hearts of those individuals who will be making decisions in Liberia. We hope they will be softened and allow our kids, and many others, to come home. Ultimately we are thankful that Liberia is seeking to protect their children by revising their policies, and we are asking God's wisdom and discernment for the policy-makers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Sunshine

So, yesterday was Anika's birthday. (We were so busy with birthday fun that I did not have time to post this until today!) She turned 9 years old. Wow. Can't believe it.

I cannot tell you how proud I am of her! Her character, her compassion, her love, her "sunshine-quality"... they blow me away. What a privilege to be her Mama.

My prayer for her is that she follow Jesus all the days of her life; unswervingly, unabashedly, un-apologetically... that others would be drawn to God because of the joy and hope and smile that she possesses... that she would have abundant adventures as she trusts in the faithfulness of her God.

I also hope for her all sorts of silly and fun things like the experience of an enormous jello fight between friends, up-side-down belly-laughing, reading a book that's so good she cries, having a horse for a best friend, traveling to open her eyes to the world out there, annual spaghetti-flinging events, volunteering at the Special Olympics, eating something strange (like pickled pigs' feet) just so she can say she did, and many, many more.

She always has been, and always will be, my sunshine. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Then Came Yesterday...

So, on Tuesday, because of some letters from our Liberia director, I was getting the feeling that it was gonna take several months longer to get Kelvin and Hawa home than we were expecting. I struggled with that. From a purely selfish standpoint, we have been waiting for a year and a half to bring children into our family. And, here, as we were 3 to 4 months away from having them join us, we were being advised that it would be even longer. I felt unsure what to ask of the Lord anymore. I've been asking him for big miracles for the last year and a half. I've been sure that He is able to accomplish amazing things... but He has not chosen to say yes to me in those big ways. I have, however, been blown away as he meets me right where I'm at... in my need... and calms my heart and reassures me, and restores peace. That to me is miraculous in it's own way. So, anyway, I'm just not sure how to pray. Do I keep asking big things, even though the temptation for me is to be discouraged when He chooses not to do them? Or do I try to accept the reality of the situation and weather through whatever He chooses to allow?

I think the answer is both somehow, but I needed to ask him to encourage me. S0, I spent some time with him, and he, as usual, met me right where I was and gave me some amazing verses that were just like having him next to me, speaking them to my heart.

Psalm 111:7-9 "The works of his hands are faithful and just; all of his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness."

2 Kings 23 - speaks of turning to the Lord with all of our heart and soul and strength

Isaiah 40:25-31 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. (emphasis mine) He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

That last passage in Isaiah was like a chastizement to me. Why am I complaining that God does not "see my cause"? He is the everlasting God. Enough said. But because he's not only firm with me when he needs to be, but also gentle because he loves me deeply, he goes on to tell me that while I will grow tired and weary (which I am), he does not. And if I hope in him, my strength will be renewed and I will be able to go on.

He was once again reminding me that this whole adoption thing is not about me. It's not even about Kelvin and Hawa (which goes against everything I feel). It is really just about Him. He will do what he will... and he has a purpose for it all, and he will refine us and grow us and test our faith the whole way.

So, Jason and I spent some time praying that our faith would be tested, and that we would pass that test and please the Lord. And also that he would do mighty things to get Kelvin and Hawa home soon, no matter what the world says... because our hope is not in the US paperwork, or in the Liberian government. Our hope is in the Lord.

THEN came yesterday...

...and I realized that what the Lord had impressed on us the night before was a preparation of what was to come.

We learned yesterday afternoon that adoptions in Liberia have been suspended. There will be no adoptions again until the country of Liberia re-writes their policies and procedures. We are still reeling from this very unexpected news, and don't have all the details yet, but it means that our adoption process halts right here, right now. It sounds like we can choose to pursue adopting Kelvin and Hawa... but that we do so with the knowledge that it will most likely take a very, very long time. Many, many months ... to maybe years when it's all said and done, we just don't know. Unless the Lord tells us to stop things altogether, we will not change course. Kelvin and Hawa are already a part of our hearts and our family, and we cannot imagine walking away from the hope we have to bring them home.

