Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mamas of Littles...Take Heart!

I ran across my daughter's baby book this morning while trying to empty a cabinet. I paused in my decluttering to look through the book, and the words I had scrawled eight years ago brought back the memories of the countless and seemingly unending hours of nursing, rocking, changing diapers - the hours I swore would never end for me, even though evidence around the world is quite contrary to my thinking at the time.

Mamas of littles, take heart! I just finished a 30-minute Haitian Creole lesson, completely uninterrupted, as my daughter sat in the other room and entertained herself.

The babies, they DO grow up. As one of my sweet friend has reminded me in the past, "The days are long but the years are short." I can hardly believe I am here with an eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son (who will be starting kindergarten in the fall!). Cannot even believe it. They open their own car doors (and I don't worry about them smashing their fingers). They get into the car all by themselves! They buckle themselves into their seats! And it is GLORIOUS. All I have to do now is unlock the car doors for them.

Mamas of littles, take heart! You won't be having to load them into the car and buckle them into their seats forever. They really do become self-sufficient, and sooner than you might think.

I have taught my kids to put their clothing in the laundry room. Ideally, it ends up in the color-coded baskets next to the machines. We don't live in an ideal world, and I find socks in the cracks of the couch frequently, but sometimes I am surprised by the lack of clothing lying in the living room floor.

My littles are not so little any more. I'm constantly amazed at what they can accomplish. I am fascinated by how their little minds work. We have the most interesting conversations these days. They know my expectations of them and generally speaking, aim to meet them (treat others kindly, have a servant's heart and help others both when asked and sometimes even when not).

I know these years will be gone in a flash. My husband and I just celebrated ten years of marriage this past August. It has gone by so quickly. In ten years, my firstborn daughter will be graduating from high school and moving on to the next chapter in her life. I can hardly stand to think of it.

Mamas of littles, take heart! The babies do grow up. You won't be changing diapers, wiping noses and hinies and little hands forever. I know it feels that way. I swore my children would never grow up. Oh how wrong I was!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Where We Are Now

Waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. We are waiting to receive our approval from USCIS to go forth and adopt. I wish I could tell you how long it takes to hear back from them. No one knows. In all honesty, it's been exactly 8 days since they received our response to their Request for Evidence letter. It could be 6-8 weeks before we hear anything. I just don't really know. And I'm ok with not knowing, really. The Lord's timing is absolutely perfect, right on time, all of the time. So I rest in that knowledge and pray Philippians 4:6-8 over us.

I thought I would put a timeline together, mostly because at this point I've kind of lost track of how it has all come together so far.

Februray 29, 2012 - my friend from high school and church youth group way back when posts about Jen Hatmaker's book, 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I order the book that day, and devour it.

March 2012 - I feel like the Lord is leading us to grow our family through adoption.

April 2012 - I start researching adoption agencies.

May 2012 - We decide that Haiti is the country from which we will adopt.

June 2012 - We start filling out the pre-application paperwork for Dillon Adopt.

September 2012 - We complete our application paperwork for Dillon.

January 2013 - We apply to adopt from God's Littlest Angels (GLA), a creche in Haiti we discovered through some of Jen Hatmaker's social media and blog posts.

February 2013 - We find out from GLA that they cannot work with us until we have been married 10 years due to the {then} current law in Haiti. They offer to keep our application on file and revisit when the new law passes.

March 2013 - We contact All Blessings International about beginning the application process. We were advised to wait until February 2014 to begin, so that when we get to our 10-year anniversary in August2014, we are ready to roll.

September 2013 - The adoption law in Haiti changes to 5 years of marriage instead of 10. We contact All Blessings International to begin our application process.

November 2013 - We begin our formal application process with All Blessings International (ABI).

December 2013 - Our formal application for ABI's Haiti program is approved.

January 2014 - We contact Dillon again regarding their home study only services. ABI is not licensed in the state of Texas to complete home studies, so we must find another Hague-accredited agency to do our home study.

February 2014 - We complete an application packet for Dillon's home study only services. Our intensive paper chase starts now! We had to do some minor paper chasing for the other applications, but this is where it gets real! We find out the total cost of our home study, and we know the Lord will have to provide, because it is a huge sum of money that must be paid all at once along with all of our documents.

March 2014 - I have a 3-hour coffee date with a long-time friend who wanted to meet up with me to talk about our adoption.

March 31, 2014 - We file our I600a form on the very last day possible. Had we waited until April, we would have been filing an I800a form, because Haiti had become a Hague country.

