Thursday, December 30, 2010

One word

On K-Love this morning I heard a new year's resolution type of challenge. It is a one-word challenge. It goes like this:

Without using past mistakes and personal weaknesses as a catalyst, and instead using God's plan----what is one word you could focus on and live out in 2011?

Here's a link to a gal who's given this some thought. I am going to be thinking about what my one word will be. I have an idea, but I'm gonna see what the Big Man has to say about it.


Happy New Year!

Wendy

Friday, December 24, 2010

Three-fifths


Merry Christmas from three-fifths of our children! We are hopeful that the remaining two-fifths will come home soon. We are finding it hard to describe how you can miss someone you've never met, but that's exactly how we feel. There are times when I'm counting to three (making sure we have them all) and I feel like someone is just missing. I'm pretty sure God has been working hard at knitting together our hearts since this process began. We cannot wait to see their little faces and give them a bath and put some new, clean (all their own!) clothes on them, and squeeze their cheeks and, oh yeah, love them for eternity.

Happy Birthday, Prince of Peace. Let our next trip around the sun bring You glory and bring us closer to You when we celebrate again next Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Next

We have received news this week from our case manager that we are currently the only family waiting for a sibling set of up-to-age 5!!!! That means that we are "next" in the waiting room of families to receive a referral!!!!

What is a referral? This means we will get a call (or email???) with specific medical and other pertinant information (including pictures!) about a sibling set and consider them for adoption. When we accept the referral, we will wait for a court date to be established and then travel to meet the children and appear in court---pleading our case to be their forever parents. After we pass court (doesn't happen the 1st time in about half the cases), we will return home-without the children- and wait for an embassy appointment. That will be about 6-8 weeks following the court date. The embassy has to grant permission for the children to leave the country, so a lot rides on the shoulders of that embassy date.

Friends, please pray this week that our referral will be soon and that God will continue to knit our hearts together, as we live an ocean apart.

And, during this week of Christmas, I will leave you with something that our family thinks is totally RAD: Jesus' life began and ended with adoption. He was adopted by Joseph at birth, and he designated Mary as the mother of "the disciple whom He loved" (John, the son of Zebede) as He was on the cross.

Read John 19:25-27 if you never have....to us, it's a great example of the plan of adoption. Of course, adoption is not a flawless, smooth, joyous plan, but if one can love outside their own flesh and blood----love someone who has never done anything for them---then, God's glory is written all over it.

To God Be the Glory! Great things He has done! So loved He the world that He gave us his Son.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 22, 2010

In Between

I need some serious lessons on how to get pictures where you want them on a blog. Anyway, here are some pictures from a few recent important days. The first few are from our 10 year wedding anniversary party we celebrated with our close friends. It was a hoot---the most fun I remember having in a L-O-N-G time. The 4th picture is our family eating at The Blue Nile Cafe in the River Market downtown Kansas City. It's one of the 2 Ethiopian Restaurants here in KC. The last several are of our birthday girl, Claire. We have quite a few happy memories lately! Read on for an adoption update (ish).








Hurry up and wait!!!

Our family has been on cruise control for the past several months. We have been enjoying the "hurry up and wait" period of our adoption.

However, our hearts are starting to stir again. It's becoming more difficult to wait. This weekend, I was listening to a great song by a good friend of our's, called In Between. It was the perfect description of how we feel these days.

We spent a great deal of time this weekend moving furniture and hanging coat hooks (looks pretty neat to see 6 coat hooks and anticipating them being full of coats and backpacks.). We feel like we are readying the Rust home for change. We are doing everything in our power to streamline and ease all the things we do every day. We moved couches and tables to allow for better "traffic" flow through the house. We cleared a room to make space for a child work/play space on the main level of the house. We put a couch in our bedroom, to prepare for children who need to be within sight/touch at night time to develop a strong sense of trust. It was pretty exciting. We took an online test after the kids went to bed and reviewed some important tips we need to research in order to be the parents all our children need and deserve.

In church, tears streamed down my face as I held hands with my son who is safe and warm and worshipping God right next to me (while kind people take care of our girls in the nursery). I was thinking about our little ones who are on the other side of the world and how we just can't get to them. Are their tummies full? When was the last time someone combed their hair or trimmed their nails? When was the last time someone told them they are the sun, moon and stars? When was the last time someone told them how much their heavenly Father loves them? When was the last time someone looked at them and took pride in their character? When was the last time someone held their hand and told them everything will be alright?

Adoption is so different from pregnancy. We knew in pregnancy when to expect our children's entrance to our world. With adoption, I don't know if it'll be tomorrow or next summer. It's like the coming of Christ. We know it's coming. No one knows the day or the hour----not even the angels.

God is in control, thank goodness. We are sure of that. We are just feeling the lonely He has set upon our family. We are not complete until our dinner table is full of children eating and laughing and even arguing. Let it be.

