Wednesday, December 31, 2014

party pants in 2015

My friend sent me this quote a few days ago on Pinterest. I'm praying it's true in 2015.


As you know, we prayed fervently that children would come home from DRC for Christmas. Except for a few medical cases whose homecomings that we rejoiced in, that didn't happen for the other children.

Does that mean God didn't answer our prayers? Does it mean He wasn't listening or that He doesn't care for us or for the children?

No. It means the timing is not right. It means He has another plan. He has something better in mind. We wish with everything in us the time was NOW. We wish we knew what His plans involved and WHY we are all waiting so long. We wish we knew WHEN things would turn around.

But we do know that God has great plans in store for all of us. We trust his plans with our aching arms and hurting hearts and waiting children. We know He loves us. We know He loves our kids. So we will continue to rest in Him. There is no other way. He is in control and, as the children's song tells us, He has "the whole world in His hands." That includes us. That includes our kids. That includes DRC officials who make laws and decide to keep children in DRC for longer than we believe they should keep them. That includes the judges who are taking longer to sign Acts of Adoption. That includes us all.

Last Friday, I wrote that DRC's Parliament was holding a special session the next day to vote on new family code, which could help expedite the lifting of the Exit Letter Suspension. We later found out the special session would last until late January, and they probably wouldn't vote on family codes during that whole month. The issue is now slated for their March meetings, and after its passing the President of DRC will still have to sign off on the new codes. Who knows how long all of that could take.

We could choose to see this as a setback, but it's not a huge one. It's disappointing, but again, we know that anything can happen and the Exit Letter Suspension can be lifted at any time God wants to do it.

We continue to have hope because we know God has our best in mind.

We have all waited so long (some have hit the three-year waiting mark by now), we have endured patiently, and we are praying to realize and obtain the goal of getting our children home VERY SOON.

Please pray we can all put on our party pants in 2015.

Monday, December 29, 2014

but who will make them breakfast?

As we were getting ready for bed Christmas night, we reviewed the great day we'd had with our boys. We talked about the presents the boys got and the baby Jesus and how thankful we should all be for what we have been given.

Then Brad brought up the fact that some kids don't get presents on Christmas. Some kids don't even have parents or families to give them anything.

This was baffling to Brody. "Why do they not get presents? Can they not buy presents with money?"

We explained that some parents couldn't afford to buy presents and that some kids didn't even have Mommies and Daddies to buy them anything.

"But who will make them breakfast?"

It was a good question. We tried to help him understand that caretakers or foster parents make some children breakfast, but some kids may not even get breakfast (an all-too real situation).

(Our poor kids. When we waste food in our house and tell the boys that there are starving kids in Africa who would have eaten that food, it will not be a flippant remark of frustration about their eating habits. We have seen too much about sick kids in Africa, and we haven't even been there.)

Earlier tonight we found out that a couple from our church has accepted an emergency placement for three new foster children. (This foster family already has four children, three of whom they recently officially adopted.)

Can you imagine what Christmas was like for those three kids? I don't want to. Losing custody of your biological kids (temporarily or permanently) requires some pretty outrageous familial misbehavior.

And can you imagine what it's like to bring those kids into your home? Those kids who are hurting and aching and confused. They may be ready to start over in a new family, emotionally shut off because of their past one, or full of anger and emotions they can't even identify.

But here's what I bet will happen in their new foster home: Those foster parents will welcome them into their home, they will find them beds and warm clothes, and they will love them in the way that Christ loves His church.

They will be broken and poured out for those kids, who may hurt them and whose situations may rip their hearts into a million pieces.

It would be hard to know where to start when welcoming three new kids into your home for the first time. Too hard to help them heal. Many people turn their heads, making the excuse that's it's too hard, that they would love the kids too much and get too attached. Too hard to pour into kids who may hurt you, run away, or be taken back to their biological families. Too hard to love kids who may never be your own.

I have no doubt that it's hard. It's hard enough for us to watch our girl grow up in pictures. We are getting attached to her and we haven't even hugged her yet.

It's only natural that foster parents become attached to children they hold and feed and comfort. And I have no doubt it's incredibly hard to think about the fact that those kids may only be in their  life for a short time.

