Monday, December 9, 2013

Well, we're Texans now!

It has been two months since I last posted, but they have been very full months!  We have packed up our whole house in St. Louis, said good bye to all of our friends, family and church there, and headed to Fort Worth, Texas!  We are definitely settling into our house, mainly because we have been iced into it since Thursday.  For our little family living apart for five months, we have gotten to spend a lot of time together lately.  The house is starting to feel like home and we have started homeschooling again and are finding ways to get plugged into life here.

It all feels so different, though, whenever we leave the house.  Not knowing which way to turn, hoping the GPS leads us the right way (which it already hasn't!) and not knowing whether we are close to a grocery store or what cities are far away and which ones are very close.  It's very disorienting and it is a good exercise in not feeling in control.  We both felt God leading us here this year, so we trust in His guidance and wisdom.  We stay focused on the fact that we have family here, we have a wonderful new home, we do have GPS to help, and we do not have a busy schedule, so if it takes us longer to find a place, that is okay.  Since this is our blog to focus on adoption, I cannot help but focus on the small amount of disorienting we are experiencing and comparing it to that of our future children.  We understand the language, we knew what to expect, we could research and plan, we have familiar people around and familiar places.  Our future children will have none of that.  My heart breaks for how lost they will feel and how long it will take to build some trust.  I would love to do whatever I could to prepare them for it now and make it easier.  I do pray often that God will help someone prepare his heart for a new family, for a life in another country, and for him to know that we love him and that God loves him and cares for him so much.

M has been very concerned about our blog and whether we should change the name since we are not living in the Gateway To The West any more.  We are not going to change it, because that is where our journey began.  That is where we began praying about adoption and where we filled out the many forms and had our home study, and even squeaked in a home study update a few months before we moved.  That is where we were married, first lived and where we had our first two children.  No matter where we are, St. Louis is still where we began and, as my friend so beautifully put it, I will be 80 years old before I've been a Texan longer than a Missourian.

We fully expected to bring our son, or children, into our house in St. Louis when we started this process two and a half years ago.  If there is anything I have seen as a common thread through all adoption blogs is the intense lesson of waiting you learn through the process of adoption.  Some things we just have to go through to know what they feel like-waiting, fasting, moving and even the life-changing of giving your life to Jesus Christ.  It's a journey.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.       Romans 15:13

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Focus on what you don't have

We hear that we should focus on what we have instead of focusing on what we don't have.  However, sometimes we need to focus on what we do not have in order to be grateful for what we do have. 

Think about things you don't have to do.  I know someone who has to carry her disabled son up stairs in her house every day.  I know someone who has to know the bus schedules in order to take her daughter anywhere or go get groceries.  I know people who have to worry about illness their children have and how that will affect them.  There are people who have to strive to feed their children, have to wonder what they will do if they lose their house, have to go to the laundry mat to do all of the family's clothes, have to send their kids into unsafe situations, have to make incredibly hard decisions and have to deal with constant mourning and grief.  Focusing on these things, makes me pretty grateful for what I don't have.

Think about the things you don't have to experience.  War, abuse, poverty, starvation, sickness, lack of freedom, all things people around the world face every day.  If you look at news picture on the internet, you can see the way so many people live around the world.  I am so thankful I don't live in a war-torn place where I cannot protect or feed my children.

I could go on listing things, but the point is not to feel guilty, but to be grateful.  It makes the little problems in our lives seem so very little.  It also helps us to realize that other people have it rough sometimes, and if we can take some of the blessings and resources that we have and help someone else out, it is how we would want to be treated.  You just never know how much something that we take for granted can mean to someone else. 

 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.

He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills. 
 He provides food for the cattle
    and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,    who put their hope in his unfailing love.                       Psalm 147:7-11

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Funny Story About Gratitude

It's been a long time since I posted and that time has been filled with lots and lots of preparations.  We have not sold our house yet, but we have had quite a journey in getting here.  Since we left Chris in Texas in July, we have repainted almost every room in the house, family has helped us redo the floors in the whole house, we have downsized immensely both furniture and just stuff, and we have completed all of the things it takes to get your house ready to sell.  It's a process, as anyone who has moved knows.

