2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh Happy Day!

Dossier is complete and in the mail!  I am so relieved to have that completed.  So, now we work on fund raising:  Garage sale and bake sale 9/22, Lia Sophia Party 9/26, 5k 10/13.  For all of our Utah friends and friends of Utah friends, if you would like to contribute to our garage sale and/or bake sale by donating items, please let me know.

We are waiting for our court date now.  We could be on our way to Ethiopia to meet our new family members by the end of October!  I can't wait to meet them and give them hugs.  Our son's birthday is Sunday - wish we could be there with him to celebrate.  Praying for him and his sister that God will comfort them as they wait. 

Thanks for your continued prayers - we need them.  :) 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Long Overdue update...

Okay, so on August 15th, Brad and I decided that we would adopt a sibling set from Ethiopia.  Honestly, It was a difficult decision.  We originally requested a boy between the ages of 5 and 11.  Apparently God had something else in mind for our family.  I started watching the Waiting Child List at our adoption agency.  I started to pray for the children listed.  One sibling set kept coming to my mind.  I argued with God that they were too old, but continued to pray that God would provide a family for them.  One week I received an invite from a good friend to pray and fast for a circle of friends and their adoption process.  I agreed.  While running and talking to God, this sibling set came to mind again.  I continued to argue with God about their age.  God simply asked, "Why? Why do you want younger?"  Such a simple question, but so powerful.  I knew at that point God's direction.  I was not sure how Brad would react.

Brad was hesitant - basically for the same reasons that I listed.  We eventually agreed to request their file.  This would require approval from our Social Worker.  She was very good at being honest with us.  We finalized our Home Study and received their file.  I wish I could say that we instantly knew that these were our kids.  We were divided.  I could see them as a part of our family.  Brad did not think that were the right ones for our family.  My prayer was that God would let Brad lead the decision.  I wanted him to be at peace with this decision.  I did not pray for God to change his mind.  I prayed that God would help me let them go, to surrender them to him, if it was not His will to have them join our family.  He did.  He allowed me to focus on my walk with God.  At then end of our decision period, I contacted our family coordinator to let her know that Brad and I were divided on the set.  I let her know that we were worried about their ages, the timing and the cost.  She talked us thru it was very gracious.  Shortly after I got off the phone with her, she sent us an email with a video of the kids.  The videos were wonderful.  All I could think of was how I could raise money to bring them home.  They were beautiful, beautiful smiles, beautiful eyes, just beautiful.  I waited for Brad to come to discuss. 

After dinner we chatted about the videos and our feelings.  He wondered about how we would do her hair and other things.  He watched their videos multiple times, so did I.  We both discussed our fears about the accelerated process and the need to raise the majority of the adoption costs in such a short amount of time.  No decision was made, but we had a great conversation.  The next morning I received the best text message ever!  "I don't know how we are going to do this, but let our family coordinator know that we will take the kids." 

Okay, we are now a family of 5.  We are bringing home a son about 14 years old and a daughter about 11 years old.  That is about all I can share about them right now, until we go to court and they are officially ours.  The exciting part is that they have been told that they have a family.  So sweet.  In the mean time we have been finishing up our Dossier and thinking of ways to come up with the adoption fees, about $22,000. 

We are working on a Garage sale, jewelry sale and hopefully an auction.  Our dossier is almost done - waiting for USCIS fingerprint process to finish.  Then we can send our Dossier in and get in line for court.  Depending on the paperwork, funding, Ethiopian court, Embassy and ultimately God's divine will - our kids could be home by Christmas. 

Please keep us in your prayers.  This journey continues to be very stressful. We know it will be worth it and our faith is strengthened every day.  Also, if you have items that you would like to donate to our garage sale, please let me know.  We have a couple of other fund raiser ideas in progress.  We will keep you posted.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Paper Chase...

James 1:2-8 NLT "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do not waiver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. 

We are currently in the affectionately termed "paper chase" of the adoption process.  I can't believe what a humbling process this has been.  I go to work and lead cross organizational teams thru complex projects with successful results.  On a regular basis I take care of the administrative responsibilities  for our house hold.  So why can't I complete a form or letter successfully in this paper chase process?  Unfortunately the errors made are not simple fixes.  To correct the errors, involves a 3rd party to correct the paperwork, then I have to have it notarized again.  I cannot express how frustrating this is to me. 

