Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Three Weeks and a Day...

That's how long it is until Jason and I leave for Liberia. Crazy. We know it in our heads, we've been preparing for it for months, and we are excited... and yet it doesn't seem real. The immunization shots and the malaria pills are all real. The names of all the people on our team are real. The pile of supplies accumulating in my bedroom is real. The many lists that I'm working to finish are real.
But you know what is not real yet? The fact that in three weeks and a day (or so) we will meet Kelvin and Hawa. The fact that after that moment that is coming {soon!}, they will no longer be our children whom we've never met. We will be able to see their faces with our eyes, to touch their skin, to hold the weight of them in our arms. And that will change everything. So- as amazing as we know it will be, it just does not yet seem real at all. I am not sure how to feel. I assume I will be nervous in an excited-good-kind of way, and I imagine I will cry... maybe really hard... maybe not... but maybe there will be no tears at all. Maybe I will be so distracted by meeting them that the entire journey until now will not well up in me and be released in a wail of thankfulness for that one moment. (Have you seen "Sense and Sensibility"when Elinor finally learns that Edward is not married as she had thought? The release of emotion and relief at the moment is what I imagine I'll feel.) Maybe I will have an utter calm, as I have in many difficult moments, because of God's peace reigning over all.

We are ready for this. I think it will be a gazillion times harder going to Liberia than we know right now, and I think that's probably good. We're as prepared as we can be. We're wide open, full of expectation of seeing God move, and yet willing to be flexible and wait on him to see what comes of our time there. We have so much we want to accomplish; the VBS, the sponsorship updates, the assessment of the homes (orphanages) and the business start-ups, time to pour into the kids and staff at the homes, construction projects, and that's just the very short list. Obviously, we desire meaningful and sweet time with Kelvin and Hawa, time to bond with our team as we stand together in all we do, and to face this amazing & challenging opportunity as husband and wife and have the Lord change us so that we are never the same.

Please pray for us. We need to know that you are praying. We need to know that the Lord is going before us and making our way straight. Let us know if you are willing to commit to pray for the next month... until June 26th, when we return. You can comment here or send me an e-mail at

I will post very specific requests soon... thank you!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Boutique Pictures

A God-sized Success!

The boutique was exactly that... a GOD-sized success. Something only he could have put together, and only he could have made work... and he certainly did that! Even though I brought home a van full of stuff that didn't sell, we made $3,000. on the stuff that DID sell! Woo-Hoo!
Seriously, isn't that amazing?? That's a lot of money to be able to contribute to the projects that will need to be done. We are so grateful to be able to give this on behalf of the MANY people who got involved in serving through this sale.

So, to you sanders of wood, you painters of signs, seamstresses of fabrics, cutters of hair, givers of money for supplies, bakers of scrumptious delights, lenders of signs, suppliers of candy, donaters of raffle items, workers of the sale, supporters and prayer warriors, set-uppers and clean-uppers, bringers of food, makers of ALL sorts of beautiful things such as soaps, cards, keychains, purses, flip-flops, nests, bibs, bags, jewelry, decor, bracelets, playdough, coasters, baby quilts, and many, many more.....


Thank you for your sacrificial giving of time, energy, talent, resources and love. I cannot express what this has meant to me, not to mention to my family or to the children that it will touch in Liberia in June.

This boutique was my way to raise money for something that is precious to my heart, but the Lord has also used it to show me how much he loves me through all of YOU... his body... my friends and family... the hands and feet of Jesus. It has made me cry on more than one occasion, to know that God has given us such amazing support and love to surround us. We are blessed, and YOU are awesome.

