Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is the Tower Calling Lily & Quinn...

All of the kids love it when their Daddy flies them into their beds at night.  The routine begins with them lying face-down on the ground with their arms outstretched like airplane wings.  Micah calls to them through his cupped hands, "This is the tower calling Lily (or whoever it is getting their flight to bed).  Are you ready for take off?"  Our children have then been taught to answer "10-4!"  Micah then calls out, "This is the tower calling Lily.  You are clear for take off."  With those words, he lifts them off the ground in his arms, flies their little bodies around the bedroom a few times with swoops and turbulence included and eventually lands them in their beds.  I love hearing the sound of his voice make airplane noises while the kids giggle.

They truly love airplanes.  What helps, I'm sure, is the fact we live right across the road from Goshen's airport and we get the pleasure of seeing planes take off and land every day.  When we first moved in, we would spend the entire afternoon in our back yard just watching all the action.  Now, we aren't necessarily out there with every plane, but when we hear a larger jet revving his engine, we still run to the door or window to watch him take off.  There is just something about leaving the ground and flying in the sky that is awesome.

Last night, instead of our children's typical flight into their beds, they got the privilege of an invite by a friend of ours from church who happens to be a pilot.  Donny called yesterday morning and asked if the kids would want to go up in his plane with him around 7 p.m....are you kidding me????  Of course they would want to!  Side note:7 p.m. is a lllloooonnnngggg time from an 8:30 a.m. phone call to a child.  I was asked countless times throughout the day, "How many more hours before 7 p.m, Mom?"  : )

Lily was beaming ear to ear when I told her Donny called to see if she wanted to fly with him.  Toby, on the other hand, admittedly said from the beginning he'd rather not get into the plane.  (He's going through a hard phase of nervousness around people and circumstances he's not familiar with).  Quinn began crying and crying when I said it was probably just for the older kids..."But, Mom!!!!  I want to go in the plane!!!" Quinn screamed through his tears.  There was no doubt in my mind he was being completely honest--that boy has no fear and such an adventurous spirit.

Finally, we headed across the road last evening to meet Donny and his wife, Mary, at the airport.

After Donny showed all of us some of the parts of the plane, Lily excitedly got up in the seat to get strapped in.

She began a nervous little giggle as her headset was put on...she was so happy!

They taxied down the runway and with that, they were off in the air!

My 6 year old daughter had taken off on her very first airplane ride...what an awesome moment for her.  We gave her a camera to take photos and videos of her first ride so you can enjoy some of her ride from her perspective...

As soon as she had landed and taxied back to where we were all gathered, she said her favorite part of the flight was being allowed to steer the plane all by herself!  Can you even believe it--not too many 6 year olds can say they flew a plane already!  They flew up to 1500 feet in the air at 150 mph.

After our talks with Lily, Quinn began again with is pleas to go on a plane ride...he REALLY wanted to go.  Donny said that was fine by him if it was okay with us, so up he went into the plane!

I can't even believe it--my little 2 1/2 year old boy just boarded a plane without his parents and flew up into the blue evening sky.  What fun!  Donny said he didn't say a peep on his flight, but when he came back down he told us all he loved it!  I wonder if we have a future pilot in the making...

Toby thoroughly enjoyed watching them take off and land in the company of his parents, Mary, our other pilot friend from church, Gordon, and his daughter, Ali.  He commented as he left, "Maybe some day when I'm older I'll do that, Mom."  That was perfectly fine with us.  He'll do it when he's ready.  Until then, THANK YOU DONNY, for the incredible experience for two of my little kiddos...they loved every minute of it!!!

I was so thankful Lily loved her experience!  We just got everything sent in for her passport this past week so hopefully, Lord willing, this was just the first of a few flights she will get to experience this year.  The next one will be a much larger plane, however....a jet headed to Haiti.  Lily is more than ready to meet this little sister she is getting and we think it will be great for Nora to meet at least one of her siblings too.  Now, we just have to keep praying all will continue quickly in our process for that trip to be very, very soon!  (*No other word from Haiti since I posted last, so we are praying and believing that no news is good news!  Keep praying with us that Nora would be protected and loving life at the orphanage until we can get her to our arms).

Here are a few short videos from the big evening at the airport...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Was Wrong...An Adoption Correction

Sometimes it is hard for people to admit they were/are wrong.  I am one of those people--my enduring husband is probably the one who could attest to that the most, unfortunately.  However, I feel as if I am learning s.l.o.w.l.y. to admit my faults, seek forgiveness, and move on from them.  In my previous post (read it here), I wrote something that God has spent much of yesterday and this morning lovingly telling me I was wrong about.

In that post, I said, "Nora is the priority here, friends.  Not Micah and Angie, not her birth parents, not a Haitian government or a US home.  Not anything but Nora."

Well, that was wrong.  As much as my Mama heart wants this to be all about Nora, it just isn't.  This adoption is not about Micah and Angie, not about Nora's birth parents, not about a Haitian government, not about a US home AND it is also not about Nora.  Instead, this is about the Lord of Lords writing a story that none of us could even fathom.  It is about our Holy God writing a story of redemption, love, forgiveness, blessing, and life for EVERYONE He created.  Yes, Nora, is one of those children.  I am one of those children.  You are one of those children.  But, so is Nora's birth father.

