Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some thoughts on 2013...

Grief is handled in different ways by different people. For me, I withdrew from all things that I was not required to do. I left a lot of the junk unsaid. So, I am going to try to fill in some "blanks" that have been left as I struggled through the grief process after the failed adoption of our precious Ana Faith. These are in no particular order, and I cannot muster the organizational strength to put them in order. They are simply thoughts (some angry, some hopeless, some irreverent), lessons, words from scripture, words of encouragement, and actual happenings from 2013. I have resisted this post for quite a while because I do not want to "relive" it. But-- it is necessary for me, and I hope it is helpful for you. I hope, most of all, that these random thoughts convey two things: 1) God is present-even when you feel you cannot take another breath, and 2) He is the only Healer, our only Hope in this very broken world.

If God loves orphans, and He is omnipotent, then why can't He do something so that my orphan can come home? Wow did I ever struggle with this one. I mean for months and months. I know my God is able, and I know my God loves the orphan--every single one of them. Then why oh why can Ana Faith not come to our home where she will be loved, cherished, taught, get the medical care she needs, and for goodness dressed really cute? I mean really! I spent time actually fussing at the God of the Universe. Angry, hurt, and broken--but He would pull me close with His Spirit and speak gently to my heart--"She is mine, Donna, she is mine."
Is it really God's will that she not come home? Or, did evil intervene, and so it is still God's will, just not His time? 
I held on to this one for a long time. I felt angry when people would tell me "it wasn't meant to be," or "it's just not God's plan." "IT WAS MEANT TO BE PEOPLE," I screamed silently in my head and heart. God TOLD us to go and get her. It could not have been more clear. He orchestrated it all and we watched with wonder, anticipation and excitement as He provided everything we needed for this adoption! We rejoiced at His goodness and His power over so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  I still don't understand my friends, but I cling to this verse: "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16. Ana's days are playing out according to His plan--and I think it is okay to sometimes not be all that crazy about His plan.
Getting out of bed and getting to the shower is like walking through wet concrete in lead boots.
If you know me, you know I have never been a perky, morning person. But I truly have never felt such a pull to stay in bed. I wanted to cocoon myself in my home and "check out." The fact that I had a job with loving co-workers who cried with me, prayed with me, and loved me, was truly one of God's most beautiful blessings of the year.(thank you girls, you know who you are).

"God is near to the brokenhearted, He saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
He is friends--He truly is. Sometimes it is after I had cried all I could (for that day) and I finally decided that there was nowhere else to go, I would go to Him. Even though I had just spoken my anger and lack of understanding to Him (not sweetly, I might add). He is a good Father--and He welcomed me to His arms.

Will I ever feel joy again?
I truly did not know. But then, God showed me that I may have lost, but He had given so very much. I have a husband who stands above the general crowd of husbands. Rob didn't judge my grief or my questions (or my general  lack of spirituality). He didn't scold, he didn't brush me off, he didn't try to pacify me. He continually (through his own tears and grief) pointed me to our good God. My Heavenly Father reminded me of my three beautiful daughters, my amazing son-in-law and my wonderful son-in-law-to-be. He reminded me that He had provided a sweet and caring boyfriend for Kasey. He gave me amazing parents, a caring father-in-law, and a church family that was grieving right beside me. Most of all, He gave me His Son--so I was ever going to feel joy again, I must learn to trust Him with my daughter in Russia.

Is Jesus enough  Donna?
Hmmm...well God, can I think about that one?? And I did. And He accepted my hesitation to answer. I can honestly say today that YES! HE IS ENOUGH! He is enough when I am thrilled with life, and He is my portion when I am barely breathing. Jesus IS enough. 

"But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud,
And he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me."
Psalm 3:3-5

I cannot tell you how many nights (approximately 365 in the year of 2013) I fell asleep reading this verse quoting this verse, leaning on this verse as if my very life depended on it--and I think it did. He is a shield, He bestows glory, He lifts our head, We can cry aloud to Him, He answers us and gives us access to HIMSELF ON HIS HOLY HILL, We can sleep and we can wake up--and He will sustain us.  

