our work

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Together!!

My wonderful family arrived safely in Manila on Wednesday night (Wednesday morning in the US).   The next morning, they were met at their hotel by an ICAB social worker and escorted to Samaritan's Place. 
My husband reports that Francis was shy at first but quickly warmed up and they are all having  a great time together.  He took the kids to a mall to see Transformers 3 and spend a little time just hanging out.  I was blessed to have been able to skype TWICE already and have confirmation of what I have known for almost one year now.  Francis is meant to be in our family.  I knew in the deepest part of my heart that this was true but nothing "seals the deal" like seeing him with my two oldest kids. The rapport is already building.  When  we skyped for the second time, the kids were playing Uno in the background. I could hear them laughing and giving each other a hard time.  I could see them acting silly and posing for the camera - it's just "right" that he should be with us.  It's a difficult sense to put into words but that's the best I can do.   How about if I let the pictures do the talking?    My husband didn't have  a chance to take his usual 10,000 photos yesterday but he shared a few that I would like to share with you.
Thank you, dear friends, for praying for this adoption. Please continue to pray for safe travel home and for God to continue to knit all of my family members' hearts together in the way that only He can.  It is my prayer that God is glorified somehow through this adoption process.
For His Fame,
Nikki
Chillin' during their 24+ plus hours of flying!

Elliana the Artist passing time on a flight

Finally able to stretch those legs!


Just moments after meeting for the first time!!!!


Anthony finally gets some real taho (yum)
Francis tries on the converse I sent (you've gotta have Chucks in THIS family)
Aaron plays a little piano for the staff

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Utterly Dependent

The title of this post may very well make a reader believe it's going to be deep. Spiritual. A discussion of our helplessness without the Lord.   Nope. This post is about my internet!  
My husband and two precious teenagers are now in Manila and in just a few hours they will meet Francis in person for the first time!!!!!!   Our family of seven becomes a family of eight in just six hours or so!  How blessed I am! Also, how neurotic! 
If I had decided to sit down and post yesterday, the post would have had a very different tone. Exasperated. Upset. Despondent.  Ungrateful.  Our internet has been down for three days due to some severe storm activity.
I called to get help from our company only to find that no technician was available for FIVE WHOLE DAYS. 
Normally that would not be a big deal. I may have even welcomed the "outage" as a chance to get back to playing board games with the kids or cleaning out some unvisited corner of my house. But my family is overseas! I was not going to be able to skype in on their first meeting.   I was so distraught.  To top it all off, I went out into our backyard yesterday while the two youngest children were watching a cartoon. I was gone for literally three minutes. When I tried to reenter the house, I found Ezekiel had opened our laundry room door and "trapped" me outside.  I panicked and pushed the door so hard that it bent the track the laundry room door rests on and knocked it right off!!!   I tried to fix it but it's awkward, heavy and I'm no "handy woman".  I decided to "google" an article on how to repair the door track when it dawned on me, I had no internet connection.  Add the fact that it was still two more days until grocery day and I had nothing "easy" to make for dinner so I knew that thawing, chopping and plenty of cooking were on my agenda.
How's that for a whiny run-down of a day????? I went to the front porch and had a pity party which involved a few tears and a good bit of praying.   Suddenly, two things dawned on me.  First, I thought about  how ridiculously I was behaving.  I talk and blog about the sovereignty of God and suddenly when my day goes south, He's not in charge?  It's not a part of His plan in any way, shape or form?  Second, I had a wave of compassion for all the single mothers out there!  I can't handle two days of "singleness" with grace and yet I know women who have done it for years!  Who changes their lightbulbs? Who watches the kids for an hour while they go to book club?  Who puts their laundry room doors back on track and says "oh, you look tired, let's go out for pizza tonight"? Who takes the dogs out at the end of the night because they get all creeped out at the thought of stepping on a frog or a snake?  Nobody. 
If any part of God's plan for yesterday included making me grateful for my amazing, handsome, handy man of a husband, I can confidently say "mission accomplished".    If any part of the enemy's plan for yesterday included exploiting some pretty lame aspects of my character, I can also say "mission accomplished".  
I can't help but think about the apostle Paul and how content he learned to be "in every circumstance".
I want so much to think like that and right now, I do.  My internet is back on, the door is fixed and my sweet neighbor is bringing us dinner! 
What a difference a day makes. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The COUNTDOWN

In a few short days, three of the people I love most in this world will board an airplane and make their way, ever-so-slowly to The Philippines.  Right now, the greater Manila area is drenched in flood waters from tropical storm "Falcon".   I just finished reading an article and watching a news broadcast (in Tagalog but I got the gist) about the evacuations, missing children, lost fishermen and impassable roadways.  I am afraid.
The excitement of finally meeting my new son in person is tempered with the realization that the conditions where he lives are not the best right now.
I am keeping this post short and asking for every reader to pray for my family.  Please ask the Lord to deliver them safely to Manila and safely back to me again.     Thank you so very much!
For His Fame,
Nikki

