Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Because I Know He Holds the Future ...

One thing I have been learning first-hand lately is that prayer works! I always knew that, but I'm still left speechless and shocked when God answers prayers so specifically. At our weekly church prayer meeting we talked last week about why we all struggle so much with our prayer lives. There were many different ideas about what keeps us from praying the way we should ... like lack of time, busy schedules, distractions, etc. But the truth is, I believe what keeps us from praying every day without ceasing is a lack faith.  If we REALLY believed that prayer worked ... that God would answer us ... I think we'd have to be forcibly removed from our prayer closets!

Well, let me encourage you by saying that God is answering prayers! On Sunday morning during the worship service at my in-laws' church I sang with the ladies choir. We sang "Because He Lives," a beautiful hymn that I haven't heard in quite a while. The words came back instantly though, and as I sang the chorus ...
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone. 
Because I know He holds the future, 
and life is worth the living just because He lives 
... a flood of emotions rushed over me and I truly worshiped God and rested in His assurance that HE'S GOT THIS.

Later that afternoon God began making that fact very clear. We have some sweet friends who let us know that they would like to support our adoption through a 10k run they've organized called the Etowah Road Race. They are encouraging participants to purchase our Adoption Bug shirts to wear in the race on July 4th, and accepting donations to go toward the adoption on race day as well! Scott and I were blown away by this gesture. We look forward to helping promote this event ... so stay tuned for more info!

Just a few minutes later, my mom called to tell me she had been given a card addressed to me by a precious lady at her church. She apologized for opening it, but couldn't wait to tell me that the card contained a check for $1000!!!!

Neither of these things could have been anticipated or planned for. And that's the beauty of how God provides. Above our reach ... beyond what we can even dream of ... miraculous! I am so thankful that He cares about our needs and that He'll move Heaven and Earth to care for this little girl on the other side of the world.

Thank you for praying. I've had many tell me they are. Please continue to pray for favor as our last two grant applications are reviewed in the next few weeks. And continue to pray for Charlotte's transition home! I can't wait to continue updating on God's miraculous provision!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prayer Warriors Needed

Okay, all you prayer warriors ... we need you! I mentioned in my last post that I have dealt with some serious discouragement lately. Of course the obvious frustration from the long wait has had me down. But there are the worries about how Charlotte will adjust, about her health, about being away from our kids while we travel, and about raising the remaining finances to make the trip (and so on ...). I truly believe  Satan tries to sabotage our efforts to do God's will and I think he wants nothing more than to destroy our faith. I'm sure he hates the idea of a little girl with such a slim chance of ever hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ in her present circumstances being adopted into a family whose mission in life will be to raise her to know, love, and serve the Lord with all her heart.

The canvas I bought to hang in Charlotte's room

God does not have to give me one iota of proof that I am on the right path. He already saved me and clearly says in His Word that pure and faultless religion is looking after orphans and widows in their distress. He already changed the desires of my heart and opened all the doors leading to the adoption of this precious child. But He is so merciful, and continues to meet my every doubt with confirmation and truth. There is no reasonable explanation why our LOA came so early when other families have been waiting much longer. I prayed for that, and while I was praying I told myself the speed at which the Chinese government processed that paperwork could not be controlled. BUT IT COULD. Today in Vacation Bible School I sat with tears in my eyes as one fourth grader after the other recited this verse to me, "Oh, Lord God! You Yourself made the heavens and earth by Your great power and with Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!" Do you think He wanted me to hear that a few times?

I believe God answers prayers. I believe where two or more come together in His name, He is there. Would you pray for Charlotte's heart defect? Pray that when she's evaluated by the cardiologist, he will say that her past surgery was completely effective. Pray that her delays from living two years in an orphanage will be erased and that the gaps will be filled in time as she is nurtured and cared for. Pray that she will bond easily with our family and accept love from us quickly. 

And would you pray for the remainder of our funds to come through before we travel? Two of our grant applications have been denied. This was a major disappointment, but we still believe God will provide. We still need to raise $7500 - $8000 for travel expenses. It seems insurmountable to me (even though it is less than a third of what we've already paid.) But NOTHING is impossible for God. We still have one grant application pending and we recently found a grant organization that is specifically for special needs orphans who are waiting in orphanages. They actually have a pre-qualification process. I got the call saying we qualify to apply on the same morning we got our LOA!  Please pray that we get one or both of those grants. They would not cover the whole amount, but would get us much closer. 