In Between
by Tyrus Morgan and Anthony Snape

No expectation, no insight
Without illusion or fear
With no regard for a history
All I want is you here

A single soul in a landslide
Bringing the mountains to dust
Taking the space out of distance
We will learn to love and trust

I'll keep coming til there's nothing

In Between
Nothing seperating you from me
An unrelenting gravity
I'll keep coming til there's nothing in between.

The rumble of a collision
Brings me down to my knees
A shaking realization
This is more than just a dream

closer come closer
step by step by step

There's no rock I won't break down
No walls hold me now

Thanks, Ty, for putting into words what this process has laid on our hearts.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Father's House







In Uganda, people call children's homes (orphanages) "the Father's house." It is a metaphor to what Jesus says about Heaven. In John 14:2, Jesus talks about our Father's house. He says "In My Father's house are many rooms." These homes built by Global Orphan Project are a dream come true for these children who have nowhere and no one to turn to.

We are excited to report that 2 homes are now full of 22 girls in Lira, Uganda, who otherwise would have been without. 2 more girls will be moving in soon.

One home is called the "Wilma Cook House of Hope," named in honor of my sweet grandma. I've shared this on earlier blogs, but my grandma lived in an orphanage from the time she was 5 years old until she "aged out." She was never available for adoption and shares much in common with the girls who call "the Wilma Cook House of Hope" home. Her stories of the time she spent in the Baptist Home for Girls in St. Louis always inspired me to do more for the fatherless. She used to tell me about the "Knot-Hole Gang." The knot-hole gang would walk to the baseball stadium, then known as "Sportsman's Park" (later to be known as Busch Stadium), and watch the ballgame through the knot holes in the fence. She always had a passion for Cardinal baseball. Up until the day she died, and despite her Alzheimer's complications, she kept up with the Cardinals~~especially Albert Pujols. Her stories are precious memories for me. I can't tell you how much I wish she could've lived to see these homes be built in her honor.

The second home is called the "Chris McKenna Home." It is named in honor of a special lady who touched many lives as an educator and passed away from cancer a year ago.

Each home:

~cost $5000 to build
~12 girls and one mama (girls are not available for adoption)
~located close to medical help and a church (The Church of Uganda)
~located close to a school
~girls get 2 meals a day of rice and beans; one is fortified with a powdered nutrient
~fully sponsored (24 children!!!!) for 3 years at $40/month/child. After 3 years, the home will be self-sustaining.....this is the BIGGEST praise.

Thank you to all who supported this worthy work and encouraged our family through the process. It is a blessing to see the fruit of so many people's labor. We aren't always so lucky to see where our hard work gets us....

You can see pictures of some of the girls by clicking on this link.

You can see videos and more information about the Lira village here.

May God bless each and every one of the girls and the mama in these homes. May His perfect peace and joy fill the homes every day. May their tummies be full and their bodies rested every night when they lay down in their new home. All this to the Glory of our Father, who allowed us to be a small part in His BIG plan.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

These walls








Oh, the things these walls have heard this week. Jason posted a status on facebook that made me cry I was laughing so hard. I had to share it with the world. It was a listing of all the things said in our house last night. Here goes:

"Stop scratching there."

"No, there are not wood chips in your butt."

"Wendy, you can't run away!"

"Sophie is pooping her pants but I'm too tired to get up."

"Sophie won't sit on the toilet."

"Sophie won't get off the toilet."

"Evan, stop reading Peter and read Psalms!"

"There is no way people sweep every day."

"I could not possibly have more crumbs on my feet than I do right now."

"Oh, Claire, you do have wood chips in your panties!"

~~Now, let the world hear what God has to say about living with all these little crazies:

Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. (I love that part.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The eyes of Alpha


Let me tell you a story of redemption.

One year ago, my husband and I attended The Global Orphan Project's "Big Event" where hundreds of people gather together to plead the cause of the poor and the needy, and put our heads and hearts together for the fatherless. The stories we heard there were jaw-dropping. We were astounded by the raw numbers of orphans and to learn of the orphan pandemic of today. We stood in disbelief of so many stories of survival and also stories of the heroes who are working in the lives of these children.

One of the stories was about a little baby named Alpha. One and a half years ago, a man named Peter found a garbage bag on the side of the road that was moving. When he inspected its contents, he found a brand new baby inside with a rope around her neck. Someone has discarded this little life on the side of the road. When others heard of what Peter had found, they asked what he would do if this baby was HIV positive. He said he was just going to love her. When the tests came back, she was HIV positive. That was probably the reason she had been thrown on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Peter named her Alpha and she became a member of his family. At the Big Event last year, we heard her story and the crowd of hundreds prayed for Alpha and her health and her future, with candles lighting up the room. Her story burned a hole in my heart.

