Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lord, I Give Myself

I can't get this song out of my head today. If you don't know it you can google it and listen through LaLa or something.

It is written by Darlene Zschech.

Lord I give myself
I trust in You mighty God
My Saviour
And Your mercy and love
Overflows and my soul rejoices
Lord show me Your ways
Guide my steps
Lead me to Your righteousness
And the light of Your love
Takes my fear away
'Cause I know You walk before me
Oh my shepherd
You let me rest in Your arms
You comfort me
And everywhere that I go
I'm not alone
Mighty God
I know You're with me

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Husband, My Hero

People have said, "I don't know how you can be so patient in this process. I don't know if I could do it." Well, you don't live with me. Alex does. He weathers the storm of adoption fury. He walks with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some days are not so pretty. Yesterday was not so pretty. I was fighting, battling for the peace of Christ to rule all morning and unfortunately unleashed some of my wrath on Alex when he came home for lunch.

This morning we had a chance to debrief about yesterdays roller coaster ride. I am thankful for Alex. He is a mirror for me and a means of grace. We are so different. We are good for each other.

Love in the true definition is not easy for selfish people on any given day. When we go through stress how will we react? We can either harden our hearts and become more rigid which leads to distance and breaking. Or, we can stretch and grow and our love for the other person becomes more robust. I think both paths are painful. But, one path is fruitful and ends in renewed love. The other leads to destruction over time.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Thanks for loving me, Alex. I want to love you better and more.

Please pray for Alex and I to love each other and not to only think of ourselves and our own point of view. Pray that we will stretch and grow and love more. Pray that God will use the stress of this wait to bring us closer together and that the enemy will not get a foothold and divide us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Labor of Love

This process is very stretching. Duh!

I feel so small and helpless. We are at the mercy of the Taiwanese government and their pace. However, everything is in God's control. All of our days are written in His book before one of them comes to be. He turns the king's heart like water in His hand. God ways are higher than mine. His thoughts are higher than mine. If I can just keep my mind focused on Him then I am all-right.

Child birth hurts. Adoption hurts too. It is totally different but painful none the less. I keep hanging on to what a friend encouraged me with while we were waiting to see Maren's face. She said this is your labor. This is God's prep for you to care for a baby you have never met. The act of love and bonding has already begun. By the time she is home we will have been through a lot. We are very emotionally involved.

I think some of what is so hard is the distance. It is hard to "miss out" on her developmental milestones and physical changes. And, it is hard not knowing if she is sick or well. And, it is hard not knowing if the end is a month a way or 4 more months away. It is hard not knowing if you will hit a major glitch like rejection by the judge, AIT, or some other unknown factor. You just want closure and it comes in God's timing. It is a journey of faith.

Here's how you can pray for us now:

1. Pray for us to eat God's grace in the unknowns.
2. Pray that the social worker will complete Maren's mom's home-study and the home-study with His Hands Taiwan in a timely fashion. Pray that they will write the report and submit it in a timely fashion.
3. Pray that we will have favor with the judge and that the 1st and 2nd decrees will come quickly.

If things move absolutely as quick as possible we could travel to Taiwan to get Maren in a month. If things move more slowly then it will be up to 4 more months until we travel. We have no idea.

I have been following the adoption journeys of 3 His Hands babies since the summer (July and August). None of them are home yet. All three of them are really close but they still wait. I want to be realistic in my thinking. I am praying for warp speed but trying to prepare myself emotionally for the long haul. Please pray with me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It Might Be Hope

The past 2 days the song "It Might be Hope" has been on replay literally and figuratively. It is a Sara Groves song. I love it. I love the melody. I love the words. I love the feeling I have when I sing along at the top of my lungs in harmony with Sara. And, I love the hope.

With the Government offices about to re-open following the Chinese New Year my excitement at the conclusion of last week was growing. Finally new hope that we could begin to make progress with the paper work. The excitement climaxed today when I opened my inbox to discover that we have a court date. I really had pretty much given up on even receiving the date until late this week or next week since the offices are just now starting to function.

O.k., so here is what needs to happen to bring Maren home. There still is a lot.

We need a home-study with a Taiwanese social worker to be completed on Maren.
We need a home-study with a Taiwanese social worker to be completed on Maren's mom.
We need the judge to issue a 1st decree and then a 2nd decree. Following the 2nd decree we will be allowed to travel.
Maren will have an adoption physical.
Maren will need a passport photo.

All of these things will take place some where between 4 weeks and 4 months following our court date. We ask you for your prayers and we appreciate them. We could travel at the earliest end of March/beginning of April or it could be end of June/beginning of July.