Out of my frustration with Nora's birth father recently coming around the orphanage to try to take her back with him, I instantly began to resent him.  It happened that fast.  Resentment, friends, is not something that sits well for too long before God begins to convict.  I woke up yesterday feeling like my 90% peace I talked about was being swallowed by my 10% fear.  I felt the beginning feelings of completely losing Nora and it made me choke.  My stomach was in knots.  What would I do without her?  How would I move on from this if he really did take her back?   What if our adoption of who we have so believed and trusted God to be our daughter ended?  Ugh.  I sat in a despairing moment just feeling sick.  I knew I needed to get back to the peace God had given me earlier because all those thoughts were not Truth...they were "what if's".  The problem was I just didn't know how to stop thinking them.  I silently spoke a prayer to God that I never really put much thought into.  It went something like, "God, I'm scared and I don't know what is driving me further and further from Your Peace and into my worst fears, but it's happening and I don't know what to do about it or how to stop it."

Sometimes His answers to prayer come so quickly you wonder if you thought of it yourself, but then you realize you could not possibly have come up with that response yourself because it was nothing you were remotely close to thinking about.  This was one of those moments.

As soon as that prayer was uttered in my brain, the answer came, "Angie, this is not about Nora.  This is about Me wanting to meet the needs of my children.  Nora's birth father is also one of my children.  Pray only for his needs today.  Praying for him will bring back My peace.  You can do nothing right now to guarantee she will stay at the orphanage, but you can pray for her birth father and those prayers may just allow her to stay.  Praying for Him is what I want from you today"

Okay.  Right.  Pray for the man I'm pretty much ticked off at right now.  Yep, that seems completely Biblical, totally something God would want me to do, and the last thing I would think of--that answer to prayer had to have come from Him! : )  Instantly, friends, my heart changed from something cold and hard towards him to one of compassion and sympathy.  I was wrong.  This is not ALL about Nora.  God was right.  This is ALL about God speaking to the hearts of ALL His children.

So, I spent the better part of yesterday here and there in prayer for God to come to Nora's birth father in a very real and tangible way and meet whatever need it is he has.  You see, I really believe that he is trying to use Nora as leverage to get Nora's birth mom back into his life to meet his needs.  This is an elderly man who has a tiny plot of farm land and nothing else.  Nora's birth mom was meeting almost all of his daily needs.  She was helping him on the farm, she was cooking for him, she was cleaning their little home, she was giving him companionship.  And then she left.  I do not know the reason she left.  I do not need to know it.  The point is, all of the needs being fulfilled by her presence are now gone and he is desperate for something or someone to meet those needs.  This is where I believe he is wrongfully entering Nora back into the picture.  Nora is the one thing that ties him to her birth mom.  Of course he would think to use her to try to get his "need-meeter" back.  He is desperate.  But this is not Nora's job.  This is not Nora's role (nor do I really think it is her birth mom's either).  This is not what God has made Nora for...she was not meant to meet his needs or bring someone else back to meet them.  This is rightfully and only God's job, God's role, God's desire...God is the One and only One who can meet this man's needs completely.

I feel I have such a clear picture of why God is allowing this little side story (although I also think it is obvious I have no idea what the mind and plan of God truly is).  God is not only going to meet Nora's needs by giving her a family who will love her and protect her (us), but He is also going to meet her birth father's needs by giving him whatever it is he needs too....whatever it is he TRULY needs.  I do not know what that is, but I am praying to a God who does know and can fulfill them instantly.  I believe in faith that as God is asked to meet those needs in this man's heart and life (even if it is not directly from him, but through me instead), her birth father will also release Nora to be free for what God has intended for her life too.  It's a win, win, win for all of us and through it all God will once again get the glory.

So, friends, please forgive me for my short-sightedness.  Forgive me for thinking this was all about Nora.  Forgive me for being wrong.  Let me be the first to remind myself (and perhaps all of us) that this is all about God's glory...God's Kingdom coming in flesh and blood to this earth to save the lost and bring us all into His Home forever.

Lord Jesus, come.  Come and meet this precious man's needs in Your Son's Name.  I pray this verse for him today, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Phil. 4:19-20)  He is just as important in Your eyes as Nora is.  Thank You for reminding me of this Truth today.  I also pray that same verse for Nora and for myself.  Will You come, Lord Jesus, and meet all of our needs--even those we do not know we even have.  Amen.

I love how God uses Scriptures over and over in a storyline, but the meaning changes or maybe I should say "deepens" from one moment to the next.  Take a look at the Scripture He brought to my heart for Micah's original mission trip to Haiti, which then became an important Scripture as we began this adoption process (read our start to this process here), and now has an even deeper meaning attached to it in light of what God asked me to be praying for.  He is so cool like that! 
2 Corinthians 8:10-15
“And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

So, for this moment, this day, the peace the Lord has given is back.  If it seems to be dwindling again later, I will now know what to pray--"God, what do You want me to pray for?"  Until that moment, however, I will bask once again in that peace, and trust Him to be doing a work far greater than I could ever imagine.


I'll be packing up these adorable little shoes I bought for my daughter, Nora, and sending them down with some friends heading to Haiti in a few more weeks.  I kissed them and prayed over them before putting them in the package..."God, may You protect these precious tiny feet and bring them into my arms as soon as miraculously possible.  You know I love her so much."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And The War Continues...A Call for Prayer

This might just be the hardest post for me to wrap my brain around how to write.  Even figuring out the proper title has had me baffled.  There are so many directions I could go with it....
  • Nora Is Not A Pawn
  • Prayers Needed
  • What You Never Want to Hear In An Adoption
  • Claiming Peace Instead of Freaking Out
  • I Want To Be On A Plane
But, in the end, I settled on "And The War Continues...A Call for Prayer" because ultimately that is what this all brings me back to, friends...adoption is a war in the Spiritual Realms and I have decided to keep on fighting.

