Good Friday

It's Good Friday. And oh my friends, how GOOD it is! This morning I flipped to John 17 and read through Christ's prayer for Himself, His disciples, and then for us - and found myself moved to tears. That Jesus, the Son of God, would pray for me - knowing He had me in mind when He said, 

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." {John 17:20-23}

Our prayer - from the beginning of this adoption journey until now - has been that people would see God, and see what He can accomplish when people are willing to submit to His story for their lives, rather than trying to write their own. As I've shared before, if our life story had been written by us, it wouldn't look anything like this. It certainly wouldn't involve turning our (happily introverted) world upside down and opening our (nice, quiet) home to 5 children who have had a rough start to their lives. But surrendering (unwillingly, at first) to the calling that God placed upon our lives, has changed us. 

It's taken three years to get us to this point, but now we can't imagine not following Him down this path. We're ready for the next step. We know that we'll never be completely prepared to take on what these kids are bringing with them, but we also know that we serve a God who is - and so we will take them, with open arms. 

God may not be calling you to adopt - but during those moments of quiet, ask Him to show you what He does have for you. He has a plan for you - but you have to stop long enough to listen; and what He asks of you may scare you to death (it certainly scared us!), but as John Wayne once said, "saddle up anyway!" :)

ADOPTION UPDATE: We heard from our agency this week - and we're still waiting for final review and approval from Costa Rica. They pushed our application to the end of their stack (since we won't be ready to travel until June, at the earliest), so that's why there's been a delay. The good news is that the planned delay also gave our new social worker time to update and finalize (this week!) our home study, so that is now ready to go to USCIS for a revised approval by U.S. immigration for the 5 children (rather than our previously approved status for 4). 

One other cool story and then I'll get to the financial update. 

Our agency called us about 3 weeks ago to say they thought it would help the post-adoption process if we would talk to a family (or two) that they knew of who had adopted 3 children at once. Being INTJ's, our reaction to this additional request was less than enthusiastic, and I went so far as to ask, "Do you know anyone who had no children and adopted 5?" We couldn't see the value of talking to a couple who had always wanted children (which we didn't) and then adopted two fewer than we were planning to take. However... that "rule following" side of our personalities came out, and if that's what the agency wanted, then we would follow through.

Here's where the story becomes GOD'S story. And I truly think He is still chuckling!

On the Monday after that call, a woman that I have worked with (who didn't know anything about this new requirement) sent me a private Facebook message with a link to a video about a family who had adopted. She assumed we'd already seen it, but since they reminded her so much of us, she wanted to share. I watched the video and almost cried. 

Here was a couple who had no children (although they did want children - we couldn't be exactlyalike, right?) who adopted 5 siblings from Colombia. "Good news, honey, apparently we're not the only crazies out there in the world!" :) If we HAD to do this talking-to-people thing (hello, introverts!), then we knew right away that we wanted to do it with this couple. They seemed down to earth, with similar personalities and a sense of humor (that's a bonus). I utilized Google to find them (a slightly less-crazy version of cyber-stalking, I promise!), and sent a message through Facebook.
Thankfully they believed me when I said we were not really crazy, and the email conversation started from there. They've been home with their kids for 3 years, so close enough to the in-country time to remember what that was like, but long enough to share what they've learned about being a family - and first-time parents! We told the agency (and they are thrilled), and are now getting to know Tyler and Beth (who happen to have recently relocated about 5 hours from us). Thank you, God, for caring about the details!

FINANCES - because we can't do this without them. Broken record: thanks to all who have given! We are humbled and blessed each time we get a donation notification or receive a check in the mail. In the spirit of transparency (because that's something else God has been working on with us), here's the news... 

Over the last few weeks, we have both been plagued with doubts and concerns about how we're going to pay for everything. Let me tell you - it's not easy being a planner/control freak. ;) Getting the bad news that we owed money on our taxes this year (rather than the refund we thought we were going to get) was painful. Peter's started counting weeks (and days) between now and when we could potentially be traveling, and the numbers in our bank accounts aren't adding up to the numbers of our upcoming expenses. And yet... 

We know God has called us to this, and we know He has provided and will continue to do so. But this is one of those times of learning how to believe and trust... in faith. We're not so good at that. We want to know. We want to plan. We want to cross all the t's and dot all the i's and have our ducks in a row and... you get the idea. So, here's what we need you to do... 

