Saturday, January 28, 2012

30 Minutes of Ecstasy...

No, not the drug.  My 30 minutes of ecstasy came in the form of filling out my tax returns.  I know, tax return and ecstasy do not go together.  But for 30 minutes, JOY and pure ECSTASY filled my entire being.  I found a loophole that stated that if you had ATTEMPTED an adoption and it failed in 2010, you could qualify to receive the $13,780 tax REFUND!!!  Oh, my beating heart!!!  You see, I spent $21,000 on the Nepal adoption and only received a $3000 refund for the portion that was prepaid to Nepal.  The other $18,000?  Lost.  You can imagine my excitement because when I get the official match for Miss Sofia, I need to have $14,750 in my hands.  I've already paid $8,300 for her adoption.  Now, I would only need $970!!!!  WOWZER!!!  God is AWESOME!!  How crazy that this worked out and it's just the right amount of money!!!

Then I came down off the high.

That dirty fine print.  You can only claim it if the failed adoption was a domestic attempt.  Never mind that it was the US government that CLOSED the Nepal adoptions and have YET to find any evidence of child trafficking.  ALL of the pipeline families completed their adoptions with no evidence of fraud.

They could have at least thrown me a bone, or the $13,780 refund, for all of my emotional distress and loss of funds.  Thank you very much IRS.

But, I'm not losing faith.  I know that the Lord will provide.  I'm really hoping that he's leaning against the pearly gates, laughing with the angels, saying, "That would have been too easy Kristen.  I want to show off a bit and REALLY give you something to rejoice about!"  I know he is faithful and I just read this verse today:

"Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" - Genesis 18:14

Nope.  No there isn't.  And I am eagerly anticipating seeing how he pulls this one off!  I love giving him glory and praise and this next gig is going to be AWESOME!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Hurdle Conquered!!

Ind*ia has been in the midst of changing their adoption process and now is having everything online.  I cleared the first hurdle and heard from my agency today that I am officially registered!!  YAHOO!!!!!!!!  Unfortunately, the Special Needs section of the website is still not functional, so they can't match me with Sofia yet.  However, my agency did everything they were supposed to up until this point in terms of letting Ind*ia and the orphange know that I want to adopt her.  Please pray that the Special Needs section will be up and running soon and that I can receive the official match.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2 Kinds of Faith

I got this for Christmas.  It's been great reading the Bible in chronological order BUT, spending so much time in the Old Testament, reading story after story, I've come to the conclusion that those people were jacked up!  It might be easy to think that society was more "moral" back then.  Nah, Baby, Nah!  What were they thinking?? The stories are told so matter-of-fact, with no emotional detail, that it makes them even more shocking.  I'm an extremely emotional person. Seriously. One time my best friend and I were standing in line at Starbuck's and she told me, "I got this."  I started crying.  SAP!!  So when these stories are just put out there, I'm dying for more information!! 

 For example, after the flood, Noah's daughters get him drunk, have sex with him, and get pregnant.  What the??  At what point would that ever be a good idea?  And what was their conversation before they did the deed?  "Hey sis, I have an idea...let's get dad drunk so we can get pregnant."  G to the ROSS!  The more I thought about this, because it was so disturbing, the more I came to the conclusion of how desperate they must have felt if this was the decision that seemed logical to them.  Remember, the Ark had just landed so they were freaking out about how they would have children.

And what about Jacob and Esau?  I've always been taught to think down on Esau for trading his birthright for a bowl of soup.  But, the more I've thought about this, the more I kinda feel sorry for him.  I mean, his mom helped his little brother trick their dad so that her favorite son (Jacob) would get the final blessing from dad.  How did that make Esau feel?

And Joseph.  Poor Joseph.  His brothers were so jealous that they faked his death and sold him into slavery.  Thanks guys.  It was many, many years and many, many tribulations later until he finally saw them again.  And forgave them.

One of my favorites is about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  They were  3 young Jewish guys who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar's golden idol.  Their devotion to God caused them to be thrown into the fire.  Once they were in the fire though, they were just chillin', walking around, and not even the hair on their arms was singed.  However, the rope that had bound them was burned off.

All of these stories made me reflect on faith.  I heard a great sermon last weekend and he talked about delivering faith and sustaining faith.  Some of these stories show God's deliverance, while the others show God sustaining them THROUGH the trial.  I especially think about the fire.  I'm SURE they were begging God to deliver them from being thrown into the fire.  Who wants to be burned alive?  But God's plan was better.   Of course God could have prevented them from being tossed in like kindling wood, but He had a higher purpose.  He allowed them get thrown into the fire so that His glory would be revealed even more so had He simply prevented the fire toss from the beginning.  Once they realized they weren't burning to death, I can picture them saying, "Hey Nebs!  How do you like our God now??!!"  The king was so in awe that he finally acknowledged the power of their God.  He even made a decree that said anybody who talks trash against the God of the Jews is considered an act of war.  Then he gave them promotions to their positions over the province of Babylon.  I'm pretty sure that would not have happened if they skipped the bonfire.

It has made me realize that during my trials, when I don't get delivered from heartache, pain, or suffering that maybe, just maybe, it's because God has something bigger in store.  I think back on the Nepal closure and I can't help but wonder if that wasn't part of His plan from the very beginning.  When I started this journey I wasn't open to an older child or a special needs child.  Not. At. All.  But, through that awful heartbreak He sustained me.  And better yet, He changed my heart.  He taught me that it's not about my "wants;" it's about a child who needs a family.  A child who needs a mother's love.  A child who will know that her mom will be like a pitbull to protect her.  I never, ever, ever thought I would ever get to a place where I could say that I was thankful for the closure of Nepal.  And yet, here I am.  Thankful because if that wouldn't have happened, my heart wouldn't have changed, and one very beautiful, sweet, precious little girl might still be waiting for a family.

