Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 322

Day 322.

Yep, we are 322 days into our agreement with the Lord to adopt.

What's the significance of day 322?  Well, it marks the 100'th day of being in IBESR/Haitian Social Services.  100 days of officially being "in the system" on the Haitian end of this adoption.

222 days were spent at the beginning gathering paperwork, getting everything notarized, authenticated, legalized, translated & sent to Haiti, waiting for a little girl to arrive at the orphanage, meeting Nora for the first time, waiting for her paperwork to be ready to join ours, and then finally having it turned over into the hands of IBESR.  222 days of work and wait and work and wait.  Now, we've added 100 more days of "wait" to that number. 

What have you spent 100 days waiting for?  And I don't mean haphazardly waiting for, but eagerly and intently waiting for?  I am waiting for an email.  An email that says we have passed through IBESR and into dispensation (more waiting for the President's signature, but it is still a huge step).  An email that says your days in IBESR are over and now you can begin counting the days involved in the next step of the process.  I wake up in the morning and hope to find an email from the orphanage director giving us great news.  I check it periodically all day long waiting for that same email.  I check it before I get in bed at night hoping maybe, just maybe, she would have sent something before she got in her own bed.  So far, I am still waiting...and counting...days, yes, but also counting my blessings too, I suppose.  Blessings of a God who has walked each and every one of those 322 days with me.  He has been faithful in giving me hope, encouragement, and a new set of eyes to the spiritual world.  A world that needs people who desire to see God's Will happen NOW instead of whenever...a world where we spend each of those days sending up prayers for His Will to be fulfilled on earth as it is in Heaven that day.  Each of these 322 days have also been a blessing because each one is one day closer to the day our Nora arrives on American soil and in our home.

As I have said in the past, Lily has also been counting these 322 days. She is counting days until her little sister comes home not so much by numbers, but instead, by something more visual.  She is using paper chain links that surround the top of her bedroom.  We are getting very close to the starting point of our has always been my hope we would be back in Haiti for our second trip before we started overlapping the loops, but it's not looking too hopeful.  My new desire will have to be getting out of IBESR before those chain links overlap...I believe God would want nothing less.  Here is a short video of Lily's links to give you a visual of these 322 days.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Autopilot Mode or Ever Hungry?

Yesterday morning, I had a sense that God was tenderly, yet earnestly, calling me back to His Word.  Yep, I said back to His Word.

To be honest, I have been a bit on autopilot lately.  Do you know what the definition of "autopilot" is?  It's "an airborne electronic control system that automatically maintains a preset heading and attitude."  Yep, that is precisely what I have been...automatically on a one-way mind plane.  Surprising to you, however, may be the fact this autopilot mode of mine has not been like ones in my past where I have found myself doing my own thing and not really including God in my life.  Instead it has been one of being in love with how good God is and how much I love what He is doing in my life.  It has been an autopilot mode where my preset heading and attitude has been one of awe in my Creator and Lover and King.  I have been noticing and soaking up so much of God's presence during the little moments of my day-to-day life, allowing worship songs to penetrate my heart, trusting Him with things I never have before, deeply caring for others who are sharing their wounded selves with me, and even finding myself simply thanking God for His Goodness in so many areas of my life.  It has been a GOOD autopilot mode, but nonetheless, it has been autopilot.

When I get in autopilot mode (whether it is good like it has been, or bad where I forget to acknowledge God's presence at all because I'm so "me" focused) my tendency, unfortunately, is to not pick up my Bible much.  Even though my faith has been growing and my trust of God has been thriving, I still lack the discipline of opening His Word to hear even more invaluable Truths He has for me.  This is not good and not what God desires.  By not regularly going back to His Word for more, it's like I'm saying to this amazingly good God in my life, "What I have for now is enough for me--I don't really need anything new from You.  Thank You for what you have already given me and taught me because it has changed my life, but I'm not sure my life really needs any more changing right now--it's actually quite good!  I'll just come back again when I feel a bit sluggish and need a good pick-me-up, thanks."  Or, "I'm full, God.  I'm content.  I'm satisfied.  You've given me a meal that has left me nourished!  I don't really need more of You right now because I'm pretty happy and content with life."  Ouch.

