Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Once Again

We have not yet heard anything...but I am not giving up hope yet!  I'm really taking either what you could call the "stubborn" route, or the "living safely in my bubble" route! I think I'll stick with calling it anticipating with faith from every corner of my heart.

We have really tried to focus on the fun....buying presents for Selah that she can open whenever she comes home and is ready, decorating her room, and even a beautiful little gathering hosted by some just as beautiful friends in honor of Selah!

Oooooo, the presents! I know that our two boys have had just as much fun as us shopping for our little sweet pea! They are adorable in the way they ALWAYS have her on their minds and in their hearts. AND, did I mention we have the CUTEST princess Christmas wrapping paper EVER? It was donated by a sweet friend who just knew it would make me smile :-)

Decorating her room is coming along bit by bit. I have found the neatest things on Etsy! I love that website and all the folks who have such an incredible God-given gift to create such beautiful things!

And our Selah Celebration! I usually host a pretty big cookie exchange party in December and somehow get amazing women to bake somewhere around 7 dozen cookies! It is usually a wonderful time because it is a chance to get to see so many of my dear friends that I don't always get to connect with. This year, however, my friends knew my spirits were a little low and knew that hosting the party would be rough. So, because they are just so stinkin' good to me, they confiscated the party and turned it into a shower of sorts! It was so good for my heart. I was able to share all the pictures I have of our sweet little girl, be blessed with some of the most adorable little outfits, bracelets, and hair pretties,  AND the gals even made a collection for the orphanage. When we were last there, the director had told us that what they really dreamed of being able to do was to take a group of children to the Black Sea for a week of fun and therapy. Of course, they would not be able to do it on their regular funds (which are minimal) and it would only happen through donation. So, I am so very very happy to say that we are going to be able to get this donation to them and give those precious little treasures the opportunity to explore beyond the walls of their orphanage and to simply have fun like they have never before experienced! I am just so thankful for all the loving people God has surrounded us with in our life. I cannot imagine this journey without the support of so many! Again, He is just so good!

In closing I am going to post the video I posted last year at this time. It is the song called "Merry Christmas" by Third Day. It is a song written about a little girl in an orphanage waiting for her mommy. Get out the kleenex if you are even the least bit of an emotional sort of person! Last year I had hoped would be the last Christmas without Selah home, but we have this one more and I am so very thankful that it is just this one more. I know as we go through and meet other families and watch as they bring their babies home, it is often bittersweet. Please know, that I am with all of you in prayer as you have either brought your child home already, or are in Bulgaria right now (as one friend is!) picking up your child, making travel plans to get them, or are still in the ever challenging stage of waiting. My heart and my prayers are with each and every one of you this Christmas.

He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.Psalm
111:14

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23

Sunday, December 12, 2010

His Way of Molding a Heart

We don't really have much news. Our agency called and told us that the MOJ needed an extra copy of that 1-800A form that gave us such headaches....Not really good news, but at least we know that someone is working on our file rather than it being in the pile of files on the desk of someone who has left for the month! So, I am still praying boldly that a court hearing will be scheduled before Christmas! I know that I may sound a bit wacky...but praying with anticipation and a faith that is simply expecting God to come through right now is getting me by each day. I may be a mess come Christmas, but I KNOW God will get me through that, too, if it does happen to happen (but it won't!)!

But, in the meantime, I wanted to share something so adorable that my son, Zachary, wrote. Last weekend I had him and his brother each take a "quiet time" in their separate rooms. They didn't want to nap, but we all needed a wee little break from each other! So, after about an hour, Zach comes downstairs and asks me if he can share a story he had been writing while in his room. He started reading it and I, of course, started crying (doesn't take much these days). I won't tell you what it was all about, rather, I will just post it here below. But, as you read, just think of the way God has molded his sweet little heart through our adoption process. We started the process almost 2 years ago, so at 8 years old now, that is 25% of his life waiting for his sister and learning about orphans and adoption. I am so thankful to God for the way He has filled the hearts of both of our boys with so much love and compassion for the things that break God's heart most. How amazing that at 8 years old, he really gets it...he gets what the heart of adoption is all about.


The Christmas Wish

By

Zachary Schumaker

Once upon a time there lived a six-year-old boy named Jonathan. He was an orphan little boy. He was very lonely. In the orphanage, he had no friends at all. That made him even more sad. But, the thing that made him the saddest of all was that he had no Mother, no Father, no brother, no sister, and no pets at all. He had never even known his parents. He only knew that when his birth mother had given him away, she had said that God and Jesus would always be shining with him.

He sat in the orphanage year after year. As he got older he got lonelier and lonelier. He sat by the telephone waiting and waiting for it to ring. He sat there for six years. One day, finally the telephone rang. Mary, one of the helpers, answered the telephone. When she got off the telephone, she had a big smile. Jonathan asked, “Why are you smiling so big?’ Mary said, “A family named the Fanners want to adopt you.”


The Fanners had a boy named Angelo and a girl named Kailyn, a dog named Rover and a Mom named Susie and a Dad named Michael. Jonathan was so happy that he ran all over the orphanage screaming and yelling with joy!


On November 26, 2009 the Fanners flew to North Africa to see their six-year-old son, Jonathan. Right as they saw Jonathan, they knew that he was the one that Jesus planned for their new family.


When Jonathan saw his parents for the first time, he jumped up and ran to hug them and his brother and sister. The new brothers and sister played and laughed so much. Jonathan smiled for the first time in his life.


Angelo and Kailyn taught Jonnathan English, too. They stayed in Africa for two whole weeks. On December 4, 2009, they brought Jonathan home. The family got Jonathan for Christmas and Jonathan got his family. Little Jonathan got a tricycle, a DS, and a new puppy for the beginning of his new life for Christmas. Little Jonathan said he had his number one Christmas ever. But, the best present of all was his family.


“God places the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Decorating with Love

I know that I have referred to my excitement at the prospect of shopping "pink" AND of how I have had some very fun days doing just that, so I thought it would be kinda fun to share some of the neat things I've found while we have been waiting to bring Selah home! The room is getting close to being ready...I've been taking my time trying to throw all my love into getting just the right stuff. It's sort of like my way of loving on her when I can't yet have her in my arms. WHICH, with each day comes one day closer to a reality. We still don't know very much. We are waiting for a court date. Please pray with us that the court date happens prior to Christmas! If it doesn't, because of the December holidays, it will mean a January court date and then another 5-6 weeks until we can pick her up after that (if it is approved at the hearing). I think I may have mentioned it, but my prayers are getting BOLD! Join me? Please?


I sang this song in Selah's little ears over and over while we visited her. I pray everyday that she comes to know and understand the meaning of this message in her heart, her soul, and her mind...and that she already feels His love each and every day.

