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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Miraculous Provision

Hi friends. I'm so excited to check in with you all and update you about what God's been doing with our family.

The expedited schedule for a waiting child presented opportunities for things to happen so quickly that we feared we wouldn't be able to save funds as fast. It broke our hearts to think that the only thing A* could possibly be waiting for to come home would be finances. With Jonas it was endless bureaucratic red tape and glitches holding up the process. How strange it was to us to think the path for A* was being paved smoothly and finances could be the only hold up. I don't know if it makes any sense to you but to us, after previously having to deal with court issues, paperwork issues, government issues the prospect of money issues seemed trivial. It was as if we were thinking "That's all? Really? Money is a lame reason not to be able to bring A home!" Because, for us, God has been so faithful a Provider for so long we knew that if He was directing us to A* He would certainly provide for our needs. How strange, then, for us to feel so uncertain. It wasn't that we ever doubted that God would provide but we didn't think He'd do it in the time frame we hoped for.

When the Social Worker (SW) called and said she could begin our Home Study (HS) visits right away it seemed too good to be true. The catch was that the full HS payment had to be submitted before visits could begin. If there were any lessons we learned from the last time we adopted it was that God's timing isn't always our timing. So, we thought we were being good students of the past when we told ourselves to brace for delays and disappointments along the way to A*. Evidently, God has some new lessons for us to learn. Apparently, not everything has to be a GIGANTIC struggle.

Let me brag about how AMAZING our God, our Provider, is! We were able to pay $2800.00 in fees THIS MONTH. It's unbelievable to me! And, we even were able to go on our 10 year anniversary trip THIS MONTH as well.

It had been making us sick that we booked the anniversary trip before we knew we'd be adopting again so soon. With everything booked in advance we would lose the money if we chose to cancel which made it senseless not to go (plus we really did need a vacation just the two if us) We were sick at the thought of spending money on a trip that could go toward bringing our son home. We traveled anyway and prayed for God's provision. The LORD sure heard our prayers and poured so much mercy over us and even presented Dustin with opportunities to earn some extra funds. I'm still blown away that we were able to come up with that much money this month. A true testament to us that the Lord really does want A* to come home, and FAST.

I joked with friends that this second adoption with AWAA is as different from the first as day is to night (so far). Things have gone too smoothly thus far. I keep waiting for the huge bump in the road even while praying that for the sake of A*'s health none crop up. With Jonas our motto was hurry up and wait. With A* it's simply HURRY! I'm eager to learn why God is moving in this way but I may never know. I am, however, amazed at how the Lord is orchestrating events. I've never experienced anything like this before. Truly, I feel as though the Lord's hand is upon us and that our job is simply to keep moving forward as He pulls everything together. Glory to God!

We still have GREAT needs in this adoption. The next hurdle will be coming up with the funds which will be due upon completion of the HS report. Since we are pursuing a waiting child we don't have to wait for our I-171h form to arrive before shipping off our dossier. That means as soon as our approved HS returns to us we can submit our dossier. At that time we'll owe about $4500.00. If my estimates are right we'll have about two months to come up with that amount. I can't wait to see what steps the Lord takes next. No matter where He goes Dustin and I are committed to following. Sometimes to follow can be difficult, and others times it can mean being led into miraculous provision or rest. We've tasted and have seen that the Lord is good all the time and are enboldened to take the next steps, wherever they may lead.

We begin our first Home Study (HS) visit next week. We also have family physicals booked for all of us except Jonas. (His will be later in the month) The girls are NOT excited to have another TB skin test. Last time I was completely humiliated in the Dr.'s office. You see, I was inexperienced back then and didn't think to prep the girls for the shots. I figured we'd just spring it on them and they'd have less anxiety that way. WRONG. I paid for it big time when they older two watched the baby get hers first. Rory decided she had seen enough and quietly back toward the door while Rienne burst into hysterics. That about the time Rory made a break for it running down the hall, her sister Rienne hot on her tail. I had to chase after the two screaming maniacs disturbing the ENTIRE office who stared at us mouth gaping. I slinked out of that office HUMILIATED after wrestling them both (with the aid of a few nurses) into receiving their shots. Needless to say we've gotten a new pediatrician since then :-)

This time the girls know it's coming. Rienne asks me every day "How many days until the bubble shots?" (bubble referring to the bump made in the skin by the fluid) Friday is "B" day for the girls.

