Hope, Wait, and Rest

We are still waiting for our USCIS approval.  What was supposed to be a day or two wait has now stretched into a week and a half.  After contacting USCIS on Monday, we learned that we are to expect a request for evidence letter in the mail.  When I asked what evidence was needed, I was told that it was for assessment of finances.  Apparently having 11 children at home and requesting approval to adopt additional children warrants more substantial evidence of our financial stability than what the home study provides.  We now need to make and send copies of our financial records, and we need to show that some of our children are indeed self-supporting.  I have gathered the documents and am waiting for the expected letter to arrive to make sure I am including everything that has been requested.  The letter was sent on Friday and today is Wednesday.  It has not arrived as yet.  Maybe tomorrow will be the day.

I still believe that there are no delays in this adoption process.  God is orchestrating everything according to His plan.  It does not mean that I am feeling no emotion in regard to the wait.  Today has been a very emotional day.  I have been on the verge of tears several times.  I have been very unmotivated to do school or anything else that I know I need to do.  Maybe I am just tired.  Maybe the cold house is getting to me.  (Our furnace would not start last week and today was the first day anyone could come to check it.  Now we need to wait for a part to fix it and we have no timetable on that.)  Whatever the case, tonight I found myself in need of encouragement from the Lord.  I took myself to my room and found my quiet place on the floor at the foot of my bed.  It was here that I cried out to the Lord and He reassured me that He is working on my behalf.  I often read from Daily Light on the Daily Path.  Today’s reading was this (emphasis mine):

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.–Hath God forgotten to be gracious?  hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?–I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes:  nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.–Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.–Wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.–Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:  fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.–Ye shall not need to fight in this battle:  set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord.–Let us not be weary in well doing:…in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.–Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.”  (Lam. 3:26; Ps. 77:9.–Ps. 31:22; Luke 18:7,8.–Pr. 20:22.–Ps.37:7; 2 Chr. 20:17; Gal. 6:9.–Jas. 5:7.)

After reading this, the tears that were threatening to come all day, came.   What a sweet release!  What a God I serve!  He is my hope.  He is my strength.  He is my salvation.  I will rest in Him while I wait.  I will not fret.  I will trust.  Thank you, Father.


Fingerprinting Is DONE!

The fingerprinting appointments went well on Monday.  We had 8 appointments scheduled between 1:00 and 3:00, so were pleasantly surprised when we were out of there by 1:40 p.m.   It must have been a slow day as no one else was waiting.  We took two cars because the van was at the mechanic’s.  Because of that, I also brought our emergency cell phone, just in case the two cars became separated.  I didn’t think until later that the only other person with a cell phone (Heidi) was riding in the same car with me and, therefore, we couldn’t have contacted the other car if we did get separated!  I just am not used to all this technology and rarely think about cell phones.  (I scarcely know how to use one!  I know you are probably thinking how can anyone NOT know how to use a cell phone, but remember, I really WAS born in a different century than the present one!)  In spite of all that, it was good that we had a phone with us as we had to call home for one of the boys to retrieve the social security numbers of those who have not memorized them as yet.  Alyssa had asked me if we needed SS#s, but I insisted that the appointment letters from the USCIS said we only needed photo IDs and the appointment letters.  That is what the letters said, but I should have taken Alyssa’s suggestion to be on the safe side.

And what about the van?  The mechanic checked the fuel pump and said it tested fine.  He couldn’t find anything else wrong, so we have the van home again.  So, did the van break down on Sunday so that we would take two cars on Monday and therefore the cell phone in order to call for SS#s that we didn’t have with us?  I don’t know.  It’s beyond my understanding.  I do know that God is going before us every step of the way in this adoption journey.  We can trust Him.  I also know that the fingerprinting is complete, we have a USCIS officer assigned to our case, and we should be receiving our approval in the next few days.

And, since this is Wednesday and Awana night, and since I am teaching the group-time lesson and have to be there, AND since the van left me stranded the past two Wednesday nights….I gave Jim the privilege of driving the van to work today!