This little girl is not only chosen, cherished, and beloved by us, but first and foremost by our Heavenly Father!

One of the hutches of the bedroom set we purchased for her decorated with a few things chosen with the utmost love! The Disney Princesses were actually dolls I had purchased several years ago for my someday daughter! It's a miracle in itself that I now know that I will have a daughter...that I DO have a daughter!


Books...at the heart of every teacher (or former teacher in my case!). Also, this prayer book by Stormie Omartian is absolutely beautiful!



Could this outfit get any cuter?


A close-up of the SHOES!!! I can just envision her cute little feet in these!


A true statement. She already has him wrapped around her liitle finger!

I pray that someday our little Selah will come to understand the depths of our love. I pray that she will know how every step of this journey was taken with hearts absolutely full of love...from her mommy, daddy, and brothers Zachary and Landon.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:19


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You

Happy Thanksgiving! As this day of Thanksgiving has come and almost gone once again, I am reminded of all the blessings for which we have to give thanks. I want to be sure, though, that being thankful isn't saved for this one special day.

I feel that our family does a pretty good job of being thankful all the time and that we really work at instilling that sense of thankfullness in our children... but there is ALWAYS room for improvement! This year has been a test of that! There have been times I have been so thankful to our awesome God for something that has happened correctly or beautifully in the course of adopting Selah. BUT there have been the days I want to curl up under my covers- actually pull them right over my head- and cry my eyes out, or simply eat every piece of chocolate or ice cream followed by some kind of crunchy salty sort of thing that can be found in this house. SOMETIMES it HAS to be the Italian Nachos from Old Chicago! They have more calories and fat than I need for an entire month, but they sure do seem to ease the pain of self-pity. So, I think the picture is pretty clear....instead of looking to the One Who has it all under control, Who made it all possible in the first place and thanking Him for all the good in our lives, I often find myself under those covers, eating the chocolate, or having Italian Nachos at Old Chicago! Definitely something I need to work on!
This song by one of my favorite Christian artists, 33 Miles, kinda says it all! Enjoy! May we all find the way to our Savior when things are not going so well...instead of the way to the chocolate!

 

 
Lord, I thank You for loving me even when I am so unthankful. I thank You for being so patient with me when I drown my sorrows in tears and/or food! Lord , I thank You for all Your beautiful blessings and I know that You alone have made all of it possible! Thank You for holding our Selah tight while we wait to be together. Thank You for planning this all in Your perfect timing and for having a plan for us and a journey and a path set before us.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's a New Day!

Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.
Ecclesiastes 11:7

Last week was the pits...nothing seemed to go right. Our NBC paperwork STILL had not approved, I woke up (on my birthday of all days) with a double ear infection, my son decided that on the day of my birthday and double ear infection he would have one of the WORST behavior days EVER, and then he ended up home sick the day after that!!! By now I should know that whenever my boys act particularly naughty, they are usually coming down with something!!! The week ended on Friday with one more request from our NBC officer for just one more document. Really? All I could do was cry.

This week, however, began "a new day dawning"! Bryan started our Monday morning with an attempt at 6:00 a.m. (4:00 p.m. in Bulgaria) to call Selah. We had been consistently trying to Skype, but we could never make a connection with the orphanage, so now we just try to call using Skype Calling (which is waaaaaay cheaper than regular phone) to their land line. My sweet husband now makes these call attempts on his own in order to protect my heart. After a few attempts that ended either with no answer, or a disconnected line, or being told in Bulgarian "Ne, Selah" (no Selah was all I could understand since my Bulgarian is almost non-existent), my heart would become so fragile and what felt like one more rejection. Now chooses to protect my heart (he handles the let-downs soooooo much better than I do) and makes the communication attempts. If he is successful, he then yells frantically for me to wake up and come downstairs to the computer!!! (I know...I am extremely blessed to have him)

So, Monday morning the call went through and then to Bryan's surprise, the director video called us back! Bryan was so excited he just started yelling for me in a crazy sort of frantic way that made me think something horrible had happened! I run downstairs in my pj's with my hair crazy wild and there on the screen is our sweet little girl! She was smiling and beautiful! I'm sure she would agree with the smiling part on her assessment of me, but the beautiful part surely she would not! She probably thought, "Wow, Mommy looks a little crazy!".

We still had one little glitch, though. We could not hear her nor the director, we instead heard a Bulgarian radio station of some sort! We still can't figure that out! Anyone have any ideas? But, she could hear us and that, to me, is so much more important. I want her to remember our voices and see our faces and recall the memories we made together so that she knows in her heart that we truly will come back and that we have not forgotten her. And let me tell you...memory? Hers was uncanny! I started singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and she immediately started doing the actions with me and I could see her mouth moving to sing with me! Then Bryan made his funny fish face at her that she had loved so much, and without missing even a single beat, she made the face right back at him and started giggling! I cannot even tell you how much that brought peace to my heart. It was as if God made this happen just when He knew my heart was at a breaking point....God is so good!

You would think that was enough good news...but, yes, I have MORE!!! Later that afternoon, we finally got our NBC approval! Thank You, Lord!!! It was such a weight off our shoulders to know that after so many delays, we had finally made it past that phase. Sadly, it didn't happen quick enough to get us back to Selah before Christmas (short of a miracle from God - which I do believe He is still in the business of doing!), but it still means that we are one step closer to bringing our baby home!

So, all in all? THAT is what I call "a new day" and I am so very thankful for that very needed gift from Above! Can I get an "Amen"?!! :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thoughts While We Wait

We still do not  have an approval from the NBC...please pray with us that it will be this week. It feels that as each day passes right now, it means a month in trip time because of the Holiday time in Bulgaria in December. I am still believing in God's miracles...and if a miracle is not His choice, I can find peace in His will. He makes all things good.

But, in the meantime, there were a couple of little tidbits of helpful and fun info I wanted to share. One was about a neat little company called Hullabaloo Stories. This gal creates photo books, BUT they are WAY BETTER than your typical photo books because this gal creates photo BOARD BOOKS! We made a book for Selah and brought it to her. Christine at Hullabaloo was so fun to work with! She wanted to make sure the book was exactly what we wanted with both pictures, wording, and color. She is absolutely wonderful! The neat part about the board book is that you can leave it at the orphanage so your child can have it all the time and not worry that it will get destroyed by the loving hands of many little ones! We kept it simple with pictures of her that we received with our referral, pictures of us, our dog, the house, the backyard, etc. The wording just said things like "my family", "my mommy", "my daddy", "my brother", etc.  You can find her website at www.hullabaloostories.com.

The other tidbit was the trick my girlfriend passed along to me after her experience with adoption and mission work. She made sure I traced Selah's foot on a piece of paper while I was with her. That way, when I got back home, I could put it on one of those shoe chart thingies and find out a pretty accurate shoe size. I thought it was genius and on some of my bluest days, I have purchased the cutest shoes EVER! Just wait for my next post....I'll make sure to take some photos of those cute shoes!