Last night at the 2010 Big Event, Jason and I had a seat near the back of the room with dear friends of our's who share the same passion for these children. We listened to Moise Vaval speak about finding and burying his son in Haiti after the earthquake this January and about the beautiful work Global Orphan Project is doing there in Haiti week-after-week. All the while, there was a baby screaming in the audience, being carried back and forth into and out of the auditorium. It was a very dimly lit auditorium, lit mainly by candles on the tables near the stage. I kept thinking "Goodness, that baby is MAD! I wonder why someone brought a baby to this event." The crying did not cease. Eventually, I told Jason that I had to go see how I could help.

I followed the mom out the door and practically chased her all the way to the bathroom. When we arrived, I asked if there was anything at all I could do to help. I offered to hold or walk the baby so that the mother could be a part of the presentation that was happening in the auditorium. She was thankful, but was hesitant to leave me with her baby. I stayed in the bathroom long enough to find out that the family was here from Malawi, Africa. Admiring the beautiful brown skin of this baby and her sweet dimples on her face, I asked what her name was. The mother said "Her name is Alpha."

I am not kidding you that TIME STOOD STILL.

A number of incontrollable tears fells down my face. My mind was grasping for all the details that could bring together the correct conclusion of whether or not this is THE Alpha who I prayed for a year ago. THE Alpha who burned a hole in mine and so many others' hearts a year ago.

I ran out of the bathroom and found a friend of mine who could confirm whether or not this baby was THE Alpha and she did, in fact, confirm that it was the baby who so many of us prayed for last year.

I ran back into the bathroom and just looked into the face of this little girl who has no idea how she has saved so many lives with her story. I stayed and spoke with the mother as long as I could without seeming like a stalker. When I returned to my seat next to Jason and shared with him who that crying baby was, he was in shock.

I was able to go hold and play with little Alpha later in the evening. We walked around and talked (as best as you can with an 18 month old) and I kissed her precious cheek. To look into those eyes and know her story of survival is a feeling that is hard to put into words.

It puts us so close to the heart of God when we consider the lives of the "least of these." When we put a hold on our lives and stop long enough to love a child who has done nothing for us, we are experiencing the heart of Christ.

I love the passage in Matthew when Jesus speaks of the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Read Matthew 18:1-5 for yourself, but listen to verse 5 especially:

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Love Coffee

I'd like to extend an offer for some delicious coffee for a great cause.

Click on the link below to order coffee (some blends from Ethiopia!) to support our adoption. Just Love Coffee will give us $5 for every bag sold toward our adoption from Ethiopia. They also donate 10% of their yearly earnings to an Ethiopian orphanage where the owner adopted 2 girls in recent years. Jason and I have tasted the coffee and it is worth the money. We like The Roasterie coffee, and this is just as high-quality. The Tyrus Morgan CD and coffee package is a great deal, too. He's a talented musician and a good friend of our's. I know you'd enjoy his music.

We will be putting in a bulk order soon, so you can choose to order directly from the web site or you could pay me and get the bag right away from my home.

The money we make on this fund-raiser will go directly toward our travel expenses, which includes 4 round-trip tickets to Ethiopia and 2 one-ways. The adoption, itself, is paid for and ready to go (dossier is translated and sitting in the hands of our agency in Addis Ababa)----as soon as we get our referral (names and pictures of our new children). We are hopeful that will take place this winter.

http://www.justlovecoffee.com/therusts

Looking forward to a cold winter with some hot coffee!

Wendy

P.S.: On a related side-note, Jason and I (along with Jeff and Jenny Rodgers and other friends) will be attending the Global Orphan Project "Big Event" this Saturday. I am hopeful that we will be able to finalize information regarding the 2 homes built in Uganda with the money raised last year for that cause. More information to come on that soon!

www.theglobalorphanproject.org

www.147millionorphans.com


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Epiopia


Claire is one sweet little girl. She says this prayer (almost word-for-word) every night. Her brother and sister in Ethiopia just don't have a clue how lucky they will be to be Claire's sibling.

Monday, August 30, 2010

All ears

It has been a long time since the last Rust blog post, but we've been in ALL-OUT survival mode for 3-4 weeks now. The transition from summer-time mom to teacher-mom is never easy on anyone (not for mommy, daddy, the kids, or the dog!). Our diet, exercise (?), and sleeping have all suffered.

I can't decide if it's been so rough because this particular summer experience together was the most enjoyable on record, or if it's Something Else. If it is Something Else, then maybe His point is to allow me to feel rushed and pressured so that I will cherish and enjoy my time at home when I get it (the weekends for now, and all the time next school year!).

If you read the last blog post, you know that I have been dreading the decision and the timing of me handing over my teaching position. I will tell you that there is Peace now. On the first day of school, I held Evan in my arms in my classroom. There were 2 minutes before the 1st bell was to ring, and I cried and told him that I was so happy to have had these experiences with him and that I will never forget them. I'm pretty sure he thought I was losing my mind.

