We’re moving!

Great news! Now our website & blog are combined into 1 site!

www.PreparingAPlace.com

Be sure to subscribe to our blogs by entering your email address on the top right-hand side of the page.

Thanks! And we’ll see you there!

My only hope

In this process of waiting on the adoptions of our 2 boys from the D.R. Congo, and let me re-emphasize waiting, I have my good days and I have my bad. Some days, I’m able to think about them & simply be excited about our new arrivals. I can safely allow my heart & thoughts to go there and all is well, God is in control & my confidence rests firmly upon His shoulders.

Today is not one of those days. Today I find my thoughts drifting into frustration, hopelessness, even anger. It’s been 1 year and 1 month now since we’ve begun this journey, and yet another hopeful email to our adoption agency has once again returned to me with the only news of “no news”.

I wonder how much longer we’ll be forced to wait. I wonder how anyone, any family, can ever endure such a process as this. Yet they do. These families who have pressed through these burning coals that quench all of one’s self-determination, sense of control and fairy-tale notions and are now basking in the priceless reward of being home, as a family, with their adopted children, are becoming my new role-models.

Unless you’ve been through an adoption yourself or are very close to ones who have, you cannot imagine the kind of strength required to get through this. I wish it upon no one. I say this not as one having this strength, but only as one who knows someone who does! My only hope is Jesus.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.“- Matthew 11:28-30

I give up. I surrender. I can’t do this on my own. Jesus, I need you.

As I struggle day by day, as I learn how to practically put my trust in the Lord, as I learn to let go, I can’t help but think about not only all the other adopting families who are facing these same struggles right now, but all the ones to come. My desire is that I will endure this pain for a short while, and in time, be able to help others walk down this same road. That all of this would not be in vain. God desires to do a work in me so that I can encourage the same in others.

I long for the orphans of Africa to have mommies and daddies. I think about them all the time. My vision is not just for the 2 children we have coming, but for an entire continent.

My heart is for Africa. God has given me a burden to see the captives set free in that land. I don’t see orphans. I see a strong army of warriors who have yet to meet their deliverer. They have yet to meet their Jesus.

My desire, what my heart cries for, is to go to these children. Yes, to love them, to hug & kiss them, to feed them & keep them safe. But most importantly, to point them towards the only man who can save them. They must see the cross.

Lord, I surrender to your will. If I must endure this pain & discomfort, let it at least bring about the purposes that you have created it to. Help me to see your hand & cooperate with you and not fight against you. May it not be in vain. Oh, may it not be in vain.

He prowls like a roaring lion

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

As I hear about the goodness of God to others, I rejoice. Yet lurking in the dark corners of my mind, I can hear lies from the enemy. Not “Is God good?”, but “Is God good to me?”

The list often goes something like this:

  • God loves them more than you.
  • Those kinds of things happen to those kinds of people, but never you.
  • You are not as favored as other people are.
  • This is because of your sin that you are not as favored.
  • God’s hand is not truly on your life.

It’s not hard to see why the Bible says, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” -2 Corinthians 10:12

The lies and accusations will come. They always do. The prowling devil never rests.

The question is, what will I do about it?

A choice is laid before me, and I will always choose 1 or the other, whether I realize it or not. There is no neutral ground. I can either 1) Agree with the lies & thus give it authority over me, to control me, tie my hands & legs & keep me in bondage, or 2) I can be intentional about seeing it for what it is- a lie and not truth- meant to ensnare me. I break my agreement with the lie & I rebuke it in the name of Jesus. I declare that I will stand upon truth.

Those are the decisions that we are forced to make on a daily basis, that in time, define & shape who we are.

Do you know of someone who you greatly admire & look up to? Perhaps someone who is a world-changer, a mighty man or woman of God? I guarantee they are fighting the same battle as you from day to day. What sets a victorious warrior apart from a defeated one is how they choose to react to the lies.

The war is happening. You make your choice.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord

This has been the most expensive year of our lives.  Inflation, the value of the American dollar decreasing, paying the fees for the establishment of our non-profit organization, air conditioning unit dying, getting robbed of over $1,000 and a near $40,000 adoption are just some of the hands grasping for every cent of our income they can find.  It seems like we have been in a pool for hours, treading water to keep our heads above the surface, seizing every pocket of air that we can take in to stay alive.

Our strength is failing.  We are starting to sink.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh” ~Jeremiah 17:5

The good and bad part of this is that we have come to realize that God is the one who has thrown us into the pool.  Good part being that He has a plan to exhaust us of all our own strength so that we truly learn to trust in Him.  Bad part being that if we do swim to the side of the pool and get out without His hand pulling us up, we will end up in another body of water, probably much deeper, in our future.  God loves us too much to leave us as we are.

