Monday, January 30, 2012

Onward with Life--An Update on Nora & Maddie

Life is so unpredictable, isn't it. You are cruising along at a good pace and then something slows you down for a little while on a few curves, or worse yet, something completely haults you with a red light. Eventually, the green light apears again, however, and you simply have to keep going onward with life or you are bound to have a rear-end collision. That's sort of what I feel like our life is like right now. Our adoption of Nora seems to be on a curve that has slowed us down and the re-diagnosis of our niece's cancer this past week has sort of felt like a big red light. Let me give you an update on both...

First of all, Nora. Our baby girl actually turned 4 months old TODAY!!! Yeah! She is doing so well in Haiti. She is eating almost too well right now (smile) and seems to love sitting outside in the sunshine. Rachel says Nora enjoys watching the other children play there. From what I hear, one of the little boys also loved to stop playing, run over and kiss her all over her head, and then go back to playing--so cute. Giselle, Nora's older sister who turns 2 this month, also found out she could feed Nora a bottle! Rachel said it was so adorable to watch her and she wished she would have had her camera there to take a picture of it for me (me too!). Two of the boys in the orphanage got to fly home to their forever families over the past two weeks and I'm sure as overjoyed as we all are to have them in their homes, their buddies back at the orphanage are missing them too. It's remarkable how much of a "family" these children become while living together at ROH. Likewise, all of us adoptive moms have also become a "family" of our own while sharing stories, photos, and prayers for each other and each others' kiddos during this process. I would be lost without them.

(Here is Nora with Christopher patting her head)

Speaking of the process...that's the curve that has s.l.o.w.e.d. us down in life right now. According to our ticker, we are 6 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days into our process. Oh how I wish that meant we were that far into our 1-2 year wait, but sadly, THAT part of the process still hasn't begun. Our 1-2 year wait does not start until our paperwork enters IBESR (Haitian Social Services) and we are still waiting to hear the word from Rachel that has happened...we're waiting for that green light in our life here. Our paperwork is done, Nora's paperwork is done, but we are waiting still for Nora's paperwork to be legalized so it is ready to go to IBESR. We were hoping this would have happened about a month ago, but we are still waiting....and yes, it's frustrating. This is the line you will probably begin to hear a lot on this blog--"we are still waiting, and yes, it's frustrating". There is nothing we can do to make this time go faster, however, so we just continue to wait. One of these days we will get the email with our IBESR number in it and the journey will continue on...that will be a great day!

Some of you have asked what the results of the meetings in Haiti are that I had you praying for in the posts here and here. Well, it's still a bit of a mystery really. I guess what we (meaning parents who are adopting Haitian children) were being told was one meeting ended up being three different meetings, which is why there were so many confusions as to what day this "meeting" was supposed to happen. Unfortunately, Rachel never made it to any of the meetings because she was held up at other meetings getting paperwork for one of the boys going home (which was a good thing). From what I gather from other Haitian newspaper articles and another orphanage director's blog, there were good things that came to pass because of the meeting, but there was much still left up in the air too. I have passed both reference articles on to Rachel, but have yet to hear back if she had any answers to how these would all effect our adoption. There is potential that our time in IBESR would be drastically reduced, which is awesome, but there is also potential that we may have to end up finding a US adoption agency to work with in order to proceed with our adoption, which would be both good and frustrating because it would end up costing us more than we originally thought. All that to say, we really don't know we are....still waiting, and yes, it's frustrating. (Notice a theme here???)

For the time being, continue to pray for Nora's protection, for our paperwork to receive the signatures it needs, for us to enter IBESR now--or even yesterday would be great, and for our process to begin to get around the "curve" and on the straight road again. We have been TOTALLY blessed by some recent photos of Nora though so we want to pass those along to you...her smiles continue to brighten our days.

So, that is Nora, now on to Maddie. Well, if you have been following Amy & Dan's care page (, not much of this will be new, but if you haven't, then let me give you the quick summary.

The steroids Maddie have been on this week broke down the tumors on her lymph nodes very quickly which was awesome, but also sent her kidneys into overdrive so she was put on a kidney dialysis machine to help the kidneys catch back up. She was supposed to be on that for 24 hours but since her body was reacting so well to the dialysis (another awesome), she was back off of the dialysis under the 24 hour mark. Overall, her body has simply responded profoundly well to the steroids and the dialysis...thank God! I truly believe the prayers being lifted on behalf of them all from around the world are working right in line with these medicines.

Maddie had a great weekend of rest and feeling pretty good. We were able to Skype with her yesterday which was great for all of us since we haven't had the chance to head up there yet.

Here is a photo of Maddie being silly on the Skype can tell she was feeling her normal self when you see photos like this.