When I read those lines, I know that God's red flags must be going off.  He's got to be saying, "Nooooooo!  This is not what I had in store for you...I want you to be finding Truth and living a life in freedom, but I never wanted the Truths you have recently discovered to be the only Truths that sustain you for all your days to follow!  There is more!  So.  Much.  More.  My Truth is never-ending and always ready to bring yet another freedom into your heart of hearts if you just come back for more!"  I believe He wants me to be "ever hungry for more of Him in this life".  That's part of my life's mission statement I developed about a year ago (written in the right-hand column of this blog), and I believe God had me put it in there for a reason.  I need to be reminded to get into God's Word because He will always have more for me to chew on and find sustenance in.

This is why I believe God only allows us to go, go, go in autopilot mode...even GOOD autopilot mode...for a short period of time before He begins the whispers of wooing us back to His Word.  He loves us so much He wants us to have even more of Him.  Without continual feedings, we can not go for long before we burn out...even on "good" fumes.  So, yesterday, I answered those whispers I had been hearing in my heart and mind for a few days at least.  I made a point of cracking open my Bible and reading some more exciting Truths God had for me.  I walked away from that time in His Word questioning why I ever let myself stop reading this Book in the first's so rich and good and life-giving!

I came across a passage beautifully spoken in II Thessalonians that spoke right to my heart in light of this adoption.  It's always awesome to see God's Word active and alive in my situations today.  A text written most like by Paul for a Thessalonian church in the early A.D. 50's impacted my day yesterday.  How cool is that!  Here is the passage (in the NIV version and then in The Message version).

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." ~ II Thessalonians 1: 11-12 (NIV)
"Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely." ~ II Thessalonians 1: 11-12 (The Message)

 It is certainly my hope that others are praying for me/us in this adoption.  That their prayers would be for us to be worthy of God's call on our lives to adopt.  That only through HIM and His power would this adoption be fulfilled.  We know our purpose for adopting Nora is good and an act of faith for us.  This was not in our "plan" for our lives.  It was not something we have always deeply desired to do.  We feel God has called us to open our hearts and home to another human being who deserves a loving family and we are being faithful to act on that calling.  It is an act prompted by faith.  It is something we desperately want prayers for God's power to be shown through.  We are adopting with the prayer that Jesus' Name may be glorified by the actions of our lives and that our lives will be touched by the glory of our God's grace in the process.  It has been so awesome to watch Him working through the details, fighting for Nora to be home with us, and changing our hearts along the way to be even more compassionate for what God's Will is.

It is passages like these that slow me down, bring me out of autopilot mode, and make me savor yet another Truth He had for me today.  A Truth I would have never found if I would have continued in my autopilot mode of even just praising God for His goodness.  A Truth I would have never found if I would have never opened His Word.  It is tempting, friends, to bask in this new Truth for a few days and return to the GOOD autopilot mode I keep finding myself in, but again, I know there is more in His Word for me to find.  More spiritual food to partake in.  I have to choose today to be living in my mission instead of autopilot mode.  I have to be ever hungry for more of God in my life because there is always more of God to discover when I open up that Good Book of His.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Purple Friday!

If you would know our niece, Maddie,
you would know she loves the color PURPLE!

Maddie's elementary school is celebrating and supporting Maddie this Friday by wearing purple!  How cool is that!  I think it would be wonderful to have that support spread beyond her school walls.  I plan on wearing purple on Friday...won't you join me?!?

What would be even better is to have everyone take pictures of themselves in their purple on Friday so I can send them all up to her!  Having that visual of many, many supporters all in her favorite color would be invaluable as she approaches transplant at the end of the month.

