This is always an exciting time of year. Planning is complete, new books have been purchased, and the new school schedule/routine is in the final tweaking stage. Ready or not, our first day of school begins in about nine hours! This year is going to be very different for our family. Half of our school-age children will be at home and half will be in school. Our girls have been home now for a year and a half. They’ve come so incredibly far over the past 18 months. They’ve learned to speak English, they’ve adjusted to a new culture, food, and family, they’ve made friends, and they completed a year of homeschooling. But the fact is, they’re now 6, 6, and 8 and they have no prior education and the past year has been very difficult. Books and methods that have worked with my other children have not been successful with the girls. None of them are reading yet, despite trying very hard (Mom and children!) and the longer they’re home the more overwhelmed I get while realizing just how much they’ve missed by not being in a family for the last several years of their life. As a result, we decided to put the girls in school for a year. At the end of this school year we will re-evaluate. The ultimate goal is to bring them back home. We’re a homeschooling family but right now, this year, we’re calling in reinforcements! We live out in the country. Our local public elementary school is in the middle of farm land and peach orchards. There are less than 250 students in the entire school and they have wonderful intervention specialists that can help us identify where the girls need special help and can get them started with the right tools for success. To be quite honest, I also had a bit of a revelation a few months ago when trying to decide what would be best for the girls for the coming school year. I’ve never been able to just be their mom.
I’ve had a few new bow orders come in so I’ve been checking my paypal account daily. We haven’t had any money come in for about three weeks now, so I haven’t been expecting anything, just a few payments for the bows. The other night I realized I hadn’t checked my account in over a week so I signed in and was shocked to see a $100 donation from my best friend from high school, thanking us for allowing them to be a part of this journey. What an incredible blessing!
Then, I’ve had three bow orders placed over the last 48 hours, so I signed on Paypal again just a few minutes ago and I’m pretty sure the blood drained out of my face altogether. There was a donation made in the amount of EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS!!! A friend from high school who also has a heart for adoption chose to bless us with a portion of their tax return. I seriously sat here with goosebumps and tears streaming down my cheeks. I can’t even begin to put into words how much that lifted my spirits. I’m on cloud nine. Over and over again, whether it’s $10 for a puzzle piece or $800, I’m blown away at the generosity of others; of God’s children who see the big picture and share our heart for orphans and as a result use their donations as the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you just doesn’t quite capture it.
God Story #4
three down, twenty-one to go (thousand, that is)
Bless you, bless you, bless you,
After only one week, thirty people have already pledged to pray for Zoe, our family, and our journey to Africa by “purchasing” puzzle pieces. Have you seen the fundraiser thermometer?! God is just blowing us away every single day.
Yesterday, a man that we don’t even know made a donation with a memo that read:
“God bless you and your family.”
We had dinner with a couple last night who have adopted three children and it was a great time of fellowship, encouragement, and a chance for Josh to ask some questions. God has given me such incredible peace about everything; I can hardly explain it. When Josh had asked all of his questions last night he looked at me and said, “What are some of your concerns?” I couldn’t think of any; not one. I literally have no concerns right now. I’m trusting the Lord to direct us one step at a time and that is where I’m trying to keep my focus.
As long as there are still puzzle pieces without names on the back, I will continue the puzzle fundraiser along with weekly updates. Thank you for all of you who have already become a piece of the puzzle and are praying for us and helping us share our story.
If you’d like to be a piece of the puzzle, you can find more information here.
My worship leader asked me to prepare something to share with our ladies’ Bible study last night regarding Christie and George and all that God is doing in and through them in Uganda. She said she thought it would be a good idea to explain how God first led me to Christie’s blog, put an incredible burden on my heart for the orphans in Africa, and ultimately led us to pursue adoption in Ethiopia. It was a long story so I typed it all out on two and a half pages and read it to the ladies with trembling voice and hands. At one point I couldn’t even read the words through my tears. I never intended to get so emotional, but reading God’s story out loud to all of those women for the first time just helped me retrace God’s hand in Zoe’s story and I was completely overwhelmed.
After I finished reading, they prayed for us and then I had to run back to the nursery to relieve my sister-in-law so she could help with worship. When church was over, I was informed that the ladies took up an offering to help bring Zoe home. Our church secretary text me this morning:
I have a check for you for a little over $300. I’ll give it to you on Sunday.
God Story #3!
One of things I love most about this journey of raising money and fully depending on God to provide this impossible amount, is the faith it is building in my boys. Watching their faces light up in awe of their heavenly Father and his provision for their little sister is priceless. I hope I don’t forget a single detail of this journey. May it be written on my heart that God might use Zoe’s story to forever encourage adopting couples to step out in faith and trust Him.
Yesterday, I received all of our paperwork from AGCI. It was very exciting to look through everything and I hope to watch the DVD that came with our packet tonight after church (if I can hold my eyes open long enough!). I read about how the Ethiopian government has changed their rules in the last year and all adopting families are now required to make not one, but two trips to Ethiopia before taking your child home. Two trips to Africa within two months of each other. As I began the paperwork and saw the time frames and dollar signs on paper, I could feel a weight come over me.
There’s no way you can do this.
It’s going to be such a long road.
You won’t raise enough money.