In John 6, before feeding the 5,000 men (probably around 20,000 people actually), Jesus tests His disciples, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”.  He was trying to pull out of their hearts where their confidence was placed.  “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get even a little.”  Their strength was insufficient for the dilemma at hand.  The disciples failed the test because they looked to their own resources in order to solve the problem.  When the very One who created the heavens and the earth, in whom no resource is ever exhausted, the bread of life Himself, was standing before them asking the question.  He wants our confidence in Him as provider.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
   whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.” ~Jeremiah 17:7-8

For those who have made a commitment to helping the poor, our trust cannot be in colored paper, our nation’s GDP or economic stability.  The god of comfort and mammon must be forsaken and the Bread of Life made the aim of our confidence.  We must have an unshakable reality at the core of our being that we trust in the Father’s goodness so that we may actually have something of value to give to the poor.  That we could say with the apostles, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from Godwe were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us…” ~ 1 Corinthians 1

God is looking for trees to plant by the streams of water.  Fearless of heat and worry-free of drought, always bearing fruit.

God, we set our hope on you who raise the dead, create bread out of nothing and make us able to comfort those in any trouble because of your deliverance.

Up, up and away!

I wish I was talking about a plane that would soon be carrying us to the DRC to finally pick up our babies, but unfortunately, I’m referring to our total bill for this whole thing. It just keeps climbing!

So much has changed since we first began our adoption process last July. First off, we were told the entire process would take 6-12 months. But due to the popularity of the DRC program, many more families have discovered the program & are now flooding the adoption agencies as well as the Congolese court system. I believe this has slowed down the process a lot. It’s a FANTASTIC problem to have considering the need is so great in the Congo, but not so great for Adam and I as we wait for our children.

Another significant change has been the total cost involved. I believe it may have started at a number around $23,000. It has now climbed to approximately $37,000. This is due to a number of factors.

1) The process has taken a lot longer than we expected, so that’s a lot more we have to pay in monthly child care fees.

2) The cost of child-care went up in July.

3) The cheap guest house we were going to stay at is under construction until the fall, so we’ll now have to stay at a hotel which is $180/night for at least 10 days or so!

Perhaps it was God’s mercy that we didn’t know about all of this when we first began. Maybe it would have kept us from doing it at all. But isn’t that how most experiences that grow us work? Take marriage for instance. We’re lured in by a handsome hunk (in my case) with wonderful and amazing qualities. How quickly after we say “I do” do we finally realize it was simply a trap that God uses to purify & perfect us in love.

We never like the oven. We think it’s always too hot. Yet in time, it bears much fruit. This adoption is just that. Stretching us, forcing us to trust God, pulling us closer to one another, learning to let go & let God lead and carry us.

He is the potter. I am the clay. Let the baking continue!


Do you want the good or the bad news first?

The good news: Our first Congo baby has sped through the initial court process a lot faster than our adoption agency had expected!

The bad news: Our 2 babies may now be a couple of months apart in the process, thus forcing us to take 2 separate trips to the Congo to get them.

The good news: Things are finally feeling like they’re moving!

The bad news: We’re probably still another 4-6 months out from even bringing the first one home.

The good news: We just celebrated our very first harvest of tomatoes that Adam grew in his experimental hydroponics garden! (Hey, anything to help pass the time, right?)

Awe-struck

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”- 1 Corinthians 2:9

The numbers didn’t add up. I didn’t know how it was going to work, but I knew it was what we needed to do. The best decision for our children, our family and what we felt the Lord was calling us to do.

Ever since I turned 16 years old, I have worked. I actually enjoy working. Being busy with many different tasks around the office, feeding off the energy I often get working with others. It’s rewarding to me. So although the decision to become a stay-at-home-mom was always my plan, it didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to be a stretch for me.

God was calling us to care for the orphan, and it was starting with these 2 little ones from the Congo. The first round. Although a mighty task in itself, still just a drop in the bucket of the grand vision that we carry in our hearts. Though it feels weak and shaky at times, God is still working His dream for our family into our dull, narrow-minded hearts.

With the end of our adoption process finally narrowing in, the reality of it slowly begins to become more and more real to us. Thankfully, yet also a little fearfully. We know things are about to drastically and dramatically change for our quiet, somewhat undisturbed lives. One of the biggest shakings being our finances.

Going from 2 already conservative incomes to only 1 is quite scary to a relatively young married couple who have never done it before. Add in 2 children from another country packed with infinite possibilities of medical needs and things we just have no idea about being first-time parents, and the whole undertaking can seem quite intimidating. Yet, as unrealistic as it seemed on paper or through the filter of our checkbook, we trusted that the Lord would provide. Somehow. Some way.

To our amazement, He did, and of course, in His perfect timing.

Last week, after 3 rounds of interviews within his company that he’s been at for the last 4 years, Adam was promoted to an amazing sales position with many perks that struck us both with awe of the amazing God that we serve.

Simply put, this was a miracle. The favor of God upon His children who put their trust in Him.

We didn’t deserve it, yet He graced us with His goodness. He surprised us with what we would have never even thought to pray for.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”- Matthew 6:25-26

Thank you, Jesus, that you never stop surprising us with your goodness.