Author Archive

posted by on Uncategorized

No comments

I’m bone-tired y’all.

I never really understood that expression until now. But it literally feels like my bones are tired.

And it’s not the newborn kind of tired (which is the worst kind of tired if you ask me). That’s a sleep-deprived tired. This is a I-haven’t-stopped-moving-since-I-woke-up-this-morning kind of tired.

And I love it.

I don’t love it because it feels good or because I’m one of those people who looks at the world through rose-colored glasses. I love it because it’s bringing me to the end of myself and I’ve never depended upon God more. To be honest, my flesh doesn’t love it so much. It’d kind of been crying out against it. But the renewed me knows that when Christ is all and in all in my life there is lasting joy. That me is loving it.

Every day this week I’ve come to the end of myself and said, “OK God, you’ve got to strengthen me.” I think of 1 Thessalonians 5, where Paul says “He who called you is faithful, He will surely do it.” Or of when he says in Colossians 2 that he is “struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within.”

This is one of the great lessons of our trip to Uganda, and it is the enduring lesson thus far. God’s in control, He’s acting, and He’s sustaining whether we acknowledge it or not. In the month that Josh and I were in Uganda, not knowing how long we would be there or whether or not the kids what get their passports approved or if the U.S. embassy would approve them for travel, we were really faced with the fact that we are literally in God’s hands.

I thought often of that old song that I sang as a child and that my own children now sing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Yeah, He really really does.

We have very nice organized lives here. We plan out our days and our lives and like to live according to our schedules. We say with our mouths, “God is in control,” but we live out our lives substituting “I am” for “God is” in that sentence.

It’s been a hard lesson to learn, but oh how sweet it is to be humbled and then see Jesus, whose blood covers our sin. Yes, I said it. Sin. Trying to take control from our creator God is definitely sin. But that’s what makes His forgiveness and His sustaining grace that much sweeter.

So in these beginning days of being a mom of 4, I’m exhausted, but there’s Jesus, that great Savior and friend of mine, carrying me through. I look at the 2 who I still barely know, whose language I don’t speak, and I say, “Jesus, carry me through.” I look at the 2 who I’ve known since birth, whose demanding language I understand perfectly well, and I say, “Jesus, carry me through.” I look at all 4, clamoring for attention and affection and food (always food), and when I think I don’t have enough in me, I say, “Jesus, I know you will carry me through.”

 

 

 

And we’re back!

Jul
2013
22

posted by on Adoption

1 comment

So I know I promised all sorts of updates while Josh and I were in Uganda adopting our new son, Titus, and daughter, Eva. And I really intended to. But then we got there and were informed that it would be wisest not to talk about the adoption/post pictures until completing our exit interview with the U.S. Embassy. Which happens at the very end of the process.  Like, the day before you leave. And then I wanted to tell everyone why I wasn’t talking about it, but that would be talking about it, right? You see my dilemma?

But now we are back in the beautiful U.S of A. and I’m free to talk about it as much as I please! Yay! Only I’m kind of drawing a blank. I knoooooow. So obnoxious. We were there for a month so obviously a lot happened. But I think my brain is a little overloaded. Before we left a couple who had adopted from Uganda told us in an email, “Adopting from Uganda is not for the faint of heart.” They were not kidding.

Aside from the obvious result of our trip, that we have two more children, God taught us so much through this experience, and I can’t wait to share it all with you. It was a very difficult month, but as with most difficult things, this has shaped us and, I hope, changed us for the better.

So, I promise stories and details, but for now, how about some awesome pictures, yes? I know that’s all you want anyway, is pictures of our cuties. You’re welcome.

Our first night. The kids were waiting for us at the airport here they are after we put them to bed.

Our first night. The kids were waiting for us at the airport here they are after we put them to bed.

Riding in the car together. Really bad photo bomb on my part.

Riding in the car together. Really bad photo bomb on my part.

IMG_0028

The girl LOVES to color.

The girl LOVES to color.

IMG_5525

Kampala, where we spent much of our time.

Kampala, where we spent much of our time.

 

Most naps happened in the car.

Most naps happened in the car.

See the resemblance??

See the resemblance??

IMG_5583

Eating fried grasshoppers.

Eating fried grasshoppers.

Running around with his shorts on his head. 'Cause he's super silly.

Running around with his shorts on his head. ‘Cause he’s super silly.

