"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm back, and I already need you, please!


Is that not the sweetest, little face?

If you're not sure who this is, and trust me I'd love to claim her if I could, this is my beautiful soon-to-be niece, Isabella Yong Mei.

Isabella is coming to us from Guangxi province and she was a complete and total surprise!

You see, my sister and her hubby started out on the NSN's route shortly after our Kai and AJ joined the family.  If you're familiar at all with the Chinese NSN adoption program, you know that the approximate wait now is six years....not months....YEARS!

Last year, after so much uncertainty and the fact that they weren't getting any *ahem* younger, they decided that they would not proceed with adopting another child.  They let all their paperwork expire, called the agency and told them they'd be putting off their adoption plans and soon began the process of proceeding with their lives.

Well, someone forgot to tell God about their plans. 

This past June, my sister received a phone call that would turn their lives around, in a good....no, in an awesome, kinda way.   Her agency called and told her, "We have your referral!"   Sort of like when you go to the doctor for a stomach virus, and find out that reason you've been tossin' your cookies is because there's a baby wiggling around in there!  :)

No worries, a few paragraphs down, I'll let ya get the whole scoop from her directly...but for now, please just bear with me.  I've got somethin' important here to say!  ;)

I digress.

Of course, they told their agency to send the info because they just had to take a peek and read all about this little miracle.  Once they did, they were taken in...hook, line and sinker.

Now, I know that those of you who've adopted know darn well all that it entails and the fact that it's a complete leap of faith, especially when it comes to finances.  Most people I know just don't have a spare $25,000. sitting around.

But, they prayed about it.  They prayed hard.  And they knew in their heart of hearts that God had brought this child to them, and he would somehow work it out that he'd send whatever was needed to bring her home. 

My sister beat records getting all of her paperwork together again, including updating homestudies, getting new fingerprints, and cutting through all the red tape that comes with completing an adoption.  Their faith is strong.  But, that doesn't deter the enemy from trying everything possible to stop this little one from coming into a home where God is worshipped and adored.

Just last week, they finally received their I800 approval!  We all snoopy danced with joy.  Then, reality hit that TA (travel approval) follows very shortly.  Yes, six weeks is a short time when you have to make those funds appear.

Now, this is where I need you prayer warriors, adoptive families and friends to step in.  They are still approximately $10,000. short for the rest of their expenses, which include the orphanage donation and travel funds.  Bless her heart, she's been fundraising, is planning garage sales, has applied for grants and is doing whatever is possible to make up the difference.  My brother-in-law is working double time to bring money in, also.

Can I plead ask you to please do one, or all, of the following, if your heart feels led to?

1)  Will you prayerfully consider making a donation on her BLOG, by clicking on the "Chip-In" button at the top right side?  No contribution is too small.

2)  Will you consider purchasing a beautiful custom made necklace, bearing the words, When Love Takes You In, as a contribution?

3)  Will you consider purchasing a gift (the holidays are coming!) from one of the great stuff on the Thirty-One for Isabella site?

4)  Will you please share this post on your own blog and/or FaceBook account? (Please feel free to link to this one, if you wish.)

and lastly,

5)  Will you please pray that God be merciful and have these funds appear, either through grants, people's hearts being touched or by some other miraculous way.  He is capable and I know He answers prayers. 

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." - Matthew 18:20
I have complete faith that God will provide.  I also have faith in the amazing adoption community that stands behind these beautiful children of God.
I'm posting on here, because I've been in my sister's shoes.  I know what it's like to be down to the wire and not knowing where the funds will come from.  I also know that I've seen God perform miracles in many orphans' lives, to unite them with their forever families.  Nothing is impossible for God.

Jesus answering said to them, "Have faith in God. For most assuredly I tell you, whoever may tell this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and doesn't doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is happening; he shall have whatever he says. Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. -- Mark 11:22-24 

Thank you, friends, for listening to my heart, that already loves this little girl who will be such a big part of our family.  I know times are tough, but if you feel tugged to help in any manner, God will reward your obedience.  I promise you.  He is faithful. 

Can you please help my family be a testimony to what God's children and the adoption community can do when their hearts are invested in uniting a child with their forever family?
May God bless you abundantly for opening your hearts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sit Still, Will Ya? PART II

As you know from THIS post, we had been struggling financially and we had used up pretty much all we had in our savings to get us to 'The Promised Land'.

So, here we were.  Boxes piled to the ceiling.  We had sold most of everything we had when it came to furniture, in order to make the move, including the kids' bedroom sets and beds, living room furniture and so on.  We pretty much had nothing, and again, no job.  No money.  But we knew our God remained by our side.

The following day after losing the job, I went online to see what our funds were because we needed to buy groceries.  I was in shock when I saw that our tax refund had been deposited the night before!  It wasn't expected for another couple of weeks. GOD PROVIDES!  I fell to my knees in tears and thanked Him, then ran off to tell Scott and my Mom, who was still here helping us, what God had done!

Now, we knew for sure, that God wanted us here.  We just needed a plan.  A strategy.  What to do?  Become a statistic like most of the country and file for unemployment and food stamps?  Settle for whatever job we could find?  How about the kids?  How about my going back to work?  So many unanswered questions.  Prayers continued.  

