Monday, January 31, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 31

We have our in-home visit tomorrow afternoon. Let me explain, as part of the homestudy, a social worker must come and inspect your home. As you could guess, this could be a little nerve wrecking especially for the Mom of the house. I would think that most women would find it a little unnerving to have someone come into your home to deem it "appropriate" to accommodate a child. Jessica has done great. We have spent a great deal of time this weekend cleaning..."really" cleaning and when we get home tonight from work, we will continue in it some more. I will say that this added motivation has been a good thing and progress has been made. For example, I have been working on the office and discovered last night we have a desk in there. That's great! With all the adoption paperwork we have, we could really use the workspace. I am sure the home visit will go fine. We have a terrific case worker and I know it won't be all that bad. I don't think she will give the house the old "white glove" test at least. She will mostly be looking for safety hazards. All joking aside, it is a very important part of our homestudy and please be in prayer as we complete this. Now back to cleaning......

Colossians 3:23

23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

God, be with us today as we work to have our home approved for Noelle. Let us keep focused the reasons for our tasks and that we honor You in all that we do. Let us not grow weary but be strong until completion. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 30

I wonder what the Garden of Eden really looked like? We know that Adam and Eve had the perfect life in the garden. It was the perfect place. All the food they wanted to eat, probably at any time. I'm sure they never worried about being too hot or too cold. Basically, they were rich beyond measure. We look down on them because they messed up so bad. I mean really, is it that hard to follow the rules? They had it made. Maybe that was part of their problem. They had it too easy. Now let's fast forward......The Garden of Eden is long gone. There is sin rampant in this world. This is the world today. If you were to sit back and look at it, what country would look most like Eden? Warm homes, soft beds, 24 hour fast food on every corner. Sound familiar? The U.S. may be as close to Eden as anywhere on Earth and those living in it still cannot follow God's simple rules. Maybe its because we also have it too easy. We see massive revivals breakout all over the world in countries that are so poor, why not here? They rely on God because He is all they have. While we have been lulled to sleep in thinking we don't need God because we have so much. When this world is over, and we are face to face with God, whose shoes would you rather be in? I know this may sound a little harsh and I don't want it to come across preachy or self righteous, but I just want it to get you to think. Think about what you have and what you have been blessed with. We have to remember that everything that we "have" has been given to us by God and we have been asked to be good stewards with it. I guess this is a subject I have been hung up on lately, but as I think about my daughter, and possibly her living hurts. It's these reasons we pray for her daily and ask that you do also. These reasons are also why I bring up these questions and leave you with this one. Are we using all that we have been given in the ways God really wants us to?

Psalm 85:6-7

6 Will you not revive us again,
   that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
   and grant us your salvation. 

Dear Lord, I pray for revival in our nation. That we may seek You and be the people that You would have us to be. Thank You for the many blessings You have given us. We pray that we become the stewards You would have us to be to end hunger and poverty in this world. So that we may change the lives of the "Noelle's" all over the world. We love You Father and thank You for all You have given us. Amen.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 29

I wanted to write tonight about a special blessing that we received a few weeks ago. A dear friend of mine made a blanket for Noelle that was covered in peanut butter and jelly sandwich pattern on one side and pink on the other.  She included such a beautiful message of love and encouragement that I want to share her letter written to us.

"I made this for your daughter.  I wanted her to have something to come home with that tells a story.  I found this fabric and fell in love with it, but wondered how it could apply to your situation.  Then it hit me: your family will be as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Though very different elements, textures, and tastes, you all contribute something to the flavor of your family.  The family in which God made you to be.  You may not look alike and some may not know that you are family, but God made Noelle to be your child. The fragrance of God's love and the person you will raise her to be will be the proof of this.  Through this adoption process, I hope that seeing this blanket will encourage you, excite you, and remind you that God is in control.  Like this blanket may He wrap you in His love and peace. When things become uncertain, may He protect your hearts and your Noelle throughout this process.  Let it remind you that though it may take awhile, your baby is coming home.  I love you all and can not wait to met Noelle and to see her grow into a beautiful young woman."

Hebrews 6:10,11
10 …he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.

Lord, Thank You for providing encouragement just when we need it most.  Bless those who bless us a hundred fold.  We give You glory, honor, and praise.  In Your name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 28

Last night I gave three reasons why we chose to adopt a girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I commented that we like to say that the DRC chose us.  When we started researching about international adoption, we were overwhelmed by the number of orphans and the countries that they dwell in throughout the world.  We thought to ourselves, "Where on Earth is our daughter?".  We prayed for clarity in choosing our country and wished that God would just speak to us in an audible voice "This is the country!".  One night we read an article that was part of an information packet from one of the adoption agencies that we were considering at the time. The article was written by a couple that had been in the same dilemma as we were.  They talked about how certain countries eliminate themselves due to certain restrictions on age, income, martial status, etc.  Jason and I were open to any country, but every country was not open to us.  We didn't have a high enough net worth for China.  We had not been married long enough for Haiti. Some countries required travel times that were not feasible for our family (Uganda insists on a 4 week in-country stay). Other doors were closed based on our own preferences for example Peru and Costa Rica do not adopt children under the age of two.  We believe that God has spoken to us through the desires of our heart and has carved a path for us to follow.

