Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tobias & My Hurting Heart

As I type this, I can hear the sweetest little voice coming from a silent room where my boys are supposed to be sleeping. Quinn is fast asleep, but Tobias...nope, he's anything but asleep. Toby is my imaginative one. He will take anything--napkins, carrots, stickers, rocks, pens, wii remotes, etc--and have them become some sort of person or animal in his mind and have them talk to each other non-stop in a high pitched little voice. Right now he's doing just that and as much as I'd rather have him sleeping, today I'm choosing to savor what I'm hearing from that room instead of getting frustrated. Why? Because today I have been reminded again how fragile life is and how much we need to cherish our children.

I got an email today letting me know that one of the little boys, Kenold (in this picture), at the orphanage we are adopting from is loosing his battle with life. I do not know details, but I do know he has been in and out of the hospital since he came to ROH and today he is to the point that they are stopping treatment and letting him go home to Jesus. Hard stuff. Real stuff. Shouldn't have to be this way stuff. I am heartbroken for him, for Rachel the director, and for his adoptive parents. He should be going home to them and not to Jesus just shouldn't be his time. I had just posted the statistic where 50% of children under the age of 5 in Haiti die. I was naive in thinking the children at ROH would beat those odds 100%. With healthcare being how it is in the Haitian hospitals, it does not take much for these precious children to lose their chance at a better life. It is truly heartbreaking.

Just under 4 years ago Toby, himself, was the little boy who needed his life saved. Never for a moment did I question that the healthcare he was receiving would not be enough for him. When we took him to our doctor's office at a week old knowing something was wrong, but having no clue what, I did not doubt they would get to the bottom of the problem. Our doctor's office sent him to Goshen Hospital in a panic, Goshen sent him to Memorial in South Bend, Memorial gave us answers and sent him to Riley's Children Hospital in Indy, and Riley helped fix the problem. After getting stabled at Riley, Toby had surgery to correct a congenital heart defect called a coarctation of the aorta. A week later they sent us back home with a tiny, fragile baby boy with a scar on his back and a heart that would work again. It still amazes me. The truth is we came so close to losing him. I will never forget how many times before surgery the doctors at Riley told us how sick our little guy was but yet how much they were fighting to save him. I know God's healing hand was on Toby, but there is no doubt in my mind that God's healing hand was also using those doctors, nurses, and hospital staff to save our son's life.

It's out of those memories my heart aches for Kenold, who is not able to have the same kind of care in Haiti that Toby had here in Indiana. Oh how I wish we could have him here and save him. Oh how I wish Haiti could have the kind of healthcare that could save him. Reality is that I can't necessarily change that today...I can't save little Kenold's life today. But what can I do? I can pray for a God who is in the business of healing to be ever-present today in Kenold and I can do my part in trying to get another little child--a little girl we'll name Nora--out of Haiti and into a state where healthcare can make a difference throughout her life. Will you join me in those actions today? I would truly appreciate it.

A final note on Tobias...people occasionally ask how Toby is doing now and I'm grateful to report he is doing so well. He does still have a few heart issues they will continue to monitor throughout his life and take action on them only if needed. We will need to limit him from sports that include strength building and/or endurance running since these would cause more work on the heart and increased blood flow beyond what his heart may be able to handle well. Other than that, Toby is and will be a normal, active, ornery boy. We actually head back to South Bend next Friday morning for his annual ECHO and EKG. We will learn more then of how things are looking inside his heart, but from the outside we see no signs that make us think he's not doing fine. We are praying, as always, he will be cleared for another year. January 20th we will celebrate his 4th birthday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Haiti?

So, Ethiopia seems to be the "trend" in the international adoption world right now and rightfully so with the many children who need love and care there, but why were we not called to adopt from Ethiopia? Why instead are we going with Haiti? To be honest, if you truly knew the process we are going through, you might very well run the other direction and adopt somewhere else. The process through Haiti is very long and burdensome (although most international adoptions tend to have this trait). The government offices we are working with use blue ribbon tape typewriters and if they run out of tape it may take 2 weeks to get another one in. The requirements from the government are known to be ridiculous, ever-changing, and definitely expected to delay us many times along the way. There have been so many times in this process already I have said to others I truly have to stay faithful to what God is asking of me because it could be so easy to chose a different easier route...or go the opposite direction and come home with too many children for what we know we can handle because they all need so much love. The journey in Haiti is not for the weary, so why would we chose this country?

Well, the best answer is that we didn't chose Haiti--God chose Haiti for us. He gave Micah the opportunity to see Haiti first-hand in April 2010 on a medical mission trip and from that opportunity, God birthed a desire and passion to give one of these beautiful little children a home full of unconditional love. When we were getting more serious about adopting, however, we gave fair consideration to all types of adopting--fostering to adopt, an American adoption, and looking at many different countries for international adoptions. We wanted to make sure we had thought through all the options and were listening to where God was leading us. Our minds and hearts consistently seemed pulled back towards Haiti though and the thought of adopting one of these children seemed natural to us. We decided to trust this as God's leading and haven't looked back since. We know our daughter is there.

