Tuesday, April 30, 2013

my oldest baby & sister pics

We kind of decided very last minute to bring Madeline with us.  It was a combination of reasons but the biggest for us was that she is very relational and emotional and we thought it would be a great time for her to form a sweet bond with Paulina.  We knew the travel, food, hotel stay, and such would be difficult but we thought we could all handle it together and that it would be worth it.  So we expedited her passport & bought her a ticket!  The day we told her she was so funny.  At first she didn't realize what we meant and then when it clicked that she was getting to go with us she was SO happy!  We only told her two days early but even then it was all she talked about.  About 1 hour after telling her she was coming she had her bag packed! 

Now I must spend some time being a proud mama because Madeline has gone above and beyond our expectations and hopes!  I wouldn't have necessarily called her our flexible child but this trip she has been incredible!  We have flown overseas, traveled through the night, slept in vans & trains, walked several miles a day, eaten strange meals, sat through long Russian conversations, and through it all she has seriously gone with the flow.  It has been a huge answered prayer! 

Even more than all that, watching her meet Paulina and love her has been some of the sweetest moments of my life.  She walked straight up to her and put her hands on her and talked with such gentleness that my heart almost burst from joy.  She tickles her, sings to her, dances around her, tells her fun things, rubs her face, arms, and legs, plays with her, and just loves getting to know her and be near her.  She loves for Paulina to sit in her lap and will just sit and snuggle her.  She wants to think of ways to teach her new things.  She prays for her.  She is such a loving sister to Paulina and we couldn't be more thankful for the way God has answered so many prayers and is building such a sweet relationship between Madeline & Paulina. 

One last added sweet story about Madeline (for now at least :)…there are 3 other kids in Paulina’s room and every day Madeline goes right up to each one of them and talks to them and plays with them.  She brings them toys, tosses a ball with one of the boys, tickles them, has gotten to know which toys they like best & what their personalities are like, and pays them such good attention.  It is so sweet to see her love for these kids.  Once I told her we could pray for these children to have families and she said, “I did this morning!” 

I will say it probably 1000 times but again, we are so thankful we brought her and for how God is shaping her, Paulina, & us through our time!

Meeting our Sweetie: Paulina Katherine

I want to jump back a bit and remember the moment we met Paulina.  The morning after we arrived in Kramatorsk we hopped in a van and were talking things over with Olga when we realized we were driving to the orphanage, about to meet Paulina for the first time.  My emotions were high, to say the least.  As we walked up the stairs tears were streaming down my face and then we walked into her room, and there she was.  The precious one we've longed for and loved and prayed for so long was feet away from me.  Madeline, Andrew & I walked to her crib and put our hands on her sweet little body and said hello for the first time.  It was one of the most precious moments of my life.  Madeline repeated, Hi Paulina, and rubbed her arm.  I lifted her up and held her in my arms and spoke over and over through tears, I’m your mama and I love you.  I can’t even express the depths of emotions.  We spend the next 30 minutes holding her, talking to her, making her laugh, and loving her.  She sat in our laps, smiled, held hands, and was such joy.  Watching Madeline hold her and talk with her melted my mama heart.  She was tender and kind and so deeply loving to her sister.  It was indescribable. 

couldn't be more thankful for this precious gift God has given us.  She is a picture of redemption and glory and the Gospel to me.  I have seen so much more of God by knowing her and I know more will come.  With all the crazy going on meeting Paulina felt like God was giving me a hug.  You know the kind when that truly only a sister or a best friend can come up beside you and give?  So full of meaning with no words.  You just both rest in the hug and know…the depths of love, care, oneness of spirit, understanding of the path you've been down, and strength to continue on.  Through all the ups & downs, the day came, and we met Paulina, and God met me there as well, and hugged me tight.

Monday, April 29, 2013

On Fear & the Glory of God

God's Glory
Several months ago a friend & I were talking through what it looked like to really say and live out in our hearts, minds, and actions that we wanted God to be glorified in our lives above all other things.  Mostly, above our plans and ideas of what is best.  It is one thing to say we long for the glory of God but the truth is, at least for me, so often in my heart and mind I arrange all as I think it should be and then long for God's glory within that.  I say good sounding qualifications like, "your will over mine," but I know in my heart I am not always sure about that.  I want His glory, but I'd like it through my plans and without any hardship to me or my loved ones.  The question arose between us:  Do we really love Him more than our lives?  What hinders us from giving up to Him the dark places of fear in our hearts?  The answer we found was sin.  I know, it seems clear, but I was missing it.  I call my fears struggles and my anxieties over my children nervousness.  I call things anything but sin and therefore I let myself get away with it.  I knew then that I needed to confess it daily-God I want to trust you fully, I confess my fears as sins, I confess I am anxious over Madeline's disobedience, I confess I worry about Simeon, I confess I want things my way, I confess I falter in my trust.  God forgive me, replace in me more of You.  I read this Psalm while thinking through these things & was convicted to rise daily, talk to God, lay out my requests and confessions to Him, and wait expectantly for Him.  

"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;

in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly."
Psalm 5:3

He is loving and kind.  He is not far off from me.  When I repent of my sins and talk to Him, my eagerness and  longing for more of Jesus grows.  And I think that I need this daily-to keep my dependence on Him daily and desire for Him daily.  It isn't a one and done deal for me.  As if I can pray for full trust today & have it everyday.  I am too weak but thankfully He is sufficient.  And the more I know Him, the more I trust Him, and the more I can say I really do want Him over me.  And I will wait expectantly for His presence, will, and glory to be leading my heart, mind, and actions.  

My Faith & Fears
You see walking this journey to Paulina has pushed me so far in my faith.  I wrote a bit about that here and God is continuing to refine me more and more.  I knew God was teaching me to trust Him, to wait for Him, to be led by faith and not my fears.  But in my mind it all still ended with Paulina.  When we got to Ukraine & and were told we wouldn't be bringing her home everything in me fell back to the place of being led by my fears.  I had worked it all with God you see.  We had made plans & I was trusting Him.  Once again, fear entered.  An overwhelming fear.  I felt very deflated and devastated and unsure of what even to pray.  We felt so powerfully God’s presence and such confidence in what He was doing for us and Paulina and this was not at all what we’d thought would happen.  

In my mind and heart I knew I had two choices: to be angry and question God and walk in fear or to talk to Him, turn to Him, trust Him and pray.  To present my requests to Him and wait expectantly.  So that is what I did.  I sat in that van & confessed my sins, my fears, my anxieties, my lack of trust, my belief that I know better, and I cried.  I cried because I wasn't sure I could trust Him and I cried because I really wanted to. and I cried for longing for my daughter.  I knew in my mind Jesus was with me, was sufficient, & loved me, & I prayed I would believe it in my heart.  I prayed over and over again our verse for Paulina, Psalm 12:5, “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise, says the Lord.  I will place her in the safety for which she longs.”  Arise, Lord!  I don’t really know what I thought might happen but I just kept praying.  And as I prayed my longing for God grew, my confidence in His love and character deepened, I was asking for Him to do what seemed impossible and at the same time trusting Him more for whatever came next.  I was reminded that God is on our side, He is bigger, and His love never fails.  He created Paulina, He knows her and loves her far more than we could ever imagine.  

In these moments I chose to take what God has for us and draw nearer to Jesus.  Trust in His goodness, desire His glory, and long for Jesus above ourselves and our circumstances.  We will walk with Him the road before us, because we are with Him.  Our circumstances are not the end nor are the bettering of our circumstances proof of God’s power and ability.  Rather our dependence on Him, our transforming more to His likeness, and our faith working itself out more and more for His glory.  For the last year as we’ve walked this road to Paulina God has taught me over and over to long for Him over all else and be fully dependent on Him alone.  I have broken down with Jesus in the recognition that I can do nothing outside of Him and have nothing outside of Him and confessed to Jesus that He is all I want, all sufficient, and that I would rather have Him than anything.  So here I was again, my heart laid out before the Lord, weak and failing but choosing Him, because where else would I turn?  

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69

He is good and His presence is always with us. 

The truth is we are each called to give up all of ourselves to Jesus.  Every inch, every decision, every fear, every bit of our future.  What it looks like for me is totally different than what it looks like for you.  He is calling me to His plans for me, to a life that only I can live for Him.  And He will be with me to show me, guide me, and equip me to live fully for Him.  I am learning and praying to trust Him more for this every day and to long for Him over anything else.  

If you stuck this one out, you are kind.  :)  And also if you did, I want to tell you that God is working out every single detail so we can bring Paulina home and allowing us to see Him and know Him so much more today than a week ago.  We are thankful to know Him, and thankful His plans for us and Paulina are drawing us together.  His glory is being made known through her life and we rejoice in that!  

He is writing her story, and He is writing ours.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


We got it!  Our referral for Paulina is in hand and we are so thankful and amazed at how God has worked it all out.  He is showing us daily how BIG & how INTRICATE He is.  So thankful.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

good days

What a whirlwind of a few days we have had here!  I can't even begin to go into all the details but let me just say God has worked some incredible miracles on behalf of Paulina to work out some seriously big roadblocks we ran into!  We are so deeply humbled and thankful to be walking with Jesus through all He has for us and for His goodness in bringing us to Paulina, and her to us.  Our time with her has been so incredibly joyful and sweet.  She is so wonderful and we love her more now than ever!  Because of the problems we had we are having a few week delay but are trusting Jesus and thanking Him it is not longer.  We should be bringing her home in June!  Here are a few pics of our time.  Watching Madeline with Paulina has been beautiful.  Moments I will cherish forever!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

we made it!

We made it!  

Wow, this last week or so has been a whirlwind!  We found out Monday that our appointment with the Ministry of Social Policy would be the following Monday, April 22nd!  So we gathered our stuff, prepared for leaving our kiddos, and got on a plane…20ish hours later, we were greeted by our facilitator & her husband, Olga & Alex.  Madeline was an excellent traveller!  We spent today resting & touring around Kyiv with Olga, Alex, and a woman from Illinois & her 10 year old son.  They were so great to get to know today and especially for Madeline to have a friend.  I have so many things swirling in my head but for now, too tired to get anything out!  We are all 3 healthy & doing well and looking forward to our ministry appointment tomorrow & meeting Paulina on Wednesday!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Titus Task

Six weeks ago, Andrew & I sat down to talk a bit about the finances we needed for our adoption.  We had applied for several grants and were praying that we would hear back from all of them around the beginning of April.  God has definitely answered that prayer and not only have we heard back, but we have been given a matching grant from a local organization called the Titus Task.  

We are so grateful for the way God is providing every detail for us and so thankful for the blessing this grant is for our family.  The grant will match every dollar donated up to $2500 making the total possible amount $5000.  If you would like to join us in our adoption by making a donation we would be so thankful and so blessed!  You can do so in two ways:

1. To make a Tax Deductible donation by Paypal please use this link:
2. Or mail checks to: PO Box 82, Siloam Springs, AR 72761

Titus Task will keep our account open through May 6th.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Generosity: The Receiving End

Proverbs 11:25
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

We are finding ourselves in the midst of a God-given season of need.  We are needy because God has called us to our calling and it is being played out in accordance to what He has also called others to as well.  Our callings are different but all are necessary.  We can confidently say, yes, we are called to adoption.  Yes, we are called to our daughter with special needs.  Yes, we are called to make sacrifices which I pray we will be ready to make.  And yes, we are called to be in need and to be dependent on the hands of others to do what God has called them to do.  We need those who’ve been equipped by God to uphold our weak arms as we all seek to worship and glorify God with our obedience to His different calls on our lives.    

In this season, we are finding ourselves on the receiving end of the generosity through the faith and obedience of others.  Some our family, some our friends, and some complete strangers.  And we are so very humbled and thankful as we watch God do all that He promises to do in order to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  We have been beyond blessed by the generosity of others in our lives as we work toward bringing our daughter home.  Generosity of money, time, care, prayer, conversation, service, gifts, and on.  We’ve been truly blown away.  I so badly wish in my heart that I could repay people somehow and let them know how thankful we are but I can’t.  And I know they don’t even seek that.  

But to all of you who have so generously blessed us, we pray you know that you have greatly refreshed us, and we pray that through it you yourselves will also be refreshed.