Colin & Noelle

Colin & Noelle


CURRENT TIME IN ETHIOPIA.



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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One Year Waiting - With Hope.


Yesterday was our one-year mark on the waiting list.
When we originally signed up with our agency last spring, I believe there were about 30-40 people on the waiting list. (There are now over 120!) The timeline, from the point of getting on the waitlist until receiving a referral, was about 6-9 months. We were told at that point, nobody had really been waiting longer than 7 months.

We knew things could often change in this process but we thought, “Cool, we’ll hurry through this paperwork and home study, and hopefully have a referral by next spring.”
Funny, right?
Well, by the time we actually finished our home study (much later than expected), compiled our dossier, and officially made it on the list on September 17th, 2012, we were being told the waiting time was estimated to be closer to 9-12 months for a referral. We tried to balance being optimistic with being realistic.  So here we are at one year with no referral. We have moved from #85 when we arrived on the list, to #29 now.
My point in all of this is that you simply never know with adoption. You cannot predict it. There is no “due date” (with international, anyway!). There’s just a lot of waiting.
And a lot of changes along the way.  Followed by more waiting.
But as we wait, I have learned so many lessons. Experienced so many new things. Had my patience tested and my faith strengthened. And I wouldn’t trade-in this “wait” for anything.
Not yet, anyway. Not until it’s the right time.
Don’t hear me wrong – I am SO excited for the days to come when we’ll get our referral, meet our child for the first time, and get to bring them home. I am “nesting” and anxious and ready. (Oh, yes. And nervous for first-time parenting and all that comes with it!)
But I think the waiting has been good for my soul. It has taught me some of the most irreplaceable lessons. Things I’ve needed to learn and experience in order to grow into the woman that I’ll need to be to parent our future child. I know growth is a lifelong endeavor, but this has been a wonderful season of preparation. I can look back and clearly see what God has been trying to teach me and how He’s been trying to stretch me. I have had several of my deepest moments with Him in the past year. I’ve learned some big lessons. I’ve witnessed some miraculous answers to prayer. And my heart has even been changed in some ways. Waiting hasn’t always been “fun” or “ideal” or even pain-free, but so far each season has brought me tremendous blessings because of the wait. In that sense, it’s been an amazing year.
The Bible speaks repeatedly about God’s people being “refined by fire” similar to what happens with silver and gold. In the refining process the gold is melted and the impurities that are left over are stripped away. That’s when you’re left with pure gold. That’s where the true value lies.
So if the end result is “gold”, then by all means, let’s go through the fire to remove the excess and get down to the valuable stuff. If something is worth having, it’s worth all the waiting, aching, and suffering that comes with the territory.
Notice, I didn’t call it enjoyable. But I do believe that some joy can still be found.
That’s why I wouldn’t trade the past year of waiting for anything, despite how excited I am to move forward.

^^^^^^^^^^
 
Now, this post would not be entirely truthful or well-rounded if I left out the hard stuff…
There have been days that I just felt like this wait would not end. Days when I’ve cried. Days when I’ve seen other mothers, struggled with jealousy, and had to check my heart. Days when I’ve felt alone, despite the support of my amazing husband and all of the other adoptive families we know who are waiting right alongside us.
I have spent time lying in an empty nursery, staring at the few baby items we have, imagining the future. I have often found myself browsing through baby clothes I cannot buy because we don’t know a gender or size – and left frustrated because of the lack of gender neutral outfits past the 3-months size. I have spent time following the news to learn more about the current happenings in Ethiopia, and prayed fervently against the possibility of an impending drought and famine. (I have never prayed so passionately for rain in all my life.)
I have struggled with images of where my child might possibly be at any given moment. If they’re okay; if their parents are still alive. Why are they coming to us? Are they starving right now? Are they crying? Is anyone holding them? When can I get to them? 

^^^^^^^^^^
 
But again, it wouldn’t be completely honest if I ended this here, leaving you with the impression that the above arguments run through my head every day.
Each day is different. But most days – truly the majority of them – are good days. Not perfect. Not always “according to plan” or how I’d like them to go. But they’re good days. Overall, we’re okay. Overall, we’re excited. Overall, we remain joyful.
But do you know what I feel most often? Something I didn’t necessarily expect to feel during the waiting stage…
Blessed and amazed – and unsure of why God would possibly give us such a blessing. I feel privileged to be going through this process, through all the ups and downs. I feel undeserving of this kind of blessing, and humbled that He would call us to this. Humbled that He would see us, know us, and use us.
And in the days when I’m tired of waiting because I feel so ready for our baby to be home, I am reminded that the waiting is part of the blessing.
 

 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  – Romans 5:3-4
 

And this “hope” that is developed through trials and perseverance is not the same “hope” as you or I might consider it today. It is not “I hope the weather’s nice on our vacation!” The original word that is used (
ἐλπίς) is more closely related to the words “expectation”, “assurance”, and “trust”. It is not a flimsy word. It is not a “maybe”. It’s a confident trust. An expectation of that which we are certain of.