Friends, if you are hurting today, cry aloud to Him--He doesn't require anything else. He will hear you, answer you and sustain you.

Sunday, June 15, 2014 update!

Wow-I guess it goes without saying that it was time for me to post on this much-neglected blog! So much has happened since I last posted.

As you know if you have followed our story, we were in process to adopt our beautiful Ana Faith from Russia--we had spent 4 wonderful days visiting her in September of 2012--when Russia enacted an adoption ban on all American adoptions. The ban went into effect on January 1, 2013. Our hearts were broken and we spent 2013 doing anything we could to hold onto hope. We worked through several avenues to try to bring her home-without any success.

We love this little girl so very much. I can close my eyes and still smell her newly-bathed-soapy smell. I smile when I think of the time she finally laid her head on my shoulder. I am often taken back to the wonder she had as she looked into her Daddy's eyes and played with his mustache; and I am still amazed at their almost instant connection.

Ana Faith is still in her orphanage in Russia. Our hearts still long for her and for the chance to watch her grow--to be her Mama and Papa. But for reasons that we will never understand in this life, that has not happened.

There were so many dark moments for us in 2013. We hurt to our very core-a pain that there are no words to describe. Had we heard God wrong? Why had we not gotten our paperwork done more quickly? Maybe she would be home if we had done things differently. The five steps from my bed to the shower were akin to walking through wet concrete in lead boots most mornings. The pain was suffocating. The grief was overwhelming and distracting.

Our God is faithful. He sustains, encourages, leads and heals. Our hearts began to heal and He began to give us hope. Pure hope that only He can give.

We had no idea what our next step was to be, but in late December, 2013,God gave us a "release" from Russia. We love Ana. We still have great hope that adoptions will open up one day. We do NOT have answers about why all of this happened, but we have peace.

God healed just enough to open our hearts to another child. We are thrilled to now be in process for a little beauty from Asia. She is 5, has Down Syndrome, and is just a lovely little girl. We look forward to  bringing this precious one into our family!

We cherish your prayers as we continue to heal and as we pursue our beautiful Asian daughter!

You can see a sneak preview at:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday honesty

As we approach the Holiday season, I looked for something special to write about. Something to encourage you if you are in the midst of a trial, words to comfort you if you have experienced loss, or a special sentiment to bring you peace if you are feeling anxiety. I couldn't find it on the internet, but I found it in my own heart.

The holidays have always been such a favorite time of year for me. I love the pretty tree (although I don't take much joy in the actual decorating of it), I love the relaxed time at home, and I actually love being out in the crowds shopping. When they were young, I especially loved dressing my little girls up in holiday dresses and big hair bows. I loved that proverbial "Christmas Picture" we attempted to take every year. We would often take an entire roll of film (I am aging myself here) and rush to get it developed--hoping for that "perfect" picture. With three little girls (and various pets, pacifiers, tantrums, etc.) there were MANY "out-takes." I, however, would pick out the picture where every hair was in place and they all had perfect smiles, and I would proudly send it out to friends and family. I wanted people to think that we were wonderful parents with wonderful children.  As I look back over the "out-takes" they are the ones I most enjoy today. They are hilarious-- and much more a "picture" of what our real life was like. 

Today those little girls are all grown up. The truth is that we were okay parents. We did a lot of things right, but we made just as many mistakes and missteps in our parenting journey. Our girls have grown up to be very unique and yes, wonderful. But that is truly only because of our Heavenly Father's Amazing Grace. The thing is we were not perfect parents, and they are not perfect "products" of our parenting. I wish we had been more real back then. I wish we would have been more open about our struggles, questions, doubts. I wish we would have not worried so much about what people thought of our parenting,  but more concerned about reaching out to those who were struggling like we were. It is not only freeing to be transparent and real, it is so much more productive in the Kingdom of God. If we would admit when we fail, hurt or question, those who are also failing, hurting and questioning may be a little more open to receiving the love and compassion of our God. 

