Friday, December 19, 2008
November 16 came before we knew it and Daddy headed off to Atlanta for schooling. This has been a challenging five weeks for the whole family. I have been faced with everyday life without my partner, my lover, my friend and it has been so much harder than I ever expected. Let me stop for a moment and say that I have a whole new appreciation for those that find themselves as a single parent. I can see why our all-knowing God intended for there to be a father and a mother. I also was surprised to see just how I missed the companionship. The phone calls were many but I missed being able to speak face-to-face, and the simple things like the touch of his hand. I feel like I just didn’t work right, you know, like I was missing some part of me.
Eli also has struggled in his own way. Boys need their Daddy’s and my how Eli missed his Daddy. The first few days brought about the tears, especially around bath time and bed time. The tears then went away as Eli was assured that Daddy would continue to call him several times throughout the day and that Daddy would indeed come back home. Eli especially missed the playtime with Daddy. First on Eli’s agenda when Daddy gets home is to “wrastle”. I have been joking with Eli that I’m going to be the first to hug Daddy’s neck and Eli’s quick to respond that “no, I am”. We go back and forth as to who’s going to be first. I guess we’ll have to see who wins out but I have a feeling that there is going to be a massive wrestling match in the airport tomorrow morning.
As for Daddy, this has been a challenging time on many fronts. Not only has Daddy missed us greatly but this has been very mentally taxing on Daddy. All he has done for the last five weeks is go to school, study, eat, and sleep. Did I mention study? I know that Daddy is tired and worn out and so ready to come home. Let me just take a moment to brag on this Daddy of yours. Daddy studied so hard and ended up graduating the top of his class. Now this is something to be proud off considering there were guys sent home because they didn’t make the grade. Daddy takes his responsibility as provider very seriously and every test or quiz taken he gave his best for his family. That responsibility has been a very heavy load on Daddy’s shoulders and I’m so glad that he can let that load down tonight.
Finally, I have to acknowledge our incredible Heavenly Father who is our ultimate provider, protector, life giver, life sustainer and the list goes on but my favorite name for Him is Abba… our DADDY. Thank you Father, for carrying us through these last five weeks.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I saw God’s almighty hand at work up close and personal this weekend. Several weeks ago our small group from church said that they would like to come along beside us in helping raise the money needed to bring Emma home. We were touch by the fact that they love us so much they want to share this burden with us. Thus the concept of “Good Eats for Emma” was developed. As we were approaching the Thanksgiving season we thought about how we could provide homemade food items to our family, co-workers, and our neighbors. We thought that perhaps we could make their Thanksgiving a little easier. Thanks to Kyle and Katie we had a great recipe for homemade noodles and a tasty cheese ball; and for something sweet we could offer Ann’s mom’s delicious pumpkin bread. What a hit!
From the very beginning Matt and I prayed that the Lord would work and bless in our efforts. I prayed that God would give us a boldness to sell like we have never sold before. I also prayed that God would simply knock our socks off. Ladies and gentlemen let me tell you that God heard and He did indeed knock my socks off. Get ready for this; we sold 75 orders of noodle, which is 150 batches, 41 cheese balls, 41 large loaves of pumpkin bread and 15 small loaves of pumpkin bread. WOW!!!
Much work went on behind the scene to plan out how we were going to accomplish such a large task. With such large orders we realized that we had some challenges that we needed God’s help with. One challenge we faced was where in the world could we have enough space to dry out 150 batches of noodles. The key to the noodles is drying time. Well, God provided, through a relative of Jonathan and Ann, two large industrial rolling racks with large jelly roll pans. John and Sherry offered up their home for the noodle process and thus The Noodle Hut was established. (Again, sorry guys for getting flour everywhere.)
The big day quickly approached, Saturday, November 24. We all gathered at The Noodle Hut bright and early to begin the day. A little learning curve was needed but we all pitched in and by 1:30 we were off to the next location to complete the remaining task. Now here’s where another challenge came in; how can we possibly bake so many loaves of bread when there is an hour of cooking time and then there’s the cooling time before we can even package the bread. Again, the Lord heard our prayers and Ann’s mom so generously offered up her kitchen, which has one conventional oven and two convection ovens. So after leaving The Noodle Hut we proceeded to Nancy’s House of Breads (and cheese ball factory). The day continued to run fairly smooth and we wrapped up the cheese balls and most of the bread by around 6:30. Thanks again to Nancy, Jonathan and Ann for staying behind to finish the last few loaves of bread, thus allowing us with little ones to get them home and in to bed.