These other two photos were taken by my dad at the hospital while Maddie's sister, Sydney was visiting her on Sunday. The two of them were having too much fun moving the bed with the remote can just tell that Maddie loves her sister very much and likewise, Sydney loves Maddie too!

These are precious photos in the midst of a very trying time. Like my brother-in-law typed on their care page--this is the calm before the storm. And, unfortunately, the storm begins tonight. I talked with my sister this morning briefly and they will begin chemo tonight. There is a chance they will be heading home from the hospital mid-week with the chemo treatments happening more as an outpatient or occasional overnight-two night stay instead of having to be inpatient. If that happens, she will head back to the hospital next week to have the port put back into her chest to help all future iv sticks. It is good to know Maddie will be able to have the comforts of home while going through chemo, but it also boosts up their travel times as it is a 1 hour drive one way to the hospital from their current home in MI. Please pray that travel safety will abound!

The bone marrow transplant is tentatively on the docket for three months from now. Sydney, Amy, and Dan's blood work is currently being tested to see if any of them are a match and if Sydney is a match then she would be the best match possible. They would then determine if she was big enough to donate and if she is not (or if none of them match) then the search will continue on to the larger pool of people internationally. Micah has recently signed up to be a donor hoping to be a match for Maddie--or someone else who needs it! If you have the desire to also help another patient desperately needing their life saved, please go to this website ( and learn more of what you need to do to be a donor.

To close, here is a little video of part of our Skype call with Maddie. I think it's just good for everyone to be able to see her in action, hear her voice, and connect with her beyond her name or a photo. We are asking for everyone to be in prayer for God to heal her body from this cancer and glorify His name because of that healing! Another little segment from Dan's care page post has not left my brain or heart for a minute since he posted it. I will share it here because it was incredibly uplifting and encouraging to my own prayer time. I think sometimes, as adults, we just doubt God's power and goodness too much. If Maddie can see Jesus at work around her, then we need to be praying for that work to continue! Here is that part of his post:

"I'll close with a conversation that I had with her (Maddie) this morning that really touched me. We were talking about a certain significant gift (an IPad) that someone had given to her and how she was going to receive it later today. While she was trying to guess what it was, I kind of made it sound like it was bigger/cooler than any other gift she had gotten before. To which, she replied, "Oh! Is it Jesus?!" And I said, "Ah, well, OK then, it is the second greatest gift that you could get." And then she said, "Because you know daddy, Jesus is all around this hospital, helping the nurses and doctors get my cancer gone."

Blessings to each of you, and thank you for your prayers on our behalf for our adoption of Nora and for Maddie as she enters, yet again, a battle for her life. Onward we go...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

God is Bigger than 20%

We desperately need people to go before the Throne on Maddie's behalf. I'm pleading...

Here is an updated post from my brother-in-law off of their care page for my niece, Madison. PLEASE be pleading with us to a God who is bigger than 20% right now and if you have access to any other prayer chains of any kind, please pass this along. We want God to see that we are all willing to fall at His Throne on behalf of Maddie. We need a miracle and God has plenty of those to give. Please continue to follow their journey, get specific prayer requests, updates, and photos of Maddie on their care page. You will need to set up an account, but it is free and very simple to set up.

Here is the link:


Full Diagnosis and Treatment Plan

Posted 13 hours ago

Wow, this is going to be hard to type, but here we go:

Maddie has T-Cell Lymphoma, the same kind of cancer that she had before. The difference this time is that they found it throughout the bone marrow. That means the cancer is more advanced and will require a successful bone marrow transplant in order for her to have even a small chance of being cured.

Here are the stats: less than 20% of transplant patients who go into remission and then regress (like Maddie, today) are ever cured of the disease and go on to live a semi-normal life. The other 80% are equally distributed among those who fight the disease either for a short time, medium time or repeatedly until they all lose the battle.

The most important step today is her breathing. It is restricted by her tumors and could pose an early problem for treatment. Steroids (Prednisone)are the first line of attack and she has been taking them all day today (1/24). We will know how effective this is within a day or two. If they are not effective in reducing the tumors and helping her breathe, then they will take much more aggressive chemotherapy measures.

If her overall treatment leads to significant success against the cancer, then they will begin the process of finding a bone marrow transplant match after one month, and consider doing the procedure, if a good enough match is found, after 3 months.

The scary part is that the most likely match for Maddie is a sibling. They will take the next few weeks determining whether Sydney is large enough and old enough to be considered a match. If she is not a match, then we go into the lottery to find a match from a stranger(s). Again, IF the steroid/chemotherapy goes well enough AND a good donor match is found, AND the transplant procedure is successful - THEN she gets that 20% chance of a full recovery.