We covet your prayers. This is very painful. It feels very much like the miscarriage I had many years ago. We'll be OK, we know God is faithful. But this is hard. I am concerned about all the kids in the orphanage... the money they receive from the adoptions goes to feed all the children, so if adoptions are halted for a year or so, that will affect them significantly. I am concerned for Kelvin and Hawa... we already love them, and yet will not be able to be a family to them. I am also sad for us. All of the things that I have thought of and dreamed of... of beginning our lives with our new kiddos... it's all very painful to think about now.

Yesterday I cried a lot. Today I feel kind of numb. Disbelief. I want to handle this right. I want to take what I learned from the Lord on Tuesday, and apply it now. He knows our cause and he does not grow weary. Yesterday he led me to Zephaniah (not a place I usually spend much time).

Zeph 3 "Do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. ... I will deal with all those who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. ... At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home... "

As Jason said yesterday, nothing has really changed. We still do not hope in the US paperwork, or in the Liberian government... our hope is in the Lord. He is still in control, he still knows the outcome (He was not surprised by this), and we can still trust in his faithfulness. Now, if he chooses to do miracles, it will be that much more apparent to all those watching. I pray that's what's going to happen... that we will be in awe of how he works this out despite that it looks impossible.

Here are the details of this decision in Liberia:
"On Monday evening, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, gave the following statement in her annual speech to the nation:"The gross mismanagement of the adoption program (which aims primarily at placing orphans in homes in the United States), by both Liberian and U.S. personnel in the concerned NGO is the subject of a report by a Special Committee which I appointed for this purpose. Essentially, we have discovered that many of the children in these orphanages are not in fact orphans but children taken from their living parents on the promise of support and a good life in America. Moreover, we found that young children were being sexually abused at some of these orphanages, while others including officials of government, have used the program to extort money from potential adoptors. We have thus suspended the adoption program until laws, policies and proper guidelines have been established and we have asked our concerned friends and partners in the United States to be patient as we try to correct the serious malpractices which exist. We expect the National Social Welfare Policy and National Adoption Act which will be submitted to you during the course of the year, will provide guidance and prevent such abuses in the future."

At this time, all adoptions from Liberia have been suspended. This includes adoptions in process as well as those that have been finalized in the Liberian court system and are awaiting visas at the U.S. Embassy. We do not know at this time how long the suspension will last."

"Oh Christ, be the center of our lives, be the place we fix our eyes."

Corrie asked me (Jason) to write a little bit too. I think there isn't much to add, but just a few of my own thoughts, much of which is similar to Corrie's. In all things (this included) I want Jesus Christ to have the pre-eminence. I desire to push on and lay hold of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This present time seems like hopelessness and suffering, but we know that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope. That is pretty neat and worth pressing in for. Part of me doesn't know how much of this is a spiritual battle because we know we don't fight against flesh and blood. I believe that there are many lofty opinions and arguments that oppose God. Much in this could be part of it and so it is a time to be prepared to do sipritual battle. In the end, we submit to what the Lord has, and find joy in being obedient. If we are not, we trust always that he is faithful to refine us and bring us to where we need to be. God is good!

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Tooth Lost.. FINALLY!

So that family can see Asher's greatest cause for happiness recently, I posted this picture for you. :) He was in anguish as a newly-turned 7 year old never having had lost a tooth yet. Ah, the relief of being like everybody else...


You know how when people are pregnant, they have these random moments when they NEED to put things in place, and get things ready, and prepare? Apparently in our extremely LONG "pregnancy" of adoption, it's the same... and,well, I'm nesting.

