Friday, December 23, 2011

Confirmation and Praying Home the Orphan

Today God used an unexpected gift and phone call from a friend to COMPLETELY CONFIRM that HE is FOR Samantha, and is working hard on her (and my) behalf.
"I've been reading your blog...I cry every time I read it..." 
"I can't think of anyone who would be a better mother to that little girl..." 
"My dad and I would like to make a donation toward your adoption..."
I won't tell you her name (you know who you are), because I don't want to embarrass her, but I do want to say THANK YOU! It does my heart so much good to have so much loving support. Its as if God is reminding me that this was always His idea, and He'll see it through.

In other news, I want to encourage you all to check out this blog post by an incredible woman and adoptive mother. Adeye's story was a huge inspiration to me when back when I was first considering adoption. I continue to read her blog on a regular basis as she has become a great "teacher" on all things adoption and Down Syndrome. One of her daughters came home from an orphanage in Eastern Europe in a condition similar to Katie Musser, and nineteen months later, is living proof of what love and family can do. Adeye is an incredible advocate for orphans around the world. Her efforts have helped to find families for many children, and raise funds for many more. This post is an urgent plea on behalf of several orphaned children who are running out of time to find a family. From teenagers who are aging out of the system and will soon be sent to live in the streets, to a tiny little boy with Down Syndrome who may not be able to fight for his life much longer. Please share the stories of these children wherever possible! And pray that God will show himself powerful on their behalf.
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth. Psalm 65:5

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Look What God Did Today!

I just read this blog post from Susanna, adoptive mother of little Katie who I've written about several times on this blog. Check this out and see how God is moving on behalf of Samantha and all of the children in her orphanage.

I don't yet know all of the implications of this change, but it very well could mean that all of these kiddos will begin to receive proper care until their families come to find them.

Susanna won't say as much on her blog, but this GREAT news is due in large part to her and her friend Toni, who were the first to finally report the terrible conditions as well as the criminal abuse happening in this orphanage. I'm praising God for these ladies tonight, and for the work He has done in and through them.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

He Hears Us

I was invited several weeks ago to join a private yahoo group for moms adopting from Samantha's orphanage. I had no idea at the time what a blessing this group would prove to be. Not only has it been a way to stay up to date on what is happening at the orphanage and with other adopting families, but tonight, it seems to have become SO much more. Tonight, another mother who will be traveling to Samantha's country very soon to visit her daughter for the first time, offered to look for Samantha and see first-hand how she is doing!!! AND, if the Lord opens doors for her, she will also do some investigative work and ask questions about Samantha's file! This is a PRECISE answer to a prayer I have been praying and asking others to pray. Thank you, JESUS!!!!

In other news, the Lord has been showering me with blessing upon blessing. Samantha's grant fund is up by more than $1,000. And as I previously blogged, my dear friends from Ord were here today. Oh. My. Goodness. They bless me. Again and again and again, the Lord uses these friends to show me His downright extravagant love. Richard and Tenise, as well as my friends Sara and Jim (also from Ord) have very nearly funded this entire project. I seriously need to pinch myself to see if all of this is really happening. Who could love me and Samantha THAT much? I don't understand it, but I'm so thankful. I also owe many thanks to the Lutheran Chapel for all of the work they put in knocking down walls and cutting out the window and door so beautifully. And Daniel, who has been pitching in throughout the last couple of weeks. He and Mikey and I had a great time this morning preparing the cupboards to come down. I owe a HUGE thank you to Todd who has already put hours and hours (and days and days) into this project. Thank you so much Todd, and thank you Deb for letting me borrow your husband! There is no way this work would get done without you.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:18-19
Here's Todd and Daniel removing the existing cupboards from the kitchen.
These puppies have seen better days.
Rust. Dents. Layers of paint.
And behind and underneath it all? LOTS of mouse droppings, mold and mildew, a combination plastic/plaster/? wall and floor. I am so glad we decided to do replace the cupboards. I was originally planning on a  much simpler project, but I'm very glad to see this mess gone!
And now, where that mess used to a brand new wall!!!! And beautiful new cabinets :) Isn't it coming along nicely? And I even got to help! Richard taught me how to use a drill today, so I got to screw in some drywall. I LOVED it. Who knew drywall could be so fun :) (Granted, I got to do all the easy work...)
The closet is coming along nicely! I have a new wall up in my bedroom. And best of all, a lot of my tree mural will still be visible inside the closet. It actually looks pretty cool. 
And here's the new window into the kitchen. How cool is this?!  It really opens up the whole house. This is going to make such a huge difference when Samantha is home, eating at the table or playing in the living room.
I also have a prayer request for you all. There is a woman, Toni, in Samantha's country who is hugely important in the process of rescuing children from Samantha's orphanage. She is a lawyer and a missionary who works with adoptive families. Satan has really been attacking Toni's health throughout this whole process and she is not doing very well right now. Please pray that Satan would have NO POWER over her, her body, or her family. Pray for healing, and that she would be able to continue in the strong work God has been doing through her.

