Monday, April 30, 2012

Money, Money, Money--Where are We at Financially?

"Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God - the rest will be given. "
~Mother Teresa
Oh, yes, friends.  That quote from Mother Teresa rings clear in my heart today as I write to you about where we are at financially in this adoption. With any adoption, the financial end of it can be a burden, a curse, a headache, a heartache, and even a blessing.  The truth is, any adoptive parent would rather have the focus of their future child not equated with $$$ or a "price tag" or a "fee".  Money is NOT what we want to deal with.  Money is not what we want our topics of conversation with others to be about.  When others ask us about how our adoption process is going, we don't WANT to tell you about the money we have raised or even worse, the money we still have to raise.  We don't want to be asking and asking and asking for financial help.  We don't enjoy sitting at home crunching numbers with our budget trying to see where we can still cut corners to save a little more without also making our life situation for our current family so bleak that we feel stressed all the time.  What we DO want is for our friends, family, and strangers alike to fall more and more in love with Nora and with orphans around the world.  We want peoples' hearts compelled to care for those less fortunate when we share our story of adoption.  We want to stir up the call from Christ to care for the orphan.  We want to pass along the hope we have to give our love and home to another little child who needs it.  We want our adoption to be about a child--specifically Nora for us-- not about money.  Yes, I would much rather talk to you about raising funds of love, kindness, understanding, and peace than about money itself, but alas, no adoption can really be completed without money, so here you go...

We are continually amazed at the work of our God in this area.  We have been called to adopt Nora and we have seen God rally His people to help make that a reality.  Financially, we simply can not do this alone.  We have placed, and continue to place, our own money into this, but we also know we can not come up with the big picture of money all on our own right now.  We also believe in allowing others to come alongside us on the journey and be an active participant in Nora's life already.  As I have said before, God calls us all to care for the orphan and many would love to do that, but do not yet feel called to actually bring one of these beautiful children into their home.  There are many ways these people can still answer God's call...financially sponsoring orphans, mission trips to give them hugs and playtime, feeding them meals, and even donating money towards families like us who have answered the call of God to be a forever family.  We have been blessed to have so many of those people send us their financial gifts.

On top of helping us financially in our adoption costs, it has also been awesome to see how God has raised up people to simply have a heart for Nora because of their financial contribution.  This is where Mother Teresa's quote becomes reality--by giving financially, people have fallen more and more in love with Nora.  There is an investment that goes beyond's an investment of love, prayers and hope.  Nora needs that.  We need that.  We need the money, but we also need the support, love, and hope to be rallied around this process.

With our fundraiser meal coming up this weekend, we would like to give you a very clear picture of where we stand financially (hopefully for the last time).  If you look to the right-hand column of this blog entry you will see our original goal of $25,000 has now become $29,000.  Let me explain why that has happened.  With any adoption process, there are many things you learn along the way.  Many changes happen that are unexpected.  Some fees you figure on paying, end up being less than expected--many become more than expected.  There are trips envisioned and budgeted for, but then there are ones that come up unexpectedly with higher flight and baggage costs.  There are lawyer fees that fluctuate beyond your control.  There are monthly fees for Nora's care that obviously add up with the longer she stays there (and, again, we have NO idea how long we will be paying those--this is Haiti).  There are homestudies that end up having to be updated unexpectedly (just to give you perspective, that one example was a $900 setback).  There is just no way to know for sure what this adoption will cost us in the end.  We had high hopes of it being around $25,000 at the beginning.  When all is said and done, however, it could also be over $31,000.  When we took a look at what we have already spent and combine that with what we believe are estimates of what we still have to go, we are looking at that $31,000 figure.  However, we still are placing our new goal at $29,000 with the hope of Nora coming home sooner than later which would decrease our monthly payments and a few other fees along the way.

Of that $29,000 we have $20,927 raised between what we and others have contributed.  That means we have $8,073 left to raise to hit our more realistic goal.  On one hand that figure still seems large, but on the other hand, God has brought over twice that amount in so far, so this is certainly something we think He can complete!  There is nothing that will put a smile on our faces quicker than knowing the financial end of this adoption is past us so we can focus on simply being a Mama and Daddy to Nora...and encouraging the giving of our family and friends towards other children in need.
So, what can you do to help us reach our financial goal?  There are currently three options we have for you.  First would be attending our fundraiser meal this Sunday, May 6th, at 12:15 p.m. at Maple City Chapel.  We will be serving up Haystacks and Ice Cream (with homemade strawberry topping--yum!!!).   Anyone is welcome to attend and we would LOVE to have a chance to visit with you face to face.  It's a great way to have a delicious meal out and have your payment for the meal go towards bringing Nora home.  We will be showing a slideshow of updated photos of Nora as well as letting everyone know where we are at in the process.  It will be a wonderful time together!