Psalm 119:105 
 105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Lord, Thank You for Your guidance and for the light that You shine in our hearts.  Illuminate Your will so we may follow it all the days of our lives.   We praise You for Your ever presence, Lord.  In Your name, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 27

The number one question that I am asked about Noelle is "How old will she be?".  It's strange to respond "I don't know...somewhere between 0 to 12 months".  Then comes the explanation that when adopting internationally you specify the gender and age range of the child you "want".  There are many reasons that Jason and I decided to adopt a girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo from that age range.  (1) We "chose" a girl for obvious reasons like I still have every stitch of clothing that Cora has worn up to this point. (2) I like to say that the DRC chose us (will expound in an upcoming post). (3) Almost all adoption agencies suggest that adoptive parents follow the birth order of their biological children.  As you have been reading, our daughter Cora is four years old.  Cora was a big factor in choosing our age range.  We knew that she would also have a bonding process to go through with her little sister.  If we adopted a toddler we thought that it could possibly complicate the relationship building between Cora and Noelle.  I believe that I mentioned in a previous post the two main concerns Cora had with this adoption.  She wanted to know if we would still love her and would the baby try to play with her toys (surprisingly in that order since at Thanksgiving, Cora listed toys as the thing she was the most thankful for).  All three of us are adopting Noelle.  We will each share a unique bond with her.  As I see children everyday, I think about how old Noelle is at this moment and long to pick her up in my arms and carry her home.

Psalm 105:43
43 He brought out His people with joy,
         His chosen ones with gladness.

Lord, Thank You for wanting a special relationship with us and for choosing to bring us out of this world.  Be with us as we wait for our Noelle to come home.  Give us grace to be patient as we await the joy to come.  We praise and glorify Your name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 26

I have been networking with other families currently adopting or that have adopted from the DRC lately. A lot of them have blogs as well. The new blog I was reading this morning had the following video posted on it. (thanks, Jolene)  I should probably give a warning that some of the images in the slide show are hard to see, BUT I AM NOT GOING TO. These images are real and this is the world that we live in RIGHT NOW. But I will say this, WARNING!! If you watch these slides, listen to the words of this song, and have read/are reading 'Crazy Love', and fully commit to Christ, this could completely change your life as you know it. For our post today, I want this video to say it all.



Matthew 18:14

 14"So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Heavenly Father, Let us respond to the call You specifically gave to us in Your word, to take care of the widows and orphans. Let us be moved with compassion to do something extraordinary for Your glory. We pray that You be with the children of the DRC and all of Africa, including our Noelle. We love You, Father. Amen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 25

I am currently reading the book 'Wild at Heart' by John Eldridge. I have had this book for sometime but have never finished it. In the book, Eldridge writes about how man was created in the wilderness, not in the garden. I am an outdoors kind of guy myself, so its easy for me to relate to stuff like hiking, canoeing, and camping in wilderness areas. My mind wanders off to the DRC. I think about the vast jungle and the great Congo River. I would love to see the natural beauty of that country. From there, I think about not only the natural beauty in the Congo but also its natural resources. God has blessed the DRC with an abundance of natural resources, but sadly because of so much of man's greed and corruption, they have never been able to tap into these resources. In an article on by Paul Trustfull, he write "The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a vast country with high agricultural potential. It is rich in natural resources, with an estimated $24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of raw mineral ores, including the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. For many years, the DRC has suffered from extreme poverty pitted against extreme wealth." The DRC is currently the second poorest country on Earth. It saddens me to think how many lives in the DRC could be so different if not for the sins of man and it is the children who suffer the most.

Proverbs 10:2,3

 2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
   but righteousness delivers from death.

 3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry,
   but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

God, we thank you for having a place to live where we don't worry about our next meal or have a constant threat of random violence. We pray for the country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We pray for peace in that country and a spiritual revival to sweep their land. That they cry out to You and wisely use what You have provided for them. So they may prosper for the sake of their innocent children. We pray that every orphanage in the DRC is emptied as a result of Your blessings. In Your name we pray. Amen

Monday, January 24, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 24

As part of the homestudy process, each parent is interviewed separately. Today I went to Chattanooga and had my interview. Jessica will be interviewed during the home visit probably next week. It went very well. Janet, our social worker, said we were doing great on our paper chase and we only have the in-home visit and Jessica's medical form left to complete. Janet is awesome. She has adopted internationally twice and is very easy to work with and talk to. It is good to know we have someone working with us that can really relate to us. Sometimes you meet people and know the moment you speak to them, God has placed them in your path. I feel that way with her. That is an update on the process. I don't have anything deep to share tonight, stirring information about the DRC, or any major drama to discuss, just peace, and that is a good thing. It is just good to know that God is there and feel His peace. I have heard it said before that when you don't know how to pray, pray for peace.

Job 22:21

21Acquaint now yourself with Him [agree with God and show yourself to be conformed to His will] and be at peace; by that [you shall prosper and great] good shall come to you.

God, I thank You for this journey we are on. I thank You for those we meet that You have placed in our path of adoption. Lord, we thank You for the peace You have given us tonight and we pray for peace throughout the process. We pray that You give Noelle and her birth mother peace tonight as well. We love You and thank you for all you do. Amen

Sunday, January 23, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 23

Some have criticized our intentions so I want to be completely transparent with our motives for adoption.  Jason and I have a beautiful little girl, Cora, who is four years old. I always wanted my children close together because my brother and I are five years apart.  When Cora was two, we found out we were having a second child who was due in May.  Perfect timing...I'll have the whole summer off to spend with the baby just like I did with Cora.  Then the unexpected happened when on my 28th birthday, I miscarried.  We were devastated. We had already had an ultrasound and heard the baby's heartbeat.  We didn't know if the baby was a boy or girl.  I named the baby Judah Storm.  Judah means praise and I chose Storm because God saw me through, with the grace to praise Him even in the storm. The doctor advised for us to wait three months before trying again.  We did and immediately became pregnant.  One week after finding out the "good news" we received another blow.  I was angry at everyone...God, myself, every pregnant woman I saw.  I couldn't comprehend what God was thinking.  How could he bless the womb of so many people, some that do drugs while pregnant or abuse their children and not bless mine.  This time Jason and I decided to wait longer.  My body and mind needed to heal.  When we thought that the timing was right, we decided to try again.  All of a sudden my body went cycle wouldn't regulate.  I was going to the OB/GYN every month trying to figure out what was wrong so we could fix it.  One afternoon after coming home from getting blood work, I was sitting in the car crying, praying, wanting to cuss, just plain frustrated.  Why were there so many "road blocks"?  I felt like all I could see were "dead end" signs.  The doctor starting talking about fertility drugs and I couldn't find any peace.  Jason and I had thought about adoption before Cora was even born.  We started opening up dialog with each other about it.  As we researched and prayed, I starting feeling peace.  Those once "road blocks" turned into "detour" signs.  I knew that God had placed the desire to have more children in my heart, but it wasn't in the way that I thought it would be.  The Lord says in Isaiah, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways  my ways.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  God has an ultimate plan for my life.  He has brought me through some painful experiences, but I choose to trust him and praise him regardless.  Why do people choose to adopt and why are there children to be adopted?  I think that circumstances lead to both, but God makes a path to lead us to each other.