Although deliverance is awesome, I'm not knocking sustainment.  And for that reason, I'm going to keep praying that He will sustain me through the rest of this journey.  I can't WAIT to see Him glorified when her two little feet step off of the plane and into the USA.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Waiting to Exhale

Throughout this entire process I realized the other day that it's been equivalent to holding my breath. So much hoping, praying, and waiting. And waiting. Did I mention waiting? Every little piece of information was devoured the way a starving dog reacts to a scrap of food. It's not a good feeling. I don't think I've been totally aware of the mental and emotional mode I've been operating in until the other day.

Finally, I *think* there has been FORWARD progress. Ind*a has implemented a new system for completing adoptions. It appears that once this new system is completely up and running that it will help the process become smoother. In addition, it should expedite the cases of special needs kids. Sofia is considered special needs especially because of her age but also because of her scars from being burned. My agency registered me with the new system but we won't know for a week or so if it took. They only allow 100 PAPS to register each month so I'm really praying that it did in fact go through and that I'm officially in the system. I'm waiting to get my official registration number. If that happens, then I am one step closer to getting my official match with her. Please pray that my registration went through !!

On the Congo front, there is a family there right now who is completing their adoption of a sweet 5 year old little girl. It's been awesome to read their blog and get first hand reports. They went to the orphanage and took tons of pictures of all the children there. I can't tell you how amazing it is to see where baby Joaquin will be and to see the faces of all the children and the "mamas" who will be loving on him!!
Also, she confirmed that the children get one big meal every day. I know that might not sound great but in this country, there are many orphanages where the children eat one meal every other day or every third day. That is so disturbing to me. I work part time at a restaurant and I can't even begin to tell you how much food is thrown away every shift. We truly are blessed to live in a country where food and clean water are plentiful and even though you may have dissatisfaction with our government, it is a democracy and we do have say in how this country is run. Traveling to 3rd world countries has definitely impacted me and I am so thankful for all we have and also for my right to vote.

Hopefully next week I will get my registration number and then I will finally be able to exhale. Just a little bit ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Own Personal Desert, Not Dessert

This is Frida Baby, my first pet as an adult. I love this kitty because she is so sweet and loves to sit on my lap and purr. She's been doing a lot of that lately because I went all hard core and cut my cable. I know, right? I definitely went through some withdrawal but the upside is that I've been reading much more (with the company of Frida Baby), started training for a half-marathon, and generally have been more productive. On top of that, I'm saving mucho dinero each month that I can now apply to the adoption costs.

One book that I started reading has been very influential, encouraging, and challenging. It's called, The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.  He is the CEO of World Vision. I'm about halfway through the book and I've learned a lot, reflected a lot, and cried a lot.  The main points he covers are, what does God expect of us and are we willing to be open to God's will for our lives?  As I look back over this adoption journey, I've seen how much I've grown in my faith and relationship with Jesus.  It's FORCED me to be utterly and completely dependent upon Him.  And every time that I forget that, He is faithful to send me a reminder :)  I've also realized that sometimes, actually often, God's blessings come through our sufferings.  I think about the times on this journey when I was devastated, discouraged, and basically beat down.  At each of those points, He has answered me with blessings and encouragement beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  I think about Israel when they were wandering around the desert for 40 years...40 YEARS!  And I hope that my desert experience isn't 40 years!  But at the same time, there is so much beauty and freedom in the reliance on Him for my daily sustenance.  When I read about the Israelites I've found myself scorning them in my head, thinking things like, how dumb are they?  Don't they remember that he parted the freakin' red sea so they could get away??  Every day he rained down manna from heaven so they could eat!  Can you imaging seeing bread falling from the sky?  And they still didn't get it.  And then there's me.  He has provided EVERY step of the way.  Don't I remember??  I picture Him poking me on the forehead and saying, "Am I getting through?  Are you in there??  Don't you see?"

Ever since I had my Christmas Miracle, the battle has been full on.  Wow, has it been challenging.  A whole new set of worries and temptations to veer me away from relying on Him and trying to rely on myself.  I have come to terms (again) that there is no way that I can ever pull this off.  And that's exactly the way He wants it.  Because, again, this is not about me.  This is about Him and He being glorified.  It's like we are in a play and I keep trying to steal his lines.  And He keeps putting me in check.

Adoption is so hard because everything that is important in this process is completely out of your hands.  I think about sweet Miss Sofia passing more and more time in the orphanage and I wonder, does anyone hug her? Does anyone tell her she's special?  That she's beautiful?  That God has an amazing plan for her life...just wait and see?  Every day I pray that God will put hope in her little heart and I have to trust that He is doing that.

I am praying that God will again amaze me and defy what the world says about how long her adoption will take.  I'm praying for a miracle.  I'm praying that I will be able to fly this summer and meet her.  I'm reminding myself that the government is upon His shoulders.  That He has the power to put her file in the hands of the most productive people over there.  I'm waiting for Him to do the Jeti move, "these aren't the droids you are looking for" kind of stuff.  And in the meantime, I will look to heaven for my manna.  Thank you God for the carbs!

Oh, and in case you are interested in buying the book, 100% of the royalties go directly to support children through World Vision.  How do you like them apples??!!!