So today I will be real. You see, we had hoped to have a beautiful little girl home to spend the holidays with us this year. She will not be coming, barring a huge miracle. The door of adoption and guardianship in the European country where she lives are closed, and now seem locked. We are so sad. We have a catch in our throats as we close the door to her room that has been so carefully prepared. We shed a tear or experience a heaviness in our chest as we look at the clothes that she should be wearing, the toys she should be playing with, and the bed she should be sleeping in. We had so many hopes, dreams and plans for this little beauty, and they all seem to be gone now. 

I must be honest in saying that I don't know what our next step will be. I don't even know what it should be. Things are not pretty and "wrapped up in a bow" even when we say things like "God is in control, God will take care of things, God loves her more than we do." We know He is in control, He will take care of things and He certainly loves her in a way we cannot. But the reality is--we hurt.

So, if you are discouraged, hurting, lonely, anxious or sad this season, I am so sorry, but I understand. I am with you and I won't try to dress it up or make it pretty.  

I will however, remind you of the TRUTH that I am reminding myself of:

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Okay, I gotta say I love how the Message version puts it:

"If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you are kicked in the gut, He'll help you catch your breath."

Is your heart broken? Is your spirit crushed? Do you feel kicked in the gut? 

Then cry out to Him. Be real with Him. 

He knows your heart is broken and He is close. He will save your crushed spirit... and He will help you catch your breath.

I pray you know His presence this Holiday season.



Thursday, January 10, 2013

As most of you know we have encountered quite a challenge in our planned adoption. Parts of Eastern Europe are now involved in an adoption ban.

So where does that leave us? Well, I truly wish I knew. News reports are confusing. Some say only those who have passed court will be able to take their kids home.. Some say things will go on as usual until January 2014. Some say each region will interpret and apply the law as they see fit. The truth is we just don't know.

Each night I go into Ana Faith's (not her real name, but the name we will give her) room and I plead with God for this to be her room, her clothes, her toys, her bed. I ask God to speak and I ask Him to lead. And He does speak, and He has led. He remains faithful as I pour out my heart to Him and beg for her to be ours. Then He reminds me that He is THE GOD ABOVE ALL. He sees and knows all. He loves Ana Faith because she is His.

This week as I have been praying, I have comforted myself with thoughts like, "Why would He take us to this point and then halt this adoption?" Followed by doubtful thought like, "Did we hear Him correctly? What if we had worked faster and harder on our paperwork--would she be home now? Why has this happened to us?"  Then I was challenged by the Holy Spirit.  Why not? Am I so different or special that I don't have to suffer heartache in this life?

Then it came. The biggest question that God has ever asked me in this life. "Am I willing to go through this process, lose a child that I felt sure was mine, be confused and devastated...all so His Kingdom can be advanced?"And the questions still come: " HOW IN THE WORLD COULD AN ORPHAN NOT HAVING A FAMILY ADVANCE GOD'S KINGDOM?" I just don't get it.

But my answer depends completely on WHO my life is committed to. This adoption--from the beginning--was God's idea. So, even though it didn't make much sense, we desired to be obedient. And in the process we fell deeply in love with a 23 pound 5-year-old in the middle of Eastern Europe.What do I do with this?

I am truly wrestling with God on this one. My heart is given over to this little girl and I want her. But the bottom line for me is where my heart's desire truly lies. Do I want MY  will over HIS will? Well, honestly there are moments I think I do. But as I pray and remember His perfect love for me, I can only choose to surrender my will to His.

I will assuredly continue to plead for God to show Himself strong on behalf of Ana Faith. But I will seek to allow Him to mold me to desire His Kingdom above all else. Hard to put that down on paper but these are times for hard commitments.

Please continue to pound on the doors of heaven for our Ana Faith.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts 
and your minds in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:6-7

This scripture has been a favorite of mine for as many years as I can remember.  What it says to me is this: I am allowed to tell God about everything in prayer as I thank Him for His presence and work in my life. I can tell Him what I want. He will listen, He will give me peace beyond my own understanding as I wait for Him to answer and He will guard my heart and mind in the power of Jesus.