Strangely, a few days later, walking down the hallways of the school with Evan before school, a Wonderful sense of Peace came over me. I truly felt fine with the blurry vision of our future.

Since then, I've been striving to just listen to what God is telling me. I've been allowing myself to be on "input" mode--reading and praying (mainly listening). Oh, what a peaceful feeling it is. I highly recommend it! I've been especially careful of what comes out of my mouth and have been remembering Matthew 12:34--

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Now, back to my listening.......

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Would you rather?

I cannot figure out how to get these pictures where I want them on this blog, so enjoy some out-of-order pictures.

The first set of pictures shows Jason on the slip-n-slide with the girls. They had so much fun. Their swimming suits were actually keeping them from going very fast, so we let them take their shirts off---excuse the partial nudity. You can see that we cannot go anywhere or do anything without the participation of the girls. They hopped on Jason's back every time he tried to go down the slip-n-slide by himself. Oh, the laughs they shared. You could have heard them a mile away, I bet.


These are some pictures of our latest visit to Freedom Fire. The first picture is our dear friend, Joey, laying on the ground so that the boys could jump off his back to dunk. You should've seen his back later that night! Ouch! The second picture shows the view from the last row, where I sat next to a new buddy, Kendren, during the message part of the night. They are all very good listeners and this week's lesson was about the prodigal son---very meaningful. That one never gets old. The last picture is of a middle school girl who was excited to get her nails done. She remembered me from last week and has quite a story to tell. I look forward to seeing her again Friday.






Finally, these are some pictures of the girls at a birthday party for their friend, Mattingly Rodgers. It was a princess dance party. Does it get more girly than that? How fun! They got to wear pretty dresses and glitter, learn a dance, and do a craft. It was a sight to see! I feel so lucky to share these fun times with my girls.





Now, on to the subject weighing on my heart this week:

On our pre-children road trips, Jason and I used to play a game called "Would you rather." It was a hilarious way to pass the time, pondering numerous impossible scenarios that would never occur, but were great to visualize anyway.

There have been some moments of "would you rather" in my heart recently.

I have so cherished, beyond expression, my summer time memories with our children. I started teaching in 2001, so this is my 10th year of teaching. I have enjoyed every summer from 2004 until now, relishing the casual-nature of summer. I get to enjoy the stay-at-home-mom model for about 12ish weeks every year. Our summers have been full of library visits, pool days, trips to Farmington, small vacations (not this year!), sandboxes, Popsicles, and lots of down time.

I couldn't have asked for a better gig. We have felt very comfortable and extremely happy with my career choice. It has allowed lots of perks, of which is my all-time favorite: the snow day thrills we get every winter. I knew that when I became a teacher, I would be able (more than likely) to bring my children to the school where I taught. That's why the Rusts moved from Liberty to NKC school district attendance area back in 2006. We knew we wanted to move before Evan started kindergarten. Oh, what a joy this past school year was! Evan and I had some one-on-one time before and after school, and we were able to see each other at lunch daily. I taped a pink construction paper heart on my classroom window, so he could see my room from the playground and remember how much I loved him. We had a super secret hand sign we gave each other if we happened to see each other's class in passing. It meant "I love you so much, but I'll give you a hug after school." I knew if I didn't come up with something like that, he'd jump out of his class line or out of his lunch table when he saw me everyday~and I didn't want him to cause that much commotion. It's hard for a 5 year old to understand why they can't hug their mom when they see her at school. The hand sign worked like magic. We still do it to each other when we are leaving to go anywhere.

When we answered yes to God's adoption plan for us, it included a not-so clear vision of the future of my career. We plan to give these children (biological and adopted) all they need. Most adopted children need to be with their parents and not put into a daycare (that really looks and sounds like an orphanage, if you really think about it~~~how scary for a little one who was just rescued from that life!). Besides their needs: who can afford 4 children in daycare? So, we knew that my job would probably go on hold for at least a year, if not more. We feel like it's part of this test of faith---do we really believe God will provide for us since we said yes to His calling?

The closer we get to a referral, the more my brain is playing "Would you rather" with me. I have gone through all the pros and cons of me staying at home and I know that is what we will need to do. However, having said that, you can see that I have treasured my job as a teacher. I have gone "back to school" in August every year since I was 5. What is my heart going to feel next August, when I am sitting at home? It is likely that we will get young ones for our referral, probably not school age. That means I will be home with 4 children, 2 of whom won't speak my language.

The fact that there are 500 applicants for 7 teaching positions doesn't give me a whole lot of reason to want to hand over my job, either. My tenure has been a safety net, if you will. Jason could lose his job, as could any person who works for a private company, while the chances of me ever losing my job is slim. If/when I want to go back to teaching, will there be a job for me? What about my nice salary? I'm no millionaire, but 10 years of teaching with a masters degree brings home a nice salary, at least one that makes you think twice before walking away from it.