I am lead to James 1:2-8.  James tells the people of the church to think of troubles as an opportunity for great joy.  So, in this paper chase process I am learning that these "troubles" are opportunities for great joy.  I need to remember that when my faith is tested, my endurance has a chance to grow.   So am I just supposed to waive these troubles off  when in all honesty, I am aggravated and grumpy?  It would be easier to just throw in the towel and ask God for option B.  I mean really, is adoption really your plan for our life?  Why would you want anyone to go thru this inefficient process?  Again, James is so helpful.

I know that adoption is part of God's plan for our lives - he has been speaking His plan into our lives for 3 years now.  I believe it is His plan because it is not something I would have chosen for my life.  I also believe it is part of his plan because he is asking us to step out of our comfort zone.  I am reminded of his discussion with Moses.  Remember him?  God speaks to him thru a burning bush (sometimes I wish he would talk to me like that) and tells him to leave his comfy shepherding job out in the wilderness, to go into the city and speak to the all powerful Pharaoh about leading the Israelites to freedom.  Moses's response brings me comfort, because I am pretty sure I would have responded similarly.  "Are you sure you picked the right person God? What if they don't like what I have to say?  I am not a really good speaker. Can't you send someone else to do this task?"  God asks Moses to leave the comfort zone to lead the Israelites to freedom.  He did not say it would be easy - but he promised Moses that he would be with him and give him success in the task.  Like Moses, I still have my doubts and ask him to send someone else.  But then he shows me his strength and the fact that he is with me thru this. 

So now I start asking what I can learn from the paper chase process?  I need to be humble, put my pride to the side, and ask others for help.  I need to realize that I can't do this by myself.  James also tells us to ask God when we lack wisdom.  I think it is fair to say that in this situation, I totally lack wisdom.  God is good and gives me great ideas or gives me the courage to reach out and ask others for assistance. 

Lord - I just have to tell you that this paper chase process is painful and I don't like it.  I don't always understand it or agree with it.  That being said, thank you for walking beside me and holding my hand.  Thank you for the adoption agency that you established.  Their staff has been gracious and patient with all my questions and long responses.  Thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone because in the process, I meet wonderful people who have the opportunity to share your love with me.  I am truly blessed by their actions.  Thank you for the growth in my life because of these "troubles".  Thank you for Moses example. Thank you for using me in your plan.  You have heard the cry of the orphan and you have asked our family to lead one (maybe more) out of loneliness, fear and unsafe conditions. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Africa?

After many conversations with God about adoption, I still had no clue of where to adopt from.  There are so many options.  After doing research, I learned that there are nearly 163 million orphans world wide!  Can you believe that?  So many children who cry out for a mom and dad.  Proverbs 19:22 says, "What a man desires is unfailing love."  We are hungry for love that we can count on. 

Why wouldn't we reach out to a child in the United States?  There are plenty of orphans in the United States that need a loving family. We wouldn't have to travel.  The cost could be less.  But I kept thinking, we have a system here that takes care of those who need help. We have a foster care system. As an American, I am so blessed to live in a place that cares for the those who cannot care for themselves.  I serve my local community and have seen the needs first hand.  I have experienced American poverty and know the joy of God meeting my needs.  I am so grateful that God worked thru my neighbors, family and friends when I needed that support. 

I read more.  I read about the many orphans in China, India and Africa.  I read about mission trips to support orphanages and learned that some of the trips purpose was to simply hold and care for orphans.  This just blows my mind!  Then I saw this video and my world was changed. 

I could not wrap my mind around the fact that human beings live at the trash dump to survive.  Their friends, family and neighbors cannot help because they are in the same bleak situation. I believe that this is where God wants us to go because of the degree of need in Ethiopia. I know that God has a good plan for each of our lives.  Part of His plan for our life is to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia.  We have requested a boy between the ages of 5 and 11. 

So why the Blog name, "Running to Africa"?    I love running. Please understand that I have not always enjoyed running.  In fact, in high school I did whatever I could do to get out of running.  I may have even made up some story that I had sports induced asthma to get out of running.  It was not until I was in my late twenties that I realized I needed some physical outlet.  Some crazy friends introduced me to running.  It still took some getting used to.  Then my world came crashing down.  I faced a huge family transition with my husband's return after a long military deployment.  I received a promotion at work which turned out to be high stress.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed in this new role.  Then, I was involved with a big "falling out" with some very close friends.  My heart was broken.  I lost my will to carry on.  I wanted to end my life. 

I thank God that He surrounded me with loving friends and family.  I am grateful that I knew the signs of depression and what to do to get help.  That does not mean that the road traveled was easy. It was dirty and difficult.  But God brought me through it.  He brought healing and restoration.  The best treasure He gave me in bondage was running.  I signed up for a half marathon with a dear friend.  Running brought healing and joy.  It is a big stress reliever and I have the added bonus of making so many good friends who share the passion of running.  So, how can I use running to glorify God?