We were given entirely better "odds" the first time around when she went through this at age 2. But we all know that numbers do not tell the whole story. The important thing to take from my ramblings is that we have a huge fight ahead of us: a fight that we will engage by faith, through prayer and dependence on Christ. Please join us in praying for strength, courage and hope.

Maddie knows the summary of things - which is that cancer is back and she will need to be brave in many ways for many days. It was one of the hardest moments of my life to sit there and explain the truth to her today. All three of us cried and talked about how we are scared, sad, mad...and ready to fight! Amy and I are still incredibly stunned. Only the God of the universe will get us through this, because we aren't strong enough to do it without Him.

In closing, the staff here have been great. Amy and I are physically well and we are overwhelmed with the support and prayers from all of you. Maddie is being showered with attention, presents and praise (which she so graciously accepts with a big smile). We are still in the ICU, but some visitors are allowed and welcome between 11AM - 9PM above the age of 16. The doctors anticipate this particular hospital stay lasting at least a couple of weeks.

I promise that I will not be so long-winded in future updates...probably.

Thanks again to all of you. We love you, dearly!



Thank you for your support and prayers. Personally, Micah & I also want to ask for others to please be praying for my sister, Amy & her husband, Dan and their other daughter, Sydney (age 2). We are praying for the Truth of God to be bolstered up in them and that the Truth will squelch any lies Satan is trying to burden them with.

Dan and Amy also are currently both unemployed. Dan had recently made a decision to make a job change from a pastorship role in Michigan and had been working at a factory while they waited for his next role in ministry, but was laid off just before Christmas, while Amy is a stay-at-home mom. Maddie is covered by Medicare so her health expenses will be taken care of, however, the gas money, life expenses, and food costs could become an added burden they don't need at this time with no income. If you feel led, I am sure they would appreciate and be blessed by any monetary gifts we could send their way.

If you want to send them a card, gift, or monetary gift of support (checks made out to Dan & Amy Pflug), please mail them to:

Madison Pflug

c/o Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

100 Michigan Street NE

Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

Thank you,

Angie & Micah Thieszen

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Rawness of Life

This post probably won't be anything that sounds "nice" or "put together" will simply be raw.

If you remember back a few posts, I talked about how cancer can bring life (read it here if you haven't had the chance)...well, cancer also sucks.

(Maddie at this past Christmas)

My beautiful 8 year old niece, Madison, whom is talked about in that post has been in remission from her victory over cancer since 2008. She was 2 1/2 years old when she was originally diagnosed. Well, as of last night, they discovered her cancer is back. Cancer sucks.

She had been fighting a cold and when the antibiotics weren't cutting it, my sister (Amy) and her husband (Dan) took Maddie back in to see what else to do. While there, the doctor felt some lumps in Maddie's neck and immediately sent them on to Grand Rapids Children's Hospital for further testing...the suspicion at the time was that the cancer was back. That was horrifically confirmed later last evening. They are still waiting to hear results from the tests to see if this is the same type of Lymphoma she had earlier (T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma) or if this is a different form. They are also waiting to hear what the treatment plan will be this round. They have been told it will probably be much of the same as last time--steroids, chemos, and potential surgeries. Cancer sucks.

(Maddie, last evening at the hospital)

Maddie, however, is amazing. She has fought this battle before and won victoriously. She is older now and has a much better awareness of what is going on (which is both good and bad probably). I have no doubt she will fight once again and be victorious. She faithfully trusts in God and that faith will see her though many hard days ahead...unless...God would answer the prayers of His people and heal her completely right now and spare her the experience she shouldn't have to go through again. The experience she shouldn't have ever had to go through in the first place at 2 1/2 years old.

Please pray for Maddie. Please pray for her body to be miraculously healed by the Almighty Healer. Please pray for peace and rest and strength for both Maddie and Amy and Dan as they try to make decisions for her best care, handle all the roller coaster of emotions this journey brings, as well as also care for their other daughter, Sydney, who is age 2. Pray for their own faiths to be bolstered with the love, support, and prayers of their friends, family, and strangers alike. Pray for God to break through all of our hurt, questions, anger, and sadness and bring the strength, joy, and peace only He can bring.

(Amy & Dan at this past Christmas)

Please also pray for us as her family. Pray for wisdom to know how to best support her and love on her during the hard days. Micah and I were a bit more "removed" from her last round of cancer because they were out in St. Louis and then in Cincinnati for that time frame. We also were just a month out from birthing Lily so we had to somewhat emotionally disconnect ourselves from what all was happening in order to finish our pregnancy okay and welcome our first newborn into our midst. It was very hard to do that last time and we certainly wished we could have been a better support, but this time we hopefully can. This time around we are just a few hours from them and our lives are intricately connected as our kids (especially Lily) consider Maddie not only their cousin, but also their best friend. We are all still in shock from the news and just wish this was a nightmare we could all wake up from. A child is NOT supposed to get cancer....a child is certainly NOT supposed to get cancer twice.