Thank you all so much for all you are doing for Samantha. I cannot even count the ways we have been blessed by you.

Love to you all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thank you Thank you Thank you

Friends, I just have to say thank you to each of you who have been donating toward Samantha's grant fund in the last several weeks. God is blessing and encouraging me through you. I so wish I knew who you all were so I could thank you in person, but for now, this will have to do...

Thank you!!!

Urgent! Please Pray!

Friends, without saying too much, I need you to know that I continue to learn more about the conditions in Samantha's orphanage and they are not good! Please, please pray for her health and safety, as well as for all of the other children there who wait.


I learned that there are people I can contact who can let me know whether Samantha has a Baba (someone paid to come in and hold her and give her attention). If she does not have a Baba, it is possible that I could make some contacts and try and get one for her. However, in order to do this, I HAVE TO HAVE THAT FILE! They need Sam's full, given name...which I do not know.

For some reason, I just have a feeling that her file is lost somewhere, mixed up with a long line of other files. There are many children from her orphanage whose files are probably being put together so they can be listed for adoption. I fear that she has been lost in the shuffle. And at this point, I don't know who to contact or what to do to ensure that someone is working on it.

And so we PRAY!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Faint Not

Currently listening to this song by Jenny and Tyler. Great lyrics. Lots of heart. I heard part of a Saint Francis quote in the bridge, so I looked it up and included it here for you all to read as well. Both great reminders for me today. "O my soul, faint not. Keep up in love."

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy. 

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
-Saint Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guess Who Has a Family?! And An Update On My Progress Toward Samantha

Praise the Lord! A family has answered God's call with a YES!!! This little one will soon have a home, a bed, the medical treatment she's been needing for years, and most of all, she will have the LOVE of a mom and dad. 

Isn't it amazing that this little girl (as well as my little girl!) have been hidden away for all of these years. God could have left them there to die and our lives would have been unaffected. We could have gone on with our business without any awareness of their existence. But He SAW them. He looked at them with Love. And He chose them. These children who were written off by the world were chosen by Holy God  to be redeemed. Isn't that just like Him?

The work God is doing to rescue these precious little ones is such a beautiful picture of what He has also done for you and me. Our sin condition made us utterly hopeless and helpless. We were beyond repair. But our Heavenly Father looked at us with Love. He chose us. He redeemed us. He lifted us out of the pit and ushered us into His Kingdom. I cannot even fathom a love like that. But I'm thankful for it; that He can love even me.

God is steadily continuing to battle it out for all of the children in Samantha's orphanage. Will you please join me in continuing to pray each of these precious little ones? Pray for their release, and pray for families to line up to receive them.