Eph. 3:20-21 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. "

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Help from JCICS and CCAI on Adoptions

Before you read this, I need to insert a personal tie-in. At the Orphan Summit, I was able to personally meet Tom DiFilipo, who you will read of below. He is the President of the Joint Council on International Children's Services. He, Angel, and I sat and talked about what could be done about the situation in Liberia (and all over the globe, really... it's happening everywhere that countries are being closed to adoptions). I just need you to understand how much it meant to me to have a man who fights everyday for this issue in a very public & political forum, get teary with me as he asked me how I could go see my children in June, knowing that I couldn't bring them home. I love that God puts warriors of every kind in place to fight for his children... even if the warriors don't realize they are doing His work. I was blessed and encouraged by his passion for adoption, and by his heart for the orphan... even my orphans. I continue to pray for this man... that God would use him mightily and strengthen him for this very difficult work.

This just in from Angel;

"I received word from Tom DiFilipo, President of the JCICS (Joint Council on International Children's Services) that he will work with Kathleen Strottman, Director of the CCAI (Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute) to get a letter from U.S. congresspeople to the Liberian government. The letter will encourage the GOL to quickly enact a new adoption law and lift the moratorium. Tom and Kathleen will work with our legislators toward the end of May to get their signatures, so I can take the letter during my trip to Liberia in June.

Here's how you can help, if you have had any contact with a senator or representative who has expressed their willingness to help on this issue in the past year and a half, please email me his/her name and title. (You can call CAS or post on our website if you don't have my email.) I will pass this on to the JCICS and CCAI, so they can specifically request that legislator's signature on the letter. It would also be helpful for you to make one more contact with your legislator and let him/her know that this letter is being drafted, and you would like them to contact the JCICS (Tom DiFilipo) and CCAI (Kathleen Strottman) with their support.

Let's pray that this would be a step in bringing both of our governments together to come up with some real solutions for adoptions that will be in the best interests of the children of Liberia and families. "

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boutique Update

Just a few more days until the boutique! I am really excited to see what the Lord is gonna do through it. I can say with confidence that He has been in this from the beginning, and anything good about it is surely from him! So many people have poured time and ability and resources into this, and I have asked the Lord many time to bless them deeply in return.

Pray with me that we are able to raise whatever funds that the Lord needs for us to raise. Pray that everyone who has helped, and continues to help, will be blessed and have a great time hanging out! Pray that people who come sense God's love in what we're doing, and that he gives opportunities for us to love them as well. Pray that the orphans of Liberia become important to more and more people! :) And then... pray that I can REST when it's all over. Whew. It's tiring being crafty... and my creative juices have DRIED UP. I want to sit and read a book and sip some lemonade and take my kids to the park and REST. Oh, and then jump right back into things and get ready to go to Africa 4 weeks later!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Orphan Alliance Summit Take-Aways

I love that God had me go to this event. I thought it was to equip me, but really, it was to fill me. He has been growing this passion for orphan care in me for many years now, and since our hands have felt tied for the past 3 years regarding adoption, it is easy to wonder WHY God planted this passion in me if He won't let me do anything about it!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!


The conference was used by the Lord to reassure my heart about many things. Here are just a few:
1. I am an orphan advocate. No formal title or training, no degree or certificate. We are all called to be speak up and fight for them, ALL of us. "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." -Prov 31:8-9 I am an advocate simply because I desire to obey God. I will speak out my story, and that means I will tell of all the fatherless that he has exposed my heart to... I will speak when they cannot. I may not have orphans in my home yet to care for, but God has given me a story to tell, and I will tell it.

2. I must align myself with God's spirit and hear HIS voice before I can truly speak out on behalf of the orphan. I cannot bring my own preconceived ideas about what God will do with me and how he will do it... that is foolishness. I must seek him and be willing to do what he has for me to do. So often I have wondered why he has not allowed Jason and I to adopt yet... "what's so wrong with us?" I can't help but ask now and then. But if I am willing to lay down my own plans and pick his up, I will not be disappointed, even if the path he takes us down looks entirely different than I had imagined.

3. In God's timing, nothing is a waste. That's a hard one for me. It feels like a waste. It feels like a big, fat, gigantic, huge, triumphant WASTE. But, I was reminded in a session that Moses and Abraham had MANY more years of preparation for their calling. God used all those years, and all the situations and circumstances of those years to prepare them to do what he had chosen them to do. And it was major. I want to be majorly used. I want to learn to appreciate this time as God's preparation for me to be used majorly, even if it's only in the life of ONE child, someday.