So, that's all, but please don't forget to pray! :-) Thanks y'all!

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.
Hebrews 10:36

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Keeping My Eyes on the Lord

Emotions. Emotions. And MORE emotions.

This wait is so stinkin' hard. There are days I want to curl up under the covers and cry...and days I want to therapeutically shop until I drop. There are also the days when I want to scream at someone...anyone will do. The other night I was driving up north in a mountainous region and had one bad mishap that involved a flat tire and then not 10 miles after finally getting back on the road, a police officer pulled me over! I guess I had been going a little too fast, but he never even got the opportunity to tell me how fast I was going! That was because I burst into voracious tears immediately and could say nothing more than to squeak out that it had been a horrible week. It was seriously ALL I COULD DO to not tell this poor man about our little girl waiting for us halfway around the world and our paperwork being majorly delayed! Can you just imagine him thinking "oh, boy, what have I just gotten myself into?'. Can you believe that in the midst of this chaos, God sent me this kind and compassionate officer who only looked at me for a second and then felt compelled to spend the rest of his time trying to calm me down and reassure me that he wouldn't be giving me a ticket?!!! Soooooo,  in the midst of each of my chaotic emotions, I keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on the Lord and claim His promises for our family.

Over the last few days, I have been reading Isaiah and God has spoken to me so clearly from there and has gently reminded me where to keep my focus. You see, we have not yet received our NBC approval. The short story is that it began with our original home study parameters saying we wanted to adopt a child between the ages of 0 and 3. Well, our Selah is 4. So, the officer handling our paperwork said we had to submit an addendum from our social worker stating that we are approved for a 4-year-old child. We took care of that and I fed-exed everything there only to have it sit in the Texas office for 2 1/2 weeks before it was sent to our officer in Missouri. THEN, our officer decided that the addendum was not sufficient, but that we needed to have a home visit AND our state CPS checks redone. We are hoping for this to all be in the hands of the officer next week and then I pray approved immediately.

I just couldn't believe that we would have all these issues on this side of the paperwork. I expected glitches...but later, once the paperwork was in Bulgaria. Maybe now that we have already provided brand new copies of practically everything, all the other various offices, people, and judges that will be looking at our paperwork will not find anything to question or request. Maybe? Hopefully?

So, back to Isaiah. In Isaiah 54, God tells me that "No weapon that is formed against me shall prosper". Satan loves to mess with all things that are good. I recently read that marriage and adoption are the two most powerful covenants we make to honor God. Because these two covenants are so powerful, Satan works overtime to try to destroy them. As we travel along this journey of adoption, we all know how gut-wrenchingly painful things can be. I wonder how many people have either not taken the journey or have walked away from it because of the attacks of our enemy. 

But God. Our amazing, powerful, loving, and ever faithful God! He tells us that
  • He will not allow any weapons from the enemy to prosper against us.
  • He will open doors before us, so that gates will not be shut.
  • He will go before us and level the mountains
  • He will contend with them who contend  with us, and He will give safety to our children and ease them.
  • He will go before us and also be our rear guard.
  • His word never returns void, it always accomplishes its purpose.
  • He has set watchmen around us to guard us day and night.
  • He loves justice.
And all of that is JUST IN ISAIAH! Imagine what the rest of His word promises us!

I have been witness to and lived out the power of God, and the power of His word. So, I'm not going to get stuck crying under my covers or caught frightening police officers with my tears. Rather, I am going to be claiming the word of the Lord over our adoption journey and over each and every one of your adoption journeys as well. There is not a weapon the enemy can try against any of us that will prevail. He can just give up now, 'cuz all of us are bringin' our babies home!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mummee! Doddee!!

This morning we got to hear sweet Selah's little voice! It put a permanent smile on our faces for the day! We were hoping to Skype with her, but that is not quite working out yet, but we did manage to hear her on the telephone for a brief moment to hear her say mommy and daddy with her absolutely adorable accent which makes it come out like "Mummeeee" and "Doddeee". But just as soon as she said those two beautiful words, our connection went dead. I am very thankful to simply hear her voice, though, and as well and quickly as she said it leads me to believe that her caretakers have been talking to her about us and helping to keep those memories alive! That sits well with my heart :-)

On the "wait" front, I don't have much of any new news. We have had a couple of little glitches with our
I-800 but I am hoping those will be worked out quickly. I know that getting frustrated and worrying will serve us no purpose and that if anything, God has taught me sooooooo well that He has it all under control and the timing will be His...not mine. We just keep praying for our paperwork to fall into the hands of loving people who have a heart for orphans and that they just move that paperwork along zippity quick (and that this, too, is the will of God because it sure helps when our prayers line up with His Will)!

Our boys have been so excited about Selah. They have watched all of our videos and looked at all of our pictures over and over. They have told everyone there is to tell about their sister! We have been so blessed by this, too, because we have just had so much love and support from everyone...even people we don't even know! I pray that from this maybe there is just one heart...or two that is broken for the cause of orphans. And that maybe, just maybe, one of those hearts will feel called to adopt, support adoption, or support orphans in one way or another. Just maybe!!

I have been diligently working on my photos since I have been home. Can you believe I took 617 pictures?! I've never had my memory card get full before! I actually had to change it! Once I got home, though, I went through all of them...deleted a few blurry or weird ones...and edited many of them. I only have a very basic photo editing program, but I wanted to make the photos look their best! It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R! But, I was able to put together a neat video photo slideshow set to Steven Curtis Chapman's "When Love Takes You In". After Selah is legally ours, I will post it for everyone! For now, all I can post are photos of the beautiful landscape and sights from Bulgaria. Here are a few...the first set are from the moutainside areas near Selah's orphanage.






The next photos are of the sights around Sofia...lots of very beautiful and very old churches and buildings:



This church was built around 300 A.D.!


Pretty beautiful place, huh? All this beauty...all this history...but still poverty...and still many orphans that need a home. The eyes of our daughter have forever been engraved upon my heart. As I saw her eyes brighten and her smile become deeper and deeper throughout our week, I had a taste of the power love has to change a life. It may be hard for us as we wait for her, but I am thankful that we WILL have each other and be a family...our story WILL end happy. But the eyes of the other little ones left behind that looked at us like they were saying "Take me, too"....those are the eyes that haunt me and I don't know how their story will end. There is an ache in my heart that longs to find a family for each and every one of them...I believe it is an ache that will never go away again.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress... James 1:27 

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Last Day...

Today was our last day here in Bulgaria....for now. I am praying we will be back SOON! I know we've got lots of awesome prayer warriors out there asking God to move the paperwork and get us back to pick up our little girl and bring her HOME!

