November 11th

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My dearest Bentley,

Do you know what today is? Today is your 3rd birthday. On this day, 3 years ago, your beautiful biological mother labored in pain to bring you into our world. I don’t know how long she was in labor. I don’t even know if you were born in a hospital… But I do know this: your first Mommy introduced you into this incredibly big, beautiful, and sometimes scary world. For this I am thankful.

We have never met. We don’t know how it feels to hug each other. We don’t know how we will interact with each other. We don’t know how our hands feel wrapped around each other.

I don’t know if you even like to be hugged. I don’t know if you have any nicknames. I don’t know your favorite color, food, song, story, or even your favorite time of year. I don’t know what makes you laugh and I don’t know what makes you cry – even worse, I don’t know what comforts you or if you get comforted…

I do, however, know the depth of emotions you carry in your dark brown eyes. I know that your hands are adorably squeezable and as cute as they come. And I know that in this past year you have grown so much…

We were hoping to have you home by your birthday. I dreamt of being able to bake you a cake and having balloons floating through the house. I often lingered on the thought that, more than anything, I would hug you and hold you close on your birthday. I joked that if I could just hold you on your birthday, you might pop because I would squeeze you so tight to my chest. I thought about the fun superhero cape you might be running through the house in, and the laughter that would burst from your very full belly…

Instead, my heart aches more than I think it ever has before. I miss you even though I have never met you. And I wish I could give you all of the love in the world. I want you to know how passionately our God loves you. I want you to understand that His heart is fighting fiercely for you in ways that we may never see or understand. I want you to know you have a little sister who already adores you – she kisses your picture multiple times a day! And your daddy?? He cannot wait to teach you how to shoot a bow and arrow, to wrestle with you, to have Nerf gun wars and to tuck you in tight at night. I want you to know the depth of our love for you – even though you may not accept or grasp it for a very long time.

I wonder what you are doing today? Do you even know it’s your birthday? I wonder if you were able to play a little extra today, or if your new older brother, Easton, stuck extra close to you?? I wonder how God held you today? Because I know He did.

I wasn’t able to buy any balloons for your birthday today, it was almost to difficult to bare. I couldn’t bring myself to buy you any gifts – what if, by the time you come home, they aren’t the right size or age for you? And that cake I was planning to get – I just couldn’t do it. But I did think about you all day. I prayed for you as often as I could…

And tonight, as you are sleeping, I pray that you have gentle and sweet dreams. Sweet kisses from Jesus that make you feel at home in His arms… And I pray that you know how high, how deep, and how strong our God’s love is for you!

My dearest Bentley, we love you more than words can say. I hope you had a day filled with more blessings than you have ever known!

Love,

Mommy, Daddy & Charlie

Aside

Sorry I haven’t written in a little bit. My last post was on letting go and resting in God’s peace and strength while going through this adoption – so I have been. And it hasn’t always been easy… BUT can I just say that when I actually do rest and let go, this process becomes even more beautiful and I am seeing more and more of God in each step! It is wonderful!

Enough of that though. I actually have something that I have been sitting on and processing through. This is something that you can pray about for us, and when I say pray I mean pray A LOT and HARD.

Two weekends ago Caleb and I went to the ranch for opening season. Caleb and his dad were going hunting and were as excited as could be! During this time, Charlie and I had plans to go into Yellowstone National Park with a friend on Saturday and then we were going to rest and play all day on Sunday.

Friday night after the guys had gone out to scope out (I don’t know hunting terms so please forgive me) the deer and elk, I had chili and cornbread ready for dinner. We sat and ate. I had one cider beer (it was SO yummy). And then it hit me. I was SO unbelievably exhausted. And nauseous. And feeling drunk. (Mind you, I don’t drink to get drunk and I don’t know the last time I felt this way. AND it was only one CIDER beer, which is hardly a beer anyway.) So I went to bed.