(All the cousins together at this Christmas--
Tobias, Maddie, Sydney, Lily, & Quinn)

Life is tough. A fallen world is our current home. A God too BIG for us to understand is over it all and we have to trust in Him to come to Maddie's aid when that fallen world--that tough life--hits way too close to home. Will you rise up today and pray on behalf of an innocent, sweet, brave, and victorious 8 year old girl? I hope your answer is yes, because you know what? Cancer sucks...and we serve a God who can beat it.

Please follow Maddie's journey on their care page at the hospital. You will be able to get the most current information, specific prayer requests, updated photos, and background there. The link is:

Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Knew It Would Happen

I knew it would day...and that day was yesterday. Yesterday was the first time I saw a photo of Nora in the arms of a complete stranger. What an adorable stranger to be the first one for me to see...
Seeing this photo brings a weird mix of emotions for me to wrestle with, digest, and then live with. First and foremost, it brings the wave of elation upon seeing my beautiful girl being loved on by another person. Just seeing her stare in the eyes of this little girl makes me smile. Nora looks great and looks like she is enjoying the attention this family was giving her. I'm blessed to be able to see photos like these.
However, I would lie if I said it didn't also bring up emotions of jealousy and that protective "mama bear" in me. If Nora were any of my other children I can't say I would have just let anyone hold them I didn't know personally. I certainly wouldn't have taken photos of the event. There is an instinct in each of us mothers to protect our cherished children no matter what. Knowing one of my children is not able to have that protection from me right now is a hard pill to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I am SURE this beautiful family means nothing but to spill God's love all over Nora and the rest of the children there at ROH, but I just want her to be safe no matter what is going on or who is holding her and I can't physically do that while we live so far away from each other. Seeing these photos of strangers holding her for the first time has brought up that reality to me in a very real way today.

There will be so many people who will hold my little girl over the course of the next 1-2 years whom I will never meet. There will be photos of Nora in other mission trip photo albums I will never know exist. There will be people she gives a smile to that will change their hearts forever. She could eventually be the one thing that breaks the last string holding someone back from adoption--how cool is that! The hard part for me is that I want to know about all those little and big moments of Nora's life and the impact she has on others and I will never know them all. It's a wonderful reminder that as much as she is mine to love and call my daughter, Nora is not really mine, but God's. She is a gift of God just as my other children are. I am honored and blessed God chose me to help raise them, show them how much God loves them, and prepare them to do the work He has for them to do. My children are gifts I will do anything to protect and love.

As far as the jealousy part--no matter how stinkin' adorable this little girl is holding my baby, I really just want it to be me, or Nora's daddy, or one of Nora's siblings holding her instead. I just broke into tears as I thought of how many times I have to console Lily as she says once again, "Mom, can't Nora come home today so I can hold her?" I hesitate to even show this picture to Lily for fear of the questions as to why another little girl got to fly down there and hold her but she can't. Oh the joy it will be when it is Lily with Nora in her arms just like this sweet girl holding her here.
Well, I must say it has been good for me to recognize all those emotions in my heart as I saw these photos. It's good to recognize the connection that is clearly forming in my heart--my motherly connection to Nora. It will be a long wait, hopefully FULL of many other pictures like these just to give us a glimpse into Nora's life in Haiti and make the time pass quicker. Overall, I am left with feeling blessed to be this precious girl's Mommy and that no matter who holds her for a few minutes here and there over the course of this journey, she will be in my arms forever in the end.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Update for Prayers--KEEP Them Coming!

For anyone saying we are not at war in the spiritual realms--they are deceived.

The very day we are praying so intently for Haiti, there was a crash in Port-Au-Prince killing 23 and injuring 67. So heartbreaking. Here's the link to the article about the accident for those interested:

I've also heard the meeting for today may have been postponed until Thursday and then I've heard it was still happening today. Such confusion and sadness...all the enemy's attempts to thwart what God's Spirit wants to do. Please continue praying today all the way through Thursday--with God, WE are the victors here friends!!!

I can't help but think Satan wants us left defeated and confused and to just say, "Well, that's Haiti time for ya!" I refuse this day to let him deceive me. This is all the more a call to prayer, folks! God wants to do something SO BIG at this meeting that He may just need us to cover it in prayer for 3 days. 3 days! This has been a theme for this adoption (read about that here and here). Just as Jesus died and rose again 3 days later, so can we be in prayer for 3 days and see the miraculous happen for this Haitian adoption process. Stay faithful with me, friends, stay faith-FULL! God is good, His plan is perfect despite the falleness of this world, and HE WILL MOVE MOUNTAINS whenever this meeting takes place!!! To God be the glory! He is MIGHTY to save even these precious orphans--actually to save especially these precious orphans.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Prayers Needed for January 17th

Dear friends, family, and prayer warriors...this post is for you!