We had some notarizing of documents to do this morning with our agency representative and then the rest of the day was for us to explore. Our hearts are still stuck in the little orphanage in the little village a couple of hours away, but we know that we still need to put one foot in front of the other and make the very best of each day until we get to all be together again. So, since our apartment is right downtown Sofia, we spent the day walking MILES! We saw all kinds of beautiful Churches and old, old, OLD buildings. The history here is amazing. There are really some neat things about Bulgaria, but they have so much to figure out about how to get their country firmly on their feet and to find a way to help the impoverished...to find a way to care for and lessen the number of orphans that are here. So many times as we walked along some streets, I saw young women who were trying to sell goods or do other things to survive, and I thought of how one of these women could be our Selah's birth mother. I think of the day that will come when she will be old enough to ask me about her mother and the inevitable "why didn't she keep me". I pray I will have the right words. I pray that whatever I say will bring peace to her soul and that none of her past will ever hinder or harm her heart, her self confidence, her joy, or her God-given path in life. Months ago, when I thought we had lost the opportunity to adopt her, I gave thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to pray for her throughout her life. I thought I would never meet her or know her personality, but I was ready to pray on her behalf forever. Now I have been blessed with 4 days with her, so not only did I meet her, but I KNOW her and love her with my whole heart! I cannot even explain now how much more passionate those prayers will be!

On that note, my sweet husband is demanding that I get to bed because we will need to wake up in 4 hours to head to the airport!

Thanks so much for all the prayers this week...we have definitely felt them and know they have made a BIG difference!

Once we get home and settled and give our boys lots of love and hugs, I'll get back on this blog and post some of the neat pictures of the sights around Bulgaria...and OF COURSE keep you updated as to any news we hear about paperwork, skyping with Selah, and our next travel date!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saying Good-Bye...for Now

Thanks so much for all of the wonderful prayers because I KNOW that they helped to make today a so much easier. Leaving was and is in no way easy…but we made it and in the midst of “making it” we had an absolutely precious time with Selah and God opened doors on our behalf that helped to bring so much peace to our hearts.


As soon as we arrived this morning we went inside and our wonderful agency representative and translator asked if we could possibly see the area where Selah lives each day. She explained to the director that it would do so much to bring peace to our hearts as we waited and it would also help us to relate more to Selah’s daily life. The director gave us her blessing and first invited us into her office where Selah was waiting for us! There she sat waiting and as soon as she saw us she jumped up with her big smile that fills her beautiful little face! She jumped right into my arms for a hug and then into Daddy’s too! We had brought a bag of candy and had saved enough bubble bottles for each child in the orphanage and the director let Selah hand out the treats to all the boys and girls. It was so cute…she loved sharing her treats and loved being in charge!

One of the caregivers then took us on a tour. We got to see Selah’s sleeping area that she shares with about 10 other children. She has a little white bed and they have all the beds neatly made and on her bed was the blanket we had brought for her. They are making sure she has it to sleep with all the time and promise to remind her that it is from Mommy and Daddy. They showed us her personal little closet and cubby, the bathrooms, and the playrooms. It truly was a nice as I could imagine an orphanage being in a place where they have little money. The ladies that work there seem to really love the children. They do the very best they can with the little that they have. Everything was so nice and clean and tidy and organized which helped me to understand how important routine is to her. She has lived a life with almost the very same routine every single day…everyone is expected to do the very same thing with the group and there just isn’t a great deal of differentiation. This is what they have to do to best serve many children with few employees. So, each time we did something new or different and she would become nervous and begin rocking and tapping the sides of her little face, I knew it was because of how strange it must feel to her to be outside of this routine.

As we were touring, all the sweet little angels that live there just attached themselves to us…the look up at you with these big sad eyes that just seem to say “I want a family, too….me too…”. It is heart wrenching. I wish I could do something to ensure that each one of those angels had a family…. There was one little boy who kept giving us hugs and literally wrapped his arms around Bryan’s leg and didn’t want to let go. He looked at us with the hugest brown eyes I have ever seen in my life. My big ol’ solid rock of a husband had a lump in his throat…and I was right there with him. Maybe someone out there reading this would love to be his forever family? I can promise you he will melt your heart in less than one second!

We talked with the director a bit more, asking a few questions, and getting such a good feeling from her. We left her our webcam and she gave us her skype account and we set up times when we can skype with Selah! How incredible is that? She also looked through all of the special books I had made for Selah about our family and special toys, baby doll, and a talking picture frame with all of us telling Selah how much we love her! She assured us that she would make a point of either reading the books to her herself or having one of the caretakers do it on a regular basis. She was so kind to us and told us she was so happy for Selah and that she could tell that we truly loved her and would take wonderful care of her. I just kept smiling and crying and thanking her. When Selah was near me, I could hold in the tears, but when she wasn’t I lost that strength and the tears poured.


She understood the trouble we were having with saying good-bye and to help ease that pain and help Selah have a little bit more time with us, she let us take Selah into the village for lunch as well as our regular playtime. That gave us an extra hour! So, off we went into the village to play at the park where she immediately headed to the snack stand and wanted her peach juice….and yup…you guessed it…drank it down in less than 2 minutes! And that lead to a wet diaper (they don’t potty train until 5) which I had to change in the middle of the park and she was quite uncomfortable with that!!!! But, she handled it remarkably well and we ended up laughing together over the awkwardness of the park bench :-)


After the park, we went to a restaurant where our translator ordered her a soup that was similar to what she usually eats. She ate some of it, but once she tasted my chicken and French fries…the soup was history! She will definitely fit into the American way of life! She LOVED the little chicken bites and HAD to have ketchup on those French fries! She made us laugh so hard because she was doing the “raise the roof” dance move to the pop music that was playing loudly at the restaurant! She loves music so much and always sings along with an uncanny ability to pick up the melody and rhythm immediately! The second she heard the music up went the hands and perfectly to the beat, I mind you!


Then came the time to take her back…the time to say “good-bye”. She wanted Daddy to carry her and he said that the closer we got, the tighter she held onto his neck. It was as if she knew something was going on. We went back to the director’s office and chatted and had a last couple of giggles and lots of hugs and kisses. Bryan kept whispering in my ear to stay strong…I think he was doing it halfway to help me and the other half to help himself. We did it and made sure her last memories were of smiles. She blew us kisses and left to go take a nap. They shut the door and again the tears fell. I could feel God, though and I could feel His presence and His gentle reassurance that it would all be okay. I just needed to focus on the future and the still miraculous fact that this beautiful little girl was going to be ours and we were being given this incredible gift.