A Stalled Van–A Blessing in Disguise

God’s hand is continually upon us, guiding us and protecting us.  Wednesday evening before leaving for Awana, we had another interesting issue with the van.  It wouldn’t start.  Now I know this van is 17 years old, but it has always been dependable.  Jim is faithful at maintaining it, so to have 2 issues in a week’s time right before leaving for Awana seemed a bit laughable.  For the second time, the five boys and I piled into Naomi’s 5-person Honda in order to make it to Awana on time.   Naomi usually works on Wednesday evenings, so it was a blessing that she was home these past two Wednesdays and that her car was available to use.  I was thankful that I was again stranded at home and not out on the road somewhere.  Of course when Jim tried to start the van on Thursday, it started for him, thus we did nothing about having it checked.  It was not driven again until this morning when we went to church.  We had no trouble until we pulled into the parking lot, at which point the engine stalled.  After another start, a stall, a start, and a stall, we managed to roll backwards into a parking space where the van sat for the remainder of the morning.  A friend said it sounds as though the fuel pump is having problems.  After church we were able to get it started and were followed home by a sweet lady from church.  The van is now safely parked in the driveway and the mechanic will definitely be called in the morning.

So what’s the point?  Doesn’t everyone have car troubles at times?  Yes, but not everyone has USCIS biometric fingerprinting appointments tomorrow afternoon.  We cannot be late or miss these appointments or our whole USCIS application will be considered abandoned.  Isn’t it gracious of God to allow the van to have problems today so that we would not be stranded somewhere tomorrow and miss our appointments?


Divine Protection

There are days when you just know that God is watching over you and protecting you.  Wednesday of this week was one of those days.  It had been a busy day with the painters here and people running in and out.  Hannah had taken the van out for a quick trip to the store, and, upon returning, had to park the van some distance from its usual spot.  When it was time to leave for Awana, Isaac offered to pull the van up to the house.  After doing so, he came in and mentioned that the brake pedal felt a little strange.  He was right.  The pedal went straight to the floor when depressed.  I tried backing up and stopping, but when the brakes did not respond, I panicked and hit the emergency brake.  We stopped!  There would be no driving of the van that night.  A brake line had broken depositing brake fluid onto the driveway.  We got to Awana on time by cramming six of us into Naomi’s Honda Civic.  All the way there, I was praising God that Hannah didn’t have a problem when she was driving and that the brake line broke while we were sitting in the driveway.  God’s timing really is perfect.

A Mother’s Work Is Never Done

After I wrote the last post about the clutter in my house and my heart, I realized again how hard it is to stay on top of everything, especially if children are in the picture.  Before children, I was able to put everything in its proper place, and everything stayed there.  I took care of my stuff.  I got rid of the things I didn’t want.  I added the things I wanted.  I decorated according to my tastes.  I fixed meals to suit my schedule.  I slept when I was tired, and I wasn’t interrupted.  I worked when I felt like it.  I took breaks when I felt I needed them.  It was I, I, I….  When children came, all of a sudden my perfectly ordered environment experienced some upheaval.  No longer did I have the luxury of sleeping all night.  My projects were interrupted by crying babies or children that needed attention.  Meals were not always ready on time.  The household tasks seemed never-ending, and I found myself getting behind in my desired schedule.  I worked hard everyday, but had little to show for it by the end of the day.  I was tired, cranky, and stressed!  Was having 7 children in 9 years worth it?  Though there were days I questioned my sanity, my heart responded, yes, yes, yes!  God made each of my children for His purpose.  He has good plans for them, AND He has good plans for me.

One great benefit of having children is that God uses them to drive the selfishness out of us.  I had to change my perspective from “me-first” to “others first.”  If I didn’t, the stress would continue to mount and I was liable to explode, hurting those I was meant to nurture and protect.  Jesus took on the form of a servant and that is what I am called to do.  As a mother, I am called to serve my family.  I find that if I serve with a good attitude, I am less stressed.  I learned early in my mothering career that I had to relax my perfectionistic standards and expectations if I wanted the children to help.  Does it really matter if the towels are folded in halves instead of thirds when placed on the towel bar?  No.   Does it matter if the books are placed on the shelves in a particular order?  No.   Does it matter if it takes an hour to do dishes rather than 30 minutes?  No. Does it matter that my orderly rooms turn chaotic during playtime?  No.  Does it matter that my children are learning life skills?  Yes.  Does it matter if my children feel affirmed in their efforts?  Yes.  Does it matter if relationships are being built?  Yes.  Does it matter that I am a joyful mother of children?  Yes.  After 26+ years of mothering, do I respond correctly in every situation?  NO, NO, NO.  Ask my kids.  They know me.  Do I see growth?  Absolutely.  I share this with the hope that you, too, will see God at work in you.  Remember, He knows what is needed to make us into the people we were meant to be.  I guess I needed 12 children to release me from myself.

On the lighter side, a little comic relief goes a long way in helping us cope with the present clutter.  My mom sent me the following comic back in 1996 when I had those 7 children ages 9 and under.  It expressed my situation perfectly, and still does.  Don’t forget, I still have a 5 year old and an 8 year old who at this moment have the hallway and dining room floors covered with animals and “little people” figures.  And where are the boys?  Probably in another room making another mess!

Family Circus 001

Two Kinds of Clutter

What do I say when it seems there is nothing to say?  I am supposed to keep you all informed of our adoption journey, but right now we are in wait mode.  Nothing has changed in the past week except that the mess in my bedroom has been cleared away somewhat, and now there is a new mess in the guest room.  The painters have finished in the kitchen and have moved to the dining room, thus some of the dining room furniture is now in the guest room.  I have two days to clear that out before my sister arrives to use the guest room.  Right now she would be hard pressed to find the bed let alone get to it.

Clutter and I do not get along very well.  Like most people, I have my share of it, but I do not like it.  It steals my joy.  It steals my peace.  It is like an intruder that sneaks in and quietly makes itself at home, thinking I won’t notice.  Oh, I notice, but sometimes I am just too lazy to immediately take care of the problem.  I’ll get to it later when I have time.  By then it is a major problem.  It reminds me a little bit of sin.  A little griping here, a bad attitude there, a thankless heart, a judgmental comment, an apathetic response, all adding up to a cluttered mess within me.  Which kind of clutter do I prefer?  Actually, neither, but the clutter in my heart is the worst.  It has to go.  Change my heart, O God.  Fill me with your Spirit.

Now let’s tackle these rooms.

Tired, But Blessed

We are back from our whirlwind trips to Virginia, the first to Andrew’s wedding in Newport News and the second to Andrew’s apartment near Patrick Henry College.  I hardly know where to begin since my mind is in a bit of a fog.  Guess I need a couple of days to unwind and settle back into routine here at home.  We left very early on Friday morning (3:45 a.m.) in order to avoid the traffic around Baltimore and D.C.  It was a good trip although I admit to closing my eyes through D.C.  I WAS really tired, but it helped my nerves not to watch all the cars racing down the highway at 75+ mph.  I really am a country girl.

Arriving at 8:30 a.m. for the 4:00 p.m. wedding rehearsal, we took a little detour and walked through Colonial Williamsburg.  The parking lot was basically empty when we arrived, so we had the whole place to ourselves.


Of course, we were not buying tickets for our family of 13, so we enjoyed a leisurely walk instead.  We met a local historian taking her daily walk, and she  engaged us in conversation, enchanting us with tidbits of information.  She offered us a private tour if we were ever in the area again.  Williamsburg was the site of Andrew and Crista’s first picture together.  It was the site of their engagement.  We enjoyed trying to find the places we had seen in their pictures.  Although we didn’t see inside any of the buildings, we enjoyed our visit and felt rich when we left.  We ate our picnic lunch outside the visitor’s center before heading off to Newport News.


