9.23.2013

On the Edge of My Seat

Since July 19, 2012, many adopted-related events have taken place...

07/19/12 - Felt calling to adopt a child with CL/CP
08/04/12 - Made the decision to adopt
09/06/12 - Submitted application to Lifeline Children Services
09/24/12 - Submitted application to a MLJ for Home Study
11/02/12 - Submitted binder to MLJ with Home Study requirements
12/18/12 - Finalized Home Study Report completed
12/20/12 - USCIS received our Immigration application
12/31/12 - Fingerprint appointment date and time received
01/23/13 - 10:45 a.m. Call from Lifeline - saw our son!!!
01/23/13 - 11:00 a.m. Fingerprint appointment at USCIS
02/11/13 - I-797 Approval - Allows us to bring a child into the US
02/21/13 - State Authentications
03/01/13 - Chinese Consulate Authentication
03/01/13 - Letter of Intent (LOI) - not processed until after LID
03/04/13 - Dossier to China (DTC)
03/20/13 - Log In Date (LID)
03/29/13 - Pre-Approval (PA)
06/28/13 - Out of Translation (OOT)
07/24/13 - Dossier Reviewed
08/08/13 - Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
08/22/13 - I-800 Approval (Immigration Application for our son)
08/29/13 - National Visa Center - GUZ # PDF
08/30/13 - Article 5 Drop Off
09/17/13 - Article 5 Pick Up
               - Travel Approval (TA)
               - Depart
               - Meet Our Son!!!
               - Consulate Appointment
               - Home!!!

Can you believe the next item on our list is awaiting our TRAVEL APPROVAL (TA)???

So after doing some research, I have realized how very small our window is to receive our TA in order to meet Tucker on Tuesday, October 8th. Let me break it down for you.

From October 1-7, China will not process any adoption paperwork due to their National Day Holiday. It is the second largest holiday of the year after Chinese New Year, and it is the last holiday of the 2013 year. The US Embassy in Guangzhou, where we will spend the second half of our trip in China, will be closed October 1-3.

When China issues Travel Approval, they send the documents by DHL to our agency. These deliveries are made around 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day. Our agency needs to receive our Travel Approval no later than this Friday, September 27th as they are not open on the weekends and will not have DHL deliveries. Receiving it by Friday allow us time to request a Consulate Appointment at the US Embassy and to hopefully receive a response from them by September 30th  China time (our Sunday night overnight) before they close for the holiday. Clear as mud?

Bottom line is this, friends...

We need China to issue our Travel Approval either TONIGHT while we are sleeping or TOMORROW while we are sleeping in order to have any chance of it being delivered DHL by Friday! If our agency receives it by Friday, we should be able to book our Consulate Appointment before they go on Holiday.

The finish line is in sight, but it still is just out of reach. Thank you for joining us in prayer, pleading with God to hear us and to answer our prayers. We hope that our desire to meet Tucker on October 8th aligns with His will! We trust Him always.

We finished buying our gifts ($5-$15 range) for various officials in China. We wrote out 5 pages of instructions for Danette, my stepmom and the boys' grandmother, who will be keeping Noah and Liam while we are away. We are tying up loose ends, visiting with friends, buying Halloween costumes (knowing we won't have much time once we are home), cleaning nesting like crazy, choosing clothes and shoes for Tucker, and getting cautiously excited about how close we are getting. I don't know about you, but I am on the edge of my seat waiting for good news.

THANK YOU FOR PRAYING WITH US! WE CANNOT WAIT UNTIL THE DAY WE GET TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE ARE OFFICIALLY GOING TO CHINA!!! 

9.21.2013

Christmas in September - Part Two

And now the story continues! I hope you enjoyed meeting Abigail & Devin, as well as Molly, Nick & Company. I am so excited to introduce you to the other three recipients of $1,000 from the #runningtuckerhome fundraiser.

As I shared last night, I submitted several families to Andy and Lisa, and they prayed over the list and chose the final recipients. I have met dozens of adoptive mommas the past year, and many of them have worked so hard to raise money to fully fund their adoptions. Few people just have $30,000-$40,000 lying around their homes but feel God's calling to bring a sweet child...or even two children into their family. So, they take a huge leap of faith, and spend their energy having garage sales, chili dinners, ice cream socials, selling products, and auctioning off items. The amount of money needed to adopt is overwhelming, but I have witnessed over and over and over again how God just shows up and shows off, and adoptions are fully funded left and right. Somehow, miraculously, the money is donated, and the children come home. For those who participated in #runningtuckerhome, here are the other three families you've impacted forever.

Please say hello to Kelley & David Berry and their three children Clayton, Nicole, and Regis!!!
 
 
Kelley and her family live in Georgia, and we met through our agency's Facebook page. When we realized we were both adopting boys from Chongqing, a friendship was born! Kelley is one of my very best adoptive momma friends. We have laughed together (so many times!), celebrated together, cried together, prayed together, pleaded with God together. Kelley, David, and their two biological kids all went to China together this summer to bring Regis home. Isn't he the cutest little guy? I couldn't post just one picture because he is such a cutie!!
 
 
 

Kelley and her family even got to meet Tucker when they visited the orphanage in Chongqing. After meeting Tucker, Kelley wrote me and said, "He is so happy and alert and smiles and waved at me. I talked to him, and he gave me great smiles. I told him his mama and baba love him and are coming to get him soon." Kelley said visiting the orphanage was very difficult. Even though the nannies seem really wonderful, and the orphanage seems like a very decent place, it can never provide what all children deserve: a family. She said that visit was one of the hardest things she has ever experienced but seeing Tucker made it all worth it.

Like so many families, adoption has changed them forever. Their experience in China and their love for Regis planted seeds in their heart. They felt so strongly that God was calling them back to China quickly, so they started searching for their fourth child. Before long, God revealed their daughter, Brighton Mae. You can read Part One and Part Two of their story on her blog. They met Regis on July 1, 2013, and they were given Pre-Approval to adopt Brighton on August 28th. As you can imagine, they poured their money into the adoption for Regis, and going back to China so soon is a HUGE leap of faith. They will be working hard fundraising to bring Brighton home.
 