So now….I think about the day that will soon come. The day where I will have three noisy kiddos running through the house and a quiet night in the future when I will not have just two rooms to go to before I sleep, but rather three. Now I quietly go into each room and watch Zachary and Landon sleeping peacefully and I kiss their little foreheads and whisper my prayers of thanksgiving to Jesus for allowing me to be their mommy and then whisper into their ears “ I’m so glad that God gave me you”. But soon, that quiet night will come, and I will have a third bedroom to go into and I will quietly whisper..”Thank You, Jesus, for letting me be her mommy” and then “I’m so glad God gave me you.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reality

Reality is setting in. Today was still a miracle and I am so thankful to God for each moment He has given us…but the reality of our situation and the fact that tomorrow (Thursday) will be our last day with Selah before we leave kept lurking in the background of our minds.

Before we left this morning I was reading my Bible, and in it I read II Corinthians 3:17 which says “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). God always works in such creative ways to show us the words He wants us to hear. This verse had been one that a very close friend of mine has referred to before in her own prayer life over her child and she had recently prayed that scripture in regards to Selah and the whole adoption process. I knew when I read it that I needed to be claiming that promise from God over our Selah’s life today.

When we arrived today we were alone and without our translator so it was a different situation for Selah. When she first entered the room where we were waiting for her, she seemed a bit hesitant at first, but then she came over to us with a big hug…but the hug for some reason made her nervous…and she began to show some typical institutional behaviors. We had seen these behaviors a little bit the last few days, but today was just like I earlier stated…reality. It hit me so hard and so deep… to the very depths of my heart that this precious little girl who I already love as though she had been born from me…has spent the last four years rocking herself to find comfort…tapping her hands to the side of her head to find comfort…It was reality that my daughter didn’t have a Mommy or Daddy or special someone to pick her up when she was hurt…to kiss the booboos away, to make the scary nightmare disappear, or to simply help her through any of the moments of insecurity in her life. I think of all the times our boys have needed that extra time in the rocking chair, or their backs beings rubbed, or the quiet moments where they could sit on my lap and cry about the disappointments in life. She has never had that…instead she has had to find a way to comfort herself in her moments of stress, sadness, nervousness, or hurt. My heart grieved.


In the midst of the grieving, God reminded me to come to Him. I prayed…I prayed and claimed His promises for freedom from any hurt, ache, or emptiness from her past. I prayed for peace and joy to fill her heart. I prayed that we could meet her immediate needs right at that moment. I prayed for His Holy Spirit to live in her heart…to reign over all her troubles…over all the areas where life had let her down. I held her in my arms, rubbing her back, and silently prayed. And then God, our awesome God, met us right where we were and a peace and calm came over our little Selah and the happy, giggly, spunky little girl was back with the biggest, cutest smile you could ever imagine! We’d made it through. I was given the blessing of giving her physical comfort in her time of need and God calmed her little spirit and set her free.


After that the day went well. We read a couple of books from Grandma and played with the playdough she loves so much. She particularly loved the one book that is a touch and feel book and she would rub the soft fur part of each animal listed in the story to her face and say "awwwww...". So cute! Then we went for a walk again to the village and to the park where she had another bottle of juice, but this time she chose peach juice! She definitely had the straw function mastered and downed that bottle of juice in less than five minutes! She was NOT setting that bottle down until it was ALL gone! From there we went for another walk along a little path to a little country church that was hundreds of years old and very pretty. She wasn’t crazy about walking uphill so I picked her up and carried her. We sang songs together and cuddled all the way up the hill! She has an incredible ability to hear a song and then hum the melody almost perfectly! She held on so tight and kept holding my face and playing with my hair and giving me sweet kisses. I really think my heart just may burst…literally!

On the way down the hill, she wanted to run and have us chase her…I was worried because her muscle tone is not great and she hasn’t had many opportunities to run and develop those muscles. My worries came to fruition and she fell down and bumped her head. She had quite a goose egg on her forehead. I felt horrible! The positive was that when it happened and I quickly picked her up and held her and tried to kiss the booboos…she calmed down. I thanked God that He has again allowed me to be her comfort. Just as I am always so thankful that He has allowed me to be the Mommy to Zach and Landon and given me the blessing of being their physical comfort, I am praising Him now that He has given me this same opportunity with Selah. She is quite an amazingly tough little thing though, because even with that big ‘ol goose egg, she was finished crying and giggling again in about 5 minutes!

We brought her back to the orphanage because it was time for lunch and Bryan put kisses in her little pocket and without us even have to explain it to her, she took the kisses out of her pocket and plopped them on her lips! Precious!
In the afternoon we went back and immediately Selah was comfortable again. I praised God for her comfort and her peace…she didn’t show any of the nervousness as she had that morning. It had gotten quite chilly so we only played outside for a little bit and then went inside to play in the little room. We went through every toy and every creative idea we had for the next two hours in a room that is approximately 5’ x 10’ and filled with furniture. It kind of reminds me of waiting in a Doctor’s office with a small child and trying to amuse them! Bryan is soooooooo good at being silly so we did great and Selah and him had a blast being absolutely silly together! She cracks us up with her wild sense of humor! I think the Schumaker home is truly going to someday be comedy central with Mommy bearing the brunt of it all! :-)

As our time came to an end tonight, she went away easily because she was hungry and ready for dinner, but I guess when she realized she was going back to all the children and we weren’t coming with her, she began to cry…. How are we going to get through the next few months?

Please, Lord, I am asking for speed in this process…please do not let any paperwork be delayed…let us all be together soon

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hugs, Kisses, and Lots of Giggles!

Today was another amazing day…sometimes I cannot believe that we are here and living this miracle. God touched my heart so long ago and engraved upon it the desire to adopt a child, a little girl. He introduced me to her 8 months ago and told me she was the one. My heart was broken when it didn’t work out…but His plan was so much bigger than I ever imagined and He brought her back to us! Now here we are…loving her…holding her…giving and getting lots of kisses and hugs…and hearing a laughter that comes straight from her belly and makes our hearts bubble over every minute we are with her.

Selah is absolutely meant to be a Schumaker! Oh my stars! You should hear her laughter and her energy truly will give our boys some BIG competition! I had often thought I would someday have a demure, quiet little girl who would just be so dainty and calm….ohhhhhhhh no! That would not be the plan! This little girl has SPUNK! She loves nothing more than to race around kicking and throwing a soccer ball and thinks it is absolutely hilarious when she can manage to plunk it right on our heads…ESPECIALLY Daddy’s! Today they started a funny little game of making faces at each other. She couldn’t stop laughing! Her laughter is that kind that starts waaaaay down deep in her belly and just completely consumes her! Precious is not even adequate to describe her laughter and watching her and her daddy play together.