I let myself fall apart over this and shed some tears with my sweet accountability group of girlfriends. I hope you all understand that this is all part of accepting the cost of following Jesus and the plan He has for the Rusts. It doesn't matter what Jesus asks us to do~doesn't it feel better to be in His plan? Is there any other place you'd rather be? Don't you think that the Prince of Peace and the Creator of the universe has a plan for our future? Either you believe that, or you don't believe that He is sovereign. And, if you don't believe our God is sovereign, why do you believe in Him at all? Who wants a God who is not in charge of it all?

Would you rather live according to your plan and your comfort, or relentlessly beg Jesus to show you His plan? I had a peace this morning in knowing that all the tedious, mind-bending, earthly, here-and-now details of our family's life-change are not eternal concerns. I have to keep my eyes on the end-goal. We want to love others, and love these children of our's into the kingdom of God. What else matters?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sophie is hungway

Just listen to what I hear 1,000 times a day. Tell me you wouldn't
give the girl what she wants......Uh, huh. Me, too. If she wants something,
she pretty much gets it these days. We are being such enablers and
usually it is totally worth it. Love these kids. Gonna have to exert some
discipline sometime soon.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Is this Heaven?

I can't keep up with all the directions my brain wants to go with this post, so bear with me as I try to manage control of my attention and focus.

I'll start by saying that this weekend was full of so much joy, that it's hard to distinguish heaven and earth.

Our small group attends a community center where children gather on Friday nights for a Christian message, recreation, and a meal. It's called "Freedom Fire." There are roughly 30-50 children who come (more some weeks than others) to hear and to eat. Children's ages range from very young (2?) to teenagers. They walk, skate-board, or ride their bikes from their nearby homes in downtown Kansas City. Their's is not a life of luxury. They come barefooted, dirty (not all of them, but some are), and hungry for God's Word and some warm food.

Jason had gone before with Evan to play and to serve these children. He came back with funny stories of Evan shooting hoops with black boys who are 6 feet tall. That image is just funny when you see how scrawny and white Evan is.... I have hesitated to go until now, always using the all-s0-convenient excuse that it will be hard to serve these children and keep track of my own kids at the same time. I was even a little scared of what this downtown location (the 'hood') would be like: are there crazy people there? How about gang activity? Lame feelings. What a complete coward. Cowardly, especially since this is not like it's East St. Louis or something. Our friend, Kurt Geiger, shared a quote by a courageous man named CT Studd (who wouldn't be brave with a name like that?!). I remember thinking about that quote numerous times throughout the day on Friday, sort-of gearing myself up for the task of helping these people. Here's the quote:

"Christ’s call is to feed the hungry, not the full; to save the lost, not the stiff-necked…this can only be accomplished by a red-hot, unconventional, unfettered Holy Ghost religion…The fiery baptism of the Holy Spirit will change soft, sleek Christians into hot, lively heroes for Christ, who will advance and fight and die, but not mark time…Nail the colours to the mast!...To die is gain. Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell."

Don't fool yourself to think that downtown Kansas City is anything close to the definition of hell. However, it is hell compared to the life of comfort and abundance of the suburbs.

It was nothing but pure joy to paint the little girls' finger nails (dirty as they could be!) and even their toes! Claire and Sophie jumped right in and "helped." We played play-doh with the little boys and watched the teenagers shoot hoops, play dance dance revolution, and jump-rope. One of the little girls, who was probably 5 years old carried Sophie around. Sophie is very picky about who looks at her, much less who touches her. She did let this little girl carry her around and saved her tears until the little girl put her down (it made me laugh!). There was another little one I wanted to sneak into our van and take her home with us. She was not a day older than 2 and sweet as can be. She and Sophie ran around together near the end of the evening. These kids know how to have fun. I was telling Jason that it amazes me how much fun they have at this community center on any given Friday night, while the people in our suburban neighborhood sit and watch TV on their couches in the air-conditioning. Stark difference.

At the end of the evening, when the kids were making their way outside to walk home, I caught a glimpse of Jason kneeling eye-level with a little bare-foot girl (in fact, the same one who carried Sophie around). He was telling her that he'd be back next week to see her and he'd bring her some candy (his pocket full of candy ran out quickly that evening). To say that my heart overflowed with PRIDE would be a major understatement. I can't express the amount of respect and love I feel for this man of mine who has transformed his heart to be more like Jesus. He has such a heart for these children and you can't help but notice his desire to be "the father to the fatherless."

What shocked me the most at the end of the evening was my driving desire to do this every single Friday night. I can't think of another place I'd rather be than serving these precious children. We will be going back this Friday and I intend on taking pictures to post. We'll see how far I get with that endeavor.