The low down is that I sent our director, Rachel, an email a few days ago asking for any prayer requests she might have because I'm getting itchy to go see Nora and there is not much I can do about it right now.  I thought if I could spend my time praying for Rivers of Hope and Rachel's needs then at least I would feel a great connection to what all is happening around Nora and be praying for it all.  Last night I got a response from her.  There is so much to take in when reading this email that I thought it best to just copy and paste it right here for you all to read.  There is no doubt this will bring up the reason for this blog post and request for prayer when reading it...I will address the issues after you are done reading it, but for now, I will allow you to read this and get a sense of your own first reaction just as I had to do last night.

Dear Angie
I really realize that I didn't answer, maybe I was thinking about the needs but forgot to write them down.

First, I had a one year old baby at the hospital for ten days,  she had a general infection, she almost died, now I have another one year old boy right now at the hospital, he  has malnutrition and diarrhea, he just came to the orphanage. And one here with me with also malnutrition. The parents didn't even sign the relinquishment for ROH yet and they are already at the hospital. I pray that they feel much better and recover very quick.

Second, I am working now with AGCI who ask me to open a new branche at Laboule 15 not too far from Thomssin 32,. They would like me to  fill the house with children and I have only those 3 children. I pray that God will open doors to have lots of children at Laboule 15.

I also need somebody to help me as a secretaire. I have so many things to do and I am alone doing them. I pray that God will send me the right person

Last week Nora's father came to tell me that Nora's mother left him and went back to her parents. He wanted to take Nora with him.( I think it's a way to make her come back), when I talked to Nora's mother, she said there is no way that he will take her. He said he doesn't want to wait until she is 18 years old to see her again. I told him that you will come very often because of the help you giving to MTM. I hope it's true. I pray that Nora will stay with me until she leaves to the States in Jesus 's name, AMEN

That's what I need for the moment, if I have other requests, I will let you know.
Thank you so much for helping me that way, I feel like a burden leaving me already.
Lots of blessings to you and your family

Breathe.  Yep.  Breathe.

First of all, I want to address the top portions of this email and then I will get to the "Nora issue" which is really what made me have to remember to breathe again.  I have to say I am continually thankful for being led to an orphanage and specifically to a director like Rachel who puts her everything into making the lives of these children all they were meant to be.  There are several things that get under my skin a bit about the communication issues I have had with the orphanage in general, but all of that is dull in comparison to the overwhelming gratitude I have for her heart.  She loves God and she loves these children.  She will do anything for them and I am a grateful mom on the other end of one of those children.

I don't know about you, but I was completely overwhelmed with the hints of frustration, desperation, and restlessness in her cries for help.  Her prayers for health for these children who are literally close to death, for more children to come who need families, and for a HUGELY needed secretary to help her handle everything on her plate...woah.  I get worked up just thinking about taking care of one child in a hospital for 10 days let alone doing that while all of the other things are going on around me as well.  This is one woman, friends, trying to do the work of many.  Of course she needs some prayer!  I spent a good portion of time last night after my children were in bed journaling and praying for Rachel, for the children at ROH, and for everyone under their care...including all of our adoption processes.  It was a prayer time where I felt myself go from deep concern and desperation to a sense of complete restoration and peace.  It was beautiful.

The summary of my many prayers would be this: That Satan would be banished from that place because he has no right, no authority, and no privilege to be there and that God's Authority, God's Peace, God's Love and God's Protection would be restored in Jesus' Name.  As I prayed those words, a tremendous feeling of peace came over myself.  I just know that God's Peace and Protection has been restored to Rachel, ROH, and everything under it's care.  I prayed for God to completely surround ROH and this new addition in Laboule as well as the hearts of all who reside and work there with His angels.  I prayed for those Holy and Awesome Angels to been seen in the Spiritual Realms brightly and distinctly.  That their presence alone would make any and all evil who even dared to approach that place run as fast as they could in the opposite direction.  That God's Presence would be KNOWN to all who come there and be seen as the Authority it rightfully is.
THIS IS WAR, friends, and I, as well as Rachel and all of these children and the adoptive families they represent, am thankfully on the side of the VICTOR!  Satan can not try his evil schemes to cause sickness, death, and destruction on those grounds...he has no right to do it.  For some reason I just felt that Truth needed to be reclaimed again last night in order to protect what all God is doing there.  Restoration was severely needed!  Please, please, please join me in praying for all the requests Rachel as spoken above.  She is not alone in this fight and I truly want her to feel that in the core of her being--we are a body of believers for a reason.  A body of warriors for a reason.

And now for Nora.  Obviously, when I sent a prayer request email to Rachel, I did not expect in the least to find out this news about Nora.  It came out of the blue and completely took me by surprise.  I felt an even 50/50 of emotion as I finished the email...50% fear, worry, and dread and 50% peace and complete trust in a God who has brought us this far.  By the end of the night my 50% of peace and trust had pretty much engulfed my 50% of fear and worry.  I would say now it is a good 90% peace and 10% fear.  Let me explain how that plays out...
90% peace and trust:
First and foremost, God has called us to this adoption.  This has never been an idea that originated with us.  If He has called us to this, He will see it to completion.  I 100% trust Him in that.  Everything throughout our adoption has been such a huge blessing and confirmation that God has this thing under His control.  He has brought us Nora, He has made a way for things to go through quickly (in Haitian standards) so far, and I have no doubt that He will not also deliver our little girl into our arms at the end of it all.  However, even with all of this unquestionable faith and belief in my heart, it does not mean I can simply sit back and watch it all unfold before me....I have to continue to fight for her.