Since we are not adopting infants... I can't be sure about their clothing sizes because I have no idea how tall they are, so with only a few exceptions (like the clothes we need to bring for them to wear home), I can't go out and buy a couple of cute outfits, or shoes. I have no idea what they like to do, or what their favorite colors are, or the sort of personalities they have, so I can't satisfy myself with preparing things that might be fun and enjoyable to them. I can't really learn how to do Hawa's hair since I have no one to practice on besides Anika. Tried that... you just can't do teeny-weeny braids in silky hair. But, I have watched some great videos on hairstyles, and read up on the products I need to use. You'll all have to be kind when we come to church and I've tried my best on Hawa's hair; please just try to make it down the hall before you laugh at my attempts! I have a feeling I will fail miserably much more often than I will succeed at first! I do feel somewhat ready to cut Kelvin's hair. (Thanks to Cindy who let me come observe Tito's haircut... and will allow me back when I need a refresher course! :)

I LOVE being prepared, so as you may imagine, it is difficult for me to stand by all these months, and feel like I can do nothing tangible. So, today, I found something tangible to do. :)

First of all, let me back up. Last weekend, I painted the bunk beds we had in Asher's room white. (Interestingly, these bunks have been alive and kicking since Jason and his brother slept in them since boyhood. How they both fit in them through their early 20s, I'll never be able to comprehend.) Alive and kicking... but not so pretty. SO- I decided we'd paint them white, and put them in Anika's room, which will eventually be the "girl's room". So, I painted them and Jason put them back together, and viola! We have a much "prettier" look goin' on.

Asher's empty room will be Kelvin and Hawa's room until it later becomes the "boys lair of adventure and destruction". We were given these awesome storage-type bunks, with drawers and shelves and stuff from our friends, the Wellmans, a while back. I was going to paint those too since I'm not a huge fan of oak, but nah... WAY too much work, since I'd need to sand them and such. So, tonight, Jason & I hauled all the various parts upstairs, and set them up. (Thank you Marshall & Lisa!) All we need now is one more twin mattress, and we're set!

Then, I lovingly put the new sheets & comforters onto the beds that Jason's parents gave to us for Christmas (which match ones that they got for Anika & Asher). I was so stinkin' excited to get those, because I couldn't justify buying them myself... I mean we've got mismatched sheets and blankets we could have used... but these MATCH, and they're warm and comfy and made of down, so my little Liberians won't freeze their pa-tutties off! So, thank you, thank you, thank you to Mom & Dad! (Anna, I know you're laughing at me for STILL not having a bedskirt on our bed after 11 years of marriage... I have one for the guest bed though!! :)

Earlier in the day I had gotten inspired to make decorations for their room... again with the nesting. Anika and Asher each have some canvases in their rooms that I've made for them especially, so I wanted to do the same for Kelvin and Hawa. So, I found "frameless" frames from IKEA that weren't in use around the house, and scraps of fabric that were used to decorate at Erin's baby shower this past summer, pulled out my paints, and got to work! Again, not knowing what the kids love made it less personal than I'd like, but I did my best guessing. Hawa got a butterfly in girly colors, and Kelvin got a soccer theme, since soccer is THE thing in Liberia. (No, it was NOT done freehand, I printed a picture and traced. Asher told me I cheated. Nice. ) So- here are their new "spots" all ready and waiting for them!!

Kelvin's Bunk

Hawa's Bed
So, there you have it. Some successful nesting accomplished! Of course, the serene made-up bed and immaculately clean room thing won't last past 8:30 tonight, when the kids will get home from volleyball with Jason. They already asked if they could sleep there tonight. :) Ahhh, the joy of new-to-us bunk beds, and fresh sheets!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sick at Heart

Wow. I'm at a loss for words right now. I just received an e-mail from our Liberia program director about a theft that has occurred at Kelvin & Hawa's orphanage. We know that thefts have occurred before, but to think that the orphanage had just gotten back on their feet again after their food running out in November, only to have everything taken.... it just makes me so sad.
It should not surprise me, I suppose. People who take food and clothing from children at an orphanage are desperate people. I don't imagine that plain old greed drives that kind of act(although I could be wrong)... it seems like desperation. So many Liberians are in that place of extreme need, and in that situation, make choices we can't understand. (Her e-mail is attatched toward the end of the post here, if you'd like to read exactly what took place - and how.)

Obviously, we would love for you to be praying for all the children and workers to be protected, for their food and supplies to somehow be replaced, and also to thank God for protecting everyone this time.