We have been brainstorming a couple of local fundraising projects. Pray for the ability and wisdom to pull those off successfully.

We are continuing the Show Hope t-shirt sale until the week before we travel (8 - 10 weeks). Please pray for t-shirts to sell. If you've already bought a shirt – THANK YOU! Wear them often and tell people about Charlotte when they ask about your shirt (and they will!) 


We also have a "WePay" site where people can make direct contributions. We do not want to pressure anyone to give if God has not laid it on his or her heart. We have had close friends feel led to contribute, but there have been almost as many strangers buy shirts or donate to help us bring Charlotte home! It continues to astound me the methods God uses to accomplish His purposes. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for your support and encouragement throughout this entire process. But we thank you most for your prayers. Continue to lift them up as we seek God's provision and prepare to fulfill this awesome calling!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Oh, Happy Day! (and the Fedex mishap!)

Boy did I need a happy day!

I'll just start by saying that I've been feeling a whole new level of discouragement. Our daughter turned two last week, and something changed inside me. Since we got her referral, I had this unspoken ... afraid to hope ... crazy request that God would bring our LOA by her birthday. Again, I know that was kind of "out there" considering that this past Monday I was told to expect to wait a total of 100 days (for us that would be July 6).

When I got those pictures of her with her birthday cake, my heart just hurt that I am missing so much of her life. Suddenly I had an urge to finish her bedroom. The one that's been a glorified storage room since we moved Bryce out of it last fall. The one with the closed door to hide the mess. On Friday, I spent the entire day cleaning it out and decorating it. Then I could not rest until I pulled every article of girl clothing that might fit her out of my attic. I sorted, folded, washed, arranged. And there were two particular dresses I remember Rylee wearing that I could not find. I searched throughout the weekend and finally found the box they were in on Sunday night. I remember thinking it was like nesting ... way too early.

But God knew something I didn't. Thursday morning at 8:00 I got the call that our LOA (official letter of acceptance from China) was at the agency!!! I am still in shock, because it came more than 30 days before we were expecting it – just one week after her birthday! I really cannot overstate what a miracle this is. This is an excerpt from an email sent by our China coordinator ...

Well sometimes the Lord likes to really surprise us, doesn't He?! This
week we received LOA's for not only our final January family, but for our 
FEBRUARY AND MARCH families as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  To say these
families were a *little* surprised is an understatement!!

This was something no one could have predicted – a crazy, afraid to hope for kind of thing! So I spent about two hours yesterday finishing the next set of paperwork that I thought I had another month to finish! 

This morning I woke up knowing this piece of paper we've waited 70 days for (not that I'm counting) was due to be delivered by Fedex TODAY!! However ... to make a long, long, excruciating story short ... Fedex delivered the envelope to the wrong house after which time I spent the better part of this day making calls, checking email, staring at the street from my front porch while eating an entire box of junior mints for lunch, and crying buckets as I wondered how the Chinese would feel about my having lost my LOA. Yep, kind of irrational. 

And then ...

So it IS a happy day! She is OURS!! The next step will be to apply for visas and await a travel date (which could still be 8 - 10 weeks out). But we're getting closer. And she's ours. PRAISE GOD!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Birthday Poem for my Mom – by Rylee

It's Rylee. Mama let me guest post so I could share a poem on her birthday. This is for you Mama.

You love me so very much
your kindness shows with a gentle touch

You soar until you reach the sky
Your beauty rising oh, so high

You over power many things
With kindness and angel wings

All the stars look down to you
Knowing your heart is pure and true
                                     - Rylee 

I love you Mama. Happy Birthday!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Birthday Fun!

This is how we celebrated Miss Charlotte's 2nd birthday. 

Chinese food. Yum!

There was chop stick practice,

lots of smiles,

 and deep concentration!

They even gave us a mini dessert in honor of the birthday girl!

And it wouldn't be a Barkley birthday without a trip to Krispy Kreme for some "hot and now!" 

But the best surprise was waiting in an email that I checked just before heading to bed ...

Turns out I did get to see a little birthday cake mess!!

It ended up being a pretty great day!