Today she also discovered how fun it is to be swung up in the air while holding each of our hands. As we were walking, we did the “one, two, three…weeeeeeeee!” and swung her in the air. She loved it and had us do it no less than 20 times! She would even imitate our counting and say a really cute version that kind of went like “eno, sebet, tree, WEEEEEEE!” and if we didn’t respond, be sure to know that she had no trouble communicating that she was certainly displeased with the situation!



We were even able to call Zachary and Landon at the Nolan’s before they went to school this morning! We were on the playground with Selah and really wanted to be able to wish Zach our best on his Karate testing and report today! It worked out wonderfully because we put them on speakerphone and Selah heard them and said “Hi” to them as well. She held the phone by her ear for a moment and said a little something that none of us could understand :-) It was so neat for the boys to get to hear her and talk to her! She was smiling BIG! It was so good for us, too, because we are missing those two little guys like you wouldn’t believe!


Each day we bring Selah a few more of the “goodies” that we brought along for her from both us and others. This morning, we brought a cute little brown and pink leopard print outfit and an adorable little bracelet and necklace her grandma made for her. She loved putting on the jewelry and kept saying “hubava” which means beautiful! Her caretaker helped me with the clothing to make sure I had bought the correct size and she was so happy for Selah. She really seems to love her, which makes me feel so much comfort for when we leave. When we came back in the afternoon, Selah was all dressed up in her new outfit and wearing her jewelry! It was so stinkin’ cute! Her caretaker also told us that Selah had cried in the afternoon because she missed us and wanted us to come back. Knowing that made my heart ache for her because I just cannot stand the thought of her hurting, but also made me rejoice in the fact that this little girl is already bonding with us deeply. Thank You, Jesus! And thank you to all of you who have been praying for this bond to happen!!! Please continue to pray for that and all that is to come!


I want to again say “THANK YOU” to everyone who sent us off with filled suitcases for the orphanage! The director was so happy and loved everything and appreciated it so much! It made her so happy that she gave us permission to take Selah for a walk into the village where we were able to treat her to her first soda and bottled juice! She LOVED it! She did the same thing Zachary and Landon do to the straws…bite them to death! She thought it was quite funny! It was such a treat to take her out of the orphanage…it gave us a hint of the feeling of what it will be like someday when we bring her home. I wish I could have taken pictures of the things everyone sent with us, but we are not allowed into the main part of the orphanage. We are only allowed on the main level with the offices and a small room where we play with Selah. I would so love to get the opportunity to see the environment where she lives…to see the play area, eating area, sleeping area. But not even our translators are allowed. I guess that is the rule in all the orphanages here in Bulgaria.


Please know, though, that all that love you sent with us will be felt by these children. I have seen many of them playing on the playground and they are all so precious. If only every child could have a family…seeing their eyes watch us and crave adult interaction and love breaks my heart. I pray for each and every little child here (and all over the world) that does not have a family. I pray that God touches their heart and shows them Who He is and comforts them…that each child may know Him and know that they were created by the God of the universe Who creates all things good and beautiful and that they are loved dearly by Him and that they are NOT forgotten…but rather they have been chosen and are cherished by their Father in Heaven.

In between visits, Bryan and I went off to do a little hiking and exploring. The area is so beautiful. It is a mountainous region that is so incredibly green with lush foliage. We climbed up a million steps and walked along a path and eventually found a beautiful park. Tomorrow we want to explore the park more because today by the time we found it, we had to leave to go meet our translators for lunch! It seems we eat here A LOT! We think the food is amazing! It consists of a lot of vegetables prepared in various ways, lots of potatoes, and meat. Cheese is on practically everything and each of the dishes we have ordered comes with tomatoes and cucumbers alongside the entry. I haven’t seen a regular lettuce salad yet, but rather their salads are a mixture of various vegetables. If you aren’t a vegetable person or a potato person, you would have some trouble, but we are loving it and find ourselves eating waaaaay too much! I thank the Lord each day for our translators because without them, I would not have a CLUE what I was ordering. In the larger cities like Sofia, they have the menus in English, but not in our little village! Here is what the menu looks like….scary, huh?!

See what I mean?

The photos just do not do justice to the true beauty


Thanks again for all the love, good wishes, and prayers!


Until tomorrow….. :-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fallen Head Over Heels

Where do I start…so many emotions…so much to say. Today was incredible. God was so present and so good…He melted our hearts even more than they were before and all the prayers over the last few weeks asking Him to prepare her heart to know us and feel our love, were answered. She responded so well to us! At first Selah was nervous and we could see she wasn’t quite sure, but within a few minutes she warmed up and within a half hour she was giving hugs and plopping sweet kisses on our cheeks! She already knows that Daddy is the fun one and was giggling herself to death with him! It was so precious!


I heard her voice before I saw her and I immediately knew it was hers from the videos I have watched a million times over. That was all it took to start the tears from falling…which was good because it gave me time to get it together before she actually came to the room in which we were waiting for her! Her caretaker took her upstairs and dressed her in a cute little dress to meet her “visitors”. Then in walked our little princess! She was exactly as I envisioned…our Selah..our gift from God.


We played for about an hour in the room and then she had to leave to go eat lunch. She was hungry! She bolted for lunch, but not without giving us our hugs and kisses goodbye! She loved her little baby doll and kitty from Zachary and Landon and she absolutely LOVES Teddy Grahams and this little princess candy bracelet we brought her!!! She fits right in as a Schumaker! She will definitely be able to hold her own at the dessert table!


At 4:30 we were allowed to visit again and this time we spent a couple of hours inside and then outside on the playground. She really started showing us the love at this point! She was so happy and full of giggles! At the end of this visit, she wasn’t ready to leave for dinner…even being hungry wasn’t enough to want to walk away from us. She would only leave after we promised her that we would be back in the morning…and then we got some more of her precious little hugs and kisses and a good-bye. Then as she walked out the door, she turned and blew me a kiss. Talk about an incredible moment....I’m gone…soooooo totally fallen…and Bryan? Well the tough guy who says he lives in a cave to stay the ever solid rock…well, he’s definitely gone too! He is wearing his heart right on his sleeve and his eyes show the same love I see when I watch him with our boys. This little girl may not be ours to bring home yet…she may not be ours on paper yet…but she is ours in every other sense of the word. We love her so very very much….love at first sight. Thank You, Jesus!


If only Zach and Landon were here to share all this with us. We miss them so much, but we know they are doing just great and having a wonderful time with family and friends! Mommy and Daddy miss you guys, though!!! We love you sooooo much and can’t wait to tell you more about your sister!!!


Later I’ll have to tell you about the food here…yummmmmm is all I have time for at the moment, though!!


Behind these fences is home right now to our little princess.


In this picture you can see a bit of the orphanage


Selah and Bryan pushing the cuddly kitten Zach bought for her on her favorite swing.
Someday I will be able to post her beautiful little face on this blog...but for now I have to wait
until she is legally ours.

