Sunday, August 29, 2010

Birthday's are hard

You would think I would be used to this by now. I spent the last birthday with my mother three years ago. My son moved to Hawaii with the Army and is fixing to spend his second birthday protecting our freedom from Iraq. Last year he was home; but home is Hawaii.

This birthday is so different....

August is a month to celebrate in my family. My brother, sister, granddaughter, and myself all celebrate birthday's in August. This year I've been to an army party for my grandson Colten, Bengals party for Michael, and most recently a Dora party for Kensley.

And I wonder....

Today while painting the room which will be Joseph and Jacob's bedroom I found myself singing the song I often sang during David's first deployment. You see, sometime during the month of August my baby boy Jacob Yabsera turned one year old. I have missed so much of his young life and today causes me to wonder. Did someone remind him of that day a year ago when his mother celebrated his birth? Did he have a birthday celebration? Did someone tell him just how special he is and sing Happy Birthday to You. I wonder this for both of my boys whose real birthdays I may never know. At least for Jacob I know the month; for Joseph I may never have that luxury.

I can't wait to hold these little ones in my arms; to count their fingers and toes; to listen to those belly laughs that can only come from children; to breathe the very essence of them. I can't wait to spend a lifetime of birthdays celebrating their lives.

Yet, for now I wait and I wonder....

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight

Somewhere out there someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we'll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yes, no, and wait awhile

One of these three answers is provided to every prayer. I must admit that I personally am only fond of the first. Patience is definitely not one of my virtues and God knows that well. So He decided to take the adoption opportunity to help me learn the value in waiting on His timing. The Bible says but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint Isaiah 40:31. Many versions substitute the word wait for hope. In fact, wait is the word which came to mind as I recalled this verse.

On April 1 while home from work on a sick day I received a call from Sue at CCI. She had a seven month old and his three year old brother that she felt were perfect for me. The baby had been brought to the orphanage and the brother was supposed to be brought in a matter of days. She sent pictures for me to view and I immediately saw this baby as one of mine. But, a baby! I hadn't counted on that. When I began the process I was thinking ages 2-4...perfect to play with the grandkids and a perfect age so I could still retire on time:) After a few days Sue called to see if I was interested in the baby by himself as the brother had still not arrived. As I prayed through the question I couldn't help but remember the vision of the toddler I had seen months earlier. Could it be that I had gotten it wrong? Maybe that was this little one in a couple of years? Surrounded by questions but certain of His intent for this to be my son I said yes; with or without his brother I would adopt him.

The next day I received an e-mail from Sue which briefly offered apologies and a statement that the mother had returned for this little one. My heart broke yet I rejoiced that he would remain with his mother and brother in his country. I prayed daily for his safety and happiness and began waiting for the next referral.

Several pictures were sent my way through the next months of waiting children. Yes, I could love each of them, but time and again I prayed through the decision and said no. I wondered how would I know when to say yes again as the pain and fear of experiencing what had previously happened haunted me. My daughter suggested asking a friend how she knew, but I didn't need to. I knew without a doubt that this boy was my son and I prayed.

Several months passed and in July Sue had another quick trip to Ethiopia. It was at that time that Kathy shared a quote from camp. "Don't ask God for something; expect him to do it!" Okay, so that was a new approach, so daily I prayed for Sue and thanked God for leading her to my boys. On July 21 I received an e-mail from CCI. It was brief, simply stating that the baby was back and his brother was with him and asked if I was still interested. Still interested!!! I think they could hear me shouting around the world at that moment. I received pictures the next day and saw now 11 month old Jacob with his 3 year old brother Joseph. I laughed, I cried, I shouted praises to our Father for answered prayers. I was covered in goose bumps as I immediately knew Joseph from the boy in my vision!

The lessons are many, but among the most important to me is that God's timing is impecable and perfect. See, when I first heard of these boys I was trying to finish up my Masters program and had just begun a new role at work. I wondered how I could ever manage with two children. But God knew. He knew that he could give these boys a few more months with their Mom in their home country, keep them out of the orphanage, and let me finish what I had begun. Now I wait for the rainy season to end in Ethiopia so that I can bring my sons home. I wait this time because God knew again. This time not what I had to finish but rather what I wanted to finish. As I paint their rooms (and the rest of the house) I am preparing my grandchildren for changes to come. The room known as "Michael's room" for so long is suddenly a play room and he asked last weekend why I moved his bed. It won't be an easy adjustment for them. I also wait to prepare myself for what is to come. I have already given up any free time as I prepare for their arrival. I am not naive enough to think they will come home and all will be smooth sailing. In fact, I am quite certain that at some point the three of us will sit in the floor and cry together. But as I wait, I read adoption books and I pray. I pray for their hearts that they may know me as I knew them.

Father God, I thank you for the plan that I now see clearly. I ask that you would bless Joseph and Jacob as they wait. I ask for health and happiness. I pray that you would let them begin to see their new family in their dreams. I pray for an easy transition for each of us. I pray for their mother Lord and the heartache she must be feeling. Above all, I pray that you will give me the wisdom to help them become the strong Godly men you intended. Thank you Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You are not alone

February 2010 - As I began to contemplate my financial situation and spending long hours worrying how I could ever afford the expenses of adoption, a friend shared a quote with me which says: "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it;" and so I began to pray in earnest believing this to be so.

Fundraisers do not come naturally to me. I have always been very self-sufficient and asking for help is a hit to my pride. However, recently I began to understand that the message through this experience resounds that I am not alone.