Maren's mom will be going to court with the missionaries who are administrating our adoption. Please pray for her. I cannot imagine what this chapter of her life story feels like. It must be one of the darkest and most painful. I am sure she wishes that she could go back and do some big time editing. Thankfully, God is the one writing her story. I know that His love never ends. I know His love is new every morning and so there is hope. I know that her pain will not be wasted and He has the power to heal.

Lamentations 3:22-24
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.

Psalm 137:3
He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

"You've been here, for a long, long time. But, hope has a way of turning it's face to you just when you least expect it. Walk in a room, look out a window, and something there leaves you breathless. You say to yourself, "it's been a while since I felt this and it feels like it might be hope."-Sara Groves (It Might be Hope)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Porters, dear North Central University and Sudan field friends, came to visit this weekend. We haven't been together in 7 years! Their 3rd baby, Riley, was born on November 4, 2009. It was a happy occasion to catch up, meet him, and share in joy of Charles and Tahnya's growing family. God has done a lot and we are celebrating!

I can't believe how long it has been since I have had that much time with a new baby. Time quickly passes and you forget what those special fleeting early days are like. I held him. I fed him. I burped him. He spit up on me. :) I rocked him. I watched him sleep in my arms. He smiled and even laughed when I talked to him. It was delightful and soothing. I soaked him in and found my thoughts drifting to a special little baby girl in Taiwan. Maren was born 11 days after Riley. I think they must be similar in size. And, I wonder what she is going to feel like in my arms.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I am so thankful it is Friday! It is even Saturday (midnight) right now in Taiwan. Yipee! On Monday (Sunday night Stateside) the government offices will re-open. Bet the Taiwanese are sad to see their holiday vacation go. I am sorry for them. But, I am thrilled that soon we should be able to make some progress with getting our little Meg home.

We are not the only adoptive family rejoicing at the re-opening of the offices.

3 families are waiting to travel soon but they each need some things to happen first. Please pray the Smiths, Bachmans, and Farmers will have everything they need to travel and bring home their children soon.

Also, the Raboin familiy waits for a court date to bring home their little sweetie.

If we come to mind please pray!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Because Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Every time I have been pregnant people have asked awkward questions that have shocked and stung me. Here is a sampling of some zingers:

"You do know how this happens, don't you?"

"Was this pregnancy planned?"

"Are you sure that you're not having twins? My sister-in-law is pregnant and she is further along than you and she's a lot smaller than you."

"Are you sure you're not carrying multiples?"

"When are you due? Do you think you're going to make it? You look so uncomfortable."

Since we have made the decision to adopt Maren, our 5th child, a few people have asked, "5 children, how in the world are you going to afford this?" I group this question with the list of questions above not because of content but because of tone. The 2 people who have asked this have asked with a tone which (to me) sounds like disdain and disapproval of our decision.

I would like to address this question here because I have a hunch others maybe wondering the same thing. I will start by saying we really believe the Lord planted the dream of adoption in our hearts. It grew in our hearts since 1996. We believe we are destined to bring Maren into our family. And, the timing of our story is miraculous. We treasure what God has done and is doing! Since we believe adopting Maren is something that we are called to do and not something that we schemed we will rely on God as we wait to bring her home and when she is finally home and we roll up our sleeves to begin the task of parenting her. Bringing Maren into our home is a great joy and a dream fulfilled!

Alex read or watched something last year and he shared it with me. The gist of what he heard was that at the end of people's lives when they look back they don't wish for more stuff or that they would've spent more time at work. They wish they would've taken more time to love the people most important in their lives and that they would've risked more to follow the dreams of their hearts.

1. God is our provider. We believe in the God of the Bible who teaches us that He will provide for our needs. We stand on Matthew 6:25-34. We believe that we will have what we need for each day that we need it. So first, we plan to ask our Father in heaven to take care of us and we believe that He will. He has provided for our family this far and do not expect Him to abandon us in the days ahead.

2. We view children as a reward. The pslams directly teach that children are a gift or a reward from God. And, they are a blessing. They are not a liability. They are not a drudgery. We are thrilled that our home is full and loud. We delight in the thought of how many grandchildren and great grandchildren we will have. I am so happy that I will not be lonely in my old age. I heard a statistic a few years ago that less than .03% of Americans have 7 or more children. I'll let you in on my little secret, ever since that day part of me has wanted to reach for 7 or more.