A picture in the small village where Selah lives.

Please keep praying for our little girl and that she continues to bond with us, that she somehow will understand when we leave that it  is not by our choice and that we will be back just as soon as we are given permission, and that our sweet Zach and Landon continue to filled with peace as we are gone, aaaannnddd that the Nolans will find at least a moment's rest between their 3 kids and our 2 and being my internet when I don't have it!! :-)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." - Proverbs 3:5 (a dear friend just reminded me of that verse - Thank you, Leanne!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We Made It!

Well....we are here! Safe and sound...extremely exhausted...but here and a step closer to holding Selah! Our morning started with a 2 hour and 40 minute delay in Phoenix, but then made it just in time to Chicago to get on the plane for Munich! Then......we arrived in Munich on time and had about 30 minutes to get to the next flight. A sweet gal who could walk faster than any other person I have seen in my life guided us to the gate that would get us on our flight to Sofia. We boarded the plane....sat...waited..the air conditioning wasn't working...and something else was wrong so they said to deboard and in two hours it would be fixed. In two hours we reboarded and the same thing happened again! At that point, my tears started, because I had been up for over 24 hours straight (I couldn't sleep on the flight), we didn't know when or how we would get to Sofia, and Bryan's cell phone wasn't working and I had promised the boys we would call!!! 

But, God took care of us, gave me a nice comfy bench to sleep on for an hour, gave us a telephone through Lufthansa so we could call the boys, and then got us on a flight to Sofia! We ended up in the Munich airport for 7 hours, but we are here now and I am going to sleep in 5 minutes for only about 5 hours until we will be picked up in the morning and driven to the orphanage!

AND...tomorrow my post will be SO MUCH BETTER 'cuz it will be about our little girl!

Selah, we're comin'!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Really Truly Here...We are Heading to Bulgaria!

Tomorrow is the day...a day for which I have waited and prayed for a looooooong time! It is here and OH MY STARS, the journey it has been and the powerful way in which God has revealed Himself leaves me a changed person. The funny thing is, though, that I know that I have only traveled a portion of this journey and I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW that God is going to continue to change me and continue to reveal Himself in so many ways!

So....first and foremost I just HAVE to say THANK YOU to so many people who have loved, supported, and encouraged us along the way!  I have had so many wonderful friends with a heart for orphans show up with bags and boxes of stuff for me to bring to donate to the orphanage! How could I ask for a greater blessing than those God has surrounded us with in our lives?

We have family and friends who have gone out of their way time and time again and I am so very thankful...thankful for a loving family and the most amazing friends ever who are caring for our boys while we are gone....thankful for friends who are checking in on our sweet dog, thankful for teachers who are going above and beyond to be a part of this adoption journey with our boys, thankful for the sweet presents for our precious little Selah, thankful for the massive donations to the orphanage, thankful for all the kind and encouraging words, and last but defintiely not least....I am so thankful to all of you who have kept us in your prayers and interceded on our behalf and on behalf of our Selah and all the other children in the orphanage where she lives. Please keep those prayers going because we still definitely need them and I am still counting on miracles to be unfolding day after day!

I am planning on being able to update this blog daily when we are in Bulgaria! Hopefully internet connections will be readily available!!!

Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.”

“Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the Lord is watching over your journey.” -Judges 18:5-6 (NLT)
Just a few shots of all the donations!!! Isn't it great?!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Makin' my List and Checkin' it Twice....

I am finally feeling like I've checked off all the important tasks that need to be done to leave on the 28th! Whew! Now it is just the fine tuning of all the details like making SURE I know how to skype so we talk with and see our boys everyday! It sure is going to be difficult to leave them for almost 8 days, but thanks to absolutely wonderful family friends, I know they will be well loved while we are gone!

I don't think there will be any way around a frantic mind those last few days,though! It always seems that no matter how well organized I try to be, the last few days before a big trip is always frantic for me....and this is a BIG TRIP!

I can hardly believe that we are going to meet our little girl in just 2 weeks! My heart seems to have this constant stream of emotions running through it that sometimes make me want to bust out with a laughter-filled joy and the next minute I'm ready to cry with that SAME joy...pretty crazy, I know.... Waaaaaaaay too emotional for my sweet, but very logical husband! He's not quite sure what to make of me lately...but he smiles and loves me anyway :-)

So, as my heart explodes, I keep thinking...
How her little smile might look when I get to witness it in real life....
or whether or not there will be a sparkle in her eyes when we get to hear her giggle?
I wonder if she really likes pink or if that is just what all her photos seem to have her dressed in!
What might her first thoughts of us be?
What will that moment be like?
and then I journey a little further into the future and wonder if she will like swimming in the pool just as much as her brothers and if she will want Daddy to make big waves and go with her down the slide?
I wonder what she will think of pizza and ice cream and donuts?
Will she love being rocked?
I wonder if she will be more of a "girly-girl" or if her brothers will entice her into the world of action figures, dueling battles with swords, mud puddles, and fast action-packed fun?

Our sweet little, Selah....if you only knew how much we already love you...how you are a part of our every thought in the day...and how we have prayed for you for soooooo long and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives, and how we dream of the day we are not a family that is separated, but rather a family all together right here at home.

Our Selah...
Chosen,
Cherished,
Beloved.

"For this child I prayed...." 1 Samuel 1:27

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Travel Dates

We received confirmation of our travel dates on Friday! We will be leaving on August 28th and returning on September 4th.  I can hardly believe that the time is actually coming close to the day I will get to meet our little girl for the first time and wrap my arms around her and hold on tight! My only sadness is that our boys cannot come with us. They so badly want to be with us and get the chance to meet their sister and give her a great big hug! It will be hard for me, as well...I have never been away for the boys for more than a couple of nights, but I know it will be so worth it and I am thanking the Lord for the incredible technology of today that will enable us to talk and even skype!

So.....only 21 more days until meeting our Selah....a day, as you know, long awaited!! :-)

If anyone has any recommendations for the trip as far as travel, stuff to bring, or ANYTHING you think may help in our preparation or time in Bulgaria, I would love to hear from you! Please post or email me! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What Happens When You Surrender

I left you with my last post at a point where I had finally realized I needed to surrender myself and all my desires and needs to God...I realized that I needed to be extremely honest and "real" with Him so that I could lay down what I wanted and let God work.

So...what happened? At first, just an incredible sense of peace that gave me the strength and the conviction to know that even if this adoption journey took me 5 years, I was ready to be on the journey. It was a sense of peace that allowed me to truly give this little girl back to God. I was no longer saying it with words that didn't connect to my heart...the peace was proof that my heart, mind, and soul were all in alignment. I had decided that there was a reason....maybe I was just meant to intercede on her behalf in prayer throughout her life and I could thank God for that incredible privelege that would let me be a part of her life forever, even if she didn't know it or ever know me.