Father, I want You to have all the glory in my life.  I am nothing without You.  I thank you that You have carved a path in my heart for Noelle.  We will be an answer to each others prayers.  Thank you, Lord, for trusting us to do Your will to take up the cause of the fatherless.  It's worth it all.  I love you, Father. Amen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 22

We just got back from Atlanta after visiting with some of Jessica's family today. While there, we visited the International Farmer's Market on Buford Highway. I could spend hours in there. They carry foods from everywhere. Asian foods (especially Korean), Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, West Africa, India, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Eastern Europe. As you can imagine the clientele match the selections, and this place was packed. I am sure if you stood in one place for five, minutes you would have heard at least 6 or 7 different languages. I slipped out my phone and took some pictures at the meat counter of all the people calling out their orders. Seeing all these people of different nationalities in one place reminded me of a song. "Jesus Loves the Little Children". I know this seems a little corny, but its what ran through my mind. There are a lot of different versions of the song, but one of Cora's favorite books has my favorite version in it.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Most all of us know this song by heart. But in this version, it doesn't stop with just the mention of the color of their skin, but the other verses point out the different backgrounds. The verses that follow are about how Jesus loves the farmland children, mountain children, cold land children, and even the small town children. Cora recognizes her self as a small town child. In all these different verses, one thing is clear, Jesus loves the little children of the world. Children with homes or without are all loved by Him.
Mark 10:13-15 
 13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us. We thank you for the many blessing You have given us. We pray for all the children in this world who do not have a place to call home. We pray for Noelle to quickly be united with us. We pray they all find a home. We pray that they feel Your love and come to know Your love. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 21, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 21

The other night while I was bathing Cora, she wanted to know what her first words were.  This sparked conversation between her daddy and me as to whether Cora's first words were actually "mama" or "dada".  Cora interjects, "what do you think Noelle's first words will be?"  I explain that depending on how old Noelle is when she comes home, she may actually be making a variety of French, Swahili, or Lingala sounds. I am currently using a computer program to learn French, setting aside an hour after school each day to practice.  Right now I'm learning colors and animals.  I can't really figure out how knowing "the red fish" in French will help me while in the Democratic Republic of Congo but you never know. Besides for travel purposes, I am striving to learn portions of these languages so that I can soothe Noelle when she comes home because it will be a strange place to her.  I have heard other stories of moms learning lullabies in the native language of their adopted children so that they can hear something familiar. I hope to retain enough so that I can continue to teach Noelle.  I don't want Noelle to lose a connection with her birthplace and culture. Language learning is a powerful thing.  It bridges communication between cultures and connects people personally.  It's awesome to think that God speaks every language, none are foreign to Him.  He hears me when I pray in English.  He hears my step-mom when she prays in Korean.  He hears my friend in Mexico when he prays in Spanish.  The list goes on and on.  The key is that God hears us when we pray and whether we live in the United States, Iraq, or China...he speaks back to us in the language of our heart.

Psalm 66: 19,20
19 But certainly God has heard me;
         He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
 20 Blessed be God,
         Who has not turned away my prayer,
         Nor His mercy from me!

Lord, thank you for hearing me when I pray, cry, complain, laugh.... Thank you for never leaving me nor forsaking me. I praise you for your faithfulness, for your mercy that is new every morning.  Grant me strength and wisdom as I seek knowledge and understanding.  You know all things, Father.  I love you.  Amen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 20

The blog keeps statistics as to how many different people view the site, where they are located, and lots of other interesting things. I think it is cool to see where everyone comes from and at what time of day it gets the most traffic. Looking at the numbers, I am amazed at the amount of interest. Since we started '90 Days' we have had over 2,200 views and viewers from 10 different countries. Those number may not be that big in terms of websites but to me, that is awesome. To me, that is 2,200 friends. 2,200 times someone has thought about our family and Noelle. 2,200 times someone has said a prayer for us and what we are doing. I have to admit, I have been a little nervous about everything today. Not in our calling or our love for Noelle, but in things related to the adoption process. I have been searching for more info about our agency, the DRC, and stories from other families adopting from the DRC. I had to go back and look at my own writings, shake myself a little, and say "the Lord has got this". After that is when I checked the blog statistics. These numbers may not mean much to some but it means a lot to me. I hope this blog is an encouragement to all who read it as it is also is for me. So with all this I want to say, thank you. Thank you to all who read this, encourage us, and pray for us. You are a part of our journey as well and one day, when Noelle is older, she can look back at the blog, the comments, and the donations and know she has been loved and adopted by many.

Judges 18:5-6

 5 Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.”
 6 The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.” 

Dear Lord, thank You for the love and support our family receives on our journey. We know you will provide and however the path changes, that our results will be Noelle. We thank You for those who join us in different aspects of this adoption. You are our strength and we love You, Lord. Amen

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 19

**  I apologize for the post being later tonight than usual. It has been a crazy evening. I will try and keep it short and sweet. **

Back on day 13, I talked about the awesomeness of God. I gave some examples of just how vast and holy He is. I followed that with some thoughts about how he knows and cares for us. Then on day 16, I wrote about our priorities and how my views on life are changing. Today, I want to build on these thoughts. I've discussed thoughts on who God is but I want us to look more at who we are. What is our purpose? Is it to attend church regularly, be a "good" person, and as Francis Chan puts it, "try not to cuss". It is more than that. Everyone's purpose or will in life is exactly the same. To serve God with everything in you. We all have a desire in our hearts to do something amazing, to really make a difference in this world. The only way to do that is through Him. I am preaching to myself here. Things I know I should do, I don't for lots of reasons. I have bills to pay, or obligations, and all kinds of responsibilities covering this and that. Do we take the time to really think about what is truly important? I know that with this adoption we are doing something that God wants us to do. We are stepping out in faith because we have a lot of unanswered questions. Where will the money come from? What happens if we have "roadblocks" in the Congo and have to stay longer than expected? How will we handle any attachment issues? We don't have the answers, but God does and He will work these out in His time as long as we serve Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight.