When Kelley received the letter from Andy & Lisa saying they were being give $1,000 to bring Brighton home, Kelley wrote me right away. She said, "I am so humbled and in awe! I just wrote a check to our agency last week, and things are tight. This will help bring my bright light home! Thank you is not enough. And now I get to share about how Tuck helped bring Brighton home! So so shocked - no words." Kelley also wrote on Lisa's FB page, "We are in tears. Thank you isn't enough. Praising our Heavenly Father and humbled beyond measure! One huge step closer to our Brighton Mae! Thank you!" I cannot wait to see Brighton home with Kelley, David, Clayton, Nicole, and Regis!
 
Meet Sara & Josh Noll, and their kids Anna Belle, Emma, Elli, and Levi!
 
 
Sara and her family live in Florida, and they began their adoption journey in October and almost immediately saw the face of this sweet girl, Nina (below). They fell in love and got PreApproval to adopt Nina on November 1, 2012. Sara stays at home and homeschools their children. Josh and Sara have built their marriage on Christian principles and strive to be the best parents every single day.

 
 
I met Sara on Facebook in February 2013 through one of our Facebook groups. I was advocating for a precious little boy, and this little guy just weighed on Sara and her husband's mind. Although God closed the door on adopting the little boy, it planted seeds in their hearts. They started to feel very strongly that they were supposed to adopt a little boy, too. On March 5, 2013, they saw their son's face for the first time! They received PreApproval to adopt Isac on March 25, 2013 and began their wait for LOA.
 

 
Like our family, they got stuck when the computer database for managing adoptions was changed in China. Sara and I prayed many, many days for one another, and then finally on August 13th, they received LOA! Sara is about two weeks behind us in the process and hopes to travel in October or November to bring the kids home.

On Wednesday morning, Sara and her husband still needed $7,000 to be fully funded. That afternoon, they learned that some family friends were making a huge, generous donation of $5,000!!! When she wrote to tell me, I cried tears of joy for her. I cannot explain to you how hard this family has worked to raise money for their adoption! You can check out her blog to learn all about the different things they have done to fundraise. I also cried because I knew Lisa and Andy were giving her $1,000, which would only leave $1,000 more to raise total. I was blown away that in one day, they would go from needing $7,000 to only $1,000 to be fully funded.

When Sara got her letter from Andy and Lisa, she wrote, "We...just got...another....$1,000 from Running Tucker Home!!!!! HOLY COW!!!! I feel completely in a state of shock! Not because I doubt that God would move, but just getting the chance to see Him work up close through wonderful lives...it's better than anything I've ever been apart of! Amazing!!! My husband has such a goofy grin on his face! I love it! It's his WOW face!" She also wrote on Lisa's FB wall and said, "Our family is so over the moon and my girls can't stop dancing with JOY that people love their baby brother and sister so much to give and give some more!!! Thank you ALL so much! And thank you Andrew for running for our babies!!!! You are ALL part of their lives! XOX." I cannot wait to see Nina and Isac home with their parents and siblings soon!

Meet Rebecca and Mark Radicchi and their children, Sophia and Claire!

 
Mark and Rebecca live in Georgia with their two little girls. They adopted Claire from China is 2010, and like so many families who have adopted, they made the decision to adopt again! Initially, they started making arrangements to adopt from Ethiopia but then switched to the China program. Rebecca and I are working with the same agency and met in Lifeline's Facebook group.
 
 
They have fallen in love with the two cutest little ones, a little boy named Eli and a little girl named Evie! Aren't they beautiful?!



 
Unfortunately, Rebecca and I became more acquainted with one another while we were "stuck" in the database changeover. We prayed for one another so often, and then finally, she received her LOAs for both Eli and Evie!! Although I have know less about Rebecca than some of the other girls, I do know this. She and her husband have built their life on a Christian foundation, and they are living out John 14:18 every day.

Her family was chosen by Adopt Shoppe to auction off necklaces in order to raise money for her adoption. Rebecca is the kind of person that when she saw that another Lifeline momma named Katie Eaker still had a significant amount of money to raise, and she was also "stuck" waiting for LOA for two precious girls, Rebecca decided to use the opportunity to help raise money for Katie's family. For every $10 that people donated to Katie's fundraiser, they received one "raffle ticket" to win one of the necklaces. At the beginning of September, Katie's family just crossed the $5,000 mark, and 21 days later they have raised $16,637. Part of that is due to Rebecca helping Katie raise money! Rebecca and her family exemplify how the adoption community takes are of each other.

When Rebecca learned that Andy & Lisa were giving her family $1,000, she wrote me and said, "I am BLOWN away by the gift from your friends. Blown away and a mess. Thank you a thousand times over for sharing our story. So humbled and so amazed by our amazing God. Can't believe how big He is and how ddirectly He is providing. Incredible." Later, Rebecca also wrote on Lisa's Facebook wall, "We are blessed beyond measure, and I'm a crying, grateful  mess! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She added later, "Our God writes the most amazing stories. Humbly grateful." I cannot wait to see Rebecca holding her babies soon!

Something really fun to note about the $1,000 donation to Rebecca's family is that the donation will be matched by Promise686, a non-profit ministry dedicated to serving the needs of “the fatherless” both domestically and abroad.  They are committed to inspiring and equipping families in the Atlanta area to foster and adopt with the goal of placing children in loving, permanent, Christian homes. They believe this is God’s heart and have taken the name for this ministry from the promise found in Psalms 68:6.

"God sets the lonely in families..."

God has done just that. God set the lonely in our family, Abigail & Devin's family, Molly & Nick's family, Kelley & David's family, Sara & Josh's family, and Rebecca & Mark's family. We are all building our families with children that were not born from our bodies but from our hearts. So many of you have helped make this possible. You have donated over $11,300 to #runningtuckerhome, and you have helped bring home SEVEN children FOREVER. Anything remaining after Ryan and I get home from China will also be given to one or more adoptive families.


From the bottom of my heart, thank you for joining our families in bringing home our children. All of our lives have been changed forever, and we hope this experience is also changing yours. We cannot wait to see the fruit that comes from seeds planted during this fundraiser. We pray that God is setting the lonely in some of your families. You only get to live once, and I hope you will find a way to continue your support for orphans, be it through sponsoring, fostering, hosting, or adopting. I promise it will change your life as much as it will change theirs.
 