Finally, we are down to the last step in this cooking process and that would be the packaging of the noodles. So, on Sunday we headed back to The Noodle Hut to finish this gigantic task. We lay out all our supplies and pull off the first rack of noodles and our biggest fear is realized… the noodles are not dry. Oh no, what are we going to do. Our human nature kicks in and we start devising a plan on how we can fix this and making plans to come back the following day perhaps to do the packaging. Upon further inspection of all the racks we noticed some batches were dry and some were not, probably about half and half. We went ahead and started packaging the dried batches as our little minds raced for an answer to our problem. Finally, John spoke up and suggested we take this need to God. After all, we have seen God work through this whole process and nothing is too big or too small for God. By moving the racks to another location and removing some of the trays to allow for more air flow, it wasn’t long before we had a few more batches to bag. We would take a snack break, check noodles for dryness and then bag a few more batches and continue this process until we filled the very last bag. Even with this little glitch, or what could have been a big glitch, we were able to leave The Noodle Hut pretty much on schedule. Can I just say Yippee Jesus!!!
I know this is a rather lengthy account of the Good Eats for Emma endeavor but I want to record as many of the detail as I can so that I always remember exactly where God worked. God raised up this opportunity through a small group of tremendous friends and He worked in every step all along the way, from the sales, to supply contributions, to donations, to the food preparation, God was there. I want Him, Jehovah-Jireh, to receive all the honor and glory due.
My final prayer is that these items will go on to bless those who will receive them, those who invested in the life of an orphan.
To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
November 22, 1922 – September 29, 2008
My Dearest Baby Girl,
I’m writing to you today because I want to take this time to tell you about my grandma, your Great-Grandma Prince. Eli and I just recently got back from attending her funeral in Arkansas. It was a difficult trip to make, mostly do to the logistics of things, but it was a good trip too. I have so many great memories of the many trips I’ve made to Arkansas over my lifetime, going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house but the future trips will never be the same as both Grandma and Grandpa are now in heaven.
While there, many of the family had the opportunity to go back to their old farm house. I think we were all a bit surprised to see how the house seemed to have shrunk after all those years. Wow, were there ever memories that filled my mind. I have memories such as running around the yard chasing cousins. Then there was the time I slid down the slide and somehow cut my leg open on a piece of the metal and I’ll never forget Grandma pouring salt into my open leg. I still have the scare to show for it. One of my favorite childhood memories was of the summer I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. They reminded me that summer how important hard work really is and how it builds character. As I stood in the hot sun picking up chunks out of their fields, that’s right, not the garden but the fields. Even though they farmed a few hundred acres, I know I didn’t pick out every chunk from every single acre but it sure did seem like it and I especially didn’t realize at the time, that it was building my character. We worked hard that summer but we also had some real fun times too. You see Grandma was the craftiest grandma there ever was. She loved to sew, to paint and do all kinds of incredible things with her hands and I loved to be right there beside her, watching and participating however I could.
At Grandma’s funeral the pastor did something that I have never seen done at a funeral before and I loved it. He stood up and read Proverbs 31:10-31 and he challenged us to see how many of those same characteristics we have seen in Grandma’s life. I sat there in awe as he proceeded through the verses, I was listening to him describe my grandma perfectly. I felt like this part of the funeral service was planned, by God, just for me. You see I’ve always seen Proverb’s 31 as my life passage. This passage goes way back for me to when I was in high school and had to memorize this passage for my home economics class. My life desire is to be a Proverbs 31 woman and so this has been the passage of scripture that I use as a plumb-line for who I want to be. Interestingly enough I’ve only used Proverbs 31 as a plumb-line for myself. I’ve never before held this passage of scripture up against any of the other important women in my life.
I’ve since had the time to sit back down and re-read this familiar chapter from my Grandma’s own Bible and I see that not only is this exactly who my Grandma was but it is who my Mom is and it’s who I so desperately want to be.
