It's Still HIS Story

Forgive the briefness of this post, but since I just sat here for the last 5 minutes and tried to make my brain work in order to come up with a title, it's probably best to keep it short and sweet. The last three weeks have been mentally and emotionally exhausting, but we can see His hand throughout the process - working on us, working on the children, working in the lives of all involved.

After our meeting with those in authority on Wednesday, we felt like we were finally being heard (thanks to the use of an official translator). We spent yesterday with the kids again - and despite some boundary pushing, it went well - and then picked them up this morning and headed to child services for another meeting.

While Peter stayed out in the hall (attempting to corral the younger four), I met with the social worker, our oldest gal (Tica #1), and the translator for an hour and a half. We were able to have a conversation that was productive, accurate, and clarifying, the end result being that I felt that our position was acknowledged and accepted, Tica #1 understood our position, and we found middle ground.

Bottom Line: They're coming home to the condo to live with us on Monday, and we'll start U.S. Embassy meetings next week. We have a new court date for November 3rd, and we could be flying home by the end of November.

Just In Case You're Wondering: We have had a number of larger expenses that we were unable to foresee, so if you feel inclined to donate, everything will go to help cover those items, as well as our extended time in Costa Rica. Thank you!

The next chapter is just beginning...

It is well.


Walking in Love

After everything came apart at the seams on Wednesday, I tossed and turned that night until I pulled myself out of bed at 3:30 in the morning and headed out to the couch to talk to Jesus. I talked, I cried, I read the book of Philippians. I prayed for wisdom and discernment for us, as new parents. I prayed for each one of the kids and their various situations as we now know them. I prayed for God's guidance, and for the "wisdom" of man to be overcome by true wisdom from God. That in everything, He would receive glory and recognition for the story that He continues to write. 

After an hour and a half, Peter joined the conversation. We talked about what we needed to do. I sought his wisdom and experience as a brother in Christ, and together, we were able to sharpen one another and come to a mutual choice that yesterday we would "reboot" the situation. 

Unlike most adoptive parents, we haven't spent years dwelling on the desire to have children, and in the 12 days since we have met our kids, no magic parental switch has been turned on. Regarding our desires and personalities, we are still the same people that we were 13 days ago... and we have made a lot of mistakes because of that. But yesterday morning, we made the CHOICE to do the one thing that we know Christ has commanded and empowered us to do... love them because He loves them. Show them humanly imperfect love because He has shown us His perfect love. 

We have one opportunity with these kids - and possibly less than that if the adoption of these five falls through (we are still waiting on a final decision from those in authority over it) - but for whatever time we have with them, we have CHOSEN to "take captive" every negative thought about this process, behaviors, feelings, and actions. We CHOOSE - daily, hourly, millisecond by millisecond - to love these children (and those involved in the process) because He first loved us. We CHOOSE to find victory in Christ and to walk in the way of Love.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and WALK IN THE WAY OF LOVE, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
{Ephesians 5:1-2}


In Oceans Deep

We've officially stepped off of Facebook from our personal account for a variety of reasons, but I wanted to jump on here to share some neat things that have been happening in the midst of the hurricane that is our lives at the moment.

We went back to the International Baptist Church this morning, despite not feeling good and not really wanting to go. WE NEEDED TO BE THERE. Oh, what encouragements through the songs we sang with our fellow brothers and sisters, followed by spot on preaching. We are so thankful we were obedient in not giving up the fellowship of fellow Believers today, because God used it to bring refreshment, renewed vision, and conviction.

Here's where we are at this moment - all thanks and praise to GOD! Whatever the outcome, we want to be in the will of God. We believe He has brought us here, we know He is writing this story, and we want to be faithful through whatever storm is coming. This morning I was reading Matthew 8:23-26 and was struck by so many things...
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm."
  • SUDDENLY the storm came. I cannot tell you how many times we have said this week, something to the effect of, "We never saw this coming!" That's how storms are - in life and on lakes. You cannot plan for them, you don't see them... but you have to deal with them when they arrive.
  • LORD, SAVE US! WE'RE GOING TO DROWN! And again, how many times I have cried out to God this week with similar wording. I don't want to do this, I am afraid, it is hard, SAVE ME, I'm DROWNING! Crying out isn't wrong, but it's the follow up and obedience that matters.
  • YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID? He either called us to this, or He didn't. We believe He did. We are either going to be faithful in the storm, finding strength in Him, or we are not. We want to choose faithfulness during the midst of the storm.
This week will be a turning point in many, many lives. One of the verses that kept coming to my mind during our hours of meetings last week was Exodus 14:14...