God bless!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sweet memories

Here is a short slide show featuring a precious boy who passed away on July 4th. He had a severe asthma attack and fought for life on life support for 5 days before passing away. His precious life was able to help 3 others, as his parents made the noble and honorable decision to donate some of his organs. It doesn't surprise me, as his 4th grade teacher, that he is helping others in his death. He was loved by so many people. I truly don't know one person, child or adult alike, who didn't cherish this boy. I pray that his parents and sister enjoy the Peace that surpasses all understanding as they face the absence of Tyler.

I have so many thoughts and emotions swimming around in my head about his life and death. It has consumed me for 2 weeks now. I am at a loss for words except to seek God's wisdom and words about life and death.

John 14:1-4 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. In my Father's house are many room; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."



Here's a wonderful song by Amy Grant that seems to help me remember to lay our troubles at the feet of Jesus. I can't help but think of Tyler and his mom when I hear this song. Please listen to Arms of Love and say a prayer for the McDowell family. I pray that they feel the presence of God during this time and that they realize that this is a time in their lives when One set of Footprints is sufficient.


Amen

Friday, July 2, 2010

In the air

Here's what I read on an email that just arrived in my in-box:

Dear Jason and Wendy,

Your dossier is now on its way to Ethiopia, and should arrive there in 3-4 business days (we'll let you know when it does). Congratulations! That puts you on the waiting list for a referral.


This is an email from our dossier case manager, who we've worked closely with for several months now. All those hours of hard work poured into the paperwork, all the hours spent earning and saving and scraping the ransom money, all the blessings from the various agencies (and family and friends) are up in the air on their way to Ethiopia as we speak!


There are few words that explain the feeling this puts on my heart today. I am relieved that we made it this far. I am excited to be that much closer to our children. I am in awe that God has allowed me live out this part of His plan.


Friends, read the following link to another mother's blog post before flying to pick up her children from Ethiopia. Heidi is so eloquent and completely, 100%, puts our thoughts into words. I hope it resonates with you. I pray that you allow God to break you and that you can begin to enjoy a new vision for your life.


http://blessingsfromethiopia.blogspot.com/2009/06/i-wish-i-could-tell-you.html


I pray that Satan never again convinces me to live for ME.


May God's timing prevail. May our children, who He set aside for us, have His peace until we can bring them home. May the court system continue to work smoothly for the benefit of the children. May our family continue to grow closer to Jesus. May God be pleased with our hearts. May society never burden us with its expectations and vision for our lives.


Amen

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ode to 2 fathers

Happy Father's Day to 2 men who I love very much.

To my husband: I knew it when we met. You were going to be the kind of daddy that every child longs for. I was right! You are that dad. Thank you for showing them God's love in very real, tangible ways. Thank you for the kind of discipline you show our children. Thank you for the joy you bring into their lives. Thank you for being the strong daddy they need. Thank you for the love you show so freely to our children. Thank you for the big and little sacrifices you make to pave a road of success for them. Thank you for the hours and hours you put in to provide a home for them. Thank you for spending countless hours pondering how you can become an even better dad (is that possible???). I'm sure they are already aware on some level how lucky they are to have you as their daddy, but one day, they will fully understand your worth. Your leadership and love will reach many generations. Thank you for striving to be "a father to the fatherless." YOU ARE MY HERO, and you are a hero to many. You are a wonderful man, and I could not ask for a better daddy for our kids.

To my dad: Thank you for all the little and big things you have done to enrich my life. You have been a dad I can trust and a dad I can look up to and admire. I know plenty of girls who can't say the same thing about their father. Thank you for being that dad. I love you.


Everyone should hear the newest song by Sanctus Real called "Lead Me." It is one that has the power to change lives by redirecting a man's heart. Calling all dads-----listen to this:


Amen

Friday, June 18, 2010

On our way

Dear FedEx,
Thank you for carrying the paperwork to Washington DC to the kind courier who will carefully take it to the Dept. of State and the Ethiopian Embassy. You are holding the very ransom that will allow our children to come home to their forever family. Please handle with care.

Love,
Wendy

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reality Check

Okay, I have a heavy heart today. My heart is aching for the people in this world whose reality is so very different than mine. God continues to allow my heart to break for others, and I'm thankful. I believe I'd have less willingness to take the time and consider others' needs if not for my broken heart.

I ask that you watch this 19 minute clip of our friend, Erica, and her team in Sierra Leone, Africa. This is footage from her trip to the charity she founded and runs, called The Raining Season. The home in Africa is called The Covering. The staff there feeds, clothes, and ministers to 80 fatherless children. Many of the children who live in her home are very recent orphans from a ferry accident, where many many working fathers died.

Jason and I have committed our time and energy to help Erica and we look forward to many opportunities in the future. Take some time and look at these beautiful people and say a prayer that in the midst of their hopelessness that they find Jesus. I see Jesus when I look at them. Evan watched it with me yesterday and told me he thinks these people are beautiful. We had a fruitful conversation about how God doesn't make ugly people. All God's people are beautiful. We are longing to go and serve these people in person, and we look forward to doing just that as soon as we can bring our kids home from Ethiopia.




