Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Plea to All of You

Judging by the feedback we have gotten from friends and acquaintances thus far, our adoption blog is touching peoples' lives in two of three hoped-for ways. Firstly,the words contained within these pages are intended to lift up the Holy Name of our Lord and Savior and thus provide a ways and means that He receive all the praise, honor and glory for the conception and actualization of our dream of another daughter for Randy and me and a sister for Sonya. People are clearly being touched by God's Hand in all of this and the simple faith we find ourselves clinging to day-to-day.

Secondly, judging by the feedback thus far received, perhaps we are, with God's help, succeeding at educating the public on the plight of the countless millions of orphans world-wide who need forever families, and who, due to no fault of their own "age-out" at 14, becoming ineligible for adoption and are then sent out through the orphanage doors and onto the street at 16 years of age. Once this happens, it seems they would be expected to make a way for themselves with no one to care about where or how they might end up or where they might lay their heads.

It is our great desire and hope that just as our eyes and ears have been opened to the mission field before us in the matter of saving these children and giving them a future and a hope so too will your eyes and ears be opened to the great task before us as Christians to provide them homes. Not everyone reading these words will be called to adopt, but perhaps you will be called to financially and prayerfully support an adoption or two in your lifetime.

Which brings me to our third hoped-for goal in writing this blog, which is yet to be realized, and that is the garnering of financial support from our readership in the matter of purchasing our daughter's freedom so that we can bring her home to America this year. As things go, we are still waiting on the finalization of our home-study. If you recall, this document seems to carry much weight for without it, we cannot apply for adoption grants. So we are waiting...

In the meantime, by the first of February, we will owe another $4,000.00 to the adoption agency to prepare our dossier. As of right now, we do not have that kind of money. I still hold to the reality that if we do the footwork, then God will do the rest. In saying that, we are open to every means possible of gathering those funds in a timely fashion because we desperately need and want our daughter home with us. We have been separated from her for far too long, and the ignorance of such a reality as this is the only thing that has sustained us through these years. But now, now that we know the truth of her existence and we have looked upon her face and tiny stature in the pictures of her, it is now time and of an extremely critical nature that we bring her home soon. Whatever it takes...

Our plea to all of you is to consider giving to this little one, our little daughter, so that we can hold her in our arms and never let her go. Whether your gift is $10.00 or $100.00 or $1,000.00 it will all be welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Another means of helping us is by sharing our adoption blog with everyone you know or come into contact with. Such widespread exposure as this would certainly generate a population of donors with a heart for international adoption and the means to help us out monetarily. Please help us to "go viral" with this cause! You can evidence that we have added a "chip in" button to our blog. By either this payment method or by sending money directly to Hand in Hand, your support will go directly to and only for the adoption costs of Mei Mei.

A mother of six told me today that some people have remarked to her that if she and her husband cannot afford international adoption on their own (they are preparing themselves for their fourth China adoption) then how do they anticipate being able to provide for these little ones once they are home? I believe that if people who can get pregnant on their own were told that in a matter of a nine month period they would need to come up with $30,000 or so in order to retain the rights to their children, they would be in for some serious heart ache in trying to get that money together without going into full-blown panic mode.

Unfortunately, the initial cost of international adoption is so daunting that many families get talked out of helping these children before they even begin to conceive a plan to come up with the ransom money. I am sure you have heard the expression, "two can eat as cheaply as one". Just like any family who gets pregnant naturally, once our children are with us, we can manage, but the chasm which separates us from them in the way of adoption fees must be crossed with courage and a strong element of humility.

It is with utmost humility, then, that we ask for your help now. Thank you so much!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yielding In Obedience

We are changing for the better, Sonya, Randy and I.  It is the Lord who is changing us.  With this kind of change comes a level of heightened vulnerability yet great anticipation.   

As I cried the other day I tried to get passed Sonya with my hand over my face so she wouldn't see my tear-streaked face.  But she did see as she came to me, wrapping her arms around my neck, and asked why.  I shared with her that I did the very same thing when I was waiting for her except that with this adoption, the Lord has asked her father and me to step out in faith like we've never been asked to do before, and that what she is seeing in me are growing pains.  I quickly reassured her that everything will be alright, and that God is right on time with everything.

Before we came to Waynedale Baptist Church a year ago, I never knew what was required of me as a professing Christian.  The most basic tenet of our faith I have learned is to share Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world.   At that point I began to ask God to show me the life he wants me to live, and to show me His will in all matters concerning my Christian walk.  By June, He showed my family His will that we join Waynedale Baptist Church.  In July, the three of us were baptized together.  In October Randy and I walked down the aisle to renew our vows in a Christian church.  On that Saturday afternoon of October 2, 2010, as Randy and I stood at the alter, the Lord literally set our feet upon solid ground and covered us from head toe with His sacrificial blood.  This Holy Spirit experience would prove life-changing as it needed to precede the plans the Lord placed on our hearts next.   

The steps we have followed as a family these past few months in order that we live in the center of the Lord's will needed to occur just as they did and at the appointed hour.  Who could have known that all of this was leading up to that Sunday morning in December when the Lord layed on my heart an urgency that Randy and I pray for His will regarding adoption?  As I expressed to Preacher and Gayle recently in a letter, I now feel that my family arrived at Waynedale Baptist just in time for Feng Mei's sake. 