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FAMILY NEEDED (WELL, TWO FAMILIES, ACTUALLY)

I have recently become aware of two young ladies in The Philippines who are in desperate need of families.
They are not related and will  go two separate placements and THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!  Both need to be adopted in practicing Christian homes - where a walk with Christ is the focus of the family.
Both girls are around ten years old and understand that they will be adopted.  Aside from being gorgeous, their write ups look very, very good. 
I wish I could post pictures and specifics but the rules of the ICAB prevent me from doing so.  Please log on to our adoption agency web site and take a look at the criteria and fees for Philippine adoptions Christian Adoption Services .    You can also send me an email here  for more information.
Above all, please pray for these girls, that they get the chance to live out their lives as someone's precious daughters. . . that a daddy comes in to offer them protection like only a daddy can . . . that they get a Mama to show them the path to womanhood.   God designed children for families. There's no better place!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ready, Set, GO!!!!

A LOT has happened since my last blog post just a couple of days ago.  I'm not much of a list maker but just for today, I think I'll write a list:
1. Big family meeting to pray about who gets to travel to meet Francis took place
2. A  tiny tantrum occurred  at said meeting (hey, I was PMS-ing, give me a break)
3. My husband and two oldest children won the bid to travel (I'm okay with it now)
4. Tickets were purchased (3 round trip and 1 glorious one-way)
5. Francis had his Embassy interview and all went well (except he got publicly sick in front of a restaurant after the interview, much to the horror of the patrons eating  just inside the window, I'm sure)
6. Boxes and boxes of gifts and orphanage donations have been received, packed and repacked to meet the airline weight requirement.

Those are the biggies this week. Lots of great little things have happened but those were definitely the big, exciting steps taken toward bringing our son home.  
I have developed a wicked case of insomnia  on top of it all. I don't feel stressed or worried, I'm just so excited that I can't sleep. If I wake, I start thinking about the adoption, the travel, the closeness of it all and I'd rather lay in bed and daydream than actually sleep, I guess.    Today, after a full week and 5 days of teaching preschool Vacation Bible School, it all caught up with me and I was wiped out. My sweet husband took the three youngest kids to the pool at the YMCA and I was able to doze in front of the TV - the movie was "Mask" with Cher playing a biker chick mothering a physically deformed teen son - it was almost too interesting to fall asleep to but I somehow managed. 

I am starting to field calls and requests from friends and family members who want to come to the airport when Francis arrives. I'm honored and thrilled!  They have every right to come and I'm touched they would ask. So many people have walked with us through this adoption, prayed for us, donated, encouraged and loved on us that there was never even a thought of keeping his "welcome home" all to myself.   How wonderful for Francis to see a crowd of people anticipating his arrival!  I hesitate to put times and details on the blog because I have had a few "weirdos" over the years contact me via this blog fishing around for information but if you're a friend in real life, you know how to find me and I'll be glad to let you know when to be where. I'll probably be so keyed up I'll need a ride rather than driving anyway!  

Keep those prayers coming, friends. Our father is faithful and as I see the finish line on this adoption, I also see the start of a new family and all that comes with it.  The good and the bad, the stress and the joy, the peace and the worry and I say BRING IT ON!!!!

                                                    Mom, Ezekiel and Daddy (above)
Lemuel carrying lunches for the homeless ministry

Our two oldest (in the center) handing out lunches at the homeless ministry

Our sweet Ky Ky tried fondue for the first time

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This is the Day

As I type this post, it is 10pm in the US and 10 am in Manila, at the US Embassy where our new son is having his visa interview!!!!!!!    I have prayed off and on for hours for his safe travel to Manila, a smooth interview, a quick process and a SUPER fast printing of the visa.   Just when I think I've prayed over every angle of this day, I think of  something else I should pray about in regard to this day.  What do people do who don't know the Lord? Do they just worry endlessly?  Do they busy themselves with mundane tasks and push the thoughts of what is happening out of their minds?  Do they feel so much stress that they can't function? I am so grateful that I don't know the answer to those questions because I DO know Him and I know that He has this day firmly in the palm of His hand.   He's my daddy and he's doing what he does best - handling the details of  life!   It's days like this that I am extra glad that I am His and He is mine!   