Pray for me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

One Year Referral-versary

We first laid eyes on our son a year ago today. What a special and exciting time for us! After months and moths of praying for our nameless faceless child we were finally able to lay eyes on our beloved! We are so thankful the Lord has given us Jonas Aychew Liben to train in the way he should go.

Son, you are a joy and a privilege to love!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

San Francisco and Monterey

Back to life and reality for us. We had a great trip to CA. Wed we flew into Monterey and rented a car. Drove about 2 hours north to San Francisco and checked into the Parc 55 Hotel. I had read mixed reviews about it after we had gotten a room on Priceline for $85.00/night and was a little concerned but it turned out to be clean and quiet. We explored Union Square that afternoon and right across the street (literally) from our hotel was a great little Italian place my friend Julie recommended to us called Puccini and Pinetti. We enjoyed dinner immensely.

About an hour after dinner, though, I wasn't enjoying my spaghetti and meatballs so much. I had a terrible bout with diarrhea and vomiting followed closely with a major allergic reaction. We're talking my skin was tomato red in color! My heart rate was 155 (what's new about that? haha) and I was itching like a mad woman. I imagined my ears blowing off the sides of my head, they felt so itchy and swollen. Images from the movie Hitch with Will Smith raced through my head. A friend asked if I drank Benedryl from a straw. hahaha Not quite. I preferred mine pushed through an IV. STAT. Needless to say we took a tour of a local ER. Thankfully, it was just a few blocks away from the hotel. Dustin jokes that from now on we just better go ahead and plan to stay near medical facilities wherever we travel. (I have to laugh to keep myself from crying at the thought!) I was in and out quickly and back in vacation mode in no time. I'll be following up with an allergist to do testing to see what in the world caused my first ever reaction like that. I am calling the health insurance company today to see what the damage will be. I don't think they'll cover our little jaunt because it's out of network.

Dining on seafood at Pier 39 in San Fran

Pier 39

Inside the USS Pampanito. I loved the submarine tour. It fascinated me. A modern marvel to be sure, that men could live in there packed so tightly so far under the sea!

Outside the USS Pampanito. We met some of the ships crew members from when it was in service below the ships decks. It was a real treat!

The following day we explored Chinatown, Pier 39, and the Embarcadero before heading back down to Monterey and meeting up with some old friends of ours. Chaplain West and his dear wife and children are stationed in Monterey. Chaplain West used to be our pastor when we were part of a small Baptist General Conference church plant in AZ. We love them dearly and enjoyed catching up with them. Since that time Chaplain West had been ordained a Minister in the Anglican Church. It's always funny to tease a good and manly ex Marine turned Army Chaplain about wearing a man robe. Good fun with friends who know how to take a good natured joke.

Our friend Christine and her daughters. Birdrock is in the background

The Wests took us on the famous 17 Mile Drive along Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach. We saw the Pebble Beach Golf course. Dustin lamented that the price a round of golf was too rich for his blood. We saw the Lone Cypress on the Rock and Birdrock there as well

Our accommodations in Monterey were at the Portola Hotel and Spa. We found a great deal which included breakfast each morning on Ours was a nicely decorated room on the corner of the hotel facing the Old Fisherman's Wharf. I will say that our room was noisy and we could hear every conversation people held below our second story windows. We enjoyed our stay but learned that we have morphed into resort snobs because we've had the pleasure of staying at the Wigwam Resort (when they have their super cheap summer promotions) so often that our standards have become pretty high. Since out hotel was just steps from the Wharf we enjoyed touring around there.
Our friends, the Wests had obligations at an Army marriage retreat so we tagged along and crashed the retreat as their guests. Before we arrived to the retreat we stopped at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. We had a lot of fun there before heading to see the Redwoods which we were amazed to learn were in a little patch right near Santa Cruz. We hiked the trails and marveled at these wonders of creations before heading to Mount Hermon to sit in on a video session during the marriage retreat which was quite humorous. (I can't remember the name of the series or the presenter)