Preacher often reminds us of our responsibility to pray for one another.  He reminds us every Wednesday night at bible study to pray for the names listed in the bulletin of members and their families and friends in need of prayer.  This past Wednesday I got up from my seat and located a bulletin.  As I sat back down, I noticed listed therein a prayer request for Randy and me and for Feng Mei.  All of a sudden, it struck me how desperateIy my family needs prayer right now and how horrible it would feel to me if no one were to pray for us at our greatest hour of need. I realized then that every single person listed in the prayer requests feels exactly like I do, in desperate need of prayer and how important it is that I pray for them too, even for those I do not know or may never know.    

For the first time in my entire life, I will even ask for prayers from people I do not know or may never know.  For the first time in my life, the Lord is seriously humbling me so that I will ask for help in all matters concerning this adoption.  For the first time in my life, I am learning the meaning of obedience to the Lord's will and calling on my life and person.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, "There really is no safer place to be than in the center of God's Will". 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Hour Is Upon Us

I shared in an earlier post our desire to get approved through Lifesong for Orphans in order to provide to donors a means of securing a tax deduction.  I have come to learn, however,  the approval process through Lifesong takes roughly three months to actualize.  With that being said, while we are waiting for approval, if any of our dear readers should feel led by the Holy Spirit to contribute toward the "Help Bring My Little Sister Home Fund" now, we will gladly and gratefully accept any and all monetary support.  

You can feel safe in sending the monies directly to Hand in Hand International Adoption Agency located in Albion, Indiana.  In sending your donation, all monies will go into a special account marked specifically for adoption purposes.  

As a family, we have learned to live very simply, especially since I have stepped away from my full-time position to home school Sonya.  To accomodate the un-anticipated adoption expenses, we are living more frugally than ever, and happy to do it.   We just want our Mei Mei home with us, and the sooner the better.

The address for Hand in Hand is:
Hand in Hand
210A North Orange St.
Albion, IN

HiH contact person is Vickie Truelove at 260-636-3566.  Please designate on your check that your donation is for the Hoium adoption.  Thank you so much for blessing our family!


Being An Overcomer - By Randy Hoium

I have always been intrigued with the idea of “being an overcomer”.  I believe this is a most important concept to be understood.  What does this mean?  Is it not enough to be saved and go to church and be nice to your neighbor’s once in awhile?  I think not.

Having made a major commitment to bringing another little girl home from an orphanage across the world and giving her a forever family has made me realize something about myself.  I as a Christian can be active in the church to a degree but to what degree am I really a Christian? What I mean by this is that sometimes I am too comfortable with my few commitments.   My few commitments may not be enough.   I can read in Romans 6:11,
 “Likewise reckon ye also ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God though Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Before this idea of adopting another child came about,  I think I was completing the first part of Romans 6:11.  I was facing myself to become dead unto sin.  Now, I see the second half of this scripture coming to fruition in my life.  I know this adoption is the Lord’s Will for us because it has awakened in me a new purpose, and I am beginning to come alive through Jesus Christ our Lord through it.

It is said that the more you advance in the true Christian life, the more the adversary will tempt you and try to obstruct your progress. I know this is true in my life.  Since beginning the adoption process, just like with our first adoption, many doubts have emerged. The negative self-talk has returned and even feelings of despair. I have thoughts that I am too old to do this, and I must be foolish to even try.  I have thoughts that my health will fail, and we will go bankrupt in the process. I have learned from a Christian brother out in California by the name of Joe that these types of lies the enemy has been feeding me are called "strongholds".

Thankfully, as Joe has reminded me, the bible gives me clear instructions on how to overcome such strongholds in my life.  When Satan came against Jesus, Jesus responded by using the written word –“It is written…”

I must learn to do the same and have an arsenal of scripture memorized to counter the devil.  Every time the devil approaches me and seeks to push negative and pessimistic thoughts into my mind, I can discipline myself to counter with a positive word from scripture.  If he tries to suggest things are going to go wrong I can counter with Romans 8:28 for example, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

This scripture and many others can be used any time I am feeling attacked.  I can remember 
I Peter 5:8, “Be sober,  be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

I am learning that as a born-again believer, Christ has given me the authority and power to overcome in three battlefronts where I as his child contend. These three battlefronts are: the flesh; the world; the devil.  The Word tells me in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Romans 13:14 says,  “And make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”. Or, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

What I can do is ask God to reveal in my daily life any strongholds that the enemy may have over me. By asking the Lord to expose these strongholds, and by confessing and repenting of them, I can destroy any deception around which the strongholds are built, even when these deceptions are self-imposed.  It is God who must expose to me these deceptions or breaches, but it is I who must be willing to lay them down at the foot of the Cross by the authority and power invested in me by Christ Jesus.  And leave them there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Nothing Better Than Kids - By Randy Hoium

Before Cheryl and I married, we talked about children.  Cheryl wanted to have two children, and I really did not want to have any, so we agreed on having one child.