Heavenly Father, we love You and worship You. We are here for one purpose and that is to serve You. We pray for Your provision as we proceed through this adoption. You will make the crooked path straight, and for that, we thank You. Amen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 18

I have been taking some of our required classes online during my lunch break. I just completed the first class 'The Journey of Attachment'. It explains the difficulties involved in adopting a child who has issues with attachment. This is very common in international adoption because many of these children come from orphanages. They are commonly behind in their development both physically and emotionally because they have not received the personal affection and attention that most children  receive from day one. I find this interesting and very sad. It takes some time for them to learn to depend on their adoptive parents because they don't understand the concept of mom & dad. They have mostly had to depend on themselves. Even if they have been fed and "taken care of" in a good orphanage, they are still often behind in their development because they are lacking the love of a parent. Even infants only a few months old show signs of attachment disorders. These babies struggle from lack of LOVE. You think that babies don't really know anything, which on the most part is true. Then why does the lack of love matter as long as their needs are met? The answer is that they were created by the Creator who is LOVE. We are all created to love and to be loved. These babies inherently have the need to be loved. Without it, they will always struggle and possibly eventually die. Our God loves us. Each and every one of us, but we are doomed to perish unless we accept his love and return that love to him. We are all orphans lying in a lonely crib, desiring the love of a father. When we cry out to Him, He comes running to not only supply our need but to love on us. We are just like Noelle. Jessica and I love her and she does not know who we are or that we exist. God our father loves us even more and yet some of us act as if he is not there. If only we would cry out from our cribs....

Matthew 7:7-8
    7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

God, let us never forget who we are and who You are. You are our father that we love and we cry out to You to feel Your love. We pray that Noelle feels your love from her first day on this Earth until her last. We ask you keep her safe and healthy, that there will not be any attachment disorders or any other problems for that matter. You are the God of all and can do all things. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 17

"Mommy, will you still play with me when Noelle gets here?"  This was the beginning to our bedtime discussion last night.  "Of course I will, baby."  I continue to tell Cora how she is so special to me.  She is my first baby girl and may be the only child I get to carry in my belly.  "But she will be adopted" is Cora's response (indicating her realization that being adopted is indeed special).  "Yes, and that will make Noelle special, too."  As I contemplate sharing love, time, and energy, I admit that I do get nervous about having two children. Then I think about God's ability to love all of humanity.  We are each the apple of His eye and hold a special place in His heart.  After all, He created not one of us exactly the same but as unique individuals.  He has personal love for each one of us.  I have no doubt that I will be able to love each of my children equally. As for time and energy, I believe that will work itself out.  

Ephesians 3:4,5
For he chose us in Him before the creation of this world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Father, Thank you for your love toward me and for choosing to adopt me as your child.  In your omnipotence, you care for each of us intimately.  I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Help me to conform to your image of love and mercy.  Amen.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 16

We are so blessed and yet we take so much for granted. We (especially Americans) worry about things that are so petty. Let me soap box for a moment. It drives me crazy when I check my Facebook and most of the posts that I see are things like, "which should I choose the Droid or the iPhone" or "I have not bought anything in three days because I am stuck at home from the snow. I need a shopping trip". Our focus is so far from where it should be, it is sickening. I am not pointing fingers because I fall victim to the same materialism myself at times. Let's face it, we are bombarded with it in America everywhere we go. As Christians, I have heard it said that the easiest way for the devil to attack us is by stealing our time. We let ourselves get so busy in things that is not so important in God's eyes that we open ourselves up to sin. It is so easy for us to lose our focus. We focus on measuring up to those around us instead of measuring ourselves to who God wants us to be. Let me quote something from Crazy Love that hit home to me. "If one hundred people represented the world's population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4,000 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet?" Another quote, "Which is more messed up - that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don't think we are rich?" Since we have made the decision to adopt internationally, I find it harder to turn my head from what life is like in less fortunate countries. It is becoming harder to turn the channel when they are showing scenes of starving children or refugees in make-shift camps on tv that are just struggling to survive. It is different for me now. Now I see my daughter in these places. I want to jump on a plane find her tonight and bring her home. I don't want to turn a deaf ear to those on the other side of the world that are crying and in need of help. I want to save Noelle. Not just Noelle, but all these children that need homes, that need love.

Matthew 6:19-21

    19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God, forgive us for our lack of concern for others. Forgive us for all the times we have ignored our calling to take care of the poor and orphaned. Please keep us focused as to not miss the opportunity to help those that cannot help themselves. Please allow us to serve You by serving them. We love You, Lord. We want to show Your love to others so as to receive Your love ourselves. We pray that we do not miss these opportunities again. In Your name we pray. Amen

