Sunday, September 25, 2011

Floodgates & A Big Paid Bill

I've been in a perpetual state of "on the verge of tears" for the past year.  It's my new normal...and I really like it.  Well, I don't like the "cotton behind my eyes swollen headache" feeling that always comes with it.  But I do like the "I am so in love with and in awe of this God who's doing stuff that my heart might burst" feeling that gets left behind with the headache. 

Here's some of the moments over the last week that have made my girls ask me if I'm ok...

  • One afternoon I got a text on the way to pick up my girls from school.  It was a friend asking me if I was there yet....  I wasn't and wondered what reason for meeting up with her I was forgetting.  As I parked, she ran up to my window with a paper envelope and a fabric envelope, one from her son and one from her.  She gave me a smooch on the cheek, ran back to her car and pulled out of the lot before I got the envelopes open.  The paper one contained cash and a note that read, "Dear Florida family, My brother and our mom went to Meijer to put our pop cans in.  After we got the money from the pop cans I asked my mom if we could give it to you for the baby.  So here it is."  That's dripping with junior high boy tender-heartedness and primed my tear ducts for action.  The fabric envelope turned them on full force.  It contained a gold bracelet and necklace and a note that said, "Lori, It's gold.  Sell it.  Use the $ to bring that sweet baby(ies) home.  Love you...."  I had to text her back right away to tell her a story.  Our texting convo went something like this:  "Me:  Oh. My. Goodness.  Are you really that connected to God?  I heard a commercial on the radio this morning about selling gold and wished I had some to sell for our baby.  I'm gonna cry.  Her:  Don't cry.  That's crazy!  How sweet of God!  I went to bed last night crying to God that I wanted to find a way to help even though our business has been slow and He woke me up saying, 'You've got gold girl!'  Me:  I'll cry if I want to!  It's not a family heirloom is it?  Her:  Family heirlooms are over-rated....."  We used up a bunch of texts as she told me that the bracelet had been a gift from her parents on her wedding day and she was so thankful to God for the gift of a way to help.  I don't even know what to say to that....

  • Last weekend I was able to have the pulpit for a solid hour at the Lake Ann Camp Ladies Retreat.  If you remember how this all got started, much of it came from the way God breathed life back into my tired, dry heart last year at this very retreat.  This year they asked me to do a workshop to tell my story, from then to now - what God's done.  It was so cool to get a bird's eye view of my own life - to see a year of God's fingerprints in a boiled down 1 hour format.  As the hour wrapped up and the ladies started to get up from their seats, a few turned my way instead of toward the door.  These sweet ladies were so encouraging to me.  They told me stories of God working in their lives, of adoption and experiences in Africa and one lady pulled out her checkbook and started writing.  As I assured her that donations were not my intention but instead God's glory, she kept writing and assured me that God had told her to give it.  Another $100 closer....

  • A friend at church slipped an envelope into hands Sunday morning at church.  I thanked her for it and put it in my Bible and forgot about it until we got home and my sister reminded me.  A sweet note and another $100 closer....

  • My sister and her family pulled a tear-jerker on me right out in the middle of our busy church parking lot the same Sunday morning.  They got our whole family to come out to their car with them and unveiled their garage sale bounty.  Their car was decorated with the posters that had been up at their sale surrounding a pickle jar jammed full of money.  The posters had drawings of Africa and baby footprints on them and said, "Change the world one orphan at a time" and "Help us bring our new cousin home!" 3 garage sale weekends plus a whole lot of kind-hearted neighbors gave them a $1,417.13 pickle jar!  That took a HUGE bite out of the reminder of this bill - put us so close we could taste it!  I've got a running list in my head of all the things their family could have done with that money - they have needs too - but they chose to give it to our baby instead.  Amazing, once again I'm in awe of God and the people who listen to Him. 

  • Monday, as we were getting ready for dinner, there came a little knock at our door.  I called Izzie & Chloe to answer it because I've learned to recognize the knock of my friend's daughter.  We became neighbors as well as friends when we moved into this house and have enjoyed an easy sharing of kids for the past few years.  This time, though, she didn't just come for my daughters.  She came like the wise men, bearing gifts, with a decorated jar in hand. The jar was full of her savings...for my baby.  Apparently 10 year olds are hearing God speak about tears!

  • Last Thursday night I realized the adoption account was pretty darn close to the remaining amount of our bill.  We were close enough that our regular budget could kick in the remainder and get it done!  So I wrote a check (actually, did an online bill-pay, but that just doesn't write as well, does it?!) for the rest!  The first big bill is PAID!!!Now, when the account builds up to $875 we'll be petitioning the State Department for permission to immigrate.  Action will happen, a thing will get checked off the list that will put us closer to our little African Florida person!

But it's more than the "stuff" God's doing.  It's just Him.  I am being left in awe every day.  Years ago I wanted to be a writer but felt like I didn't have anything worthwhile to say.  This year of feeling God re-hydrate my heart and give me a front row seat to watch him be BIG has turned that feeling upside down.  Now I'm writing blog posts in my head every day, I've got more to say than I can.  The "empty page" syndrome I get now freezes my brain because I can't figure out where to go first or how to put all the swirling thoughts together rather than wondering what I should write about. 

