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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

The Next Step

Over the past two nights, I have barely slept… waking repeatedly to the demands of my heart, of my God’s heart, to pray.

While I lay awake, our sweet D’s grandfather traveled many miles to appear in a courtroom in Addis Ababa.  This morning (around midnight our time), he was there… and in the words of our agency’s attorney, he “did well giving his consent.”

Consent.

To strangers halfway around the world.

Whenever I awoke these past nights, I hardly knew what to pray.  How to pray.  I found myself going back and forth…

… first praying for D’s peace, for her grandfather’s peace, that all would go smoothly and we would be able to move forward with her adoption.

… then finding myself asking God to reconcile what was broken, to make a way for D to be raised with her birth family.

… and ultimately, giving it over to Him and begging — crying out, at this point — for His will to be done in the lives of this man and his beautiful granddaughter.

This morning, while I watched our boys at karate, I got the email confirming his appearance from our coordinator.  Its title:  “All Good”.

I wept.  Big, ugly tears.  So many emotions that had been bottled up, anticipating the news, now pouring out in tears.

Because I struggle with that description… that somehow what transpired in a small courtroom in Africa while the western world slept is “all good.”

Yet, ultimately, it’s appropriate.

It comes down to faith in the sovereignty of God.  How He bends circumstances, beautifies them, for His glory.  He takes what is broken and creates it again WHOLE.  This is my God, who uses the picture of adoption to represent His relationship with all those who follow Him.

And He loves us fiercely, my friends.

I already have what I can only describe as a fervent, growing love for this little one.  It surprises me, honestly.  I haven’t yet met her, and have to date only witnessed brief two-dimensional moments captured by the cameras of other parents who have traveled to the care center during these past two months.  But my heart longs for her… to shower her with love, to sing her to sleep, to look in her eyes and kiss her forehead and promise her that we’ll never ever let go.

He is already creating in me a momma’s love for this child.

One week from today, we will board a plane and fly halfway around the world to meet sweet D for the first time.  To stand before a judge in Ethiopia and officially adopt her.

To swear to love her always, to redeem what was broken.

Please pray with us for our little D.  Pray for her heart, for God to prepare her for the love of the family to which He has delivered her.  Pray for our kiddos at home, who have never been without at least one of their parents for more than two days, that they would thrive.

We travel with a heavy yet joyous burden… knowing what a responsibility and privilege our God has given us, to be the parents of these four beautiful children.

To Him be the glory: the Mender of the broken, the Creator of all things new.

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I honestly don’t even know how to best write this.

There are so many things I want to express, yet so little I understand.  How God works, how He chooses… so many things.

What I do know is this:  today, my friends, we REJOICE.

We have waited for what often seemed like forever.  Too long, it has felt.  More than two years have passed since we first stepped out in faith and applied to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia.  We have been on the wait list since August 2010.

There were times we nearly lost faith, when we questioned God’s plan and His power.  When we thought we knew who our daughter was, only to have God say “not yet”.  When we wallowed in self-pity and lashed out in anger at the plight of one whose face we could not see… for her birth family, for all the little ones like her stuck in orphanages while impersonal politics loomed large and hope — for her, for them — seemed naive at best.

Then on Friday morning at 11:15am (MST), my phone rang.  I heard the first few notes of the song I had programmed to play ONLY if our adoption agency called from a particular number with our referral.  I tell you, the first stanza didn’t finish before I dropped the laundry in my hands and whipped that phone out of my back pocket.  Our coordinator had me on speaker phone; all the other office folks were in her office with her to listen in (we live just across the street from our agency, so they all know me quite well!).

I heard:  “This is Allison!  Did I call you from the right number?”

Me:  “If you’re calling with a REFERRAL you did!!!!!!”

Allison:  “I am!!”

And then I collapsed onto the stairs, freaked out a little, and started shaking uncontrollably.  Normal reaction, right?

Long story short, a few minutes later my husband rushed home from work and we drove across the street to the agency, where we stood at Allison’s desk and first saw the picture of an absolutely gorgeous little eight-month old brown-eyed girl with super-long eyelashes and the cutest lips EVER puckering up and blowing a kiss to the camera.

She has some spunk, that one.  😉

(we can’t show you her “smoochy” face until we pass court, but just look at that adorable bald head!)

We then learned that our sweet baby girl’s name means “the second one” in Amharic, which has significance I’m sure to her birth family (I hope we’ll find out as we go through the process) but also to us… it was as if God directly spoke to us when we read those words, telling us that THIS one, the “second one”, was ours.  That all the waiting was necessary, because she hadn’t yet been born when we thought we were about to be matched back in March 2011.  That His timing was perfect.  That THIS child would need OUR family.  That we would need her just as much, right now.

That He was worthy of our trust and our praise.   Always had been… always would be.

Adoption is rife with a strange mix of joy and pain, of beauty alongside ashes, of both broken and fulfilled dreams.  We already have felt some of the sobriety of this day and of the past months, both for our family and for another family halfway around the world.  More to come on that.  For now… as we move forward, we ask that you join us in prayer for little Miss D, for her birth family, and for all of us as we enter yet another stage of the wait.

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Less than one day after my last post, I read this… from another momma who adopted from our same agency, and has since made the journey again.

My favorite part:

I have a Daddy who has made mission out of a heart-union, me to Him. He is so good that He allows disruption, distraction and delay (yes, even the kind that the enemy sends, because we know it is God who has the final say) to even the most stunning quest  – adoption — so that my heart would know hunger.

I was made to know Him, more, every day and in every life-delay. It’s here that I come alive, regardless of the external.

And my daughter, who talks more about her baby sister every day, left her high chair open for the first time… saying with certainty that it was “because Baby E is going to come home soon.  Baby E will sit in the high chair, and I will be a big girl.”