So, your assignment is to wear purple on Friday, take a photo of yourself sporting your support, and then send it to my email: or post them on my facebook page "Angie Thieszen"

Thanks everyone!
A Very Happy PURPLE Friday it will be!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A few updates...on Nora, Maddie, and Life in General

Update on Nora...a photo.  I really, really, really like this one.  No, it's not showing off her completely contagious smile, but I do love the chair she is sitting in!  I have pictures of all my children sitting in an old child's rocking chair that was passed down to us from my grandparents, which they used as children themselves.  It shows years and years of love and use--so many wonderful memories it could speak of (I vividly remember sitting it in as a child at my Grandparent's house).  What a blessing to receive this new picture of Nora sitting in a different chair for now, but one that has undoubtedly also seen a fair share of little loves sitting on it over the years.  Oh how I would love to listen to the stories that chair could tell.  I'm blessed my little one could be a part of its history.

Update on our niece, Maddie...she was due to begin the more intense chemo and radiation this next Monday to prepare her body for transplant, but she has come down with the common cold so the start of transplant is now being delayed once again until May 29th.  Please pray for this infection to get out of her system and for all of their emotions as they ride the ups and downs, stops and starts, of this ride.  Overall, she has been weathering the storm of cancer so incredibly well this time around.  A testimony to the God who loves her and cares for her...and us all.  Continue to pray, continue to believe, continue to follow their story at:  Here is a recent picture of her and Sydney enjoying some sweet snuggle time before Maddie will be in isolation after transplant.

Update on life in general...we, unfortunately lost a family member this past week.  Bert was my dad's cousin and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January.  He passed away at the age of 61.  Life is too short sometimes...and too hard.  Pray for his wife and three sons as they grieve this loss.  Their middle son is getting married soon and they were hoping Bert would have been able to make it to the wedding.  I'm sure it will be a hard mix of emotions for them on that day.  In other news, we are in the throws of potty-training Quinn right now...oufta!  He's our little rebellious, adventurous, care-free child, so getting him to do something we want him to do when we want him to do it has been interesting.  That kid can come up with some very interesting reasons as to why he doesn't really NEED to go potty right then.  We are also looking forward to Lily finishing up her school year, celebrating her 6th birthday, and celebrating a dear friend's graduation back in Ohio (hard to believe I used to change that girl's diapers!)  All wonderful things to celebrate!

My heart finds itself "torn" this Mother's Day...present here with my kids and hubby and wanting to also be in Haiti with my Little Miss there.  Praying and praying we'll all be able to celebrate under one roof next year!  I also find myself reflecting back on last year's Mother's Day when I talked at my church.  It was a great day for me and I still find myself excited and celebrating what God has done in my life and has continued to do...what an amazing ride!  If you are interested in listening to my sharing time from last year, you can find it here.  It is a recording of the whole church service so you may want to forward it to the middle when Jay Shetler begins his sermon.  I share in the middle of that sermon.

Those are our updates from the Thieszen blessed this weekend, friends, and Happy Mother's Day to all you Mama's out there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

This morning I must start this day off giving credit and thanks and praise to God because He is working, folks, and I am blessed to be watching it all unfold!  If you remember back in these posts (here and here), I have talked about how God is inspiring me to be a woman of prayer.  My eyes are being opened to a spiritual world and a spiritual battle I have been ignorant to my whole life.  I am seeing the goodness of our Lord like I have never seen before.  I am trusting Him to be always on my side in a way that makes me excited, forever grateful, secure, and pro-active in my prayer life.  Oh, how I wish every one of those around me could be on the same page as I am--what a different world we would live in.

Last night as I mowed our yard for a few hours, I basked in His Goodness.  I have been blessed over and over by the songs performed by Jason Gray, a Christian artist, who sings of the person he once was and the person he now is.  His lyrics strike a cord in my soul that is spot-on with what God has been doing in my life over the past several years.  God has transformed the woman I believed I was into the woman He has always made me to be.  I am not perfect, but I am more willing to learn and apply what I am learning.  Because of that willingness to let Him have His way with me, I am a changed life.  Anyway, while I was mowing, I was listening to Jason's album entitled "A Way to See in the Dark".  Powerful songs there, friends...simply powerful.  Songs of overcoming fears, overcoming darkness, seeing beauty in the midst of chaos, and thanking God for who He is.  As I listened, I almost just stopped mowing in the middle of my yard to fall on my knees in humble thanksgiving for what all God is doing in my life.  He deserves so much praise and my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude.