Early on in our marriage, we were having difficulty achieving this goal.  I remember the day well when Cheryl had exploratory surgery.  It took longer than expected, and the doctor came and spoke with me.  We agreed that since the "findings" were not so good, we would wait to tell Cheryl when she was feeling better.  The doctor wanted to be the one to give her the news.

The surgery of course took a little something out of my wife.  Later that day, Cheryl awoke in pain and wanted to know.  I gave her the news as gracefully as I knew how.  This is a "blow" only a woman can truly understand... 

Now most of you reading this might not know my wife that well.  We all know Rome wasn't built in a day, but then again, Cheryl was not on the job.  After giving Cheryl the news, she already reached for the yellow pages searching out adoption agencies before I went to bed that night.

I was not at all sure about adoption.  Actually, I was flat-out apprehensive.  What if the child doesn't like me?  What if she has strange behaviors?  What about the cost not to mention the legal repercussions?  You know, this is a partial list. 

Well, I reluctantly agreed to go to a meeting at Hand in Hand and gather some information.  This at least gave Cheryl some hope.  It was the very least I could do for my wife in her time of suffering.  She has always loved children. 

On our return trip that evening from Albion I marveled at the beauty of the evening sky, the kind that makes you wonder about God's work.  I knew in that instant that I wanted to make this happen for my wife.  Doing this in spite of my fears is the thought that came to me.  I then voiced my agreement with Cheryl.  She was just beside herself!

To my surprise, what I thought to be an act of sacrificial love really turned out to be a beautiful gift to myself.  Oh sure, the apprehension would return sometimes during our two year wait, along with moments of shear angst when learning what is required in an international adoption.

But do you want to know something?  Adopting Sonya is the very best thing I have ever done!  My daughter is the "apple of my eye".

I have come to realize what a precious gift a child is.  I cannot imagine loving a biological daughter any more than I love Sonya.  I am sure all the parents out there know what I am saying.  For those of you contemplating this decision, I cannot say enough good about becoming a parent.  

It was my brother-in -law, Rick, who casually remarked to me a few years back, "There is nothing better than kids."  Rick doesn't have a clue how that comment stuck to me.   

"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.  Praise ye the Lord." Psalm 113:9 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Help To Enlarge His Kingdom

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." Ephesians 3:17-20 

Child 12B is an active nearly 4 year old boy who is diagnosed with esotropia of both eyes which was correctable and postoperative hemangioma at the hind-brain.  He is described as energetic, talkative, and fairly extraverted.  He is fond of imitating, playing with toys, listening to music, singing, and playing games.  This child is no longer available through Hand in Hand.

Child 12C is a nearly 2 year old little boy who is quiet and has a ready smile.  He has postoperative cleft lip, cleft palate, and growth development delay.  He is active and is able to roll over, crawl, sit alone, stand up and take steps while holding onto handrails. He likes toys with blinking lights. He likes clapping a ball. He also waves hands and feet when he is happy.  This child is no longer available through Hand in Hand.

Boy 119A – This 2 ½ -year-old boy has deformities of both lower legs as well as missing toes on one foot. He is handsome, obedient, fond of climbing up and down on his bedrails, loves to watch TV or play games with his favorite caretaker, likes music and playing with cars. 
This child is no longer available through Hand in Hand.

Boy 119B – This 3-year-old boy is post-operative for congenital heart disease (VSD, PDA, PFO).  Per a report that is six months old, he is cooperative with the staff, will babble when playing with toys, calls his mama, claps his chest when listening to mama (meaning his mother is in his heart) and likes to play with balls and toys that make sounds or music.
This child is no longer available through Hand in Hand.

I have always believed in adoption.  No so long ago I wrote, 
"When I was just five years old, I knew in my heart and spirit that someday I would adopt a baby.  The very idea of it captured the essence of my being.  For me, even at this tender age, the thought of adoption felt as natural as breathing.  As I reflect back to that point in my history I know unwaveringly that God was guiding my every step to fulfill my place in motherhood.  God had a child for me whom he selected even before the foundations of the earth, planting the seed of truth of her existence within my heart at a young age – to guard within my spirit her imminent eventuality and rightful place in this world - I as her mother and she as my daughter."

In sharing this, I must say that I have not always been for international adoption.  There was a time in my life that due to my inability to recognize the scope of God's Plan for His people, I could not see how far His Hand does stretch, for in Isaiah 43:6 God instructs us to "bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth."

As a natural result of the direction God is taking my family in, I can say with certainty when God places a burden on our hearts to go even to the ends of the earth to find those little ones we were always meant to love, then let us go.  Let us do it without hesitation.  For some, that might be in the form of private domestic adoptions or securing a place in our families for our nation's foster children, or traveling to the four corners of the world. 

International adoption is very expensive.  I have spoken to some people of wealth, and they will be the first  to point out the great expense, indicating ever so subtly that adopting a child who costs that much is not considered by them a good investment.  In all my reading, what I keep finding is this - God is calling the people of little or no financial means to adopt our world's orphans and provide them a safe and loving home.  Even though the initial cost of an international adoption is daunting, God's people must recognize in this late hour that whatever He calls us to do we must do. 

The faces of the little children at the very beginning of this post represent millions of children all over the world who have no families to call their own.  As you study their little faces, if any of them tug on your heart strings or if there is someone you know who God is showing you that needs to see these pictures, then by all means share them.  For more information on international adoption call Vickie Truelove at Hand in Hand International Adoptions at
260-636-3566.  Vickie will be sure to answer with patience and kindness any and all of your questions regarding adoption and the steps involved.   

May God richly bless you today!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fatherhood As a Bridge

On January 15, 2004 Sonya and I flew half way across the world from China to America.   Once back in the United States it took another full day to finally touch down at the Fort Wayne airport where Sonya’s daddy patiently awaited our arrival.  As I hurriedly carried Sonya through the airport making our way back to Randy’s waiting arms, Sonya spotted her father from a distance.  As though she knew him already, Sonya locked her eyes on her father and never looked away.  As I drew nearer to Randy, he reached out to hold his baby girl.  As soon as she was in her father’s loving arms, Sonya’s mouth opened into a perfect little “o” shape, as though in awe of this man, as she so delicately placed her tiny hand on Randy's cheek.  That is a moment I shall never forget, a moment of true recognition.  Having never seen a picture of her father in her life, still she knew him.   

When the three of us made it home that night, I put my arms around the two of them as Randy and I gave each other a kiss.  As Sonya observed this loving gesture between the two of us, she looked at her father and then she looked at me, and then she let out a big sigh as she settled into Randy’s arms more deeply.  That night I saw in my daughter’s eyes an awareness, that what was once incomplete was now made whole.  What had been lacking in her world was now fulfilled. 

Sonya’s response to Randy and me together demonstrates so clearly the importance of both the mother and the father present in a child’s life in a loving, committed marriage.  To this day, I reflect back on that one moment in time and marvel at how God must hardwire into a child’s brain the necessity and irreplaceable nature of both mother and father wherein neither can ever adequately fulfill the other’s role and place in that child’s life and development.  I know for a fact that Sonya would be lost without her father, and I could never possibly begin to fill his shoes nor would I even begin to know how.  

Recently, Sonya and I met Randy at the downtown post office so we could fill out an application for Sonya’s passport in order that all three of us can travel to China to bring her sister home.  As is customary, whenever Sonya has any distance to walk, her father makes himself available for her to be carried.  Generally, I share with Randy my concern that because Sonya is so small and people tend to view her as younger than she is, holding her the way he does will most certainly stunt her emotionally and keep her from growing up.  That day, while walking up to the post office, I asked Randy what he plans on doing when both of his daughters want to be carried.  Randy quickly declared, “I will carry one in each arm.”  That day, I pictured Randy carrying both of his little girls in his arms, and thought it such a lovely image that I haven’t said anything to him about carrying Sonya since.  

I stand amazed at the father God is molding Randy into now in spite of having no modeling of such loving fatherly behavior in his own life.  I know fully well the importance of needing the love of an earthly father, and when that love is absent, a vacuum is created in one’s soul, and the bridge to our heavenly father damaged or destroyed.   How great our Father’s love for us that he so readily and completely redeems and restores what the enemy has stolen from us! 

Soon after our joint decision to adopt Mei I confided in Randy that I believe with all my heart that the area God wants for him to shine the brightest is as a father to his two adopted daughters.  Not only will Sonya and Mei experience full redemption by Randy loving them fully, but Randy will experience redemption as well, as will I, as perhaps will others – simply by watching him live out his role as a bridge to our Heavenly Father.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Romans 8:14-17


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Run With Patience the Race

"...Let us run with patience the race that is set before us," Hebrews 12:1

This sounds like an oxymoron, to run the race patiently.  And it does feel like a race we're in - a race against time to secure Mei Mei's freedom.  As one mother put it while waiting to bring her child home from overseas, "you feel like your child is being held for ransom".  

Basically, when the Lord showed us His plan for including Mei in our family, He didn't spell out how we were to go about securing the necessary funds, only that He would "make a way".   I often counseled people in the past with these words, "Do the footwork, and God will do the rest."  Today, these same words ring more true than ever for us personally as we are certain that when God told us He would make a way, He didn't mean for us to sit back on the couch and wait for it to happen.  Rather, we are to do the footwork so that He can do the rest. 

With every step on our adoption journey, it is our prayerful desire to do as the Lord instructs.  And to always give Him the full glory.  Because we never planned for a second adoption, we do not have set aside an adoption fund.  Quite the contrary, I left my full-time position last year so that I could work around Sonya's home school schedule.  Consequently we have learned to get by on less.  I am gaining a better appreciation for the saying, "less is more".  God has indeed made our money stretch.  Thank you, God, for always providing for our needs! 

As of right now, we are patiently waiting for the completion of our home study.  The completed home study is key when applying for adoption grants.  Without that document, an adoptive family has no way of seeking financial assistance to offset the cost of an international adoption, unless by way of a home equity loan, for instance.

Our plan is to apply for adoption grants as soon as possible.  We are also in the process of organizing a gigantic fundraising rummage sale in the Spring of this year, and we pray it will bring in much revenue.  Randy and I have even contemplated applying for adoption loans as a last resort.  We do not like the idea of saddling ourselves with debt, however, as we do not believe it is the Lord's will for us to do so.  It was the Lord who moved on my heart in the first place to quit my job last year in order that I home school Sonya, so it seems unlikely that it is now His desire that we adopt another child and I go back to work because of adoption debt.  Our plan, then, is to home school both girls once Mei Mei is home and I continue to seek gainful employment around their home school schedule.   

In addition to applying for grants and having a gargantuan rummage sale this Spring, we will also be adding a donation button to this website once we receive approval from LIfesong for Orphans, a non-profit 501c3 agency whose mission is "bringing joy and purpose to orphans".  Lifesong's purpose is to provide a ways and means for adoptive families to receive financial support from family and friends while providing donors a means of securing a tax deduction.  Once Lifesong receives donations on our behalf through monies being sent directly to their paypal account, these funds are immediately used for the express purpose of paying down the adoption fees to our adoption agency - Hand in Hand.  We never ourselves handle any of the donations, but they will always be used on our behalf.   

With that being said, I would ask that you prayerfully consider helping us out financially if that is the Lord's leading on your heart.  Never would we want to ask for donations from anyone who felt coerced or put out in any way.  The only time giving works is when it is given from the heart.  Truthfully, that is the only kind of giving we care to receive.  Otherwise, we will be so grateful for your prayers on our family's behalf.  As we have learned as of most recent, corporate prayer by the Body of Believers in accordance with God's Will is indeed powerful beyond measure and life-changing!

"...Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2 

Can it get any better than that?!  Keep your eyes on the prize, people.  Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Born to Be a Big Sister

Just before Thansgiving my daughter Sonya and I found ourselves at the Christian bookstore.  As I lingered in the music cds, I repeatedly found Sonya by my side asking me for this toy or that, this book or that, this gadget or that gadget - you get my drift.  My answer was always "no".  At one point I shared with her that I had always promised myself I wouldn't end up with a child who sought to wear me down in the middle of department stores begging me for things just to have them, with no thought of its value or the consequence to our future, that if we spend  all our money now we won't have any for later.  With that said, and to my delight, Sonya did not ask for one more thing.   

As the time approached to leave, we passed through a section filled with Holy Bibles.  Sonya asked if she could look through this large selection of bibles as she had always wanted an Old and New Testament  KJV with a ribbon in it.  After exhausting the entire selection and coming up bare, we rounded the corner as the sales associate came to meet us.  He asked how he could help, and I told him of Sonya's travail.  I honestly thought he was going to agree that they carried no such bible, except he didn't.  Instead he led us right to a beautiful fuscia colored KJV bible with a beautiful fuscia colored ribbon.  Sonya just stood there transfixed, looking up at what this young man was holding in his hands, saying nothing, not even moving a muscle.   

As I watched Sonya's gate, I knew the right thing for me to do as a parent was to ask her at that point if she would like for me to purchase that bible for her.  As the question left my lips, Sonya stared at me incredulously, and nodded her head slowly "yes".  Could she have heard me correctly?  Didn't I say to her earlier that I was not going to buy her anything, her eyes said to me.   I then shared that wanting a bible was far different than wanting an object, a thing, and that as her mother I would be happy to invest in her future in this way for the Word would be an investment in her eternal salvation, and even if it was the last dime we had I would still buy her that bible.   

Since that day, Sonya has been so proud of her Holy Bible.  She keeps it in the hard cardboard box it came in, and when she takes it out and opens its pages, she ever so delicately turns them at the corners so as not to wrinkle or tear the fine, thin paper.  Sonya has also grown fond of looking up scripture in her bible just to show me she knows how.   

Only two days ago, while walking through another bookstore together, Sonya spotted the bible section, and exclaimed, "Oh, mommy, I have to go find Mei Mei a bible!"   As I browsed through  books nearby, Sonya set about to find her little sister a bible.  And she did!  She called me over, and showed me two different KJV bibles both with ribbons, one fuscia and green, the other bright purple.  Sonya asked if we could buy one that day, and knowing as I do that we have the adoption to pay for first, I told her we would come back some other time and get Mei Mei a bible of her own before we left for China.

As Sonya thought about it, she remarked to me that she would like to be the one to pay for Sissy's bible.  It didn't take long for me to agree to her proposal, for  I knew in essence what Sonya was saying - that she values the Holy Bible so much she would be willing to use her own money to make sure her little sister would get a new bible just like she did.   I promised Sonya that we would in the same week make a trip to the bank and withdraw twenty dollars from her account and proceed directly over to the bookstore so that she could make her purchase. 

We haven't made it back there yet, as it has only been two days, but something tells me we will be at that bookstore tomorrow to make good on a promise.  I am looking forward to allowing Sonya to do the honor of writing her sister's name inside along with the name of the person who bought it for her. 

I marvel at Sonya's growing maturity, even since we honored God's call to adopt Mei.  I reminded Randy upon our initial deliberation concerning a little sister for Sonya that if I hadn't become a mother and fulfilled the longing I had held in my heart since early childhood, that I would never be able to fully develop into the person God intended me to be or to do the work of His Hands.  