IMG_5598

IMG_5628

Hello beautiful African sunset!

 

Eva would have done this all day every day if she could.

Eva would have done this all day every day if she could.

Waiting for the kids' passports. We sat there for 4 days. The kids were total champs about it.

Waiting for the kids’ passports. We sat there for 4 days. The kids were total champs about it.

IMG_5648 IMG_5650

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

We’ve been home for a week now. There have been difficult moments and there’s definitely a lot of adjusting happening, but honestly we can’t imagine things going any better. The kids, all 4, are doing really well.  Thank you to all who have supported us. God has been incredibly good to us.

posted by on Adoption

1 comment

On Tuesday morning Josh woke me up at 5am with, “Honey! HONEY! I just got a text! June 13th!”

And just to fill you in, what he meant is, we have a court date in Uganda, and it’s June 13th.

That’s right! We’re going to get our kids! In less than 2 weeks!

Of course after he told me that I couldn’t go back to sleep. I laid there for about 10 minutes freaking out. And then went downstairs and got some coffee and continued to freak out. And eventually gave myself a talking to and stopped freaking out and started praying.

And that pretty much sums up the last few days. Freak out. Pray. Freak out. Pray.

Wednesday night was a leadership meeting at our church, which was honestly a welcome distraction from all the planning, laundry, list-making, packing, childcare organizing, etc. And Josh opened the meeting leading us in singing that wonderful old melody, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. What a sweet, sweet reminder when all my eyes want to do is turn to all of the things I need to do.

And there IS a lot to do.

Josh has been busily pulling all of our paperwork together. He has, bless him, kept me completely out of the loop on this. I honestly don’t understand anything. He tells me where to sign and that’s pretty much it. I’m pretty sure he’ll be an expert on adopting from Uganda when all this is said and done.

Meanwhile, I’ve been preparing for a trip to Uganda with an unspecified end date while trying to coordinate with family about who will watch Reagan and Charlie while we’re gone. Sometimes I work furiously all day and sometimes I sit and stare at the wall.  I’m not kidding.

BUT, all of these earthly, stressful, seemingly impossible things are so temporary. And our Father in heaven who has carried us thus far is eternal, and good, and all-knowing, and He loves us. Even typing that gives me such peace.

I’ll be updating in the weeks to come and while we’re in Uganda! But while you wait…

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Adoption Update

May
2013
08

posted by on Adoption

1 comment

So I’ve shared all of the how-we-got-here details of this story but have said basically nothing about the where-we-go-from-here details. Which is partially because we don’t have all the particulars yet. From what I can understand this is pretty typical for the adoption process. However, I’ll share with you what we DO know.

The children are biological siblings, a brother and sister. She just turned 5 and he just turned 3. They have been at the orphanage for about 8 months.

If all goes according to plan, Josh and I will be headed to Entebbe, Uganda in the month of June. We don’t have specific travel dates yet, but this general time frame seems pretty certain.

When we go, we’ll be staying in Uganda for anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks to sort out all of the details, appear before a judge, gain custody, etc. We will get the kids when we arrive and they will stay with us in a guest house for the duration of our visit.

In God’s sovereign goodness, this happens to be the year that my husband, Josh, has his sabbatical. Our church is SO good to its pastors, and provides a 2 month period of extended rest from daily ministry demands every 7 years. While we had planned to travel quite a bit during this time, God had a better plan, and we will have 2 months to adjust to our new family life, beginning with our trip to Uganda.

How can you help?

I have been blessed beyond words by the outpouring of encouragement and support we’ve received from our family and friends over the past several months. Almost everyone I’ve shared this story with, once they’ve exhausted their questions, has asked “How can I help?” God has been meeting our needs left and right in some pretty amazing ways. However, here are the two main ways you can help, if you are so inclined 🙂

You can pray. Pray, pray, pray. God can do “abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine,” and I really do believe that this is the most important thing to be done in the coming months. Some specific prayer requests…
+Pray for the children we are to adopt. They are still in the orphanage, and we ask God to protect and care for them as we wait to go get them.
+Pray for the other orphans and the two women who tirelessly care for them all. There are more than 20 children at this orphanage, and they ALL need homes, parents, love and affection.
+Pray for our family as we prepare for this. The girls are excited, although their understanding is obviously limited, but I’m sure that the time we are gone will be very hard on them (they miss me when I go take a shower, soooo….) When Josh and I go over there, they will be staying with family. Pray for my parents and brothers and their wives, Josh’s parents and his sister, who will be sharing the bulk of the burden while we are gone.
+Pray for the transition. When you are about to have a baby, there is no way to know how things will go. Will the baby be colicky? Will the baby sleep and eat well? Will the baby have allergies? As the baby grows, what will his/her personality be like? The unanswered questions we have going into this are similar. But what DO you know about that unborn baby? I will love him. I will love her. The same is true for these children. We don’t know what to expect of the transition, but we are trusting God to be working in and through it as we love them.