Pray for us.
Donate if God nudges.
Share this story with others.
Let people know I'm available for work.
Or buy a copy of our book - that helps too! :)

Mostly: PRAY. 

Pray that we would continue to trust and follow God. 
Pray for our kids - that even now, God would be preparing them and their hearts, for a major life shake-up. 
Pray that God would provide the finances (through work or donations) as we need them.
Pray for this story to illuminate the awesomeness of God.

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!


Hurry Up and Wait

That's the phase of the adoption process that we are in now, and most days we're fine with that. But there are times when we look at each other and say, "Okay, we're ready for SOMETHING to happen!" So while I don't have an exciting update for you this week on the actual, "we're approved for the kids" side of things, I did want to share something on a more personal level, to illustrate how our God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, also knows our needs.

Over the last week, both Peter and I have had the opportunity to experience God's assurance of provision for His story on separate occasions. A week ago I couldn't sleep, my mind racing from one "but we'll need..." to another, contemplating the upcoming costs and thinking about the slowdown in both of our workloads which means smaller paychecks at a time when we really could use larger ones. I admit it - I was fretting. But only momentarily, for in that moment of focusing on what I could do to pay for these things, God reminded me that HE was in control. He knows what we need, when we need it, and how it will show up... and I needed to trust Him. I confessed my worry and doubt, thanked Him for what He was going to do, and went promptly to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and told Peter about my middle-of-the-night experiences; before he left for work we prayed about our needs, and asked God to provide in His time. That afternoon we received two large donations from unexpected sources through our YouCaring account. I literally started laughing out loud - God really DOES have a sense of humor, and an infinite amount of patience with His impatient kids. 

This week it was Peter's turn to lie awake thinking about upcoming fees and expenses, reviewing bank account balances and wondering how we were going to make it all work. The next morning it was my turn to remind him that God knew all of that when He wrote this story for us, and that our job was to be obedient, to exercise faith, to be good stewards of what we were entrusted with, and to remember that God is in control... we are not. Once again, we prayed about it before he left for work and that afternoon - you can't make this stuff up - I found a card in our mailbox containing a check for $200 and a note of encouragement. Later that day, a notice came in about a $100 donation. And once again I chuckled at God's timing, and then belted out "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" while warming up my lunch. To GOD be the Glory!

God IS faithful. God IS providing. God IS taking care of our needs... not before we need them, but as we need them. #iamthankful

FINANCIAL UPDATE: As of today, we are just $75 short of the $6,000 mark! We are humbled and blessed and thank everyone who has shared this story and joined us on the journey. God is using you in our lives. He is using you to remind us that we are not an island, we are part of a community. Now, as introverts we might have a hard time with that... but He's working on us. :) 


Financial Update

We're so close to reaching the $5,000 mark (just $260 away) - AMAZING! The timing of this experience - opening ourselves up to the world, sharing God's story for our lives, hearing from so many of you, seeing you share this link on social, and being blessed by your financial gifts - was not a coincidence. God knew what we needed before we did - just like He always does. We have been blessed, encouraged, and humbled - in the best way. Thank you for being a part of this journey!

ANOTHER WAY TO JOIN US: Buy a book. In 2010 we published a children's book that Peter wrote when he was in high school. "Mashed Potatoes: A Little Brother Story" is available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle, or you can purchase it directly from the publisher (full disclosure: we earn $1.90 if you buy the paperback from Amazon, $3.75 if you buy from CreateSpace - an Amazon company). We thought it was only appropriate that all sales from this book would go towards bringing home these 4 sisters and their "surprise" Little Brother. :)  Links below...

Amazon: bit.ly/LittleBrotherBook
CreateSpace: createspace.com/3456887
Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/littlebrotherstories/

*ADOPTION UPDATE* This past Monday we finally met with our new social worker to open the home study back up. Although we were both hesitant before she arrived (you can imagine - based on our 19 months, and 6 and 8 hour meetings that happened the first time), but within a few minutes of her arrival we knew it was God orchestrated. The personality match was outstanding, she really "got" us, and we really liked her. Thanks to those who prayed, and thanks to God for - once again - knowing what we needed and providing for us. She's been working on updating the home study this week (which she says will be done by tomorrow), and then it goes back to the agency to review, and then sent (along with a check from us) to U.S. Immigration for review and approval on the changes. We're still waiting to hear from Costa Rica about official acceptance, so we're far from done, but things are progressing. :)