If you are unfamiliar with Haiti (don't worry, I was too!) I thought it might be good to give you some facts that will help you understand the desperate need there. These are taken from Mountain Top Ministries' website--the mission organization Micah worked at. (The orphanage we are going through works hand-in-hand with MTM.) Please allow your heart to be open as you read these statistics...maybe God would stir something in your heart to help these children too.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

  • 80% live below the World Bank’s definition of poverty.
  • Average yearly income is $240.
  • 80% of the population’s average income is $100 a year.
  • $3 to $4 a day is the pay for manual labor.
  • 1% of the population would be considered “Middle Class” by the Industrialized Nation’s definition.

Haiti has limited manpower.

  • 54% Unemployment rate.
  • Average life span is under 50 years of age.
  • 50% of children die by the age of 5.
  • 45,000 children die from easily curable disease such as dehydration, diarrhea, and malnutrition.
  • 50% of the population is under the age of 18 years old.
  • A family would have to have 6 children in order to have 1 live.
  • 80% of the population is illiterate.

Haiti has limited resources

  • 1/3 of Haiti’s annual income comes through foreign aid.
  • $300 million a year has been lost in tourist trade because of the AIDS fear and the political situation.
  • In 1920, 60% of Haiti was covered by lush forest and today only 5% remains due to lack of energy and heating sources.

Can you even fathom these statistics? Do you hear the calls for help in them? My adoptive heart aches at the sound of 50% of the children dying by the age of 5. I can't imagine my life without my kids, can you? There is a huge need in Haiti, friends, and I beg you to open yourself to putting aside the next thing you think you "need" materialistically and investing that money into saving the life of someone under the age of 5 in a country not far away. There are many ways to do this, but one would be to help us with the financial end of our adoption. We have 2 weeks left until our goal date with Lifesong. We have $25,000 to raise for this adoption and we are about a 1/3 of the way there. We would appreciate your support and obviously, this little girl in Haiti--our daughter in Haiti--will appreciate your support because it will literally save her life. We are so blessed by the donations already given and know that God will indeed supply our need. He has indeed called us to Haiti for a reason who has brown skin, black hair, and a heart that needs love.

(all photos were taken from Micah's time in Haiti)

Friday, October 21, 2011

God can even use an Etch-A-Sketch

So, this is one of my hobbies. God gave me an artistic gift that has been passed down through the generations of my family and I have fun using it in different ways...I love to watercolor paint (although I don't have much time for that these days), I have painted murals at our church and other various locations, I used to do traditional scrapbooking and now do digital scrapbooking, I enjoy making cards, and I even draw on the Etch-A-Sketch.

My fun on the Etch-A-Sketch began when I was a kid. The Etch-A-Sketch is based out of Ohio Art, a company located in Bryan, Ohio--a hop, skip, and a jump away from where I grew up in Ohio. My parents enrolled my sister and me in their Etch-A-Sketch club when we were in elementary school and we loved it! We entered contests for our drawings and even had pen pals who also liked using the Etch-A-Sketch. This is where God used the Etch-A-Sketch to broaden my world view.

I had a dear pen pal relationship with a girl named Melanie which formed out of the Etch-A-Sketch Club's monthly newsletters. Melanie and I exchanged letters over the years all about our Cabbage Patch Kids, sticker collections, Etch-A-Sketch drawings, and life as a young girl. I still have all of her letters rubber banded together in my desk. Melanie was a lot like me yet she didn't live in Ohio...she didn't even live in the U.S.A. Melanie was from Australia. I remember looking on our globe at home several times to see where Australia was--it was a LONG spin around the globe from where I lived. It was the first time I had a concept that people lived outside the borders of our country. Who knew an Etch-A-Sketch could help connect a person to another person who lives in such a "far away land".

Over the years, Melanie and my letters progressed from Cabbage Patch Kids and stickers to talking through school issues and family dynamics. We unfortunately lost contact in the high school years, but re-connected again in college for a while. What a blessing it was to hear we both grew up to become believers in Christ! How amazing that God moved in my heart and also in her heart even though she was so far away from me. He truly loves all the people of the world, doesn't He!?!

Now that we are in the process of adopting Nora from Haiti, our eyes and hearts are once again reminded that God loves people from all over the world--not just Americans or "people like us". It seems like such a simple concept to grasp, yet for some reason many people have a hard time with it. For some reason we have a tendency to think God is only in relationship with people like us. Maybe because that is generally all we know until we allow God to broaden our world-view. When He finds fertile ground in our hearts to stretch us and broaden our limited view, He will do it--even by using an Etch-A-Sketch. I am so grateful. Because of Him I know in my heart that no matter what skin color we have, what traditions we grew up with, what location on that huge Earth we call home, He loves us and unites us together by that love.