Secondly, if you live farther away or won't be able to make it to the fundraiser meal, you can always still send in a financial donation to our account at Lifesong.  Many of you have done this already and for that we are so thankful!  If the Lord would be encouraging you to continue your earlier support by giving an additional amount, then please still follow the directions here.
To send in your tax-deductible financial gift through the mail:
-Please make checks payable to: Lifesong. Write "preference Thieszen #2263 adoption" in the memo section of your check in order to direct your donation towards our adoption expenses.

-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

To send in your tax-deductible financial gift online:
-To donate through Lifesong's PayPal account, go to Scroll down until you see “By Credit Card (” and click on the "Donate" button. Type in "preference 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.

Lastly, if you need to, you can also give a check or cash directly to us and we will put it into our adoption fund account, however, those financial gifts would not be a tax-deductible donation.

Above all, friends, we are so excited to see God at work in this adoption.  We are continually drawn to Him to get us through this whether it is financially, emotionally, or spiritually.  We are so in love with God and what He is doing in our lives right now.  It is a blessing to be a part of the Lord's work.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your support--both financially and prayerfully.  We thank God for you and pray your lives are being enriched ten-fold as you join us on this journey of adoption.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm So Excited...God is at WORK, friends!

It is a privilege to be walking on God's road to adoption.  It is challenging.  It is a test in patience.  It is painful.  It is heart-wrenching, really.  It is also amazing.  Exciting.  Eye-opening.  Blessings upon blessings.  Exactly what God needed in my life to build my trust back up in Him.

One of the privileges along this road is meeting many little loves who are such beautiful creations of the Lord.  I would have never had the chance to meet these kiddos in Haiti if it weren't for God calling us into adoption.  I am blessed to know them.  In the last post I introduced you to little Whitney...the newest little girl at Rivers of Hope.  She, as of that post, was not a part of a forever family, but now I''m so happy to report to you she has a Mommy and Daddy to call her own.  It is a privilege to watch a little girl go from being an "orphan" to being a "member of a family".  Also, two other little boys at the orphanage will be heading HOME in the next several weeks!  What a blessing and honor to watch these women I have come to know as friends and extended family hold their babies in their arms on this side of the water!  I just can't wait!

Of course the privilege I consider the greatest is being called Mama by this little one...

Nora is almost 7 months old and growing every day.  She is by far one of the happiest babies in the orphanage.  Rachel's (the director of the orphanage) emails always include something like this line, "She is always smiling".  I love that about Nora.  Even when we met her for the first time 5 months ago she was smiling quite often.  What a privilege to be a person who can provide her with many, many things to smile about.  We are crazy in love with her!

As cool as those privileges are, there is one, however, I have found to be the most outstanding in my book.  That privilege is watching God's hand at work.  His power and movement is beyond amazing!  I could go into so many different stories of how I have seen Him answering my heart's desire throughout this process and how incredible that looks, but I want to narrow that down today to one recent example.  I have been filled with a new and passionate desire to be praying Nora home and to be praying all these orphans of Haiti out of these orphanages and into their forever families.  I can not express enough how crazy cool this has been for me--I have never considered myself a person who is "good" with praying.  It has taken work and discipline and I have lacked both throughout my past in this area.  For some reason, this is something different.  These prayers are easy for me.  They are not birthed out of a discipline, they are birthed out of desire.  Pure desire to see God's will for these children coming to fruition--for these children to be surrounded by their families.

So, on Sunday morning I woke up and found myself lying in bed praying once again for God to continue the movement of our paperwork for Nora in record time.  I kept thinking/praying, "Wouldn't it be so amazing, God, if I could report to our supporters and church body on May 6th at our fundraiser meal, that You have done the miraculous once again and we moved out of IBESR!"  For those unfamiliar with the Haitian process, this would be pretty much next to impossible in earthly standards--it could ONLY be a testimony to God's hand at work!  I was also praying for all of the other paperwork currently held up in the Haitian process to be moved along not by the governmental process, but by God Himself.  You see, there are many people who have been stuck in different sections of the process for FAR TOO LONG--like YEARS too long!!!!  It has to stop!  There is no reason it needs to be like this.  Satan has had his hand in the adoption process for far too long and it is time we step up and claim this process for Jesus.  He is the one who has won the victory over the darkness and evil in this world and He wants nothing less than these children to be HOME with their familes!  I have been praying these very things for a little while now and it has boosted my faith in ways I can not explain in words.  I am SO excited at what I know in the core of my soul God is doing behind the scenes.