Nora is the priority here, friends.  Not Micah and Angie, not her birth parents,  Not a Haitian government or a US home.  Not anything but Nora.  She is a precious child in the sight of God and I am fighting for her to have all of the abundant life God has meant for her to have.  I am humbled at the thought of our family being the best "plan B" God could think of for her.  What an honor, what a privilege, what a blessing.  Who are we that He is mindful of us (Ps. 8:3-5)?  Who are we to be blessed by Nora's presence in our family line?  I am so thankful today for even being chosen by God to give another child a Mama she needs...and I'm believing in faith that we are the ones God has chosen for Nora and Nora is the one He has chosen for us.  It is with this faith that we walk forward in this adoption in full confidence that God is right here with us.  Until we know anything different, Nora is our daughter, we are her parents, and we will fight with everything we have to get her home in our arms as soon as miraculously possible.  Remember...this is a war!

10% fear:
We are still human.  I am still human.  I will not lie and say my heart didn't jump out of my chest at the words, "He wanted to take Nora with him".  Those are the words no person in an adoption process ever wants to hear.  I will not be completely be at peace in this process until it is a done deal and we have cleared immigration on the US soil.  Until then, I have to literally CHOOSE to put my 10% fear under the 90% peace daily or I could easily be overwhelmed with "what if's" and unnecessary worries.  The fact is, Nora's birth parents have every right to still take Nora back into their care.  I pray for that to not happen...for Nora's sake.  They gave her up for adoption for a reason.  Out of a love for her to have a better life than what they can give her.  That reason has not changed for the better, in fact, according to this email, it just got worse.  Not only are these two people completely broken under poverty, they are also now separated.  Taking her back into those conditions out of a selfish desire is completely wrong in my book.  She would have no siblings, no consistent co-parent family life, no chance at a whole and loving family under one roof and probably not even enough food to feed her growing body.  I fear for her and for the life of a safe, secure, and loving home being potentially taken away from her based on a selfish need of a father.  I do not know his true meaning behind his desire to take Nora back home with him.  It could be that he loves her and wants her to be with him, but it could also be (as Rachel indicates) a ploy to get her mother to come back to him and take care of him.  (If you remember, he is somewhere around his 70's while she is in her late teens to early 20's).  To all of this potential, I want to scream, "NORA IS NOT A PAWN!!!!!!!  Do not use her to put a band-aid on your own issues.  She deserves much. better."

Oh brother, it is so very easy to let 10% creep up and up and up the scale until you are completely thinking about it more than the 90% peace God has also given.  When Micah got home last night I sat on the back porch discussing all of these things and more with him.  I exclaimed I would love to just jump on a plane tomorrow and go talk to Nora's birth father face to face to let him know our intentions are to never remove her completely from his life (nor her mother's) and never let her know they exist.  We do have full intentions of bringing her back to Haiti when she is old enough to remember the trip and understand the whole situation better.  We would love for her to meet them again one day and show God's love to them as best we can.  I would love to know if I flew down there tomorrow and told him this face-to-face, that it would guarantee our adoption to be 100% guaranteed, but I know I can never have that guarantee.  I have sent an email back to Rachel explaining some things we have thought of to help ease his mind, but beyond that we just don't think anything WE do will guarantee anything at this point.  This is where our 10% fear has to be given over and let go of to the overwhelming 90% peace.  This is where we have to, once again, run into the arms of Jesus instead of into a plane heading to Haiti.  We have to continue to trust that God is advocating for us and especially for Nora while we are separated.  That we can trust in Him to work out any and all details...the good, the bad, and the ugly details of every step along the way.  We have to trust His Goodness and His Control.  This is beyond us now...just as it was in the beginning...and just as it will be in the end.  It is ALL for His glory.

At the end of my prayer time I thought of the song "Forever Reigns".  I hope it will encourage you as it did me.  He is the Light of the World and even when things are not going quite as we expected, we can still trust in His Goodness because He is Good.  He is Love.  He is Light.  He is Hope.  He is Peace.  He is True.  He is Joy.  He is Life.  He is More.  He is Lord.  He is Here.  He is God!

P.S.  A cool side note:  Lately, God has been bringing so many different hawks to our yard this past week or two.  It's been very odd.  I posted about the neighborhood hawk on here and then about the other little guy who came.  Well, we have had at least one hawk on our swing set or somewhere in our yard every day since.  I have been curious to know what all God wanted me to learn from these hawk sightings as they were so unusual.  I just knew He was telling me something through them but I couldn't figure it out for the life of me.  Friends posted about the Native American meanings behind hawks being messengers, wisdom, protectors, visionaries, truth, etc.  As much as I appreciate the Native American culture and tradition, I was not comfortable taking their beliefs as Truth for myself--I wanted God to speak to my heart of hearts on this one.  Well, He did just that.

As I got that email from Rachel and had prayed and journalled, I saw the hawk had come back to the backyard again around 9:30-10 p.m.  I went out on the patio and just sat and watched him (while video tapping).  Low and behold I finally found out what he has been up to.  Our yard and trees have been infested and attacked by June Bugs.  I hate them.  We have put nets around our newly planted trees because they will eat them literally gone if we don't.  Well, our new little hawk friend was pouncing on these nasty bugs and eating them as they came up from the ground.  For a moment I thought, "Really?  I mean, really God?  Is that it?  That is the reason these hawks have been in our yard--to eat bugs?  I guess I was just expecting it to be something a bit more profound."