There have been a lot of unexpected things.  We did not expect to still be here this long.  We did not expect to be living apart as a family for this long.  Now, here's where the funny part starts.  We did not expect that once we got the house ready we would have fleas, the dishwasher break (TWICE), the oven catch fire (feel free to look up a broiler element melting in front of your eyes), the toilets (yes both) break and the car die.  Now truly, you can get bogged down in this, or you can just laugh.  Even better, you can praise God

Despite everything that has happened, I have been reminded over and over that nothing that has happened is a big deal.  It doesn't matter.  Oh, it takes up our time and money and convenience, but I am reminded that there are lots of people who's appliances work, but they are driving their children to hospital appointments.  There are plenty of people who have their house sell quickly, but they have loved ones who have passed away and that grief is overwhelming.  There are also plenty, PLENTY of people who do not have houses, appliances, cars, hospitals, family, food or any of the many huge blessings we have and they still trust God to provide and to have a plan for them.  More than likely, our future adopted children live in this way.  And what do I pray for them?  I pray for them to be safe, to know that they are loved and valued, and that they are able to hear about God and Jesus's love for them.  That's what's important, and we already have that, so everything else is just a funny story and a part of our testimony. 

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens. 
 Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness. 
 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre, 
 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.                                                     Psalm 150

Saturday, July 6, 2013

God's Plan

I haven't blogged in quite a while, but there is a good reason for that.  We have been feeling for a few months that God was wanting to change our lives, but we weren't sure how.  Well, we know a large part of it now!  The big event that has occurred over the last month is that Chris got a new job which happens to be in Fort Worth, Texas.  He actually started last week and we are getting ready to move!

We always thought we would move here someday to be closer to cousins and more family, but we started feeling strongly that He was calling us to push our plans up and start looking for jobs now.  What we did not realize was that God was also asking us to relinquish control and let this happen in His time.  Chris applied for a job one week, was offered the job one week later and he started the job less than two weeks later.  Seriously.  

We are learning so much from this process, though.  Things that I know that we would not be learning if we were not going through this.  We are learning what we are capable of (like clearing out much of our house in under two weeks), we are learning how little our stuff matters and how many needy people are out there waiting for someone to post things on craigslist for a great price or for free, we are learning how capable our children are, we are learning that when God lays out his plan for you He will take care of the details, and we are learning to make decisions together.  However, I think one of the most meaningful things we are learning, other than the power of obeying God, is how it feels to leave everything you know and are comfortable with and to have to relearn how to get around, and how to find new places and become comfortable with a new setting...on a much smaller scale, we are learning how our future adopted children will feel.  

This experience will help us to understand why he is confused, sad, scared, and why those feelings come and go for no understandable reason.  I think it is giving us compassion and empathy in a way that we would not have had it before.  It also helps us to appreciate what we do have-we have the control to research new places, we have people we know here and we are moving with our little family who we are familiar with.  Our adopted children will be moving to an unknown country, state, city, with a new language, a new family, new things that they have never seen before, new food, a new bed, and an entire new way of life.  

I truly believe that God prepares us for things that we are going to face as well as preparing us to relate to and help people who we are going to meet.  

This does put our adoption on hold for a bit, but as soon as we get settled in Texas we can continue everything again.  It does not change our place in the wait list, but we will need to get a new home study with a Texas agency.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:10-13

Monday, May 27, 2013

T-Shirts, A Website And An Update

I just love it when God confirms something that I think I'm supposed to do.  I had just told Chris that my next blog post was going to be about T-shirts.  Last week, I was on some blog websites and I saw some people's fundraisers, some of which were T-shirts.    I thought, how cool would that be when I feel like I need some new shirts to be able to bless someone's efforts towards adoption AND be able to use my choice in clothing to witness to and inspire people who see me.  Earlier in the week, I had received an email for people who were frequent sponsors of the Birthday Buddy program here to purchase a Foster and Adoptive Care T-shirt, which I did.  That got me thinking about using what we wear as a way to witness, start conversations and speak to other people.  We all have shirts that promote our favorite team, our favorite places to visit and our favorite brands, so why not use this as a new platform?  I often tend to notice people's shirts, and I think everyone does if you are standing in a long line somewhere or traveling where you might see the same person for long periods of time, so what a great way to promote your favorite charity or organization or fund. 