Thank you, Sara… and my sweet baby girl Annie.  Thank you, Father, for speaking truth and comfort through their words.

 

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Yes, we’re still waiting for our referral.

18 1/2 months waiting.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sitting around feeling angry, or sad, or self-pitying.  I’m ready to DO something.

In lieu of jumping on a plane to Ethiopia (which, by the way, I would love to do, but I wouldn’t know who I was trying to find), our family has decided to spend the Lenten season focusing on understanding maybe just a little more the way people in Ethiopia live on a daily basis.  What dominates their minds each day?  How must they work?  What do they eat?  How does “family life” look different there?  How is it similar?  Why, exactly, are there such struggles there?  Where is prayer most needed?

In other words…

Where can we best invest our time and resources to bring about redemption in a broken world?

So, for the next 40 days — during all of Lent — we are going to try to put our hearts, minds, money, and mouths where are thoughts are: with our daughter in Ethiopia.  We not only will spend time in focused prayer for her and for her country, but will seek out ways to experience life as it is lived halfway around the world.

My husband and I have been encouraged to participate in this 40-day effort by articles challenging our “love” relationship with food and videos focusing on raising “giving” children (and, accordingly, increasing our own generosity), along with a growing spiritual conviction in our own hearts against excess.

Here’s what Lent will look like for us.  We have three small children, so we have adjusted a bit what we otherwise would have done without kiddos involved in the process:

1.  We will daily read of the needs in Ethiopia in Operation World, praying for a specific need each of the 40 days

2.  Twice each week, we will eat a “typical” Ethiopian meal (usually rice and beans with injera)

3.  We will, overall, limit our meal variety… learning to recognize that a “different meal every night” is a Western luxury to which not many in the rest of the world relate

4.  We will read books on African life, visit an Ethiopian market, and generally try to learn as much as we can about our daughter’s native country

5.  As a family, we will research and decide how best to invest certain resources to benefit Ethiopian families

Our Lenten fast may seem radical to some, and to others it may not go far enough.  But it brings us as close to our daughter as we can be right now, and hopefully will bring our family even closer as God brings spiritual fruit to these hard days of continual waiting.

If you are a member of our family, a friend, or even someone who happened by the blog this morning, I want to invite you to join us for the next forty days.  Please pray for our daughter.  Pray she doesn’t have to spend one more day than is necessary in an orphanage, without her family.  Pray earnestly for peace and prosperity in Ethiopia.  And spend some time praying that God would open your eyes to how you can make some small difference… both here at home and around the world.

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Hey all.

To say it has been a rough week would be an understatement.  But I want to share a few things with you about my friend Joanne.

First, her condition: After several days of bad news upon worse news with regard to her condition, the pressure in her brain has finally begun to drop.  She is as of today in a deep medically-induced coma that has basically shut off her brain in an attempt to help the swelling decrease.

God can choose to heal her. So this will be a marathon of prayer, friends… and the way God so quickly has moved people all around the world to pray for her is truly amazing.  If you are joining me in petitioning our Father on her behalf, thank you.

I just noticed that she last posted a comment on my blog just a few days before the stroke.  😦

Pray for Joanne.  Pray she wakes up.  Please.

Pray for her husband Toben.  Pray for her daughters Audrey and Emma, who are returning to school this week after being homeschooled by their dear mother for the past year and a half.  Pray for her mom and dad, her sister and family, and the close friends who are walking alongside them all.  Pray for wisdom, for comfort, for understanding.  For healing.  For hope.

Second, her button: You might have noticed the new blog button in the sidebar.  If you have a blog, please copy the button code from The Simple Wife‘s website and post it on your own so that Joanne’s story can be shared and more people can pray.

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Please Pray

Joanne Heim, our sister in Christ — one I am blessed to call a new friend of mine — is in dire need of prayer.  While running on her treadmill Tuesday morning, in a house just a few minutes down the road from mine, she suffered a major stroke and was discovered by her young daughter.

Doctors later discovered a blood clot in her brain, dissolved much of it, but unfortunately encountered severe brain swelling overnight and were forced to operate (creating a bone flap to relieve the swelling).  She has suffered severe trauma to her brain and brain stem, and possible outcomes range from almost fully recovering to never regaining consciousness.

Joanne is young (only 38!), willowy and beautiful, vibrant, and full of the Spirit.  God already has used her mightily in so many ways, including very public ones (writing wonderful books about real faith and living simply).  She is known as a caring, witty, compassionate friend, an engaged and loving mother… and by just looking at the posts recently on her Facebook page, you can see how many lives she has touched.

Here is a recent picture of her, so you can have a real face in your mind as you plead to God for her restoration:

Please, dear bloggy friends, join me in fervently lifting up Joanne to the Great Physician, the only One who can bring healing and hope.

And to hear updates from her loving husband Toben, please visit her blog, The Simple Wife.

Thanks so much.

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“The difficulty of coming (to Jesus) just as we are is that we are messy.  And prayer makes it worse.  When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God.  We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good.  Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer…

“(But) this is the gospel, the welcoming heart of God.  God… cheers when we come to Him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers.  Jesus does not say ‘Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.’  No, Jesus opens his arms to His needy children and says ‘Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28.)  The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with your wandering mind.  Come messy.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

* * * * *

Can I tell you how much joy that simple truth brings to this momma’s often-weary heart?

Speaking of prayer:  As I’m working on some posts relaying the “details” of our adoption plans, we have a prayer request about the agency with which we should work.  If you all think about it, we would love if you prayed along with us for God to clearly lead us to the right agency… which will lead us to the right orphanage… which will lead us to the daughter God knew would be part of our family.  Thanks.

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