30 September 2013

The Wringer

Today we got yet another possibly-life-changing email. The Congo has suspended issuing any ext visas for adopted children traveling to their new home with their parents, effectively shutting down international adoptions for those not living in the Congo.

Y'all, I'm so tired.

Our lawyer in Kinshasa is trying to see if we can be grandfathered in, but I have little confidence that that will happen, since we have no documents in the Congo that identify us as prospective adoptive parents. I have some hope that the suspension will be lifted by the time we'd actually travel, but for now, we will wait and see.

I'm doing better than I could be doing, just waiting to see what the Lord is doing and what move He wants us to make. I suppose I am learning something through all of this craziness, but I do wonder how much longer we will be put through the wringer before we wear completely out.

God, we need YOU to sustain us. to guide us. to give us peace and hope and confidence that You will complete what You chose for us to start. We affirm that You are good and Your plans are good.

27 September 2013

Fundraising Friday!

Okay, I'm hoping to be able to share our final adoption costs breakdown! I know you're excited.

Amount in our Lifesong account: $3,782.65
Amount in our adoption checking account: $3,335.97
Amount we're taking out of our home equity (which is all): $8,000
Total amount we have: $15,118.62

Fees and costs:
*Adoption agency, dossier translation, lawyer, and in-country escort fees: $18,600
*Home study update fee: $500
*Dossier authentication fee: $100
*Dossier shipping fee: ~$100
Vaccination costs: $350
Congo plane tickets:  $2,500 (Why so low? because my dad is awesome and has a lot of airline miles)
Lodging in Kinshasa for 10 days: $1,000
Food for 4 for 12 days: $300
Transport in Kinshasa: $500
US Visa for H: $230
Visa medical exam: $100
Congo visas for Stephen, Ezra, and me: $345
Finalizing our adoption in the US: $1,200
Total costs: $25,825

The expenses that are starred are due before our dossier will be sent to the Congo. The total for those is $19,300! So, we need $4,180 to come in before we can move forward with our adoption.

It's a little strange-feeling, because we'll only have $6,525 left to raise after that, and at least 3 months to raise it. We also won't hear back from the grants we've applied for until after we submit our dossier (or I sure hope we'll be able to submit it before, since most grants have at least 6 weeks between). So, it's possible we won't have to fundraise any more after this. But who knows what will happen?

Well, God does. Please join with me in praying that He will guide us as to how to bring in the money for our adoption and that funds will come in according to his good will.

IF you feel God is leading you to give to our adoption, you can give online here. Our family number is 3243. Other than the credit card fee, Lifesong doesn't take one cent from your donation for administrative fees!

26 September 2013

Homestudy Update

We're having to update our homestudy to align is with DRC's requirements. It will involve another homestudy and updating our information on our assets and incomes. When we receive that update, we'll be able to send our dossier to be apostilled, translated, and begin the process of legally adopting little miss H in the Congo.

I'll include a more thorough breakdown of costs for the first ever in quite a while Fundraising Friday, but please be praying that this process will move quickly, but also that the finances will come in as we need them., and that we will have an understanding of how God wants to provide, since almost all of the fees and expenses will be in the next 4-6 weeks, and we do not have all the funds at present.

On a spiritual note, I'm feeling so much hope and confidence that H is our daughter and that God wants to bless our family by adding her specifically to it. My faith and confidence on how I'll do as a parent of a very active and spirited preschooler (3 is preschooler, right?) and a toddler who has experienced profound loss(es) in her short and precious life, well, that's not as strong. If you'd like to join me in praying that God will prepare me to mother this miracle of God's love, provision, and mercy, I'd really appreciate it.

17 September 2013

Room in my heart

Just a little lyric from a little song: "I make room in my heart, God."

Singing it on Sunday morning, I got a clear picture from the Lord. Opening my heart (my claymation heart, I dunno, but that was the look), stretching it to see its contents, and finding that the room I was making in my heart was filled with junk: sawdust, cotton batting, bits of string.

I've never had to oust anything from my heart to make room for God. In fact, every time I've opened more of my heart to God, he has enlarged it. My heart holds to much more, so much closer, than when I first believed.

Honestly, I may still be the most selfish person you ever meet (I make neither promises nor threats in that department), but God has done a miracle with my heart, that it could even have room for anyone else in any capacity.

09 September 2013

Worldly Sorrow

If you know me IRL, you'd probably nod your head in agreement that I'm not the type of person to beat myself up about things I've done wrong. It's just not part of my personality to think of myself as a "bad person," and it took a long time (and a pretty serious downwardly-spiraling life) for me to realize I couldn't just do my thang in life and be okay.

And most of the time, I don't even mind that part of my personality - I married someone who's definitely the opposite in this area, and man, it just seems tiring to be wondering all the time if you're violating your inner conscience. I tend to think, look, if I do, I'm sure it'll tell me, amiright?

Which is why motherhood kind of threw me for a loop. Yesterday morning, Steve, one of our pastors, spoke on repentance. One point he highlighted was on godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow, and the Holy Spirit pretty much opened my chest and strung out the last two years before me, a huge pile of worldly sorrow accumulating mass every day.

I have been beaten down my worldly sorrow for my inability to be the parent I want to be for Ezra. I have been paralyzed by it, drowned in it. I have not repented nearly often enough for my lack of reliance on the Holy Spirit to make me more like Jesus. This worldly sorrow has robbed me of so much hope that God is able to do more than I can even hope for in my and my son's lives. Ugh, I'm so done with it.

Epilogue: It's kind of nice, isn't it? Eight years after my first real experience with repentance, I'm still plumbing the depths of God's grace and sufficiency and our relationship. I hope it never ends, exploring His love and letting Him in. He is so, so good to me.

07 September 2013

Shampoo-less Hair Care Update

Wow, I didn't realize what a difference not using shampoo to wash my hair was making until I stopped for two weeks. My hair was dry and frizzy, and my scalp was SO ANGRY. So angry. 

So I've gone back to my beautiful baking soda (with a drop or two of lavender oil to add some pretty smell) and my apple cider vinegar. I doubt I'll go back, but now I have to figure out how to travel for more than two days with this set up.

That's it.

05 September 2013

Upon the Waters

If I could tell you how many nights I chew the skin off my lips, rub my eyes until I see stars, and tell God I just can't. I can't do this anymore.

Stephen was gracious enough to help me understand that it's a Peter thing. I see what Jesus is doing, I step out on the waters, and realize HOLEY CRAP I'M TRYING TO STAND ON WATER. And I fall.

And usually, somehow, I end up pointing my bony finger at God and accusing Him, as if He is only a voice leading me in the dark, in a world full of predators lurking just beyond my periphery. As if He doesn't cradle me in His hand. As if it would even be best for me to get what I want when I want. As if He isn't good.

This song is beautiful and I love it, and I want to sing it with confidence. God knows I'm a fickle follower and cannot promise tomorrow. But tonight, I will rest, knowing He will complete our adoption in His perfect timing, and I'll continue fashioning my ebenezer stone to plant at His feet, a testament to His faithfulness.