Oh sweet Emma, I pray that you will grow up to be the virtuous woman that God longs for you to be. Also, I’m so sorry that you will never know Grandma Prince here on this earth and that there is one less virtuous woman for you to look up to but I pray that your life will be touched by many Proverbs 31 women as my life has been.
I love you forever and always,
Friday, September 12, 2008
Reading today gave us another opportunity to talk about how we will handle the fact that Emma was born in China but will be raised as an American citizen. We couldn’t possibly ignore the fact that she was born in China but we don’t want to be shoving down her throat Chinese things because she will be an American. On the one hand, if we were to avoid talking about the fact that she was born in China, the Chinese culture or even her life before she came into our family then we have in essence said that that period of her life wasn’t important, that somehow her life didn’t really began until she came to us. All of which is untrue. On the other hand, if we are constantly serving her rice and congee or if we were to have her room decked out in all things Chinese then we run the risk of constantly reminding her that she is “different”, which can be bothersome to adopted children who just want to belong.
We’ve decided that there is a balancing act here, one that we take very seriously. We want to honor her Chinese roots. We want to learn all we can about her birth country, their traditions and customs. When we do finally travel to China it’s not simply a vacation, it’s an opportunity to see this great land and take in the marvelous wonders of the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It is also my heart’s desire that when we go to China we will be able to visit the spot in which Emma was found and we pray that we can visit her orphanage. We want to take many pictures and document every single aspect of this part of her life, so that we can pass this along to her when she is older. My heart aches knowing there will be parts of her life story that she will never know and I want to be there for her as she tries to deal with this.
I want Emma to grow up confident and proud of who she is. However, the most important legacy that I want to leave Emma is that I want her to know who she can be “in Christ”. I want her to know that God formed her inward parts; He wove her together in her birthmother’s womb. I want her to know that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. That God saw her unformed substance; and in His book were written all the days that were ordained for her, when as yet there was not one of them (Psalms 139:13-16). I want her to know that there is redemption through Christ’s blood. I want her to know all about God’s grace in which He lavishes upon us so freely. I want Emma to know that God has a plan for her life. No matter how painful her past may be, I pray that Emma will not be bound by her past but allow Jesus to be Lord and Savior of her life. I pray that she will come to a full understanding of her identity in Christ and allow God to use her past for His glory. After all, God has allowed her to walk through this journey, it was no accident. God has a purpose!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The shortest gestation period, which is shared by three marsupials: the American opossum, the rare water opossum, and the eastern native cat of Australia. Now these very lucky mommas only have to wait 12 - 13 days. Next we can shift to the longest gestation period for a mammal and that will go to the African elephant. These poor mommas have to wait on average for 660 to a max of 760 days for their little bundles to arrive. I'm sure many of you women are thinking just how thankful you are that the gestation period for humans is only 280 days, give or take. Now let's take a little look at the gestation period for our little Emma Katriel, get ready to brace yourself... If we were to go by the date that we say is when God conceived in our hearts our little girl then we are on day 1,789 and if we were to go by our log-in-date, which is what China would go by, then we are only on day 846. Did you hear me right? 1,789 days and 846 days!
We have surely broken some sort of record for longest gestation period and in light of the recent Olympics I think that China should hand over one of their gold medals, but I'd settle for a far more precious metal than gold, I'd settle for a jewel, our Emma Katriel! In all seriousness, many times I do feel very large and over due but in all actuality I'm not late, nor will I ever be late because God has orchestrated this pregnancy and His timing is ALWAYS PERFECT, NEVER LATE! Resting in God's sovereignty is what allows me to persevere. And for all of you other mommas out there who have been so richly blessed to be called to this journey of adoption... keep pressing on!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I can’t really pin point a time that God planted the seed of adoption in my heart. I’m thinking several small seeds where planted, such as when the children from a Nicaraguan orphanage came to visit and perform at our church and then there were the various couples in our church who had adopted internationally and to be able to hear their “stories”. All I knew was that I had an interest in adopting at some point in my life. When my husband, Matt, and I met and started talking about marriage we spent hours talking about what we wanted for our future and we discovered that we both had a heart for adoption.
However, when I considered how adoption would fit in to our future, I wanted to have my biological children first and then adopt. Well, on July 28, 2003 Matt came home from work and was telling me that Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman were on Family Life Today talking about their adoption story. Matt proceeded to tell me that they would be on again the next day and that I really needed to listen to the program. I was very reluctant because I wasn’t interested in adoption at that point in time. I mean we still hadn’t had our biological children yet. I didn’t even want to go down that road because I think I was afraid that God was going to call me to adopt now and that wasn’t my plan. I could tell Matt was a little disappointed in my response.
I really had no plans on listening to the program but the next day at that exact time my mind was brought back to our conversation and I decided to tune in to Family Life Today. I listened to Steven Curtis and Mary Beth talk about their adoption story and they pointed out something that I had never heard before and that was how adoption is a beautiful picture of what God has done for us, as His children. As it says in I Timothy 2:6, “Christ Jesus, gave Himself as a ransom for all.” The reason He paid a ransom for us, is because in Ephesians we are called the adopted sons and daughters of God. Just as we believe we are bought with a ransom and adopted into the family of God it became a “how can we not adopt" decision. I’ll never forget sitting at my desk at work crying thinking “How can we not adopt”?
Part of the reason the Chapman’s were on FLT was to help promote an upcoming adoption seminar that was being put on by FLT throughout the country. We went online and found out the If You Were Mine workshop was coming to
As we headed for the workshop we decided that our prayer would be that God would somehow work to show us where He wanted us to adopt from. Throughout the day we were given opportunities to go off as a couple and work on a little project and pray together. Each time our prayer was the same, “God where is it that You want us to adopt from?” We knew in the afternoon there was going to be a breakout session where you could attend a meeting about domestic adoptions, foster care, Asia, Latin America, or other parts of the word but where were we suppose to go. We felt torn, should one of go to Asia and the other to Latin America or should we just go to Latin America since we didn’t meet the requirements for
I was still struggling in one area though. Remember, I wanted to have my biological children first but then settled for the idea of having just one biological child first, then adopt but again God continued to do a work in my heart the day of the seminar. On the way back to
Once we were back home we decided we would continue to learn all we could about adoption in general and about
In the meantime, I became pregnant. God granted me my desire to have a biological child first after all. He didn’t want to withhold any good from me; He just wanted me to say “yes” to Him. Many people then asked us about our plans for adopting, assuming we wouldn’t adopt since we could have children on our own. For us adoption was never a second option, if we couldn’t get pregnant, but it was about obeying a call God had placed on our lives. So we would just wait until after Eli was born and kind of get adjusted and then see where we stand.
God continued to prove Himself by working out the details that would allow us to meet the
So, the wait has become so hard for us especially since we don’t have any real idea of when we will be getting our referral. Our best understanding would be that we could expect to receive our referral around October, 2009 and we would travel about 8 weeks later but there are no guarantees.
We have such a longing in our hearts that it’s often painful but we can rest assured that God’s timing is perfect. We know that God has chosen Emma to be our daughter before the foundation of the world was laid and that He will bring her home in His way and in His own perfect timing.
Like I said this process hasn’t always been easy for us and at times it’s been down right hard and there have been times when the thought creped into my mind that said “Let’s just forget about this adoption, why don’t we just go ahead and have another biological child. It would be easier and it would be cheaper.” However, I’ve always come back around and realize that we can’t turn back; we have to be obedient to what God has called us to do. It’s not about what’s easy it’s about obedience. So we press on.
This journey has not only been about bringing Emma home but it’s also been about God’s desire to see our love and dependence upon Him grow. What a loving Father we have! I Peter 1: 6-8 says:
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do no see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Well, this cold December evening was very different and I don't think I was prepared for the emotional tole it would take on me. This time I had been waiting for our daughter for what I thought was a pretty long time and there was a connection of knowing this family. I began to sob as I witness them come down that hall. It was a bundle of various feelings. First of all, I was so happy for this couple because I could only imagine how completely whole they must be feeling. They were finally bringing home this little girl to their family in which they had waited and longed for. On the other hand, it reminded me just how my heart was breaking and just how much I longed to hold my precious one and bring her home to her forever family.
A few days later I received the most beautiful letter from a friend who had been at the airport that cold night. I think my pain must have been very evident to her that evening and in that letter she enclosed a copy of a poem entitled Wait. I hope it may encourage others as it has encouraged me many times.