Yes, our daughter will be a different skin color from the rest of us. Yes, she will be from a third-world country where poverty is TRUE poverty and we will be from a country where wants instead of needs are met at a drop of a hat. Yet because of God's love for ALL of His children, our worlds will collide and our world view will be connected. Our children, in an essence, will get to experience a first-hand "pen pal" experience daily in our own home! What a blessing! They will see, just as I did as a child, that even though we come from different lands, we are still very much alike and that God loves us all. It's a gift I desire to give them (and the rest of us) that will beat any other gift in their lifetime.

As far as the Etch-A-Sketch, when I posted my dragon drawing last night on facebook, a friend brought up an idea of drawing characters for friends and selling them to raise money to bring Nora home. What an intriguing idea! I couldn't fall asleep very well last night trying to figure out how I could make that work. I don't have a plan as of yet, but it's something I'll still continue to ponder. It would truly make the circle feel complete--God used my talents on an Etch-A-Sketch as a little girl to connect me to the world I had yet known and now many years later, He could use it again to bring a little girl from a different part of the world home to us. I like it--I really like it. Until I figure it all out, however, you can simply enjoy seeing a few of the drawings I've done.

**Update: here is the link to the way God used my Etch-A-Sketch talents to help fund our adoption!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Courageous Father

Rachel. When I see that name come across my email inbox my heart flutters and I get excited and nervous all at the same time. You see, Rachel is the name of our orphanage director in Haiti and I never know what news she'll give when an email comes. Will it be news that Nora is found? Will it be a picture? Will it be news that the meeting still didn't happen? Today, it was news that left me with mixed emotions.

The mother DID come to the meeting yesterday, but instead of bringing her 30 month old daughter with her, she brought news that the father decided he did not want to put his daughter up for adoption and never see her again. So, with that email, we know this little brown-faced sweety was not our Nora. Rachel said in the email she was glad this happened now instead of a ways into the process and I couldn't agree with her more. I'd rather have my heart not be attached at all really than to be attached and then ripped apart later.

I won't lie, the news was incredibly disappointing because we were really wanting this to be our match and for our process to continue to move forward. It seemed the timing was so "right". We have our paperwork in Haiti. We have enough money for the first payment. We were fine with the age of the little girl. But, alas, our timing is not the Lord's, and we trust Him enough to know what, or in this case who, is best for us. That disappointment in my heart, however, was also matched with a profound respect and praise this father stood up for this little girl and chose to keep that family bond intact. How can I be frustrated when a father chose his daughter?

Last weekend we got the privilege of seeing the new movie in theaters, "Courageous". It is a story about fatherhood and even parenthood really. It's a story about God moving in the hearts of those who don't want to go about raising their kids haphazardly. It's a story of men choosing to stand up and "be a man", be the husband, be the father God has called them to be. I left the theater not only inspired for our own family, but also inspired to see this kind of love in fathers and/or parents spread all over. I even prayed whole-heartedly for this concept to take the world by storm. So, here I sit a week later seeing a father in Haiti say "I WILL" take care of my daughter and keep my relationship in tact with her. A week later, I see God answering my prayers for this courageous concept to actually take the world by storm. Who knew He would answer that prayer so closely to my heart! So, instead of being frustrated that our match didn't happen, I will choose to celebrate and BLESS that father for the decision he made yesterday...a decision his daughter will later find out was probably the most courageous one her daddy ever made.

My prayer now is this: Lord, will You strengthen this father/daughter bond beyond what they ever thought possible and may Your love be what binds it together. Provide for this family as they undoubtedly will face more financial poverty issues because of this decision and keep them all healthy from the inside out. Amen. Oh, and P.S. God, will you please reveal our little Nora to us soon--we really want to see her face, know her story, and bring her home as soon as we can. Your timing is perfect, your matches are perfect, and we are trusting in You!

P.S. to you blog readers: I encourage you to go support the efforts of those who put the "Courageous" movie together by trekking to the theater and watching it there. It truly is a God-given movie and one that could change everything in this world.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

While I'm "Waiting"

Waiting. Think about a time in life you have had to wait. Whether it's waiting in a line at the grocery, waiting for a doctor, for a child to be born, to open presents at Christmas, for the clock to say the workday is done, for the water to boil, or even for Christ to come back. What do you do in times of waiting? I do something--anything. I put action into the waiting so I don't fall asleep or get frustrated or "waste the time". What do you find yourself doing while you wait for something? Do you read a book, listen to music, people watch, talk on the phone, text friends, work on a project...things of action or do you simply wait?