None of this would have been possible had it not been for Lisa and Andy being open to God's plan for their role in helping our children. They worked so hard to contact friends, family, and coworkers in order to raise this money, and to top it off, Andy completed a 100 mile race in the mountains of Colorado. On behalf of all of the families, I want to thank Andy and Lisa for all of their work and their love for the fatherless. I cannot wait to see how God continues to work in their lives and in their marriage. I love you guys!
 
Lisa wrote, "Can't wait or the day that Tuck learns of all the lives that were impacted through your obedience in God's calling to rescue him. We are blessed beyond measure to be a part of his amazing journey with your family and now five others!"
 
We are not special. We do not have super human powers. We are just a husband and a wife, living in Indiana with our two of our sons, and we said YES to God's plan for our lives. Initially, we didn't feel joy...just submissive obedience, but within days the JOY of our decision covered any sadness we previously felt about the change in our life's plan. Now that we're living God's plan, I am so grateful that we said YES! This life is better than anything I've ever imagined. Our son will be home soon. I will hold him and kiss him and tuck him in at night. I have a new son, and it's all because God asked, and we said YES.

What is He asking you to do with your life? I pray that you will say YES to however He is calling!


9.19.2013

Christmas in September - Part One

Last night was truly one of the best nights of my life!  Lisa and Andy Bauermeister, who created the #runningtuckerhome fundraiser, got to play Santa Claus to FIVE very special families. But before I get into that, I want to address adoption fundraising in general. The people in our lives have been so supportive throughout our puzzle fundraiser, our garage sale, and then #runningtuckerhome. Other people have not been so lucky. Moms adopting have heard some pretty awful opinions about fundraising. The most famous line is something like, "Why should I help you adopt a child? I want a new car. Should I fundraise for that, too? I'd love to build a new house. Maybe I should start a fundraiser."

For any of you who have heard those kind of remarks or even have thought or said them yourself, I want to give you an opportunity to see the situation from a different perspective. One of the primary reasons people do not adopt is because of the cost. People will say, "I'd love to adopt, but we just can't afford it." Then, there are other people who try to compare adopting a child to buying a car or a house. In our culture, houses and cars as some of the most sought-after items. They are seen as the reward one gets for working so hard. My question is this - What kind of country, world, and culture do we live in if a car or a house is more important than the life of a child? There are an estimated 147 million orphans (though some sources say more) in the world, and only 8,668 adoptions were initiated by US citizens around the world (domestically and internationally). That's less than 6% of the orphans in the world. SIX PERCENT. Although US citizens initiate more adoptions from China than any other international country, only 2,969 adoptions took place between the US and China in 2012. That is just a touch over TWO PERCENT. So sad.

"For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world." 1 John 2:16 ESV

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19)

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27)

Keep oneself UNSTAINED from the world. We cannot let what our culture promotes as important drive our desires. Visiting orphans and widows in their distress - now that is true religion.

I am proud to say that so many of our friends and family members embraced our desire to adopt Tucker and contributed to fundraisers that have helped our family, as well as other adoptive families. Lisa and Andy Bauermeister were two of our great friends who just embraced us and offered to hold a fundraiser in Tucker's honor. Not only did people donate the desired amount to fully fund our adoption, but they also continued to give beyond that goal to help other families bring their children home, as well.

This is when the real fun began!!

A couple weeks ago, Lisa and I began talking about how to use the money that was so generously given through #runningtuckerhome. I shared with her and Andy some families I had come to know throughout the past year. I sent them pictures and gave a short narrative about each family. Andy and Lisa also had a family they knew who was adopting. They prayed over the list and made their decision. They chose FIVE families and decided to give them $1,000 each to help with their adoption costs!

Lisa sent a private Facebook message to each person saying:

"Four years ago, my husband Andy could barely run one mile without being totally out of breath. Since then he's ran multiple 5K's, 10K's, 15K's, 50K's, half marathons, the Chicago marathon, Bourbon Chase Relay, the Peace, Love and 50 miles trail marathon in Hell, Michigan, as well as his first 100 mile trail marathon at the Indiana Trail 100 in Albion, Indiana. When Andy first started talking about wanting to run 100 mile trail marathons, he had a strong desire to simply finish the race in the 30 hour time limit. He ran the Indiana Trail 100 in 27 hours and 30 minutes under some of the absolute worst weather conditions for Indiana in April. When he talked of wanting to run more 100 mile races, he discovered a passion to start running for a cause. We talked and prayed about it and decided his next race in Leadville, Colorado on August 17 would be a great opportunity to accomplish that goal and help bring a sweet two year old boy named Tucker home to Ryan and Amy Abell; however, God clearly wanted us to do more, so we set a goal to raise twice the amount of money that they still needed to fully fund their adoption in hopes of helping other families, as well.

On August 17th and 18th, Andy completed 100 miles in 28 hours and 44 minutes. Our friend Matt Limeberry ran 50 miles with Andy and I ran the last 5 with him. We were even able to talk with Amy on speaker phone the last half mile while we crossed the finish line. Andy wouldn’t have finished the race without the help of family, friends, many prayers, but mostly the motivation to help bring these sweet ones home to their forever families. God rocked our world when we found out we had raised all $10,000 of our goal almost right after crossing the finish line.

Read Andy’s race report for a more detailed description of the race: http://bauies-run.blogspot.com/

Since then, we have raised a total of over $11,300 for the Abell family and five other families who are choosing to be obedient to God’s desire for their families to adopt a child. We have prayed over this money, as well as the families we feel God is leading us to bless with these funds. So many people were involved in getting us past our $10,000 goal! Over 100 #runningtuckerhome t-shirts were sold, a 12 year old girl held a China themed babysitting night for our community, doctors, nurses, children, Andy’s patients, family and friends donated to help bring Tucker and other sweet ones home to their forever families.

God put a desire in so many individuals to donate to #runningtuckerhome. Most of them have never met and will never meet the Abell family or yours. We know that adoption, whether international or domestic, is incredibly expensive, but we are so excited to help and be able to pass along these donations to your family and continue seeing your adoption process. We have written and will be mailing you a check for $1,000 tomorrow!

Are you ready to meet the families???

Drum roll, please!!!!!!!!!
First up, our dear sweet friends from Hanover College, Abigail and Devin Carter!!!