I feel further my plight to become a mother describes Sonya's state and deep longing to become a big sister quite well.  Had we never given Sonya this opportunity to step into the shoes of big sister,  a part of her would surely remain dormant and undeveloped, incapable of serving God to her utmost and highest.  As Sonya's mother, I believe the words I speak are true.  Praise you, Father, for this realization in order that we may equip Sonya to walk in Your Ways and fulfill the plans You have designed specifically for her.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Widow and the Orphan

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” 
James 1:27 

“To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction.”  This is the part of James 1:27 I hear quoted most often, but never have I understood the significance of coupling these two particular demographics in the same breath, until now. 

Most recently while at church I spoke with two different women on two separate occasions and heard first-hand, yet only in small measure, what it feels like to be a widow at the holidays.  Both conversations began with me asking a question, “How are you?’’

As the smile faded from their lips and tears filled their eyes, I heard of how difficult it is to get through the holidays – without them.  Their best friends, with whom they’ve laughed and cried  for decades, are gone.  How are they to get over that?  How are they to stop the longing to see them again when they’ve really not been gone that long?  How can they continue to step through the entryway of an empty home day after day, night after night, and wake up to the same nagging feeling of an engulfing emptiness each morning? 

With a prayer on their lips before they place their feet on the floor they ask God for strength and courage to hope again, breathe again, live again.  Until that day when they will be reunited, they will simply endure.  Until then, they will be brave and fill their days with service and activity and people that they love and who love them back, yet never fully able to fill the vacuum of their souls for their beloveds.

The fatherless, the orphans, like the widows, suffer such an affliction as this.  Laying their heads down at night many times without even a prayer to comfort them, they ask the question to the space around them, “When will my forever family come to take me home?”  Night after night they are forced to ask this same question.  Day after day, the same activity, filling the time, filling the space around them with a need for belonging, burying a sorrow they carry on their little shoulders because the reality of it is too great a burden to comprehend.  

Enduring each day with such courage, such tenacity, longing to be reunited, in a sense, with their beloveds, how brave they truly are!  Yet they love, in spite of conditions, they love those around them, and they are loved back.  But there is a vacuum, nevertheless, with a longing which can only be filled by their forever families.  When will that day ever come?  Will that day ever come?

As soon as I realized I have a daughter who has been living in an orphanage for the past six years without me, without her big sister and her daddy, the tears began to flow.  A river of tears I cry, just below the surface, the same kind of tears I imagine as the widows and the orphans.  Is this sorrow I feel the only way God could make me see their pain?  

Is it in caring for the afflicted, the widows and the orphans, that we come to know what pure, undefiled worship of God our Father feels like and hence with great awareness turn away from the world?  Through the care of the afflicted do we come to a deep awareness that it is the world that afflicts the afflicted?

Or is the only way to see the affliction, the pain, of the widows and the fatherless, the orphans, is by seeking out God first in all that we do, hence living a life of religious substance filled with God?  To practice a pure religion undefiled before God will we come to recognize their affliction?  As we turn away from the world and deny ourselves this ubiquitous carnality, can we then feel the pain, the affliction, of the widows and the orphans by keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world”? 

God is opening my eyes.  Praise the Lord!  Even though there is great pain there is also great joy, for this growing humanity welling up inside of me is showing me the need before me.   The need has always been there just like my daughter has been alive for over six years now.  Having not known the need was I responsible for the need.  Now that I know the need I must meet it.

For God showed me that even though James 1:27 speaks of the widows and the orphans specifically, the afflicted of all sorts can be addressed.  My brother without a job, my sister who is ill or caring for a sick child or an elderly parent, these are some of the afflicted that need cared for through prayer and encouragement and who often hold back a river of tears just below the surface.  

The need of the hour is great.  Let us rise to meet the need through Christ Jesus because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.   Who knows?  Perhaps someone reading this right now is being beckoned by the Father to visit an orphan and give him a home and a forever family.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our Mei Mei Adoption Testimony

The Dream
Recently, I had a dream.  In the dream, the Lord contrasted man’s ways to His.  He revealed to me that unlike man, when He shows us a need, He will meet it fully and completely.  When I awoke from the dream, I asked the Lord if Sonya’s need for a sister and my need for a daughter were from Him.    Could it really be that Sonya’s growing longing for a sister and my restless yearning for another daughter was actually inspired byGod Himself?  I contemplated on this for many days. 

The Urgent and Prayerful Plea
Then on Sunday, December 5th of 2010 during the morning Invitation at church, I felt the Lord drawing my husband and me up to the altar to pray together for His will regarding another child.   If it was His will that we adopt again, “Show us”.  If it was not His will and only my selfish desire, then, “Please oh please, relieve my burdened heart”.  With a deep sensitivity towards my needs that so defines him, Randy complied with my wish for joint prayer without hesitation.

As we approached the altar and knelt down together I imagined that I was laying my troubles down at the foot of the cross to be worked out in a righteous manner by my Lord and Savior.  And oh what a safe place to lay my burden down!

In amazement and gratitude I listened as Randy prayed a most beautiful and sincere prayer unto the Lord, voicing our need as a married couple only to do His will in all of this.  “Whatever Your will may be for us, let us do it and have peace with it.”  As we stood to walk back to our pew a deacon approached us and requested to pray on our behalf.  Without ever knowing of our humble plea, this deacon proceeded to ask God to hear and answer our prayers.   In that moment, I felt that we were not alone and that we had brothers and sisters in Christ at the church willing to walk along beside us wherever God may lead.  I simply cannot describe in mortal words what an incredible feeling it is to know that we are not alone.

