Friday, December 24, 2010

A Humble Beginning

I have seen many nativity sets that are beautiful, ornate, and often untouchable because the pieces can be broken.  This year Brian brought us home a nativity scene from his second trip to Kenya that was handmade in the country.

I absolutely love it.  This is what comes to mind when I picture this scene so many years ago...a humble setting, a non-descript building, and people seeking a Savior.  Granted, you can tell I also like sparkly things, due to the bargain buy Wal-mart ornaments in the bowl behind it.  However,  I do have the manger placed directly in the line of vision of all who walk through our home, because I want that to be the most important part of Christmas in our home.

Christmas is just this simple- Mary and Joseph so in love with their newborn son. And God so in love with the world that he sent Jesus to us through this humble beginning.

Now I just need to make sure that Knox doesn't decide to snack on one of the wise men. Because we're pretty sure that he's dined on one of our ornaments, due to some incriminating evidence.

Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Visit

We've officially started the paper work for our home study and I'm trying very hard not to get overwhelmed by it.  I'm all for making sure parents are qualified to bring little ones into their homes but we sure do need to get an enormous amount of documents certified, notarized, head is spinning.

It's amazing how this journey has already opened up conversations.... a few days ago I was at the post office mailing some paperwork to our adoption agency.  The woman behind the counter took my envelope, looked at it, paused and then apologized for being nosy, but asked if I was adopting.  She shared that she was also looking to adopt with her husband but wasn't sure about being able to afford it and really wasn't sure how the whole process worked.  We talked for a little bit about it and she asked me to keep coming back to that post office so that I could keep her updated!  Love it.

While Brian is in Orlando this weekend performing the wedding of two of his former students, (Congratulations Seth and Stephanie!!!), I had a visit from two of my former Student Venture girls, Emily and Rachel...who, I hesitate to admit this....were also in my fourth and fifth grade classes when I taught elementary school.  Did I mention they are now juniors in college????? Jeesh.

For those of you who have ever done student ministry, you understand that you rarely see the fruit of your investment of time and energy with kids until years later.  This was one of those weekends though, where I left my time with Emily and Rachel refreshed and encouraged. These girls live with a vision that is so much bigger than themselves, so much bigger than their course schedule,  and so much greater than their weekend plans. I am humbled and challenged by it.  Both Rachel and Emily have such a heart for serving and caring for others. They have both already spent time in Africa on mission trips and are looking to head overseas again this summer to serve.

We spent Saturday morning at the Gibbs Village housing project in Montgomery hanging out with the kids.  I absolutely loved the fact that Rachel and Emily were willing to go with me and that we were able to serve together! It rained most of the morning, so we weren't sure how many kids would show up around lunch, but about fifty showed up to play football, eat pizza, and do a craft.  It is such a privilege to be able to spend some time each month with these kids; hugging them, telling them are loved, playing sports with them and just holding their hands.  Most of them come from a one parent family where the father is either absent or in prison or they are being raised by their extended family.  Each month that we come back you can see the trust that is growing in their eyes for us.  I love watching the 5-10 year old boys with some of the men that volunteer. They respect them, they listen to them, and they want their approval. They are SO in need of affection, affirmation, and all of us are....

Emily helping Kimberly with her craft.

 Emily, Rachel, and 6 year old D.J.


Helping KeKe and her sister D, with their craft

Now, Martha Stewart I am not, but since Rachel is an art major and Emily has an amazing eye for design we decided to be a little crafty last night- we concocted some homemade ornaments...

We used some paint and a little water for the middle ornament and did that design inside the ornament..... looks great, right?????  Unfortunately, we have not yet figured out the technique for actually getting the paint to stay in place and actually dry.  The next morning it was in a blob at the bottom of the ornament.... Any suggestions?  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A good cause and a great t-shirt

What I quickly learned about adoption, especially international adoption, is that community is essential.  As you are filling out paperwork, working with agencies, and parenting children who have experienced a lot of life in a very short amount of time, it is necessary to walk that journey with others who are also in your shoes.