Please be praying tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17th for our orphanage director, Rachel, the other 700+ Haitian orphanage directors, and the new director of IBESR (Haitian Social Services) as they meet to discuss the issues with Haitian adoptions! This is a HUGE opportunity for God's pro-adoption heart to be heard through these directors as they make their plees with the new director to make changes in the adoption processes. Specifically, I have heard issues will be addressed such as lowering the age requirement to adopt from Haiti, as well as trying to somehow shorten the length of the process. Shortening the process would save the orphanage directors and the adopting families money (because these children wouldn't be under their care for so long and because the steps of each part of the process cost so much money) and would obviously get the children into solid family homes sooner. This would get each of these precious orphans into those forever families waiting for them currently as well as encourage others to adopt through Haiti! Obviously, these would be WONDERFUL outcomes from a meeting such as this and could TOTALLY affect our adoption process with Nora!

From what I have heard, this new director has had at least one meeting with the orphanage directors before, but because there were so many there and she had so many things she wanted to tell them, the orphanage directors were not given much of a chance to speak for themselves. This second meeting taking place tomorrow is specifically for them to be able to stand up and verbally share with her their thoughts, concerns, and questions. This meeting has the potential to break through the LONG timeline of this process and therefore we are praying for God's mighty Spirit to be filling that room tomorrow on behalf of every little orphan waiting for a home as well as on behalf of these orphanage directors who clearly have a heart to see these orphans find their forever families.

Please pray for the new director to be open and convicted and convinced that God's design for adoption needs to be implemented in a much more manageable way in Haiti. She has been heard saying she is not necessarily against adoption, but she sees it as a last resort, which has not been encouraging to hear. We are simply praying for her eyes, ears, and heart to be open to the plees of these directors and the children they represent.

Ultimately we are praying that no matter what happens in this meeting, God would be honored, these orphaned children would be placed as a priority, and all of the discussion would be directed towards positive change. Our hope is that the positive change would result in our own adoption of Nora to be a speedier process than what it is looking like as of now.

Thank you so much for your prayers tomorrow and for all your prayers in general for our adoption. We appreciate them so very much and know they are what will get us through the long days of waiting to hear something--anything--from the Haiti end!

Blessings to all and thank you again for praying!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Women of Honor

On January 3rd I was blessed with the news that one of my sisters had her baby girl!
Adella Elizabeth Kauffman was born to Brad and Steph Kauffman and big brothers, Caleb, Kaden, and Jacob. No, Steph is not my biological sister or even my sister-in-law, but she is certainly my sister nonetheless. To me, this was not just an ordinary was the birth of another woman of honor.

As I've said before on this blog, names and their meanings are really important to me/us. We believe the meanings behind our children's names are specifically given to them through us, but on the behalf of God. It says in Scripture that God knows each of us by name and I'm a firm believer that those names we thought WE came up with for our kids were really thought up by God Himself as part of His plan for their life. Lily means "purity" and that has huge importance to us as parents who wants nothing more than for her to keep herself pure in her heart, her life, and her love. Tobias means "God is good" and we often found ourselves already saying that line while we held our week and a 1/2 old baby after heart surgery saved his life. There is no doubt God will prove Himself good in Toby's life over and over and over again. Quinn means "wise" and we are excited to see what God makes Quinn wise about beyond how to charm his way out of being in trouble, which is what he does quite well with right now! : ) Nora means two very important things as well..."a light" and "a woman of honor". I strongly heard God saying in my early prayer time of preparing for adoption that our little daughter--whoever she was--was going to be a light in the darkness, which is why we began looking at names that meant "light". It is not coincidence, however, that Nora also means "woman of honor"...clearly God was/is at work on this one as well!

Let me back up to help you understand why this second meaning is so rich. Much of 2010-2011 were years where I was finding all kinds of freedom in my life and heart (and I continue to, thankfully!). God was revealing to me how much He wanted me to be who HE created me to be...not who I had been thinking I was. *Pause* I want to make sure all readers know loud and clear that I have been a Christ-follower for many years now, but still needed to find freedom and abundant life as God intends! Just because you are a Christian, doesn't mean you aren't still living in bondage. *End Pause* The stories I could tell of God's moving in my heart are amazing and I wish I could tell them all here, but I just don't have room. I was reading tremendous books (especially So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore), listening to music (oh my, I have a whole play list of music having to do with this subject but I would first direct anyone towards Jason Gray's two songs, I Am New and Remind Me Who I Am), listening to sermons (most life-changing was Jay Shetler's two sermon series entitled Where Is God When Life Hurts? (part 1) and Reclaiming Your God-given Identity (part 2). They can be listened to here: and, and just doing a whole lot of praying and listening to God! If you have the time and want to, I spoke at our church this past Mother's Day about all of the freedom God had given me. You can listen to that talk here: (it's a tape of the whole church service so forward about 1/2 way through until you hear Jay beginning his sermon and then I share a bit into that part)