These thoughts made me curious as to what waiting really is then. I wondered if waiting was an action itself or was waiting the process of doing other actions for a period of time until you have whatever it is you have been waiting for? I was prompted to look up the definition of the word "waiting" to see what scholars decided it truly was. Here's what I found--waiting is: The act of remaining inactive or stationary. What!?! Is that even possible? Can we actually not move until we have what we were waiting for? Weird, isn't it? I honestly don't know if this is possible...our lives are too full of activity.

During this adoption process I have found myself in a state of what I have been calling "waiting" daily. Whether it's waiting for a new piece of paperwork to come back from getting legalized or translated, waiting for money to come in, waiting for fingerprinting results to come back, or waiting to hear who Nora will be, it's been a constant state of waiting. But, in all that waiting, I have never found myself "remaining inactive or stationary" so have I truly been "waiting" or have I just been replacing waiting with action? Either way, I guess, I'd rather be involved in action than just sitting around.

It's pretty much a mind game, isn't it? We think if we fill the waiting with action it will make the time go faster. What an interesting concept. Time really can't move faster (or slower for that matter) yet for some reason, we think it can by what we do or not do. I mean, if I truly waited for Nora to come to our home and did absolutely nothing until it happened, it would take the exact same amount of time as if I filled that time with action. Can you imagine if I was literally waiting for Nora to come to our home? It's estimated this process will take 1-2 years after we are matched with her. 1-2 years of remaining inactive or stationary. Really? 1-2 years of doing nothing. Not possible. So, I guess what I've concluded is that I'm not really waiting for Nora. Instead, I'm actively doing other things until she gets here.

So, what are those actions? Well, I have a husband to love for starters. I have three kids to take care of. I have friends and family to share with. I have a church to be active in. I have a house to clean. I have prayers that need prayed. I have healing work to do in my heart and soul. I have errands to run. I have sisters to encourage. I have dishes to do. I have experiences to enjoy. I have more of freedom to discover. My plate is full. My cup is full. And every time God gives me a new blessing to witness or experience that draws me deeper in relationship with Him or towards freedom, I have this little thought that floats through my head..."Oh, God, thank You for allowing me to experience that before I find out who Nora is. I am a healthier woman for it, which means I'll be a better mom to her for it. What a blessing! Now I know why Your timing is different from ours." So, do these activities take away the sting of waiting for a daughter I have yet to meet? No, they don't. My heart aches and yearns to know who Nora is. Do these activities make this easier though? Yes, they do actually. I am grateful for a life full of activity.

As we posted last week, a mother who has a little 30 month old girl was supposed to meet with the orphanage director at ROH on Friday. I was hopeful for my current "wait" to be over and for God to finally reveal if this little girl will be our Nora or not. However, once again, "Haitian time" lives on and the meeting with the mother did not happen. We received word this afternoon this meeting has been rescheduled for tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 17th) so I again "wait". But will I really be "waiting"? No, I'll be actively going on about life and eager to hear the news when we get it.

So, are you waiting for something? Is it inactive and stationary? Do you need to put some action into life to make it easier? If so, here is a song I have found to be very helpful in my waiting. It gives me direction as to what actions are the best actions to be focused on. I hope it gives you direction in your own waiting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How Can You Support Us?

Lots of adoption posts here right now, but bare with us as we get this information out there for those who don't know our story or need the information. If you already know of our financial plan and just need the link again to Lifesong, scroll down towards the end of this post and you will find it there. Thanks!

For those of you wondering how you can be supporting us financially with this adoption, please read this and learn of our plan to raise the funds we need as well as impact future adoptions by other families!

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality.” -2 Corinthians 8:14

Dear Family & Friends,

May we begin this letter by claiming we have a BIG God who calls us to BIG things in life! This past year has been an amazing journey with the Lord.

Although it is the Lord's calling on our hearts to adopt Nora, He certainly calls all of us to care for the orphan (James 1:27) whether or not you actually adopt one. We believe He also does not call a person to do His work alone, but instead uses many people to accomplish His will to further His Kingdom. It is with these beliefs we are asking for your support. Obviously, we covet your prayers as we make steps along this road. Prayers for a miraculously smooth and quick journey, patience for us as we wait, and for Nora while she is still in Haiti. We know the Lord has BIG things in store for all of us and covering that in the protection of Jesus is refreshing. Additionally, we are asking for financial support to make this adoption possible.

The total estimated cost involved in this Haitian adoption is $25,000. Yes, this is a BIG number, but remember our God is a BIG God! One would think we would be content simply raising the $25,000, but we feel called to something even higher than that because this is NOT about us—this is about being obedient to caring for who God cares about—the orphan. It would be amazing to watch people pour out their resources, help meet our $25,000, and then surpass it to help other parents seeking to adopt! We get chills just thinking of what all God wants to do here, friends, so stay with us! Here is the vision we believe God has given us...