I guess I have just struggled more than ever in the last year and a half over the duality that exists in our world. While I prepared a Thanksgiving meal a while back that fed a group of 8 people 3 times over... all the kids at "our" orphanage in Liberia were completely out of food. While I have a comfortable bed to lie in at night, many people in our world sleep in the dirt. While the media tells me to buy that new luxury car, or this new movie, or that hot new outfit beacuse I "NEED" them... there are millions and millions (probably a gross underestimate) of precious people who do not have basic neccessities like safe drinking water or a meal for the day. While my sweet Anika and Asher have safety and protection... there are little ones (as young as they are!!) who prostitute themselves to earn a meal, until they are used up and diseased and they die.

I wrestle with these things now. I appreciate our freedom and our plenty in this country, and yet I can't help but think that we allow it to blind us to the larger reality that exists outside of our insulated walls. Our excess seems to breed complacency. I'm guilty. I just don't want to be guilty anymore.

People always ask why God allows such pain in this world. I won't even begin to tackle that one, except to say that I believe his solution has been before us all along. He gave the world "salt and light". He gave the world his people, the church... us. If we don't step up to be his hands and feet, and in HIS NAME offer hope... then we are missing something.

I'm really not trying to preach here, I just feel so deeply that we must take part in God's agenda of loving and offering tangible help to the hurting and broken. I feel like he's opened my eyes to know things that I didn't want to know, and to see things that I am uncomfortable seeing. It's all so starkly different than the life I've known, but I don't ever want to go back to the way I was. I don't want to close my eyes and "move on" and get back to life as usual. I want to be affected and moved by the hurting children in the foster care system, by the orphans around the world, by the lonely and the hopeless. Jesus was. And he did something about it. I can't change this world. I am overwhelmed by the things that I CAN'T do to help the masses because I am small and weak. But being aware of the needs has brought me to my knees, and I suppose that's a pretty good place to start. :)

Angel's e-mail:
"Prospective Adoptive Families,
On Tuesday evening we received the email below from Ed Kofi, the
founder of African Christians Fellowship International. ACFI is the
church planting ministry that runs the Daniel Hoover Chidren's Village
in Liberia.
As you will read, the orphanage was the victim of a well-coordinated
theft on Monday evening. While thefts are common in Liberia and the
orphanage has been victimized before, this time it was especially
devastating as all of the children's supplies and food were taken.
In the midst of such a troubling event, we do have several things to
be thankful for:
1. None of the children or caretakers were hurt during the robbery.
2. There is a small amount of money that has been raised through thenew sponsorshop program ( that had not
yet reached Liberia. Hopefully, it will arrive in a day or two and
provide a small amount of relief.
3. The police in Liberia are working to find the theives.
4. We are taking a missions team to Liberia in March and plan to work
on this security issue. Please pray for this as we are still in need
of a construction leader for the team.

As we receive more information, we will forward on to you. Please join
us in praying for the children and the workers in Liberia.
Angel RutledgeLiberia Program
CoordinatorChristian Adoption Services

Email from Ed Kofi:
The children and workers at the Daniel Hoover Children Village got an
unwelcome new year visit by armed robbers on Monday night, January 5,2009.
Right now we are not asking or pleading for any help. Instead, perhaps
we could together thank God for protecting the lives of the Children
and workers. Somebody could have got hurt. Please, this should not
discourage you though the thought is agonizing. Let us know that our
God is in control. The watchmen at the village are now in the hands of police for
questioning. According to reports, all of them did not report to work
Monday night and did not tell anyone that they were not coming to
work. Their absence made the situation very grave. The armed men
raided the village, going from storage to storage taking everything
they saw including the children's food, clothes as well as the school
chairs and working tools (wheelbarrows, shovels, etc). The village has
always been the target of armed robbers because the property is not secured.
We fear for the lives of the children and workers because perhaps this may one day turn violent.We know that what has been taken God will replace, so let's only thank
him for protecting the lives of the children and workers. Though we
grieve in the national, yet, we hope in God that all is well. Thanks and kind regards.
Ed Kofi