  • My FBI background check has now returned home from its second trip across the country. It now has two very official looking seals and is ready to be added to my dossier. Hooray!
  • My I-800A form has been received by the USCIS. I received a receipt saying that it arrived safely and that they cashed my check. This is great news! My application is well underway.
  • Still no file!!!!!!!!! Please, please, PLEASE pray that it arrives soon and does not hold up any other paper work. I sent an email today asking for an update on where things are at. I hope to have some kind of answer by tomorrow. 
  • Finally, as always, please pray for Samantha whenever you think of her. Pray especially that the Holy Spirit would intercede for her, as I simply do not know how she is doing. 
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. Romans 8:26

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Light of the World

So, my last post was pretty bold. I've read it, and re-read it. I've thought and prayed about it. I've considered editing it. I've considered apologizing.  (Can you see some of my issues shining through here? Overanalyzing, worrying, sticking my foot in my mouth...) But here's what I've decided... 

I can't apologize because I believe I spoke the truth. Its true for me (and that truth is regularly turning my world on end) and its true for all believers. We are the light of the world. Jesus is making His name known through us! And if we let His Light shine through us, that is if we act as His hands and feet and heart...Jesus' name will be lifted high for ALL to see and MANY will be saved. And if we don't wake up, if we don't let Jesus' light shine through us, we are affecting peoples' eternity.

I've been thinking tonight about people who have been the Light of Jesus to me, spurring me on to love and good deeds. These are ordinary people who are lifting the name of Jesus high and proud. The fruit of their obedience and sacrifice are lives transformed for Christ. I want you all to "meet" them, because I believe they will be just as much of an encouragement to you as they have been to me.

This is Todd and Deb's whole family with a judge on their youngest's adoption day..
Todd and Deb and their two biological children gave up the American Dream to pursue life as missionaries in inner-city Lincoln. They give generously of the resources God has entrusted to them: food, money (even when there is not a lot to be spoken of), time, love, personal space. They have fostered several children, 5 of whom are now permanent members of the family. They each disciple several people who would not otherwise know the love of Christ. Their home is a bright light to an entire neighborhood. There are literally people in their living room every day (It is not a strange sight to see Todd and Deb sharing their table with a homeless person) who come because they know this is a place where they can trust they will be loved, respected, well fed, and where they will meet Jesus. Todd and Deb have also given generously of their lives on my behalf. They have, and continue to teach me what it means to journey with Jesus. If it weren't for their example, and their support, I would probably not be adopting Samantha.

Jake and Penny moved to lincoln three years ago to pastor the church where I work. Jake is a pastor who practices what he preaches. In fact, I've never seen a pastor spend so much time out in the community. He meets people in grocery stores, daycares, and restaurants and invites them into the Kingdom of God. And people are responding! Last year our little church baptized more than 30 people, many of whom were people Jake discipled. Penny has taught me what it means to love someone to Christ. She is consistent and persistent in pursuing souls that need the Lord. These are two of the most loving people I have ever met, yet they also speak the truth, just as Jesus himself did. In the short time that I've known them, Jake and Penny have welcomed several people to live in their home. The young woman who lives with them currently has been COMPLETELY transformed, and is now discipling others to Christ.

Mike and Lenore (with Mike's mom, Nannette) felt led several years ago to serve God by caring for orphans. They sought out to start a small family ministry in Haiti (17 children), but when the Lord saw that they were faithful what they had been given, He grew their ministry to include 2 orphanages, 60 orphans, 3 schools (representing 400 children!), a clean water ministry, and a ministry that has brought the truth of Jesus to an entire mountain village. Mike and Lenore are both extremely Spirit-led. I am in awe of their testimony as well as the way they have humbly allowed me and my church to to join in the work they started. This ministry has changed my live forever. On the homefront, Mike and Lenore have also been involved in fostercare. Through the fostercare system they adopted a sweet little boy, and they continue to foster children and provide respite to other foster parents in their small community.

Richard and Tenise are front and center here.