But that doesn't mean it's not worth it.

I don't know exactly what will happen when these three kids join their new foster parents. But I bet the foster parents will make them breakfast. Because that' seems like a good place to start.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tomorrow in DRC

The DRC Parliament is supposed to hold a special session to vote on new family codes tomorrow. 

The law supposedly relates to international adoption and may, if it passes, help to clarify adoption. This would, hopefully, help to lift the Exit Letter suspension. If it passes in Parliament, it would then be passed to DRC President Joseph Kabila to (hopefully) sign. 

On a semi-related note, DRC recently released new restrictions regarding who may escort children home from DRC with an Exit Letter (no attorney escorts, basically). I, personally feel that this is a step in the right direction because it shows that some thought is being given to the process of bringing children home (and why would they be thinking about that unless they were planning to allow children to come home soon?). That is my hope and prayer, anyway.

Please pray BIG for tomorrow and for a very near future when children are allowed to come home to families. (And please pray we get our court documents SOON!) 

Thank you, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. We have amazing friends and family!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

the gift


Photo via Pinterest

I can't help but wonder what is was like awaiting the birth of the Savior who was sent to change the world, a child with names like "Wonderful," "Counselor," "the mighty God," "everlasting Father," and "Prince of Peace."

I'm so thankful Jesus continues to be all of those things, and more, as we wait for a different child that will change our own world. Counselor...We've needed great counsel. Mighty God...We still need Him to fight for us in DRC. Everlasting Father...We are SO THANKFUL He is a loving Father to the fatherless. Prince of Peace...We are grateful for the Peace that only He can provide. 

Wonderful. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas in awe of the One who was sent for you. 

I pray it truly is full of wonder and joy. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

a gentle spirit

The Today Show--well, technically Hoda and Kathie Lee's show, but I'd rather not admit that it was on in our house--shared the story of a little girl who was abandoned at birth and later adopted from an orphanage in China. 

(Link to KL and H story here: http://m.today.com/klgandhoda/jessica-carscadden-abandoned-birth-devotes-her-life-others-1D80377991)

At twelve years old, she is now dedicating her life to helping others. Someone from a show on Broadway (I missed this detail) wrote a song for her, which was then performed for her and her parents live on the KL and Hoda Show. 

And that's when I started crying. Because her life is precious, and it made me think of precious C, how she is still WAITING for the chance to join a family like the girl on the show, and how we are still WAITING to make her our official daughter and give her a permanent home. 

Brody looked up and saw my tears. 

"Mom, are you sick?"

"No, I'm not sick," I said, trying not to make a big deal of it. Yes, my heart breaks with the ache of arms that are waiting, but I also want my kids who are here to know that they are enough. 

"What's making you sad?"

"I just miss your sister," I said. "I wish she could be home with us."

And with that, he was up in my lap, hugging my neck and rubbing my back and kissing my wet cheek, saying, "I'm sorry, Mom. It's okay."

I hugged him and let him hug me and rub my back, like we were reversing roles for a bit and he was the comforter after I'd just fallen and skinned a knee.

Then I got up to wipe my face. He followed me to the tissues and said he wanted to wipe my face, which I allowed him to do because his gentle little heart probably really did want to help make it all better, and this was his way to doing so.

He wiped my eyes with the tenderness of  an 80-year-old grandmother who is holding a newborn baby. With little blotting motions, he was careful not to poke my eyes or wipe too hard. 

Today I'm thanking God for his precious little sweet and tender heart, the sweet and sassy heart that is his brother, and the sister for whom we continue to wait. 

And I'm asking God to help me be a more gentle spirit like Brody.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

this is my confession

Here I am, writing on a Wednesday to keep it real for you. I have a confession. (Cue Usher's 10-year-old [[GASP!]] hit song "Confessions," which is somewhat inappropriate and does not apply to this topic at all, as an intro to this post.)

I do not like baking cookies with my kids. Don't get me wrong, I REALLY love baking cookies. However, I do not find baking cookies with my boys enjoyable. 

Send in the troops. This is some sort of failure mother-load. Baking with her kids is something all mothers are supposed to enjoy doing. (Right?!) 