So, how did God confirm this blog post?  My sweet niece found a website where you can enter a shape and words, and these words are put into the shape onto a T-shirt, so tonight thanks to my wonderful brother-in-law, sister-in-law and nieces, I received the T-shirt pictured below.  Beautiful!!

The other thing I wanted to email about was the coolest website I have discovered!  If you have never checked out, you should!  It has some awesome free Bible studies, inspirational videos and there is a book study starting up in a week!!  I have really loved finding this website and I want to definitely share it with others!!

So, for the update on the adoption.  We just had a phone webinar with our agency (and I really love how proactive they have been since the beginning about any changes) this week to talk about possible upcoming change with Ethiopia.  Basically, Ethiopia is re-evaluating the process, the programs and corruption, so changes could be ahead, although no one really knows exactly what that could entail, but what it will definitely entail will be longer wait times.  They are preparing parents now for 3 and 1/2 years at this point.  We would love to ask for your prayers as we process everything and decide how this looks for us.  We will also no longer be receiving wait list numbers, so after April 2013, our wait list numbers will not be listed on here. 

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

Monday, May 13, 2013

How To Help The Orphan Crisis

When we first decided to adopt, I had no idea how controversial the topic of adoption is.  Although some people say, "Good for you," many have other feelings.  People think it is a bad idea to adopt from other countries, people think it is a waste of a lot of time and money, people think that you are contributing to a corrupt system, people think that your choice of countries is bad, and on and on.  I can find articles and blogs all over the internet talking about how great adoption is and how terrible it is.  However, I bet that a child in the U.S. foster care system doesn't really care about the controversy, I bet a child in an orphanage in China doesn't care about the paperwork it takes to adopt, I bet a hungry child in Africa isn't thinking about the debate of red tape.  They just want to be part of a family who cares for them and protects and guides them.  

So, what to do in the midst of controversy?  I don't know.  That's the real answer.  Everyone has to decide for themselves-pray about it, research, read up, ask questions, but just don't ignore it because it is controversial.  We have prayed about our decisions and God has moved us in different ways since we started this process.  There are so many ways that you can help children who need it.  Our foster care system in St. Louis has wonderful programs to support kids in foster care system.  I just found an organization this weekend that takes care of kids in Uganda and fosters them and they were doing an online auction because they had just received 40 new children from an orphanage that had shut down.  Everyone can find child sponsorship programs that help feed children all over the world to donate to and even start a relationship with a child.  Feel called towards adoption, but not ready to do it yourself?  Check out etsy and look at all of the wonderful things people are making and selling to support their adoptions.  Take a mission trip-it will change your life.  There are so many ways to become part of the help. 

I don't know what is the answer.  There are corrupt systems.  There are not enough programs to support people in poverty.  There is way too much red tape for adoption.  There are not enough programs to prevent poverty and corruption and provide education and support.  Children are starving, dying, living in conditions we would not even fathom, growing up thinking no one in the world cares about them, they are being used and neglected and abused.  The first step really is to just make yourself think about them.  It is not pleasant, but you can't help but care when you put faces to the issues and put feelings to the faces.  These children are part of our world and they will be the adults of the future. 

OH, and if you don't know where to start or can't find a charity that you love, ask me and I would absolutely love to help you find something you are passionate about.  :)

"If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not he who guards your life know it?  Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?"
Proverbs 24:12

Saturday, March 16, 2013

While I'm Waiting...

So, today marks our one year anniversary on the waiting list for our sweet adopted African child.  Of course there is a part of me that would love to say that we were closer to adding to our family, but we are probably less than halfway through our wait.  It is difficult to know how many children around our world desperately need care and a family and it is hard to see how long it takes to do everything necessary to overcome possible corruption and do the best to protect these children in the long run.  HOWEVER, Biblically there are so many reasons to wait, grow patience and learn during this time.  