Being that we had moved to a very small, very conservative town, we started asking around about the public school here, which is just a few blocks away.  We figured that I would have to go back to work for the first time in over 10 years, doing whatever would bring in some money.  The following day, sweet hubby and I scheduled an appointment to meet the principal.  We were blessed when we did!   We spoke to her candidly about our beliefs, our faith, our values and what we did NOT want our children learning in school.  Her beliefs aligned with ours.  The kids were excited because it seems like everyone who teaches at the school, pretty much lives in the town and the kids all were neighbors within a couple mile radius, and most attend church with them. Every child in our little community rides the bus in the afternoon. The public school bus here drops off each and every child at their front door!  I guess that's what happens when you live in a town of population 900.  Not to mention the fact that the typical question when meeting someone is, "Where do you go to church?"  Not, "Do you go to church?"  :)

So, we agreed to start them the following Monday.  They were very excited!

Next on the list, a job for sweet hubby and one for myself.

Sweet hubby has been in the same industry of business for almost 25 years.  He worked for a particular company his entire adult life in New England, and also when we lived in Miami.  On a whim, he looked up to see if this company had a franchise here in NC.  It did!   He went to their website, but there were no opportunities available under their CAREERS tab.  I told him that maybe he should still send them an email with a copy of his resume attached, just in case.  He did.  But not only did he send it to Human Resources, my genius hubby sent it to the CFO and also to the branch owner, detailing his work experience.  Needless to say, we were pretty shocked when 4 hours later, we received an email from the CFO asking if he would be available for an interview the following day.  Apparently, the night before, one of their top employees had come in and said he could not longer handle the task of being an Operations Manager, the same exact position sweet hubby was applying for.  God does indeed sit on the throne!

We prayed incessantly.

The interview went very well.  He was asked to return the following week to meet the owner, who was going to take him to lunch.   We've since learned that a) things are much slower and laid back here in the south  and b) being taken to lunch for a job interview is always a very good sign.

Fast forward SIX weeks and several interviews, he was offered a position, for less pay than we wanted (or needed), as an Operations Manager for their main NC branch.  The position was great.  The pay was not.  But nonetheless, it was a job and from what we were told by everyone in the area, it was miraculous because most people have been out of jobs here for over 2 years. The tax refund had taken us through the entire time we were jobless.  We never applied for unemployment.  Our amazing church family insisted on providing furniture for the children's rooms for us, so that problem was settled also. 

I looked and looked for a job for myself, but apparently, the Lord did not want me to work, at least not getting paid to.  Through it all, we never stopped praising and thanking Him for his goodness.  Not only did He provide for the time sweet hubby was out of work, but He allowed us to spend almost 6 weeks alone while the children were in school.  Remember we had been apart for over 2 months, seeing each other only once, during that time?  It was wonderful getting to know this beautiful part of our state, with my best friend.  A much needed reprieve from the world.  A 'paid' honeymoon vacation from the Lord, Himself.

Finally, sweet hubby started working.  As for me, I was a bit worried and depressed about the kids being in school.  But, I believe it was my own pity party because I was lonely.  They were adjusting beautifully.   I began to spend my mornings alone with God.  I asked him daily to lead me to where or what He wanted me to do.  I prayed that it be something where I can serve Him and enjoy it at the same time. 

Slowly but surely, he led me to volunteer at places that were near and dear to my heart.  I began a little ministry, that first started in my head, visiting the home-bound elderly folks from our church that had no family and were not able to get to church on Sundays. I now do that weekly.   I also spend time on a weekly basis at an Alzheimer's respite center, loving on some of the most amazing elderly folks I've ever met.  It brings back beautiful memories of my grandparents, especially my loving grandfather who passed away from that dreaded disease.  My days were quickly filling up.  I signed up to volunteer at the children's school on a regular basis. And as of lately, I've been going twice a month to feed the homeless at the soup kitchen in a neighboring town.  The blessings have been overwhelming abundant for me.

It's now been a little over 7 months that we arrived in this little town.  We are all settled in.  Me, with my volunteer work that fills my days to the point that I had to get a calendar to keep track of my schedule.  The littles with school and extra curricular activities like Scouts, karate and church activities. 

And sweet hubby?  Oh yeah, he was recently promoted from not only being Operations Manager to the headquarters of the NC branch, but also the South Carolina branch.  He's received over 20% in raises, which is unheard of in this economy.  He is making more money than he's ever made, even during the good economic times in our past.  We now all have health insurance, which we haven't had in over 3 years.  We have formed a close family with wonderful, God loving believers at our new church.  We live in a beautiful neighborhood out in the country where God's beauty surrounds us, from the hills, to the sounds of cows mooing in the distance, to the cardinals flying to my front porch to eat from the feeder, while I sit on the rocker, sipping my coffee and reading His word each morning.

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. - Job 42:10

Life is good. No, life is great!  We are so thankful!

God rebuilds and restores. 

We are blessed beyond measure.

We are living in The Promised Land!  The land of milk and honey! 

May all glory and praise go to Him, who led us here.

This was taken at Blowing Rock on Father's Day weekend when our Amanda came up to visit!

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