The next morning Caleb woke up at 6am to get ready to head out to hunt with his dad. I tried to go back to sleep after his alarm went off but I couldn’t… I just wanted to vomit. All I could think was that I would be stuck at a home that we don’t live at, with a toddler (who had recently become extra clingy), without medicine and without help. My sweet and loving husband offered to hang back but I knew that would NOT be an option if we wanted all sorts of wild game this coming year… so I sent him on his way and went to lay back down and rest until Charlie would wake up (typically at 7).

At 8am Charlie woke up – praise God! I still felt this overwhelming dread that I had the stomach flu as my stomach was cramping, and I kept running to the bathroom feeling like I was going to vomit. However, I started to feel better (still nauseous but not sick) so we decided to meet up with a friend and her incredible service dog and go into Yellowstone.

The whole day I was nauseous. When we got home that night Charlie went to bed immediately and I laid in a recliner feeling hungover, exhausted, nauseous and like I wasn’t going to make it through the night.

Fast forward to the next day. Caleb and his dad decided to only go hunting in the morning because I was clearly sick. When Caleb came back we packed up and drove home. When we arrived at home Caleb and our dear sweet friend/manager of the coffee shop/sister/dog watcher kept asking if I was pregnant.

“I am NOT pregnant!!” I said.

This didn’t stop them from making it clear I needed to check – so I did. And I wasn’t. The end.

Okay maybe not the end. I continued to feel sick.

Tuesday, Caleb had food poisoning, Charlie was sick, and I was still sick. So that was it! I had the flu!! YES!

Wednesday was date night and we were all healthy again. So, Caleb and I decided to go to Trivia night with some friends at a local bar SO I got this sinking feeling that I should double check one last time to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. After all, I was going to have a beer.

So I checked. And there it was. A faint line.

I started to panic.

I cried.

I hyperventilated.

I raced over to a friend’s home to see if faint was still positive. It was.

So there you have it folks, we are having a baby! And we are due July 12th, 2014! And we are still adopting 2 boys from the DRC!

Yes, you added right, next year we will go from having 1 kid to having 4!! Newborn – 7 years old!!! So prayers are coveted.

How are we doing?? Well, after 3 days of panicking (just ask my sweet adoptive group, my gentle and patient and CALM husband, and a few of my friends), we are actually very excited! I cannot wait to be a mom of 4 kids! Can you believe it?? I have a God who knows my heart so much better than I do, that He provides our family with some of our deepest longings!!

Our God is way bigger than we are. He knows what is best for us. He loves us more than we could ever love ourselves. He honors the dreams of those who love and follow after Him (not that I am great at that).

I keep singing that new Matt Maher song “Lord I Need You” because it is SO true. I need Him to get through this. Not because this is bad in any way shape or form, but because I know I can barely make it through being a wife and mom when I am not leaning fully on Him. So how do I even begin to think that I will be able to be a wife and a mom to 4 without Him. I won’t be able to. And I am proud of the fact that I need Him so badly!

Here is that incredible song that I now I sing constantly through out my days:

As you pray for our family and this incredible journey God is blessing us to be on please pray for our boys’ health! Pray for our baby’s health! Pray that we would continue to cling to God with everything we are and everything we have!!

And I will be praying for you. I will pray that God will fulfill your deepest longings and desires. I will pray that you will come to the realization that you need Him to get through your day. And I will pray that you will passionately run towards Him when any blessing or trial come into your life!

Until Next Time,

Laura

This Crazy Life We Live

Let it go.

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Almost two weeks ago the DRC suspended all exit letters to leave the DRC and bring adoptees home to their families. That day was hard – very hard, in fact! I was moody, I was exhausted, I was feeling like the odds were against us yet again. And honestly, I think that’s the point.

Sometimes I think God brings us to the end of ourselves – the end of difficult decisions – to make us realize we can’t do it on our own. As much as we may want to control the situations around us or what is happening in our lives we just can’t.

I can’t make my daughter be perfect.

I can’t make my husband’s day go well.

I can’t make our government function the way that I think it should.

I can’t make my boys come home.

I just can’t.

Not because I don’t want to, not because I won’t try to, just because I can’t.