Monday, June 13, 2011

Family Wanted

Through an online Philippine adoption group, I have recently become aware of a child who is in need of a family. His name is Jan Jan and he is 11 years old.  He is in The Philippines in an orphanage. He was hosted by a US family last summer and this family wanted to pursue his adoption. He was reportedly a great kid within the home. The host mother's heart is with this child but her children do not agree. For a  Philippine adoption, all the children in the family have to agree. It's an ICAB rule.   In any case, please pray for a family for Jan Jan. Take a look at host mother's blog HERE .   She describes Jan Jan, shares some photos and a heartfelt plea for a family to consider this young man.   Please spread the word!   Boys  are great!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

He Knew

 From Psalm 139
13For you formed my inward parts;
   you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
   my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
   intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,
   the days that were formed for me,
   when as yet there was none of them.

I love this passage of scripture! It speaks right to a mother's heart.  I remember reading it when I was only 24 years old and pregnant with my first precious child.  I never worried about his "health" or "condition" while he grew inside because I knew that God was doing the "knitting" and whatever He chose to create would be just right.  I refused all prenatal testing except for the ultrasound because I just loved to look at him.   "Fearfully and wonderfully made"? No doubt!  He and his biological sister were both deeply-wanted, longed-for miracles and I was in awe of them from the moment the "stick" turned blue (ha ha). I still am.  I knew God had a special plan for these babies and I could not wait to be a part of that plan!

Now that I am an experienced  adoptive parent, this passage of scripture has taken on new relevance.  It is no less true of our adopted children as it is of our biological children. Some of our adopted children have terribly sad birth circumstances, yet they are still "wonderful works".  One of our sons has Down Syndrome (a condition which, when diagnosed prenatally in the US results in a 90% abortion rate) and  it is so obvious to us, and all who know him, that he was intricately woven together in his mother's womb.  He is a cherished part of this family and our shiny star!

Reading this passage of scripture always makes my heart go out to our boys' birthmothers.  How could they know, in their most desperate circumstances, that something wonderfully God-ordained would come from their pain?   I wish I could talk to these women, thank them, and let them know that a loving Heavenly Father did not let their legacy end in tragedy.   I pray for them often. I ask God to reveal Himself to these women and comfort them, especially on my sons' birthdays.   To a God who knits and weaves only beautiful things, I say  "yes, your works ARE wonderful! My soul knows it VERY well."  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mercy?

Well, it happened.  Just as I knew it would.  I expected it in much the same way as one person watches another person blow a balloon up way too much . . . the cringe before the "pop" . . . I waited and it happened.
Lemuel told his first big lie since returning home from treatment.  "What's the big deal?"  you might ask. "Kids lie"  you might say.  Yes, some do.  For Lemuel, lying is a symptom of a bigger issue.   He just can't seem to trust.   The lie he told is not what's important, though.  It's what God did in the hearts of those of us in command over here.    Bear in mind two things. First, we are fairly strict parents.  We are coming from years of "Growing Kids God's Way" , detoxing if you will, and have to work hard not to be overly legalistic with our children.  Second, for us lying is one of the ugliest offenses we encounter simply because of the heart from which a lie springs - selfish, fearful, unwilling to trust, wanton and uncaring. Just plain old fashioned SINFUL.
When Lemuel decided to lie right to my face yesterday, I felt the Lord so strongly speak to my heart that it actually startled me.  I was just about to impose a punishment for the lie when God literally shut my mouth and impressed on my heart to "love him through this one".   Internally, I argued with God thinking "okay, I'm going to give this kid hugs and kisses and a free pass to lie? LIE? One of the behaviors I abhor the most?"
"That's exactly what you're going to do",  He impressed on my heart.   So I did.   The response was not what I expected.  Lemuel began to panic!  He said "I'm not the same as before I went to treatment. I'm not going to tell any more lies. I don't know why I do but I'm going to stop. It makes you not feel close to me when I lie and I don't like that!".  He was speaking too fast and breathing hard.   I have NEVER seen him show genuine repentance, especially right after an offense.  Any glimmer of regret usually comes hours later, after he's had time to strategize a little.   I assured him that lying to us won't send him back to treatment (I wondered if his strong response was due to the fear of being taken back).  But he said "I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about how I want to show everyone that I can tell the truth."   And that was that.  We moved on.
For THIS offense, for THIS day, that was enough.  When he lies again, and I do believe he will ( it's so much a part of his coping and defense mechanisms)  we will have to weigh  the response carefully.  Showing mercy was exactly what was required for this "first offense" after treatment - a little testing of the waters for all of us.
Extending mercy felt just right in this situation.  Receiving mercy always feels good, albeit humbling.
I should know. I receive it all the time from my Heavenly Father and from these precious people he's fashioned into my family.  I am counting on the principle of sewing and reaping on this one:
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."  Sermon on the Mount.
Lord, thank you for your mercy that is new every morning.  Please give us wisdom  to know when mercy is fitting and when justice is required.   My constant prayer . . . MORE OF YOU, LESS OF ME!
Amen.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Taking Issue

