Exciting News!

We have a lot of exciting news to share!  First, is that Jim and I are going to be grandparents!  That’s right!  God has blessed Andrew and Crista with a honeymoon baby!  We’ve known for a couple of weeks, but now have permission to publicize the news.  I think we sort of dragged it out of them while visiting via Skype, but they were acting so suspicious!  They dropped too many comments about Crista feeling tired.  Then they kept mouthing words to each other that we interpreted as, “Should we tell?”  When I asked if they had something to tell us, their sheepish looks just confirmed what I had already suspected.  Everyone here erupted with shouts of joy!  Babies are so welcome in this house.  Josiah was okay with the idea of a baby, but he was adamant that he was NOT going to be an uncle!  Too bad, Josiah, you don’t have much choice!  “Uncle Josiah” sounds nice, don’t you think?

Since Andrew and Crista were going to her parents’ home for Thanksgiving, we decided to drive to Virginia and see them on Sunday.  We met them at their church and spent the whole day with them.  They meet for worship in their pastor’s home which made attending an unfamiliar church more comfortable.  We arrived somewhat in disarray as we had a slight accident a few minutes before we arrived.  Since the church usually eats lunch together and we were bringing quite a crew, we brought along some chips and homemade applesauce to add to the meal.  The bowl of applesauce sat obediently through the whole trip until the very last turn, at which point it lost its balance and dumped its contents right at the side door of the van.  As Alyssa reached to grab the bowl, her Bible fell off her lap right into the pile of applesauce.  Her beautiful, full, black skirt also made its way into the mess.  We stopped the van and attempted to rescue what was left of the applesauce and clean off the steps so that everyone would be able to exit the van in a graceful manner.  We found out that a snow scraper and brush comes in handy for things other than snow.  We arrived at the Walkers’ with sticky hands and messy clothes.  I didn’t realize until the service started and I was ready to sit down that the side of my skirt was also covered in applesauce.  Ah, well, so much for good impressions!  If anyone noticed the mess, they never said anything, for which I will be eternally grateful!  The service and fellowship that followed were very encouraging.  A visiting pastor spoke with us for quite awhile and also prayed publically for us regarding our adoption journey.  We left there feeling quite blessed.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Andrew and Crista’s apartment.  It was fun to see it looking so homey after having been there to paint when it was empty.  I think our family overwhelmed it a little as it is only big enough for 2, not 15.  This was the first time we had seen Andrew and Crista since the wedding, so it was nice to have time to sit and talk.  We keep in contact with them through email and Skype, but it is just not the same as being together.  We didn’t leave until almost 8:00 p.m.  We were reminded again at how blessed we are.  We couldn’t have asked for a sweeter wife for Andrew.  We love Crista.  And, Crista, I’m not saying this just because I know you will be reading it.  I mean it.

Is this post getting too long?  I hope you are not too tired reading this because there is more news.  No, we don’t have a travel date yet.  We have not even received news that we are submitted.  But, after much prayer and a leap of faith, we have decided to add two more girls to our family.  I know.  You’re going to say, “What?  Are you crazy?”  Well, maybe we are, but these girls need a family.  Before we committed to Anastasia and Soleil, we were also considering Delta and Brandi.  It made the most sense to commit to Brandi because she has a large grant, but we didn’t want to be dictated by money.  Jim thought Brandi had more chance of getting a family because she is younger and it wouldn’t cost a family so much to commit to her.  My feeling was that if God wanted her for us no one else would step up.  And guess what?  No one has.  God is filling my heart with love for these girls.  I can’t wait to see them.  I am not expecting an easy road ahead.  On the contrary, I know it will be hard, but I am convinced that God will give us everything we need to do the job He has called us to do.  If I was being realistic rather than living by faith, I wouldn’t have started the whole process in the first place.  Receiving USCIS approval looked impossible at the outset, but we have it.  And so, we are again stepping out and trusting God to provide in EVERY way.  Will you pray for us?

Delta-002      Brandi 2013

(Delta on the left, Brandi on the right–Not their real names.)

A Moment of Fear

I’ve been sitting here for the past  half hour trying to write a post for this blog since it’s been awhile since I’ve written.  The right words just don’t seem to be coming.  There isn’t a whole lot to report about the adoption at this time except for the fact that the last of our documents has been placed in the hands of the facilitation team in Eastern Europe.  That is a praise!  Now we wait to hear that our dossier has been submitted to the proper authorities, so we can wait to hear about a travel date.  I do hope we get a little more notice than one of our fellow Reece’s Rainbow families.  Their dossier was submitted October 24 and they expected to travel sometime in January.  Instead they heard on November 25 that they were to leave November 26 for a November 28 appointment in country!  Whew!  They made it over there, but like I said, I hope I have a little more notice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes that are bound to come by adding new children to our family.  It’s really hard to know what to expect.  It seems the key is to remain flexible and expect the unexpected.  I do know that God is in control of everything.  He knows what the girls need.  He knows what we need.  He will bring about what is right for all of us.