Saturday, January 15, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 15

Before starting this adoption, I was clueless to what the process actually entails. When you first inquire about adoption, you are bombarded with information about the process, the strange terminology, and the order that you need to do things. I am still not 100% on what all we need to do, but we are taking it one step at a time. The order can vary depending on the type of adoption and where you are adopting from. In our process, step one was applying to an agency and being accepted. That has been completed. The next step in our adoption and the first for many in any adoption is completing a homestudy. This is where we are now. We have eluded to it in many posts but never really explained what it is. The home study is where a licensed social worker or agency verifies that you are an able and willing parent. They check to make sure you can support additional children in your home and that you are a stable and able parent. As with any aspect of adoption, it is somewhat tedious and expensive. It's weird to think about all the hoops you must jump through and all the red tape you must cut to change a child's life, but there is no requirement to bring a child into this world biologically. Anyways, I thought to enlighten everyone on the subject, I would show you the checklist that must be fulfilled  to complete your homestudy and move on to the next step:
  • Fee contract (one for file – one for family)
  • Application Form – 5 pages - both applicants sign in ink
  • Financial Form –  2 pages -both applicants sign in ink
  • Adult Medical Forms (need a medical form on all adults living in the home) 
  • HIV and TB skin test on adults
  • Police Checks (state & local)
  • Marriage Questions (one per applicant)
  • Parenting Questions (one per applicant)
  • Adoption Questions (one per applicant)
  • Child Abuse Disclaimer (one per applicant and any adults in the home)
  • In home visit (to examine our residence)
  • Discipline Form (how we discipline our children)
  • Release of Liability
  • HIPPA Form (one per applicant)
  • Autobiography (one per applicant)
  • Guardianship Form
  • Authorization to release home study
  • Authorization for background checks
  • 10 hours of Hague accredited classes/training
  • 2 in office meetings/interviews
  • 5 reference letters from friends and family
Also, a copy of the following:
  • 1040 Income tax forms from the past three years 
  • Birth certificates on all members of the family
  • Divorce Decree (if applicable)
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security cards on all adults in the home
  • Health insurance and automobile insurance card
  • Vaccinations of Pets
  • Adoption decree(s) if any previous adoptions
  • Custody Order if you have custody of the child you plan to adopt
  • An employment letter written by your employer or human resources department. It needs to state your job title, salary, and date of hire.
  • A snapshot of your family.
I think that I may be leaving some things out but you get the picture. I know that this is long and boring to most, but I wanted to paint a more accurate picture of what we mean when we talk about being overwhelmed in the process and what the term 'homestudy' actually means. We have the bulk of this assembled and hope to have our study completed by the end of January. As I said above, this is just one of our first steps but it is a big one. We have many more governmental forms, applications, and documents ahead. Now that you know more of the details please pray for us in this process. I know this is not a very inspirational post but this is the nuts and bolts of what we are doing to reach the goal of bringing Noelle home. We have to make sure our i's are dotted and our t's are crossed.

God, thank you for the position You have placed us in. Please give us strength to complete the tasks we have before us. We pray that in this"process" we are completing that we will be a witness for You and that every aspect will be used in some way for Your glory. Amen.

Joshua 1:9

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Friday, January 14, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 14

I am humbled and stand amazed at God's faithfulness today.  I mentioned back on Day 7 that the only factor throughout making the decision to adopt that made me think twice was finances.  I talked about how God had taken that fear away one Sunday morning a couple of months ago, and how God had come through already with his promise to provide.  Well, He is an on time God, yes He is.  Tonight I went to workout at the Y and Jason decided to work over a little.  It was close to the end of my step class so I told Jason just to wait on me and we would leave together.  We picked up Cora and were discussing dinner plans.  Jason didn't feel quite up to what I had planned to fix for dinner due to his wisdom teeth extraction last week.  We thought of a couple of places to eat at that had "soft" food.  We decided on a place and then changed our mind at the last minute.  We ended up at the local Chinese restaurant.  The hostess sat us near a former student and her family.  We said hello and got Cora ready to eat her chicken nuggets that we had picked up at McDonald's on the way (something that Jason and I had said pre-Cora that we would never do).  A few moments later my student's mom came over and sat at the table with tears in her eyes.  She said "you are going to think I am crazy, but I heard that you all were adopting and God put it on my heart to give you a donation."  She continued to tell me that she had thought about the fact that she doesn't really see me very often and that when I walked into the restaurant, God confirmed it for her.  She handed us a check for just the amount that Jason had spent (today) to pay for our adoption training classes (a requirement for our homestudy).  Actually the check was $20 more than the classes which just so happened to be the amount of our "divine appointment" dinner tonight.  God doesn't leave out one detail.  Just like Jason said last night, God knows the number of hairs on our head.   Jason and I are overwhelmed by God's handiwork.   

Psalm 77:12-15
12 I will consider all your works
   and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
 13 Your ways, God, are holy.
   What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
   you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
   the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. 

God, I am standing in awe of your limitless love.  You are faithful to your promises.  You are truly awesome.  My vocabulary cannot even describe all that You are.  Thank you for these moments of confirmation.  As you manifest yourself, You whisper that You are here.  You are an ever-present help in our time of need and doubt. Help us continue to walk out our faith. We praise You and give You glory for all that You have done and are going to do.  Amen!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 13

I think I am one of the last people on Earth to start reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan, but I am now in the process. Jessica picked it up in Cleveland yesterday and I am a few chapters in now but I am already hooked. I've been wanting to read it for a while and after some recent encouragement (Michelle & Rachel), I figured its time. I know I just started it, but there has been a few points made that I have really been dwelling on. I just want to talk about one tonight. I am not a scientific kind of guy but I have been thinking a lot about the first video referenced in the book. 'Awe Factor of God'. Pick the link and check it out. To really think about the vastness of God is a hard place to let your mind go. The size of our planet alone is almost incomprehensible. God has given us a wonderful place to live called Earth and we take it for granted. Just here on Earth we have mountains and oceans, jungles and rivers, natural beauty that can make you sit and stare at it for hours without saying a word. But outside of that, this Earth is just a tiny spec in our galaxy. Our Galaxy is just a tiny spec in our universe, and on top of that we have to realize that our God is still bigger. He made it all. He is over it all. Then when you dwell on this for a few moments, and you start to get that feeling in side of just 'awe'. You have to bring it back down and realize that he created, knows, and cares for YOU. Out of all the millions of planets in this universe and all the billions of people on Earth, he knows YOU. He loves YOU. I am not sure exactly where the author is going from this point, but as I think about it I believe it shows us just how our life should not be about us but be all about Him. Doing His work and glorifying Him. This adoption of Noelle is not just our desire, but what God desires for us. He has called us to adopting her and adding her to our family just as we are a part of His. In God's plan we need her as much as she needs us.

