Sunday, June 24, 2007

Liberia means 'free land'. Freed American slaves were sent back to Africa, however they were not welcomed. They named their settlement Monrovia, named after President James Monroe. Monrovia now serves as the capital of Liberia.

Rubber is one of the biggest natural resources in Liberia and brought many jobs to the country. Some of the other natural resources are ire ore, timber, gold and diamonds. Liberia was becoming a thriving land with universities, electrical plants, roads and even drawing tourism as people wanted to go on African safaris.

In 1989 a civil war broke out. Before this there was already unrest in the country. A country that seemed to be prospering soon found itself falling. Today Liberia has no running water, electricity or postal service. People are dying of disease and malnutrition. Orphans are found everywhere and many parents are turning their children over to the orphanages for survival. Because this country has no health care, or very minimal, there is no way to treat the diseases. People are dying. Children and babies dying. Nobody knows nor cares about these deaths as it is a common occurrence.

People do whatever they can for survival. For example, by 11 years old most girls become prostitutes to try to survive. Most of these girls have not even hit puberty yet they're prostituting their bodies in desperation for food.In 2004 1 million babies died. Did I mention that the population is only about 3 million? Life expectancy is only 40 years!

This country is in extreme poverty. They are in need. I know there are other countries in the same circumstances, yet the Lord has laid Liberia on our hearts. He has called us to pull at least one child, a child of His, out of this poverty. To give them life, hope and a future. What will you do to help? Will you at least pray for us? Not all are called to adopt, but there are still ways we can help those the Lord does call to adopt these orphans. If it breaks my heart to see a picture of a sad, malnourished child imagine how it breaks Jesus' heart!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Step 1 Complete

Yesterday I handed in our homestudy papers so the journey has officially begun. We're so excited. As I was driving to drop them off I felt so giddy. It was the same feeling you get when you find out you're pregnant- you're so excited and wonder what the next 9 months has in store for you. Our social worker is really wonderful and I sat and visited with her for awhile asking questions. This is her first time working with somebody adopting from Liberia (besides my friend Kim who is also working with her and has also just begun the process).

We had to pay $50 for the application fee for the homestudy. No big deal, it was payday and all. Well, Kim's friend called and asked if she could rent our water slide from us for $50! Sure! See how God just threw that in our lap!?!? It was so cool! Then I got the bright idea that I could rent out our water slide to friends of friends of friends;) as a way to raise money. God is so good to provide all our needs.

Well I'm off to finish cleaning. I've been getting some negative feedback and while I know the people are well-meaning I feel like saying, "If you don't have nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all". Makes me want to keep this all to ourselves, but we can't do that! We NEED the prayers of our family and friends!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Also taken from my other blog:

If I could sum up with one word right now at the beginning of our adoption journey it would be: emotional. I have always been an emotional person, just ask my family. They used to sing Van Halen's song, Jamie's Cryin' to me:

Oh, whoa, whoa, Jamie's cryin'
Oh, whoa, whoa, Jamie's cryin'

God made women to be emotional. That isn't always a bad thing. Little things can get me to cry, but through the years I've become harder. I don't always cry as easily at certain things. But things of God, well they still tear me up. Watching my daughter grow and sing songs to Jesus while doing the motions, hearing little children sing songs to Jesus and seeing God's work in my life are some of the latest things that God has shown me. And I just want to sit and sob! BUT, that isn't all. God has given me a heart like His like never before. And that is emotional! I've never thought I would see so much of His heart like this. It is amazing. I've always had a heart for orphaned children but not like this. With sharing all of this, I may as well just spill my little 'testimony'. Let me warn you that it is long! Before I leave you to read my life story in a nutshell, I want you to check out this song, One, we've learned at VBS (click on the song One once you get there). Something about the words of this song just touch those emotional parts of my heart. As I hear the words and sing it I could just cry rivers of tears. It makes me think of the child(ren) we may be adopting from Africa and how we are One with them- in heart, mind, love. It doesn't matter their skin color or that they live across the ocean. We are One in Jesus name.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Written June 8, 9, 2007

Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to be a mommy. I loved to play with my dolls and even my Barbie’s, who would have big families. Even at a young age I would help in the church nursery. I was always drawn to children! I remember one time watching something on TV that has still stuck with me. They were showing orphans in orphanages in Romania. It broke my heart to see those poor children lie in cribs all day long. To see the conditions they lived in devastated me. As I grew older I began to baby-sit and I loved it! I loved to be around children and take care of them. Being an only child and the youngest grandbaby for many about 8 years, I didn’t have many little children in my family. At some point, I think maybe 6th or 7th grade I began watching the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. I was so inspired by how these sick children were helped, how despite their illness they were so happy.