What if I use running to raise money, awareness and support for Africa?  What a great idea!?  I thought that it might be a neat idea to run as many miles as it is from Utah to Ethiopia.  The closest measurement I can find is 8,190 miles.  Wow!  Okay, that is a lot of miles.  I am not putting anything close to 8,000 miles in a year, or even two years.  But, I know some other people who love running.  Maybe I could even include some biking miles, right?  I am currently dreaming about how to put it all together.  I can't wait to see how it works out.

On the other hand, there is the spiritual aspect.  For years I have dug my feet in and disobeyed God's direction for adoption.  Now I trust God.  Now I am running to Africa and adoption. 

While I run I dream about our son to be.  What he is like.  Who is friends are.  I pray for him.  I pray for God to keep him safe.  I pray that he will know that he is loved.  I pray that God will prepare me and Brad to be parents to two children.  I pray that God will prepare Tyler to have a brother.  I pray that God will prepare us all to be a family. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Why can't you be normal?"

One night at the dinner table Brad asked, "Why can't you be normal?"  Good question.  My husband is full of good questions. 

Adoption has been on my heart full time for the last three years.  I knew it was a seed planted by God because there was nothing inside of me that longed to adopt a child. As a girl, I never dreamed about how many kids I would have. The only thing I knew I wanted was to meet "Prince Charming."  Well, God answered that dream by giving me Brad - cheesy, right?  I know, but it is true.  I thought all my dreams would come true if I could only have "Mr. Right" in my life. 

Through life's journey, I have learned that God is the only one who can meet all my needs, not Mr. Right. or anything else for that matter.  If I don't seek Him, my life will not be filled with the joy that he has in store for me.  I tend to overlook this fact, I get busy and put quiet time to the side.  Sure, I pray and read the Bible, unfortunately, I get into the habit of doing it to "check the box".  I don't take the time to apply his direction to my life. It does not take long for me to realize that something is missing, like I am just going thru the motions. So, I cry out to God for help, again.  I admit that I can't do it without him and that I need him.  He begins to speak to me and show me where my sin is.  It is uncomfortable, but worth it.  I read verses that tell me that if I love God, I will obey him.  I begin to study the book of James.  James 1:25 "The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." The "doing it" part is key here. 

He reminds me that I am adopted into his family because of the work of his son - Jesus.  He reminds me that he wants me to adopt.  Wait, what? 

I believe that God works thru the things and people around us.  I started hearing about adoption on the radio and on tv.  I was moved to see the millions of children who don't have a parent making sure they are safe, loved, fed, dressed, warm, etc.  3 years went by.  More orphan stories came to my attention and God began prompting me to adopt.  I immediately came back with many excuses, I mean reasons why we were not meant to adopt:
  • We only have a two bedroom house
  • We have debt
  • There is no way we can afford adoption, have you seen how expensive it is? 
  • I am comfortable with one child and he is at an age where he can take care of himself
  • I love my job and don't want to stop working - how do I manage another child with a great career?
  • I would not even know where to start, or this is too hard
  • What if I don't bond with the child?
  • This is way out of my comfort zone. (I am a control freak)

The best "reason" we could not adopt was that Brad said, "No."  I could not start this journey with out my husband on board.  So, I decisively put the idea on the shelf. 

When I came back to sitting at God's feet, he said, "Elisabeth, I did not give you a spirit of timidity, but of love and power."  I was scared to bring up the topic with Brad.  I should just wait for God to change his mind without my help.  That was not what God had in mind.  Through prayer and time in God's word, he helped me approach Brad again.  I told him the adoption plans that God had placed on my heart.  Brad was not interested.  I told him that I needed him to pray about it.  He reluctantly agreed. 

This brings us back to our conversation at the dinner table.  My response to being normal was , "Normal is not good enough."  I am tired of just going thru the motions.  I want to continue to look intently in God's word and apply it to my life. I have asked the difficult questions:
  • Are you doing this because everyone else at church is doing it? 
  • Are you doing this because you recently lost a baby?
  • Are you doing this because you only have one child and he is growing up so fast? 
  • Are you doing this to seek the approval of others?
  • Are you doing this to fill the "gap" in your life?
I could confidently answer "no" to all these questions.  Jeremiah 29:11-14a says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity."  I know with out a doubt that God loves the orphans and he wants me to love them too.  I am confident that he will provide the resources that we need and that he will never leave our side on this journey. I thank God that Brad did seek God's guidance and direction and that Brad said "yes".