Abigail and Devin are a strong, Christian couple with such a loving, committed marriage. Abigail was my roommate, and Devin was Ryan's fraternity brother. They are pursuing a domestic adoption here in Indiana where they live. I was so sad to learn that few grants and funding is not available for people adopting domestically. Abigail had also shared that she has heard from others adopting domestically that people are not supportive of fundraising. Again, I love that Andy and Lisa saw this as an opportunity to support a family adopting domestically!! Below you will see their nursery. Now, they are clinging to God, being patient, and praying until their son or daughter is in their arms.

 
 
When Abigail got her letter from Lisa and Andy, she immediately called me. She was stunned. Many of you know Abigail, and that girl always has something to say. To say she was in a state of shock is an understatement. She and Devin could not believe that someone they didn't know would just give them $1,000 to help their family. That's God for you - surprising you and blessing you around every corner especially when your goal is Kingdom-focused as my friend Lisa says!

Ready to meet the next family??
Say hello to Molly and Nick Hagemeier and their children Will, Clara, and Fritz! 

Andy and Molly went to Physical Therapy school, and now she and her family live in Tennessee. You can check out their blog HERE. They are also working with an awesome agency and are adopting from China. They are just in the early stages completing their home study. I am SO excited for the journey they will experience this next year!

I  have never met Molly but connected with her on Facebook. I'm always excited to meet another momma in the adoption process. When I asked Molly how she felt receiving the gift last night, she wrote:

"I was dumbfounded. I enjoy seeing pictures & updates on FB from the Bauermeisters, but guess I didn't know really that I/we were on their radar so to speak. It has just been a LONG time since we have seen them or connected. So I was astonished. And then I was sort of embarrassed at my astonishment. Why is it that The Lord would bless us in this way? Quite clearly we are undeserving. And yet He lavishly blesses us time & again. You'd think by now that we wouldn't be so astonished, grateful yes but not so astonished. Has He not provided countless times before? Where is my faith on the meter? Not so great I guess. I want badly to be able to do what they are doing some day. To hear His call & obediently carry it out. And I can't wait for the day to reconnect with them, to let them meet my little girl whom God predestined for our family & to sit together basking in the joy of His peace, His plan, His purpose & reminisce how He wove our stories together."

I thought that was so beautiful and wanted to make sure I shared it with all of you. To each of you who bought a t-shirt, donated directly, or participated in Grace's babysitting night, bought drinks at JoCo Crossfit's event in August, and prayed for the money to be donated, these are just two of the families you've impacted forever. To be on the receiving end of such a gift, it's truly remarkable. Thank you will never be enough! Two more orphans are coming home because of your generosity. GOD IS SO GOOD ALL OF THE TIME!

I will post tomorrow afternoon about the other 3 families who Andy and Lisa prayerfully chose to receive $1,000 toward their adoptions! Stay tuned!! #cliffhanger

9.12.2013

My Lost Sheep

Necklace created by Sara Noll
Tonight is a very exciting night in our journey to Tucker! Our paperwork was taken to the US Embassy in Guangzhou on August 30th to be processed for 2 weeks. This means that tonight, while we are sleeping, our paperwork should be picked up from the Embassy and sent overnight to Beijing. This means we are officially....drum roll please...waiting for our official Travel Approval (TA)!

On Tuesday at work, it really hit me that we will soon be going to China. I looked at my calendar at work and realized that there are only two more full weeks of work before October 2nd, which is the very earliest we could travel. THAT. IS. BANANAS. I have so many loose ends that I want to accomplish before I'm finished at work. Last year, every case was completed in case we went to China over the summer. I didn't want someone to come in to a big mess. So, I am working hard to finish up my cases again so that the transition is smooth for everyone! I like to finish well, so the next two weeks will be busy, which is good because time will go by quickly.

We've been organizing and collecting items that we want to take to China, so my dining room is quickly filling up. I'm trying to go out to dinner and visit with friends because I know once we get home, we will be on lock down for awhile while we build a relationship with our new son. Noah, Liam, and Tucker will be our #1 priority for awhile - in a more extreme way than usual - so we are trying to get all our affairs in order knowing that when we get home, things will likely feel a bit chaotic, jet-lagged, and overwhelming.

This journey has had a lot of similarities to a pregnancy. I posted about that once before. I remember before Noah was born - probably 2 weeks before - I started getting all sentimental about Ryan's and my time by ourselves being over. It was the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. While I was SO excited to be a mom and have a child, I also grieved the loss of the time Ryan and I had. It didn't last long, but I felt that for sure. Then, I remember when Liam's birth was getting closer, I felt he same way. I was grieving the special 3 years that Ryan, Noah, and I had together. I knew it was the end of an era. I couldn't wait to meet our new son, and I was excited to have a newborn again. The night I was going into labor, I cried when saying goodbye to Noah as he left with Ryan's parents because the chapter had ended.

I felt the same kind of mixture of emotions Tuesday night. I had worked all day and then went out for dinner and pedicures with a couple girlfriends. I hadn't had one since Mother's Day, and I needed a pre-China pedi! :) That night, reality hit that we were really truly going to China. This chapter of our lives - the one with Ryan, Noah, Liam, and me - is about to end. The boys get along amazingly well 95% of the time. Although we have crazy moments and busy occasions, for the most part life is pretty easy together. Just like having a newborn child brings a new dynamic to the family, bringing Tucker home is going to create a new dynamic in our family, as well. He is a little boy who does not know us, who speaks a different language, who has established behavior patterns, and who will be leaving everything that he knows (the people, food, crib, toys, smells, activities, etc.). We are uprooting a little boy from his current life, and although we know in the long run, it is the best situation for him, we know there will be challenges when he comes home...just like there are challenges when you bring a newborn home from the hospital.

When I got home from my girl's night, I went upstairs to try to catch Noah before he fell asleep, but he was out. I laid next to him in bed, put my hand on his heart, and just prayed. I prayed that God would protect him while we are in China. I prayed for God to help me be a good mother to him after we get home. Noah is generally really well behaved, so I don't want to overlook him just because two 2 year olds are higher maintenance. I prayed that God would prepare Noah's heart to love and embrace his new brother. I prayed that God would carry Noah while we are away...that he wouldn't miss us too terribly while we are gone.

