Saturday, January 31, 2009

When Every Day Counts

We received our (Ethiopian) court date for Baby Jackson this week. It is scheduled for April 10th. This is about two weeks further out than I hoped for, but at least we have a date. We just have to keep this baby covered in prayer until we get him home.

I find myself counting and re-counting days until we get him home. I’m so happy there are only 28 days in February. But I am sad there are 31 days in January and March. Yes, friends, that’s what it’s come down to for me. I’m splitting hairs (or in this case, hours).

April 10th might as well be the year 2020. That’s how far away it seems to me. When we received our referral, Baby Jackson was only seven weeks old. By the time we travel to bring him home (best case scenario the end of April—providing we pass court the first time) he will be five months old. I think of how many things we will miss in his development in these three-plus months. I know—I should not be looking at the final phase of our adoption like this, but I can’t help it. Having reared a child I know how much he will grow in these early, formative months. And I want to be there to not only witness it, but to comfort his fears and love him and nurture him too.

So please, keep Baby Jackson and our upcoming court date in your prayers over the coming months. Pray for protection over Baby Jackson. Pray for strength, patience and love on behalf of the AWAA staff and care givers in-country and at the transition home. Pray for wisdom and discernment for the AWAA staff compiling our (all waiting families) paperwork/files. And most of all, pray that the Ethi*pian judges and M*WA staff come to know the Lord. Pray they process our cases with wisdom and discernment and absence pride and prejudice. I believe in the power of prayer. And I believe in the power of many prayers. Please, everyone, get on your knees and petition the Lord to bring our little guy home.

2 Corinthians 1:10-12

10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our[
a] behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Want to be Like David

One of my devotionals has me skipping around the book of Psalm this month. I’ve read them often over the years but for some reason the chapters and verses are really speaking to me this time around. I have an entirely new appreciation for David.

I’ve always been in awe of David. He was God’s chosen son yet he was utterly flawed. Just like me, he was perfectly human. He made mistakes time and time again, but God truly loved him and never gave up on him. And God did not like to see David’s enemy’s closing in on him.

But something really spoke to me in Psalm 3 today.

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
"God will not deliver him."
Selah [
3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift [
b] up my head.
4 To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.
7 Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

The faith David exudes in this albeit short Psalm is almost incomprehensible to me. David is facing tens of thousands of his foes, yet he has the utmost faith that God will deliver him from this situation. He’s not standing there wringing his hands saying, “Poor me,” or “What am I going to do?” No! First and foremost he is giving God the just glory that is rightfully his. Then he reiterates God’s power and faithfulness.

I want to be like David! I want to have that confidence. After all—that’s exactly what we’re instructed to do.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sick of Being Sick

I’ve been so vigilant this winter in my attempts to avoid any and all cold and flu bugs. As I’ve watched people around me suffer with colds and flu (including husband Greg) I’ve been obsessive compulsive in washing my hands and the application of hand sanitizer. I’ve been faithfully taking my vitamins and zinc. I’ve been drinking orange juice with grapefruit seed extract every time I had a tickle in my throat. I continued to work out (which boosts your immune system), ate ginger, got plenty of rest, blah, blah, blah…. And all to no avail.

Yep. I was hit with the mother-of-all-flu-bugs this week. It all began with a sore throat Monday. By Tuesday morning I was in the throes of a high fever, body aches and headache. Here it is Saturday morning and I’m not much better. And I’m a miserable bear. My poor husband has borne the brunt of my grumbling. And last night wasn’t pretty. I snapped at the poor guy in the middle of the night because his snoring was peeling the wallpaper (well, I’m embellishing—we don’t actually have wallpaper) off the walls. All I wanted was to get a decent night of sleep. This has been my bed for the past four nights.

Although this chaise may look big in this photo, the flat portion is probably only three and half feet in length before it begins to curve upward. Thank goodness I’m short! I’ve been sleeping on this for two reasons: 1) Greg snores (see paragraph two) and I’ve not been sleeping soundly to begin with and; 2) Because I’ve been tossing, turning and blowing my nose like mad.

So please, say a little prayer that I’m better soon, because in all honestly I don’t like being a mean, grumpy person. It’s so out of character for me. To use the phrase of a very dear friend of mine, “It gives me the feel-sorries.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I need a doctor, stat!

It’s absolutely maddening, I tell you!

I’ve been searching for a pediatrician (in South Florida) with experience in international medicine—primarily one who specializes in post-adoption evaluations. I come up empty-handed in every search.

Ironically (and sadly) a search for plastic surgeons in South Florida, however, gives me 438,000 results in .28 seconds. It is me, or is that just ridiculous? One would think Miami, being the international hub that it is, would have someone experienced in this field of medicine. For the record, Ohio has pediatricians specializing in international medical in Akron, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but when I think of Ohio I don’t necessarily think of a cultural melting pot. Cultural, yes. Melting pot, not so much…


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Exodus 15:11

“Who among the gods is like you, O LORD?
Who is like you—
Majestic in holiness,
Awesome in glory
Working wonders?”