Sunday, the last day of our trip, we enjoyed the Liturgical Anglican service on base with Chaplain West officiating. (I don't know if that's the correct term) It was a joy to fellowship with them once again. We left for the airport that day filled with joy and the blessings of sharing communion with friends we love so much. And that, my friends, was the close to one fantastic ten year anniversary trip.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Leaving the Water Park (aka Saying Goodbye)

I have this friend, this bright ray of sunshine, who burst onto the scene during a time of life when I was experiencing deep loss and sorrow. We had only had a few conversations prior to the day when this dear gave me a tap on the shoulder in church service one Sunday after a devastating event. I will never forget the beaming smile I was faced with as I turned around or the good strong tug toward her loving, Southern-style embrace. It's as if my dearest friend-to-be had picked my sorry behind up of the floor, dusted me off and poured some joy into my ragged old soul in that instant. How could I not come to completely adore a woman like that!? As our friendship has grown so has our love for each other.

This particular friend of mine uses an expression often. She likes to say that the two of us are "on the same bus". She uses it to mean we're headed the same direction in life. And, she's right. This woman is a friend who has shared many conversations with me about our heart's desires. She's the kind of friend that has prayed with me on hands and knees with foreheads to the floor. We have logged many hours laughing hard together and enjoying each other's company. Our children are friends and so are our husbands.

I admire my friend for so many reasons. She is one of the most genuine followers of Christ I know. She walks the walk. She's done some HARD work in her life to follow after her Saviour and I LOVE HER FOR IT! I admire her boldness, her zeal, her belief in redemption, and her willingness to forgive those who sin against her. I admire her for her love. (If you're thinking she sounds pretty terrific you are right!)

Much like the crash after a sugar buzz or the sunburn after a fun filled day at the beach, in this lifetime good things come to an end. I listened to a sermon recently where the dad talked to his son about why he couldn't live at the water park forever. The Father told his heartbroken son that they had to leave because until that Final Day we can only enjoy breaks and times of enjoyment partially. He explained how such things are used for our refreshment here on earth, but that there is more work to be done and we have to press on, for our time of complete rest will be after Christ's second coming. He encouraged his son to look forward to all of the joys he currently found in the water park to be included in eternity. That then all he longed for in the water park would be perfected in the presence of God with his people.

As I type through tears my dear friend is about to get off at the next stop and switch rides. The Lord has handed her a ticket for a new set of wheels. She and her fabulous family are moving out of state heading into a brand new life full of exciting adventures that only the Lord yet knows. They have people to love and care for in their future. They have the name of Christ to lift up so that He will draw others unto Himself. And so, I'm beyond excited for them because I KNOW they are making progress and headed toward even more fruitfulness in their lives.


But, I just don't know how I'm gonna stand it when she's so far away. I don't know how often she and I will be able to see each other in the future and that makes me SAD! Much like the boy and his water park I'm not keen on leaving behind all the fun. It's times like these I long for eternity and the abolishment of the word goodbye! You better believe I've already got my request in with the Lord to have our front porches facing each other. The only problem is my dear friend is such a WONDERFUL, AMAZING, LOVING friend I know for a fact that there is a LONG line of folks wanting to be her neighbour, because she's awesome like that. So, I may have to share that coveted front porch slot with a few others. I don't mind, though, because I'm sure many of those people will be folks that have come to know Jesus through her witness. That's just how my Peep rolls.

So, to my super awesome, dear friend I suggest that there is a flaw in your analogy. It seems the times, well, they are a changin' and we won't be riding on the same bus anymore. It's been such a joy and a blessing to share this time with you! Words cannot express what a good time it's been. You'll always be in my heart and on my mind. Brooke, I'm just glad to be rolling in the same direction together. Even if we'll be riding in two different vehicles from now on.

I love you friend!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Potential Timeline

I received some more information from our Family Coordinator about what the progression of events might look like for A*'s adoption. Here's what she wrote me:

The time line will look like this:

·We can request court date once a family has completed all dossier documents but are just waiting for their 1-171h (1-4months depending on how fast they work).

·A* will start TB sputum testing (9 week process) once we have court date. We would receive court date anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks after initial dossier is submitted.

·Once you pass court and have received your I-171h you can travel to ET. This will probably be roughly 2 to 4 week after passing court.

