Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January Numbers!

Today we received our January waitlist numbers from AGCI!

 Our new numbers are:

For a girl 0-12 months old


For siblings--a girl 0-12 months old and a birthsister 0-5 years old

We moved 1 spot down on the girls list and 2 spots down on the siblings list!

Overall, we have moved 10 spots down on the girls list and 5 spots down on the siblings list!

But the Lord is righteous!
Psalm 129:4

I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
Psalm 119:58 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

a heart committed

This spring marks my tenth spiritual birthday.
I grew up in the Catholic church, going to church on Sundays, going to CCD on Wednesday evenings. I read my bible, I prayed rehearsed prayers, I tried to be good.
During the spring of my senior year of high school, something changed deep inside of me.
I began attending our town's youth group--open to youth of all denominations. It was the welcoming grace of Pastor Joan and her husband Steve, and my fellow schoolmates that attended that intrigued this introvert to come back each week. It was the worshipping of Jesus through song that turned my heart to the heavens. It was the knowing that I could stop going through the motions and simply experience LOVE.
this LOVE Jesus has for us as His broken people
this LOVE we can share with other broken people 
It was that spring of 2003 I accepted Christ into my life. The burdens of my past flew away as I asked Christ to forgive me and make me new.
It has been ten years.
Reflecting on these ten years, I would describe them as years of soaking up information on Christianity, being a compassionate person, and learning about who I am, redefined through Christ.
I would say these ten years has been comfortable.
Ugh, that seems kind of icky!
Jesus said there is a cost to being a true follower--that we must deny ourselves and take up his cross daily and follow him. We must lose our lives for him.
We aren't fully living out the gospel of Christ if we are fully comfortable, are we?
People become great in God's sight as they sincerely and unpretentiously look away from self to revere him. If we are spiritually alive, we should be busy proclaiming the kingdom of God. I don't know about you, but that makes this introvert uncomfortable.
Looking ahead to my next ten years of being committed to Christ, I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I want to suffer for the glory of God. 
If I truly believe in what the bible teaches, I will say, "Here I am Lord, send me!", because I know that God will provide what I need--he has an overwhelming love for us!
God wants me to love others so much that I go to extremes to help them.
God wants me to trust him so completely that I am unafraid.

I am committed.
Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers. ~Francis Chan

Thursday, January 24, 2013

letters from Eyouel

We received a letter from our boy Eyouel last week.
This is what we learned about him:
His favorite food is.....egg!
His favorite sport is.....running!
His favorite color is.....black!
His favorite friend is.....Biruk!
His favorite animal is.....ox!
Eyouel asked they we pray for his education. He also wanted to let us know that he plays football.
It was a great joy to hear from Eyouel. It is a privilege watching our children grow and learning about who they are. It will be wonderful when our children grow up and are able to write more in their letters!

Monday, January 14, 2013

our Dominic

Today we received a new picture of our sponsored child, Dominic! We were given a large picture, three small pictures, and two bookmarks. Exciting!
It is good to see him looking healthy. Are the socks not adorable?!?
Dominic Turanta Ntutu is 7 and lives in Kenya.
Will you join us in praying that he knows the Lord and grows strong in Him?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

january letters to africa

I love my kids--Dominic, Eyouel, and Mugwaneza--that we sponsor. We pray for them and their families daily. Their faces are on our wall and our desk. Their names are on a necklace Colin created for me. They are everywhere.
I care for their well-being so deeply--that their needs are being met, that they are more than just surviving, that they are happy! That they know Jesus. That they know He has planned out a future for them. A beautiful future.
I read the words of a sponsor who said correspondence is the most important part of sponsorship. She had even suggested to another sponsor that if he/she was not writing their sponsored child, then they should not sponsor them at all.
That profound thought intrigued and convicted me. How could someone suggest that?
While I love, love, love our three children from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, I find it difficult to write to them! What does one write to a child? How can letters not become redundant? How can I keep them fresh and exciting?
We receive letters from them approximately every 3 months. Sponsoring them for less than a year, Colin and I had been writing them about every 2 months, give or take.
When I read the sponsor's thoughts on correspondence, I thought--I don't think this is good enough. We can do better!
I have made it a personal goal to write to my kids at least once a month this year. Extra on their birthdays or when we receive a letter from them. I plan to post each month on here what we sent! I hope it will both hold me accountable and also spread ideas to others who sponsor children.
Letter writing can be a bit tricky around the holidays, because letters take up to two months to get to Africa through Compassion. So, if sending a Christmas card, for example, it should be send at least by the end of October. I have to think ahead!
For January, a little late (oops!), I sent them all Valentine-themed letters and goodies. In our letters, we explained what Valentine's Day is and what it means to us, and we shared with them a verse:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~John 3:1
We sent them each valentine dinosaur coloring sheets, alphabet hearts, heart bug bookmarks with their names on them, and Mugwaneza got some Precious Moment stickers.
Fun bookmarks!! Made with craft paper and googly eyes.
If you sponsor children, do you struggle with writing them? I encourage you to get creative and think like a child. Tell me ideas that have worked for you in the past!
Are you interested in sponsorship? Visit Compassion International. If you are in conflict because you want to, but cannot afford it, you can contact Compassion and ask if they have any correspondent children...these are children that are already financially sponsored, but their sponsors do not write to them, for whatever reason. So, you can write to and receive letters from them at no cost! I think that is AWESOME!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

6 Unforgettable Years

Mr. Colin and I had our 6 year wedding anniversary on Sunday, January 6th.
6 years. With my best friend. It has been bliss.
Sure, there has been an argument here and there. But at the end of the day, I know we are forever. My trust lies in him, and my trust lies in God, who brought the two of us together.
I mean, seriously, why else would God have taken a boy from Washington and a girl from Wisconsin and had them meet online when they were just 18 years old?  
Fact: "Our" song that we danced to at our wedding dance is Unforgettable by Nat King Cole.
That's what you are,
Tho' near or far.

