Thursday, April 28, 2011

While I Wait...

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” ~Philippians 1:12

I started a Bible study a few days ago called “Get Uncomfortable: Serve the Poor, Stop Injustice, and Change the World…In Jesus’ Name.”
Yesterday we were supposed to start reading Philippians – one chapter a day for four days. The assignment was to take each chapter verse by verse and really let them soak into your mind and heart. As I started to read chapter 1, I stopped when I read what Paul wrote in verse 12.
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
I rolled this verse over in my head and quickly underlined it in my Bible. Paul faced prison, a trial and many painful and desperate situations but he was thankful, joyful and content despite the tough situations he found himself in. He focused on Jesus instead of those hopeless situations and knew that the hard times were being used for God’s Glory.
Next to this verse in my Bible I wrote “My infertility, our adoption has already been a powerful testimony of God’s power and has advanced the gospel.”
I truly, with all my heart, believe that God has already used our adoption journey to help further His kingdom. I have seen hearts softened and many spiritual seeds planted throughout this journey.
I remember during one of the really tough periods of this journey, praying and telling God that if John and I going through such a hard season was going to help someone see His power, glory and grace than I would stay in the dessert. It was worth the heartache and pain if someone discovered the love of Jesus.
John and I have a long wait ahead of us. We are only a week or so away from being put on the official wait list, but once we are on the list, all we will be able to do is wait. Things will be out of our hands until we get that life-changing phone call and see the faces of our babies. Right now they are saying it will be at least a year before we get a referral.
I pray that I am like Paul – that I focus on Jesus during our wait instead of on the long months ahead of us. That I will focus on how God wants to mold me and shape me during this wait because I believe He has a reason for the wait. I also pray that in the midst of the hard stuff, when my heart aches for my children, I will have hopeful contentment the way Paul did.
I know that a lot of people are unsure of what to do regarding their adoptions, since there are so many uncertainties with the Ethiopian government and the timeline for adoptions. John and I don’t necessarily like the idea of waiting for a year (or longer) but we are confident that this is where God wants us. Our children are in Ethiopia. So we will wait, no matter how long it takes, trusting God. He is bigger than any government and He sees the needs of each and every one of the 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. We are praying and asking Him to move mountains on behalf of these children who deserve hope, love and a family.
I love this quote from my Bible study, “we serve a God who intervenes on behalf of the poor and the oppressed; He does not stand idly by.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Easter Sunday in Photos...

We had a great Easter Sunday with Matt and Sarah and Mike and Krista. We all worshiped together at Summit Church and then headed to our house for a huge Easter feast - ham, mashed potatoes, green been bundles, strawberry pretzel salad and dessert. It rained and rained and rained but we didn't complain because we needed it desperately. We just moved the Easter egg hunt to the living room for Madison and Kaleb (yep, Kaleb got in on the action too!). Here are a few photos from our day....

 John and I at church...
 The Hulsey's - Mike, Krista, Kaleb and Madison
 An indoor Easter Egg hunt
 John and his little friend Madison
 Kaleb found a few eggs
 Matt and Sarah at church
 The girls
The guys...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wait List Here We Come....

We got our CIS Approval Letter in the mail today! Praise God!!!
I went out to the mailbox kind of early because it's been raining and our mailbox tends to leak. I didn't want a bunch of soggy mail. As I opened the mailbox our approval letter was sitting right on top of the stack. I rushed inside and ripped it open and my heart sank when I saw a pink piece of paper because I thought it meant something was wrong and we hadn't been approved. I read the letter and called my friend Kathleen to make sure that we were approved. The pink paper was just a reminder that our approval is only good for one year. Whew! As I was looking at the letter I noticed the date that we were officially approved - April 20th! My sister's birthday! We became agency approved on my birthday and CIS approved on my sister's. God is so good! Now I just have to get this letter notarized and mailed off and we will be just days away from being on the Wait List!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Easter is All About....

“There in the ground His body lay, light of the world by darkness slain. Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again. And as He stands in victory, sins curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

Jesus has risen! He is alive! Praise God for my living King! He bore the cross so that we may have eternal life, so that we can have hope.

This Easter I’m celebrating all that Christ did for me on the cross, the joy that I have because of my salvation. I am also celebrating John’s salvation and his decision to be baptized next Sunday! I can’t imagine a better gift this Easter season. I'm not even sure I can find adequate words to describe the transformation I have seen in John's life.

I have watched God do amazing things in John’s heart over the past few years. When we started dating in 2007, I am sure John thought I was a little loony – a Jesus loving, hand raised during worship girl was a little out of my Catholic raised husband’s comfort zone.

When we began looking for a church that we could attend together, we soon realized just how differently we were raised. I was raised in a southern Baptist church and knew all of the old hymns. John went to Catholic Church and didn’t’ quite grasp what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He was used to religion and tradition, not relationship. We visited so many churches and so many times we walked away frustrated, thinking that we would never find a way to meet in the middle. He didn’t want to go to Baptist church and I told him I wasn’t going to become a Catholic.

We finally got plugged into a local church and it didn’t take long for God to start stirring in John’s heart. Several years before John and I met, a friend of John’s had given him a Bible. For the longest time it sat at the top of John’s closet, still in the box. John decided to take it out one day and as soon as he opened it God began to use His word to transform John’s heart. That Bible is now worn and marked up and has become an important piece of John’s faith journey.

As we got more involved in our church, John and I had many in-depth conversations about what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ. I prayed for John, asking God to stir in his heart and show him what it meant to have a relationship with Him. I wanted my husband to see that it wasn’t about religion but about a relationship. I wanted him to experience the peace and joy that can only come from Jesus. I wanted him to see that God loved him so much – that it wasn’t about following a bunch of rules, but about love.

I very clearly remember the day that John made the decision to ask Jesus into his heart. I know that sounds a little corny when you’re talking about a guy in his late twenties, but it’s really that simple – we just have to ask Jesus into our hearts, to be the Lord or our lives.

Since the day that John made that life-changing decision, I have watched God transform his heart. John has become such an amazing man of God. The man that used to worry himself sick about things now relies on his faith in Christ. The man, who used to be uncomfortable praying, now prays the most sincere, heartfelt prayers.

I have watched my husband share his faith with those who need to experience the love of Jesus. His heart has been heavy for many people and he has had the courage to share what God has done in his life, in hopes that they too will chose a relationship instead of religion.

Last Sunday our preacher taught about the importance of Baptism. John and I have talked about baptism many times before. He was baptized as a baby in the Catholic Church but has felt God tugging at his heart to be baptized again. Being baptized is not salvation, but it’s a chance to show the world that our hearts belong to Jesus. John will be baptized on Sunday, May 1st. When I saw John take out a communication card and write down that he wanted to be baptized, my heart burst with joy and tears poured down my face. I have witnessed God do amazing things in and through my husband.

This morning at church, as we celebrated our risen Savior, I once again had to choke back tears as I watched my husband raise his hands and praise our King! I am blessed beyond words that God has given me John to spend my life with and even more thankful that I will get to spend eternity with him too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Has Me Thinking....

Tomorrow is Easter and something about the holiday has me thinking about my great grandmother, whom I called Meme.

Maybe I’m thinking about her because the iris that came from her backyard bloomed this week (in my backyard). Or maybe it’s because I saw a whole display of corsages at Wal-Mart today and we always bought her one to wear to church on Easter Sunday. One year she didn’t get to wear it to church because we forgot to set our clocks forward and missed church altogether.

Meme played a vital role in teaching me about Jesus. When I was six-years-old she gave me my first Bible. It was pink and my name “Jennifer Mishon” was printed on the leather cover in gold letters. I spent many Sunday mornings sitting next to Meme in an old wooden church pew at Calvary Baptist Church. Meme would always hand me two shiny quarters to put in the offering plate. I would slip the coins into an offering envelope and place it in the tray when it passed in front of me.
I would listen as she sang (loudly) the words of all the old hymns. As she grew older and battled Alzheimer’s she didn’t always recognize me, but she never forgot the words to songs like “Amazing Grace” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” She would tap her foot to the beat of the music and sing to Jesus. I can’t help but think of her each time I hear one of those old hymns.
When Meme died, I was given one of her Bibles. It was old, tattered and worn. The pages faded from years gone by – a reminder that she lived her life by God’s Word.

This Easter I’m not only thankful for the love of my Savior, but the love of a great-grandmother who planted many spiritual seeds during my childhood. Seeds that took root and sprouted during my teenage years and have blossomed into a faith that I cling to each and every day. Faith in Jesus Christ – the only reason I can have hope.

"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Still Waiting....

Each day as I’m driving home from work, I start to get excited at the thought of our CIS approval letter sitting in my mailbox. I pull into the garage, throw the car into park, swing open the door and rush to the mailbox. Then I see that it’s empty or just full of bills and junk mail and my "hope balloon" quickly busts.

I drag myself inside and throw the pile of unwanted mail on the table and sulk a bit. Even the Easter cards that have been tucked between the bills don’t excite me like they normally would. I am waiting on one, single letter – it is the only thing keeping us from getting on the Wait List.

This is the first time throughout our adoption journey (so far) that my patience seems to be wearing thin. I think it’s because this one letter is what’s keeping us from sending in our Dossier. Not to mention, it’s completely out of my control (like most things in the adoption world).

I have prayed and prayed, but Satan still whispers lies like “what if the letter got lost” and I struggle to not let anxiety build in my heart over a piece of paper. Good golly it’s just a piece of paper – but it is SO important! It’s the last piece of the puzzle so that we can move forward in our adoption process.

Please, please Mrs. Postwoman bring my letter soon….

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Drum Roll Please.....

When we started planning our dinner/silent auction in February our prayer was that God would be glorified. We wanted the people who attended the event to see the amazing things that God has done for our adoption journey, as well as, for the Habuda's and Ellis'.
Saturday went off without a hitch! We had an amazing crowd and the night was so much fun. I honestly feel like I got to enjoy every minute of it - it's not just a big blur in my mind.
We have prayed and prayed and prayed for this event and God showed up BIG time!
I believe that hearts were softened towards the idea of adoption and the importance of orphan care. I feel like people who maybe didn't "get" why we were traveling down this road now see God's amazing plan for our families.
During the adoption video there were many tears - as I watched a nanny hand over an Ethiopian bundle of joy to the couple in the video I just lost it. My heart swelled with emotion knowing that one day that will be John and I. We will be in Ethiopia and our child or children will be placed in our arms. The thought of that day is overwhelming, exciting and humbling.
As I prayed for this event I just asked that God would provide the resources we all need to fund our adoptions. I thought it would be cool if we could all just walk away with about $500 or so - God had other plans. At the end of the night we tallied up what we had raised and were humbled and brought to tears when Sarah's sister announced that we had raised $4,918.50! Only God! He probably laughed at my measly idea of $500 a couple.
Once we split up the money, it looks like each couple will receive about $1600. We are all so grateful for everyone who came out and supported this event - thank you for buying tickets, participating in the raffle, bidding on auction items and encouraging us on this journey. Here are just a few photos from last night.....
 The Ellis', Habuda's and us sporting our adoption t-shirts...
 John and I were so blessed to have our families in town for the event. We could not have done it without all of their help and support! Here we are wearing our Missing Linck t-shirts.
I love these girls more than anything in the world! So glad to be on this adoption journey with them.

 Me and sweet Eli!
 My friend Tim and his girlfriend Jennifer came out to support the adoption of our little "nuggets" as Tim calls them!
 Super blessed to know the Andrew's and for all of their support
 Abby and Jordan came out and Abby sang during the event.
Me and Solomon - love him! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hurry Mr. Postman....

Ever since I was a little girl, decked out in my leotard and twirling my baton in the front yard, I have LOVED to check the mail. It was (and still is if I'm being honest) one of the best parts of my day. I'm sure when I was a little girl it was because I was waiting on a letter from my Pen Pal Carlye. These days the mail consists mostly of bills and junk, but it's always fun to find a brightly colored envelope tucked between the electric and water bill.
I also LOVE to send people mail. I could spend hours reading and picking out the perfect cards to send to friends and family. My bank account would probably be a little more padded if I didn't spend so much money on stamps.
These past few days, I have become antsy as I wait on our CIS approval letter. I run (okay maybe not run, but walk quickly) to the mailbox each day after work to see if the letter is mixed in with the usual bills and credit card offers. I kind of act like a kid because I get mad if John checks the mail and doesn't leave it in the box until I get home.
So far the ONE piece of paper we are waiting on has yet to appear in our mailbox. It's the only thing we need so that we can mail in our dossier. We are SO close to being on the Wait List. Please hurry Mr. Postman (or Mrs. Postwoman in our case)!
I am already biting at the bit to get home so that I can skip to the mailbox and see if there is a nice surprise waiting for me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Chance to Give a Little Girl a Forever Family!!!

When we decided to adopt from Ethiopia, Michael and Katie were the first couple we met who had already been to Ethiopia. John and I fell in love with Sophia the first time we laid eyes on her. Seeing her big brown eyes and sweet smile made me so excited about our journey to Ethiopia to bring home our children.
Michael and Katie have been such a source of encouragement for us and have supported us in so many ways along our journey. Now it's our turn to support and encourage them. They recently announced that they are adopting a sweet little girl from Europe who has Down's Syndrome. Today Katie posted on her blog that they only have 4 months to finalize this adoption or their daughter will be put in a mental institution. If this happens, her chance of having a forever family will vanish. Once in an institution, she won't be up for adoption.
Please take a moment to read Michael and Katie's story here. Please pray for them as they do all that they can, as fast as they can, to bring their precious girl home in the next 4 months. Pray that God will provide all the resources that they need to make this adoption happen quickly.
If you feel God nudging you to make a donation to their adoption fund, please don't ignore it. They need $40,000 for this adoption. To financially support Michael and Katie and their journey to their daughter please visit their blog and make a donation. How can you say no to this precious face??

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adoption Hormones??

Yesterday I decided it was time to tackle the chore of cleaning out our office so that we can start preparing the nursery. Lately I have been feeling the need to "nest" and get things ready for our babes even if we still have a year or more of waiting to do.
I feel like preparing the nursery will not only keep me busy, but it's a visual reminder that we will be bringing a little one (or ones) home soon.
When you're pregnant you have all kinds of things reminding you of your soon-to-be bundle of joy - morning sickness (which I'm thankful doesn't come with adoption), a growing belly, ultrasounds, etc.
I wanted to clear out the office and bring in the crib and chair in order to start preparing our home and my heart for my future children. I want to be able to go into the nursery, sit in the chair and pray for our children and for the adoption process.
Unfortunately, guys don't seem to understand the whole "nesting" thing. John wasn't quite ready to pack up his stine collection and turn our office into baby land. His hesitation quite simply irritated the fire out of me.
Yesterday I was not very loving towards my husband. He didn't understand my craziness over the nursery and my desire to purge all of our (excuse me) crap. I sat in the middle of the office looking at all the stuff that had accumulated and was completely overwhelmed and almost guilty at all the stuff we have. John on the other hand likes to hold on to things. I go on crazy binges where I throw things our or take them to Good Will and he just can't let go. He would have been satisfied to figure out what to do with all of our junk a week or so before we left for Ethiopia. He would have thought it was cool to have a nursery decorated with collectible stines.
I'm wondering if there's such a thing as adoption hormones. If there are, mine went crazy yesterday. So much so that I threw a pile of books when John made a snide remark about my need to clear out the office and put up a crib when we are still a few weeks from being on the official Wait List.
There were a lot of tears (on my end) some yelling (from both of us because we are stubborn and hard headed) and then we decided to close the door to the office and leave the huge mess to deal with the following day.
Today after church my sweet husband decided to help me pack up all of this....

So that we could move in the crib and the chair and start planning how we will decorate the nursery. So now the "office" looks like this.....

We still need to put the crib together and I am still on the lookout for an old-fashioned dresser that I can refinish. My friend Marcia is an interior decorator and she is going to help me decorate the nursery in a very fun gender-neutral way. We will splash some paint on the walls and make this room extra special for our Missing Linck(s). This room is just a visual reminder of the family that John and I will have some day. I can't wait until I get to rock my precious Ethiopian babes in the chair or watch them play with their toys on the floor.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Really Washington? Really??

First things first, I do not put my hope or trust in man or the silly government officials who are acting like children and putting so many people in tough situations because they can't agree on a budget. I put my hope in only one and that's God.
Now having said that, John and I have spent this week uncertain of what will happen if the government does shut down. John works for the VA and we were preparing ourselves for the worst case scenario. God has already answered some of our prayers. John was told today that the VA is funded through 2011 so he will be able to work and get paid if the government does shut down. Thank you Jesus! On the other hand, we are still praying and trusting for God to MOVE on behalf of thousands and thousands of other people this potential shutdown will affect.
We received some great news from our adoption agency today, saying they will start handing out referrals to Ethiopia again starting next week. I was so excited to hear this news that we have been waiting on and then I realized that a shutdown will affect adoptions in a big way. For John and I it may mean we have to wait longer to get put on the Wait List.  We are still waiting to receive our approval letters from Homeland Security and if the government shuts down who knows when we will get those letters. We are just waiting on the letters to arrive so that we can submit our dossier, however, if the government shuts down then we can't submit it. Ugh!
I think the people in Washington need to pull their heads out and take a long hard look at just how immature they are being - so many people will be in limbo, hanging on by a thread to make ends meet, all because a bunch of rich people want to argue over petty things. They aren't too worried because they'll still get their big fat paychecks.
I am not usually one to rant and rave about politics. For the most part I am pretty clueless about what the democrats and republicans are up to. I just think it's so silly that things have come down to this.
It's in times of uncertainty like this that I am SO thankful that my hope is in the Lord. I think I might have posted this verse earlier in the week but it makes sense to post it again regarding the situation our nation has found itself in. As a Christian I can cling to Isaiah 2:22 "Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?"
Despite how messed up and yucky our country becomes in the days ahead, God is still sovereign, He is in control.
All I can do is pray that God stirs in the hearts of our leaders, that they will listen and that our country will move in a better direction.

"They will turn to the Lord and he will respond to their pleas and heal them." Isaiah 19:22

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When Waiting Gets Hard....

My earliest childhood memories include Cabbage Patch dolls and a white wooden cradle. I feel like I’ve been waiting to be a mom since I was about 5-years-old.

Last night my friend Kathleen sent me the most recent update about Ethiopian Adoptions posted by the State Department.

The State Department is saying that significant delays remain likely for cases presented to Ethiopia's Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs after March 8, 2011. The release says “Prospective adoptive parents who did not reach the court summons stage before March 8, 2011, should expect significant delays in the progression of their paperwork through the Government of Ethiopia.”

I was reading one blog that said it’s possible that it could take up to a year between referral and court date. I can’t even imagine that scenario! I have been pretty strong up until this point – trusting God, knowing that He has called us to Ethiopia. I still trust Him and still believe our family will include Ethiopia babies, but last night I cracked. I lay in bed crying at the thought of how long our wait could actually be. Will it be a year from now, two? I know we are walking the path God has for us, but it seems like we are NEVER going to bring our babies home.

Even though the wait is long (and seems to be getting longer) I will cling to Jesus! There is no doubt in my mind that Ethiopia is where we are supposed to adopt from. God has allowed me to fall head over heels in love with babies that I have never seen – the thought of not bringing them home literally makes me sick to my stomach. I would be devastated if we weren’t able to adopt the children that God has called us to adopt.

But that’s the thing. God has called us to this and He WILL make a way! We still have such a peace about the journey we are on. Despite what the Ethiopian government decides to do, God is ultimately in control. He can move mountains on our behalf and on behalf of all the other families waiting to bring their children home.

I am reminded of Isaiah 43:2. When we are afraid, uncertain and not sure what we are up against, we can remember that God is in control.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

I am currently doing a Bible study all about waiting. I think I am going to need it now more than ever as our timeline seems to be getting longer and longer. In the study we are looking at the lives of Joseph, David and Jesus. They all faced LONG waits before God fulfilled His plans for them but they all had hope that God would come through for them even though it was hard to wait.

Something written in the Bible Study leaped off the page: “We need to remember that even our biggest problems are under God’s authority.” Praise Jesus! God is not surprised by these changes in the Ethiopian Adoption rules. He can move mountains because He is God. As I was flipping through Isaiah to find the above verse, I stumbled across this “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” I am not going to put my trust or hope in the Ethiopian government, our adoption agency or anything other than God!

As I wait – whether it’s a year or two or three – to have children, I know that God has eternal purposes for my wait. I will remember what my Bible study says, “God builds into us during the wait. God uses our waiting to work in us, to build us to our greatest potential.”

I will choose to believe and cling to Psalm 57: “I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident. I will sing; I will sing praises.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting – Better Get Your Tickets!

We are 2 weeks away from our Dinner/Silent Auction and we MUST turn in our food order by the first part of next week. That means that you MUST get your tickets this week! We have had a ton of people say they are coming but only a handful of people have actually purchased tickets.
If you want to join us for a fun night of food, live music and a silent auction (all to support adoption) please purchase your tickets this week!
Tickets can be purchased right here on the blog.
We have a TON of silent auction and raffle items, including signed basketballs and jerseys from the Oklahoma City Thunder. There is honestly something to suit everyone's taste.
Please join John and me and the Habuda's and Ellis' Saturday, April 16th and help us raise funds to bring our babies home!

Hearts for Adoption Dinner and Silent Auction

When: Saturday, April 16th from 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Christian Life Fellowship Church
1400 NW 12th Street
Moore, Oklahoma

Dinner will be catered by Primos D'Italia.
Cost is $15 for adults and teens and $6 for kids 6-12. Children 5 and under eat free.
Tickets are on sale NOW*

You can buy them through Paypal on my home page, buy them in person, or by mail.
*In order to give Primos a correct count, please purchase your tickets before April 8th!