Tuesday, June 26, 2012

He Set My Feet On Solid Ground

If I've ever given the impression that adoption is all romance and miracles, or that there is something special about me that qualifies me for this journey, please hear the truth from me tonight.

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17

I've been hibernating a lot lately. And distancing myself from people who love me. Even worse, I've been distancing myself from the One who loves me the most, and the only One who can help me and Sam.

After enjoying the gift of nearly two months of peace (no doubt the result of God faithfully answering our prayers), my faith suddenly moved. Something shifted in my spirit and I was shaken. Doubt and fear moved in and made their bed where they did not belong.

"But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind." James 1:6

My quiet times with the Lord have been few and far between. I pray everyday, but mostly quick, short prayers, and almost exclusively for Sam. Prayers like, "Is she ok today, God?", "Please take care of her!", and "Please oh please oh PLEASE bring her home!".

"He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
    Everything he does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
    how just and upright he is!" 
Deuteronomy 32:4

It is finally clear to me that my doubting and my fear are the result of me looking away from Jesus. I allowed myself to take steps away from the Source of Life, and have consequently found myself feeling dried up and useless. And that's exactly what I am without Him. I am nothing. I have nothing. And I am most definitely vulnerable to the enemy in this sorry state. 

But there is good news.

"Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world." James 4:8

I know with all certainty that God is always near. He never moves. His love never changes. So, when I "feel" far away from Him, I can rest assured that it was me who moved. It was me who changed. 

So I'm resolving to lean in toward God. I cannot carry the burden of my desperately lonely and needy child waiting on the other side of the ocean. But He can. I cannot order the works of a government and court system who control whether or not Sam and I will have court before the Summer recess. But He can. To be bluntly and brutally honest, I don't feel like I can do anything good right now. But He can. 

"God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" 
Numbers 23: 19

This is not the first time I've been in this position. I'm human, and this is one of my many sin issues. When I get to this place, it can be difficult to get back in the habit of spending time with the Lord the way I know I need to (and the way I want to!). So I took a small step tonight toward Jesus, spending the evening taking in some worship songs and painting Scripture. Filling my mind with Truth. No, my doubt and fear have not been completely removed...yet. BUT, I was able to draw near to Him for a few hours. Just long enough to say, "Here I am, Jesus. I'm coming back to You."

"He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along." 
Psalm 40:2 

So, I'm back to hoping and praying and clinging to Jesus. He still has Sam in His hands. And me too. He is still fighting for us. So I will keep trusting Him, picking up where I left off.

"So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us." Hebrews 6:18

*I invite you to pray and hope along with me, for God to intervene on behalf of His child, Samantha. Pray that we will get that court date before the recess, that we will be assigned to a good judge, and that court will go smoothly with no glitches. He can do this!

Love to all of you, family and friends.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Faithful In ALL Things: A Big Update

Well, first things first!

I'm sorry I've been so quiet lately. So many of you continue to pray regularly for Sam, to walk in honor of her, to share her story, to generously take care of me as I prepare for her. Thank you for loving us even when I disappear for a little while.

Its not that there hasn't been anything to share. Really, the problem has been that waiting is difficult, and it somehow makes feelings and experiences a challenge to articulate.

At any rate, I'm here now! And I am happy to catch you, my support system, up to date on all things Samantha.
  • God has been answering our prayers in some pretty amazing ways. For instance, one prayer I pray regularly is that God would supernaturally meet Sam's needs when the people entrusted to her care do not. I pray that she will be protected and comforted. I pray that Jesus will keep her company and that she would neither be alone nor feel lonely. I have PROOF now that God is answering that prayer. For three weeks in a row He sent loving women into the orphanage to touch her, love her, hold her. First, He sent 32 nursing students to care for the children of Pleven for 2 weeks! (Read about it here.) Then, He sent a dear, fellow adoptive mother to visit with Sam during a trip to visit her own daughter, Kolina. She reported to me that Sam was full of life, immediately putting her arms up to be held. Sam lives just a few doors down from Kolina's room, so my friend was able to visit her each day that week. Talk about an amazing, complete, very real answer to prayer!
  • A new director has been hired at the Pleven orphanage. She is one of the doctors who was previously employed by the orphanage, so to be completely honest, it is unclear whether she will implement the kind of change we have all been praying for.  However, I continue to believe that God can do whatever He wants. So I pray, and urge you to pray, that He would work in and through this new director. And pray that LIGHT will prevail in her heart and in that place.
  • You may remember that some friends of mine came in and remodeled my old kitchen. (Check out before pictures here and here.) These pictures are long overdue. I now have a much more functional kitchen including a window that allows me to see into the living/dining room, triple the counter space, clean and cleanable surfaces all around, AND, a dishwasher! Not to mention, they walled up the door that used to lead from the kitchen into Sam's room and created a new entrance in the hallway. Such a blessing. Thank you SO much to everyone who generously contributed both in financing this project and in donating many hours of your time. I know Sam and I will be blessed by this incredible gift!

  • Sam's bedroom is just about finished. And it is lovely. I can't wait for her to see it!

  • From a video my adoptive-mother-friend sent me of Sam (which I have watched incessantly over the last week and a half) it is clear that Sam remains in the same lonely room, in the same too-small crib she has been in for months. This video serves as a stark reminder to me that while Sam and I enjoyed a beautiful week together, and while she is cute as a button, smart, and hilariously funny...that following our visit she was returned to her previous circumstances. She continues to receive less than basic care from the orphanage staff. In the video her hair looked dirty and matted to her head. She was standing up in her crib, hamming it up and laughing for the camera, and just eating up the attention she was receiving. I can only imagine what she was doing ten minutes later when everyone was gone. That little girl who wants nothing more than to LIVE spends 24 hours a day in that cage. Alone. When we pray for her, that's the picture we should keep in our minds. The picture of a child behind bars, desperately longing for freedom day.
  • God has been faithfully speeding Sam's paperwork along. As I understand it tonight, we are now only waiting for a signature from the Minister before we can be submitted to wait for a court date.  While this sounds promising, I must tell you that the truth of the matter is that it is still highly unlikely that we will receive a court date before the dreaded court recess on July 15th. Waiting for a signature and a court date can take weeks. And honestly, we no longer have weeks to wait. The only hope we have for getting Sam home before the court recess is a miracle. Pure and simple. Sam will spend an additional two months in her cage if God does not reach down and intervene. It this possible? Do I believe God can do this? I really do. My hope and my faith are not perfect, but God has been so faithful to us I have NO reason not to believe that he could intervene for us again. Will you please pray with me that God will give us a miracle? He can do this!
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like a tree not bothered by the heat or worried by longs months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

The following videos have been great reminders to me tonight. The first two were taken on our first day together. The last three were from our final two visits. Notice Sam's twitches, teeth grinding, and overall posture in the first two videos, and how relaxed and joy-filled she was after being loved for only a couple hours a day for five days. I can't wait to love her again in person. And forever.