One of the main areas I was thankful for last evening and continuing this morning is in the area of our adoption.  There is no doubt in my mind that God is at work in this area!  I am blown away by His power and authority!  I have been praying harder than I ever have in my life for His Will to be done.  For His Will to have free reign.  For His Will to be protected from the enemy's schemes of destruction and death.  For our adoption process, specifically, I have been praying for God's Will and Desire to see all of these children placed in loving homes to come to fruition as quickly as possible.  I KNOW He wants Nora home in our arms faster than anything so I have kept my sights and my prayer life focused there.  I have been an active participant on God's side of the battle lines, fighting alongside Him for our daughter to get home fast.  I know some people are praying for Nora to be home by Christmas, which would be a miracle for sure, but I can't go there with them.  If they want to continue praying that way, by all means, I will not stop them, but I can not allow myself to put a time stamp on my expectations of God.  If Christmas rolls around and Nora's not in my arms, where does that leave me?  Will I trust God less?  Will I doubt His goodness?  Will I become depressed at the time frame of this process?  I may or I may not, but it certainly leaves too much room for me to do so.  My prayer is not built around specific is built around God's Will and I believe deeper than anything else that His Will would be to have Nora home in as least amount of time as miraculously possible.  That is my prayer.

With that background, there is MOVEMENT happening in Haiti that can only be explained as God at work on His Will!  I believe the more we pray and claim this process to be HIS and no one else's (not even the Haitian government's), the more we will see Him freed up to make it happen.  The news from Haiti is that the Social Services department (IBESR) has temporary closed down until the end of July to all new dossiers.  At first sight this may seem as like a major inconvenience to those waiting to get their dossiers into IBESR, but I believe this very act is nothing short of a miracle.  The reason for IBESR's temporary shut down is to work on the back log of dossiers currently in their system and to re-organize their efforts to ensure quicker processing of dossiers from this point forward.  We have been told by a reliable source who sat down with the director of IBESR personally, that their goal is to have every dossier already in the system processed and have their dispensation (Presidental approval) by the end of July!  With all of these dossiers caught up, when they re-open in August, the dossiers entering will not be put on the bottom of a huge pile, but simply processed right away--the wait will be that much less.  This is AMAZING!!!!!!!  MIRACULOUS!!!!!!!  Only something God Himself could orchestrate!  The director of IBESR may have thought this was her own idea, but friends, I know that God is the One behind all of this...He is fighting to get this process back in line with His Will.

So, where does that leave us?  What does this temporary shut down do for Nora and our paperwork?  Well, our dossier has been in IBESR since February 13th.  If all works as planned, our dossier should be processed and given dispensation from the President of Haiti before the end of July!  For those of you who aren't familiar with this process at all, you have no idea what kind of a miracle that is for us!  As of late, that part of the process has typically been taking over a year to complete.  One year of time potentially shrunk down to 5 months is HUGE!!!!  Again, I'm not relying on dates or the Haitian process to actually go according to plan, but instead, I am relying on God to continue the work He is doing!  For that, I find myself incredibly hopeful, thankful, and excited this morning.  He cares for the orphan, friends, and He cares for me, and He cares for you!  He is awesome.

What do you find yourself needing to give a Shout of Praise out to the Lord of Lords today?  What good things has He been up to in your own lives?  Just the other morning, He helped me find my keys in a nanosecond when I had no clue where they were and I prayed out loud for His help to find them.  It doesn't have to be a HUGE thing like the movement of an entire nation to send up prayers of can be something as simple as Him helping you find your keys.  The point is, He deserves our prayers of thanksgiving!  The point is, He is moving on our behalf because He loves us something fierce!  The point is, He is worthy of our praise!  Give Him a shout out this morning--a shout out of thankfulness for the way He is moving in your life.  Give Him credit where credit is due.

I could go on and on about all of Jason Gray's music, but wanted to leave you with one of his songs on the album I mentioned earlier.  It is fitting for the topic at hand.  Please take some time to look up his other amazing songs...they are awesome!  Here is a link to his website if you are interested:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Male and Female He Created Them--A Post About "Race"

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them." ~Genesis 1:27

Male and female.  God created male and female.  Not black and white or brown and peach.  Not Asian or African or American or Russian.  Not Haitian or Chinese or Canadian or Mexican.  Male and female....that is what God created us to be.  Period.