It was out of this desire I found myself compelled to be praying again on Sunday morning--that God would just continue His work on moving these adoptions along in record time.  For our own adoption, our paperwork has been in IBESR for two months now and we will have NO idea how long it will be there.  Could be 3 months, but could very easily also be over a year.  I've just been praying and praying that God is moving it along in there and trusting Him to be a God BIG enough to do just that.  I have no way of ever knowing if that is actually happening--I have to trust Him because it is proven over and over that the process of adopting can not be trusted.  And now for the testimony of God's GOODNESS...

On Monday morning I woke up and started my day off with reading a post in a Haitian adoptions facebook group I am a member of.  The post was informing everyone that as of this past week, IBESR was not going to be taking any more new dossiers into the system until after June 1st.  The reason????  They wanted to get a handle on the dossiers they did have and try to "clean up" the back up of paperwork.  Can you even believe it!!!!!!!!  As soon as I read it, my eyes filled with tears as I just know this was not an original idea from the director of IBESR...this was an act of God alone!  If you have been to Haiti, you know how counter-cultural that idea is--it just isn't quite "Haitian" to care much about time or how long things have been backed up.  I believe God has taken the reigns of this process and has decided to speed up the paperwork again by making the Haitian social services take a break from new dossiers in order to catch up on all of the ones currently stuck in there.  That means HUNDREDS of dossiers representing HUNDREDS of children and families waiting to be in each others arms are going to hopefully get the "fast pass" into the next step of their adoptions!  That means that NORA is one of those children since our dossier is one of those HUNDREDS in IBESR.  Isn't our God so awesome!  I am privileged to watch Him is unlike the work of anything I have ever seen before.  Here is part of a blog post from a different orphanage director (Dixie, director of GLA) in Haiti confirming my initial reactions and thoughts about the news...
'"IBESR will not be taking new dossiers until the 1st of June in an effort to complete studying and authorizing the ones already sitting on their desks and also finish the ones that have been given dispensations in the last few weeks. 
According to a source, the director of IBESR is wanting to clear the dossiers that have been sitting for some time waiting for approval.  There were many in IBESR when she took over the position of Director in November 2011.  None were signed until after February 2012 and so they are way behind."

God is so good, friends.  He is trustworthy.  It is a privilege to hand Him the reigns of this adoption and join Him for the crazy ride it is.  This certainly doesn't guarantee a specific time frame when our paperwork will get out of IBESR--it could still be a year or more.  It doesn't mean I will for sure have amazing news on May 6th for our fundraiser meal.  What it DOES mean, however, is God is at work and I will keep praying fervently for Him to have His way with our adoption and all the adoptions!  It means He can be trusted to care about the orphan and He can be trusted with our hearts' desires.  I can not put my trust in anything of this world--only in Him!  What an exciting time this is!

"Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." -Psalm 20:6-7

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Would It Take?

What would it take for you to answer God's call to care for the orphan?

Let me introduce you to one of Nora's newest friends at the orphanage...her name is Whitney.

Whitney just came to the orphanage last month and is unfortunately severely malnourished. In this photo (taken just three days ago), Nora is a healthy 7 month old. Whitney...get ready for 3 years old. THREE!!!!! At three years old she weighs in around 15 pounds and eats as if she was 9 months old. As far as I know, she also has not been matched with a forever family and clearly needs a loving home who can care for her! Now that she is in the orphanage, her feedings will be regular and hopefully get her gaining weight, but then what? Whitney needs a family to continue her care. I'm just curious if God would be calling you to be that family. The family who comes to her rescue after she leaves this family of little ones at the orphanage...she is the only one in this photo who still needs a Mom and Dad to call her own.

God asks us all to do our part in caring for the orphan...whether that is giving money towards someone who is adopting, going on a mission trip to an orphanage to love on the kiddos, or even adopting one yourself. If you have ever felt that pull on your heart and believe God is calling you towards this journey, little Whitney may very well be your daughter. If you are a person feeling that way at all, please contact me and I'll give you more information.

Blessings friends, and may God continue to spread His love towards each and every one of these precious children through our lives!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thieszen Adoption Haystack Fundraiser Meal

Thieszen Adoption Haystack

Fundraiser Meal

Sunday, May 6th

Location: Maple City Chapel

2015 Lincolnway East, Goshen, IN

Time: Meal will be served at 12:15 p.m.

(take out boxes available also after 1st service at 10:15)

Come to enjoy a haystack meal, hear an update on our progress, see a slideshow of recent photos of Nora, fellowship with others on our support team, and help us reach the last $5000+ of our funds to bring Nora home. (Checks can be made out to "Lifesong" with "Thieszen Adoption #2263" written in the memo line.)