Luke 12:6-8

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 

God, we praise You for who You are. We are in awe of You. You are the God of all and we thank you for loving us. We thank you for the plans you have for us and we thank you for the journey You have set for us. We pray for your guidance along our journey and that you keep your hand upon us and Noelle. Please let us listen for your voice and go in the directions You would have us to go. To die to our flesh daily and follow the calling You have on our lives. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 12

Cora and I had a mother-daughter day today.  We went to a movie and to get ice cream.  We listened to Cora's favorite songs on the way there and Cora fell asleep on the trip home.  Periodically, I thought of our girl's day out plus one.  Next year will hold me and the girls days.  You know, those days when you go out for special treats or just stay in your pj's, watch movies, and eat popcorn at home all day.  Perhaps make cupcakes for Daddy or color Nana a picture.  I anticipate all these moments plus one more precious little girl to add to the excitement.  I look forward to planning another birthday party, reading new favorite books, and making up new songs to sing.  One question from our homestudy parenting questionnaire asks "What activities do you envision doing with your child?".  I think this is a good start to a lifelong list of memories.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 

Father, Thank you for loving me as your daughter and for treasuring the times that we spend together just as I hold dear the times I have and will have with my own children.  Help me to focus on the positive experiences to come and to know that You will help me through any rough spots along the way.  I praise You for the works Your hands have made. I love You, Abba Father.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 11

In November, I received a phone call from Bobbie our Sunday School teacher. She asked me if I would be interested in subbing for her in a couple of weeks because she was going to be out. Those that know me know that this is not my cup of tea. Jessica is the teacher in the family, not me. I did not know exactly how to respond and then she let me know that she just felt led to ask me. Then she asked if there was something on my heart I would like to share. God knew what was on my heart. She called during the time that Jessica and I had just made the decision to adopt. We had been researching and praying about it, but had not made it public yet. We had only shared it with a few close friends and had not told our families yet. In other words, YES there was definitely something on my heart. I spoke on how, as children of God, we are all adopted. We are adopted by Him and we can call Him father. I won't reteach the lesson that I did that morning (not now anyways), but what I do want to write about is confirmation. When you step out in faith, the flesh feels uncertainty. God knows us and knows we need affirmation and encouragement to keep us focused on Him. It seems like since we have made this decision to adopt it has been a roller coaster. I am thankful that after every low point or hurdle, God has been there to lift our heads and to help us focus on Him. It's almost as if we have received confirmation that we are doing the right thing everyday. When Bobbie asked me to teach because she felt led to do so and asked if there was something on my heart, that was confirmation for me. There have been things that have been crazy in our lives for months (can't go into details here) that just seemed to straighten out after we made this decision, that was an example of confirmation for us. In just little things, we have found confirmation from God. It may be from a sermon, a song, or even a comment or Facebook message.These things keep us encouraged and uplifted and we thank God for that.

Psalm 3:3 

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

God, thank you for keeping us focused on You and Your promises. You are faithful and Your word is true. We praise you for who You are. You are God. We ask that through trials and hard times along this journey that You place those in our path to encourage us and let us know that we are doing Your will. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 10

Today I found myself again thinking of Noelle's birth mother.  How old is she?  Is she married?  Does she have other children already?  I am attempting to read a book called "A Thousand Sisters" by Lisa J. Shannon which dubs the Democratic Republic of Congo as "the worst place on Earth to be a woman".  I think about the struggles that Noelle's birth mom might be facing at this very moment.  Was she a victim of a violent act which caused her to conceive?  Although this thought makes me squirm, it is a possibility.  Most of the unrest inside the DRC occurs on the eastern border that it shares with Uganda and Rwanda.  I looked at pictures today of a mass exodus of Congolese people from one area of the country to another in search of a more peaceful place to live.  Was she among those walking with everything they owned strapped to their backs?  We, in America, have no idea what people in other countries endure just to get food, clean drinking water, and shelter.  God, help us to look beyond ourselves.  I confessed to Jason the other day that I was fearful of reading that book (mentioned above) because I knew that with the knowledge I gained would come a responsibility to act.  Isn't that why most of us stop up our ears when we begin to hear bad news or look quickly away when we see a homeless person on the side of the road?  God is calling all of us to act on behalf of the defenseless.  Please join me in prayer for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Oh Father, please forgive me when I have been indifferent toward your call to act.  I pray for the people of the DRC right now.  Lord, I pray that You would raise up people that have a vision for peace and You will tear down strongholds of violence.  I pray for a special hedge of protection around Noelle and her birth mother.  May Your peace transcend her understanding. God, give us boldness as Your children to act.  Equip us with knowledge and compassion to do Your will on this Earth.  We love You, Lord.  Thank You for Your mercy that is new every morning. Amen.

Matthew 25:40
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Sunday, January 9, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 9

I mentioned before that Jessica and I still have our autobiographies to write. (Something we hope to have completed VERY soon) In it we are to "think and reflect" about our self and discuss experiences from different stages of our life. When I look back at my life I become thankful. As I go through time in my mind, I think about all the times I messed up and all the mistakes I made. Then I think about where I am now and what God has brought me through. I am thankful. I am thankful for praying parents. I did stupid stuff like most normal teenagers, but unlike most normal teenagers, I had a praying mom. I look back at different friends that I ran around with and now they have become alcoholics or drug addicts. I have wondered, "how did that happen to them and not me". I know one thing I had, and that was a mother that prayed for me everyday. When I was trying to rebel, I had God's protection on my life. I am thankful. I am not perfect and I still have faults and struggles, but I am thankful for the life God has given me. I am thankful for the opportunity God is giving us to be the parents of Cora and Noelle. Through this opportunity, we want them to grow up,  to serve God , and one day realize how blessed they were to have praying parents.