Anyway, all of this change brought me to a place where I was wanting to be affirmed/confirmed in all the healing I thought I was getting and decided to participate in a unique and life-changing weekend experience in Colorado called Women's Walk With Christ. On their website ( they claim this is NOT a retreat, but an intense weekend experience where women can walk in with their wounds of deceit, fear, shame, anger, and sadness and walk out with discovery, clarity, healing, and restoration. (If you have ever heard of Marked Men For Christ, this is the women's equivalent to that weekend). That weekend was nothing short of what they promised. God showed up in BIG ways for me and for all of us women brave enough and willing enough to go deep within ourselves to our brokenness and allow God to shed His light and love in those areas. I am a different woman because of the Holy Spirit's work on that weekend and I can't say enough about it. I feel it's a weekend experience that EVERY woman should experience, but only if they are ready and willing to let God into those very private areas of their heart. It was well worth every stinkin' penny it took to get there! : )

One of the other tremendous parts of that weekend went beyond the freedom I found in myself. I didn't go on that weekend alone...two of my sisters in Christ came with me--Sharon Yoder and Steph Kauffman. I love these two women dearly and we experienced something together on that weekend that will keep us bonded for life. We all experienced such healing together. In a way, we became "women of honor" together, I think, with a mission to see other women--both young and old alike-find this freedom and healing.

After that weekend, Micah and I continued to explore more seriously this idea of adoption and felt like we were both in such tremendously better places for taking on another little being into our family. (Micah had gone through the Marked Men retreat too just after returning from Haiti in 2010). Brad and Steph decided adoption wasn't the way to expand their family of 3 boys, but instead, announced they were pregnant after our return from Colorado! Micah and I knew deep down from the very beginning of their pregnancy this would be a girl. Brad (who went through Marked Men as well) and Steph had gone through such healing and change (just like us) that this little one just couldn't be what was their "norm" of having had to be a symbol of the change they had experienced. Brad and Steph, however, were convinced to their cores this was another boy. When we got the news that it was indeed a beautiful little girl named Adella we beamed with happiness for them!

I immediately looked up the meaning of Adella and found it to be none other than "noble and honorable". Go figure....well, no, Go God! I sat with tears streaming down my face as I thanked God for the opportunity to find freedom with these sisters and after doing so, having Him lead Steph and I to have little girls of our own in completely different ways only 3 months apart from one another with both of their names meaning "honor". What a testimony to God's intricately woven story through our lives and into the generations following us. He is not a God of chance...He is a God of perfect planning. So here we are...two healed women holding our little women of honor. For the next year or so, these little girls will be brought up in two completely different countries with completely different experiences, but it is our hope that eventually they will find themselves in the same kind of friendship and sisterhood that their mamas share...won't that be a day of rejoicing!

And on a side note...some of you may be wondering where we are at in this process of adoption. Well, we have been told that Nora's paperwork has been completed and is currently with the attorney getting legalized. Once it is all legalized it will be matched with our dossier and entered into IBESR (the Haitian Social Services) We were told this SHOULD be happening within the next week-two weeks. As soon as our paperwork enters IBESR and we get our "number" in the system then our 1-2 year wait begins. So, yes, even though we are now over 6 months into our own end of the process, we haven't even started the 1-2 year wait just yet. We are SOOOO ready to get that email! A few days ago I was blessed with some new photos of our little Nora...she is growing well! We hadn't seen her beautiful face for a month so it was a surprise we thoroughly enjoyed. Here they are for you to enjoy as well...
(Nora is now just over 3 months old)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year Thoughts, Questions, and a Heart-focused God...

Before I begin (yep, these all get long, don't they!), let me just share with you a favorite family photo from our Christmas time. I love my husband and kids so much and have to show them off. We enjoyed our time with extended family in Ohio and Nebraska this holiday season, but I also found a deeper level of missing Nora while being around all that family without our little girl in our arms or in her seat in our over-packed mini van. : )
Okay, now back to this long new year blog post...

2012. It's a new year. With a new year comes new resolutions, changes, vows, etc. As I reflect on this new year for myself I have to admit it doesn't really seem to be a big deal this time around. I chalk that up to the fact I had a wonderful 2011 and the "changes" that seem to become the focus at the start of a new year are typically because something wasn't good (or at least as good as one hoped for). People look to this fresh start to make themselves or their life better. Well, where does that leave a person when they had a great year? Not that I don't think I have improvements to make, but I truly am excited about life right now and just want to continue in the great direction I'm already going. It's actually refreshing to have a new year begin this way!