But God spoke to me through someone’s status on Facebook.
Out of the mouth of an eight year old little girl:
“God makes things that are impossible, unimpossible.”
So many times I can look back on a situation and think, I guess if that had been easier, then it wouldn’t have been such an amazing God Story. You know what kind of stories I’m talking about. The stories where nothing is falling into place, everything is falling apart, there’s no hope, there’s no money, there’s no help, whatever the lack may be; and then God steps in, shakes things up, and all of the pieces fall into place in a way that leaves everyone’s jaws on the floor, giving glory to our big, big, God!
In the midst of being overwhelmed, the phone rang. It was a sweet lady from our church whose husband goes to Tanzania, Africa several times a year to bring tools to the locals and help them build homes and buildings. She said she’d been reading about our journey for Zoe and wanted to encourage me and let me know how excited she was for us. She also said that she and her husband will be helping support us financially on our journey. Instantly, God blew wind back into my puny sails through that sweet lady. I stood up tall as I hung up the phone and remembered all of the amazing stories I’ve read from other adopting families, knowing that one day we will have a handful of our own.
Of course it doesn’t end there! I got on the computer and realized I’d received an email from my aunt in Maine. She was telling me how excited she was that we were adopting. She went on to say that she would talk to my uncle and see about donating to Zoe’s adoption. I checked my paypal account a few minutes later and there it was, a large, generous donation from Aunt Kathy and Uncle Terry. The donation that launched us past the one thousand dollar mark. Unbelievable. In that moment it was as if God whispered to me:
one down, twenty-four to go.
God Story #2!
All I need to know for sure is that God has never let me down. He has never called me to something that He did not equip me to conquer. Each day I learn something new about trusting the Lord and surrendering everything to him. Thank you, for those of you who have already begun to pray and encourage us in this journey. Your words are like water to my soul and the Lord continually brings them to remembrance when I get discouraged. Will you continue to share our story in hopes that there are many more just like you out there who will allow God to take their $10 to Africa where there will soon be one less orphan?
As you can see, Josh gave me a makeover!! It is still a work in progress, but we’re heading in the right direction and I LOVE IT! If you’d like to share our story, you can link to the Adoption page at the top. We should have a button for “Our Journey to Africa” very soon.
It is fun to see Josh sharing in my excitement to get everything started. Little Joshua saw our fundraiser thermometer and said, “TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!?! HOW WILL WE EVER BRING ZOE HOME IF IT COSTS THAT MUCH?” I just smiled and reassured him that God equips his saints for that which He has called them.
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Right now I have a bin of clothes I’ll be selling at a children’s consignment sale next month. I have two large stacks of books to bring to 2nd and Charles where they’ll give cash for used books. There are several pieces of furniture that I’m going to put on Craig’s List, and our first yard sale is in the works. Once our home study updates are complete, we’ll be able to begin applying for adoption grants and the big fundraisers will begin. We will stand on God’s word and walk in obedience as we take this giant leap of faith.
Let the journey begin!
Let me retrace our steps…
We settled on an adoption attorney in South Carolina for various reasons and anxiously awaited all of our paperwork. Two weeks have passed and we have yet to receive anything from the attorney’s office. Our foster agency was going to go ahead and send our home study to the attorney’s office, but the girl who was going to put it in the mail was out for a few days last week because her children were sick….
On our way to pick up the boys from my parent’s house on Sunday, Josh began asking me questions about the whole adoption process and whether or not I was sure about the road we were taking (domestic adoption). I told him I was still praying for every step of the journey and that if he had any reservations he needed to speak up.
He began telling me how he felt about domestic adoption after all that we’ve learned in the past month. Domestic adoption has long lines of couples without children, waiting to get the call that there’s a baby for them at the hospital. Basically saying that all of these babies will have a home and a family.
This is where he shocked me. He went on to say that he feels a family like ours (already having three biological children and wanting who-knows-how-many more) should be rescuing babies from orphanages in third world countries where there really is no promise of a home or family.
That’s when I hit him with the question that was just DYING to come out of my mouth:
Do you mean we can go to Africa!?
This is where my heart was thumping out of my chest and God just confirmed every ounce of anguish I’d been feeling inside for all of those beautiful African faces that I see each time I close my eyes.
Oh Lord, did you really change his heart THAT fast!?
Indeed He did.
We spent hours on the computer with the boys that night watching videos of African adoptions, learning about the different villages where God has sent missionaries, and researching agencies who work with Africa. We found All God’s Children International and completed the pre-application to see if we meet their requirements.
Today at 2:37, I got a call from AGCI to let us know we’re approved for their Ethiopia program! We’re going to have to wait a few months before submitting our official application because approximately $9,000 will be due within 90 days of applying. We’re working hard to continue paying off debt and will begin to sell everything that’s not nailed down in order to raise the first $9,000 and get the process going! I have complete peace for the road ahead and I’m overjoyed and excited to watch God move in our journey to Africa. We will begin our fundraising right away in the form of yard sales, Parents’ Night Out events, and selling hair bows that I began making back when we were trying to adopt our two little girls out of foster care.
Please continue to pray for us in the months ahead.
We give God all the glory and continue to seek His wisdom and direction every step of the way.