Picture Courtesy of Corporate Apartments International
We've never been away more than 4-5 days from Noah and 3 days from Liam. As I've processed having to leave Noah and Liam for what will likely be 14-17 days, all I keep thinking about is the parable from Luke 15:3-7.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Ryan and I are leaving our 99 to retrieve our 1 lost sheep. We will joyfully put Tucker on our shoulders and bring him home. You, our friends and family, will rejoice with us that our sweet son is home forever! I know there will be rejoicing in heaven for the little boy who will know God, who will have a safe home, and who will be cherished for eternity. So, every time I begin to get emotional about leaving Liam and Noah, I just think about this parable, and peace washes over me.

Life as we know it will change, but let's be honest, life changed on July 19, 2012 when God asked us to take this journey. I know there will be stress, lack of sleep, more conflict, and new issues we haven't experienced before, but if it means there is one less orphan in the world and one more person for me to love, I am ready to go!

Keep praying for our October 8th Gotcha Day!!! The next 18 days will determine whether or not this can happen. If we get Travel Approval in the next two weeks, it might just happen!

You guys, I am going to look in my son's eyes face-to-face soon...very soon. The thought of seeing him moving and breathing and smiling and crying and laughing and playing with his daddy brings tears to my eyes. I cannot wait to hold my lost sheep and bring him home.


9.08.2013

Until the Whole World Hears

Tucker holding the photo album we sent him
I have been thinking a lot lately about how many people have come to know our family's story...to know about our sweet Tucker. First, our close friends and family found out, and we announced it on Facebook. Then, Lisa and Andy spread the word to their friends, family, and coworkers through their fundraiser. Most recently, Ryan and I were given an awesome opportunity to share our story at Emmanuel Church of Greenwood where we have attended for the past 6 1/2 years. Our church recently built its first campus located at Banta Road and Harding Street in order to reach more people. The attendance with both locations is probably around 3,500 people, so when we were invited to speak, we were excited that more people would hear how God has changed our lives.

I spent several hours one night, staying up until about 2:00 a.m., writing out our story. Fortunately, my mom and her husband had already planned to have the boys Friday overnight, so I would have all day Saturday to practice. Ryan and I went to a wedding that night, and when the best man started to give his speech, he said something about how nervous he gets talking in front of people. I almost got sick right there. I do NOT like public speaking, and the thought of standing in front of hundreds of people with balcony seating, speaking into a microphone made me want to faint. I fell asleep that night with butterflies in my stomach.

When I woke up, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish that day. It is VERY rare that the boys are not with us, so the to do list was LONG. Ryan and I grabbed a quick breakfast at Einstein Bagels and drove back home. I gave the speech to him, and we talked about different areas I could cut because I needed to cut it down from 7 minutes to 5 minutes. I ended up running through the talk at least 20 times that morning and afternoon...going over it and over it until I rarely needed to look at my notes. Ryan got a great app to on his tablet to help me with the timing. He really was like my coach that day! Ryan hung some shelves in our garage, and I got nothing done on my list except for practicing this talk. When I apologized for using all of our time on practicing, Ryan said, "There is nothing more important in the world right now than this talk."

He was right. This was something I had prayed about for at least 7-8 months - that God would open a door for our church to somehow hear directly about God's desire for us to care for orphans. While I love our church and its mission to relentlessly pursue friends, family members, and coworkers who are far from God, I so badly want this relentless pursuit to be applied to orphans, who in many cases do not know God. I have prayed for our pastor's heart to be open to the brokenness of our world and to guide our church to be the hands and feet of Jesus...to start living life following God's will for their lives rather than just pursuing their own happiness, as my friend said it best. This talk was an opportunity to share my passion for orphan care and to encourage people to get involved in whatever breaks their hearts.

Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Ryan and I went back to church to practice. Because Ryan had to play guitar at our Banta Campus, I was going to give the talk by myself. I got so tongue tied and lost my place after the first couple of sentences during that practice round. My heart was beating out of my chest. Ryan so quietly and confidently said, "Keep going. You're fine." Then, I got on track and rolled through the rest of my talk. Phew...one practice down. People started to arrive, and my stomach was filled with butterflies. Ben was facilitating that night's practice, and he has such a gentle, calm demeanor, which really helped keep my nerves under control (Thanks, Ben!!). Seeing friends and family in their #runningtuckerhome shirts was unbelievable.

Our pastor pulled Ryan and I aside before the service began. He shared with us that he did not want to preach about the night's subject - God's desire to overcome injustice in the world. In fact, when Pastor Danny and other staff members started talking about possible topics for the sermon series, someone mentioned this one. He did not want to talk about it. In fact, they actually took it completely off the list of possibilities. However, God kept putting this topic on Danny's heart over and over again. Finally, Pastor Danny submitted and started preparing his sermon on God's will to overcome injustice in the world. I am more hopeful that God is really stirring the hearts of leaders at our church to prioritize discussions about orphans, widows, sexual slavery, poverty, hunger, and disease in our world. We have an army of Christians at our church, and so many are willing to be God's hands and feet. They just need the information and encouragement to act.

Pastor Danny spoke that night about the dark parts of our world that everyone knows exist. One of the most heartbreaking statistics is that 26,000 children die everyday due to starvation, hunger, and preventable disease. The author of The Hole in Our Gospel wrote that it is like 100 airplanes filled with children crashing EVERY SINGLE DAY. Somehow that number 26,000 comes to life when you think about it like that. Meanwhile, we have so much food, medicine, incredible farming practicing, water treatment businesses, etc. What is wrong with our world?

At the end of the service, Pastor Danny invited Ryan and me to come on stage and share our story. For the next five minutes, I looked into the eyes of members of our church and had the privilege of sharing how what started as obedience to God's will for our lives turned into my life's passion. All my nerves, butterflies, and fears were gone, and the words flowed. When I finished, I sat back down and just cried on Ryan's shoulder. It doesn't matter how many times I tell the story, it still brings me to tears. They put Tucker's birthday picture on the big screens for everyone to see, as well as a picture of Ryan, Noah, Liam, and I holding a framed picture of Tucker. It was hard to believe that a little by on the other side of the world was getting ready to eat his dinner while people in our church were hearing all about how God led our family to him. If you are interested in watching the sermon follow THIS VIDEO LINK. If you don't have time right now to watch the entire sermon, you can still click on the link. Push pause until the video loads completely, and then you can move the video forward until about the 34 minute mark, which is when we speak.