Like a song of love that clings to me,
How the thought of you does things to me.
Never before
Has someone been more...

In every way,
And forever more
That's how you'll stay.

That's why, darling, it's incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am
Unforgettable, too.
To celebrate, Colin brought me to Nutcracker in the Castle at The Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh. This wasn't a full production of The Nutcracker ballet, but rather, it was a guided tour through a castle that tells part of the story of The Nutcracker. In the castle were many nutcrackers on display--it is amazing how many varieties there are! Towards the end of the tour, children performed ballet for us. It was beautiful! I have never been to a ballet, but now I really want to see The Nutcracker!
Blogger is not letting me upload pictures--I will post some when I am able, and then let you know.
Afterwards, Colin took me wine + cheese tasting. A fantastic day with an unforgettable man.
Past anniversary posts:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Melkam Gena!

Melkam Gena!
Melkam Gena is Merry Christmas in Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia.
Today in Ethiopia, Gena is celebrated...Christmas...the birth of Christ!
Christmas is always celebrated on January 7th in Ethiopia. Last Saturday, Colin and I attended a Friends Through Adoption Melkam Gena celebration. Everyone brought an Ethiopian food to share. We brought Dabo, which is an Ethiopian honey bread. We all had so much fun! It is always great seeing all of the children running around together. It is so important for Ethiopian adoptive families to celebrate Ethiopian holidays together and/or with other families.
Here is some interesting details about the celebration from our agency, All God's Children:
On Ganna, families light candles and walk around a church carved from volcanic rock three times before attending a church service that lasts up to 3 hours. Everyone stands during this service but men and boys are separated from women and girls. During the service, Ethiopians sing hymns and read the story of Christ’s birth. The rest of day is spent dancing, playing sports, and feasting. A traditional Ganna feast includes a main course like doro wat, injera, and homemade wine or beer. Gifts are only a small part of the celebration and usually consist of something simple like clothing. A popular sporting event played during Ganna is known as gena. It is a form of field hockey where sticks with hooks are used by two opposing teams who try to outscore each other by hitting a ball with the hooked sticks. The national dress worn during Ganna is called a shamma, which is a white robe with a red stripe down the seam. Some individuals wear all white. Throughout the day, celebrations are infused with essential oil frankincense, traditionally suitable for a high priest.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Favorable Determination Letter

Last week, we received our FDL (Favorable Determination Letter) from USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services). This letter was to report that after getting our fingerprinting done last month, customs has approved us for our international adoption for up to two girls.
Yesterday, we got our FDL notarized and we will send it off to our case manager in Oregon on Monday!
Our dossier will then be able to be sent off to Ethiopia!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Two Months Dreaming

We have been on the waitlist to adopt for 2 months today!
2 months.
It feels like a long time. Over 60 days. Over 1440 hours. Over 86400 minutes.
Several years ago, referrals averaged 6 to 18 months for Ethiopia. Now they are averaging 27 months.
So, 2 months? Not barely a dent.
But, I know that one reason there is an extra long wait time is because there is an extra long waitlist! That is a good thing. That means that people love working with AGCI. Our agency has an awesome reputation and is God-centered. Many families adopt through them several times.
Another reason is that our agency is extremely ethical. Another great thing! Our agency does an extensive investigation on the children--this is to ensure they are indeed orphans and have no living family that is able to care for them. There are many corrupt agencies/governments in the world that "sell" children for profit. It is rather disgusting. I am so happy we have an agency that cares for and loves the children they refer.
2 months closer to our baby girl/s? We'll take it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

my 2013 word, PRAY

it is 2013. january 1st.
i like it. it has a good ring.
2012 was a nice year. in 2012, we solidified our God-called decision to adopt from Ethiopia. we began the process in May. we joined the waitlist in November.
we wait.
and I fear how many different years we may be waiting. 2012. 2013. 2014. maybe more.
but if I focus just on the waiting, all I have is emptiness. and that is not of God. i want to fill the emptiness with God.
i have chosen the word PRAY to be my focus word for 2013.
i pray daily with Colin. but I want to pray. not just rattle off my mundane list. not just once a day. not just to an unknown God.
i want to know God.
i want to walk with God.
i want to listen to God. not just talk, talk, talk.
i want to obey God.
this year I am reading the 365 day devotional Jesus Calling, per many positive feedbacks of dear friends. january 1st reads:
Come to me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year. Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you. I see you with a steady eye, because My attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; My thoughts embrace you in everlasting Love. I also know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence.