Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Could we get a timeline of how long you think this will take?" (July 2011, us to CHI coordinator)

I've kept the most private details about this journal to myself, but felt that if anyone every needed to know that there was a Living God,--if they heard this, maybe they'd see a glimpse of the Hope that lies within me and ask God to show Himeself to them in a mighty way.  So out of that one thought comes this little journaled timeline.  Every moment, each completed document, each step, every day, each prayer- each and every prayer on our behalf, every penny...all provided by God.

Before 2010- trying to pursue the American dream. Ha.

2010- first inspirations: Rachel’s first trip to Ethiopia/Emily and Steve begin adoption journey/Mahaela  Hauter  home.

April 9, 2011- Light the Fire even at our church, followed by a video (Sam&Esther)  Wednesday night presented by Michael Saunders. 

April 14, 2011- “Mom can you watch the girls while I take Michael out for his birthday?  I need to talk to him about something.”   He felt the same.  (WHAT.) And we made the decision over a quiet birthday dinner at Granite City.  The long process began.  Looking back I am thankful for each moment we spent together working through all the paperwork, finances, adoption classes and so much more.  The waiting.  The biggest decisions made: to adopt.  a little boy. from Ethiopia.  And the agency would be Children’s Hope International .

Sept/Nov. 2012- Unexpected call: Dr. Fisher’s referral of local new born abandoned at the hospital. Followed by meeting with attorney and news of withdrawal while at the hospital.  Mother given consent.  Father in jail. Followed by approx. 3 weeks of no news from DCFS or attorney. Later notified that baby had been placed in foster care and that we would never be granted custody but had option to pursue a 2 year long process of attempting to get foster/ custody.  Because of the long process and hardships on foster family, especially it they were a waiting foster/adopt family, and birth father’s choosing to legally fight for this baby, we considered this door closed and chose to no longer pursue this child.  ... I pray for that little one and his new family, and his birth mom often.

Wednesday, November  19, 2012
We received the following email from Sharon Turner, director of the Ethiopia team at Children’s Hope International:
“Dear Families,
 We are looking for a family for an 18 month old boy whom I have profiled below. Interested families please email me as to why you are interested in this  particular child and resources (medical and others) that you have in your area to support such an adoption given the medical  need of the child.  You may want to do a little research  on the medical need before responding to the email.  The actual name of the child is not being used  in order to protect his identity and privacy.

The Ethiopia team is looking  to find a family for a beautiful 18 month old  little boy  ....  He was relinquished by his birth mother who is not able to care for him; the father is unknown. The boy’s developmental status is described as satisfactory. A family who is already approved in the home study for special needs, and one who has the resources available to accommodate his special need,  is preferred. ... As well, we are still waiting on one document to be completed on this little boy before he can move through the process; ...  If we should find a family sooner, we ask for the family’s patience as we wait for the additional document.
 If you are not able to parent him yourself, please spread the word to those whom you think might be interested. Thank you.”

Right away we posted expressed our deep interest.  We were number 73 in a line of families who had been waiting for months and even years, waiting for little boys and girls of all different ages.  Even though my heart beat rapidly as I sent in our reply my mind told me push my expectations away, especially as we had just lived through such an ordeal, not so many weeks earlier.

We were notified that many families were interested and to write a statement of why we would be a good parent to this little one and should the child have any special needs, what resources did we have to get him medical attention.  We did on November 20, and received this reply November 21, a day before Thanksgiving:

“Dear Michael and Jen,

Thanks again for your interest in this little boy and for sharing the resources that you have.  We have made a decision and there is another family currently reviewing his information.  The family that is reviewing his information is farther up on the wait list.  We will keep you in mind in case this family decides not to proceed.

Thanks again and I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving.”

Putting the baby from our minds we tried our best to be thankful to the Lord the next day.  I had to make myself pray for this family who was chosen.  After all they had probably been waiting for what seemed like a life time.  They were more than likely better qualified than us.  They deserved him.  We would wait longer.  The Lord would sustain us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
We got news that afternoon that Grammy had suffered a stroke and probably wouldn’t have long to live.  During church that night Michael left to meet the family at Pekin hospital.  He called into work to let them know he wouldn’t be in the next day.

Thursday December 13, 2012
Michael was home and preparing to go to the hospital again.  He was in the living room with the girls.  It had been a year (December 16, 2011)  since our home study and dossier were complete and we were considered a waiting family.  Since that time, our caller id on the phone never showed me “Children’s Hope International” was calling.  But today it did.  Might heart beat in my throat.  I gestured to Michael it was CHI and ran up the steps to our room as I closed the door I heard Angie Thorn’s voice on the other line...”Jen, this is Angie at Children’s Hope....” I sat on the bed, waiting for her to say that our home study was expiring soon or that we needed to send in some updated document.  