Over and over and over, that verse came flying to mind when we were in the middle of all of this on Thursday and Friday. I told Peter about it, but mentioned it to no one else. Yesterday, an old friend from Peru (hi, Annemarie!) posted on my request for prayer on our 7 Koens Facebook page... one thing: the verse from Exodus 14:14. Peter and I both sat there in shock, since I hadn't mentioned that nudge at all - BUT GOD KNEW. Isn't it amazing to see how He brings encouragement from the Body, nudging people, showing how we are all connected through His Spirit? We choose to believe this... that He will fight for us, we need only to be still. 

We do not yet know what will happen with the adoption of these specific kids, but we continue to trust that God has us here for a reason, and we want to be obedient in following Him. All you can really do for us is PRAY (and we love receiving Scriptural encouragement too!). Pray for all of us. It will be a storm of a week, and there will be many more storms to come, but we are so thankful that Jesus is at work in our lives, and in the midst of the storm.

P.S. (And Please Do Read It!) There is so much going on - far more than I share online - so before assumptions are made or advice is offered, please keep in mind that we have not shared even 1% of the details. I have been, and continue to be, selective in what I share, possibly to my detriment if it misleads you, and for that I apologize. Please know that we aren't just flying off the handle on things, but that much more goes into all of this than what we can or should share on Facebook or the blog. :)


Sugarless Lemonade

If you've been following our updates on Facebook then you know that this week hasn't been a walk through the rose garden... unless the rose bushes lost their flowers and all that remained was the thorns. But God is faithful.

There have been things that we didn't foresee dealing with so soon (the addiction to TV and technology), there have been things that we knew we would face (attitudes, anger, push back), and there have been times when we have both felt the urge to flee, but are then reminded that God is still faithful. He still called us to this. He is still writing this story.

There are things we are thankful for, like the way child services in Costa Rica cares for the kids. Ours were in a home that housed just 38 children, which we thought was really great for being so small, until we were told that they are trying to get that down to an average of 12 children per hogar (or children's home, run by the state). They genuinely care about the well-being of the children in their care, making sure they are healthy (our kids are up to date on all of their vaccinations), well fed (they eat 5 times a day!), educated, with some religious exposure through the Catholic church. They offer counseling and psychological help for the kids throughout the adoption process. Bottom Line: we have been very impressed with the care of orphaned and abandoned children, and would definitely recommend Costa Rica as a country to consider adopting from if you are looking.

But with that care and attention comes some of our issues. We were in the mindset of them being in a stricter environment, but instead we find that they are used to watching 3-4 hours of TV every day. This isn't happening at our house... which has caused issues. We are the mean parents. We are the freaks. The good news is that we are also INTJs, and their death stares don't affect us at this point. Plus, we're used to being the TV-less freaks in the U.S. as well, so that's not new for us. We're finding ways to compromise by slowly breaking them out of the habit of using a screen to entertain themselves - offering one TV show a day if they display a good attitude all day. We're blindly feeling our way through this, and praying for wisdom.

Tica #1 and Tica #2 have their own tablets (sans internet access) that they will be bringing with them. This was also not something that we expected to deal with right away, and has caused issues when we have informed them that they will not have internet access with us either. More anger, more pouting, more questions like, "If I can't access the internet [at which point I wanted to say: you are 12 years old... there's nothing you need to do online.] and I can't watch TV, then what do I do in my free time?" My response of "play outside, read books, put a puzzle together or do crafts" didn't go over well, and a bathroom door was slammed and tears were shed.

We expected hard, and we're getting it... the hard stuff is just different than what we were anticipating. And because of the care of the social staff, and the difficulties of the transition, we find ourselves in limbo this morning, waiting to see if Tica #1 and Tica #2 are ready and willing to come live with us 24/7 starting tonight. The youngest 3 are more willing, and Tica #3 has actually been asking us multiple times a day when they are going to come stay with us overnight, and is counting down the days.

And while she might be counting the days to when she gets to come, we have been counting the days until we lose all freedom. People... gut obedience doesn't mean uber-spiritual. We have cried, we have clung to Jesus, we have begged God to end this request... we are fighting our self-serving tendencies, and trying to remember that He who called us is faithful. There have been tears in the middle of the night, and lip biting during the day. I've never appreciated having dishes to wash like I do now, because it gives me a moment to turn my back to them and collect myself.

We know we are being bathed in prayer... we hear it on Facebook, we get it in emails, and even our driver this week informed us that he has been lifting us up before the Father. God is encouraging us, He is holding us, and He is big enough to deal with our little fits of panic and anger over this calling He gave us. We're not giving up, we're hanging on, and we're following where Jesus leads us. We have been sent to raise these children for Him, to share with them the Best News in the world - that Jesus died for them, that He rose for them, that He loves them, far more than we ever will. Pray that we would be faithful in keeping that as our primary focus on the days when we'd really rather catch the 8:30 AM flight back to our pre-children lives.

The adventure is just beginning.