Richard and Tenise found me in Lincoln's homeless shelter three years ago (or at least that's what we like to tell people...). Richard is a farmer, and Tenise a stay-at-home mom. These two radiate Jesus like I wish I could. When I visit their home, I literally study their family, because they are one of the greatest examples of a Christ-centered family and marriage that God has given me. I first met them when Richard came with his high school youth group to the homeless shelter where I was working. Since that meeting, God has used this couple time and time again as an instrument to show me His great faithfulness. They supported my ministry in the shelter over the course of a year, helping to re-model the children's building where I worked, bringing much needed supplies, and loving on the people there. They have loved me and supported me through months of unemployment (paying my car payments, inviting me into their home, sending notes of encouragement). Two days after praying that God would show me how He would have me be involved on the global mission field, Tenise called and invited me to go to Haiti with a team she was putting together. We are now partners in ministering to the House of Hope Community in Haiti, where I have now traveled 5 times! I could go on and on about these two...obviously. Today, I'm looking forward to a visit from them in less than a week. They are coming next Saturday to help with my apartment re-model!

As I've often said, I'll say again...God is on the move. Big time. My friends are only a few examples of what He's been up to. And He can do the same and even more through us, if we will only respond to Him with open hands and hearts. He can feed the hungry, set the lonely in families, and bring peace where there is none. He can change lives. He can save lives. And He can do this through us!

So again I'll say, wake up church! Wake up to the good life. God is calling us.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:16

Every secret, every shame
Every fear, every pain
Live inside the dark
But that's not who we are
We are children of the day

So wake up sleeper, lift your head
We were meant for more than this
Fight the shadows conquer death
Make the most of the time we have left

We are the light of the world
We are the city on a hill
We are the light of the world
We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine

We are called to the spread the news
Tell the world the simple truth
Jesus came to save, there's freedom in His Name
So let his love break through

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wake Up Church

Friends, I don't write this post from a pedestal. Believe me. I realize with ALL of my heart that I am a wretch who has no business throwing stones. So I pray this post will come across with great humility.

There are are 210 children in Samantha's orphanage. Sources say that these children are handled as objects. They survive on liquid, non-nutrient diets. Their diapers are changed once a day. They languish alone in cribs with no one to love them. They are kept sedated so no one will have to deal with them. Until now, only 16 of these children have been listed for international adoption. But today, God has begun lifting another little one out of the pit.

This is Kolina. This poor, sad, sweet baby is NINE YEARS OLD. She has Down Syndrome. She has been sitting in this crib for NINE YEARS. I am told that Kolina likely weighs 10-12 pounds.

Folks, this is unacceptable. Kolina is a human. She was created in the image of our God who loves her. But she has been tossed aside thrown away like garbage. She is receiving less than basic care, because no one cares whether she lives or dies. She is literally starving. For food. For love. For stimulation. For human interaction.

God weeps over Kolina. He weeps over all 210 children in hers and Samantha's orphanage. And He weeps over the more than 147 million orphans in the world who face a similar plight. 

This is our problem.

I've had a short phrase running through my head for the last few days.

"Wake up Church!"

I can't help but wonder if this is from God. I'm almost certain it is. We Christians have lulled ourselves to sleep to the tune of worldly comfort. Some days I wonder whether we've lost track of why God put us here. We sing songs asking God to change us, to fill us, to give us His hand of blessing. We ask Him to use us, to break our hearts for the poor, to send us out into the world. We tell Him we want to pick up our cross and follow Him. But we don't move. What are we waiting for? God has already spoken! He has already sent us out. And if the darkness of a sin-filled world has not already broken our hearts, maybe its because we are not facing that world, but instead self-soothing. Lulling ourselves into oblivion.

I pray that God will wake us up. There is too much work to do, too much of God's love to experience, too much of His grace to keep to ourselves. We absolutely MUST wake up and answer God's call to the least of these. To the orphan and the widow. To a life of less of us and more of him-a life fulfilled.