If every person we touch base with gives $10, we would eventually meet our goal, but what if each one also reaches out and asks others to give $10? The money multiplies quickly! For example, if we ask 500 people to give $10 of their own money and they additionally find only 6 other people to contribute an additional $10 each towards our dream, we would then be receiving $70/person we have contacted. If all 500 people send in $70 of that collective donation, we would quickly have $35,000 ($25,000 to cover our adoption process and an additional $10,000 to put towards someone else's). All of that can happen by no one giving more than $10/person!!! However (and this is where it gets so cool), we believe God is going to do something HUGE with this! For example, what if everyone gave $20 instead of the $10 in the above example...our BIG amount of $35,000 has now become a HUGE $70,000—how amazing! What if people took it even higher than that and gave greater amounts than $20—Woah! No amount is too big or too small to help the orphan in need. What God can do with that amount of money is truly life-changing for the families waiting to adopt these priceless children.

God is actively at work in 3 other couples within our church family also going through the adoption process. Because of this, our church, Maple City Chapel, has created a new adoption ministry called “Grafted In”. They have partnered with Lifesong for Orphans to assist in the handling and distributing of funds donated towards families desiring to adopt (see attached letter to find out more about Lifesong). We have been BLESSED by Lifesong & Grafted In! To help start us off in a huge way—they are giving us a $3000 matching grant! For every dollar we receive between now and November 9th, they will match it (up to $3000). This is an amazing affirmation that God wants to do something BIG with these donations! Our prayer is that you will help us surpass this goal by a long shot! Every dollar that comes in exceeding our own adoption expenses will be placed into our church's account at Lifesong for future adoption needs. We are excited and blessed to be a part of this process and hope to see funds raised beyond our wildest expectations!

So, what are we asking of you? Would you be willing to be one of our 500 people who is committed to a monetary donation, as well as ask 6 of your own friends, family members, or even neighbors to make a donation too? If that answer is yes, we ask for you to follow the instructions below and be BLESSED for coming alongside us in our call to care for the orphans. If you do not feel led to ask others to come alongside you in this process, but still would like to make a personal contribution of any amount, please also follow the instructions and be BLESSED! Again, no amount is too big and no amount is too small! Each donation draws us closer to bringing Nora home!

Thank you in advance for your amazing willingness to help bring Nora home to us and to further the cause of caring for the orphan. You are all dear to our hearts and we look forward to updating you on our adoption as we continue on this journey.

Blessings to each of you,

Micah & Angie Thieszen (as well as Lily, Tobias, and Quinn)


Please send in your tax-deductible donation A.S.A.P.—remember the goal date to raise our support is November 9th!

Option #1: Send your check in an envelope through regular postal mail.

  • Please make checks payable to: Lifesong. To direct your donations to our adoption expenses, write

    preference Thieszen #2263 adoption” in the memo section of your check.

  • Send your check to: Lifesong for Orphans, Attn. “preference Thieszen #2263 adoption”, PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford Street, Gridley, IL 61744

  • *Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.

Option #2: Donate online through Lifesong's PayPal account.

  • To donate online, go to Scroll down until you see “By Credit Card (” and click on the "Donate" button. Type inpreference Thieszen #2263 adoption” in the Purpose line.

  • Where 100% of your donation from a check goes to us, if you use PayPal, you will be charged a 1.9-2.9% service fee. The amount actually received by Lifesong for Orphans for our adoption will be decreased by that amount.


(Here is the letter sent by Lifesong)

July 26th, 2011

Dear church, family, and friends of Micah and Angie Thieszen,

Lifesong for Orphans ( is a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to help meet the needs of orphan children around the world, and obey God’s call to “visit the fatherless…in their affliction” (James 1:27).

The number of children worldwide without families to love and care for them is astounding… there are over 143 million orphans worldwide!

God tells us in His word He has heard the cry of the orphaned and abandoned children (Psalm 10:17, 18) and He has made a way for them to be cared for – through adoption. As believers, He adopted us into His family through Jesus Christ, and did not leave us as spiritual orphans!

We believe adoption at its core is evangelism--a vital part of the Great Commission is bringing the mission field home. God desires orphans from all nations to be adopted into Christ-honoring families so they may ultimately be adopted into His eternal family through Jesus Christ. God calls us to fulfill James 1:27, “visit the fatherless…” but not all are called to adopt. Some are called to pray, some to give financially, some to go on mission trips, and some to adopt.

Micah and Angie have sensed God’s call . . . and have joyfully stepped out in faith and obedience to adopt a girl from Haiti. As you may already know, international adoption can cost around $25,000 and prevents many godly families from adopting. Maple City Chapel and Lifesong believe God has raised up the Thieszen family “for such a time as this…” and we have committed an Adoption Matching Grant of $3,000 to help raise the funds necessary to complete the adoption of this young girl. This means Maple City Chapel partnered with Lifesong for Orphans will match “dollar-for-dollar” everything the Thieszen’s raise from their church, family, and friends between now and November 9, 2011, up to $3,000. We invite you to support them financially to make this adoption possible. As a 501(c)3 organization, your gift is tax deductible. *100% of all funds raised will go directly to cover adoption costs--nothing will be taken out for Lifesong for Orphans administrative costs.