Proverbs 22:6

 6 Start children off on the way they should go,
   and even when they are old they will not turn from it. 

God, we are thankful for all you have done for us. We thank you for the life you have given us and for the adoption You have placed on our hearts. We promise to raise Noelle and all of our children to love and honor You. We dedicate our family to You and pray that You bless us and keep us. Amen.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 8

So many little things run through my head on a daily basis thinking of my daughter to be.  As I store away clothes that Cora has outgrown, I think of how cute Noelle will be when she's big enough to fit in them.  As I take pictures of Cora, I think of the pictures to come filled with sister hugs.  As I bathe Cora and dry her hair, I think of how I will fix Noelle's hair.  I never really thought about the similarities between awaiting the birth of one's biological children and the anticipation of the arrival of one's adopted children...What will she look like?...Will she be a night owl like her big sister?...How am I going to decorate her room?  I may not have the answers to these questions yet, but I know one thing for sure.  I will love this little girl.  She will be a gift from God just as Cora was to me and Jason.  

Lord, grant us patience as we await the miracle you have placed in our hearts.  Increase our faith as we depend on you to bring this to pass.  We thank You for loving us and adopting us into Your family, Father God. Amen.

Hebrews 11:1
 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Friday, January 7, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 7

As Jason and I discussed adoption, the only concern we had was finances.  We weren't worried about loving a child that wasn't born to us or what other people might think about us having a child of a different ethnicity.  Jason and I had led Financial Peace classes at church helping people learn how to get out of debt and now we were contemplating taking on the cost of adoption which we obviously didn't have laying around in some obscure bank account. One Sunday morning, our pastor was speaking on the many blessings that God has given us.  He was covering the many different P's...God's pardon, purpose, precepts, providence, provision, presence, and peace.  All of these spoke to my life, but as Pastor Scott gave examples of God's provision, faith burst forth on the scene.  In the car on the way home, I told Jason that I was no longer held back by anything concerning our daughter's adoption.  I knew that the Holy Spirit had confirmed God's word in my heart and that everything would come together.  Over the next few weeks, financial blessings seemed to roll in.  I received an unforeseen bonus at work, Jason's Christmas bonus came, and we were pledged our first donation toward our adoption.  Everything was coming together.  
      Christmas Day came and went.  Cora woke up the next day with fever.  Two days later we found out that she had the flu.  New Year's weekend the heat upstairs went out, Jason came down with flu symptoms the following Monday, then Wednesday we discovered that Jason's wisdom teeth had to come out.  I'm not going to lie.  I became very discouraged.  Where were the blessings, now?  We are trying to save for our adoption and we are having one thing after another pop up with dollar signs attached.  So I did what every good woman does, right?  My husband likes to call it "snowballing".  I cried about the heat unit, the new insurance with its new deductibles, the fact that if Jason would have got his wisdom teeth out last year when they bothered him it would have only cost $25, and then I got upset about being upset..."I should be more thankful"..."I shouldn't complain" know, the usual guilt trip I give myself when I am reacting in flesh instead of spirit.  God's word is a sword that pierces even those pity parties we throw ourselves when things aren't quite going the way we planned. Galatians 6:9 says "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
     God is still providing.  He provided the means for us to take care of everything that He already knew was coming our way these past two weeks, and I am thankful for His provision. 

Genesis 22:13-14

 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide…..

Lord, I thank You that You are our Provider.  You make a way when there seems to be no way.  We trust in your word that says You will provide.  We know that you have called us to adopt and that you will make provision.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 6

**disclaimer - I am on strong pain medication. Please give my grammar and spelling a break**

Well, not even a week in and I get behind on posting. I do have an excuse though. My unexpected surgery for the removal of my 2 lower wisdom teeth went well. The night after was rough but I am definitely over the hump and doing better. Naturally, because of my condition I have been thinking a lot about health care. I think of all the health problems our family has had in the past week (Cora flu, me flu, my wisdom teeth, & Jessica eye infection) and I think "man, this has been a tough week". Then I think about what if this same scenario happened to a Congolese family. Now, I don't know much about the health care system in the DRC. I don't know the availability of hospitals, doctors, or walk-in clinics, but I can assume some things. If the capital city in the DRC (Kinshasa) struggles with at least 2 black outs per week because electricity is so unstable. If most of the country doesn't even have electricity. And if  the average life expectancy for Congolese people are 46yrs for men and 49 years for women. The health care can not be good. In our problems last week, our family saw a pediatrician, a family doctor, an allergist, a dentist, and an oral surgeon. If we were a Congolese family, seeing this many medical specialists may not happen in a lifetime. Some of them may have died from our ailments. Things so easily treatable here are life threatening in countries like the DRC and other third world countries. We are so blessed not just have health care so readily available, but the best in the world.
 I want to step back and focus on the living conditions in the DRC. What would it be like to wonder if every time your child coughed if this was life threatening. We truly do not realize just how blessed we are even when we are having a "bad week". Do we really even know what a bad week is? Being blessed as we are comes with responsibility. I know not everyone is called to adopt internationally but I believe we are all called to do something. I hope those of you who are following this blog at least become inspired to help the lives of the poor and orphaned in some way.

James 1:27

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

God, thank you for the everyday blessings we take so often for granted and forgive us of the shortcomings that we have in taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves as You have asked us to do. We ask that those who have felt the calling You have on their lives, respond to the call and help the widow and orphan in the way you have them to do so. We ask that every dollar donated or every hour volunteered be fruitful and multiplied. We pray for health in the DRC and the rest of the world. We praise you for all that you do. Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 5

**I will have to keep this very short and sweet today. I am over the flu like symptoms and now have an unbelievable tooth ache (probably wisdom teeth). When it rains it pours I guess.**

**Also, another small note. There has been some confusion to the purpose of these "90 Days". It does not mean we will have Noelle home in 90 days, just that we would like to have unified prayer for our family over the next 90 days. Each day focusing on a different aspect of the adoption and process. We hope to have her home by Christmas.**

As I mentioned before, we are knee deep in paperwork for our home study right now. So please pray that we stay strong and focused. That the words we write are favorably received and that tests we take and forms we fill out all meet approval. We have done well so far in getting things required accomplished. The last 2 big writing assignments we have left are our autobiographies (1 each). There are still many forms to fill out and statements to make, but we will keep our eyes on Him and for Noelle.