The children were appalled at all the coins people threw away!


Heidi and Samuel are the best of friends.


A little monkey in a tree!


Jim and Linda.


The face in the tree.


Isaac and Elisha in the pillory.


You didn’t know being in the pillory could be so much fun!


Simeon and Isaac in the stocks. Samuel and Josiah want to try them out, too.


Isaac and Alyssa resting after our leisurely walk.

Being new to the area, we never did quite figure out where we were going.  We went from Williamsburg to Crista’s house, from her house to the motel, from the motel to Langley Air Force Base for the rehearsal, from the base to the restaurant for the dinner, from the restaurant back to the motel.  I can’t tell you how many times we got turned around, and I can’t tell you where each of those places was in relation to the other.  I felt positively dizzy some of the time.  But, we somehow managed to get everywhere we needed to be at least close to the time we needed to be there.

The wedding on Saturday was beautiful and the weather for the outdoor reception was perfect.  I’m sure I cannot describe it half as well as pictures.  I made it through the whole service without crying.  I had already done that at the rehearsal!  It was just so beautiful to see my firstborn standing up on the platform making his vows to Crista.  I was so proud of him.  Jim opened the service while Crista’s dad walked her up the aisle.  Then her dad, who is an air force chaplain, took over and performed the ceremony.  It was a God-honoring service.  There was even a touch of humor with Mr. Richey’s pronouncement, “Andrew, you may now kiss your bride on the lips for a change!”  Crista is the perfect bride for Andrew.  We are so blessed to welcome her into our family.


Josiah fell asleep on the way to the wedding.


The chapel at Langley Air Force Base was decorated with tulle and wildflowers. The wedding gown hanging at the back of the chapel was Crista’s grandmother’s.


Naomi is being productive while waiting for pictures.




Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Herr!


Our newest daughter, Crista Herr!


Andrew and Crista being chauffeured to the reception in Andrew’s 1992 Lincoln.


Isaac, you are supposed to be chauffeuring, not hamming for the camera!


Greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Richey as the happy couple arrives at the reception.


Naomi enjoying scones and spiced cider with Aunt Wendy, and cousins Grace, Rachel, Maryrose, and Rebekah.


Isaiah enjoying time with his friends Gideon, Silas, and Caleb. What handsome young men!


Samuel, Kenan, and Josiah feeling like little grown-ups!


Two little princesses, Lorelei and Cosette.


Beautiful wedding cakes created by Mrs. Richey and friends.

We spent Saturday evening visiting with friends and family, then drove home on Sunday. We were so ready to get out of the car after waiting for an accident to be cleared off the road and after missing a turn and having to double back again.  We were not totally excited about driving again on Monday, but that was the plan.  Jim, Heidi, Isaac, and I left before 6:00 a.m. to head to Andrew’s apartment in order to paint and clean before he and Crista move in.  We had visions of staying overnight to complete the job, but we ran out of paint.  We were able to clean the appliances, cabinets, blinds, floors, furniture, and bathroom.  It was a big job, but we were glad to bless them with a clean apartment.  We were also glad to sleep in our own beds last night rather than on the hardwood floor.

It was late afternoon yesterday when I called home to see how everyone was faring. Naomi greeted me with the good news that we all received our biometrics (fingerprinting) appointments!  They are scheduled for October 21 which is a Monday!!  Monday is the one day of the week that everyone in our household is home.  That is a real answer to prayer!  Now we can all go together and no one has to ask off work or reschedule their appointment.  We also received notice that our documents have been handed over to the facilitator handling our adoption in Eastern Europe.  That is a blessing, too.  Just to have them out of my hands is a relief!

Another blessing is that our family sponsorship page on Reece’s Rainbow went up almost $1600 while we were away!  Thank you to all those who contributed to our adoption fund.  You have truly blessed us.  We continue to rely on God to supply all that is needed for this adoption.