It was about this time, in 7th grade, that the schools began talking about our careers and college. We had to think about what we wanted to do when we grew up. Well all I wanted to be was a mommy! But of course that wasn’t an option. I had to search out careers and find what I wanted to do (and forget about having children). It was in my search that I learned of social work. Perfect! I began to think about those telethons and dream of working in a children’s hospital. I thought of how I would make those ill children smile- walk in their rooms in a clown suit, have a puppet show, play with them, tell them of Jesus.

So as graduation grew nearer this was the plan. I’d become a social worker. After all, the thing to do after high school is to go to college, right? Who just becomes a mom?

Through college I always wondered when I’d find the right guy. I just wanted to get married and start a family! But of course- studies came first. My sophomore and junior years I went on a mission trip to Grundy, Virginia (Mt. Mission School) during spring break. We worked at an orphanage. The majority of the children were from African American families, families of poverty (which is why the children were there). Those children were so precious! They just loved for us to come and fellowship, sing and play with them. They were so full of love and hugs- and even smiles. That was such an awesome opportunity for me!

By my senior year I had met my man. Two weeks after I graduated we were married. I listened to those ‘wiser’ ones and was on the pill. It’s not feasible to start a family right after marriage. We needed to get to know one another, was what we were told. Well, I didn’t last long on the pill for physical reasons, but also because I wanted a baby! About two months after we’d gotten married we were pregnant! Two years later we had another baby. At that time I wasn’t sure how many children I wanted, maybe 4 or 5. We used protection but still thought if God wanted us to become pregnant He would allow it to happen.

Then I was introduced to the Above Rubies ministry. I devoured the magazines, joined the egroup and then we went to a family camp. We read their book, which is now called, ‘Be Fruitful & Multiply’ and it changed our lives. It opened our eyes and we’ve not been the same. God has really used Nancy Campbell and this ministry to change our family. I am open to any number of children. I see them as a blessing. I have learned about how to be a better, more Godly wife and mother.

I should also mention that at first in our marriage I knew we’d homeschool but I wasn’t too open about it. Zach totally wanted it but I was hesitant. Well, the Lord changed my way of thinking in this area as well. My sister-in-law gave us a book about homeschooling and I became excited about it and that fire has not burned out yet!

The past year Above Rubies has really focused on adoptions from Liberia. I also must mention I go to Women’s Retreats through Above Rubies- I’ve gone to 3 now. I enjoyed reading about these families who were adopting, thinking that someday further down the road we’d adopt. Since that day when I saw on TV those children in the Romanian orphanages I have had a desire to adopt. Through our years together once in awhile I’d mention it to Zach, thinking it would happen way down the road. He wasn't open to adoption, though. He thought it would be fine just to produce our own children!

God has been working on Zach’s heart. I’m sure I would tell him about some of these families who were adopting. One day, I’m not even sure when, he told me we should adopt. I couldn't believe my ears! So, I once again thought, ‘Yeah, down the road’.

Two years after our second child was born we had a third one- our second boy. After I had him it took longer to get pregnant (because I nursed on demand for a long time). When I did get pregnant I miscarried. This was August of last year. Two to three months later I again was pregnant. Things were going great, we saw the baby on ultrasound, heard a heartbeat. When I went to an appointment at 15 weeks I found out our baby died. We were devastated, in shock, angry, sad. Three weeks later I delivered Malachi Robert’s body into the world. We buried him five days later.

This was the most difficult time of my life yet I saw God’s hand through it all. Zach found out about an Adoption Seminar on base and wanted to go. I thought I’d go but wasn’t interested in adopting at this time. I just lost my baby and felt like I wasn’t being a good mommy to my three children. Also, while I was waiting to deliver our Malachi I attended an Above Rubies retreat. Nancy talked about how they were adopting from Liberia and told us about her daughter, who also adopted from Liberia.

So I go to this seminar and we get lots of good information. I think I’ll just hold on to it for the future. We’d even gotten a home study packet. I filed it all away. But Zach kept talking about adopting. We’ve even talked about foster/adopt but if we move next summer I’m not certain how that would work out. I wouldn’t want to get attached to these children and possibly be able to adopt them only to move and have to ‘give them up’.

So over the past couple of months I’ve been pondering adoption more and more. I realized it would probably happen sooner than what I originally thought. Then one night I went to a Mom’s Night Out, just 4 nights ago. My friend, Kim, was there. She is hoping to adopt a little girl, Janet Flomo, from Liberia. She was telling us about it, about Liberia. Things I’ve heard before. But for some reason this night it really hit me. Also, her friend was there talking about her foster care. I almost began weeping. I really had to hold back the tears. God really impressed it heavily upon my heart that “NOW is the time”. Some little girl in Liberia needs us.

I came home and I probably went looking on the Internet right away. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Zach was already in bed, so the next day I emailed him about it. His reply was pretty much, “Let’s do it!” He probably thought it’s about time I come around!

The past four nights I’ve slept fitfully. I keep seeing images on little Liberian children needing help. I’ve been researching online- adoption agencies, blogs of those who’ve adopted, etc. I’ve emailed a few who have adopted from Liberia.

Besides the fact that God has laid Liberia so heavy on my heart is something else. He showed me a ‘window’ the other day of how everything in my life has come to this point. Like:
1. I am adopted. My dad adopted me when I was 7 or 8. I don’t know my biological dad (although I've met him). I am also adopted into God’s family.
2. Seeing the Romanian orphanages, how it affected me and how I still remember it today.
3. Always wanting to be a mommy.
4. Getting a social work degree (Jerry Lewis).
5. My mission trips to the ‘orphans’ in Virginia.
6. Above Rubies
7. Even losing my babies.

I know there are many reasons my babies may have passed. I know God works all things out for His glory. I see good that has come through the losses. I believe if we hadn’t gone through them then our hearts wouldn’t be so open today to adopting. As I look back I see God’s always had me as a ‘candidate’ of His to adopt- He’s just been molding my life and heart until just the right time so that He will bless us with just the child who needs us.

Some verses I read this morning:
Psalm 112:9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor…
Psalm 113:9 He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.
Psalm 115:14, 15 May the Lord make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Verses on ‘adoption’:
Ephesians 1:5 …he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will...
Romans 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
James 1:27 Religion that god our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is taken from my 'normal' blog...where it all began!

Remember a few posts back I asked you to pray for something? Well, I thought I'd finally share it. We are in the process to adopt a child from Liberia. I ask you to pray that this goes smoothly (as smooth as an adoption can go). I ask you to pray for the finances. Adoption costs a ridiculous amount of money and we are totally stepping out in faith here. We're in the military and we don't have extra funds lying around to just up and adopt a child. But God has called us to this point and we are trusting in Him. We know that if it is His will then He will help us to provide. Pray also for the children in Liberia. I will be sharing some of what we're learning as the days, weeks and months unfold. Pray for the people who will help us through the process- from the prayer warriors to the social workers to the adoption agency to the INS workers. I also have written something that I would like to share soon with you all (probably in increments as it is long). Unless I figure out a way I can send a link to it... This is a huge step, an exciting yet scary road we will travel. Thank you for your support and love! Not all have been supporting at this point and that is difficult, especially when it is people close to us. Which I why I will share and pour out my heart to you.

I will leave you with some facts about Liberia. In 1989 a civil war broke out, being rated as one of the most deadly wars in Africa. There's no electricity, running water or mail service. People are suffering from malnutrition and lack of medical care. Babies and others die daily from the disease and conditions that run rampant in that country. The population is about 3 million with a life expectancy about 40 years old. The country is hurting and in need of not only food and medical care, but most importantly they're in need of a Savior, Jesus.