Early this morning I had an interesting and moving encounter with God.   I awoke at 3:30 a.m. and was startled to realize that Jim, Isaac, and Simeon had already left for market.  I guess I had forgotten that they were leaving an hour early this morning.  I was confused when I saw the bathroom unoccupied and the lights off downstairs, since they usually get up at 3:30 a.m.  I even checked the boys’ beds to make sure they were really gone.  While I was up, all of a sudden I was gripped with a moment of fear concerning the adoption.  I thought to myself, “What are we doing?  This adoption could change our whole family.”  Immediately these words came to my mind:  “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.”  In my mind I replied, “But I don’t have perfect love!”  “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”   I know it was God speaking to me.  There was no doubt in my mind.  The fear left, but I started quivering inside and knew that I had to write down what had happened before returning to bed.

Thank you, Father, that you know and understand my thoughts from afar, that you are intimately acquainted with all my ways.  “How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with thee.”  (Ps. 139: 17, 18.)

Rejoicing!

Our USCIS approval arrived on our doorstep yesterday morning!  What a relief!  After having the paper notarized, we jumped in the car and headed to Harrisburg where we obtained apostilles for the last two documents that need to be sent to Eastern Europe.  We then had the documents mailed to a family leaving on Friday night for Eastern Europe.  They will place the documents in the hands of the Reece’s Rainbow facilitation team so that our dossier can be completed and submitted to the government agency in charge of adoptions.  Once we are submitted, we will wait to receive our appointment to travel.  We are expecting it to be 8-12 weeks after we are submitted.  We have much to do in the meantime.  We should do some fundraising.  We should make preparations for traveling.  We should learn some Russian.

Still Waiting and Hoping

If laughter relieves stress, I could use some right about now.  But perhaps what I need the most is prayer.  All of our financial documents arrived on the USCIS officer’s desk last Wednesday, but USCIS would not count some of the documents as assets unless we jumped a few more hoops.  Because our retirement annuity has a death benefit value for spousal protection, USCIS needs proof that the annuity can be cashed out now, not just when one of us dies, and they need to know its cash value.  The company holding the annuity was to have faxed a letter to USCIS yesterday, but as of a few minutes ago, USCIS had not received the fax.  I immediately called about the promised letter, but the person I need to speak with is in a meeting, but should be returning my call in the next couple of hours.  We need this letter in order to meet the income requirement for adoption and receive our USCIS approval.

I am trying to remain patient with all of these “delays” because I know that God is in control of every aspect of my life.  None of this is a surprise to Him.  I know in my head that God has a purpose in all of this.  I only wish that my emotions would recognize it and keep pace with my head.  Right now I am remembering some verses from Psalms 42 and 43.  Three times in these two chapters the psalmist says, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?”   Three times he answers, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”  “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God.”  “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God.”

Thank you, Lord, for this reminder.  I needed it.

Laughter Relieves Stress

The USCIS request for evidence letter arrived and after confirming by telephone whether the documents I gathered were sufficient, they were sent and should have arrived in the USCIS mailroom yesterday (Monday, Nov. 4) by 10:30 a.m.  Now we are waiting for the documents to reach the officer’s desk so a decision can be made as to our approval.  I was told last week that there shouldn’t be a problem getting approval as long as they had proof that our financial records are as stated in the home study.  So with that hope we continue to wait.

Waiting is hard.  Waiting demands some comic relief.  That isn’t too hard to find around here when there are so many comedians to choose from.  Last week Isaac brought home an interesting character from market, who was an immediate hit.  Josiah said we were going to keep him forever, but unfortunately he was not of the lasting kind.  The children posed with him, played with him, dressed him up, but he has now found his way to the resting place of all other characters like himself.  His presence in our home brought much laughter to our home and we thank Isaac for being sensitive to our need for stress relief.  I’ve included a few pictures of our special friend.

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Later in the week I was cleaning up the kitchen when two intriguing individuals entered and began conversing with each other.  It was all I could do to continue working without laughing and spoiling the show.  I have yet to figure out what the game was about, but the costumes were quite creative.  Thank you, Josiah and Samuel, for filling our home with laughter.

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