I began advertising yard sales in February and watched in awe as my garage was taken over by donations. The night before the first sale we priced and pushed the last items back into the garage. I am certain that not another item would have fit and wish I had taken a picture of the wall to wall, floor to ceiling donations. On the morning of March 20, bundled in a jacket, coat, and gloves items were moved to the yard. What I watched as the day progressed was the most amazing experience of my life. People were everywhere! At one point the street was lined by cars on both sides and around the corner as far as the eye could see. Two events especially made me smile that day. A friend of my daughters had driven from far away to shop. She had only a vague idea of where she was going but spoke of how the clouds parted with sun beams literally pointing to the house where the sale was. Wow! Then there was the moment when a little elderly woman asked if she could buy the deer out of my garden. I thought a minute and then responded "why not. I'd sell you the shirt off my back right not." We talked for a minute and she then revealed her identity as Mrs. Claus. I looked up and there stood Santa waiting very inpatiently for her to finalize her purchase : ) The sale was hugely successful and in one day over $2000 was in the bank.

The second sale brought warmer weather and more excitement. At one point when I was in the house I heard a neighbor saying "get your Mom now." When I walked outside there stood the police. Now I have had my share of experiences with the police thanks to my son (another story for another blog) and know how to respond to the police, but when he asked me to control parking and have everyone park on one side of the street I had to laugh (which I don't think he found funny). We obliged with the threat of a fine if another person complained about traffic and put a sign up telling drivers to park on one side of the street per Smyrna police department. Which I must say they did. Everyone parked on only one side of the street (though not necessarily the same side) and another $1000 went in the bank.

By the third adoption benefit yard sale held in July with temperatures near 100 degrees I again watched in awe as the crowds came and many who had donated items shopped for treasures. Santa and Mrs. Claus visited again and another $1200 went in the bank.

There have been other fundraisers thanks to the generosity of friends, family, and complete strangers. There are many more scheduled and these will soon be advertised. I paid the first half adoption fees recently! How, I'm still not sure. The money has come and continues to be raised. As I enter the home stretch to bringing Joseph and Jacob home I rejoice in those who have come together in support and prove that I am not alone in this journey.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Be careful what you ask for

Something my mother told me many years ago, yet a lesson I so frequently forget. We had recently been challenged at church to "put our yes on the table." Okay, no problem I thought. I can give to the sending church campaign without effort and tithing had become a part of my life. Yet there was something more. As I always do I spent that evening praying, this time for God to bring the joy back into my heart (hence the blog title). Still reeling emotionally from the loss of my mother, overwhelmed by school, and with new job opportunities on the horizon, I felt like life had become way to routine with far too few pleasures involved. Yes, I did what I wanted when I wanted, but something was missing.

In November 2009 God answered that prayer in a way I never saw coming. As I watched a video in church I heard myself saying out loud "but I don't even know how to wash his hair." You see that little boy was from Ethiopia. It was at that moment that I first saw Joseph. I still don't know how to explain that vision, but this tugging at the heart strings to find my son was strong. I had previously felt the call to help orphans but as I am so good at doing had told God to wait. This time was different and there was no turning back. I told my girls at lunch that I thought I was supposed to adopt and shared the experience. I was met with pure excitement and a second look of "wow, Mama has lost her mind." Lost my Found my purpose and finally following God's plan...definitely yes.

Classes began soon after to make sure I knew what I was in for but I knew. I argued with God with every ounce of my being as I began the application process. I had seen each of my children become successful adults and was at a place in life set for retirement in 20 or so years. Yet every argument was met with a reason which equally said it wasn't about me. In one of my weakest moments when Satan was telling me again that I couldn't possibly do this, and on the morning of my first home study, I prayed that if I had heard God wrong he should stop the process on that day. Before the words were completely out of my mouth my phone rang and it was Sue from CCI. I had been moved to the top of her list for adoptive parents desiring boys. I laughed as I was reminded of just how good God is at providing answers to our deepest fears. Just recently I saw Joseph for the first time; but not really. See, this is the child I was shown many months ago on that morning in church. The beauty is that God didn't reveal his plan in its fullness as Joseph comes with a little brother, Jacob!!

Many have been encouraging and many have been brutally honest with negative comments. My favorite is still "what if you die?" Well this I can tell you. The one guarantee in life with 100% certainty is that unless Christ chooses to return first, I will. In the meantime my life will be filled with joy beyond measure as these boys born in another place and to another mother join their forever family. Joseph Tyler, 3 years and Jacob Yabsera who is turning 1 this month...Mama will soon be there for you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Adoption Timeline

There is so much to catch up on and I will do so one event at a time. For now, here is a timeline of my adoption journey.

November 29, 2009 Call to adoption

January 14, 2010 Application to Adoption Assistance

January 22, 2010 Application to USCIS

January 22, 2010 Application to Celebrate Children International

January 25, 2010 Application to TBI

February 8, 2010 Homestudy, part 1

February 16, 2010 Appointment received for USCIS

February 19, 2010 Homestudy, part 2

February 19, 2010 Contract to CCI

March 4, 2010 Fingerprints at USCIS

March 16, 2010 Home study received

March 20, 2010 First yard sale ($2063.54)

March 29, 2010 USCIS approved

April 1, 2010 First glimpse of Yabsera

April 30, 2010 Casual day at Wilson County schools ($200.00)

May 8, 2010 Yard sale #2 ($1000.00)

June 1, 2010 Educational packet complete and mailed

June 11, 2010 Dinner Bell adoption benefit ($200.00)

July 21, 2010 Referral!! Joseph and Yabsera will be saved

July 22, 2010 E-mail acceptance of referral

July 23-24, 2010 Yard sale #3 ($1206.40)

August 3, 2010 Letter to Big Lots, Faith Church and Ellen DeGeneres

August 5, 2010 Mailed acceptance of referral

August 6, 2010 First half fees paid

Follow You - (with special guest Brandon Heath) by Leeland