And I did enjoy it, until my boys gained opinions, functional opposable thumbs and arms that could "stir." (That is, if you can even call it "stirring." Judging from the piles of flour on my counters, I think "shovel" is more accurate.)

As mothers, we are supposed to enjoy seeing our kids become competent in stirring the batter or rolling the dough. We should take joy in watching them sneak bites between ingredient additions. We should love sharing the joys of baking and the magic of the oven with our kids.

I think this is some sort of Mom-rule somewhere behind feeding our children at least three times a day, making young ones take naps, or providing adequate amounts of vegetables in their diets (which I also do not enjoy, nor am I any good at doing).

However, I have not learned the art of enjoying this time with my kids. It always starts off really well, with both kids taking turns stirring and adding ingredients. It's always really cute.

And really short-lived.

Then there's usually some sort of slip-up. Flour on the counter, egg shell in the batter, or a random extra unidentified object in the dough. That first slip-up begins it all, and from there--while I am cleaning the mess or stopping the fight over the wooden spoon or identifying the extra ingredient--all heck breaks loose and we all end up whirling around in complete madness. 

You may not know me well, so let me just tell you: I don't like madness. I like order. There is a certain type of madness I can handle, and that is the type of madness that takes place outside of my house, or at least on my own terms.

In my house, though, I need some sort of order. (Yes, this is the sign of a control freak. I am aware of this character flaw and working on it, mostly because I am forced to do so in this house of boys.)

Anyhow, I am writing to tell you that we decorated cookies last week (which took 45 minutes for ONE cookie and ended in a bowl filled to the rim with sprinkles, crumbs and icing that had been licked inside and out) and we baked cookies together today. 

And we will not be doing either again until next Christmas. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

With singing

Brecken was croupy last week, and when he woke up full of Grinch on Sunday I knew it wouldn't go well for us to try to leave him to his Sunday School class. I took him into "big church" and was able to actually HOLD him almost the entire time.


If you know Brecken, you know this is a feat of gigantic proportions. He is a busy-body with a mind of his own, so I thoroughly enjoyed the extra snuggles.

And I got to sing over him. I'm not really a "singing" mom who sings over her child at night. I might have done it a little when they were babies, but--if I'm honest--I really didn't ever have much time for that when they were small. It stinks, but it is what it is.

My voice stinks, too, so the cracks and flat notes kind of take the charm right out of the moment.

Anyway, I got to sing praises to the King over Brecken at church. He snuggled me and laid his little head on me while holding his tiny stuffed monkey. (And again, it's not like him to bring a stuffed animal anywhere, so we know he wasn't feeling quite like himself.)

And I rejoiced in the moments of snuggles and singing.

Then the words of Zephaniah 3:17 jumped out at me. I have loved this verse for a while now, ever since one of my friends pointed out its awesomeness at an event a year ago. Since then it has, thankfully, been etched into my mind from our Seeds CDs.


"The Lord your God in your midst,

The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

I find it crazy-awesome that God, Creator of our universe, rejoices over each one of His children with singing! As a mother and father rejoice over their kids with singing and swaying and whispering and kissing, and as they quiet their baby's sadness or frightened tears with their love and presence, so does God for His children. 

I relished the moments of rejoicing over Brecken with singing, and I was grateful for yet another picture of God's love for me, even when I feel unloveable, sick, tired, and weary. He is still rejoicing, singing over me, and quieting my ever-questioning, -worrying, -anxious heart. 

Not only that, but he is "in my midst" and He, The Mighty One, promises to save. 

Furthermore, I believe God has placed someone in C's life in DRC to sing over her while we wait to do so ourselves. Although I wish it were me, I am thankful for that someone, and I can't wait to thank her when I go visit. 

Being a Mom has taught me so much, and I am thankful for the lessons. We love our children no matter what. We rejoice over them and dry their tears and calm their anxious hearts. We carry them when they're tired and we take joy in their joy.

And God does all of this--and more--for us, His children. And He is mighty to save. (And that is what we continue to pray for the stuck children of DRC.)

Being a Mom has taught me so much, and I'm thankful for the lessons. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

fight club

I mentioned my Bible study yesterday, using my affectionate term for it: Fight Club.

This Bible study is pretty intense. It requires thoughtful reading of Scripture line-by-line, application, discussion, and wisdom (for which I continue to ask God).