·When you travel to Ethiopia, you will travel for two weeks. You will apply for a
different I 600A there, send your waiver to Kenya, and wait for your
recommendation from Kenya.

Okay people... did you read that!? If (Big IF) my calculations are correct we could be finished with our dossier by the end of October at the latest and be waiting our only our I-171h form. That means AWAA could potentially request a court date end of Oct for us which could land us having court sometime around end of January with potential travel being early spring sometime around March. And those dates are using the longest time estimates they gave us.

Of course so much has to happen other than paperwork in that time. I am praying that the Lord do a MAJOR work in the hearts/minds of everyone in our family to prepare us for A*'s arrival. We are asking the Lord to pave the way in A*'s heart for his new family and for grace poured over us to be sensitive to our little guy's needs. Having the images of how the stress wreaked havoc on Jonas so fresh on my mind turns my prayers toward A and all he will have to endure. I am already praying for God's miraculous touch on A and for peace for his soul.

I just had a chuckle with Dustin the other day because we kidded each other on the plane coming home from Ethiopia with Jonas (who slept basically the whole way) that we'd NEVER want to take a trip back home from Ethiopia with a toddler. We joked that dealing with that age range on a flight that long during all the emotional stress of transitioning a child into our care would be nightmarish (having previous experience with the girls at that age and their affinity for tantrums and high energy levels.)

HAHAHA Oh, doesn't the Lord have such a funny sense of humor!? Here we are going to get a three year old boy.... the exact age that we've always said was the most difficult to deal with in terms of meltdowns, etc. Needless to say I am already praying for our return flight. The good news is we'll be staying for two weeks in Addis Ababa again and will be afforded some extra time for A* to warm up to us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

TEN years

I can't believe it's here already. Dustin and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary today. I am in total awe of the life we share together, of the life God has strengthened us to build. Proof positive that God can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine is right here in the fruit of this marriage!

We head off next week for a getaway (just the two of us) to Monterey, CA. All I can say is my dear husband is in dire need of some time off. He's had a VERY stressful summer and hasn't taken any time away from the business since we came home with Jonas in December. I can't wait to see the sights and meander around hand in hand with my love, nothing on the agenda but to spend quality time.

I'll post some photos when we return.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Paperchase Update 1

I can't believe how quickly things are moving. We are 75% finished with our dossier. I only need our health examinations (scheduled for the beginning of September), our updated home study and well, I would say our I-171h forms but when adopting an HIV+ child you don't get a visa approval for the I-600a so I'm not sure what will happen with our dossier. I know we'll need to apply for a waiver but I'm not quite sure where in the process that happens- If it's before the dossier gets sent over to Ethiopia, during, or after. I'm sure we'll know more soon.

We dropped off our fingerprints to the Juvinille Court today and have to wait for our clearances. We are scheduled to begin visits with our Social Worker the first week of September. I have all the paperwork in line for that as well.

We also have our first appointment scheduled for mid November with the Bill Holt Clinic here in Phoenix to review A*'s medical profile and get acquainted with the staff/facilities.

I'm amazed at how quickly things are coming together this time compared to the last time.


We ask for your continued prayers for our financial situation and A*'s health.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jen's Playlist

Generally, in the "family" worship category of Christian music the term is used quite loosely. I've learned it's best to keep my expectations relatively low. Usually when I've purchased "family" titles they have tended to be poorly written, annoyingly produced children's songs that only kids can enjoy. The family aspect seems to point to the fact that parents will have to willingly suffer through an entire album worth of kids screeching and funny animal voices, or something of the sort. You know, the kind of "family" music that makes parents shout praises when the music finally stops.

That's why I felt it was important to share some family worship music I believe is worth your time. It occurred to me that I've never recommended Seeds Family Worship here at the old blog-o so I thought I'd pop on to tell you that I heartily recommend them.

We have the seeds of Purpose, Faith and Praise CDs. There is also a Courage title and an Power of Encouragement ( I plan to pick those up ASAP). The verses from Scripture all address the theme of the titles. The songs on the three titles we own are tastefully arranged, in an adult theme with children accompanying professional vocalists.... Like I said, I've come to really love some of these songs not only for their Scripture content but for their musical appeal.