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried. Quietly, patiently, lovingly, He replied. I pleaded, and I wept for a clue to my fate, and the Master so gently said, “Child, you must wait.” “Wait? You say wait?” my indignant reply. “Lord, I need answers, I need to know why”. Is you hand shortened? Or have you not heard? By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.
My future, and all to which I can relate hangs in balance, and you tell me “wait”? I’m needing a “yes”, a go-ahead sign, or even a “no”, to which I can resign.
And Lord, you have promised that if we believe, we need but to ask, and we shall receive. And Lord I’ve been asking and this is my cry: I’m weary of asking: I need a reply!
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate as my Master replied once again, “You must wait.” So I slumped in my chair; defeated and taut and grumbled to God; so I’m waiting, for what?
He seemed then to kneel and His eyes met with mine and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign. I could shake the heavens, darken the sun, raise the dead, cause the mountains to run.”
“All you see I could give, and pleased you would be. You would have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me. You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint; you’d not know the power that I give to the faint.”
“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair; you’d not learn to trust, just by knowing I’m there. You’d not know the joy of resting in Me, when darkness and silence was all you could see.
“You would never experience that fullness of love as the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove. You would know that I give, and I save, for a start, but you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.”
“The glow of My comfort late in the night; the faith that I give when you walk without sight; the depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask from an infinite God who makes what you have last.”
“And you never would know, should your pain quickly fee, what it means that ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’. “Yes, your dreams for that loved one o’ernight could come true, but the loss, if you lost what I’m doing in you.”
“So be silent, my child, and in time you will see that the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me. And though oft’ may My answers seem terribly late, My most precious answer of all…is still…wait.”
Monday, August 25, 2008
This is what you would see if you enter our home.
As the song goes:
We Will Remember
We will remember, we will remember,
We will remember the works of Your hands.
We will stop and give you praise.
For great is Your faithfulness.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
We believe in the Most High God. Based solely on His unfailing and unmerited love for us, He chose to adopt us as His children through the paying of a ransom. Jesus, God's very own son, became this ransom, and through Him we have been rescued and brought into the family of God.
We believe that God preordained adoption between parents and child to be a reflection of the spiritual adoption that we as believers have through Jesus Christ. So, as adoptive children of God we believe that adoption is God's perfect will for our family.
Believing this call for our lives, I Matt and I Shawna do joyfully surrender our lives in obedience to the call God has given to us. We also confirm that on this 11th day of October we conceived in our hearts a daughter.
So as I sit here and officially began this journaling journey I'm reminded why we have chosen to write down such personal thoughts and feelings. Our number one reason is so that we can forever capture as much of this journey to our daughter as we possibly can for our precious Emma. We want her to know how much we deeply love her and how we have laughed and cried along the way. We know she will have holes in her life story that she will never have the answers to but we want to show her there was another part of her story being written on the other side of the world. We want to someday point her to THE ONE who is writing her story.
Another reason we decided to begin journaling is simply for ourselves. I've talked about the fact that the road to Emma has been a journey and boy has it been a journey. A journey that began back in 2003 with a hope to adopt a baby girl from China. We have encountered many road blocks along the way and I have to be honest, at times I felt like some of the obstacles were way too big and thought we must turn back around. Thanks you Lord for carrying us through those obstacles. This journey has taught us so much about who God is and just how big He is. We have also learned more about His character. There have been mountain top praises and there have been many tears shed down in the valley but God has always been faithful and has sustained us. So just like we have studied in Joshua we want to identify and lay down these stones as a remembrance of what God has done for us.
Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. He said to the sons of Israel, "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, 'What are these stones?' then you shall inform your children, saying, 'Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.' "For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever." ~ Joshua 4:20-24
Our final reason to journal is simply to be a blessing to others. We cannot describe how we have been blessed by reading the journals of Godly couples around the country. God has used their journals to encourage us when we were down and to remind us what a big God our God is. We have also been challenged to go deeper in our prayer life as we pray for Emma. We have been ministered to so much and our prayer is that God would use our journal to minister to others and that He receive all the glory and honor due!!! Thank you God for choosing us to go on this journey.