4. In orphan care, I must seek to find out what the children need, not impose what I think they need. Just thought this was so good to remember. Us good ol' Americans are notorious for assuming things (and we know what that makes us!) upon others. We go on a missions trip to serve in a poverty-stricken country, with good intentions, and give out money... and we create a dependency in others that breeds corruption and temptation for the poorest of the earth to steal. I'm not saying missions trips are bad! I'm saying that we need to be VERY careful in the way we go, in whose name we go, and in how we serve. It matters.

5. "There is no event in my life that I would be better without." ~Stephanie Fast
That's a quote from a woman who was a Korean orphan during the war there many years ago. She was taken to the train station by her mother and abandoned. She was around 4 or 5 years old. She was on her own for YEARS. No food but what she could find in the garbage or steal from others, no clothing, no shelter, no family, no medicine. She was beaten, raped, spit upon, cursed at, violated in every way. She was an outcast in her own country because she was bi-racial. She was rescued. Everyday people like you and me obeyed God and helped her. She was rescued and she was adopted. Just like every one of us who knows we need Jesus. Rescued and adopted. So she said this quote to us as she spoke, and she went on to say that it is true because she had found God's love, and he took every event and loss and pain, and breathed life into it, and now uses it for good. ~Surely, I can look at my own losses and pains (small in comparison, but mine to feel) and proclaim that "there is no event in my life that I would be better without." As heartbreaking as our adoption journey has been in moments, I can honestly say that I would not wish those pains away, because along with them would go the refining and the seeking and the growth, and the joy and peace of feeling God holding me in it all.

6. I am a frail, weak vessel... a clay pot, and yet God is pleased to use me. He WILL use me. He IS using me. I thought he'd use me to mother children who needed mothering. I still think he will one day. But, He is confirming to my heart that he is using me RIGHT NOW. If nothing else, people who know me now know where a little country called Liberia is. They know names of beautiful children. Their hearts are invested because they've watched our story unfold. I need to see that as enough, God wants me to acknowledge that that is not pointless.

7. I want to "steward my story" well. Mary Beth Chapman spoke one night. It was amazing to hear her speak about the loss of her daughter, and the way the Lord has been healing her family over the last 2 years. But the thing that captured my attention was when she spoke of the story God had given them to steward. We talk all the time about being good stewards of our money. What about the stories of our lives and circumstances? We have a choice about how we handle the things God has allowed to touch us. We have a choice about how we speak of them and how we speak of him. We can let our stories destroy our faith and even our lives, or we can ask God, in his mercy, to allow us to steward them well, to USE them. I want that. I have always been very aware that others are watching how we will respond to heartache and disappointment, but I am challenged to let the Lord use our story for his good... for his glory and his name's sake.

8. God has broken our hearts for the things that break his. And I am thankful. I am not saying it's easy, but I wouldn't want it any other way. If we are not broken over his people, over his children, then we need his softening. I did not ask to be broken hearted for children in the foster system. Or medical needs children. Or severely handicapped children (at the hands of their birth families). Or siblings groups of 4. Or 2. Or 8. Or biracial infants that no one seems to want. Or orphans in Africa. Or Liberian beauties by the names of Kelvin and Hawa. Or AIDS orphans. Or young women who are trafficked. Or starving children. Or children with diseases.
I did not ask to be heartbroken for them, but now I am. And there's no turning back. I am aware now, I am responsible to act now. I cannot turn away and leave them. Maybe all I can do is tell their story right now... but at least that's something.

9. God brings rain to the dry ground, and he rebuilds the pieces that he has torn away. He confirmed to me, over and over in the last week, that he will bring healing and rest and hope. He already is. I trust that he will complete what he has begun in me. I trust that he will continue to hold me close and teach my heart. I trust that he will care for those I love. I trust that when the tears come, he understands and is longing with me for the things that have captured my heart. What a great God we serve.