Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Fun!!

We really had a blast this Halloween! Caleb decided he wanted to be a dinosaur (originally we bought this costume for Noah- we missed him so much!) instead of Scooby Doo. So, a dinosaur he was! I think he made a pretty cute one :) Not only did we have fun trick or treating, we also had a great time making Halloween cookies, and carving pumpkins.
We would appreciate your prayers this week for all that is going on in Ethiopia regarding Noah's case. We know this week will be pivotal in terms of making sure the right paperwork gets completed so that our embassy date for November 17th can be scheduled.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Embracing the Hard Times

The latest update is........Monday morning we found out that the embassy would not accept our case "as is" and decided that whatever the judge ruled should be the procedure that is followed . Of course we were very disappointed as we knew this decision would increase the time that Noah would be away from us. The hardest part of the news was that our agency (whom we appreciate being very honest with us) informed us that they could not predict a time frame for correcting the case and traveling to Ethiopia, given the fact that these new guidelines were so new they had never had to operate under them. Monday we felt very discouraged and honestly didn't have a lot of hope of bringing Noah home anytime this year.

Thankfully Tuesday afternoon our agency contacted us with some good news, Praise the Lord!!! They feel that MOST LIKELY the case can be completed satisfactorily in two weeks, which would allow us to attend embassy on November 17th, and would have us leaving for Ethiopia in a little over two weeks! This is great news as we feared it would take several weeks before we would be able to attend embassy. Of course there is no guarantee of anything, but they seem very positive and we, too, have a spirit of peace and contentment with this news. Praise God!

Despite our frustration and disappointment during the last few weeks, God is truly in control and does have a plan. A dear friend stopped by our home Tuesday night and shared with us what God had been revealing to her about suffering. While I wouldn't call what we have been enduring the last couple weeks "suffering", I think the same wisdom she shared applies to our situation. The last thing most of us want to do when faced with difficult circumstances or situations is to embrace or welcome the hard times. But isn't that exactly what we should do? God's word tell us in 1 Peter that the grief we suffer from various trials have come so that our faith, which is of far greater value than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in bringing praise and honor to Jesus Christ. You see, the more trials that come, the more opportunities for God to refine our faith, and make us more like Jesus. This is such a hard attitude to have in the midst of suffering, I will be the first to admit. Sometimes I feel like the man who called out to Jesus in Mark 9:24, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!"

Last Sunday we began revival services at our church. We had our final service last night. I can't tell you how God used these services to speak to my heart, and I don't think anyone would deny that God is moving among our congregation. I have been so challenged, convicted, encouraged and strengthened. And it could not have come at a more pivotal time in our lives, as we prepare our home to welcome another precious child, another son that God has entrusted to us on this earth. The focus of the pastor's sermons were largely on the spirit of God and prayer. Oh how we need to surrender our lives to His spirit each and every day (and for me, each and every second of every day :) I know that I can not be the wife, mother, daughter and friend I want to be without allowing His spirit to have free reign in my heart and mind.

Prayerfully we will have more good news to share soon, and of course some Halloween pictures of Caleb, uh, I mean Scooby Doo coming soon :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Praying for a Miracle.....

We did hear news this evening from our agency, which we are thankful for. Unfortunately, it was not good news. The judge was presented with the new information and she is now expecting MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) to issue a new recommendation of adoption. This would mean MOWA would have to reopen our case, review it, and approve it again. This would be very time consuming and about the worst thing that could happen at this point. Our agency's attorney is suggesting that we take our case to the embassy and ask them to accept the adoption decree as it is. Monday they will contact the embassy and present this request to them. Hopefully it will only take a few days for their decision to be made.

We have no idea if we are going to be able to travel at the end of October, but I will say, it is not looking good. We are truly praying for a miracle at this point. Praying that the embassy will have understanding and compassion on our case, and not require us to start over with MOWA .

It is not an exaggeration at this point to say that if the embassy does require MOWA to issue a new recommendation, it could take several weeks before we would be able to travel, and we would be fortunate for Noah Nigus to come home this year.