I have spent so much of my life feeling as if I’ve received the “short end of the stick”. But when I truly dig into my memory bank I realize how much God has blessed me over the years. But I probably wouldn’t have realized this had I not met my husband. Like me, my husband had a less-than-storybook upbringing. But you know what? God has more than compensated for any loss we may have experienced throughout our lives. The older I get, the more I realize God has given us many gifts and blessings to make up for anything we have lacked.

And for this, I offer up praise and worship today to my Father in heaven for all the beautiful blessings he has so graciously bestowed upon me throughout my life.

Exodus 15:1-3

“…I will sing to the LORD…
The LORD is my strength and my song:
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name.”

Thank you, my Heavenly Father. All praise, glory and honor be to you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I am so in love!

I look at the photos we received in our referral email and I am head-over-heels in love with this child. He is perfect in every way.

I admit, throughout sixteen months of waiting for this referral, I wasn’t certain what I would feel toward Baby Jackson. I knew I would be grateful and feel relief and joy. But I didn’t know if I would feel an immediate bond with this child.

I’ve given birth. I have a daughter. I know what it’s like to feel that in utero connection. It’s begins immediately once you know a child is present. You begin to take care of yourself and ultimately the child living within you. You watch what you eat. You get enough rest. And once you feel movement, well that's an entirely different story. A bond is undeniably formed from that point forward. You can’t help it because you know there is someone present within.

Well, I can tell you that I felt that same connection as soon as I opened the file of Baby Jackson’s photo. I fell immediately head-over-heels in love. I instinctively felt that same urge to protect and care for this tiny individual, just as I felt for my daughter. I can’t wait to touch him; to hold him; and to smother him with kisses. He is mine. And I am his. And I am so in love…

The Tears Won't Stop Flowing

1 Samuel 1:27-28

27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD."…

I have so much to tell so I’m simply going to start writing and see where this takes me. (I tried to post a brief version of this story on my blog Thursday evening, but I hit some key that erased the entire post. So I guess I wasn’t supposed to be brief in telling this story. And in retrospect, it would’ve been a slight to God to not give him the fullest glory possible for what he did Thursday.) Bear with me—this is a long one.

We received our long-awaiting referral call from AWAA Thursday. It is a day and date I will never forget. After sixteen sometimes torturous months of waiting, we finally know who our son is! But the call wasn’t the only thing that is so memorable.

The day began like any other day. I got up at 4:45 AM and went to the gym as usual. I had a great workout. I came home, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed into Baby Jackson’s room for my daily devotionals and prayer time. And immediately as I sat down God revealed an answer to me that I had been searching for since November. (Mind you, it is important for you to know this does not happen to me often. God has spoken to me a couple of times over the past few months, but typically I do the talking and God does the listening.) I had been praying ardently for something relating to the adoption and felt as if I wasn’t getting any response from God. It was about a matter that I truly did not want to respond to on my own. I wanted my action(s) to be fully according to God’s will but I wasn’t receiving any direction from him. The previous day (Wednesday) we had to meet a deadline for something and I made the best decision I could with information I had at hand, hoping it was pleasing to God. In sitting down for my morning of prayer, God told me that what I had done was of HIM. And I was so happy because it was made so clear to me. I literally smiled, raised my hand and said aloud, “THANK YOU.”

I finished reading my devotionals and moved into reading the designated scriptures. (I began reading a devotional last year that walks you through the Bible. I began mid-year with Isaiah and began Genesis January 1st.) Thursday’s reading was about Joseph and his reunion with his brothers in Egypt. Not to go too far afield, I am estranged from my siblings for reasons that have nothing to do with me. It has been their choice to extricate themselves from my life. Over the years I’ve tried to re-establish a relationship with them but my efforts have gone unanswered. Now, you may ask yourself what does this have to do with our referral. Well, to me it has nothing, yet everything to do with it. You see, it’s what God has placed (or in this case removed) from my heart. I’ve been very bitter about a family matter as of late. (Refer to previous blog entry.) And as I read this chapter about Joseph I decided I would send my sister a card. The only thing I wrote in the card is the following:

1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

“XXXX, Know you are loved. Bobbie”

And that’s it. That’s all I wrote. I just wanted my sister to know that no matter what has happened in the past, she is loved by God and she is loved by me. This small gesture opened up a huge pathway in my heart. This action combined with my admission of doubt and frustration in my blog the previous evening literally took a weight off my shoulders. All I could think of was this scripture:

Matthew 11:29-30

29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I was a thousand pounds lighter!