However, thanks to my friend, Shay, who commented on my facebook post about the ordeal, I have found that it was indeed a profound message from the Lord indeed.  Shay said, "It IS a God thing- He's giving you a natural pesticide :) He truly does care about us right down to the tiniest details of life :)"  Well, yes, Shay, you are right and I needed to hear that Truth in a way I never even dreamed of that night.  If God can care about the tiniest detail of sending a hawk to eat the bugs that are destroying our landscaping and trees then surely He will care for Nora in our absence as well.  God sent those hawks as an ever present reminder that He is with me, He is with Nora, and He cares about all the details of our lives.  It was refreshing and encouraging and everything my 10% fear needed to hear to remember the 90% peace instead.  The icing on the cake is that the little hawk who typically has only been coming in the evenings has been perched up on our swing set throughout this entire day.  I love the heart of the Lord knowing that on a day like today I would need that reminder to be constant.

Keep praying, friends, for Nora, for us, for her birth parents, for Rachel as she mediates for us, and for this adoption to continue on in miraculously quick time.  We need more than ever to get this little sweet spirit into our family!  The War continues...and we will pray our way to victory with Jesus on our side.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

From Stranger To Friend & Other Fun Photos

Do you remember this photo???  It came from this post--"I Knew It Would Happen".

This is IS Henwood...isn't she just the sweetest little thing!?!  She was the first "stranger" I saw holding Nora in a photo after our trip to meet her.  I talk in that post about how I knew getting a picture of a stranger holding Nora would come one day, but that it still wasn't easy because I just wanted to be the one holding her instead.  It is an ongoing challenge in this adoption--getting so many wonderful photos of Nora being loved on by others is AMAZING, but it is hard in the same breath because I still long for it to be me holding her instead of whoever is captured in the photo.  It is hard knowing others are getting to hold her more than her own Mama. I think I've counted at least 30 photos now of other people holding my daughter.  I'm not sure if I have that many photos of others holding any of my other children...especially people I don't really know.

Anyway, yesterday I got another photo of Miss IS and Nora, as well as her mommy, Whitney also holding Nora...

IS and Whitney started as strangers back in January, but now in June I am blessed to call them friends I've never met.  God brought Whitney and her family to Haiti for amazing things...little did I know at that point my little girl would be a part of their mission there.  Whitney is a NICU nurse and she has been going weekly to the orphanage to check in on the kids' health as well as bring her own adorable brood for play time and loving on the kids there.  IS has taken a liking to Nora and I just love seeing the two of them together.  I have a feeling the kids at the orphanage are really going to miss this family when they move back to the States next month.  One thing I know for sure is that I am DEFINITELY going to miss this family when they move back to the States next month.

Whitney's love, care, concern, photos, and medical experience for our little ones at Rivers of Hope has been nothing short of a God-send.  I can not thank her enough.  If you have a chance, hop on over to their families' blog to see what all they have been up to in Haiti--"Henwoods in Haiti".

A few other more random things...

1. Today I changed the look of my blog.  Hope you like the new colors--sometimes I've just got to change it up a bit, ya know!?!

2. I really enjoyed our trip to the airport with my handsome hubs and three of my four kiddos this morning.  It was fun to see so many different helicopters (well over 30), old cars, a fire truck, ambulance, and several airplanes at their "Rotors and Ribs" fly in.  Also super fun that it was free and right across the road from our house! : )
 (United States Army Huey)

(Coast Guard rescue demonstration)

3. I loved the way my day ended...remember my recent post about our neighborhood hawk?  You can read it here if you missed it.  If you did read it, do you remember how he was getting "attacked" by the little sparrow?  Well, guess who we found on our very own swing set tonight getting dive bombed by other birds???  Nope, not the big hawk, but instead, this absolutely adorable mini version!  Yep, this sweet little sparrow hawk had landed about 10 feet or so from our back door on the top of our swing set!  We got to enjoy watching him sit completely still just like his larger friend while the birds continued to try to attack him (thankfully, they just swooped really close to him, but never hit him).  It was so cool!  He even flew down to the yard right in front of our door and caught a worm...I guess his prey is smaller just like him! : )

 (Here is a shot of those other birds trying to get him to move on...
he just sat as still as could be.)

(Cleaning his toes)

(I about can't stand how cute this little guy was!!!)

4. It's Father's Day weekend--Happy Father's Day to my amazing hubby, Micah, for being the best dad I could have ever dreamed of for my children.  Happy Father's Day to my amazing dad, Jerry, for being a wonderful dad to me over the years...and for being such a wonderful grand-dad to my kiddos.  I love you both very much and I'm blessed to have you both in my life!  Also, a Happy Father's Day to my father-in-law, Erland!  You welcomed me into the Thieszen family almost 10 years ago and I have been blessed ever since.  Thank you for your constant prayers for our family over the years and for loving on your newest granddaughter down in Haiti--I can't wait for you to see her again next month!!!!

(Micah leading Lily & 12 of Lily's friends through Princess Trivia at her 6th b-day party.)

(Micah reading Narnia to the kids as they got ready for their indoor camp-out)

(My dad holding Lily at a recent wedding.)

(Erland holding Nora on his trip to Haiti this past December.
He was the first family member to hold her!)

Friday, June 15, 2012

This is the Day--An Adoption Update!!!!

THIS IS THE DAY, friends....I believe it with all my heart....THIS IS THE DAY!

It's always a wonderful feeling to be able to post an adoption update...especially when what follows is NOT that we don't know anything different than what we have been posting, but instead that we have news of PROGRESS!!!!!