This is all very discouraging news, but we still trust that God is in control of this decision, and we are striving to not let Satan create doubt in our hearts and minds, but I will honest, it is a battle right now.

Thankfully tomorrow we have the chance to do something we really love to do- tell others about adoption! We are leading a seminar at our church for families interested in international adoption. Funny timing, huh?

Despite all the heartache, the emotional roller coaster, the frustration and disappointment that the adoption journey can bring with it, we would undoubtedly do it all over again. Why? Because the joy of knowing that you have been given the opportunity to show Christ's love to a child that has sacred value to the Creator of the world just somehow outweighs the other stuff. I can't explain how, but it just does. It isn't always easy, but it is Christ's heart. His heart is with the orphan, this we know. And the miracle of adoption is truly that, a miracle.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Still in the USA :(

So, I was hoping my next post would be from Dubai, but I am actually typing this post from my bedroom. Yep, we did not get on a flight today to Ethiopia. Why, you ask?

Well, at about 1:30 pm yesterday afternoon while I was at a local pumpkin patch / farm with Caleb on a field trip, I received a phone call from our adoption agency. I didn't answer it, because honestly I didn't know the number , and for those of you who know me, I hardly ever answer my cell phone if I don't know the number, and I honestly don't do a good job of answering my phone even when I do know the number :) So, I waited to see if they left a message, and they did. I played the message while Caleb was playing on the playground, but all I could hear was that it was our adoption agency, and something about a travel delay and our son's birth father. Major freakout! Major!! I immediately called Zack who had just left and told him to call our agency, as I didn't have good reception and would be boarding a school bus shortly, as we were ready to leave the pumpkin patch. I did not know what to think at this point! I was supposed to be leaving in 24 hours to bring home our son!!!!

What we came to understand is that there is an error with paperwork regarding Noah's birth father. The police report says he is deceased, the orphanage paperwork says he is unknown, which apparently is the correct status. But, they have to match before the embassy will issue Noah a visa, allowing us to enter back into the USA. This is usually an easily resolved issue, and in fact, we didn't even know anything about the discrepancy in wording until yesterday! In our case, the person who was responsible for making the change (should have been done almost two weeks ago)in wording simply didn't do it. That's it. Just a simple mistake. We all make them, but this one really stinks!

So, we canceled our tickets (not cheap, but thankfully we were able to pay a fee and have them completely refunded) and have tickets on hold for the next embassy date, November 2. Prayerfully, we will know at the beginning of next week that the issue has been resolved, and we will leave for Ethiopia on October 30.

At first, I admit, I was angry, but God helped me work through that pretty quickly, reminding me, as I mentioned above, that we all make mistakes. Now, just disappointment and still a little shock remains. We just were so looking forward to having Noah home. When I told Caleb I wasn't going to be able to go and get Noah as planned, he said in a very distraught voice, "Oh, no!". I explained to him Noah was coming home, just not as soon as we had thought. I think he is pretty disappointed too.

So for now, we continue to pray for Noah, pray that this issue will be resolved, and pray that God will help us be patient through the next two weeks.

In the meantime, we are enjoying our time as a family and this beautiful fall weather. God is good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Blessings, Fall Prayers.....

The most recent picture we received of Noah Nigus! He looks so grown up and mature in this picture! Caleb likes to look at pictures of his brother, and when he saw this one, he said, "He's bald!" I told him that was okay, that he bald once too :) We love Noah and can't wait to bring him home!

Fall is definitely upon us, and I love it! It is my most favorite time of the year. I love the colors, the smells, the family gatherings, the crisp, cool weather, football....I love it all! Of course, this fall is extra special as we will be adding a member to our family very soon :) We hope that Noah Nigus will feel comfortable enough to participate in all the fun fall activities, like going to the pumpkin patch, trick or treating, fall festival at church, etc, but if he does not, that's okay too :) We know coming to America is going to be a huge adjustment for him, and these things might be too overwhelming. Just in case, though, Caleb did help me pick out a Halloween costume for him- it is a really cute dinosaur costume. Maybe he will want to go trick or treating, or maybe just stay home and hand out candy. We'll see!