The subject of race and skin color has rose to the surface in our lives more so than any time before.  I guess that comes with the territory because Nora has a different skin color than the rest of us Thieszen crew.  Some people think it is wrong to have a mixed-color family.  Some people praise us for adopting without bias of skin color.  Some people keep their mouths shut and who knows what is going on in their head--I'm not sure I want to know.  No matter what, everyone seems to have an opinion whether they keep it to themselves or not.

Last night I had a dream that has left me brewing thoughts about race and skin color all morning.  In the dream, Micah and I had been invited (along with his dad) to a huge church in a big city where they claimed to be inter-cultural and welcoming to all races (even claimed it right on the sign in their courtyard!).  They had invited us to share about our trips to Haiti and about our adoption.  I was excited to go to this church because I wanted to worship side-by-side with other brothers and sisters of different skin colors.  I was eager to hear a mix of all different worship styles and praises to the God of all of us.  However, I was appalled as we opened the doors to this huge, old, Gothic church building.

Inside, we found row after row after row of people separated by a middle aisle.  On one side were white people and on the other side were black people.  Up front were two choirs on opposite sides of the pulpit--one choir white and the other choir black.  There were even two preachers--one black and one white.  Micah's dad began sharing from the pulpit about his several trips to Haiti while Micah and I stood side by side up front getting ready to talk about our own trip and adoption.  I was bloomin' mad up there.  I was infuriated with the misled "advertising" this church was boasting about.  I was sad for the faces of people on both sides of the aisle who never even seemed to look across at one another, let alone worship together.  I leaned over to Micah and whispered, "They better get ready for this one cause I'm not about to talk about our trip or our adoption--I'm about to speak some Truth about their lack of loving each other to these folks!  Get ready, hun, this might get uncomfortable."  The face of dread came over Micah (hee, hee) as he knew what that meant--Angie's getting ready to talk some smack to a congregation of probably 1000 strangers. Oh boy....

Unfortunately, that is how I woke up from the dream...I was about to take my spot at the microphone to tell them what I thought about their idea of an "inter-racial" church, but alas, I was awoken by my sweet Lily's voice saying it was time to pack her lunch.  I still wonder what I would have said and what that congregation's response would have been.  I also still wonder if Micah would have been smiling or crying or running for his life as I talked. : )

Inter-racial church???  Seriously?  Yes, technically, I guess you could say it was one.  There were at least two different races/skin colors within the walls of one church building, so, I guess, it was "technically" an inter-racial church.  But man, oh man, was that misleading!  Having blacks and whites split down the middle was as far away from inter-racial as you can get!  I know this was just a dream, but it made me wonder how much of my dream had a touch of reality to it.  It left me wondering if this is really how the church still functions today.  Maybe the aisle down the middle of the actual, physical church sanctuary isn't there anymore, but do we still have dividing "aisles" in our hearts when it comes to people who are different than us?  I mean, come on, "church" isn't so much about the building or the set up of the sanctuary as it is about the people who attend there, right?!?  Is the church body truly becoming inter-racial in their hearts, or just in the pews? Do we say we are accepting of people who are different than us, but then secretly think we are better or less than them in our thoughts?  Do we give our nod of approval towards cultural differences but then pray "they" never move into our neck of the woods?  Or do we actually embrace Jesus' call for us to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34).  Do we see each other as blessed equals no matter what color of skin the Lord painted on us?  All questions I have been mulling over today as I reflected back on this dream...and hoping for the later!