Will you invest financially in the life of this little girl? . . . It will be an investment with eternal return.

God bless you for laying your treasures up in Heaven,

Andy Lehman

Vice President

p.s. I trust God will do great and mighty things through this, and all for His Glory!

PO Box 40/202 N Ford St, Gridley, IL 61744

phone: 309 747 3556 fax: 309 747 4647

bringing joy and purpose to orphans

Where It All Began

If you are new to this blog or have never heard the FULL story of how God called us to this journey of adoption, please enjoy reading this post...

Just before Micah left for a medical mission trip to Haiti in April 2010, I (Angie) saw a picture on a blog of a team who was at Mountain Top Ministries (MTM) just before Micah's team. I've attached it here.

When I saw this picture, I was heartbroken for this little girl and wondered in my head, “Is this all we can do as American's—send bags of rice? Even our (at that time) 2 bedroom home would be a mansion for these kids. Even if we had to cut back on some things in life, we would still have so much more than they would ever have in Haiti.” I just wanted to bring one of them home and give them a chance at a loving home with more than they would ever have there. I shared this with Micah that evening and to my surprise, he had been having his own thoughts or stirrings from God about whether he would find himself in Haiti on this medical mission trip and instead return wanting to bring one of these children home.

We began to pray that God would open our hearts to His will and that we would get a strong sense of direction given to Micah while in Haiti. We were praying for distinction between what was emotional feelings to help those less fortunate than us and what was a true calling to adopt. We also had several of our close friends praying for the same things for us. When Micah returned he didn't have a strong sense to adopt and I was also fine with this leading. The Haitian adoption process was closed at that time due to the earthquake anyways so we knew it wasn't the right timing anyway and took these things to be a closed door for the time being. We didn't necessarily feel like God closed the door completely, but was for sure saying this is not the right time and perhaps this was more of an emotional decision. So, we left it at that. Over the course of the year He has continued to keep the idea of adoption on the back burner. There was Carlin Yoder speaking at our church, Maple City Chapel, who had adopted from Haiti or other random connections to adoption in general. Each time we prayed for guidance and still felt the answer was “No, it's not the right time”.

Around 5 months ago there were so many things that brought this idea up again and again: our friends from church are finalizing their adoption, a friend was traveling to an orphanage oversees, our neighbors were fostering a little boy, I've had a deep longing for Lily to have a sister relationship and she had recently been asking if she will ever get a sister, I ran into a friend at a garage sale and found out she's in the process of trying to adopt, a Wendy's commercial aired telling of the needs for adoptive parents, my friends from college were adopting from Haiti, etc. We couldn't help but wonder what God was now saying to us. So, we began to pray and seek once again. This time, however, we didn't get the same answer as the many times before.

Worship songs were encouraging the idea of being obedient to the Lord and spoke to the longing of our hearts. Scriptures were screaming to obey the Lord. Specifically, when Micah's team was preparing to head to Haiti I took some time to look up Scripture for each team member and wrote them out in a little note of encouragement for their trip. I truly feel each Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit for each person. The one I felt God put on my heart for Micah was this text—2 Corinthians 8:10-15. When I was making his Haiti scrapbook I put this verse on one of the pages and while looking through it again while praying for God to speak to my heart about this adoption stuff I began to read it again with new eyes. It was an amazing affirmation of what the Lord's will was for us...

“And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.'”

That's the NIV version and this is the Message version which is also so cool,

“So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. This isn't so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you're shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, 'Nothing left over to the one with the most, Nothing lacking to the one with the least.'”

Wow! That is about as clear as Scripture gets!

We felt we were hearing from God that over the past year He was building us up for such a time as this. That this, indeed, has not been an emotional thought...that this has been a God-given desire to help a child who needs us to be her family. That this is the time to include another blessing into our family too. A blessing that was unexpected and unplanned, but a blessing nonetheless. Our children are now older and more independent than last year, we are in a larger home that can accommodate the growing needs of our family, we are both in a much more free and confident place in our spiritual walks, we have a HUGE support system in place of friends and family who believe we are making the right decision, we have 3 others in our church who are currently adopting and we are supporting each other in our journeys....I could go on and on, but the point is that God's timing on something He is calling us to do is perfect and because we were patient and willing to listen to His voice, we are getting to experience the joys of that diligence. Now, obviously, our work is not over—to a degree it has just begun, but knowing this calling is something God has placed in our hearts over a year and a half ago and has been developing ever since gives us a peace that passes our understanding that we are making the right move. This is not an off the cuff decision or one we take lightly—this is a decision that has had prayer support from ourselves as well as others who care about us. We are excited to be on this journey even when it defies our own logic. Another Scripture that spoke to our hearts was Philippians 4:4-9,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

God was asking us to put into practice the growing desire to love on one of these beautiful children who needed a family. We feel God has called us to be that family. That is some of the background that has led us to this decision. We would love to share even more with any of you if you ever want to talk more about it. It is something very dear to our hearts and something we love to talk about. Even if you are wondering if God may be calling yourself towards adoption--please don't walk that road alone, we'd love to walk it with you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Call to Prayer-Adoption Update!