So about a week passed and I happened to remember that I had not ever checked out an adoption chat group that I had signed up for before any of this had ever begun. I opened my account and saw over 600 emails! Yikes! SO....I deleted many and then just started reading some interesting threads. After a few days of reading I noticed one person who would just make the most positive posts that were just so encouraging to my heart. They were a voice of reason within a sometimes sea of frustration! After following this person's story I decided to send her an email to say thank you for the encouragement, positive comments, and voice of reason. That email began email communication between us and eventually she connected me to someone else she thought I would connect with.

Well.....from here the story becomes even more miraculous and I wish I could share it all, but I don't want to possibly say too much due to regulations. But God (isn't that always the case...but GOD!! ) made one thing transpire into another and before I knew it, the knowledge that this little girl that we had so fallen in love with in January, was once again available!!! Our caseworker and agency had no idea and they were just as stunned as I was. At first, I couldn't believe it was true. I kept thinking it had to be another little girl with the same name or something!! But no....it was her! Our family was in a state of shock but in complete agreement that we would re-apply immediately!

Ooooo, after we have her home, I will share more, but if you could only know how powerfully I felt the Holy Spirit...in my prayer time as I sought His guidance....in worship at Church when I felt His comfort. I have never in my life felt Him so near to me as I have felt Him in the last 2 1/2 monthsand the unfolding of these events....It is so awesome...I just want the world to feel what I have felt :-)

We applied again and waited almost three weeks and got our approval! Our caseworker called when I was on the way home from school with the boys and I was crying and laughing and the boys were absolutely screaming with joy!!!! Our sweet caseworker joined right in with us and was just so happy for all of us!!! It was truly one of my life's greatest moments!

Now we are doing paperwork and waiting for our travel dates...hopefully it will be soon :-)

I'll leave you with this verse from the book of Ezra. It was an evening I was desperately seeking guidance from Him and I asked Him to direct me to the book and the verse He desired me to hear....and this is it:

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves beofre our God to seek from Him a straight and right way for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. Ezra 8:21

And verse 23 showed me just how true His promises are in the here and now:

So we fasted and besought our God for this,
and He heard our entreaty.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Lord is My Strength

This was something I wrote at the end of May. (This timeline is important) It was so significant because it marked such a huge step of healing and a huge step in my relationship with God. It was an epiphany of sorts....

O Lord, you are my lamp.

The Lord lights up my darkness.

In Your strength I can crush an army;

With my God I can scale a wall.

-2 Samuel 22:29-30 (NLT)


I have been going through a season of frustration the last few months that have left me with a complete verbal void. It really all began in January when the photo of a beautiful little girl from Bulgaria appeared in my email inbox one day. The moment I saw her my heart opened wide and if ever I had felt the Holy Spirit, it was then. Because she was a little older than we had planned, labeled “special needs”, and not our official “referral”….we followed the steps to ensure that this little girl was the “one” meant to be part of our family. We prayed like crazy, talked with doctors, talked with our caseworker and then took the steps to adopt her. I was so sure this was right and that God had His hand in this and it was what He wanted. But, the day that her file was presented to Bulgarian government, it turned out that another family wanted her, too…and they got her. My heart still aches as I write this 5 months later. How could I have been so wrong?


For people who have not adopted, you might not understand this grief because, honestly, I wouldn’t have understood it even one year ago myself. God gives us a Mommy’s heart whether that child grows in you and you meet her at that first garbled cry seconds after she enters the world…or whether you first see her face in a photo or video when she is 3 ½ years old. It is such an amazing thing He does, but without even realizing it, I was holding a huge grudge against Him for that amazing miracle He so lovingly gives to us. Maybe it sounds ignorant to say I didn’t even realize I was holding that grudge, but I can promise you that I was telling myself all the right things straight from the Word of God! I listened to Godly counsel and teaching and nodded my head in agreement to all of it because I KNEW IT WAS RIGHT! But, my heart didn’t get it…


So, we all know what happens when we hold a grudge, right? We grow distant from whatever it is we resent. I hid it well, though! But that is where religion and relationship are two such different things. I was doing what my religion had taught me…going to Church, reading my Bible, listening to worship music, praying. But, guess what, the prayers were religion! I wasn’t getting real with God. I wasn’t being honest enough with Him to tell Him I was mad to let Him into my heart to make the healing begin. My relationship with Him was so luke warm.


Luke warm doesn’t get you through when life happens and challenges mount. But here I am now, and I have learned that I need to keep it real with my Savior. I was really mad at Him for allowing me to feel like it was so right and then to, in a sense, take her away from us. I was mad that the adoption process with Bulgaria seemed to come to a standstill for awhile. I was mad that some very special people were taken from us and others were caused to grieve so desperately. I was mad that I have had unanswered health problems that keep coming up and interfering with how I have always lived my life. AND…I’m still working through that “mad” with Him, but the difference now is that I am giving Him my whole self…even the ugly part I wanted so badly to hide from Him. Now I’m letting Him heal my ache and letting Him work out all things in His time.


And this is where the Bible verse ties into my story: Throughout this time my prayers were very appropriate and very politely asked Him to “give me strength”, ”give me wisdom”, ”give me patience”. But here is the problem. I asked Him to give me those things as though I were ordering it from a stranger that worked behind a checkout counter at a supermarket. Because I was holding a grudge against Him, I couldn’t get close enough to Him to ask what I really needed to be asking, which was not to simply “give” me those things that I need. He could give me those things and I would let them go to waste because I am nothing without Him. What I needed to ask was “Lord, please BE my strength, my wisdom, my patience, my EVERYTHING!” God wants to BE our strength. He wants to fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can’t receive that power unless I am laying it ALL before Him and spending the time to be real before Him…having a true relationship with Him that in turn will make the grudge fall away and replace it with real relationship and worship.


I will leave you with more from 2 Samuel.

O Lord, You are my lamp.

The Lord lights up my darkness.

In Your strength I can crush an army;

With my God I can scale any wall.

God’s way is perfect.

All the Lord’s promises prove true.

He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.

For who is God except the Lord?

Who but our God is a solid rock?

God is my strong fortress,

And he makes my way perfect.

He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

Enabling me to stand on mountain heights.

He trains my hands for battle;

He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

You have given my Your shield of victory;

Your help has made me great.

You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

2 Samuel 22:29-37
Lord, please Be my strength in the midst of my weakness, my wisdom in the midst of my ignorance, my patience in the midst my frustration, my love in the midst of my anger. Lord, I ask for Your Holy Spirit to permeate my being and BE all that I am not. I thank You for being my solid Rock…my strong Fortress…and for loving me when I’m not so loveable. In Your Perfect Name I pray. Amen.