Here's the blog she keeps updated with information and stories from her home in Africa.


Amen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Love this boy

Proverbs 4:20-22

My son, pay attention to what I say; Listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, Hide them in your heart; For they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.

Evan made us proud by memorizing all the books of the Bible. He's been working on this for months now. It all started as a challenge in his Awana's class. Jason has been working alongside him to memorize all the books, and I'm actually not sure who beat whom.

Please excuse the shaggy hair-do and the Dale Jr. t-shirt. It was a hot summer night, and we ended up shaving his head that night~~~new buzz-cut pictures coming soon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

First step in the adoption immigration process COMPLETE!

Today, when I opened our mailbox, I was thrilled to find our I-171H from US citizenship and immigration services. This is our petition for advance processing of an orphan (I-600A was the application and the I-171H is the approval letter!). Jason had to be finger-printed twice for this petition. I'm not sure if it's due to his wild past or the fact that he doesn't have very defined fingerprints. I'll let you make that judgement call. :)

Dear Rust children in Ethiopia,

We are getting much closer to bringing you home! We were approved by the kind people at the immigration office today. God continues to open doors and lead us to you. May He continue to shine down His blessings on our road to you.

Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

3rd time's a charm!

After 3 tries, our dossier is finally approved! We are ready to get it authenticated at the state and federal levels. When we've done that, it can be off to Ethiopia and we can W-A-I-T.





Saturday, May 29, 2010

These are the days

Psalms 16:11
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of JOY; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Enough said!


Evan was so thrilled to see the balloons launch. Who
doesn't love seeing that look in a kid's eyes?!












We actually talked Claire into smiling instead of making her usual silly face.














Jason can't escape the love of his little girls. They are crazy about their daddy, and it's no wonder why.....


















Here are a few pictures of the girls wearing the cute shirts my mom made for them. I love the one of the girls on the couch. It shows their true colors: Claire being silly and Sophie being dramatic----Go figure!


I love this picture of my boys. Jason wonders where Evan gets his sense of humor. Hmmmm, I don't know.






























Evan tried on Uncle Adam's helmet and hopped onto the motorcycle for a tough guy picture.


























I caught the kids "playing sleep" again on this day. It's cute when they play together, especially when they play "sleep!"





















Sophie is showing signs of being ready to potty-train. Lately, she's been changing all her babies' diapers. I hope it doesn't disturb you that she's changing Elmo's diaper right on the same table Evan is enjoying a snack. You can see in the "sad Sophie" picture that it's not as easy as you think to change a monster's diaper!














We helped Sophie try on Evan's baseball helmet for a minute. She didn't want to take it off, so you can see her here playing sidewalk chalk at our neighbor's house with the helmet on. Never hurts to play it safe, I suppose!














Monday, May 24, 2010

Hard to believe

This past weekend, our family had a successful garage sale. All the left-overs (some of it is still pretty nice) is staring at me in the garage. I do not look forward to packing it all up. I will remember this if ever I get the urge to go shopping again.

We made about $300 from the sales of some furniture and lots of kids' clothes. If you count the donations, however, the total is more like $875. Yeah, that's not a typo.

My favorite story from the garage sale: an un-named friend (you know who you are) came by and shopped through our things this weekend. She brought the items to me to pay, and 75% of the items were things she'd given to me. There was no way I'd let her pay ME for her things! She pulled out her check-book and went on about how her kids had been saving for this cause and she had been keeping track in her check-book. When she handed me a check for $500, I was speechless. Okay, I wasn't speechless, because when I am in shock, I fill the void of silence with chattering. I was blown away once again (thank you, God) at the heart of our friend and the willingness to give so generously.

Another great story about giving: We are part of a "Radical" small group on Sunday nights. We are studying David Platt's "Radical" series. If you haven't ever heard of it, PLEASE LOOK IT UP! Just google David Platt Radical and look around. He speaks pure truth from the Bible and it is refreshing yet transforming. Anyway, last night we were enjoying the questions and answers that go along with the series, when the oldest son of the house (I think he just turned 11, but I could be off a year or two) decided to do something radical. He decided to give Jason and me the money he'd just received the day before for his birthday. When I understood what was happening, I nearly dropped to my knees. This little boy, who could go spend his birthday money on any number of toys or gadgets, chose to give it to us so we could give it to someone we've never seen. It was roughly $100, which is a fortune and can go really far for a little boy in the United States, and to infinity for little boys and girls who will receive the blessings of his giving.

Time is getting VERY close for Jason and I to hand over a large amount of money we've been saving and watching over for quite some time. It's really just ransom money if you think about it, and totally worth it. If these little ones come here and make our life more difficult than it is right now, let it be! After all, we are loving Jesus through this decision. It is HIS heart we desire to know. It is HIS heart we desire to show to others. It is HIS satisfaction we are seeking.

