Sunday, April 29, 2012

Like the widow

Growing up, I was virtually inundated with amazing stories from the Bible - waters parting, bringing the dead to life, food appearing, water into wine, and more.  I loved it all -- the mystery and wonder of God's power are limitless.  One story that always appealed to me was in 1 Kings 17:  10-16.

10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”  12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”  13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of  oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

This is not just a story of God increasing a person's food.  This is God making sure that a widow - a woman who was, to a certain extent, a victim of her circumstances - could take care of herself and her child.  This is God showing that this woman should not just be a part of the rhetoric, she should be truly taken care of for as long as she needed.  This is God never giving too much, but always giving enough.  

These days, sometimes I feel just like the widow.  Not in the victim of her circumstances way - but in the somehow things are always just enough way.  I have now cried twice after visiting the bank.  The first time was when I needed to pay the $2300 in Home Study fees.  I went to the bank to deposit a check from extra work at school and had just transferred the money from the online donations.  When I asked for the balance, the teller said - $2,324.  I walked to the car, sat down, and fell apart.  Somehow, all the extra hours at work, the kindness of friends and family, and the new job had just covered what I had to send out that day.

Friday, I finally had time during the banking day to deposit the money from the benefit - and another check from extra work at school.  After it was in the account, the teller asked if I'd like the balance.  $3,964 she said, and I barely kept it together until I got in the car.  You see, I had just made that $4,000 payment to the adoption agency by credit card with faith that I could cover it by the due date somehow - knowing that I might have to borrow some money to do so.  Sometimes this working ALL THE TIME thing is starting to get to me.  I'm exhausted, my house is a mess, and I just want an hour to myself.  But then I have moments like this, I look at my pictures of Tanya, and I remember why it's all worth it.  I never thought I'd make it this far in the process without a loan.  And yet still, by the grace of God, here I am.

That's right ... just like the widow.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Virtual Benefit Concert

This powerpoint will play during the intermission - I'm happy to post it on here as well, but only for today due to the pictures (yay pictures!) included.  We all hope that those of you who could not attend today will consider donating here on the website.  The link is on the right side of the blog.  Thank you all for your support!

The powerpoint is now down, but you are all still welcome to donate online through the link to the right.

The concert today was amazing!  We had a wonderful turn out and raised over $2000.  That is just God.  I cannot possibly thank everyone involved enough, but I would like to especially thank my mom for taking this on and putting it all together - she did an amazing job.  I would also like to thank all the women of Sweet Harmony - my sisters.  You are wonderful people .... just wonderful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Would you like the good news or the bad news first?

I officially hate it when people ask that question.  As though there is some relief in getting bad news because there is some good news to go with it.  But people say it all the time ... and here I am, asking you!  I'll just make the decision and give you the good news first - because why should good news wait?

Good:  My final home study application has been approved, so now we just have a couple of home visits and then we put together my dossier and wait for the official referral.  This has been a lot of paperwork, time, doctor visits, and even one psychologist evaluation, but so so worth it.  I cannot thank you all enough for your support through this all. 

Bad:  After my dossier is finished, nothing else can happen.  At least not for now.  I have received official word that all adoptions are completely frozen in the region where Tanya lives until the bilateral agreement is signed.  This is something that the US signed last July, but Russia has yet to ratify.  What this means is that instead of submitting my dossier, we will have to wait to move in the process until this is done.  I'll be honest and tell you that when I first got this news, I just thought that everything would be okay - the timing would work and everything would just fall into place (denial).  Then I moved to the crying phase, knowing that there is absolutely nothing I can do about this.  And then I came back to God - where I should have started in the first place.  The only thing that we can do for now is pray.  We can pray that hearts will be softened.  We can pray that processes will move along.  We can pray for ratification - soon.  God has the power to move mountains, so this is peanuts, right?

We'll be continuing to work the process as far as we can here, and we only ask that you join us in praying for a swift solution to this road block.

Don't forget the benefit concert is coming up soon!  Sunday, April 22, 3:00pm at First Presbyterian Church in Muskegon on the corner of Sherman and Wickham.  Hope to see a lot of you there!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Home Studying

So much has been happening over the past couple of weeks that I don't even know where to begin.  After finding out I was a bit behind in the home study process, I was able to quickly put together all the application materials (very similar to Application Part 2 for the adoption agency).  The home study agency emailed me today to let me know they have received everything and should have me in touch with my social worker by Monday.  After that, we meet a couple of times, and the home study is complete.  Whew!  Of course, it is not that simple, and I've been working hard to get things ready around the house - pulling up old carpet, painting, putting down play room flooring (super cute!), having carpets cleaned, getting a fence put up, having a new railing put in (Thanks, Jeff!!!), and working on some other minor home improvement items that should have been addressed long ago.  I have moments where I can't keep it all straight.

Here are the current prayer requests:

Please pray that the home study and referral processes go quickly.  We are still hoping to get Tanya home this summer with time to settle in before school starts.

This is a big one.  Because the waiting period has been extended from 10 to 30 days, we will be applying for a waiver based on medical need.  Tanya has some health concerns including an immune disorder that may make this possible.  This would mean getting her home an entire month early.  This would mean one less trip (and a lot less money).  This would mean my little girl gets 30 more days to play and be a free child before school starts in the Fall.  Please pray that the judge can see how good this would be for her.

And of course, please continue to pray for Tanya and her caregivers.  They are still on the front line of this whole story, and will still be there taking care of these kids long after Tanya gets to come home.

I cannot thank you all enough for your support - between donations of money, pictures (Thanks, Kendra!), ice cream (those cousins at Country Dairy are pretty wonderful), time on an amazing benefit concert (all those sweet, sweet ladies), and prayers, we are a little overwhelmed.

We are still collecting donations here .... and do have some upcoming deadlines.  I've sent out the home study money, but that means that I no longer have enough to cover the adoption agency fees.  Please consider coming to the benefit concert on Sunday, April 22 at 3:00 at First Presbyterian here in Muskegon on the corner of Sherman and Wickham.  We still appreciate any and all help - no donation is too small!

Thank you all so much.