You do not have to attend Maple City Chapel to enjoy the meal--this is open to anyone in the community or even visitors from afar if you want to come! If you do not typically attend MCCh and want to participate in the morning services as well as the meal, the first service begins at 9 a.m. and the second service is at 10:45 a.m.

R.S.V.P. is not required, but would be helpful for us to determine food counts. R.S.V.P. by adding a comment on this blog or at If you can make it last minute and haven't responded, please feel free to come...we would love to visit with you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Power of Prayer

Did you know there is Power in Prayer???? Did you know God is in the business of answering prayers????

I'm so blessed to share with you all some answered prayers I have seen in the last few weeks. May they inspire you to believe in the power of prayer and the faith that God DOES love and care for the details of our lives. He is so good!

If you have been following this blog at all you already know I've gotten the praying itch and am scratching like I haven't ever before in my life! This has been an amazing ride. I love God and I love what He is doing. It is an honor to watch His Divine Work happening in my life and in the lives around me. I don't think I will ever get over the rush that comes from seeing prayers answered.

In the past two weeks I have been BLESSED to see the paperwork of 6 other Rivers of Hope families move forward in their processes. SIX!!!! Praise You, God! Praise You for moving their mountains!!! Let me give you a visual of what that means...

This is Christenson--he just got his passport and has one more hurdle to jump through in Haiti before coming HOME!!!

This is Little Stevenson. He also just got his passport and has one more hurdle to jump through in Haiti before coming HOME!!!

This is Big Stevenson. His paperwork just got approved by the President of Haiti and they are through the first BIG step of the process in Haiti. They have been in that step since LAST SPRING (ugh)!

This is Gabe. His paperwork also just got approved by the President of Haiti and they are through the first BIG step of the process in Haiti. They have also been in that step since LAST SPRING (ugh)!

This is Garry. Garry has now been approved by the President of Haiti twice (he had to restart the whole process over when they found out the woman claiming to be his birth mom wasn't actually his birth mom). They will move forward in the process now too...Praise God!

This is Giselle (Nora's half-sister). Her paperwork has entered one of the last big steps (MOI) in Haiti before getting a passport and visa!

I can not get over the fact that as I have been praying for God to move, move, move on behalf of the adoption processes in Haiti, He has answered by moving SIX of our very own orphanage's processes! I'm not saying I am the cause of this movement--God is the cause of all movement and I am just so incredibly blessed to witness this Divine Movement. It is truly awesome! Especially to see paperwork that has been "stuck" for a YEAR move again is simply nothing less than awesome!

Hearing these reports of movement bolsters up my faith even more and I believe God is also moving our paperwork along. It is still in IBESR, but I believe in my heart He is having someone review it and approve it as I speak it out in my prayer life. He is GOOD!

On a slightly different note, but one that blesses my heart just as greatly...another huge answer to prayer this past week has to do with Toby and preschool. As I have been preparing for Toby to head off to preschool 3 mornings a week this fall, I have had a sad heart. Knowing Quinn and Toby would be loosing their brother/playmate time 3 mornings a week was hard for me to imagine. With Quinn sleeping in the afternoon they would not have nearly as much time together and that was sad for me. As sad as I was, however, I knew there was nothing that could be done about it--8th Street Preschool is in the mornings and that's just what I need to deal with. Then I got the registration form and low and behold, they were offering a NEW afternoon class--are you kidding me!?!? God, You are sooo good! No brainer really for me...I could adjust our lunch and Quinn's afternoon naptime slightly and the boys would still get to play every morning together. What a blessing! I didn't even pray about that one--God just knew my heart before I did! However, having Toby go to the afternoon session of preschool then presented another problem in my head...

I knew of two other boys going to this particular preschool, but I already knew they were signed up for the morning classes. Toby has such a tender, sensitive spirit and I feared he would be scared to start this new adventure without knowing anyone else in his class. I could easily picture the scene of his first days of preschool--him crying at the bottom of the steps of the school not wanting to go inside. Just rips a Mama's heart when she can not convince a child to overcome their fears and just have fun! With those thoughts I prayed that God would just bring ONE other child into His class he would know so those hesitations to go inside would be lessened. God had already answered my heart's cry about my boys having time together without me even praying about it, so surely He could answer my prayer for ONE other person in Toby's class he would know.

And here is where God is SO cool! A few Sundays ago at church one of our closest friends, Kris, approached me and asked if Toby was heading to 8th Street for preschool. "Yep!" I answered her and then questioned, "Why? Are you thinking of sending Jude there?" "Well, yeah, we are sending Jude there," Kris replied, "But they said the morning classes are full already so he'll have to be in the afternoon class." Kris said with a sound of disappointment in her voice.