I enjoy the differences of my children and their personalities, abilities, interests, and looks. I enjoy looking at them and seeing their familial similarities as well. I love that they are "Brodines". It has been so much fun! Who knows who Adalynne, Joseph, Eleanor, Samuel, and Maren will become? I cannot wait to find out and that's PRICELESS.

3. We have lived in a 3rd world country and we recognize that living in America makes us a privileged and elite people. I don't have a statistic but I have read that we are in the top 30% of the world just by living in this country. Calling 9-1-1 is a privilege. Central heat and air conditioning is a privilege. Alex and I are both overweight, another privilege. We have never been hungry or not eaten (unless by choice) for 1 day or even 1 meal. Americans have the best medical and dental care in the world. Do people even realize what we have in this country? Owning a car is a privilege (we have 2). My house helper in Sudan only owned 3 sets of clothes. Even living on 1 income you should look into my drawers and closets. They are overflowing. We have multiple pairs of shoes. Chocolate chip cookies are a privilege not a necessity. Christmas gifts are a privilege. Toys are a privilege. Computers are a privilege. Come on Americans! I am not even talking about name brands yet. The thought of what people believe we need is sickening. The middle class in Sudan brings home about $60 a month. A lot of children available for adoption are coming out of third world countries so give me a break, please. I think American families, even lower income ones, have a lot to share.

4. Our God cares about the fatherless. He said in James, "True religion is this, to care for the widows and orphans in their affliction." There are crowded orphanages in China where toddlers cannot toddle or talk because no one is there to help them learn. There may be 30 infants to 2 orphanage workers. Babies who should be sitting up, can't. Babies who should cry when they need something, don't because no one comes when they do. They have learned to conserve their energy and live existences with out a lot of love and stimulation. They are underweight and not thriving. The orphanage workers do their best but they are low on funding and only have 2 arms and probably are on the brink of exhaustion. Alex and I have heard the plight of orphans and we believe we can share our love and our bodies and our home with someone who needs it. This is one of the most thrilling things of my life. I can't wait and I believe I would do it again and again and again if the Lord opened the door.

5. Our children will not have the finest of possessions but I pray Isaiah 44:3-5 over my family. And, I pray that each of my children will have eternal life and that our descendants will be called "THE LORD's". Living a life that people middle and upper class America would label "poor" is an opportunity to display the wealth we have in Christ. Heaven holds our true wealth and having many children on less money forces me to look at God in Heaven and want my treasure there. What good is it if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? I do not want my hope to be here and rooted in my possessions. This is not always easy for me but I believe in the bottom of my heart it is the better thing.

I have asked myself "What are we doing?" I will not be able to buy her everything that I would like. So, is this a good idea? We would have more with less people.

I am in the prime of my mothering. I understanding the stages of my children's development from first hand experience. Sleepless nights are hard but they don't get me down the way they did my first time around. I am "broken in". I know what to expect. I am not perfect but weathered. I read to them. I sing to them. I am home with them. And, I have Jesus. This reality trumps all others.

7. It is not so much what you have but how you manage it. There are people with huge salaries and even larger debts because they choose to live above their means. The human heart is a desire factory and we never get "enough". We always want just a little bit more.

8. Since becoming parents we delight more in God's grace. We are completely overwhelmed at our personal poverty in parenting. But, because of this incredible lack we have tasted the Lord's grace and found it to be sufficient for our needs. I love the dependence on the Lord that I have experienced so far and look forward to more grace as we learn to parent Maren. Mothering drives me to God's word and my knees and that is a good thing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Refreshment for Nannies

Please join us in praying for Glenda, Mary Joy, Xiao Mei, Jenna, and Rae Fang. It is Chinese New Year! It is the most important holiday of the year in Taiwan. And, the nannies have the week off for some much needed R & R. All of the babies from the House of Hope are staying with families who have volunteered to care for them for a week while the nannies get a much needed break. Please pray that the Lord will give them rest and that they will be refreshed emotionally and spiritually. Pray that God will bless them. They have such an important job! We are so grateful for all that they do for Maren. It is hard work caring for babies round the clock.

Also, please pray for Maren this week. I hope that she is doing well outside of her familiar routine in the House of Hope. I know it is best to give the nannies a break and I worry about my daughter in an unknown environment with unfamiliar people (I am sure that they are wonderful and are enjoying her). She has been through a lot in her little life already and I am so tender and imagine what she may be feeling. I hope she is peaceful and not fearful. It is hard to be half way around the world and so not a part of her day to day life. I want to take over and care for her soon.

I doubt that we will hear about a court date until next week. With the Chinese New Year many offices are shut down this week for a holiday break. Please continue to pray that God will bless us and give us favor in the court system.