Tucker seeing our pictures for the first time
Although I woke up nervous again Sunday morning, I was more excited to share our story again. Ryan played guitar at the Banta campus (where they were playing the recorded service from Saturday night) and rushed down to Greenwood in time to stand on stage with me. It meant so much to have him there, to look in his eyes and feel his support. Ryan's parents, Gloria and John, also came to ALL three services, to support us and take care of the kids on Sunday. As I spoke that second time, I felt more comfortable, letting myself feel more of the emotion rather than being so concerned with the timing. When we stepped off stage, Ryan went directly back to the Banta campus while I cried on his mom's shoulder. Two down and one to go...

The third service was HUGE! During the worship time, everyone was singing their hearts out. Sitting in the front, middle row allowed for me to feel the voices of the hundreds of people singing around us. It was amazing! God was in that room, and you could so clearly feel Him. I got on stage one last time, and Ryan once again made it just in time to stand by my side. I shared our story one last time, and the crowd was amazing. They applauded a couple times in the middle of my talk...celebrating what God has done and what He is doing in our community. We walked off stage, and I again cried...sobbing and thanking God for answering my prayers. I have no idea what seeds were planted that day, but I know God would continue to work in the hearts of people attending our church that day.

After each service, so many people thanked us for sharing our story. One woman shared that she had a miscarriage a couple months prior, and she was still heartbroken over her loss. However, she shared that adoption had always been something she had considered, and she thanked me for reigniting her desire to start a family, however God rewarded her with one.

A young guy, probably in his 20s, came up to Ryan and me and introduced himself. He shook Ryan's hand, and said, I know it's not much, but I hope it will help you. It wasn't until we were in our car 20 minutes later that Ryan handed me several folded bills. I opened them one by one...$1, $1, $1, $5, $10, $100, $100, $100, $100. Ryan and I both just started crying...it still brings tears to my eyes. We couldn't believe that a stranger had just handed us $418.

A woman, her husband, and their 9 year old daughter walked up to us. The mom was crying, and said something like, "I just want  you to know that your life will never be the same. God is amazing, and He is going to change your lives." I looked at her daughter for the first time and realized she was Chinese. I started to cry. Years earlier, their biological sons were 10 and 12 years old when they felt God say, "Go get your daughter!" and led them to China. They felt too old to be parents again to a young baby, but God had made it clear. Her husband was in tears. It is amazing to see what God does to the hearts of daddies when they adopt. Oh my word. I'm crying again just remembering this memory. We talked a bit more about adoption, and I talked to their beautiful little girl, who has been home for over 8 years. My friend, Kerri, was standing there, and she said that the father stood up and applauded us we walked off stage. The adoption community is incredible you guys.

I got several messages on Facebook, thanking me for sharing our story. They each meant the world to me! One woman wrote and shared that she and her husband adopted from Africa a year or so ago. They had just that week started questioning if God was leading them back to adoption. Her husband made a comment like, "Well, as long as they don't talk about adoption at church on Sunday...so it looks like we have some talking to do!" Is that crazy or what??

More than anything, I want God's will our lives to impact other people. I don't want this story to end with our family. I want other people to figure out how God wants to use them and then make the decision to act. I want to see God's light shining in the darkest parts of the world, and the only way it will happen is if people go to those places. I so badly want more people to get involved in orphan care whether that is adopting, hosting an orphan, fostering a child, paying for surgery/food/education for orphans, or helping those who will never be adopted. This is the passion of my heart, and I want other people to feel the joy and fulfillment that God blesses you with when you take this journey.

Through Facebook, I met a mom who adopted a little boy from China and named him Samuel. Last night, she wrote, "Breaks my heart...as I sit here on Samuel's bed tonight because he needs mommy close as he sleeps...that there are 147 million kids out there who don't have the same opportunity....these kiddos need mommies and daddies to sit close when they are scared, to love them no matter what, and show them Jesus." It broke my heart in two reading that, but she is right.

I can't wait to visit the orphanage where Tuck has lived his entire life, but at the same time, I am going to look in the eyes of children who have no parents, and I am going to walk away at the end of our visit. How will I ever walk away from these babies?? Although this year has been filled with hard work and heartache, I pray that God will lead us back to China...or wherever our other children live. I am broken by the 13 year old boys and girls in China who will age out and will no longer be eligible for adoption. The majority will end up on the streets, doing whatever it takes - selling drugs/their bodies - to stay alive. Please, Lord, break our hearts. I am broken by the babies whose smiles caused their parents to abandon them in bathrooms, bus stations, and hospitals. Please, Lord, break our hearts. I am broken by the pictures of children in orphanages who are starving, skin and bones, lying in their cribs. Please, Lord, break our hearts. I am broken by the children with heart conditions, who if they are just adopted will be loved and receive life saving surgeries and will thrive in miraculous ways. Please, Lord, break our hearts. I am broken by the children who are blind or deaf or have a sensitive special need and are not desired by adoptive parents, so they wait and wait and wait for someone who will love them. Please, Lord, break our hearts.

These kids need a family. We are a family. It's simple.
 
Please, Lord, never stop breaking my heart.
 
Tucker kissing our picture

9.06.2013

One Year Later...

So it just hit me.

Ryan and I just finished watching a fun movie, and when I checked Facebook, I saw some amazing news. A woman named Ashley, who is adopting two boys who will soon age out (meaning they will not be eligible for adoption much longer), just got LOA. Ashley is with our agency, and we have prayed for one another's LOA's for months. Today, while visiting her husband out of the country where I believe he is serving our country, she received the good news. They found out together that their long wait is over, and they now have permission to bring those boys home forever.

I cried. I cried for what must be the 10,000th time. Two boys, whose futures would have a 90% chance of ending in devastating circumstances, will be loved, cherished, and protected forever.

My friend, Kelli, waited 143 days with class, faith, and hope. She received LOA today!

Last Sunday, I posted a link to a family adopting two older girls...the Eakers. They have waited far too long, and they received LOA today!

My friend, Molly, who waited 131 days for LOA, and has encouraged me for the past four months...she received her Travel Approval today!

Rebecca, who is adopting to little ones, one of whom has a significant heart condition, also received her LOA today after a very, very long wait.

I have prayed for these women and their children by name, praying that God would sustain them. Praying that he would end their suffering and bring their children home. God revealed Himself in a mighty way today!!! I am overjoyed.