You can give financially. Again, God was sovereign and gracious in that we were able to cover the initial, up-front costs of the adoption with inheritance money we recently received. However, we are trying to raise the rest so that we can come out of this process debt free. We have already received many generous gifts from some loving and supportive friends, and are about halfway to our goal. If you’d like to give, you can use the pay-pal account linked on the right hand column of this website.

And can I ask you to do something else if you are reading this? It’s kind of scary. It will make you uncomfortable. But I’m asking anyway.

Ask God how He wants YOU to care for the orphans of this world. This looks different for everyone, but I think orphan care is for every Christian to consider. Maybe that just means you pray for and support us or another family who is adopting. Maybe it means you get involved in supporting an orphanage. Maybe it means fostering. And maybe, just maybe, He’ll call you to make some orphans your forever children, too.

Josh and I know that we could have kept the details of this experience to ourselves. We could have figured everything out on our own. But 1) We don’t think that’s the way it works in the church, and 2) We want our story to inspire others to consider doing the same.

So, that’s how you can help, and I promise, as soon as I know more, you will know more!

posted by on Uncategorized

No comments

So, Josh and I try to have family worship pretty regularly in our house. Of course we, like most people who try to do this, go in and out of seasons of consistency. But on the whole it’s a goal that we strive toward and we think it’s important.

If the term “family worship” is foreign to you, all I mean by that is regular time spent reading the Bible, praying and singing as a family. Josh has preached about the importance of this before and if you’re interested, you can check it out here.

Anyhow, sometimes it’s awesome and we feel like our kids are really getting it.  They listen well, ask questions, pray and then grab shakers and sing and dance while Josh plays the piano. Aw, what a nice image you have of our family, now, right?

But most of the time it’s just complete bedlam and we both look at each other thinking, “what the heck just happened??” once it’s over.

And usually I just laugh uncontrollably the whole time because I love it when kids say ridiculous things. And kids almost always say ridiculous things.

One time Reagan pointed at this picture of Gabriel visiting Mary from The Jesus Storybook Bible, and said, “Mary is really afraid of that chicken, isn’t she?”

image2 image

Or one time Josh, after listing some of God’s attributes, said, “God is…”

And after a long pause, Charlotte replied, “A bear!”

You get the gist.

Well, tonight was just such a night. Typically we read a story out of the aforementioned Bible, go over memory verses, do a catechism and sing. Tonight we started with the catechism. We never got past it because I couldn’t take anything seriously after it. I wish I had gotten this on video, but I was too busy laughing to think of that, so I’ll just try to give you a transcript of our conversation.

(Note, we had this conversation after eating dinner, and neither of our children were wearing clothes. ‘Cause that’s how we roll)

Me: Reagan, who made you?

Reagan: God did.

Me: What else did God make?

Reagan: God made everything!

(so far so good, right?)

Me: Charlotte, why did God make you and all things?

Charlotte: For his gwowy! (We are going to have to spend so much money on speech therapy for this kid…)

Me: And how do we give God glory?

Charlotte: By wuving Him and He takes cawe of me!

Me: Actually, it’s by loving Him and doing what He commands.

Charlotte: Wight, He takes cawe of me and doing what He commands.

(time to move on, we’re clearly not getting that one)

Josh: Reagan, why should you give God glory?

Reagan: Because He made me and He takes care of me.

Josh: Charlotte, Is there more than one God?

Charlotte: Noooooooooo. (Holds up 5 fingers) There are TWO powsons.

Me: (laughing too hard to talk)

Reagan: Charlotte, there is only one true God. (In that big sister tone. You know the tone I’m talking about)

Josh: How many persons in the one true God?

Charlotte: (counting down like a space shuttle is about to take off) 5! 4! 3! 2! 1 powsons!

Reagan: (sighing) I’ll answer this one. 3 persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Then we started the whole thing all over again and the answers got progressively more ridiculous.