I recently watched a video interview of Katie Davis, a young woman who gave up her comfortable life in the States to move to Uganda, start a ministry that reaches thousands of children, and personally adopt 14 orphaned little girls. The pastor interviewing her emphasized that "God does not call all of us to adopt," but subsequently asked Katie to give advice to anyone in the audience who might be considering it. Her advice was "to pray and seek God." Then she laughingly added, "I don't think He'll say no!

There is a family out there somewhere prayerfully considering adoption. Let's pray that they are fully awake to God's call and prepared for His resounding "YES". And let's pray that God opens their eyes to sweet Kolina.

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.  God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." -Proverbs 24:12

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Excitement In the Air! (And Dust and Debris)

I am beyond blessed, my friends, to have a lovely group of volunteers coming to my home tomorrow to begin remodeling my apartment. There are some changes I've been hoping to make before Samantha gets home, and God has sent people to help! Every month, my Community House helps to host Servant Sunday in our inner city neighborhood. These Sundays often consist of several churches getting together to help us help our neighbors. We've had volunteers paint houses, put up drywall, fix porches, mow lawns, trim trees, you name it! Tomorrow, a group from the University Lutheran Chapel will be blessing me and Samantha. How wonderful is that? And once they have finished the first phase of work, a very good friend of mine has offered to help me finish. I could not be more excited! So, here's what's happening.

I currently have a fully enclosed kitchen. As it is right now, I am not able to see or hear people in the dining or living rooms. So, we are going to cut a large window out of this wall. And, if I can find a cheap countertop and cupboards at the Eco Store, we will install them below the window, which will provide the kitchen with some much needed work space. This improvement is so important, as I know I'll need to be able to keep an eye on Sam and talk to her while I'm cooking and doing dishes.

Here's the newly naked wall in the dining room, where the wall is ready to be cut. I think it'll look pretty cool opening into the orange kitchen.

 Next we plan to relocate the door to Samantha's bedroom. Currently, her bedroom opens into the kitchen. This space will be filled in, making room for the refrigerator, which fits here perfectly.

We will then cut a new door through this wall, which currently leads into my bedroom. This is not the permanent color of Samantha's room. I was on a pink kick not too long ago, but now I've been seriously thinking about Turqouise and Yellow. (Mom, don't worry! A pink blanky will be lovely in any color room!)

Samantha's door will open on the right side of this wall in my bedroom. Unfortunately, my new tree will not survive. But that is a small price to pay :) This is just the first phase of the project.  

The second phase will be to remove the door to my bedroom and extend the hallway all the way to the end of the room. So from this angle, you would walk down this hall and my bedroom would open on the left, and Samantha's would open across the yellow hallway on the right.  And at the very end of the hallway, I hope to put a floor-to-ceiling closet with shelves which will be useful for storing Samantha's things, as her bedroom does not have a closet.

Sometime soon I'll have to write more about the Community House where I live and the ministry that I am part of. Without the people here, my church family, and my birth family, none of this would be possible. God has ordered my life perfectly, in such a way that I am able to give a child a loving family and a home, even as a single mother (which I never thought I would be).  Because I have an abundance of loving and supportive people in my life and in my home, I am able to do things like remodel my apartment for only the cost of the supplies. I am allowed to work part time, so I'll be home with Samantha, and yet I'll still receive incredible benefits so I can be confident that after years of being neglected in an orphanage, Samantha will have the medical care she needs.  I am able to live very inexpensively, as my friends and I all share the mortgage in this big ole house. And if I ever need ANYTHING, all I have to do is walk downstairs or next-door, and I have friends who are truly "in this" with me. Praise the Lord for His provision; spiritual, emotional, physical, relational. Praise Him for setting me in a family (both biological and otherwise). Praise Him for ordering my steps; I have been on THE best, most exciting and fulfilling journey...all of which I now realize was leading me to Samantha. HE is good. He really does love us, doesn't He?