Isaiah 26:3-4

3 You will keep in perfect peace
   those whose minds are steadfast,
   because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
   for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. 

God, keep us focused as we grow weary with the paperwork. Please bless every form we fill out and every test we take. We know the desire in our hearts is from You and You will meet our needs. Amen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 4

 The room is crowded and quiet. I walk up to the window at the front desk to sign in. A lady behind the window asks, "What are you here for?" I awkwardly respond, "an HIV test and..." She interrupts, "do you have an appointment?" I nod yes. She responds, "Sign in, have a seat". I sign the list and look for the nearest seat available. At that moment, there must be a dozen different opinions being gathered of me in these people's minds. It's like you can feel the looks. I know why I am there and doing this, but they don't, which almost makes it funny. I got to thinking about this more and these are probably the same type looks we can expect to receive by having a multi-racial family. People hear or see certain things and immediately think they know the entire story. I hope that when people see our family, they will see love - God's love, that we will be a light to others, and tear down walls that they may not even realize that they have.
 We will soon begin classes dealing with being a "conspicuous" family as part of our requirements. It is something Jessica and I look forward to. I know it will have its moments but, God has called us to do this and we will be "equipped" both mentally and spiritually when we have these encounters.

Matthew 5:11-12

   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

God, we pray that you give our family unity and strength when we are seen negatively by others. We ask that you soften hearts that may have hard feelings toward us, our children, and our family. We honor You in all that we do. Amen.

Monday, January 3, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 3

Well, I haven't been this sick in a long time. So I am going to keep it short and simple today.

  For any adoption, you must complete what is called the home study. It is where a licensed social worker interviews you and your family to create an official report that states you are a candidate to adopt. It includes interviews, a visit to inspect your home, and tons and tons of paperwork. We are hoping to complete this by the end of the month or early February. I will probably talk about different aspects of the home study quite a bit during the next posts since that is where we are in the process. Also, I will try to explain things better as I go, I am just not feeling up to it today.
  For today's focus, we want to pray for the physical aspect of the home study. Since I am going to the doctor this afternoon, I will discuss with her about receiving our medical clearances. I also have an appointment tomorrow to get my HIV & TB test. (that is an awkward appointment to set up) Jessica goes to the doc tomorrow as well. So when we pray for the physical part of this process we want to pray for a healthy household. Covering every member and member-to-be and pray for our family to be blessed with good health for many years to come.

1 Samuel 25:6

6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!

God, we praise You for the life you have given us, and we thank You for the good health you have blessed our family with. We pray that You continually bless our family and keep us safe and healthy. We honor you in all that we do. Amen.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 2

  Today we want to pray for the birth mother of Noelle. Think about it. What circumstances can you think of that would force you to give up your child. I would bet to say that if you are reading this, you are in a position where that would never happen.That is a hard place to allow your mind to go. The infant mortality rate in the Congo is almost 1 in 10. That means that 1 in every 10 babies born in the DRC will not reach their first birthday. That puts it in perspective for me. To think that the only way your child can live is to give them away to strangers is almost unfathomable. I think the birth mother of our daughter is probably in one of two positions. The first, she is pregnant and scared. She has no idea as to what she will do with this baby. She may be a child herself. In sub-Saharan Africa, the teen pregnancy rate can be as high as 1 in 6. Or secondly, she has just given this child up for adoption and is grieving her loss. She may be questioning herself and battling depression. I know there are other scenarios, but I know these two are very common situations.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

 16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

God, we know you love each and every one of us. You know our struggles and our flaws. We pray for our birth mother. We pray for her soul and that she comes to know you if not already. We pray that You give her peace during this terrible time in her life, and that she sees what she has done or is doing is out of love for her child and through this, sees Love herself. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 1

**Happy New Year to everyone! I hoped to start this morning, but I am about 90% sure I have caught the flu from Cora, so I am struggling.**

  Let me begin by giving you some DRC info. The official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is French. They actually have four officially recognized languages, but French is the "official" language. Be that as it may, there is a good chance that our adoptive daughter will be young but, will probably recognize French sounds (or Lingala). Language is Jessica's area so she will have to break out the Rosetta Stone, brush up on some French and teach me as well. We are not sure exactly how the name thing will work. Will our daughter already have a name? Will she be too old to give her the name we would like to give her? Who me it's not the most important thing. I would guess she will probably have a birth name and we would like to use it (maybe as a middle name) but we would also like to name her ourselves. Anyway, because of the time of year we made this decision and began the process, and because we hope to complete the adoption before Christmas next year. We are leaning toward the name 'Noelle'. It is a French name meaning Christmas and to us there could not be a better gift to receive than another daughter. So from this point on we will refer to our "daughter to be" as Noelle. We may change this and if we do we will notify you here.

Now for the title.......

  Let me start by explaining what "90 Days for Noelle" is. Each day for the next ninety days we want to pray over a specific aspect of our adoption. There are so many "uncontrollable" factors in an international adoption, but we know that God is in control. We would like any of you who read this to join us in our focus each day and say a prayer for the adoption. Today is the first day of the New Year and this adoption is about saving a life. Noelle's life. 

Psalm 139:12-14

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

God, we thank you for everything you have done and are going to do. We ask that whether Noelle has already been born or is still in her mother's belly, that You keep your hand upon her. That You keep her safe and protected until the day that she is forever united with us. We pray for her health and well being and that she feels Your love every day that she is on this earth. In Your name we pray, Amen.