It is also used just prior, in chapter 4 of Romans where it is written about Abraham,
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,
just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’
Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
–Romans 4:18-25

 
Because of Abraham’s hope – because of his confident trust in God’s ability to do what He promised – Abraham did not waver. He did not relent to the pressure of believing his circumstances over his God. He was called by God for a purpose. He was not perfect along the way. He got impatient. But he never gave up. He never lost hope. He remained persuaded in the goodness of God, as well as God’s faithfulness to His word.
So we will wait. Not perfectly. Not always patiently. But we will wait, in confident trust, that God can and will bring His plan to fruition. We will refuse to “waver in unbelief”. We will be “strengthened in faith”. And we will give God all the glory while we continue to wait.
 
Of this I am fully convinced:
The waiting is part of the blessing.

 
-Noelle

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Garage Sale #2!

I wanted to let everyone know about our next fundraiser… another Garage Sale! We held one last year and raised over $600! You can read about that here. That was in large part due to awesome friends of ours who donated to make it a HUGE sale! Thank you, again!

This year, there will be an AWESOME twist. You see, we have new neighbors who moved in a few months back and it turns out that they happen to be in the process of adopting their first child as well! Talk about a blessing for us and our babies! As a result, we’ve decided to team up this year. Two lots, side-by-side, fundraising for two separate adoptions. We’re hoping that will draw in some crowds! : )

Here’s the deal:
WHERE: Our House (& our neighbors will be at theirs!)
                Message me for the address!
WHEN: SAT. September 28th, 2013 @ 8 a.m.
WHY: To help us fundraise to bring baby Graham home from Ethiopia!

 And here’s where we could use some help:
-Donations. These make all the difference! If you have anything you’d like to get rid of… there isn’t much we won’t take! Seriously. Clothes, electronics, baby/kid items, kitchenware, furniture, knick-knacks, etc. And we are happy to come pick it up from you! (We will take donations until the day of the sale, but it helps us out a lot if we can get as much as possible within a few days before to get everything prepped and ready to set out!)
-Help During the Sale. Last year we had one other person helping us, and I cannot imagine having done it without her. (Thank you Leatha!) With 3 of us, there were moments it felt like we were barely getting by. Leatha has graciously agreed to help us out again. Depending on how many donations we get and how big the sale is this year, we may need a few more people the day of the sale to help run things. We will provide coffee and breakfast as a nice little bribe!

-Shop / Spread the Word. It’s as easy as that! I will try to post again shortly before the sale to let you know what we’ll be selling in case there’s anything that catches your attention! (Hint: We already have some cute boys’ clothes and some pretty cool toys among other things!)


Thank you again to everyone who helped last year, and who have agreed to help this year! We appreciate each and every one of you!

Noelle
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Things Start Getting Real.

As I type this, I find myself at 2:15 in the morning, on a wacky sleep schedule, drinking coffee out of my favorite cup. Enjoying the quiet; relishing our newest update... and giddy at the thought of the numerous paint samples sprawled all over the kitchen table before me.

Between it all, it’s starting to feel real.

Over the course of the last year, I have felt pretty content with our waiting. There have most definitely been hard days, but I honestly feel as if the majority of them have been far more peaceful than I ever imagined at the start. Only in the past two months have I moved from a general excitement to a “wow this is really happening soon” excitement. The “nesting” excitement. The “I’m ready to leave for Ethiopia” excitement. The “I’m ready for my child to be home already” excitement. Okay, so some of that isn't new. ;)

When we started in July at #46, and moved 15 miraculous spots by August 1st, I think that’s when it felt like it was really getting close. Then, when I expected for us to move NO spots in August, we found out today that we were wrong -- again.

Last night I headed to bed tempted to feel defeated after not having heard of any referrals this past month -- and how much more discouraging right after a month of 18. But I refused to worry or let it get to me. I just prayed that by some miracle, we would get our update today and find out we had dropped into the 20’s this month. Now, starting at 31, that doesn’t seem like a very big expectation to move 2+ spots. But when you think there have been zero referrals,  it’s a little hard to see coming together.

There was 1 referral.
But how many spots did we move?


TWO.
We are currently #29.

We emailed our program director to ensure this was not a typo. Although I don’t know all the details, there were some extenuating circumstances on another family’s behalf (that I have never witnessed before) that moved us up two spots, ahead of the person that had been ahead of us. No other families on the list (to my knowledge) were moved two spots. But here we are. In the TWENTIES. Where we have seen families get referrals on occasion. Which only makes that whole "it's getting more real" thing that much more intense. Because although it probably won't be this month that we get a referral, it is becoming more and more of a true possibility.
I have no idea why things were so quirky this month, or why God answered that prayer. But Praise Him that He did!


“But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.”
-Psalm 71: 14-15

 
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
We have been told that September *could* be a slow referral month and not to be surprised if there are little to none. With the courts being closed from August until October, referrals do not stop, but often slow down. Once the courts reopen in another month or so, referrals should pick back up. Colin and I recognize that anything is possible and we could get a referral tomorrow or 6 months from now. But our hope is to have one by the holidays, as I have been specifically praying for a referral by Thanksgiving. And we recognize that may or may not happen. As awesome as it has been to see God answer so many of our prayers throughout this process, He is not a “genie”. In His sovereignty we trust He will bring our child to us in His always perfect timing. But it doesn’t hurt to pray. Pray and with us, will you?