One of my girlfriends from Atlanta, Andrea Young, is mom of four little ones, including their newest addition, Isaac, adopted from Ethiopia this past summer.  She and some other moms who have adopted have realized the need for a time for women to come together who have a heart for adoption; to network, to share stories, to encourage and learn from one another.  The "Created to Care" retreat for women this coming February was formed out of this need and it is for anyone who has adopted, is adopting, who is thinking about adopting.  When Andrea put the word out about the retreat, they intially expected about fifty women. Very quickly, they realized they had greatly underestimated the need for this conference, because in a few short days over 200 women from across the country had registered.  Since the cost of adopting can be expensive, they really wanted to keep the registration price low, so the cost for the three day retreat was $100, which will cover food only.   In order to cover the additional costs for the weekend, (i.e. conference and break-out space, audio rentals fees, breakdown fees...), they have made a t-shirt to sell in which all proceeds will go toward paying for the conference.  

Here is a link to the blog and the information about the idea behind the t-shirt and how to purchase one. (Or just read her blog....because she's awesome. :) 

I am SO thrilled to be able to go to this retreat. To be honest, when I signed up to go, I felt a little goofy because we hadn't decided at that point even when we would adopt. I really thought it would be a few years down the road.  I was going to be the only one there who didn't have kids and wasn't adopting yet.  But I couldn't stop thinking about the conference, and I knew I needed to be there, even though it didn't make sense.  I am so thankful I signed up and will be able to go and connect with other moms, including some from Montgomery who are currently adopting or have adopted from Africa.  I love how God orchestrates my plans and how He is always, always, always way ahead of me in the process. :) 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It started with a Word...

I met my husband three years ago.  On our second date, he asked what I thought about adoption for a family.  He's not much for surface conversation.  When I finally decided, a few months later, that he just might be a keeper, I really started thinking about his question, because of the weight that it carried.  As we continued to talk over the months of dating, we realized how aligned we both were on our hope to adopt one day.  Brian and I both feel that God has placed a call on our lives to have biological and adopted children. Once we were engaged, we really started to flesh out the logistics of what we wanted our family to look like.  Our "plan" was to have a biological child, then adopt, then have another biological child, and adopt again.  Oh, how I should have known. :) God rarely moves according to my schedule!

Because we are in our 30s, we knew we wanted to start a family soon.  As the months went by and "our plan" was not happening, the conversation of adoption kept coming up.  In conversations with each other. In conversations with our friends. In conversations with strangers.  Through reading scripture, through books, through magazines.  Basically everywhere.  You get the point.  Brian and I really began to be convicted about "our plans."  Though they were not bad, they also weren't leaving a lot of room for God to move.  So in September, we decided that we would be open to adopting first. I started researching countries and agencies and pretty quickly we landed on Africa. 

Through researching, I found that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  was open to US residents for adoption.  Know where the Congo is? Nope, neither did I.  It's a very large country in the middle of the continent.  It was in a violent civil war from 1998-2003.  In addition, many of the rebels from infighting in Rwanda came across to eastern DRC.  Eastern DRC is now an area where many boys are taken to become child soldiers and girls are taken to become sex slaves for soldiers.  TheDRC is now labeled as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a female.  My heart broke to read about the lives of children in the DRC. There are over 5 million orphans, and many, many others that are unaccounted for after being taken by guerilla armies.  After talking together, Brian and I knew that if we were able to adopt from the DRC, that was our country. 

We applied to One World Adoption agency a week ago, and this friday we were accepted into their program!  We are excited and nervous about the roller coaster ride that is international adoption.  As with any third world country, there are so many variables, so many things that could go wrong.  We know that our baby will probably be malnourished and even have suffered some type of trauma.  We know that we know NOTHING about raising a baby.  Not even how to change a diaper.  We prefer hanging out with teenagers.  But what we do know is that God has clearly called us to this journey of adoption.  And though we may have to wait longer than nine months for our baby, we are still waiting expectantly for the next member of the Word family.  :)