This past Saturday we got an email from our orphanage director saying...
"About your dossier, I have contact in the Ministry of Justice and I know that IBESR has finished studying it and just sent it to dispense, anyway let's pray that it will not take long."
This is wonderful news!!!!  Any movement in the right direction is worth celebrating!  We are now at the President's office where our file will sit waiting for his approval on our adoption.  This step is necessary because we technically do not meet Haiti's qualifications to adopt.  These qualifications are based on a law that was put in place in the 70's.  It is old and outdated so many people still can get past it with a Presidental dispensation of the law.  We have actually never heard of anyone not being given this dispensation, but sometimes that signature can take over a year or more to receive.  It can also come very quickly--some have received it within 2 weeks of being placed on his desk.  As with everything in Haiti, there is no rhyme or reason to the's completely random...or is it???
To some extent, it is random, but to those of us on the opposite side of the water, we have to believe we are praying to a God who can put absolute randomness on the back burner and miraculously move our paperwork to the top of the pile even today.  Through His Power anything can happen!  We continue to pray for His Will to be done and believe in our heart of hearts that having Nora home in our arms and surrounded by our love HAS to be His Will.

This is where I get excited--to be able to pray and watch the Lord at work is such a privilege!!!  It is humbling and honoring to be a person who can give such an amazing testimony of God's provision!  I can do nothing else at this point in the adoption process except pray for God's Will to have full protection and reign...and you better believe I am doing just that!  Even last night, in the middle of the night, I woke up feeling an incredible urgency to pray for our file to be seen by the President TODAY and to thank God for what He is doing for Nora.  The phrase "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it" was the first thing that came to my wearily awake mind in the middle of the night.  The childhood song came flooding back and I found myself singing it in my head as I lay in the stillness.  I had no idea why God woke me up with this song or these thoughts, but I had to believe there was a reason.  When I woke up this morning I realized I didn't know if that phrase was actual Scripture or if it was just a Christian line from a cute song so I decided I would look it up.

This is what I found...
Psalm 118:23-25
"the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.  Lord, save us!  Lord, grant us success!"
Oh, Hallelujah!!!!  My heart of hearts is praying these verses boldly and confidently THIS DAY.  That God would have woke me in the middle of the night to pray boldly that our file for Nora would be signed by the President's office THIS VERY DAY because, and ONLY because, The LORD has done this!  I am choosing to rejoice and be glad today for the success the Lord will be giving us today.  Please join me today in praying for this very same thing--that no matter what happens in Haiti today, the Lord's will to have our paperwork to receive dispensation today would be protected from any and all evil and that He would get the glory for this miracle.

And now for the icing on the cake...the way the LORD makes Himself known to me in such amazingly powerful ways...I wanted to find a YouTube video of this childhood song for you all to listen to at the end of this post.  Oh, I'm in so many tears as I type this.  Do you know how GOOD our God is???  I typed in the YouTube search engine:"This is the day the Lord has made children's song" and guess what popped up at the top of the list--get ready for it--are You even serious, God???--"Haitian Childrens Chrous at the House of Hope: This is the day the Lord has made!"

Only God can pull this together....


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lessons from the Neighborhood Hawk

The early morning sun was shining on half of our neighborhood, the birds were busy with their morning rituals, and I was setting out for an early morning walk while the rest of my crew were still sleeping.  These are the mornings I love...peaceful, quiet, healthy.  Time to listen to some songs of worship through my earphones as I reflect on life, God's goodness, and how I'm recognizing the two being intermixed more and more each day.  It's just...well...nice.

This particular Saturday morning, I was three quarters of the way around my subdivision in a cul-de-sac when out of the corner of my eye our neighborhood hawk took off from an empty lot sign and flew across to one of our neighboring houses.  I had no idea he was even there!  He was probably just 5-10 feet from me and I never even saw him.  Darn...I was so close and never even knew it!

This beautiful hawk flies throughout our subdivision all year round.  I do not know where his home is.  Our subdivision is fairly new so there are no trees big enough to house a hawk, but there are some neighboring fields around with some much larger trees, so I assume he comes to visit us from there.  He likes to fly around looking for food and occasionally lands himself on one of the houses or lot signs for a break.  I've even seen him perched up on our neighbor's playset once.  I love watching him swoop and glide and claim the air space for himself.

That morning, I got to watch a little episode with this hawk that left my mind dwelling on him for quite some time.  Did you know God can talk through a neighborhood hawk?  Well, He can if you are willing to take the moment to listen.  When I came back around the subdivision to the house the hawk had flown to, I noticed he was perched on the top corner where he regularly likes to sit.  As I drew closer, however, I noticed he was not alone.  Right behind him on the roof sat a smaller bird--I believe a sparrow or some other little bird that size.  That little bird was hopping along the roof peak towards the hawk like there was nothing there multiple times his size.  I kept wondering if he knew what he was doing...I mean, if I was the size of a sparrow and there was a hawk a few feet away from me, I would probably hop the opposite direction, wouldn't you???  Anyway, I stopped long enough to watch this little bird finally get so close to the hawk he was literally right behind him.  All of a sudden that little bird just flew a few inches into the air and pounced on the back of the hawk.  What!?!  I couldn't believe it--he just kept doing it--hop up, pounce on the hawk, land on the roof again...hop, peck, land...hop, pounce, land again.  It was crazy!