I put my Bible down, moved onto my hands and knees, bunched up as tight as I could with my forehead resting on the floor and began to pray. I began with a prayer of thanks for God’s revelation to me in his answer to my many months of prayers. And the tears began to flow. I could feel God’s presence in the room with me. And I was crying and praying aloud, prayers of thanksgiving for all God has done in my life, for all of the wonderful blessings far too numerous to name, literally like grains of sand on the beach and stars in the sky. I prayed for forgiveness for all of my sins and shortcomings, confessing my doubt and fear. And as I prayed I felt God place a blanket (or robe) over my shoulders and his hands were resting on my shoulders and he was telling me, “It’s okay. I’m here with you.” And I saw, in a vision, our stack of paperwork in someone’s hands. And he told me (without words) that our referral was coming; that is was underway. I didn’t know when. I didn’t see that, only that it was coming. I finished my prayers, emotionally spent and overwhelmed by the experience.

I got up and went in to the kitchen and texted an important prayer warrior in my life to tell her what had just happened. She called me and we talked about it. I told her our referral would be coming soon. I didn’t know when, but I had total peace in my heart that we would be hearing from AWAA – soon.

I went to work and received a call from our adoption coordinator regarding an email I had sent the previous week. Mind you, I have had very little unsolicited contact from AWAA during the past sixteen months. So when I saw the area code, my heart literally stopped. But Terra began the conversation saying she thought she would call me instead of emailing her response. We talked for a few minutes and then I joked with her about calling me out of the blue like that when I’m so close to a referral. She admitted that we were “very” close. I joked with her that she needed to use the code work “Jackson” when she would be calling with our referral and that if she called again and I didn’t hear that word then I would know it was just a regular old “business” call. We laughed and concluded the conversation. I texted my prayer warrior friend to tell her what had happened and we bantered back and forth about it via text messages. I went back to work (still a bit shaken) to finish a project Greg needed for a meeting.

About an hour and half later my phone rings again. I see it is AWAA’s area code and again, my heart stops. I answer and it is our coordinator. I hear the word, “Jackson.” And that’s it. I completely lose my mind. I fall to my knees and I am crying so hard I can barely speak. I can’t breathe. She tells me a bit about the baby boy God has sent us. And he is perfect.

I do not know what I am supposed to do with all of these words, but I do know I was supposed to put pen to paper to chronicle this story. If not for you, the reader, it is for our son, Jackson. The course of this journey was plotted not by me or Greg, but by our loving and gracious Father in heaven.

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And I ask all of you to continue to pray for us and for Baby Jackson until he is safely home. There are still many bureaucratic obstacles to overcome before the process is complete. So please, I implore you, continue praying this sweet child home.Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. We are forever grateful.

Proverbs 16:3-4

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. 4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends—

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Girding My Loins

I have not been a faithful blogger. It's been more than a month since my last post. There were numerous holiday parties throughout December. Christmas has come and gone. Ditto for New Year's eve/day. The tree is gone. The decorations are packed away. Work has resumed and time marches on.

I'm minimizing things of course. The holidays were wonderful. We traveled to Cincinnati to spend Christmas with family. We were blessed to spend almost five full days with our cousins and Godson. It was so wonderful to be around family. I miss them. I wish daughter Brittany would've joined us, that's the only thing that would have made it absolutely 100% perfect. But alas, she spent Christmas with hubby Mike at home. But that's okay. We'll get to see them in March, God willing, when they come to visit.

Christmas was bittersweet this year. I learned Christmas Eve day that my mother was in the hospital undergoing surgery. She had actually been there for three days. I was saddened beyond words that no one had bothered to contact me. But that's a story I won't go into right now. I was also disappointed that we were really no closer to a referral for our child at the end of December then we were in the beginning of October. As we celebrated last Christmas I was pretty certain we would at least know who our little guy is this Christmas, but that didn't happen. I won't lie. I was a sad about that. I felt as if we had been at a standstill for a long, long time.

Referrals began to flow the first week of January though. And they continue to do so at a record pace. On the YG unofficial list we are number two in line for an infant boy. I am on pins and needles every single day. And on the days when there have been referrals I don't know whether to puke or cry as I wait for the phone to ring. And that's the honest truth. That's how worked up I get.

My greatest concern over the past several weeks though has been what seems to be a constant barrage of spiritual warfare I'm undergoing. This doesn't really surprise me. The more you walk your spiritual walk, the more Satan comes after you. And I've really been using this waiting period to dig deeper into God's word and spend more time in prayer and meditation. So it stands to reason the devil would come a knockin'. I've been bitter (see paragraph 3), I've been quick to become angry over silly things, I've been full of self-pity, and I've doubted God's faithfulness. I've had some very dark days as of late. But my greatest mistake has been to think that God condemned me for these thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit may have convicted me, but I'm responsible for the condemning. Me and only me.

So, I'm going to pick myself up and brush myself off and start all over again. That's the beauty of life. I get a do over tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day.... You get what I mean. Isn't God great?!?!

Psalm 86:15

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.