Returning later to the evening service and as the church prepared for the third Invitation of the day, the Holy Spirit moved on Randy and me in a mighty way to go directly to the Preacher and ask him to pray with us for God’s answer.   As we explained to Preacher our situation, he prayed with us and made known our request before the Lord.  Then as if the Lord spoke directly to Preacher instructing him as to how to proceed, Preacher asked us to have a seat in the front pew to wait for the conclusion of the Invitation.  As Randy and I sat there together holding hands while listening to the singing voices all around us, I wanted to simultaneously laugh out loud with glee and sob from the depths of my soul for I knew in my spirit something big was about to happen.    

At the conclusion of the Invitation, Preacher beckoned Randy and me to stand with him in front of the congregation as he proceeded to explain with accurate detail the serious nature of our prayer request as well as reminding everyone that we should always seek the Lord’s will in all things.  Preacher then asked that if anyone present would be willing to pray for our circumstances to please come up following the service and let Randy and me know their intentions and to share with us their thoughts and encouragement.

A prayer at the Offering was even said on our behalf regarding God’s will for adoption, and I could barely believe my ears.   Could this really be happening?  Could we really be sitting in a church who has known us for less than a year praying corporately on our behalf to make known to us the Father’s will regarding the adoption of another child?  In the middle of the prayer it dawned on me - this is what Christians are supposed to be like.  Praise the Lord that we’ve been given the opportunity to be part of His Body at such a church as this!

Directly following the service that evening as Randy and I stood before everyone, it seemed like the whole church came up to offer their encouragement and support, some with tears in their eyes, some with smiles and laughter, with many warm hugs and  handshakes from all.  As I later described to Brother Wayne in an email, “Never in our lives have we been shown so much love and support!  What a difference Jesus has made in our lives and the caliber of people he has surrounded us with now compared to what we experienced in our past.  Truly, the Spirit of the Living God dwells within our church through the people!”

The Power of Prayer!

The next morning, and customary to my personality, I immediately started asking God that if adoption is His will for our family then where should I begin?  Almost as quickly as I asked the question I knew the answer.  Call Hand in Hand”, the adoption agency that successfully helped us bring Sonya home from China almost seven years earlier.

That very morning I called Vickie Truelove at Hand in Hand and explained to her our situation, believing at that moment that she would say we no longer qualified for China adoptions due to Randy’s and my combined age.  Incredibly she told me China has a Special Focus Program that we do qualify for. 

When Vickie sent via email written descriptions of the various children in need of “forever families”, I narrowed down my search to three little girls a little younger than Sonya as I would like to honor Sonya’s request for a younger sister while preserving her role as the first born.  When I received an email back from Vickie with the information I requested I eagerly opened up the first file, and what I saw made me tremble and weep with joy because I knew I was staring at the face of my little girl!  A little girl resembling Sonya in her earlier years, a little girl filled with sweetness, joy, life!  My daughter - my second born!

Then as swiftly as I had felt the joy of beholding the face of my daughter, I felt the jolting reality of the circumstances before us.  How could I approach Randy with this?  How could I make him see that this little girl is our little girl and that we need to adopt her all the while knowing that it is customary for Randy to make important decisions with much deliberation?   So I waited as patiently as I could for Randy to come home from work later that day and immediately invited him to look at little Mei’s picture on the computer screen.  Randy looked at her picture carefully and then simply stated, “She looks like Sonya’s sister.”  Nothing more was said about her by Randy that night.   

The next three days were murderous for me.  I could not find peace anywhere, and I realized that I was angry with God.   An anger I had held against Him for quite some time bubbled up within me and spilled over into my waking reality.  And I cried out to the Lord, “Why did You make me barren?!  Why have You made me powerless to have more children?  Why do I have no say in this, and why are You making me rely completely on You for whether or not I ever have children again!”  Then as suddenly as these angry, sorrowful words spilled from my lips, I understood and was instantly filled with deep gratitude.   Because I knew relying on God fully and completely in the matter of motherhood is the safest place in the world to stand – in the very center of God’s will.

I reflected back on when we adopted Sonya and how I knew in my heart and soul that God’s Hand was over our unified decision to adopt her.  That is why we as a family have been so blessed, and that is why there is so much love between us, because “us together” is God’s will.  And really, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I understood in that moment that the only way another adoption would prove successful is if it truly is God’s will for us
“us together”.  So…I went back to praying,
“God’s will be done”.

Time is of the Essence

One of the suggestions given to me by Hand in Hand was to have a doctor look over Mei’s medical records to understand any health concerns related to this little child, potentially a doctor at an international adoption clinic located in our home state.  When calling this clinic I discovered they would want $350-400 just to look at her records and share their findings with us!  I couldn’t possibly pay someone this kind of money just to do what is right in the first place regarding the welfare of a child, plus in all honesty knowing we simply did not have that kind of money to spare. 

I called Vickie on Thursday, December 9th to let her know I was very drawn to little Mei, and that is when Vickie confided in me that Hand in Hand would only have Mei’s file until Tuesday, December 14th.  After that date, Hand in Hand would lose their opportunity to find this little one a home. Thursday night I went to bed in tears and cried out to the Lord to relieve me of my heartache involving Mei.  I asked Him if he wanted me to pursue gathering more information about her then He would need to tell me in the morning of a doctor who would look at her medical records for free.  