Now our kids are watching Caillou, quite possibly the worst children’s show on television, while I type this. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Keep at it, people! Even when it’s crazy, we know that it honors God when we heed this command.

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

 

posted by on Uncategorized

No comments

Usually when I pick Reagan up from school I ask “What was your favorite thing today, Reagan?”

And usually she responds with something like “the playground” or “stations” or “devotions.”

But Friday when I picked her up, before I had a chance to ask, she goes, “Mom, you HAVE to hear the story Mrs. Hickey told us in devotions today.”

That’s quite an opening, and indeed, I HAD to hear!

It was the story of Saul who became Paul from the book of Acts, and her telling of it went something like this:

“Once there was a man named Saul. And he was not nice. And he didn’t like the people who talked about Jesus. So he trapped all of Jesus’ friends in jam (translation: jail). So a bright light shined on him and he couldn’t see. And Jesus told him to go see…I can’t remember his name (that would be Ananias). So he went to see…I can’t remember his name. And that man told Saul to go do what’s right. And THEN…

Mom, this is my favorite part

And THEN…God changed his name from Saul to Paul!”

Don’t you just love that?

Because she’s right. That’s the best part of the story. It’s the best part of my story. God revealed Himself to me through Jesus, called me to follow Him and changed my identity.    Like Paul, I was a hater of God, doing what was right in my own eyes, but God chose me and made me new. I am no longer that person. And though my name wasn’t changed, my heart was.

Too often we lose sight of who we are and look back to who we used be. Like the Israelites looking back on Egypt with longing, forgetting that Egypt was slavery and that being in the presence of God is freedom. Because the journey is sometimes long and hard, what was old looks easier, more appealing.

BUT

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

I’m so grateful for the reminder from my little one that my story, like Paul’s, is a story of God changing a heart, and I get to live in the joy of that “favorite part” of the story every day.

posted by on Adoption

5 comments

I’ve told the story of this weird, brief little trip to Uganda so many times now, and the one thing that strikes me again each time I tell it is how evident God’s hand was and is in everything that’s happened. I find myself saying repeatedly, “we could not have planned this.” And it’s true.

I have never been more confident of the sovereignty of God, the perfection of His plans for His children, the moving of His Holy Spirit.

My time in Uganda was very brief, so this won’t be a long recounting of all that I learned about the country in my time there. Our primary purpose in visiting was to spend some time in an orphanage, meeting and caring for children. Though I will say that the little time I was able to spend with a Ugandan family was wonderful and I saw through a sleepy, over-travelled haze, both the beauty and the poverty of this country.

More than anything, I was reminded that Jesus Christ is the same Lord and Savior of His people no matter what language you speak or what culture you belong to. So in a weird way, I felt at home there.

It takes about 24 hours total of traveling to get to Entebbe, Uganda. No matter how you slice it, that is a long time and it is exhausting. But all that flying was actually one of the great things about this trip.

On the way there it provided me with hours to get to know my new friends and hear about their experiences with adoption. Adoption is very real in their lives and so it became very real to me as I heard their stories. I don’t know that I would have been as ready as I was to consider adopting these 2 children, our children (that is who they are to us already), had it not been for those conversations. God knew I needed to hear their stories.

On the return trip it afforded me hours upon hours to talk to God. To tell Him about my fears, my reservations, my hopes, my confusion. To hear from Him in return. He knew I needed that as well.

Since we arrived there so late at night, we went straight to the home of the man who runs the orphanage. His wife had prepared us a dinner, though it was midnight, and we sat and chatted briefly, but then went straight to bed.

I woke up the next morning feeling disoriented (my body was telling me it was 2:30am and I had just slept 6 hours induced by Tylenol PM). I can remember trying to pray but never quite getting through a full sentence without being distracted. But that’s OK, God knows our hearts when we don’t know what to say. And at that moment I was grateful for that fact.

We spent the morning with this family we stayed with. They made us a wonderful breakfast and I was able to hear the testimony of this man, a Pastor who loves his people, loves his family, loves children. But most of all loves Jesus. It was funny to chat some with his wife and watch her interact with her kids and think, our lives are really similar in a lot of ways! After breakfast we got to take a little tour of the land around their home. It’s very beautiful, with a view of Lake Victoria and crops growing and cows grazing.