You would think that hawk would have turned around and gave that little bird a piece of his mind, but no, no, no...not this hawk.  This neighborhood friend of mine stood his ground in complete and utter stillness.  I'm pretty sure he never even blinked.  He just sat there staring out into the open field with absolutely no regard to the pestering nuisance behind him.  Finally, the little bird just gave up and flew away while the hawk remained completely motionless, still fixated on what he was watching for...his next meal, I suppose.  I walked on past him to my own house to grab my camera.  I was in awe of this strong, stoic, calm presence and wanted to capture his image to remember that moment.  When I got close enough on the other side of the house to zoom in for a good picture, I clicked the camera once, twice, and then stepped one step closer to try to get him to turn his head for a better shot of his face.  When my foot hit the pavement he swooped his head around towards my direction and flew off towards the big trees on the opposite side of the neighborhood faster than I could click the camera button a third time.  I guess I, unlike the little sparrow, was big enough to make him move.

(The neighboring farm house tree he flew to.  Can you see him?)

Typically an incident like this one would bring up a lot of different thoughts in my mind and then somehow God would help me to weed through it all until one "light bulb moment" was left to take away.  On this occasion, however, I have found myself completely unable to think of this in one singular direction.  It's like God is saying, "There are so many different ways to look at this and I want you to glean something from each".  So, without further ado, I will share my five lessons I have gleaned from the neighborhood hawk incident...all different from each other, but all very good for me to hear...maybe at least one will resonate with where you find yourself today too.  I have also listed several Scriptures that God spoke to my heart when further contemplating these "lessons".

1.  God is the hawk and Satan is the little bird.  God is bigger.  God's feathers will never get ruffled by Satan.  Satan will never win a battle against God.  He can not even make God flinch.  God has won this war for all eternity because He is BIGGER, so instead of battling God, that little bird (Satan) has moved away from Him.  He knows he is simply too weak, too small, too defeated.  Unfortunately, just as that little bird finally moved onward away from the hawk, I'm pretty sure he still went looking for something else to dominate over, eat, or bother at least. And so it is the same with Satan.  When he knew he could no longer win the victory against God, he flew on to smaller prey.  What will his little prey be today?  It could very easily be me.  It could be you.  It could be neither of us if we acknowledge that the Big Hawk has our back and we can stand up to that stupid little bird instead of letting him peck all he wants to at our backs.

"Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
~ Matthew 16:23

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
~ I Peter 5:8-9

"I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself."
~ Psalm 89:1-2
2.  Another thought...God wants me to be like this hawk when it comes to the lies, distractions, and evil intentions of Satan.  So many times I fail to recognize how little Satan and his schemes are in comparison to who God is and who I am with Jesus on my side.  I often consider myself weak, scared, unimportant, and unable to be the victor.  I view myself as a sparrow the same size as Satan instead of the bigger bird--the hawk--God has made me to be.  Satan is that little bird always attempting to peck and pounce on my true identity in Christ from the back...but not so much my literal back, but instead, the back of my mind.  If I'm honest, his lies are never really at the forefront of my thoughts...they come from behind--unknowingly slipping in and attacking when I least expect them.  Too easily my focus can shift off of what God wants me to be focused on and turn towards what Satan is doing behind me...even if it seems like a small little thing.  God said to me on Saturday, "Angie, I view you as this hawk.  You are strong, secure, esteemed, and BIGGER than Satan's feeble attempts to ruffle your feathers.  Do not even give him a glance when you know he is there bothering you.  Stay completely focused on what you know you should be doing--what you are meant to be doing--and eventually he will give up and move on because he will know he can not win against you, just like he can not win against Me.."
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. "
 ~ I Corinthians 15:58

 "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
 ~ Ephesians 6: 13-16

3.  Another thought...In the past, I tended to view God like that hawk and I like the little sparrow.  Sometimes God seemed too big for me to "bother".  Sometimes I seemed too small to even approach Him.  Sometimes I wondered if I even had a chance at moving the God who sits on His Holy "Perch".  When I did approach God, I tended to approach him from the back...hesitant...afraid...cowardly.  I got close enough to throw my little request His way and then run back a bit hoping He didn't get mad at my pettiness of a prayer.  Then, because I knew I was "supposed" to go to Him with anything even though I was scared to approach Him, I'd bring another request or prayer from behind and throw it quickly again.  Can anyone relate?  Well, this is what God spoke to my heart on Saturday, "Angie, now you know you are not a little bird.  Now you know I am not a big mean hawk.  I am bigger than you, yes, but I am only bigger so that you can take full advantage of what I have to offer you.  Did that little bird move the hawk on that rooftop by little pecking from the back?  No.  Did it even give that little bird any attention?  No.  If you want to move Me, Child, come to My face.  Approach me with confidence right in front of Me.  Come with your requests because you desire Me, the BIGGER Bird, to acknowledge you, fight for you, fly with you, or whatever it is your heart of hearts desires.  Do not approach me from the back so that I have to wonder if you are really there or not, but just come to me face to face where I can show you my love and compassion.  That is what will move Me."

"Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness."
~Psalm 57:1-3 

"You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me."
~Psalm 59:9-10

4. And another one...we are the hawk and the sins of our past are the little bird behind us.  That hawk could have turned around at any moment and acknowledged the little bird pestering him, but he didn't.  He kept his gaze in front of him the whole time.  Only looking out towards his goal, his needs, his future meal.  He did not allow what was behind him to distract him from what he really should have been focusing on.  God said to me, "Angie, this is how I want you to view your past.  The sins of the past are behind you.  They are not who you are now.  Because of the forgiveness and healing you have accepted from Me, you are a much larger, more beautiful, and confident have been are not who you were.  Yes, occasionally those sins from the past creep up from behind and desire to peck at your back, but that does not mean you HAVE to turn around and entertain them or even acknowledge them.  They are in the past and what you need to do is focus only on what is in front of you.  Remember who I have made you to be--the hawk.  Just like that hawk was bigger than the little bird, so you are bigger than your sins.  You are meant for far greater than what is behind you.  You are meant for wide open fields full of whatever will meet your needs and fill you with what will bring you life.  Turning around and focusing on your past will only keep you on that rooftop bothered by everything smaller than you.  Instead, remember what you have come through, the forgiveness you have been given, and who you are now.  Doing that will easily keep your focus in front of you.  You will then naturally feel like taking off in flight and soaring through the air, confident and free.

"Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.  For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.  The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness."
~ Isaiah 38:17-19

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.  I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me"
~Psalm 86:11-13a

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 3:12-14
"Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.  They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LordTheir hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."
~ Psalm 112:6-8
5. Finally...God is the hawk and we are the little bird coming to Him with our prayer requests.  We bring our requests to God over and over and over, but for some reason He doesn't seem to move at all.  He doesn't budge.  Nothing changes.  Our prayers seem unanswered.  So what do we do?  We stop praying.  We think He doesn't care.  We don't even try to see what He is intently watching in the field because we are stuck on us...on our own request...on our own agenda.  We eventually stop asking, move on to try to have our prayers answered by another human or by our own might, or we just give up on God altogether because He didn't seem to notice us.  God said to me on Saturday, "Remember, Angie, never give up asking, seeking, and knocking, and it will be given to you.  Do not give up like the little bird eventually did.  Be like the persistent widow with your prayer requests.  Keep praying!  My attention may be on something else--perhaps your surroundings, your future, your protection, the bigger picture you can't see while you are busy continually bringing your requests to me.  But, Angie, DON'T STOP!!!!  Eventually, if you stay persistent, My attention will turn towards what it is you desire and need and you will see the best answers for you.  I always have your BEST in mind.  Do not give up on me.  I know you are there,--just like that hawk knew that little bird was there the whole time--I know you are there.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
~Matthew 7:7-8
 "Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near."
~James 5:7-8

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
~ Luke 18:5

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Adventure #1

I've got a touch of the adoption blues since we have yet to hear anything from Haiti that is positive or negative really.  The only thing I've gotten recently was news of two of my other favorite Haiti mama's moving forward in their processes (Praise God!!!!) and a new picture of my sweet little miss.  As much as I l.o.v.e. getting new pics of Nora, her expression in this one just hit my "oh how I just want to give you a home" button a little too much.
In order to try to avoid longing and depressing myself with simply sitting by a computer waiting for an email that never seems to come AND cherish my current children at home, I've decided to bust out of this joint a little more this summer with my kiddos in tow.  I am determined to make this a summer of...ADVENTURE!

One morning a week I have decided to take Lily, Toby, and Quinn on a "Summer Adventure" where we will simply go exploring our outdoor area around us.  I'm foreseeing the chances to go to some parks, trails, playgrounds, etc. that we have not been to before.  They are places I have been wanting to take them or have been recommended by other friends to take them, but just haven't had the chance to do it yet.  All that is going to change this summer...
This week we ventured out on our first morning to Linton's Enchanted Gardens.  It was a gorgeous morning, the kids had a blast, and I came home with 9 new plants/trees/shrubs.  Micah quickly asked that I not take the kids on any more "adventures" that involve the chance for me to shop! : )
Lintons truly was a magical gem to find in our area...I love a good, free (besides my impulse shopping), outdoor experience!

The variety of plants was plentiful (this is maybe a quarter of the fully encompassing area of plants)...
The little houses, windmills, lighthouses, and mine openings throughout the grounds were appealing to my kiddos...
The petting zoo animals were a hit (especially Lily's beloved peacock)...
 And the Koi fish in the big pond were so whimsical to watch devour the fish food...
We scoured the grounds with our magnifying glasses with excitement around every was a blessing to watch our three kiddos have so much fun getting out in the fresh air and taking in something new.
At the end of every night while Micah and I are putting the kids to bed, we go around and each say what we are thankful for that day.  The night after our first summer adventure included thankfulness of feeding the fish, feeding the horse, hearing the peacock, and seeing the flowers.  I, too, spoke words of thankfulness for our adventure and for such a unique and exquisite plant I found.  When I saw it, I knew if it wasn't too insanely expensive, it would be going home in my van...thankfully it wasn't!  Micah graciously planted it in our back yard right under our kitchen window so I can see it even when I'm inside.  I'm not sure what it is about this plant, but I fell in love with it and wanted to be able to look at it every day.  Weird as it may be, we name our plants around this place (fun for the whole family), so let me introduce you to Maleah, which means "Unique Little Girl/Beautiful Young Woman".  As I look out my window and see its unique beauty every day, I think of Nora still in Haiti just waiting for me to bring her home and "plant" her into our home too.  She, too, is a unique little girl and will be a beautiful young woman.  This beautiful plant will hopefully help me in my adoption blues just as our summer adventures will too.

P.S.  If you are curious about the other names of our plant "family" around this home, I'll list them here for your enjoyment.  We allow our children to help name them so I think you will find a few of them fun and interesting...I'll let you try to guess who named which ones! : )

Lilac Bush: Lucy
Forsynthia at back: Cindy
Paper Birch: Percival
London Plaintree: Rose Rainbow
Blue Spruce: Betty
Yucca: Maleah
Willow Bush: Wally
Forsynthia on side: Lacy
Wine & Roses on side: Selah
St. Johnswort: Hannah
Peoney: Glenda Mae
Maple: Oswald
Redbud: Ruby
Wine & Roses in front: Knifer
Azaelas on the side: Jelly & Jolly
Hydrendria by garage: Henry