Don't get me wrong, however, there are things I want to see happen in 2012 that didn't happened in 2011 so I started a list (like most people do either mentally or literally) and this is what it looked like:
  • Reading four different books I have had on my end table for far too long
  • Some sort of exercise again since my water aerobics classes have been cancelled and I'm still in mourning
  • Reading more Scripture and getting back to a more regular devoted quiet time before the Lord instead of mainly relying on my daily awareness of His Presence to fill me
  • Be more diligent in my daily routine/tasks so I don't feel like I've wasted the day away
  • Live in or discover even more freedom in the areas of my life I know I still have work to do
  • Continue exploring what God's true calling on my life looks like and how to live my life in mission (shout out to my WWWC sisters!)
  • To bring Nora home
Here's where my quiet time of reflection with the Lord about this new year got interesting. As I looked over this list I realized all of those things involved action from me...except the last one.

"To bring Nora home."

Yes, there is action I have already taken and will continue to take here and there to make this happen, but for now, I literally can't do a thing to MAKE that happen. I can make reading books happen by picking them up and reading them. I can make exercising happen by getting my butt off the couch. I can make all the other things on that list happen with effort, but I can't make Nora come home.

This left me with a lot of questions swimming in my mind and has gotten me to a place where God and I had to have a little heart-to-heart about where I am in all of this at the start of the new year. Will you come with me to that conversation for a moment? I hope by showing you where I am, maybe, just maybe, God will speak to you too.

My thoughts go back and forth like a ping pong game these days about what to pray for in this adoption or, better yet, how to pray (the only action I feel I can do right now to help Nora come home). I want so badly for Nora to be home as fast as possible--like tomorrow really--but I also know the reality of the adoption process in Haiti screams that's most likely not going to happen. So, in my prayers, I want my God to know my heart of hearts and I want to believe that if I tell Him those desires, they will be done (based on Ps. 37:4), but then I risk something huge in my heart by doing that. Do you know what that risk is? It's disappointment. Yep, that's definitely it. I haven't yet figured out how to hope for the miraculous God to show His power and yet separate that hope from potential disappointment. I'm fearful that God is going to disappoint me if He doesn't answer my heart of hearts like I thought it should be answered...that I would pray for Nora to come home miraculously fast and it wouldn't happen. I'm so fearful of that place that it literally keeps me from praying for the most bold things I know the depths of my heart are aching to pray for. Do you relate? Maybe this will help you further connect--here is a snippet of the ping pong match in my head...

God and I have a relationship where I can typically pray my truest heart of hearts. So, here is what that is: to have Nora home as soon as tomorrow. That I could be loving on her here in our home. That our kids would grow up together this first year of her life. That she would be held and cared for tenderly by me and Micah. I also honestly desire for God to miraculously bring her home faster than anyone has ever seen in order to bring witness and praise to Him. We could boldly stand on that witness to say it was NOTHING of what we did but EVERYTHING that God did! It would draw others to the God we serve and build His Kingdom, which is really even MORE of my heart than just adopting Nora. It would bolster our faith and the faiths of anyone following our adoption process. How amazingly cool is that! That is truly my heart's bring attention and honor and respect to God because He rightfully deserves it and to get Nora into our family's arms NOW because she deserves it!

However, in my prayer life, I find myself S.T.R.U.G.G.L.I.N.G. to pray this way. I struggle to pray for the miraculous in this adoption. I end up trying to rationalize why I should not pray for the miraculous and bold by filling my head with thoughts like this: If our process goes faster than anyone else's then what will that say to the others who's adoptions are taking the normal length of time? Wouldn't it say that WE had God behind ours, but THEY didn't have Him behind theirs? Or maybe it would tell them they just didn't pray or believe hard enough like we did? Wow, that sounds harsh and is totally not true so I guess I shouldn't pray for that. Or, God must need this process to be 1-2 years for those who aren't fully on board with us adopting (yes, they are out there). He must need this extra amount of time to bring them to an understanding of why this is His plan so that Nora will be fully loved by them when she gets here. That's what we truly want--for Nora to be truly loved by everyone when she gets here, so I guess that's worth the wait no matter how hard that is, right? Or, there must be a reason God had us pick Haiti instead of some of the more quickly moving countries--this time of waiting must be in His plan because He has something to teach us in the wait. Whatever that is will be worth this wait...I guess.