“Are you and Michael still interested in that little boy we emailed you about in November?”

...thump thump, thump thump, thump thump....

“Yes.  Angie we are. Very.”

Trying not to explode, I hopped down the steps and frantically gestured to Michael to come upstairs.  He followed me back up to our room and pushed the speaker button on the phone and laid it on the bed.  As Michael talked with Angie, I heard almost nothing.  The only thing I remember after that is the fact that we had to review his medical chart with a doctor and if we gave our official “yes”, she would send his picture.  I had already said yes.  

We went pushed our way through the channels of having a couple docs look through his charts, but ultimately, it never mattered.  Files were overnighted to us, but we already knew.  We told our parents (that makes it pretty official). I checked our email every 5 minutes (and so did Michael), waiting for a picture to pop up... and it did.  Not until the next day but it did finally and I saw a pair of shiny brown eyes with long curly lashes staring back at me, along with the most chubby, kissable cheeks I had ever seen.  


Saturday, March 30, 2013
Tomorrow it will be Easter.  It will be the 1 year mark for Judah’s entrance into the House of Hope and just under 2 years since a girl in Ethiopia walked through the doors of Numan Orphanage with her newborn son.  

Tomorrow,  just before midnight we will load up Dad’s van with luggage and donations, legal documents, medical supplies for Becca and Luke and gifts for Lyzee.  And of course a stuffed hedgehog for Judah.  

Emily is sending me with a couple shirts with Judah’s name on them and my mom made him a baby boy ragdoll. 

 Could this really be?  

Grammy passed away December 16th.  At her funeral, one of the grandkids shared a verse that Grammy had needlepointed.  Psalm 13:5&6.  

I have clung to that verse.  Exactly one year after being added to the “list”.  And being #73 in a line of around 100 families...the Words sum it up so perfectly.  
Through the moments of trial and impatience.  
Through praying into the eastern sunrise. 
Through daily giving this back to the Lord and asking His forgiveness for my unfaithful attitude.  

Psalm 13:5&6
But I have trusted (not as well as I wanted to) in YOUR mercy (something I could never live without); My heart (oh has it ever beat this strong before?) shall rejoice (even after pouting and frustration) in YOUR (Yaweh) salvation (my only hope, my everlasting).
I will (please Lord help me to) sing (I sound terrible) to the Lord (He deserves the glory for every moment of my life- past, present and future), because He has dealt (my righteous, merciful Judge) bountifully (no words can describe how I feel) with me. (His daughter who was bound for hell but am now redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and daily brings me closer to Himself, even through my failures.  Even undeserving me.)

If possible, we will try to update from know, where we will be in a couple days to meet our son.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Orange Jucier

 Growing up, I remember trying and utterly failing multiple "Chores Charts" and "Kids To Do" lists.  No matter if our reward was a simple star sticker or five bucks, it was destined to fail before it was put it up on the fridge with Sesame Street magnets or yellow sticky-tack.

        You know what I mean.

    Well, following in my parents footsteps, we have decided to give 'er a go and post a Chore Chart...and starting tomorrow, we hope to engage our kids in something more than just helping Mom and Dad around the house.  

    It's the MoneySmart Family System  (we looked into it after hearing a radio interview with the authors).  If you ever get the chance, this is a great book to read through... and cheap if you have Kindle or a Kindle app.  

    Here is my first (rough) draft... my hope is that this melts into our home, lifestyle and parenting-- wellwithout making much of "having or not having money" altogether.  

    My older two have already started the "gimme-gimmies"  and before too much longer, expectations of immediate gratification will become  part of their growing personalities.  You know how I know this?  Because that is me.  And it took a few decades to remove the blockage of envy, laziness and mooching off of my heart and mind.  

    We are prayerful in this.  Very.  

    I suggest if this is something you are interested in, read the book before you plan any schedules or begin your list of chores.  The author(s) give you practical and biblical wisdom as to the "why" you want to pursue this way of training up your child.  

    (I just want to also add that I realize there are many families who do not struggle with this issue...and therefore might think this could be a bit much!  But if you have kids of any age, it is a great one to skim even if they are very wise with their money/time/possessions.)

                                                         {Chore Chart & Pay Day}

{Possible points per day}

~Monday-Friday-4 points per day
~Saturday -3 points (no school)

*Double Points = Double Pay
If you see that something needs to be done 
and you do it well without being asked- 2 times or more during the will earn double pay on payday.  If you need any suggestions or ideas for double pay, ask Dad or Mom.