May 28, 2014 - I email our contact at Dillon to find out the balance due on our account, and am told that there is no balance and we can send in our paperwork any time. We are still waiting on various certificates, passports, etc before we can proceed.

June - August, 2014 - We are chasing paper all over the place. Passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, previous years' 1040 tax returns, other various and sundry documents. Lots and lots of notarized signatures, lots of fees paid!

September 1, 2014 - First email from our social worker!

September 11, 2014 - First interview with our social worker. We met at a Starbucks in Grapevine. She interviewed both of us together about our relationship and marriage, and then separately, about our childhood and current life. I was surprised to be so emotionally exhausted once it was over.

September 13, 2014 - Home interview with our social worker. She did a walk-through of our home, observing safety features such as a 5 lb fire extinguisher in the kitchen, covered electrical outlets, and various other items. She interviewed each one of our kids separately, and then interviewed us together again, this time talking about our parenting philosophies and practices. Again, so very draining - not in a bad way, but it is exhausting to talk for hours about your beliefs and practices.

October 2014 - We find out more about the new policies and procedures in Haiti regarding adoptions. You can read about all of those changes on the All Blessings International Haiti blog. We realize we will not necessarily be adopting from God's Littlest Angels, as the adoption agencies can no longer specify creches from which the families would like to adopt.

October 21, 2014 - Our home study has been sent to Dillon and ABI for review.

November 21, 2014 - Home study report received by ABI and is in review.

I can't find the date when we sent our home study to USCIS,  but it had to have been some time between November 21, and January 16. :p

January 16, 2015 - We received our biometrics (fancy word for fingerprints!) appointments. Our appointments are scheduled for January 26, 2015 at 8 am and 9 am.

January 26, 2015 - We received a three-page Request for Evidence (RFE) letter (printed on pink paper!) from the USCIS. Yay, more paper chasing!

March 2, 2015 - We have obtained all of the necessary paperwork to answer the USCIS RFE, and FedEx the documents. They receive them on March 3, 2015.

Which brings us to today, still waiting.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Name of Jesus Christ

"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." This thought crossed my mind when my alarm woke me up on Sunday morning at 7:30, which felt like 6:30 thanks to Daylight Savings Time. It was so tempting to shut off the alarm, roll over and drift off to sleep again. But I really love going to church on Sunday mornings and when I miss, my week feels off and empty. I got up, got ready, got the kids ready, and off we headed. We were a little bit late, which never makes me happy because it means we miss out on a little bit of the worship music. That is one of my favorite parts of the service, singing praises to my God, and I don't like to miss out on even one note!

Fortunately, we arrived about halfway through the first song. Then next song started, and it was one of my most favorites ever. My sweet friend Rebecca Sehnert wrote it with our worship pastor, Mike Naber. The first time I heard this song was at the end of December, 2013. That Sunday was my worship team rotation, and I was singing with Rebecca, Jenny, and Mike. Our rehearsal notes said "Special for Rebecca. Mike backups." So Jenny and I didn't really learn it, as we thought it would just be Rebecca and Mike singing. Because we didn't have a rehearsal that week, we found out about 7:45 that Sunday morning that we WERE going to be singing along with them! So we spent some extra time after the service run through and before the service started learning the song. It was a sweet time with my worship team sisters and I'll never forget it.

The song itself is SO powerful. It just makes my heart and soul so very happy. There's so much truth in every single line of the song. My favorite part is the bridge; there is something so amazing about saying or singing the different names of Jesus. This song brings me closer to God than pretty much any other worship song I've heard (and I've heard a LOT, having served on worship teams since 1998!).

Thank you, Rebecca and Mike, for your obedience to what He has called you to do - so many lives are blessed and enriched as a result. Helping people prepare their hearts for worship and engagement with our King is holy ground.

You can hear the song by clicking on the link!

The Name of Jesus Christ

The Name of Jesus Christ
Rebecca Sehnert & Mike Naber
The Name above all names
The Name that gives me strength
The Name I love to say

The Name that conquers fear
The Name that draws me near
The Name I long to hear
Jesus O Jesus

Let every heart cry out
Let every knee humbly bow
Let every hand be lifted high
At the Name of Jesus Christ

The Name that breaks all chains
The Name of truth and grace
The Name I live to praise
Jesus O Jesus

Wonderful Counselor
God with us
Prince of Peace
Everlasting Son of God
Mighty Lord
Our Defender
Our Savior
Jesus Christ
Our eternal hope and strength

©2013 Rebecca Sehnert & Mike Naber LifePoint Church