I have LOVED it for many reasons. For one, my boys get to go learn about the Bible in their own little classes. This means Brody will randomly pull out something like, "And then Moses went up the mountain and pooped on the rock. Hahahahahaha!!" and Brecken will simply repeat "God loves me SO MUCH." Both scenarios nearly nearly bring me to tears each time, but for different reasons. But at least they are learning something, and I firmly believe they learn a lot in class, as I have seen it with my own eyes. The boys just don't want me to know they are paying attention.

I'm going to be honest about my reasons for joining Fight Club. Yes, I wanted a better understanding of the detailed events of the Bible so I could apply it to my own life. (Because my Sunday School lessons of yesteryear only go so far: "Jonah was swallowed by a whale and then the whale spit him out," and "Moses brought the people out of Egypt," stop short of advanced edification, application, and creation of a steadfast heart that is set on Jesus.)

However, I also wanted a better understanding so that I could do a better job of teaching my kids, along with an organized structure in which my boys could be with other kids their age and learn about Jesus while also learning how to interact with others. (And clearly they are interacting well with others, because Brody has learned that kids love to hear him talk about poop. Sorry Mrs. S.)

And, boy, has it been awesome. Seriously, I have LOVED learning more about Moses and the ways in which God was in EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of his and the Israelites' journey.

I have read about people crying out to God, waiting on God, worshipping idols, eating the dust of idols, then praying to God some more and complaining to God. I have read of God hearing their prayers and remembering his promises. I have read about his provision, his mercy, his glory, and his goodness, his compassion, his justice, even his jealousy. And I have learned A TON. I am so thankful to have this experience of learning in this time of my life, and I would not change a thing about it. God is doing a number on me, and I'm thankful.

However, here's the thing about Fight Club: I don't think I can tell you any more about it. As in the movie, Fight Club (which I never saw, by the way), there are some rules and secrecy involved.

For example, when I went to my first event at Fight Club (a "Welcome"), the first thing I was asked was who had told me about it. It was almost like it was a huge secret about which very few people know, like secret churches in China or the Underground Railroad.

I may have imagined it, but the person who asked me the question seemed to even whisper to keep it a secret. I am pretty sure I even whispered my response that my mom had gone to one and I wanted to try it out. I didn't know I had to have an invite to Fight Club, but it seemed as though I did.

And there are these rules. Rules I didn't know existed until I had broken 12 of them and my mom asked me, "So, do you know about the rules?" When I said no, she said she couldn't tell me what they were. Or maybe she told me one of them. "What?! I didn't know I couldn't talk about that!"

Some rules I still don't know to this day. It is so Fight Club-ish that I don't even know if we are supposed to talk about the rules or even the Bible study outside of the building in which we meet, which I don't believe I can describe to you, either.

Yet here I am, broadcasting this all over the internet. (If I go missing or get kicked out of Fight Club, you will know what happened to me.)

I do know one rule: We can't discuss what church we attend. I totally understand the spirit of this rule, but I am pretty sure I broke it in my first nine minutes of attendance. My husband's new role as a pastor kind of makes it tricky to keep things like that a secret, don't you think?

And, actually, as I sit here trying to come up with more examples of rules, I think I really do know only one rule. Yet people keep asking me if I know all of the--clearly unwritten--rules.

And I don't. I just hope I don't break any of them. Because I really do love Fight Club.

**One final only-semi-relavent comment: Individual churches must to do a better job of equipping their members with biblical truths and in-depth Bible study (not simply book study) opportunities. That is my opinion, but I think I'm right. :o)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

bag o' tricks

Bradlee has been out of town since Sunday. (Actually, he has been out of the country--in Italy--but that's a post for another day because I am mildly jealous and it will take a full post to process it.)

He will be home in a few days and, despite their belief that he is the way-more-awesome parent, the boys have--so far--done really well while he's been away.

I think it's because of their extreme lack of understanding of time. Toddlers seem to think "tonight" is in 7 minutes and "tomorrow" is after naptime, along with a slew of other fallacies. Therefore, the amount of time Brad has been gone, to them, has been approximately 5 hours.