Tonight as I write, I have information that most likely we will not return to Eastern Europe until January for our court date. We will come home for our 30 day wait, then return in February to pick little A up and bring her home. 

We committed to adopt A on March 9th, 2012. So a homecoming in February is very good in the adoption world--less than a year. And while we had hoped to have her home for Christmas, our hearts have accepted that she will not be with us. However, I am asking that those who have followed our journey join with us and pray very specifically during these next weeks.

It is not impossible that we could go for court in December, and then pick up in January. Not probable, but not impossible!  I would like to ask that you, along with Rob and I, "let your request be made know to God." If you will, join with us and ask God to let us travel for court in December, and bring  A home in January. 

He will hear our prayers, no doubt. He is omnipotent (all powerful!) and He is able to work this miracle for us. And best of all, He is omniscient (all knowing!).  He has this all planned down to the moment we take custody of A (and beyond).

So we ask you to "ask" with us. And then we will wait for His perfect plan to unfold. Best of all, as we wait, we will have the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Our God is so faithful. I am in awe tonight of how faithful He remains--even in my unfaithfulness.

I spent some time last weekend with my "Adoption Expense/Donation Spreadsheet." Okay, I know I have come down pretty hard on my sweet husband for his great love of spreadsheets (he thinks in spreadsheets, you know). But I must say that I have come to understand him a bit better (just a bit...) during this adoption process. We have determined that we would document every donation and how every dollar has been spent. We want to be above reproach and be able to show, on paper, how we have used the money that so many have sacrificed to give us.

When we first heard God stirring our hearts for Sweet A, we were puzzled at why He would call us at this time in our lives. Not only are we "older parents, (giggle)" we have had some challenges financially in recent years. Job loss, kids in college, a wedding--things we both mourned and celebrated. Of course we mourned the job loss, but were able to celebrate as God provide a new job quickly. Love seeing my girls follow their dreams through college, but miss them dearly when they leave. Enjoyed every aspect of  wedding planning, details and the big day!  But I do miss my grown up girl at the dinner table (or restaurant table).One thing in common in all of these situations!  Cannot get around it, we were intrigued at how this adoption would come together financially. But He has provided for every need. And He continues to provide.

Last weekend, we were able to participate in the Tarrant County Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome. I was so excited to be a part of this new community and looked so forward to this day!  As we walked around the incredible event, I saw hundreds of beauties with those amazing almond shaped eyes. We so enjoyed the event with our dear friends, but I found myself missing Sweet A so very much. Every time I saw a little one, I would wonder what our little one was doing, how she was doing, and when we would be able to get back to her.

Here is where we are. The paperwork is done on our end. Our adoption agency is doing their final checks and our court dossier (a bunch of papers for the judge to look over) should  be going to Eastern Europe in the next couple of weeks. From there, there is a preliminary court hearing with our representative, and if the judge doesn't ask for more paperwork, our court date will be set. Then we get to go back! We are praying this happens in November or early December. So for now, we wait. 

We still have to prepare her room, and we still need funds. So while we are eager to get back to EE, my mind has begun to ask questions. "What if we don't have all the money when we get the call to go to court?" "How in the world will we ever get this money?" "What should we do?"

After we left the Buddy Walk last weekend, these questions found their way to my lips. I sobbed most of the way home. I write those words out of my total need to be transparent. I am not proud of those questions, and I am not proud of my doubt. But, for me it is part of my journey, and I don't want to paint a picture that doesn't exist.

Here comes the funny part (kind of). As I sat there bawling, Rob first looked at me like I had three heads. But he was very sweet and calmly said, "Sweetheart, God has provided exactly what we needed at the exact time we needed it throughout this whole process. He has called us, and He is going to provide again this time. I know you would like to have all His provision right now, but this will cause our faith to grow."  Then, to lighten the mood, he started singing a scripture song that we taught our girls when they were young. "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path." Guess what?  I got mad.

I got really mad at him! I told him he just didn't understand! I told him to stop judging me! I cried some more. OH dear--can you believe that?? Here is the worst....I told him to stop quoting scripture to me!!

