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...

"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.

I'm FINALLY Back....With Amazing News!

I know it has been six months since my last post. It is really quite embarrassing...but after our heartbreak in January, this blog just seemed to represent the loss of her and I just COULDN'T make myself write. It's quite funny, though....because I have been writing, but just saving the docs in my computer files!

But, the last few months have been amazing and have lead me through quite a desert where I have grown closer to God...and now? Now, Praise God, I have entered the Promised Land!!!!! (Well, with a few more battles to get through, but God's Promises are good!)

So......here is the AMAZING news!!!!!! Are you ready? The little girl our hearts fell so desperately in love with in January will now be ours!!! Yup! Can you believe it? We have received our referral for her and we are going to be given the blessing of calling her our daughter!

How did it fall through in January and now in August we have a referral? Oh my stars it is a looooong story, but I'm going to make a couple of posts to show you how amazing God is and how He continues to work miracles today...and that His plans are amazing! (I'm at a loss for a word other than ...AMAZING!)