I'm rambling, but maybe it's because I'm "speechless" about these acts of loving kindness. Until another time, I thank God for His people who He is moving toward His purpose. I thank God for asking us to do His work and to be His hands and feet and mouth and eyes.

Good night!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yard sale

We are having the yard sale of all yard sales tomorrow and Saturday. If you live in or near Kansas City, come by and browse. We have furniture, and tons of clothes (maternity, adult, children, babies---both genders, ridiculous amount of shoes, etc).

The money we make on this sale will go toward our massive travel expenses to Ethiopia. It will only get us started, but I guess one must start at the beginning ("a very good place to start!").

I had a moment of "Mendy" tonight. That is when Wendy leaves the building and another person overtakes her body. I hit a wall with the overwhelming task of getting rid of the stuff we've acquired over the past 10 years. It's really quite embarrassing to look at all the stuff. I hope we can get rid of even a fraction of it and take the rest elsewhere. We consider ourselves non-hoarders, but by the looks of the garage tonight, I'm wondering......

A yard sale creates a happy state of mind, to some extent. It is a walk down memory lane. For me, it's not easy to sell clothes. It's not the monetary value of them; it's just the fact that so many of my maternity and baby clothes brought such JOY to my life. I thought tonight about how much JOY they will bring someone else.

I look forward to seeing the response we get at this, our first yard sale. It would be great to raise $500.....we'll have to wait and see!




Sunday, May 16, 2010

1st Annual 5K benefitting the Wilma Cook House of Hope

It's hard to count the victories accomplished yesterday morning at our 1st annual 5K benefitting the Wilma Cook House of Hope with the Global Orphan Project.

The most notable victory was the fact that we had so many friends and family who came to support our cause. Your presence was a huge statement to the world that this work matters.

Penny: A HUGE thank you to you. Without your hard work for the past several months, this would have never happened. The way you have cared for and nurtured this event has been pure delight for me. Mandy Sharp: A special thank you to you. The fact that you were with us on this big day meant the world to me and your help was invaluable. One hundred thank-you's to everyone else who pitched in to help, whether big or small!

The second most notable victory was the weather~~~all week the weather forecasters predicted heavy rain/t-storms and 50ish degrees. It was a beautiful morning, of 60 degrees and NO RAIN!!! Wow! It rained after the event for the entire rest of the day, but the race was dry!

A few other victories prevailed yesterday in personal accomplishments of the runners and participants. Amy Bonjour ran all the way without stopping and in much less time than she expected. That is a BIG DEAL! What a reason to celebrate!

There are so many stories worth telling from yesterday that I will have to save many for another day. God was very present and made Himself visible to Jason and me. As Jason was gathering the crowd and speaking to everyone before we began the race, we were reminded again of the mission we have to serve Him. A special song was playing on his Iphone/speaker set-up which conjured up a distinct focus on the glory of God. In fact, it's by Jeremy Riddle and it's called "God of all glory." It's one we heard the night of the Big Event with Global Orphan Project, where Jeremy Riddle played live. Awesome! No one else probably noticed, but I did! To stand next to Jason and listen as he OPENED HIS MOUTH for the speechless and told of the orphan crisis in the world, I could not have been more proud. What a faithful man I have to love and share life with......

After all the donations were counted, we had a grand total of $2680 just from the 5K. Praise God! Our up-to-date fund-raising total is $10,500. This has all come in, just since January. It's all His and will be used to serve His children in Uganda who are living homeless today and eating dirt and garbage to survive.

We will be sending His money to the "least of these" very soon! Very soon, 10-20 children will have a home and a mama. And we aren't done, yet. We have many more plans for the fatherless. We are hoping to partner with a few other wonderful people who have set up orphanages and charities. Plans are being made and details will be shared in the coming months. We have a big "plan-making" weekend set for the 1st weekend in June.









The two people standing next to the Global Orphan sign were the top male and top female runners. The top male runner received a generous golf prize from Excelsior Springs Golf Club, and the top female received $50 gift cards to Pottery Barn. Enjoy!


































Jason was really huffing and puffing to get to the finish line in this shot. Looks like he lost a kid somewhere in the run......



















This was the finish line and the man who stole the show with his unbelievable talent. He finished in 18 minutes! And, he had run 5K just before this, just to warm up! That makes me tired, just thinking about it!































My friend, who happens to be Evan's teacher, Angie Roeder (along with her son and husband) came out to show their support. Thanks, guys!



















We had several people who chose to do the 1 mile run/walk. Lots of strollers and little ones running off their donut energy!






























Here is a picture of Amy Bonjour and her friends who came to support her! Way to go, Amy!













This is a shot of Claire in her tu-tu, eating her 3rd muffin. She thought she was hiding behind this table, until Uncle Adam found her and got this picture!