I've noticed in my recent blog reading  what seems to be a marked increase in Believers "taking issue" with one another.  The amount of hair splitting that goes on in the blog world, on facebook and other such forums is starting to be downright discouraging.  For example, a fellow bloggy friend recently wrote a beautiful post about the "rescue" of their severely disabled daughter from an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  The word "rescue" could have been replaced with the word "adoption"  but, you see, children such as her daughter end up transferred to institutions around age 5 where they lay unattended to until they eventually die - most often below the age of ten.  My friend DID rescue this child from such a fate.  She was so severely chastised by fellow adoptive parents for using the word "rescue", most claiming to be Christ followers, that she removed her blog post.  I saw a few of the remarks after her post and could not believe the harshness, the haughtiness and the downright nastiness of some of the comments.  Most of them came from fellow bloggers with addys like "livingforJesus@ . . " or "childofhteking@ . . ."    

I, myself, have received a few comments or private emails since entering the blog world that have expressed sentiments along this same vein.  I used a word that offended.  I expressed an opinion that someone felt was unfair.  That is to be expected. Blogging puts you "out there" in ways that keeping a private journal never will. We bloggy types have to develop a little thicker skin in order to share our hearts with an unknown readership.
I actually LIKE a little dissension if it's phrased respectfully and comes from someone who seems to have well-thought-out ideas.  It falls under the "iron sharpening iron" category and makes me think, sometimes even rethink and investigate. It holds me accountable. (Although "Trish in Texas" who called me a "child collector" was just a jealous meanie - no iron to sharpen my iron there. . . ha ha . . how do you like me now, Trish? Here comes number SIX . . . boo yah!).   Ahem . .

Some might be thinking "why blog at all?".  After all, isn't it a little self promoting? Isn't it the cyber version of reality TV? What makes me any better than the Kardashians?   I would submit to you that, for me, blogging is none of those.    I blog for two reasons.  First, I genuinely feel that in some small way, my blog can help or encourage another family - especially a family considering adoption.  Second, God has just been so amazingly, surpassingly GOOD to our family, despite our many many shortcomings, that I find this blog a great venue for lifting HIM up.   That's it.  I'm not trying to change anyone's doctrine or guilt them into adopting the most disabled kid on the block.  I certainly don't think readers should aspire to emulate our family, except to open their lives to Jesus and say "here we are. . . do what you want!".

I'm asking readers to consider one small question.  If you are a Christ follower and happen to blog or comment on blogs, ask yourself if the item you are about to post does more to build up or tear down the body of Christ. After all, many non Believers read blogs, too . . . and comments.  What a great witness we might be if we learn to approach one another in love and humility!  

With that in mind, I say to "Trish in Texas", whatever pain has come into your life to make you such a bitter, angry, critical,  mean spirited woman, rest assured, Jesus  can heal you and give you a new set of eyes to see children the way He sees them.   They are worth it, Trish.  Every cent, every tear and every trip to the doctor.
I am privileged to have such a beautiful "collection".

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What a Difference A Year Makes

 What kind of narcissist sits around reading her own blog posts from a year ago?? Yeah . . . that would be me (ha ha).   I ran across the following quote from a blog entry I typed on June 5, 2010 . . . almost exactly a year ago.  It said:

"I am absolutely loving this time of year. It's hot and humid and practically every day is capped off by an evening thunderstorm or rain shower.
In spite of all the joy, I have little peace. I committed the cardinal sin of reading through Christian Adoption Service's latest list of waiting children. Those of you who know me at all know exactly where this post is headed . . . yes, I am hopelessly in love with a child on the list. I have his file. I know it by heart. He is older (almost 15) and had a very rough start in life. He is in a Christian orphanage, loves Jesus, plays music, sings and even has an "emo" haircut like my oldest son. He ages out in one year and will be unadoptable."  

I went on to discuss how there was no way the Inter Country Adoption Board would allow us to start the process so soon after Ezekiel's adoption, and how we were still recovering financially from Zeke's adoption anyway. I went on to lament that my husband was not ready to adopt again . .. blah, blah blah . . . I'll bet the whole time I'm typing the Lord is looking at me with a shrug and thinking "maybe you should ask ME what I think about this adoption"!

Isn't that CRAZY?  This post was written only three months after Ezekiel came home and several months before the ICAB consented to allow us to pursue Francis' adoption!   Now I know more than just his FILE by heart, I know his voice, his mannerisms, his accent, so many things that the pieces of paper could not convey. I know how perfectly he's going to fit in over here.   I know he never fully gave up hope as he waited for a family. I know he is ours. That was the plan all along. It couldn't be better.  I can't grieve over the 15 years we didn't know him, I can only rejoice in the next 15 . . .or 50 . . . that we get to be present!
I KNOW that by the end of this month, Lord willing, we will be face to face!

Ephesians 3:20-21

English Standard Version (ESV)
 20) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.