{Pay Day}- Sunday Morning
~We will add up all of your points and you will
receive your pay for the week.  You will divide your
money into 3 parts: Giving, Saving & Spending

{Giving} -church
{Saving} -car, college & house
{Spending} - see below

{What to use your spending money on}
~Something you see that you would like to buy.
~If something is too expensive, we will help you 
set a goal so that weekly you set aside a bit of your spending until you reach  your goal.
-wait to spend your spending money until 
you see know of something that you want or need.
~if you know of someone who is in need of something and would like to help them, you
may donate a portion of your spending to them.
(examples- missionaries or other giving project)

{Points} each point is worth 15¢
~Morning- 1 point each day
~School- 1 point each day except on Saturday
~Pick 3- 1 point each day  (ask Mom or Dad if   
                something has been done already)
~Round Up & Bed- 1 point each day. 

***In total, you can earn up to 60¢ each day, which is $3.45 each Pay Day.  If you earn Double Pay, you  could get paid $6.90 on Pay Day (if you have  earned all your points for the week.)

{Chores for Points} * indicates poss. supervision/help
Take out recycling to bins
*Vacuum car
*Wipe back windows in car
Wipe mirrors 
*Help with dishes
Wash table(s)
*Set/Clear table
Wash kitchen counters
Dust (upstairs/down)
Vacuum stairs with small vacuum
Clean Wood floor
Waste baskets
*Help fold or put away laundry 
Pick up toys
Organize book shelf in playroom
     (chapter books in girl's room./ rest in playroom)
Organize closet in playroom
Shoes in mudroom (check / wipe down area)
Garage toys 
*Sweep / vacuum garage
*Water flowers
Sock basket- match 10 pairs
Toilet paper (checkone on roll & 1 extra on tank)
Wipe down sinks with disinfectant wipes
Wipe sliding glass door
Disinfect knobs/ lights switches
Check paper products (toilet paper/kleenex/ cups/  
         plates/ napkins/paper towels)
Wipe out fridge(s)
Wipe down lower cabinet doors
Take bed sheets to the laundry room
*Wash windows 
*help with meal/dessert
*clean shower windows
* bathroom floors etc.
*kitchen floor

{Self-care } - expected without points rewarded.
          Dad & Mom can add to this list as needed.
~Make bed
~Clothes/pj's /shoes to proper places
~Flush toilet (yes my kids forget to do this daily)
~Piano practice

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Romans 8

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to Hispurpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shalltribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Today I reflect on my state as an orphan, who, when racing towards the flames of hell, I was snatched up by a great and mighty hand. There is nothing in me that is righteous, or deserving of such a great love. I know that if you are reading this today and are my brother or sister in Him, you sit with me, waiting in this transition house, watching for Him- by faith that He has supplied-that He will come for us.

Thank you Lord, for leaving us your Word and Holy Spirit until you bring us home to You. Thank you for the incomprehensible payment in blood of Your only begotten Son, that allows my passage from this place of transition, into our eternal family at home in heaven with You. Thank you for brothers and sisters who come along side us, and who will stay with us in eternity as Your children. Thank you for knowing my name. Thank you for my Advocate. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for hope. I am so glad I belong to You.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


This in an excerpt taken from an email I received from an adoption agency. It isn't the agency we are affiliated with, however, I am so glad they kept us on their newsletter list... this will give you hope.

““I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” — John 14:18

Hope, I believe, is a gift from God, something we can hold onto if we are feeling distressed or wishing for a better tomorrow. However many of us in the Western world hope for things that the rest of the world doesn’t. Like hoping we are on time to school, or we hope that we get an A on our English test, or hope that there’s at least one parking space open. But the hope of God is a hope for the many people who are struggling and suffering in our world. The same hope many orphans have that someday they will be adopted into a family that cherishes and adores them. Being a former orphan myself, I have been touched by the Lord in a unique and special way.

God began working in my life when I was born on October 31, 1994 in the small town of Lom, located on the Danube River in northern Bulgaria. The only orphanage that accepted younger children was the orphanage in the town of Montana. I am so grateful my biological mother gave birth to me and through God’s grace was able to give me a second chance at life. After visiting my homeland of Bulgaria last spring, I was able to see my orphanage in Montana and see where I was born, allowing me to really understand where I came from and how much adoption has impacted my life.

I had not known what to expect when we arrived at the orphanage. I was able to meet the orphanage director—the same woman who had accepted me into the orphanage when I was a baby. It was an incredible feeling to see her and hug her after so many years apart. I could only remember her from photographs and videos, but she remembered me immediately. Later that morning some nurses came in and they were so happy to see me. They all hugged me and some of them even cried. In this intense moment, I felt at one with these people who had cared for me and loved me when I had no one.

Seeing the orphans there made me feel unified with them as well. We all shared the same past and the same situation. I loved them so much and felt as though we were connected in some spiritual way. I was able to hold one in my arms and I was so grateful and hoped for these children to have an amazing chance to be adopted and live a wonderful life like I did. It was very hard to leave and know that I might never see them again.