**Pause for explanation--Toby has three boys he would probably call his BEST friends right now in life. Caleb--who is currently in 1st grade and our neighbor, Nathan--who would be attending the same preschool in the morning class (bummer), and Jude--who goes to our church and is the boy I am talking about right now!**


I still tear up as I type this post several days later--God, You are SO good!!!! Not only did You create an afternoon class for Toby so my boys could still be together in the mornings, You orchestrated the most DIVINE and AWESOME not only answer my prayer with ONE other child in Toby's class he knew, but instead You answered it with one of Toby's BEST FRIENDS!!!!!!!!! Seriously, how can a person NOT want to sing for joy for the love God has for us.

He is worthy of our praise, friends. He is worthy of our faith. He is worthy of our hope. He is in the business of answering our prayers because He adores us so. I am so in love with Him and so grateful for His listening ears to the desires of my heart. May these testimonies of His goodness spur you on in your own faith journeys, friends. May they spur you on to TRUST God's will for your life too. I have many other prayers being prayed with the hope and faith He will answer them just as awesomely as He has answered these. I'm sure you do too!

Because He heard my heart and my prayers, friends, these little loves will enter preschool this fall together and that gives this Mama's heart so much peace and joy!

(Toby & Jude--about 6 & 5 months old)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hardness of Holidays

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how holidays are, for some reason, even harder in the absence of that loved one. The emptiness of their chair at the table, the longing to hear their laughter with the rest of the family, or the desire to simply know who they would be at that moment if they would still be's tough stuff to deal with. In the same breath, holidays are still wonderful despite the loss. Still being surrounded by family at the same table of the empty chair, still having memories being built with laughter, and still celebrating whatever the reason is behind the holiday...holidays still bring immense joy. The collision of these opposing emotions creates...well...a hard holiday.

I've experienced holidays such as this just the same as most everyone...holidays where a loved one is absent due to loss. What I was not prepared for, however, was how similarly hard holidays would be in the process of an adoption. It was not a loss of life I was grieving this Easter, but instead, an absence of life. Nora's life. Easter was a hard holiday because Nora wasn't with us yet. It was also a great holiday full of beautiful and fun moments with my hubby and kiddos. It was an awkward junction of both hard and wonderful. It left me in tears off and on all day long. I kept imagining my four kids together all dressed up in their Easter best. The boys looking so handsome and the girls...well...beautiful. At church I stood crying during the worship songs just longing to have a beautiful little one named Nora in my arms with her satiny dress flowing all around her. More tears came as we took communion as a family and prayed for God to bring her into our home soon. It just made me sad knowing Micah and my arms were still empty, my kids were still without their sibling to play with, and Nora was still not being loved on how I desire her to be loved on. I was overcome with the grief that I was loving and dreaming and wishing for Nora to be with me in such a deep way and yet she was still in Haiti having no clue I even care really. I just ached with a longing for her to know she was in my thoughts and in my heart.

I decided to email our director to let her know how much I was missing Nora that's the only way I feel a bit of sanity, I guess. Just knowing I let someone in Haiti know that little girl was being thought of and loved on from afar. I asked Rachel to give Nora a big hug from her Mama. I got a reply a few days later indicating Nora was "so adorable these days". I bet she is. She also said she wanted to send me pictures of her but figured I had already gotten enough pictures of her from others so she was not going to. Ugh. Are you kidding me? I would take a photo of her every hour of every day if I could. It's just hard for others to understand what it is like to have your child living in another country apart from you. Getting a new photo of Nora every few weeks has been amazing for sure, but no, it's not enough to keep this Mama content in the process. I will always be longing for more until she is actually in my arms.

My heartfelt prayer is still for God to be moving as fast as possible with our paperwork in Haiti. I know there will be more holidays to experience with no Nora before bringing her home, but if those holidays can be a shortened list by obedient prayer you better believe this Mama will be knocking on the doors of heaven! By next Easter, Lord, I really want a little girl in my arms all decked out in her Easter best with the rest of her siblings...and you know what, Lord? I think she'd look pretty awesome in her Christmas best as well so You can move as FAST as You possibly can and I'd be okay with that! : )

As I said before...the holidays are hard because it is a mix of such opposite emotions...I've mentioned my heartache, but it was met also with such joy for the loves I already have in my arms. I thoroughly enjoyed a day relaxing at home with my man and my three children. They are truly a blessing!

(silly Lily)

(the joy of discovery)