One of the reasons I am introducing this new blog right now in our lives is because God is taking us on the journey of adopting a little girl from Haiti we are naming Nora! We needed a "place" where people could check in with our adoption progress and find out news when we had news to share. It seems a little odd filling you in on "news" today before I even got the chance to sit down and share the background story, but you know what? Sometimes God moves faster than us and we just have to go with His flow! (Not many times in life can I say that God moved faster than me, but this time He did--Praise Him!). So, for those of you who know our story...this is a MAJOR update and a call to prayer. For those of you who do not know our full story, I plan on also posting our background journey with you after this post, so read and pray with us NOW and then read more a little later on!

A few days ago I was feeling a little restless in "the wait". We sent down our dossier to Haiti on September 7th and it has been a long month with literally NO word from Haiti other than to say our dossier did arrive safely and the orphanage director at Rivers of Hope, Rachel, would be in contact with us when she had a girl available. *Side note--Yes, we feel strongly God is asking us to get a girl for various reasons. Unlike China, girls are actually harder to come by in Haiti these days because, sadly, they are used in slavery and sex trafficking to produce money for the family. So even though she had a few little boys available, she did not have any girls. *Now on with the story--When you are used to daily emails with many different people helping you gather and send off and stamp and such all of the paperwork to get it to Haiti, hearing nothing for a month is almost deafening. Some days have been easier than others because I have my other 3 kiddos to keep me on my toes, but most days feel like the last weeks of a pregnancy when you wonder all day long...will this be the day I have my child? Except, for us this time around it was "Will this be the day we find out Rachel has a little girl for us?" Imagine being in those last steps of pregnancy for over a month (okay, so I came close with Lily really, but that's beside the point). Anyway, all that to say, on Monday I hit my wall in the waiting of silence. I decided I would send Rachel an email inquiring if anything had progressed in finding Nora for us. I fully expected it to be met with more silence, but I just had to do it--my spirit said I had to do it.

Well, when your spirit says to do something, do it...there's my lesson of the day. Yesterday, I got a response from Rachel. She said she had not wanted to email me before she had any news to tell, but that this Friday she had a mother coming to meet with her who has a 30 month old girl. She said she would send us more information and a photo as soon as she could after that meeting. What!?!!?! I was instantly a big mess of tears of joy on my couch for a little while before forwarding the email to Micah at work. Friday. Friday! We obviously don't know for sure if this little girl will be our Nora or not, but for the first time, we have a potential match and we are so thrilled of this news. But, the news does not end there....God is even BIGGER than that.

As with all adoptions, added into the stress of waiting comes the stress of financial support building. We have been checking in with Lifesong every so often to see what amount of support has come in because we knew we would need $5000 (of the $25,000 total adoption expenses) to send down to Rachel as soon as she had a match for us. God was blessing us with funds, for sure, but it was a slow trickle. We were grateful--so grateful--for what was coming in, but there was this little part of my heart that said, "Really, God? What if we get this match really soon and then we are stuck waiting for the funds?" (So human and tiny picture focused, I know). I had a sense to have my knees hit the floor about this at church on Sunday so Micah and I did just that and prayed for God to be bigger than our minds could comprehend. When I got the email from Rachel, I was slightly afraid because I really doubted we would be anywhere close to the $5000 we would potentially need even next week to send to her. I emailed Lifesong yesterday afternoon and again, I found myself a big ole mess of tears...the money is there and ready for us to send down! Can I say that again--the money is THERE! *Pause for more tears* Praise God and THANK YOU to all who have contributed already--your support has just reaffirmed to us once again that we are so blessed to be answering this call. Granted, in the financial aspect of this adoption, we have a long way to go--we're not quite a third of the way to our total needs, but this was HUGE for us! And a HUGE affirmation that God knows what He's doing here, folks! (If you haven't donated yet and plan to or want to, I will share with you in the next post how to do that.)