NOT my finest moment folks. But you know what? Once again, I came to the end of myself and my own strength. I confessed my doubt and disbelief to my loving Heavenly Father, and decided to rest in His provision. He gave me peace and assurance that He has this whole strangely wonderful situation in His plan and in His hands.

Tonight I got a call and it was from a dear friend informing me that she and her husband had made a donation to our adoption fund. Already done. Sent this week. Done. Sent. We are halfway funded for trip #2. God is good. God provides. God has this.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 2 and 3

Day two began with A's "Baba" bringing her to us, once again carrying her like a little sack of potatoes!  She doesn't seem to mind at all being carried like this, but it is quite a sight to see her facing forward, with those long skinny legs hanging down! I don't think she gets out of her room a lot, and she was certainly wide-eyed today as she took in her surroundings!

Fun things about our second visit:

  • Sweet A smelled so good!  I mean, she had recently had a bath, and she smelled all "soapy." There is nothing better than a clean baby! Her outfit was interesting to say the least, but she sure smelled good!
  • We brought a little ball on our visit today. It was a cheap ball that we had gotten at the market. (our suitcases--which held more toys--had not yet arrived and we had been there three days at this point) Sweet A LOVED this little ball. It had little grooves in it, and so it was easy for her to grip. She can sure throw a ball!  We have some precious video of her throwing the ball and then laughing as Rob "fetched" the ball.
  • While it was hard saying "goodbye" today, we felt excited because we were only half way through our visits!
God had truly healed my heart and mind. There were no tears on visit two, I simply relaxed and enjoyed her presence. What a sweet little one. Yes, very delayed, and very tiny. But God was with her. So far away, and before we ever knew her, He knew her and loved her. What a God we serve.

We were invited to "tea" with the Orphanage Director and Head Doctor after our visit. These ladies were so hospitable!  As we made our way into what looked like the break room, it was like we were being welcomed into their home. They served us hot tea with honey (from the orphanage's hives) and yummy cakes/cookies. Through our interpreter, they asked us questions about our family (and we proudly showed them pictures of all of our kids) and were genuinely interested in us. I have to say they were absolutely delightful ladies!

Another highlight of day two came when we returned to our hotel. We decided to go and purchase some diapers for the orphanage. On our way, we found a Carl's Junior!  ROB WAS IN HEAVEN as he ate his bacon cheeseburger!  A little taste of home!

Day three brought some concern. It had gotten a bit cooler that day, and rained quite a lot that morning. When we got to the orphanage, it was raining pretty hard. We went to the designated room for our visit, and we noticed a stark difference in Little A today. She was lethargic, and she seemed like she did not feel well. She did not respond like she had on days 1 and 2. I don't know if anyone else has ever experienced this, but when my girls were little and illness was coming on, they had a funny smell to their breath. It almost smelled like rubbing alcohol. I know--weird, but this is how A's breath smelled. We were very concerned and we first asked our interpreter about it. She said it was the weather change. She said that happens with the kids here in EE when the weather changes. Okay--she is a Mom and I trusted her, but I was still concerned. So, I asked  the Head Doctor. She said the same thing--weather change. We enjoyed our visit despite our concerns. Little A drank her juice that we had brought. Actually, she does not know how to drink from a straw, but after some conversation between our interpreter and the doctor, someone brought in a tea cup. I was instructed to pour the juice into the cup. I was intrigued at these instructions. However, I did as I was told!  I gave A the cup and guess what!? She put her little hands around that cup and drank all the juice without spilling a drop!  She slurped loudly (yes we also have video of this) and handed it back to me as if to say "more!" I dutifully poured more in the cup and she drank almost the whole juice box from the cup! Wow--she has some skills we never would have imagined!

Amazing things were happening in our hearts as these days flew by. Rob became more and more confident that we were following God's perfect plan. I realized that it was no accident that we had flown for a total of 17 hours, then driven 2 hours to meet this tiny human being. No accident at all. God was in this--yes, He was and is in every. single. detail.