Yet when we emerged from this safe haven to drive to the orphanage we could see that which is not so beautiful, the effects of extreme poverty and disease. People living in shacks or holes in the wall, trying to make a little money off the land to support themselves and probably several children. Yet on our drive we were met with smiles and waves. From what I can tell, Ugandans are very friendly.

We turned off of a main road onto a red dirt road that took us up a hill (Uganda is known for it’s rich red earth). The orphanage sits on this hillside, with a beautiful view that so starkly juxtaposes the sadness of so many children left without a home and family. There is one building, with the first story built and the second in progress, as well as a second foundation laid for another building. When we arrived there was a woman cooking over an open fire and another washing the childrens’ clothing in a bucket of water.

The building is surrounded by a concrete porch, where the children were all gathered, looking at us with curiosity and eagerness. We greeted them all and then sat down in some lawn chairs they insisted we sit in. The children sat on the floor.

Two children climbed into my lap, stroking my skin, touching my necklace, smiling shyly. One of these two, who will soon be my daughter, laid her head on my chest and remained that way for quite some time. She was wearing a boy’s sports jersey and her head, like all the other girls’, is shaved. But she was beautiful, nonetheless.

This Pastor and his wife went around and made the introductions and told us about all of the children, how long they had been there, who was related to whom, whether or not they were in the process of being adopted. He pointed to the girl I held in my arms and told me she was sister to one of their youngest boys, a stout, serious little guy who they have nicknamed “Bishop.” (Best. Nickname. Ever.).

Now the skies didn’t open up or anything, and I didn’t hear the audible voice of God in that moment, but the Spirit was moving in me at that moment. I simultaneously thought, “We have to come get these two children,” and “I’m not ready to adopt, yet.”

The little boy was familiar. We had received a picture of all of these children before I left and he stood out. Staring seriously at the camera while the other children smiled and waved. Josh actually said at one point, “I feel like he’s asking me to come get him.” So when I found out that this sweet, shy girl was his older sister, I knew. If we come to get him, we’re getting her, too.

At one point, while we were talking and playing with the children, I remember turning to this pastor’s wife and saying, “It’s hard to think of a reason not to adopt these children. But we’d be doubling what we have, and that seems crazy and hard.” She very simply responded, “It wouldn’t be so hard. You’d be surprised at how quickly they adapt. And four is not hard.”

When she said that I think the Lord began to open my eyes. To show me that my “hard” is not actually hard at all. Two children without parents, with no hope of a future – that is hard. And when I said hard, what I think I meant was uncomfortable. A stretch. Challenging. But when is it ever for our bad that God sends us a challenge that will stretch us?

We spent a few hours playing with the children, giving them some gifts, hearing them sing songs about Jesus (what a beautiful sound). We prayed for them and hugged them and then left, knowing that we needed to get some dinner and head back to the airport.

We had dinner, packed our things, and set off for yet another 24 hours of long flights and little sleep. Before we boarded our first flight in Entebbe, I was able to talk to call Josh and talk to him for about 5 minutes. I was exhausted, emotional, and confused. I told him about the kids, and I’m pretty sure I used the phrase “I don’t know…I just don’t know” about 30 times in those 5 minutes.

I’m so grateful for that super long flight that followed. Technically I should have slept that flight, but I probably only dozed for about an hour before waking up. God wanted me to talk it through with him. I prayed as I never have before.

I was open, I was honest. I told Him I was afraid. I told Him that I liked my comfortable life. I told Him I didn’t know if I would be a good mom to 2 more kids. In other words, I told Him, “I’m sinful. I need you to help me.”

And He did.

The wonderful thing about studying the Word of God is that it becomes a storehouse in your heart, and as I prayed, the Spirit opened the storehouse and I remembered all that I know to be true about God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His salvation, His plan. He answered my questions with His Word.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

There is no lasting joy to be had in treasuring comfort or ease or reputation or anything other than Christ. If I treasure Christ, I will treasure these children. If He’s calling me to be a mother to the orphan, then there is fulness of joy in it. Because where He calls us He is present with us.

It turned out to be a wonderful gift that Josh and I couldn’t talk to each other for a full day. Instead we turned to our heavenly Father. And when we were able to talk again, there was no hesitation. He had given us both such confidence and peace.

We’re ready. We rejoice that God works the way He does. We anticipate much joy in the coming season, though we know it comes with its challenges and struggles. But if there is more of Christ and less of us, we welcome it with open arms.