Friday, January 30, 2015

Twenty months, some thoughts, and getting back to the beginning.

We are now officially twenty months into this adoption process, 
although it feels like so much longer 
since we spent close to two years reading and researching and praying before we officially started. 

As I look back on this time spent waiting, it's easy to see the peeks and valleys. 
There have definitely been some valleys on this journey.
 Last Fall (Fall of 2014) can basically be summed up by saying 'adoption is hard'.
 My heart was so broken for my girl, her mother, and the miles that separated us. 
I selfishly wanted her home, but more than that, I wanted this little girl to have a family. 

And now, twenty months later, we're still waiting, but I have a newly restored hope. 
God has used this process to teach me and mold me and move in my heart more than I ever imagined, and no part of me doubts that HE WILL BRING EMILY HOME TO US. 

We still have absolutely no idea when that may happen and still have some very important steps in the process that we are yet to complete, but I may or may not have just washed everything from my trip and repacked it in my suitcase. 
I am literally packed and ready to go get my girl.
 A little premature? Probably. 
Preparing for rain? Definitely. 

I don't want to wait even one minute longer than I have to to bring her home.

And once again, for I pray is the last time, I need your help. 
We are estimating that we still need about $10,000 to bring her home. 
I say estimating because the longer it takes, the more it will cost. 
Home studies, fingerprints, and government forms expire and are renewed with a fee. 
We also are paying monthly foster care fees for our sweet girl. 
And then we'll have to travel. 

So, we are going back to the beginning. 
Our first (and most successful) fundraiser was selling t-shirts. 
You may remember them. 
You may have one. 
But, I'm crossing my fingers that you may need another. 

So, I give you these little beauties: 

Your grace abounds in deepest waters. 
This promise is so dear to my heart. 
I cling to it. 
And I find so much hope in it. 
These shirts were designed by sweet, talented, beautiful friend Monique. 
You can find more of her work here.

You may be familiar with this song, but in case you're not, my precious, crazy-talented, oh so silly, former student turned grown-up friend, Meredith,  recorded her own version for me to share with you: 

Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money. 
But God is not intimidated by those zeroes. 
And we shouldn't be either. 
My happy thought these days consists of a group of smiling faces waiting for us at the airport, wearing these shirts, welcoming Emily home. 
That will no doubt be my happiest of happy days. 

Next Thursday, February 5th, my little girl will turn three.
And although I'm sure to spend that day crying and stuffing my face with all the M&M's,
we will still be celebrating our girl and another year of her life.
And I'm hoping you'd like to join me in celebrating.
So, in honor of Emily, I'd like to sell THREE HUNDRED SHIRTS by her birthday. 
That's 300 shirts in seven days.
That's over forty shirts a day.
And about two shirts per hour.
It's a big goal, I know.
But God has taught me to not fear big goals.
It won't be all that we need to meet our long term goal,
but it will certainly be a big step closer.

So, who's ready to help bring our girl home?
You can purchase your shirts HERE

Have questions about sizing or colors or anything else? 
Ask them in the comments and check back soon for a response.
And please feel free to share, share, share about them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, your blog, or anywhere else.  

Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for helping to bring our girl home to us. 
Nothing makes me feel more loved than when people love my children and follow God's call to take care of our neighbors, even when our neighbors live half way around the world. 
Adoption takes a village, 
and I am so glad you are a part of mine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

That's my daughter.

God is so good. 
That's really all I know to say. 
He has knit our family together so perfectly, and this girl is the icing on our cake. 
To sum up my time with her-- 
God used each and every minute to confirm over and over and over again that she was made for us. 
It's painstakingly obvious that she belongs with us. 
Every little detail-- they just fit. 

 Our bond was instant, as if it had always been there. 
I guess you could say that's because it has. 
God knew long before I did that she was ours. 
And I will never, ever stop thanking him for the gift that is our Emily. 

I am so in love with this little girl. 
And while my head is still spinning, jet lag is still kicking (hello, 4am wake-ups), and my heart is still racing, one thing is for certain: 
I CANNOT WAIT for her to come home. 

Every day I spend longing for her is one more day that she doesn't have a family. 
And even one more day with no family is too many. 

Will you please join me in praying that she comes home soon? 
Pray that God will move mountains and bring her home sooner rather than later. 