That said, I kept a bag o' tricks close by while he's been away to alleviate or possibly even prevent any foreseen complete emotional breakdowns.

Usually when Brad is away, I paint something. Last time, in November, I painted our kitchen cabinets. This time, though, I actually had a few little special things planned for the boys in advance. (No need to paint anything when your house is a wreck already.)

Sunday -- We left Brad at church in order to catch a ride with MeMaw and PaPaw (my parents) to meet my extended family for some old time photos and a show. (Experience described here.) If anyone can make my boys forget that their dad is gone, it's MeMaw and PaPaw.

After a long car ride and lunch, Sunday was entirely full of picture-taking and watching a show at Main Street Opry, a live show I've been watching since I was the boys' age.

I didn't realize I was breaking an old time photo rule when I took this pic, but I don't regret it. That's my Granny and Grandpa in the background. They weren't necessarily thrilled about getting their pics taken, but we are happy to have the pics to treasure.


Monday -- "Elfie" made his first appearance in the Lotz household.


Yes, it may be a little late in the season, but this whole Elf on the Shelf thing seems like a huge commitment of time, energy and creativity. You have seen the Pinterest pics of cute little stagings of Elf on the Shelf antics and cute little displays, right? I am not that mom. (Images from here.)




I am the mom who wakes up after midnight and remembers that I haven't moved the thing, and I think two weeks of desperate scrambles to place it somewhere new is enough. Plus, I am unwilling to make a mess that I will have to clean up in 24 hours.

As long as the boys don't know everyone else's Elf is more awesome than ours, I guess we'll be okay.

I also took the boys to my fitness center on Monday. This doesn't sound like much fun, but they love it and I don't take them often because it's all the way "in town." (I won a membership to the center that's about 30 minutes away so I usually go to a closer gym instead.) Ms. Jo, the fitness center childcare worker, is great with the boys, and they have an indoor jungle gym-type thing the boys like playing on, along with plenty of other toys and movies. It's like going to a McDonald's without the trans-fats and the need to supervise in the midst of stinky feet and 25 other kids who have been stuck inside for six straight days.

Plus, I got to work out and take a shower and get dressed by myself; both of which help my psyche more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday -- Amongst a range of regular activities and making gingerbread men, we got our Little People nativity set in the mail. Brody LOVES opening boxes and goes over the top with enthusiasm and gratitude when he gets a present. (I am SO excited for Christmas this year because of this very fact.) The boys have played with that nativity set several hours already, and it's focus on Jesus helps me reconcile my use of the Elf on the Shelf to shame my kids to behave well. :o)

After playing at Chik-Fil-A, where I met with a friend who is pursuing adoption (yay!), we spent Tuesday night at MeMaw and PaPaw's. The timing of our stay was the result of some strategic planning in the timing of Brad's absence because the boys will, at the end of all this, get to see MeMaw and PaPaw every other day until Brad comes home.

This isn't our first rodeo in Brad's absence--although usually when he's gone it's for deer hunting or helping with a bear hunt. Seeing MeMaw and PaPaw helps to break up the monotony of bedtimes by ourselves and Mom-only activities. And it even offered me a kid-free bed most of the night until a sick Brecken joined me. (Croup!!) (Unfortunately it offered my dad a night on the couch and my mom a Brody-Brecken sandwich in their bed.)


Wednesday -- I went to Fight Club (my affectionate term for the Bible study in which I'm involved...I'll have to explain that one later). Normally the boys would go with me to "school," which is what I call the Bible study's children's program, because Brody SO BADLY wanted to go to preschool this year and we didn't send him. However, since Brecken had a fever the night before, the boys stayed home with MeMaw and PaPaw and made gingerbread houses.

Wednesday evening I picked out a present from under the tree and allowed the boys to open it. Just a little stamp/art set, but it helped us pass some time and, conveniently, resembled the address stamp I used on my Christmas card envelopes that Brody wanted to use.

Thursday -- I believe Brecken gave me his sickness, as I am feeling slightly "icky" in general, but we are taking it easy at home today with plans to go to Silver Dollar City tonight to see some Christmas lights with--you guessed it--MeMaw and PaPaw. (My parents are the GREATEST.) If it gets crazy (extra sad, cantankerous, angry, etc.) today I'll break out a Koala Crate (which I ordered at 60% off!). I've never ordered one before, but they look really fun and great for uncreative and uninspired parents like myself.

Friday -- We will spend the morning with some friends and cute college gals, then we may go visit Ms. Jo again. And then we will wait for Daddy to return.

And how do I cope with his absence? Ice cream. Lots and lots of Chocolate Bunny Tracks or Moose Tracks, to be exact. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh so joyful

It's a great time of year for a cute family picture. Unless you are a Lotz.

I LOVE getting all of the cute Christmas photos in the mail and seeing them all over Facebook. So adorable, with perfect smiling children, matching clothes, and cute couples.

But we don't play that way. Don't get me wrong...I would LOVE to get a cute family photo or two so we can document our family as it is right now (as we WAIT to bring a daughter home while enjoying the two sons we already have). However, we don't do well in pictures.

Take this past Sunday...my whole family gathered for an old-time photo with my grandparents. A fun, cute idea, right? We enjoyed dressing up and the boys REALLY enjoying being cowboys and wielding fake guns.

But when it came time to take the picture...pure craziness. With 18-ish people in the photo, it was going to be difficult to get a great pic of everyone. Throw in my two little napless crazies and you have yourself a mission impossible. 

Brecken refused to sit where he was told. He refused to sit anywhere, actually. 

Brody was so enamored with his fake pistols he kept putting them in front of his cute little face to look closely and show them off. Then Brecken would put the end of the gun in his mouth...a great display of how I sometimes feel about trying to get a great family picture with two little yahoos (whom I love dearly, but whose faces I wish I could capture in all of their cuteness). 

The photographer might have been sweating by the end of our session, and she may never forget the names Brody an Brecken, as she had to yell them every 3 seconds to get the boys' attention. The proofs came back and in the 3,000 or so pics she took about 7 of them contained only mildly awkward faces or poses from my boys. (Unfortunately, those were the pics where I looked like was I chewing cud or something. Oh well, I took one for the team.) I guess, thinking positively, their crazy poses helped with the picture choosing process, if nothing else.

And then there was last Thursday's picture attempts. The boys were all dressed up in sweaters, ties and even a suit jacket. Brad sported a tie for the THIRD time this year, which is more times than he has worn a tie in his whole life prior to 2014.

I thought it was the perfect time for a quick picture before we headed to The Vine's (college ministry's) winter dance.

We sent the kids to stand by the tree to pretend they were looking at something cool. (They have to pretend because our tree isn't that cool, as most ornaments have already been broken.) They didn't play our little pretend game, so I asked them to go look at the train ornament, which is also broken but the train still circles around the base of the ornament. That lasted about two seconds, not enough to get a great picture, because it takes me 267 tries to get a picture right.

I needed something to keep them busy longer. "Brody, will you get that ornament off the tree for me?" At that moment, I crossed a line. If I have said it once, I have said it one thousand times, "Don't touch the tree ornaments." And now, for the sake of cute Christmas picture perfection, I took 3,000 steps back and opened the door to all sorts of Christmas ornament-breaking mayhem.

He grabbed the ornament, and for a few moments it looked like the boys were sharing ornaments and hanging them together. I snapped pictures while lying on the ground, running around the side of the tree, standing on chairs...anything to get a good angle. 

(Please note here that Brody insisted on wearing cowboy boots. I cannot be held responsible for some fashion choices in this family. My own fashion is bad enough.) 


That pic above is as good as it got. 

I finally gave up on the cute picture idea and settled with a few awkward pics of the boys rolling their eyes and making awkward faces at the camera. If you get a Christmas card from us, be prepared. It won't be your ordinary, cute kid Christmas picture. It will, however, be a very "real" picture, so at least I can appreciate that fact.

And to top off my point, for kicks, here is this year's Santa pic, which looks identical to last year's pic, except for the boys' larger sizes. 


That would be Brody fake-smiling and Brecken stonewalling, which is what they both do best in pictures. 

Cheers and joy to you all, just don't expect to see it in our faces.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Velma

We haven't seen Velma in a while. After numerous trips to her house to check on her and a few phone calls, we haven't been able to catch her at home. Her house is dark, like she is away visiting family or friends. I hope she is.