This week as I've been in prayer often I've desired to be wrapped up in the Word continually but I've found that my eyes wore out before my appetite was satisfied. So, I've turned to the Seeds CDs as my dessert course.

If you listen let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Gonna Be....

a wild ride, folks!

Strap in if you plan on joining us here at the blog, because things are moving fast (for now) in this, our second, adoption. We have identified a child and we are pursuing him. We will not be officially matched with him until our home study is complete and approved by the state. Therefore, we cannot say we have a referral. But, we are pursuing a referral for this particular boy- who we'll call A*.

A* is a little younger than 3 years old and is HIV positive. We believe he will make a great addition to our family and are so thrilled to be on this journey! We are asking for your continued prayers for A*'s health. We are also asking for prayers concerning the financial aspect of this adoption. Since we already have a child identified the process moves a lot faster, (provided we don't crash headfirst into any of the MANY bumps in the road common to adoption) since things are able to move faster it means payments are required sooner. It could be that finances are the major roadblock to A* coming home quickly. That would be a HUGE bummer since every day he spends in institutional care is another day spent in risk of illness and opportunistic infections, not to mention the typical developmental delays.

Here is where we are at now: Our Home Study Documents are cranking along and I've almost got every document gathered for that. We will begin visits with our AWESOME Social Worker the beginning of September. We have to have a payment of $2,400.00 ready before our first visit can take place. That, my friends, is where the snag lies!

It's not so much the overall cost of the adoption but the shortened time frame that makes paying the fees difficult. There just isn't as much time to save money. We just paid our initial fees to the tune of $1750.00 last week and less than one month is a SHORT time to come up with the funds necessary for the Home Study. I am also aware that God's timing is PERFECT and that just because this adoption could happen faster if the funds were available doesn't mean that God's provision will be late if it doesn't happen to arrive before we'd like it to. He's been waaaay too faithful to our family for far too long now for us to doubt Him. And, at least I can say that I have learned some patience with the last adoption because I am at peace with the possibility of having to wait through this second one. Praise Jesus!!!

I will say, though, that we have a major sense of urgency right now and this time it is totally different. It's NOT about us and our personal time lines or preferences. It's about A* and his need for the best medical care he can receive, for the love of a father and mother to help strengthen him for his health battles, for kisses and hugs to help soothe his aches and pains. It's about preventing opportunistic infections. It's about proper nutrition being a key to helping his immune system fight tough. It's about so much more than just our desires to have him home with us for the sake of being with him. (Don't get me wrong, we DO want that too.)

The deal is that we cannot do any fundraising before our Home Study is completed. Just Love Coffees isn't up and running until October and we can't receive grants or other funds without a complete Home Study. So, it's us and the LORD all the way baby!

I am fully confident that the LORD will provide! He called us to this and even though the timing seems impossible (for us) I KNOW the Lord is ABLE!!! He's more than able and I trust Him fully. Won't you please join us in petitioning before His Holy throne for miraculous provision for sweet little A*? Please pray that our eyes are opened to the path that God would have us take in raising, saving, scrimping, slaving for money for this adoption. Pray also that Dustin and I would be diligent in holding up our end of the bargain with the Lord and be responsible with the opportunities to Lord presents us with.

Dustin and I will do whatever it takes to give this boy a forever family! If the Lord presented an opportunity to scrub toilets with my personal toothbrush to earn extra cash for this adoption, I would. Seriously, I would. I'd dye my hair purple if someone with a bunch of $$ wanted me to.

We're. That. Serious. About. Bringing. A*. Home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coming Fall 2009

Some of you may have noticed a new widget on the right of my blog. Just Love Coffees in launching in the fall. Dustin and I plan to participate in a coffee fundraiser.

Everyone loves coffee and every coffee lover has to buy their coffee somewhere. Just Love Coffees marries high quality fair trade coffee with adoption fundraising for a match made in heaven. So if you buy it from them you can get the best of both worlds. Our family will have a store front where you can order coffee online. $5 of every bag purchased will go straight toward our adoption expenses! So, you'll get awesome, fair trade coffee and we'll get help w/ our adoption costs. Sweet deal!

Stay tuned for more to come....