As of tomorrow, we officially began our adoption process twenty months ago. 
But my heart has been longing for her for so much longer than that. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tomorrow, you're only a day away.

After waiting and stressing about paperwork arriving in time, 
I am officially headed to Congo tomorrow to meet my daughter. 
It seems like a dream. 
I've waited so long to see her and hold her and love her in person. 
I keep seeing us meet in my mind over and over again like a movie. 
Will she like me? 
Will she be scared? 
Will she let me hold her? 
We shall see. 

I can't imagine what she's been through in her short little life. 
So much heartache and loss and hurt, I'm sure. 
My biggest prayer request for this trip? 
I don't want to bring her even one minute of hurt, heartache, loss, or fear. 
I want our time together to somehow take the place of all the days she's lived without a mother, without a family, without security, without the comfort of a family. 
I know that it can't. 
There's no way a week together can make up for all the time she's spent without all of that. 
But God is good, and thankfully He is in control......always. 

Here are some thoughts/ questions people have asked/ things you might be wondering:

*I'm almost all packed and ready. All I can say is, I feel like I deserve some sort of prize for all the things I've managed to fit into my bags. I'm bringing close to 100 pounds of donations for Emily's orphanage--- formula, cloth diapers, medicines, etc. I've also somehow managed to pack all of what I'll need and all of what Emily will need in my carry-on. I'm also bringing all of our food (minus water). I see lots of ramen noodles, beef jerky, rice, and peanut butter crackers in my future. Please pray that all of my bags (two checked bags, one carry-on suitcase, and one personal item) make it safely to Congo. I don't want to be distracted by anything during my time with my daughter. 

*Will I have Wifi? Not sure. Maybe. We shall see. I'm praying that I do so I can send pictures and videos home to Lee and the girls and so they can send videos to us. HOWEVER, whether I have Wifi or not, I will NOT be posting pictures of Emily's face. While I'm dying to show you just how adorable she is, I'm not legally allowed to do that until she's home. But don't worry-- I'll do what I can and promise to post pics as often as I can. 

*Am I nervous? Probably not in the way you might think. Africa, traveling to Africa, and being in Africa-- these are a few of my favorite things. I feel so comfortable there, and there is literally nowhere else I'd rather be. And traveling? Yes, please. I love flying. I love airports. Even though this is my first time traveling solo, I'm not nervous.  I'll be fine and have no worries about that. I'd say my nerves all come from worrying about her--- I just really want this time together to be a time of peace and comfort and joy for her. I want to be able to meet her needs and for her to begin to view me as her mom. I want her to trust me and for communication to just naturally happen. 

*How old is she? Does she speak English? She's about 2.5-3.5 years old. However, I've been told she's tiny, so we shall see. Hopefully I'll have a better idea about this once we've spent some time together. And English? That would be a no. The national language in Congo is French, but she speaks a tribal language called Lingala. I do have a cheat sheet ready with some key words and phrases, but we shall see how well that goes. Lingala is hard, y'all. 

*How am I gonna leave her? I don't know. All I know to say about this is Jesus. Just Jesus. I have never been more sure about anything in my life than I am that Emily is my daughter. God's got this. He is in control. Does that mean leaving won't be hard? Oh my gosh, of course it will be awful. How am I supposed to say good-bye to my toddler daughter I've just met and leave with no return date in sight? I have no idea. But Jesus is good. And He will take care of me. 

*When is she coming home? I also have no idea about this. We are still waiting to pass court (this is month ten). Once we pass court, she will legally be our daughter, and we'll start making steps towards her coming home. However, Congo still is not issuing exit letters (the final piece you need to travel with your child). Again, God is in control. Does it stink that she can't come home today? Absolutely. Every child deserves a family, and no child should have to continue living without a family when she has one waiting for her. However, let me say it again-- GOD IS GOOD. We saw her face for the first time the day before they announced they were putting exit letters on hold. I fully believe that that was God's timing. He will provide. He will take care of her. We're living in His timing, not our timing. 

That's all for now. 
Finishing up the last few things I need to take care of before I say good-bye to my family and head to a dear friend's house later today. 
She will drop me off at the airport in the morning, and I'll be off from there. 
Prayers are greatly appreciated. 
I'll be meeting my daughter on Friday.