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:2-8

I am doing a wonderful Bible Study right now about Esther.  It's easy to overlook how long she waited to become queen.  It's pretty awesome what God did while she was waiting to have the second banquet.  I am also doing a Bible study with M in our homeschool about Joseph.  Again, when you know the ending, it's easy to overlook how long he waited in jail for the cupbearer to remember to tell Pharoah about him, or how long he waited to get to see his family again.  

The Bible is full of stories where character was built and the glory in lives were written BECAUSE of the waiting.  If everything came easily, we would not appreciate it nearly as much.  So, we wait.  We wait for God to lead us to the child or children that He has planned for us and we have faith that it will happen in His perfect timing.  

Most importantly, we enjoy the meantime.  We appreciate everything that we have now and live in thankfulness.  We pray for our future children, the children who are in bad situations now and for the parents and loved ones of them who are trapped by poverty, illness, lack of resources, and all of the other trials that they are facing, and we pray that God shows us ways that we can help.  We pray for the children that God has already blessed us with and we pray that He will work in their lives.  

When I thought about writing this, I thought of the song "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller.  It's so beautiful and just gives a peace about times of waiting.  

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  James 5:7-8

Friday, February 22, 2013


I wanted to share the story of how we chose our adoption agency.  Once we decided that we were really going to pursue adoption and we felt called to adopt internationally, I started researching agencies.  If you want anything electronic, Chris is your man.  If you want thoroughly researched homeschool curriculum, parenting resources, crafts for holidays, or adoption agencies, that would be my department.  If you've ever tried to research adoption agencies, you will know that it is incredibly overwhelming.  Every agency sounds great and there are so many to choose from.  It's even hard to narrow it down.  So, I started praying.  I prayed for God to help me pick out an agency-THE agency that had our child or children.  As many with children know, you end up getting a variety of catchy songs stuck in your head throughout the day (ours are more JOY FM now, but we certainly had our share of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Backyardigans) but it's rare that I wake up with a song in my head, although usually if I do it's a song that I heard the other day or that I can link to something.  So one morning I woke up with the song, "All God's Children Got Rhythm" in my head.  I used to sing this song as a child, but I hadn't heard it in at least 20 years.  Right away I felt that I was supposed to look for All God's Children for adoption.  Seriously.  I didn't even know if there was an All God's Children adoption agency, but I searched and found it.  Then I researched it and loved that they were established in each country that they did adoptions from and I loved that they were a Christian agency and I told Chris we had found our agency.  Since then I have been impressed by their openness, thoroughness, convictions and their dedication to the countries they have connections with.  I have faith that this is leading us to the children who God has planned for us.  I also love that I can tell this story to our future children to show them how God led us to them.  

10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!  Psalm 32:10-11

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I think it's putting it mildly when I say that I'm not really huge on change.  I have lived in St. Louis my whole life, minus the four years in college.  I even live in the same area that I grew up in where I could get to my elementary school in about five minutes.  Although my lovely husband has expanded my palate, I still like to eat rice for dinner and I still like watching "Little House On The Prairie".  

Now there are changes that I plan on and then there are the changes that God has planned for you that you can accept and go with or fight (ie. the story of Jonah).  Part of my journey with my Christian walk has included learning to let go and let God.  Even though I am not in control, I do admit that I like to feel like I am.  This is not a great quality when dealing with adoption...or kids....or life in general.  Ha!  

Lately we have been feeling like our life will be changing.  Now, my more planning brain likes to think of all of the possibilities and plan for each one of them.  God must roll his eyes at me sometimes.  I have become much more of a go with the flow kind of person-homeschooling will do that to you-but I still like to know what is ahead.  I actually want to read the spoiler alert and find out what to be prepared for in a movie.  I have read the last part of a book to see if someone survives.  Although my 30th surprise birthday party was lots of fun, it put me out of my comfort zone.  

What I am learning, though, is that God wants us out of our comfort zone.  He never says that we will be comfortable, in fact he says quite the opposite.  However, and this is a big however, he promises that he can do amazing things with our lives!  He can't do these things, though, if we insist on maintaing our control.  I am just learning these things and it's scary, but if I can't trust the creator of our universe and instead choose to trust myself, then I know now that I am passing up some great opportunities.  

 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matthew 6:31-34