I shared earlier today that we are one week away from beginning our wait for travel approval. We are so very close. So you can imagine how much fun it was to sit in on our agency's travel meeting, learning all about what happens in the next several weeks. Then, to make the day even more exciting, I got to help welcome my friend, Stephanie, who just flew in from China with her husband and new son. As we hugged tonight, I just cried. She made it. Three years later from when she began her adoption journey, and she was home with her son. I've seen his pictures for months, and to see his precious face in person...it was unbelievable.

As I cried and praised God tonight for His amazing blessings today, it hit me. It was one year ago today that we submitted our application to Lifeline and started our journey.

One year. And everything has changed. I am grateful to have been called. I stand in awe at His miracles shown in the face of a beautiful baby girl named Lucy Haun. I am humbled by the love and support shown by family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. I have so many new sisters in Christ - Sara, Stephanie, Kelley, Jenn, Lauren, Laura, Whitney, Amy, Kelli, Carroll Lane, Karla, Kelly, Liberty, and Molly.

I knew when we made the decision to adopt, I would have a new child to love and adore forever. What I didn't know was that God would show me His face, walk beside me, carry me, hear my praise, love me through my anger, and hold me while I kicked and screamed for the wait to end, and He transformed my heart, my mind, and my life.

One year later, September 6, 2013, and I will never be the same.

Article 5 Drop Off

It's official!! Our Article 5 and other adoption paperwork was dropped off at the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China last Friday, August 30th. Thank you, Jesus! Our paperwork is going to be processed there for two weeks (overnight last night marked the first week), meaning next Friday, September 13th, our paperwork will be picked up and overnighted to Beijing. Hopefully the CCCWA (governing body for adoptions in China) will receive our paperwork on September 16th, and then we will wait for them to issue our Travel Approval (TA). Oh, we are so close you guys!!

As far as I can tell (have not had final confirmation from our agency yet), the CCCWA will have the 19-21 off work due to their Mid-Autumn Festival. They will also have a holiday to celebrate National Day October 1-7 and will not work those days. However, I believe they will work September 22, 28, and 29 over the weekend. So, if things go just like that, they will have 14 working days to issue our TA. Once we have TA, we will schedule our Consulate Appointment (CA). This appointment will determine when we actually go to China, and it takes place the second week of our trip.

Typically, Gotcha Day (the day we meet Tucker) takes place on Monday, but we are hoping Tuck's province will allow an October 8th Gotcha Day since they are closed October 7th. Then, we would have our CA the following week. This appears to be the soonest we would be able to go to China, and so we are praying that this is God's will for our family. Noah is on Fall Break October 14-25, so it would be wonderful to all be home together from China the second week of his break. I would only lose one week of my maternity leave, too, that way.

Please pray that God moves mountains for us to meet our son October 8th! We will need TA before September 30th for that to be possible. :) The sooner we get it, the better for scheduling everything else. Thank you!

9.03.2013

#runningtuckerhome follow up


Matt & Jessica with Lisa and Andy before the race began

On August 17-18, Andy Bauermeister reached his goal for something that few actually achieve. He completed a 100 mile race in Leadville, Colorado in 28 hours, 44 minutes. INCREDIBLE! People have asked me how often he stopped to sleep, and they seem shocked to learn that Andy did not sleep. This man was awake running, walking, climbing, and pushing his body and mind to the extreme for the entire duration of the race.

Some of you know Andy and Lisa, but many don't, so I want you to know some very important thing about them. Andy and Lisa are 100% committed to their family, and they are a TEAM. Andy often trained for this race at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning so that he would be finished before his family woke up. While Andy was running (sometimes as many as 100 miles in a week), Lisa was emailing, calling, and spreading the word about #runningtuckerhome. She was courageous and bold in the way she asked people to support our family and other adoptive families. Countless surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, family members, and friends wrote check after check. Andy also shared this fundraiser with coworkers, friends, and clients, many of whom generously gave to #runningtuckerhome.

Jessica and Matt are two other incredible friends. They joined Lisa and Andy on this crazy excursion, which resulted in Jessica being part of Andy's crew team (to help him eat, drink, stay motivated, etc.) and Matt joining Andy for the last 50 miles. Jessica created the #runningtuckerhome shirts and coordinated all of those details. Matt pushed Andy and wouldn't let him give up when Andy doubted his ability to finish the race. They, like so many of our amazing friends and family, have supported us emotionally and financially through the past year. It's a fact - we have the best friends ever.

One of the craziest parts of the #runningtuckerhome fundraiser is that the majority of these people do not know us, and they certainly don't know the other adoptive families who will benefit from this fundraiser. Most of them only know Lisa and Andy and still gave so generously! I had friends who budgeted their donation for 2 months in order to give to this fundraiser. I can't explain the level of gratitude I feel in my heart. There are just no words except I am humbled...so very humbled. My mind is overwhelmed when I think about the fact that God knew all of this. He knew that today, someone would give another $50, making the total $11,120, which is $1,120 past their goal. God knew that a man would find $20 in a parking lot and think to himself, "I should give this to Andy and Lisa's fundraiser" instead of keeping it for himself. It is amazing to know there are so many kind-hearted people in this world!
 
"I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you."
I have shared with you so much how I have felt going through this journey. I wanted to know more about Andy and Lisa's experience with this fundraiser, so I asked them several questions. I thought you might like to know their responses, too, so I want to share them with you.

The first thing I wanted to know was what made Andy and Lisa decide to use this race as an opportunity to raise money. Andy has ran several races, and has completed one other 100 mile race, so I was curious about their motivation to raise money for a cause this time. Andy shared that for the past year, he had wanted to run for a cause but just never landed on one. It was actually Lisa's idea to raise money for our family. She said that one night while helping me put together Tucker's puzzle, she remembered a conversation about what additional funds were needed to allow the trip to China to be feasible. Shortly after that night, Lisa remembered thinking about Andy's race and wondering if people would donate money per mile to raise money for the adoption costs. Andy shared that once Lisa suggested the idea, they just started praying that people would be impacted by it and that they would decide to give.

When I asked Andy what his initial thoughts were about raising money for Tucker and other orphans, he replied, "Initially, I was excited to do something for a cause, but I was kind of non-specifically excited about doing it for orphans. It definitely evolved." I loved this honest response because I think so many incredible things are achieved simply by making a decision. The mind starts by deciding to act, and the heart follows.

