Monday, January 30, 2012

Hard news

We are in need of love and prayers. We were informed this morning that Ethiopian courts will not be hearing cases Feb. 6-Feb 24 due to staff "training." If our case doesn't pass this week (which we aren't really counting on at this point), then the earliest we'd pass would be March.

We are growing tired of hearing and reporting hard news, so we'd love to have your support. We continue to wait and wonder what He's doing while we wait. I know it will be a great story someday and I'm certain it will bring more glory to Him, but we're ready to tell it and rejoice in his homecoming.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Swarming Locusts

A very special thing happened one year ago today.

In the southern countryside of Ethiopia, a precious baby boy was born. He would have very round, expressive eyes and a beautiful mouth. His sweet little smile would make hearts sing. His laugh would light up a room.

He would live a short while in the countryside before moving into an orphanage without the sight or smell or sound or touch of his mother. He would come to know life inside the walls of an orphanage alongside 8 other babies. He would learn to sit up on the floor of that orphanage. He would learn to crawl on the rugs there. He would hold the hand of his nannies and take his first steps there. He would go through nights of painful teething and bouts of illness with the care of his nannies. He would be hospitalized twice without the comfort and presence of Mommy or Daddy. He would hear a language new to his family line and understand it as his own: Amharic. He would see the face of a white man and hear his deep voice for the first time and CRY for fear. One day he will call that man, "Dad."

A world away, a family would be preparing for his arrival. They would watch from afar each month as he grew and changed. They would record weights and heights, just as they did for their other 3 children. They would pray nightly on their knees for his arrival. They would put together a crib, wash bedding, hang curtains, and paint his room a fresh coat of blue. They would take such pride in him and hang large pictures of him up on their walls. They would attend baby showers where family and friends would pour out their love and support for his arrival. They would pray for him. They would think about him. They would dream about him. They would love him. And they would wait.

The wait would be excruciating. It would probably be harder on the family than on him. He wouldn't clearly remember life before the orphanage. Every day is just another day in his orphanage home.

Today is Jude's first birthday. We are filled with joy over his life. We are exceedingly grateful for the gift of his life and his future. We are celebrating with Taco Tuesday night (the kids' favorite), and birthday cake with ice cream. We will wear silly hats and hang balloons. We will sing "Happy Birthday to You." We will pray and thank God for Jude's life and for the life of his mother.

We will save his special little #1 cake for him in the freezer. He will get it when he comes home. We will save birthday gifts for him. He will open them when he comes home.

A friend referenced Joel 2:25 a while back and it caught my attention loud and clear. Here's some background straight out of my Bible, NIV:

Disaster strikes the southern kingdom of Judah without warning. An ominous black cloud descends upon the land--the dreaded locusts. In a matter of hours, every living green thing has been stripped bare. Joel, God's spokesman during the reign of Joash, seizes this opportunity to proclaim God's message. Although the locust plague has been a terrible judgement for sin, God's future judgements during the day of the Lord will make that plague pale by comparison. In that day, God will destroy His enemies, but BRING UNPARALLELED BLESSING to those who faithfully obey Him.

Joel tells the story of how the land laid waste, and how the people mourned for the land. It speaks of the Day of the Lord and a call to repentance. The part I am especially fond of is chapter 2, starting at verse 18. Go read the whole chapter (or the whole book---it's short).

Here is Joel 2:25-27, emphasis mine:

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame."

There will be a day when Jude can have his birthday cake and open his presents. He will be given back his first year of life lived in an orphanage.

Until then, we celebrate with gladness the life that entered this world one year ago today.

Happy birthday, dear Jude! Any many more~

Love, Mommy and Daddy and family

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Waiting for a Status Change

I know by now you are expecting me to be blogging about bringing our baby boy home. Unfortunately I can't blog about that yet. We are still waiting to pass court. Our case is one of the few that are still pending.

As we correspond with our case worker daily now, we are on the roller coaster ride of our lives. It has almost been 3 months since we were supposed to pass court. We are still waiting on one solitary piece of paperwork that the regional officials have the power to push through. On Christmas day, we were told that the officials had indicated that they would be pushing paperwork in the "very" near future (as in a few days). We were certain it would be our Christmas miracle. Certain. So certain that I bought t-shirts that say "Abat" and "Enat," which is "Father" and "Mother" in Jude's mother tongue, Amharic. We were claiming it. Since that week came and went without movement, we have been told that the regional officials "promised" to approve the pending cases 2 weeks ago. Still nothing.

Today, we were told that the officials have begun to process regional paperwork, but that they are starting from the "top down." To clarify, they are starting with the last cases to be submitted. Our's was the very first. That means our's will be dead last. There are no words to describe our frustration at this point. We now understand what it means to fight for the orphan. We have some concrete under our fingernails and we're not finished yet.

We are in a strange limbo-land with our homestudy. Right now it's a gamble whether or not to update it (long story....I won't bore you). It is probably more safe to update than to not, but let me tell you how much we DON't want to. We want to spend that time and money on our son. We want to bring him home so bad we can taste it. It's all we dream about, think about, talk about, pray about. It's maddening.

As I sit here and work on our 3rd set of home study papers, my to-do list is long. I have to get fingerprints scheduled, medical clearance for the entire family, reference questionnaires for family/friends/Evan's teacher delivered in order to be completed, maps printed, employment verification letters, criminal and child abuse checks filed, income tax paperwork, and all this in addition to the pages of questions that still need answered. What kills us is that our lives HAVE NOT changed since 2009, when we started this process. Our home study is essentially the exact carbon copy of what it was in 2010 and 2011. Our status has not changed. Regardless, we have to pay the fees and complete the said paperwork in order to bring Jude home.

We are in anxious anticipation for the day Jude's status changes. His first birthday is one week from today. He will spend it in the orphanage he calls home, with the nannies who love him, but without a mommy or a daddy. He will not know the feel of cake icing between his little fingers nor silly hats and weird noise-makers. He will not know about his family who is celebrating his first birthday without him, an ocean away.

Jason and I have been on our knees more in the last 3 months than ever in our lives. We are crying out to God to change Jude's status. We cleaned out his room this weekend and have been praying through his room for his status to change. Every night we are holding hands as a family and praying for God to bring Jude home soon. We are asking God to show Himself in a big BOLD way in order to change Jude's status from ORPHAN to SON.

Please pray with us, family and friends. We know you are behind us. Thank you for being with us for so long now and for continuing to lift us up. There are days like today that it's not easy. Days like today remind me that sometimes one set of footprints is sufficient. Looking forward to good news soon.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.