Thank you so much for walking through this process with us. Thank you for all your love and support! We are so blessed by our amazing friends and family. We really do need you!

Phillipians 4:5-7 The Lord is near! Be anxious for nothing. But, in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Father, thank you for your amazing timing in our adoption story. Thank you for your provision this far. Thank you for creating Maren and sharing her with us. Thank you for setting her into our family. We ask for your help in getting her home. Please order our steps and the timing as you know best. Please bring her home soon. And, watch over her while we wait. Bless her. Protect her. Prepare her to know you. Prepare her to love us. Please satisfy her all of her days with your unfailing love. Thank you that you are the Father to the fatherless. You are the defender of orphans. Thank you for your peace that passes understanding. We trust you and look to you, Father.

Monday, February 15, 2010

3 Months and Growing

It is 10:10 p.m. on February 15, 2010 in Taiwan and February 15, 2010 at 8:10 a.m. here in Nebraska. Maren is 3 months young today! I think about her so much. And, hope the Lord will unite our whole family soon. Please continue to pray that we will receive our court date soon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Year of the Tiger

It is after 6 a.m. in Taiwan which means that Chinese New Year has started (and Valentine's Day as well). I have no idea what Chinese New Year is really like. Although, I did do a little reading on Wikipedia yesterday. I am curious and interested to learn more about it in the years to come. It seems to be rooted in celebrating ancestors and eating great food. We hope to celebrate Maren's heritage as she grows. Going to have to learn some things though!

A friend of mine told me that the Taiwanese believe it is bad luck to start things just before Chinese New Year. It is good luck to move forward with plans and events after. So, I have been thinking maybe this is why we have not received our court date yet. Maybe the people in the government offices are hoping for good luck so they are waiting to send us our court date until after the New Year celebrations. I hope and pray that it will be soon.

I wonder what today will be like for Maren in the House of Hope? I wish that I could teleport myself, Alex, and the kids and we could give our little cherub some hugs, kisses, and cuddles. She looks so kissable. And, it would be awesome fun to learn about New Year traditions in person with the ones who know it best.

We had a little family Valentine's party last night. We made our own calzones and cut out heart sugar cookies with frosting and strawberries. We turned off the lights and used candlelight. It was so fun! The only thing missing was you, Maren!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Mother I Deeply Admire

Noel Piper has a blog that I enjoy following. She is a pastor's wife and a mother of 5 children, 4 sons and 1 adopted daughter. I hope I will be a sage like Noel. Please visit her blog. You will benefit hearing of her love for God, her family, and life.

I Trust You

Psalm 61:1 & 2
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
For you have been my refuge under the shelter of your wings!

Excerpts from Psalm 62

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
My mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's My Hurry?

Today I connected with a mom who has just recently had a baby. She said the last month of pregnancy all she could think about was getting the baby here and being finished with the pregnancy. Now the baby is here. Caring for her beloved newborn is intense. She wonders why we she was so impatient. Listening to her I could really relate and see myself. Bringing Maren home is consuming. I long for her and think about her so much through out the day. I want this adoption final. I want the wait finished and behind me. I am sure that after Maren is home it is going to be a big transition. There are going to be sleepless nights, diapers, less free time. What's my hurry? I don't know but I think I'm normal and I think it is part of God's preparation to love this new precious addition. And, I am forced to pray, trust, and lean on Jesus in a completely new way while I'm waiting.

Please pray that we will receive our court date soon. And, please pray that God will prepare me to love Maren and help me fully love Alex, Adalynne, Joseph, Eleanor, and Samuel while I'm waiting. I want to give Maren everything she needs and I'm not going to be perfect. That has always bothered me. I want to be the perfect mom.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Don't Know Much and He Knows All!

Proverbs 3: 5 & 6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."

Maren, we read this at dinner tonight. And, I really felt like the Lord was whispering to me, assuring me that He knows just the right time for us to be together. And, He doesn't want me to look at what I know because I am small and I don't know much. :) His timing in leading us to His Hands Taiwan was so perfect and He did it. It is awesome. When I look back on my life and what He has done, I don't know why I ever question Him. I guess this is the way of sinners.

We have a 8 1/2 by 11 picture of you right by the table where we eat. We have even joked about bringing up our high chair and taping your picture in it just for fun! Maybe your family is crazy! We look at your picture and "oo and ah" many times a day and dream of holding you. We are all very excited. And, we look forward to the day that the Lord says it's time. We know His timing will be perfect.

Proverbs 16:9, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Praise you, Lord. Thank you for your word.