I think I rationalize my lack of faith and miracle seeking prayer life because it's simply safer. It's pretty risky to pray for the miraculous--what if He doesn't deliver? What if people think I'm a fool for believing in a God who can do miracles if He doesn't do one for me? What if people think God is a fake because they too were hoping and praying with me and feel failed by God? What if I am so disappointed that He didn't come through for me that I live miserably through this 1-2 year wait instead of just "waiting patiently" like everyone says I should be? It's too much of a risk in my head. It's safer to not pray that way and to rationalize my thoughts to be more predictable and controlled and in line with what everyone else is thinking or believing--the status quo of faithland.

Here's the problem though...none of those rationalizations of my head are based on fact. They are not truth. Heck, they are not even positive. Actually, I could easily flip each of them around to be something completely different if I wanted to. For example, if our process went faster than anyone's before, then maybe that would give hope to more families wanting to adopt through Haiti but have shied away from it because of the long wait. Our belief and bold prayers for God to move miraculously quick could eventually lead to many more precious children being adopted from! Or, what if having Nora physically in the arms of those who doubt our decision to adopt would be what truly melts that doubt away more than any sort of waiting time. Or, what if the message God wants us to learn in this process is to trust Him more and leave things in His hands instead of trusting the system and the "proper" time line of Haitian adoptions? Or, lastly, what if the reason God had us pick Haiti was simply...Nora Josephine. That His decision for us to go through Haiti had nothing to do with the amount of time we had to wait or the lessens we could learn in the wait, but that it was simply, beautifully, and solely about Nora being connected to the Thieszens for our time on earth. Wouldn't those more positive assumptions be better to dwell on? Wouldn't they inspire and encourage a miraculous God to do His work instead of limiting the actions of God by my negative thinking? So why is this such a hard spot to be in?

Well, as much as the first, negative rationalizations of my brain were not facts, these more positive flips on them are also, unfortunately, not facts. They are not truth either. I can not foresee the future and I can not foresee what God will do in our adoption...miraculously bring Nora home in record time or allow it to continue on at a normal snail's pace for 1-2 years. My MIND can not know the outcome of my prayers. My MIND is not what I should be praying out of because it does not always think of the thinks of the positives or the negatives, but not always, or even typically, the Truth...and THAT is why I have been struggling with my prayer life. I've been praying with my head.

To find Truth, the only thing I can do is look to God's Word and forget my own thoughts (negative or positive). Only God's Truth brings understanding and freedom and life, but He doesn't necessarily bring that to our heads--our brain--our thinking. He brings that to our hearts, and THIS is the key! Believe me when I say there is a difference between our heads and our hearts. He speaks to me not in my thoughts because His ways are not my ways, His thoughts are not my thoughts--they are higher than anything I could come up with (Isaiah 55:8-9)! He speaks to my heart because that is what He is looking for--He wants hearts that are committed to Him, not brains (2 Chron. 16:9). When I grabbed my Bible, turned off my thought-life, and opened my heart, I was met by the God I love. I thoroughly enjoy how God speaks to and soothes my confused and questioning head by raising up a solid and peaceful heart to take its place.

His Words didn't really give me answers to the questions I still have in my head about Nora's adoption timeline, but it gave me the hope I needed to risk asking of God the impossible and miraculous desires of my heart. It gave me the courage to trust in Him to conquer the fears of disappointment that still hold some space in my head. Did you catch that? Those fears of disappointment I mentioned clear back at the very beginning of this post are not in my heart, friends, I found them in my head. God revealed something new to me today--that my heart is typically NOT what is disappointed when God doesn't allow things don't go the way I think or expect them to go. I still very much love God in my heart when that happens, but my thoughts are what come up disappointed because, in a prideful way, I was proven wrong by God and that hurts when you find out you don't know as much as you thought you did--even if it's by God, right?!? (More freedom from pride found today, my friends...what a blessing!) Anyway, beyond the references already mentioned in this post, here are a few more that my God shared with me today that brought me back to a place of my heart...and perhaps He is sharing them with you too...
  • Romans 8:25-27, "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God."
  • 1 Cor. 1:18-20 & 25, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written; 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."
  • Ps. 77:13-14, "Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples."
  • Mark 11:22-23, "'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."
  • Pr. 16:9, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps."
  • Mt. 17:20, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

So, there you have it. The way I am starting out 2012 is to live not so much out of my head and so much more out of my this adoption process, as well as in all the areas of life I just don't understand. My mind does not understand the miraculous. It does not understand the mundane. It does not understand the ways of man. It does not understand the ways of God. There are many things my mind just doesn't understand. BUT. I do understand I have a heart that is ever beating for the Lord and that's more important than anything my mind would understand anyway. I will chose, this day, to ask boldly for the God who loves my heart and hears the deepest desires of that heart to work on our behalf to bring our beautiful Nora home in miraculous time. What will you ask of Him out of your heart and not out of your head as 2012 begins? I would love to hear your answer to that question if you would be so willing, bold, daring, and honest to post them in the comment section of this post. To God be the glory!