Fall also reminds me that winter is not too far away. I really don't mind winter, I actually like cold weather and snow. And I love Christmas time!! And, just like fall, this winter will be extra special as we will celebrate not only Caleb's birthday, but Noah's as well during the month of December. The only thing I don't like about winter is that it reminds me of how fast the year has gone. This year seems to have gone faster than any I can remember! It has been a great year, and I feel so blessed as I think about God's faithfulness to our family and how he has cared for us in our times of need. We have watched Caleb grow and change and become such a big boy. He is such a fun little guy to be around and I love being able to have conversations with him and play games with him. And of course God has allowed us to venture down a totally new road with our second adoption, which has been very challenging, but also very rewarding and fulfilling. We are beyond excited to begin our lives as a family of four in just a couple weeks!! I say all this to say that as I look outside my window at the beautiful fall leaves, I just have to thank God for all the ways in which he has blessed me. Not because he has to, but because he just wants to.

My prayer is that I will be all I can be for Him for the rest of the fall and winter of this year. I want to be a patient, kind, and always loving mother to Caleb and Noah Nigus. I want to be an encouraging and loving wife to Zack. I want to be a caring and helpful daughter to my parents and in-laws. I want to share my passion for adoption and the poor with whomever I can. This is my prayer for the rest of the year.

Now, if you would be so kind as to remember these very specific prayer requests for our family for the rest of the year, we would greatly appreciate it!!

-prayers for safe travel for Tennille (my friend and travel buddy), Noah and I. We leave on Saturday, will spend a night in Dubai, and reach Ethiopia on Monday. We will leave Ethiopia on Friday, October 22.

-prayers for Noah Nigus as he leaves all he has ever known and enters into a totally new world

-prayers for Zack and Caleb as they wait for us to return

-prayers for Caleb as he adjusts to no longer being the only child. Please also pray that he will accept and love his brother quickly, and that Noah will also accept Caleb quickly

-prayers that Noah will be able to communicate with ease, as we see this being one of his biggest challenges in coming to America

-prayers for Noah's health and for the team of health care professionals as they direct his care

-prayers that Noah will be able to receive the love we have to give him

Thanks for all the prayers in advance!!! The next post will probably come from Dubai on Sunday!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Our Tickets are Booked, Bags are Packed (well, bags aren't packed quite yet :)

Praise the Lord, we finally received the news we needed today, and we were able to confirm our travel plans to bring home our son!!! We WILL be leaving Saturday, October 16 and returning Saturday, October 23. Our embassy date will be on Wednesday, October 20, and after passing through the embassy, Noah will be with us for good! He will not have to go back to the orphanage ever again. What a day that will be. Praise the Lord for his redeeming love!

For me, it almost seems surreal, as until around 4pm today we were unsure if we would be going in October at all. I did not want to even begin thinking about Noah having to stay in Ethiopia into November. Now, we won't have to. God really worked this situation out as only he can, and we praise him for that. The immigration officer who was in charge of our case began communicating with us on Monday, and she has been awesome!!! We are thankful for her willingness to see the urgency of our case.

We know that in less than two weeks our lives will change forever. In the midst of our excitement, there does still linger some fear and anxiety, but nothing that us and God can't make it through together. We are so excited for Noah to have a family to love him and care for him always, and so honored that God chose us to do so!

Last weekend Zack and I spent some time on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, where we met and later both graduated from. Because we were supposed to have left for Ethiopia last weekend, Caleb's nanna and papaw had planned a fun trip for him during this time, and even though we didn't leave for Ethiopia as scheduled last weekend, he still wanted to go with his grandparents. So, Zack and were all alone this past weekend. Though we missed Caleb so much, we had a great time together. Actually, we had a blast!!! We went to a movie and dinner, and we also went to a football game at EKU. We walked around campus together, and even visited our campus apartment (all 400 sq. feet of it) where we first lived after being married. Then we drove by our first house. It was a great weekend. As we were driving through Richmond and reminiscing about old times, I just marveled at the path that God has led us down. I would have never imagined it, but I also wouldn't want to change one part of it! It has been the most amazing journey! I am so thankful. We are so blessed.