And it's that other stuff, the things going on between me and God in my heart, that will have to wait till the next post.  I've got a lot more stories to tell, just from this past week, and I don't want to forget any of them.  The way God's making my heart swell, giving me glimpse after glimpse of Him, connecting the dots in my brain and leaving me breathless - it's good stuff friends and I want to tell you everything!!  Keep watching - very soon, the next time I find a few quiet moments strung together,  I'll tell you about taking LEAPS and how I'm becoming an adrenaline junkie!!  Until then....what glimpses of Himself has God been giving you?  Do share.....I could use another reason to cry!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Floodgates Update - via cash, cars, clarinets & peanut butter tubs!

I sent a $5,787.76 check to Bethany Christian Services today with "Florida Family Adoption" in the memo line.  Sent chills down my arms!!  This thing is real!  All these papers, checks, prayers and checklists WILL turn into a sweet little person in my arms someday....ok, just added a lump in my throat to the chills on my arms!

Sorry it's been so long without an adoption hasn't been because God's stopped working, He's like the energizer bunny!  It's because I keep waiting for the perfect creative, stress-free moment to craft an update that's all packaged up pretty with a ribbon on top.  Not waiting're gonna have to be happy with whatever I can slap together in the next 20 minutes while trying to keep "messy house ignoring" blinders on!!

The update can be summarized like this...."It's pointless to keep wearing mascara because God keeps doing stuff that makes me cry!"  Today Ginger saw me tearing up and asked in a concerned 2 year old voice, "Mommy, are you crying?"  I assured her that they were only happy tears because of good things.  She snorted and said I was silly...

We got the bills in the mail - the first big chunk to pay to Bethany before we go any farther.  We owe Bethany $9,600 and then right after that we'll need to send a check to the State Department for $875.  So $10,475 is the number to be praying over with your hands raised in expectation today!  (Thanks for teaching me to pray that way Laura C!!  I'll never be the same!)

Well, the floodgates haven't shut....they're still open above the Florida house!

Our family members handed us a check for $2,000.....just handed it to us like it's no big deal....for them to hand out checks like that or for us to receive them....  $2,000!! That's is big deal!  A very big deal!  That's a big chunk towards the bill sitting here on my desk!  Praise God for His abundance and for family that's walking with us so completely!  They also gave us a either keep or sell for adoption money!  Turns out, this van has more seats than Scott's car so we're planning to keep this van and sell Scott's, since large cars seem to be our inevitable fate!  Anyone in the market for a nice little silver Taurus??  All proceeds will go to the "Florida Family Adoption!!"

We've been getting cryptic emails, phone calls and facebook messages lately.  Things like, "What's your address, we need to send you something."  "Watch for me at school, I've got something for you..."  I can't believe how far and wide God is speaking and how you people's so humbling and encouraging!

An old friend from high school....we went to high school over 20 years ago ya'll....was one of those messages.  We gave the address and not too long later got a sweet note and check in the $160 check in the it's no big deal!  Such encouraging words too...
"It's so much fun when the Lord lays something on your heart and you follow His leading. 
Your adoption was immediately on my heart. 
I talked about it with my husband and here we are! 
God is truly amazing isn't he?!?
Looking forward to seeing pictures when your new family member arrives!"
Words like that are priceless to me.  They give me so much strength as they keep it obvious to me that God is doing something and it's not just some little scheme of Lori!  Thank you dear friends, for the words and the check, they both were just what we needed!!

A peanut butter jar made me cry in the school parking lot!  A family with 3 gallant young sons in my girls' classes have been very supportive of our adoption.  We talk a lot in the halls, field trips and parking lots and I've felt a lot of "kindred spirit bonding" kind of stuff happening when we're together.  Their boys are the kind of kids that make you do a fist pump and yell "yes" when you find out that they're in a class with your daughter.  This family is raising kind, strong men that stand out in a crowd.  Their mom, my friend, handed me a gift bag in the parking lot the other day.  When I opened it, this is what I found...

...with $75 in it.  Very. Big. Deal!

And then today....  I teared up mightily at the computer as I read a message from a sweet church friend.  We were working out a deal for me to buy her clarinet for my 5th grade new "band-ie."  Instead of the asked for price, she sent me a message expressing her excitement that God had answered her prayer for a way that she could help with our adoption.  She decided that her clarinet should come to us as a gift so that we could put the money we would have spent on it toward the adoption.  I am so amazed at the creative ways God does His thing....I mean, could I really have thought to pray for that?!  Thank you friend, for meeting the needs of more than one of my children with your clarinet!

So that's how the floodgates have been opening these past few weeks.  We're nearing the end of the first big milestone....just $3,422.24 away from having an approved homestudy and immigration clearance.  The next step after that will be sending our dossier and next big payment on to Ethiopia to get ourselves on that waiting list!  Maybe by Thanksgiving??  We hope, but God knows! 

We've still got a looong way to go but these are steps worth celebrating!!  Between the $1,265 from the Ordinary Hero fundraisers and the check I sent today, God's taken a $7,052.76 sized bite out of the financial piece of this adoption!  He said He would....let's keep believing!