After that very emotional and life-changing visit to my orphanage, we drove for about half an hour to the seemingly deserted town of Lom. Just walking to the hospital, I felt uneasy. But also, knowing my birth mother had walked into the same building and had given birth to me in that exact spot made me feel closer to her than I had ever felt—a spiritual unity. My family and our guide Petko were quiet and so was I; the entire city seemed to be silent during our visit. But it gave me the perfect atmosphere to just think and take in what I had seen. Forever from that moment, I would be grateful for what my mother had done. Forever from that day forward, I would have closure and unity with her. Never before had I thought I could be that close to her. After that visit to the hospital, I felt like I had just met her. At last I felt unified with my biological parents. At last I felt one with my past and present. And most importantly, I felt unified with the Lord as I began to feel a call upon my life.

Seeing Lom in person was a remarkable, yet emotional event for me. It was strange to accept the fact that I indeed was born here, in this tiny town that was one of the poorest towns in all of Europe. It was humbling, but when I saw this I was immediately blown away by the power of God and His love for me, as well as my adoptive family. How was it that I, this small baby from a tiny poor town, was able to go to the Montana orphanage? Then, to be adopted into an amazing family and to live in America! God’s grace, I truly believe, is the only reason for those wonderful things.

After seeing the poverty in Lom and Montana, I felt hope for the children who were still in the orphanages. It made me very sad to see these children, knowing that their future was undecided, but I was also happy to see them with so much joy and love. Walking through the halls and seeing the children, it was strange to realize we shared the same ancestral blood and our heritage was very much the same. Although my biological father was from Ghana, I still felt a oneness with the children, as though they were a part of me. Just as I did, these children have wished for a family to love, and hoped day after day that someone would come and take them home forever.

This trip to Ghana and Bulgaria gave me a great feeling of unity, love, and closure. My mind overflowed with wonder as we landed at the Sofia airport. I felt a humbling unity and sense of honor with the city my parents named me after—such a beautiful place connecting me in a concrete way to my heritage. When we flew into Ghana, I felt a rush of some strange emotion I could not comprehend. Seeing all of the Ghanaians made me feel like I was a lost child finding the family I never knew. I looked around in wonder as I studied every man, woman, and child that passed—trying to see if we shared any of the same features. I was fascinated by the way they spoke and the way they dressed.

It was so honoring to share my father’s African heritage and I felt deeply humbled that I was part of the same blood and history as these Ghanaians. The Ghanaian people were so hospitable and kind. I was slowly beginning to feel the strongest and most humbling unity with God that I had ever felt in my life.

In Sofia we were able to go inside many of the beautiful churches that were spread out around the city. Even after years of communism, many of the Bulgarians still keep a strong faith in God. Before I was born, God found the perfect place for me to enter the world. It was strange to feel His presence in Bulgaria, knowing that He met me here in this tiny town in Eastern Europe that almost no one has heard of. The amount of poverty and depression in Lom proved to me that only the love of the Lord could have rescued me from an unimaginable fate. Only God could have taken me from the poorest country in all of Europe to one of the wealthiest and most successful countries in the world. I will thank Him through service for saving me twice. Not only did He die and sacrifice His life for my sins, but He has also rescued me from abandonment and has blessed me with an amazing family and history.

Although many people do not understand adoption, or do not understand the lives of orphaned children, God does. He is the reason we can still hope for the millions of children who desperately need families. Now I hope to make a difference in this world, and hope I can repay the Lord for all he has done for me. As a junior in high school, I want to continue to become educated about the world so that I can have a positive impact on the lives around me. I hope that other adopted children will be inspired to help those in need. They too were once vulnerable and seeking love and care, and God rescued them.

- Sophia Wilson

-from All God's Children newsletter

Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 months

It seems like it took quite awhile -well, 8 months- to get here.

But we are officially declared a waiting family. For any of you who have been or are going through this, it basically means you have given 20,000 people your personal information, including all your health issues, financials, who you talked on the phone with April 2nd of 2009 and how many dust bunnies you recently swept out from underneath your kitchen table.

No it's actually not all that difficult,
but you have done so much to get to this point.

And now, you get the best seat in the house to watch God perform a most beautiful miracle.

So let the show begin!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lord...You are good.

God brought me back around this week and this time He used my sister, Laura.

I received the following pictures as text messages on my phone last night:

I'm thinking "Oh cute, Laura- what's this?"

and "Aw, she participated in some sort of craft fair or something!"
(Laura, Kirstin and Abigail)

and then....finally this:

We sometimes wonder if God has chosen the right people for a job....

whatever you are doing to glorify Him today, know that He is qualifying you to do it. If you focus only on what you don't have as Moses did, you are entirely missing the boat.

If you focus on the Lord, and what He will do through an obedient child of the King,
well then,

let the miracles begin.

I love you Laura....God has blessed me so much. My cup runneth over.