For myself, I would say I have grown into a person--an individual part of the church body--who can look past a person's skin color and simply see them as the male or female God created them to be, but it has unfortunately been a process throughout my life I wish I never would have had to get through.  Our culture has played a big part in the stereotypes I had been wrongly using growing up.  Thankfully, I have moved onward towards choosing to put our Lord and Savior's viewpoint above the stereotypes of our culture.  Oh how I wish everyone could do the same!  I wish I could guarantee Nora that everyone sees her as a female God created, instead of a black girl from Haiti going to live with a white family in the US.  I wish I could guarantee all my children that everyone sees them as the males and females God created instead of the stereotypes others will place on them throughout their life.  I will continue to pray that God would bless all of my children with a healthy God-view of all people despite the potential for cultural stupidities to effect their thinking.

Did you know skin color is never mentioned as a topic in the Bible?  There is mention of the different languages and nations, but never skin color.  Remarkable.  If it didn't seem to be a subject worth discussing or debating in Scripture, why oh why have we made it such a topic of discussion now?  Why oh why have we allowed skin color to determine what church we attend or what family we belong to?  Why oh why do we say we are a "melting pot" of a nation, but yet still get bug-eyed over a black child coming to live with a white family?

I have to say one of the blessings of this adoption journey for us has been knowing what kind of a local church body we are a part of.  We are blessed to be a part of a body who embraces the males and females God has created us to matter what color of skin we have.  Although there are currently more white skinned males and females than other colors, I have a feeling the changes that have been slowing happening are going to start picking up speed.  Why?  Because my church body is being built up with individuals who don't have an aisle in their heart.  Instead, it is built up by a body of people excited over a "mixed pew" of God's creations.  Even now, for example, we have several inter-racial families being developed due to adoptions.  I get all giddy just thinking of the ways this will bring a better representation of the rainbow of God's creation to our local body.  I am thankful my church is not (and prayerfully will not be) the church in my dream...especially as we look ahead to when Nora will be toddling down the halls there.  As we look towards being the Thieszen family--a family where there is no center aisle--there is much peace in our hearts knowing we will have a church body exemplifying the same values. We will all sit mixed together in one big family...a grand mix of males and females God created to be woven together!  It is my hope and prayer you and your church are finding yourselves not so much like the church of my dream and much more like the church I am a part of!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

What can I say, friends....we are blessed!  Blessed to have had a very successful fundraiser meal today surrounded by incredibly supportive and loving friends and family.  It was hard work beautifully paid off.

Thank you to all who came out to support us and Nora today.  Thank you for eating and having fellowship with one another.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for your financial donations.  You are all amazing and we are smiling ear to ear at what God is doing to care for the orphan...specifically "our" orphan, Nora.   As you can see with the fundraiser goal thermometer on the right-hand column, we have now come even closer to our overall goal amount which is such a huge blessing.

I can not talk about our meal without also thanking all of the volunteers who helped make it happen.  Thanks to Abbe Votaw for helping me shop for some of the food.  Thanks to my parents for keeping care of our children so we could focus on the task at hand this weekend.  Thanks to my neighbor, Holly Beachy, and Becky Latta (my mom) for helping get food ready on Saturday.  Thanks to Deb Graber and Linda Miller who were at the church bright and early this morning to chop 40 lbs of tomatoes and get the rest of final touches ready.  Thanks to the youth who helped serve. Thanks for all the other adult volunteers who helped serve in the line and get all the techy stuff running.  Thanks to Sharon Yoder, Linda Miller, Danny Miller, Kris Miller, and Jerry Latta (my dad), for staying extra long cleaning up the aftermath with us.  Finally, thanks to my hubby who had to put up with me counting out food quantities and volunteers for the last month, shopping for all the fixings to feed 450 people, and for all your help today.  You are each amazing!

While eating, many of you may have seen the slideshow running of pictures of our sweet little lady, but you wouldn't have heard the music, so enjoy the slideshow one more time with a beautiful song.  This song was written and sung by another father currently in their own adoption process.  All proceeds from the sale of his song on ITunes go towards their own adoption.  What an awesome way to use his giftings to help bring his own daughter home!  If you love the song, please help them out by purchasing the song for yourself on ITunes ("Ellie's Song" by Gregg Gober).

We will continue to keep you updated on here as we get any news from Haiti.  We are truly praying for God's will to reign...we know He wants Nora home as fast as we do!  Blessings to you all, and again...our many, many thanks for all you are doing to support us in this journey!