During morning prayer and forgetting all about my request to the Lord the night before, I recalled a home school family I know through home school gym where the man of the house just happens to be a doctor.  May I also add that this particular family has adopted two children internationally, so I was certain they would understand the need at hand and have compassion for this little girl and not want to profit from her tenuous situation.   I immediately emailed his wife and asked her if her husband would look at some medical records for me.  She emailed back right away with an affirmative, adding that he has done this for other friends in the same situation.  Later I would learn that he would not charge us a dime for the help offered.

Even though finding a doctor presented a bit of relief to my spirit, I still felt heavy laden because I had not yet shared any of this with Randy.  I was waiting for the perfect time.  It was Friday evening, and while standing in the rug section of a department store the Lord spoke to me and said, “Had you adopted six years ago like you first wanted to, I would not have received the Full Glory.  But Now, due to your circumstances, it will be evident to all that it is All Me.”

That night, when I went home, I laid out the entire situation to Randy.  Between sobs, I told him that we didn’t have much time to decide as time was running out.  In an email from December 12th addressed to Preacher and Gayle it reads, “It was just Friday night when it seemed our future hung in the balance.  After I had poured out my heart to Randy and shared with him all that God had told me regarding this little girl, Randy was still not sure. And then we prayed.  Randy's prayer to the Lord was, ‘Lord if this is your will move on my spirit so that I feel it too.’ 

Then Saturday morning as I was getting ready to go to work I started crying because I wasn't sure of things, and then the Lord told me, ‘I will make a way.’  Suddenly, I was filled with peace, and I knew the Lord had a mighty plan in store for our family.  By last night, Randy was completely on board and wondering what name we should give her and where we'll be traveling to in China to bring her home.”   

Digressing, while at work on Saturday the 11th, I felt uneasy about finding out the results of Mei’s medical history before Randy was resolved that we would adopt her.  Then the Lord spoke to me and said, “I want you to trust me.”   When the Lord spoke those words, I knew what he meant. He meant that He wanted us to trust Him that Mei belongs with us.  He meant that He wanted us to trust Him that we do not need to fully comprehend her medical information in order to know what she needs from us.  He did not want us basing our decision to adopt Mei on whether or not she was “perfect” enough or without flaw.   Mei belongs with us, and we love her.  In the end, love is really all that matters, and it is God’s love that will continue to dictate our steps through this journey of adoption.

On Monday, December 13, Sonya and I made our way to Albion, Indiana to deliver an application fee to Hand in Hand and to pick up a folder filled with documents to complete with a list of deadlines and requirements, both financially and otherwise, to be met.  In our minds, the adoption process of Mei officially began for our family on that Monday, a week after seeing her picture for the very first time. Isn’t our God good?!  My family’s prayer is that the three of us will travel to China to bring Mei home in September of 2011 and give her the gift of a Forever Family for her birthday.

As I penned to Pastor Wayne and Miss Gayle in a recent email and as I will pen to all of you reading this now, '"Thank you for all your prayers.  We believe it is the prayers of the Body that brought this to pass so quickly.  We will be forever grateful to all of you for that.”  

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer Requests for the Successful Adoption of Mei Mei
1.     Pray that as we apply for adoption scholarships, grants and loans through Christian agencies that our circumstances and adoption story will be deemed profitable to the Body of Christ as to garner our family the necessary financial assistance to secure Mei Mei's Freedom and bring her safely home to America in September of 2011.
2.     Pray that in whatever means God plans to “make a way” for the successful adoption of Mei that Randy and I stay receptive and alert to the Lord’s direction and leaning and hence faithfully follow.
3.     Pray that as the adversary seeks to diminish or lessen our Joy and Faith in the Will of God through this adoption process that Randy and I remain faithful in studying God’s Word as we recognize that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17
4.     Pray for Mei’s health and well-being and that God will send to her daily His ministering angels to guide, shield and protect her while at the orphanage and outside of our protective arms.
5.     Pray that through this process, God will continue to receive the Full Glory for this unfolding adoption miracle, and that no man will take any portion of the credit for himself.
6.     Pray for the countless children all over the world who, due to circumstances beyond their control, have no Forever Families to call their own.  Pray that God’s people will rise up and step up and take these children in to their homes, lives and churches as He calls them to do so.

“…bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”
Isaiah 43: 6-7

I am fastly learning through our own adoption experiences as well as hearing the stories of countless others that the miracle of adoption, whether domestic or foreign, is a mission field where many Christian families are being called right now to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ - to go out into the world and secure the safe passage of the countless children desperately needing Forever Families to give them a chance at “belonging” and to be a part of families where they are needed and loved.  By loving and caring for the children that God is calling us to love and care for, we will be demonstrating to them the love of Jesus.  What greater gift could we ever possibly give our children than to introduce them to this man called Jesus and  give them an opportunity to come to a saving knowledge in Christ and invite Him into their hearts and lives as Savior and Lord so that they too can receive the free gift of eternal salvation!   Amen and amen!