So, FRIDAY. Friday needs covered in prayer, my friends! One one side, Friday is an amazing day where we could be one step closer to our future daughter. On the other side, we are also very heart-achingly aware that Friday is a day where a God-given bond is going to be severed. A mother, who for all we know, is WAY poorer than the poorest person you have ever met, is going to do the most sacrificial thing known to man for her daughter...she is going to give her up for someone else to care for her better than she can. Take a moment to let that sink in. It is something, as a mom, I can not even bring myself to imagining. On Friday, a little 2 1/2 year old girl is unfortunately going to have her world thrown upside down. If she only knew the ending--that she will be loved and cared for unconditionally and never-ending by a family way far away from her. But, on Friday she won't know that--she'll most likely just be scared. A mixture of sadness, pain, fear, rejection, guilt, anguish, peace, hope, acceptance, and gratitude will probably all be felt on Friday by this mother/daughter team and we--WE--have the privilege of knowing about it advance so we can be praying HARD for these two precious children of God.

So, join with us on Friday in praying for everything the day entails. For Micah and I and our bio kids as we get a little more excited for our match to be *hopefully* happening. For this mother and her little girl as they meet with Rachel in Haiti. For Rachel as she meets with them. Our prayers are for God's unexplainable peace to reign in all of the hearts involved and that His will would be made known to all of us. Thank you, friends, for your support financially as I said above, but also for your prayer support--it is vital and key and totally needed just as much!

I promise to post more when I know it, but please give patience to us once Friday is past. We have no guarantee we will actually hear from Rachel on Friday, or even for a little while past then. All we know is the meeting is supposed to take place on Friday. Haitian "time" is different than ours in the US--it's a slower pace for sure and nothing is set in stone, so as soon as we hear more, we will pass it along.

Thank you all!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome to Over the Brim

My first blog post. Hmmm...let me just drink in this moment. (Long pause) Okay, here we go...

My husband, Micah, says I've really always been a blogger, I just haven't published them. He's right. I have a constant blog running in my head throughout every day. By being a stay-at-home mom of three young kiddos (ages 5, 3 1/2, and almost 2), I don't really have much of an outlet for those thoughts. I typically journal those out to the Lord here and there (which I love) and spew a bit to Micah when he gets home from work, but I had yet to enter the blogging world. I'm not sure why except that it seemed like something that would take too long. You see, I'm addicted to facebook. I tell anyone I meet it is my little window to the world outside of my home during the day. If you are a stay-at-home mom you'll probably understand that "trapped" feeling we sometimes feel--facebook allows me to "get out" without really getting out. However, there are things about facebook I wish were different. I wish my one sentence posts could sometimes be a paragraph instead. I wish you could hear my thoughts and feelings behind my posts, which are sometimes hard to explain in a simple, short line. So, I have found myself at a place where leaving those longer thoughts somewhere seems refreshing. Those who want to "go there" with me can do that on this blog. Those who would rather just know me by short phrases can easily still meet with me daily on facebook! : ) Micah also says someday I'll write a book. Maybe he's right, but for now that seems too foreign and a bit scary to me, so I'll just jump onto the blogging wagon first.

So, why "Over the Brim" you may ask. Well, after about a year of brokenness, emptiness, frustration, humility, searching, and crying out to the Lord, I found freedom. This freedom is not something I take lightly. It is This is not the freedom I found when I accepted Christ as my personal Savior-- I did that the summer after my 6th grade year at a church camp. This new-found freedom is something different...something deeper. This is freedom that makes me live life TO THE FULL as Christ has offered in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." It's not a freedom that makes me a perfect person. It's not a freedom that makes me better than anyone else. It's a freedom that makes me OKAY that I'm not perfect and frees me from the incessant need to be perfect. It's a freedom that makes me know I'm not alone in this world and that many of us go through the same things, struggle with the same issues, and can find the same joys through our commonality of having a loving God as our Father. It's a freedom that allows me to see myself as the esteemed woman God has made me to be instead of the stupid girl I tended to view myself as.

This freedom has filled my heart, my head, my life,
my "cup" to the brim with miraculous love, joy, peace, and energy. I am so full of these amazing God-given qualities that I can't help but allow them to overflow into my relationships and life. They may not look like what you want them to look like--or even what I want them to look like sometimes--but they are real and I try to work out of them. It's a conscious decision I have to make--will I live and act out of my humanness or out of the freedom I have found in Christ? The Message's translation of Psalm 33:20 reflects my heart to a T, "We're depending on God; he's everything we need. What's more, our hearts brim with joy since we've taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you've got— that's what we're depending on."

I have a whole new level of compassion for others...especially women, with this freedom. It is my hope and prayer I can even use this blog to touch others and encourage them to find this freedom for themselves. I want the freedom I have found to go "Over the Brim" of my own cup and spill into others. So, will you join me here? Will you allow yourself to go deeper with me? I promise you won't regret it. I promise the same God who met me in those low areas, those dark corners, those secret places, WILL meet you and bring you to the freedom you so desperately long for...if you go with Him. I hope you will allow my words here--my overflow of my brim-- to encourage you along the way. Blessings, friends, as we start this journey together.