Lisa shared, "I have always felt drawn to adoption and helping children in any way we can. Of course I was even more excited about raising money to help bring Tucker home to some of our closest friends, but in the back of my mind I thought we could do more than just help Tucker. I kept thinking I wanted our goal to be $10,000 (not just $5,000, which is what Amy said they would need and what the goal was briefly originally set at), but once I put it on the site, I was consumed with negative thoughts of what other people were thinking. They probably think we were crazy or unrealistic for putting such a huge amount as our goal when we really only "needed" half of that. I wondered if people thought we were being greedy in trying to raise twice the amount of money that we needed to help the Abell's fully fund their adoption."

I also loved Lisa's response. I love that God kept bringing her back to that $10,000 number despite the doubt or worry that crept into her heart. I know Satan was trying to discourage Lisa from setting that goal so high because he knew the glory it would bring to the Lord. So thankful that Lisa listened to her heart because this LEAP OF FAITH was beautifully rewarded!

Andy smiling during the race!
I remembered how overwhelming it was to see people giving to our puzzle fundraiser, so I asked Lisa and Andy how they felt when people were so consistently and generously giving to their fundraiser. Andy said, "It felt incredible. It made my already high desire to run the race even higher." How awesome that these donations actually motivated Andy and encouraged him as he pushed his body in training. Lisa wrote that initially the donations came in slowly at the beginning, which allowed all those negative thoughts about the $10,000 goal creep right back into my head. She started to believe them and contemplated changing their goal back to the original $5,000, but she just couldn't do it. Then, once the donations started picking up, she was amazed at the amount people were giving.

I asked Andy how our adoption journey affected him while he trained for the race. He wrote, "I felt drawn to it. I felt close to it. I felt that I was going through some of the lows and highs with you. I felt heartbroken that LOA was taking so long, and when it came right before the race week, I felt extremely excited for you and also weird, like it was all part of Gods plan. I had never really felt that way before." LOVE THIS ANSWER!!! In hindsight, it was totally part of God's plan. Although the pain of our long wait still plagues me from time to time, I do have much more peace about why it occurred...that it really was for His glory.

When I asked what surprised Andy the most about the fundraiser, he said shared that because he was negative about the predetermined goal of $10,000, he was so surprised that they actually made their goal! Finding out so soon after he crossed the finish line was eerie, he said. Lisa was blown away by the number of people donating who have never met, and will most likely never meet, the Ryan and me. She wrote that while it was amazing to see the large amounts that some people donated, she was also "floored" by the smaller donations that she knew were A LOT of money for those families. It was incredible to see people donating multiple times (people who participated in Grace's date night, bought T-shirts, participated in the puzzle fundraiser and then donated to #runningtuckerhome).

The elevation for the Leadville Trail 100 (Note the peaks in the middle)
I'm used to my heart being in two places - it has been that way since January 23rd. Half my heart is in China, and the other half is here at home. I was very distracted the entire race weekend because my heart then was split in three pieces: China, home, and Colorado. It was very emotional to know what Andy was enduring while bringing so much attention to orphan care. I asked Lisa and Andy how their experiences during the race were impacted by the fundraiser/cause. Andy said, "I noticed it the most while going up Hope (the steepest, most difficult part of the mountain) the second time. I felt defeated and all I could think about was that we would only get 50 miles worth of the per mile donations. It was going to effect our collections. I felt awful, but it also motivated me to continue when I didn't want to." Lisa said that she was super emotional the entire weekend. At any moment, her lips would quiver, and she would start crying. Jessica would start literally saying "poop" over and over again until she couldn't help but laugh. There were times she had to walk away from the aid station while waiting for Andy to come in because she was overcome with emotion. She was not only worried and concerned for Andy's safety and health during the race, but she was also very concerned with him not finishing all 100 miles in the 30 hour time limit and letting down all the people who had invested in the race by donating.

Soon after Andy crossed the finish line, he and Lisa learned that they had raised $10,000. When I asked how that felt to find out, Andy wrote, "It was surreal...like I was in a dream. Clearly it was God at work." Lisa added, "It was an incredible feeling to know we had reached our $10,000 goal. Much of the race, we didn't have any cell service, but when we did I was quickly putting updates on Facebook and not really checking my email or the fundraiser site because our cell service didn't last long. When Amy sent me the message that we reached our goal I couldn't believe it!"

I asked them how the generosity of people giving beyond meeting their stated goal has impacted them. Andy shared that when he saw people continuing to give after meeting the goal, he was blown away. Andy wrote, "Since I was so negative that we would even meet the goal, I felt that it was God saying, "Look, you didn't think I could, but I did and here is even more than that." Lisa added, "People continuing to give after the race was over has been pretty incredible. At one point after we reached $5,000 Andy said "It's easy to give to people you know, but it takes God to give to people you don't." I LOVE THIS! I have seen over and over and over again how God blessed people through their fundraising events for adoption. I see people raise every penny of their $30,000 or $40,000 needed. It is hard for people to buy into the truth that it does happen all of the time, so they do not adopt because of financial reasons. I want so badly for people to be encouraged by what Lisa and Andy have accomplished with their fundraiser!

I asked Andy and Lisa how their hearts have been changed/grown by taking action to help orphans. Andy wrote, "I don't want to stop. I feel like I can't go back to running these races for myself. I'm excited to see how God uses this opportunity and where He takes it. I want to continue. I want to make it my full time gig if possible. God can do it."

Lisa wrote, "I know God can make anything happen, especially when your goal is Kingdom focused. I don't know if adopting a child is in the plan for our family, but I know God calls us to care for the least of these, and if running races and raising money for other families is how God uses our family to care for orphans, then we won't stop doing just that. I'm not sure where we will go from here. We are open to whatever God has in mind for our family in regard to orphans."

These last answers are my favorite. Andy's story initially began with very neutral feelings about raising money for orphans and skepticism that they could raise their $10,000 goal. This experience has created an evolution, and now He has experienced first hand what God can do when you take a leap of faith! Lisa is prepared to let God use her in whatever way brings Him glory, and they are open to whatever God wants for their family. I can't wait to see what happens next in their life story. We are so thankful to have been a part of this experience and cannot wait to see how God directs the use of the money for other adoptive families!



Andy and Lisa after crossing the finish line - my favorite picture from the race, as it so perfectly captures their love, commitment, and achievement. Love you guys!
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