However, despite her absence, we went ahead and trimmed her overgrown bushes and raked her leaves, hoping it's not illegal to do so since she requested some help in those specific areas. And also hoping that she doesn't forget that she requested the help, and thus, hate us for doing so.

Her gutters are full of leaves and her back yard is full of several large brush piles that need to be removed or burned. Her front yard, from which we have already bagged 20 bags of leaves, could easily fill at least 20 more bags. Her hand rail is loose, her driveway covered in yard debris. So much to be done if we had her blessing to do it.

(But we do have good help. Cue the pictures of cute kids in overalls...)


But, for now, we wait for her return, hoping all is well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

the older woman

My heart broke a little bit the other day when I heard a woman tell a story about the time she--an older woman--played an important role in someone's salvation.

It was a valuable story about how she had taken a mission trip and wasn't sure about her role there. She assumed she wouldn't be of much value on the trip because of her age. However, she and her husband found themselves in the company of a young man and his dad, who had big questions about Jesus.

"Do you really believe in this stuff the way these young kids do?" he had asked her.

She was able to tell him she did believe it, and then she was able to help lead him to Christ!

But that's not the heartbreaking part. The heartbreaking part, to me, was the part where she wasn't sure what value she brought to the table in the first place.

Maybe it was so heartbreaking because those are often my thoughts and the lies I often believe. What can I do? I am nobody. I don't have a huge impressive story. I have two kids and zero specialized skills. And I am shy on top of everything else. So seriously, what can I do? 

For her, the little lie that she had believed was "I am too old."

The truth is, God created us all differently, with different talents and skills, backgrounds, experiences and likes. He then uses whomever He wants to do whatever tasks He chooses, and it's no accident we experience certain things (heartaches, joys, sorrows, or failures). And it's not accident we are placed in specific situations.

I wish that woman knew all along that she is valued, that she is NEEDED daily, not just on that mission trip. That one time on a mission trip wasn't a fluke, like God had forgotten and accidentally gotten her and her white hair involved. Who would have shared with that broken man unless she had said "Yes" to that trip?

And who will impart knowledge to younger generations of women unless older women step up to do so? Who will walk a young woman through divorce unless there is also someone who has experienced it or something like it? Who will speak hards truths into someone's life with mercy and grace, allowing her to cast off bad habits and attitudes? Who will teach new moms how to show their children Jesus every day? Who will help them apply the Bible to all situations, not just where it's convenient?

Older women. That's who. But we need more women who aren't afraid that their best days are behind them. Women who are open to new challenges as well as new people to serve and love. Women who won't bottle up their hurts and joys, and who will instead use them to share their hope and the Truth they've learned with others who will need it soon, if they don't already--sometimes unknowingly--need it now.

Women who will sit across a table with an open Bible, a head full of wisdom, and years and years of experience following the heart of Jesus.

Because we ("younger" women) need you, you are valued, and you have a purpose.

(PS...Along these same lines, if you have never read The Noticer you might want to give it a try. My heart BROKE for the older woman in that story who thoughts she no longer had a purpose.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

covered in prayer

There have been some rumors rumbling around DRC and those who have been affected by the Exit Letter suspension.

I usually don't care much for rumors, but in THIS case, they point to hope.

I can't share much, as I don't have any facts, dates, quotes or names. I just have hope.

BUT we ask that you please, PLEASE pray with us that this suspension is lifted VERY SOON.

An official US delegation has traveled to DRC to discuss the Exit Letter suspension with officials in DRC. Specifically, they are meeting with DGM (the specific office that issues Exit Letters) today and tomorrow. We are praying for wisdom, discretion, open ears, softened hearts, and good news.

Also, an agency rep is headed to DRC soon to check on specific cases and to hand-deliver gifts to the children associated with our agency. We are praying that the rep is also able to get C's adoption paperwork (with her Act of Adoption completed!) and get it back to us ASAP so we/I can go file it in DRC. (I am also hoping for a pic of C with something from her package from us...maybe in her sweet PJ's!!!)

Please cover this in prayer. We are so thankful for all of you who are following this story and interceding for us and others in our position.

"The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..." --Exodus 34:6-7