I cannot control everything. And when I come to a point in my life where I can admit that, I think God has me right where He wants me… Do you want to know why?? (If you don’t, I am going to tell you either way so hold on tight!!)

I think when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of Him. When we are willing to drop to our knees and say, “God, I just can’t”, He responds with, “When you are weak, I am strong.” And when we feel like we just can’t keep doing what we are doing – we just can’t keep running the race, He comes in and carries us. When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of Him.

I had heard people say this before and I have (in my “good christian girl” thought process) agreed full heartedly. In other words, I knew in my head but not in my heart… I hadn’t, in the depths of my soul, fully experienced how Sovereign God’s plan and timing was.  But the past few months I heard this faint whisper “let it go”.

So I would continue on with my life full speed.

“let it go…”

So I would race toward whatever wanted to accomplish.

“let it go…”

So I would scream “WHY, GOD?!?! WHY?!!”

“let it go…….”

 

 

The one day, I was in my quiet time and I read:

“When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,

And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,

Still I hear that gentle whisper ever pleading, God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.” (Streams in the Desert, anonymous)

 

Then I heard “that gentle whisper ever pleading”, “let it go……..”

And every day there after until I actually obeyed, my time with the Lord whispered, “My daughter, let it go.”

 

So finally, I did.

And guess what? When I came to the end of myself, I was led to the beginning of my God. I was led to His feet. I was led to his peace. I was led to his comfort and grace.

 

As I sit here right now talking to each of you (for I truly feel as if we are sitting across from each other chatting with coffees in hand), I know that God is fighting for us. I know HE is working it all out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). And I can honestly say that I trust that my God is greater than even the biggest details in my life.

Besides that, I know that God loves me more than I could love myself. I know that God loves my husband more than I could ever love him. I know that God loves Charlie, Easton and Bentley more than I could ever love them. And I love all of them a lot. And even better? He wants AND knows what is best for my whole family. So, why shouldn’t I let it go?

 

So can I ask?? Is there anything that God has been whispering to you lately? Has He been in your ear gently saying “let it go”? Or is whispering “I’ve got this, my child”? Or maybe on the other end he is saying loudly, “JUMP! I won’t let you fall, trust me!!”

Because after all, He does have it taken care of, and He will catch you… and if anything, He will be carrying you.

 

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9 & 10

 

Let’s get together again soon and chat, okay? I really enjoyed it!

Laura

 

Prayer requests:

Please pray that I would rest completely in the Lord and continue to Let it go. Also pray for our boys health and safety in the DRC. Finally, pray that Caleb and I would embrace and celebrate the time that we have left as just a  little family of 3. Pray that the DRC government would work hard to bring home our Pastor, his wife, and their 4 beautiful daughters… Also pray for their 8 kids that are at home, that God would comfort them and bring them closer together while their family is separated.

 

The truth.

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You know the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”? There is a woman (played by Jennifer Lopez) in there who isn’t able to have biological kids so she and her husband decide to adopt from Ethiopia. The movie makes adoption seem like the easiest process and as though it should happen within a couple of days, maybe even a month. And in the end she goes to Ethiopia to pick up her (very healthy and chubby) looking baby. When she goes to pick up her baby they have this BEAUTIFUL “handing over ceremony” that every single child is a baby, and every single baby has its own personal caretaker. Beautiful, huh?

I mean, so beautiful that it makes you want to drop everything and adopt, right?

Because it is so EASY!

And you wonder why nobody has told you about the ease and beauty of traveling to another country to adopt your child/children…

……… cue the crickets……..

We never went into adopting because I thought it would be easy.  In fact, we knew it would be one of the most difficult things that we would ever do. However, I don’t think I realized how difficult it really would be.

We knew that it is a beautiful picture of how we are adopted in Christ. We knew that God has called Caleb and I to care for the orphans and widows in this way. We knew that it would be a long process. We knew that we wanted to “give back”. We knew we wanted more kids. We knew we didn’t want to get pregnant again.

So we did research: what is the easiest country to adopt from? The Democratic Republic of Congo. What country has the shortest wait time? The DRC. What country would accept that Caleb and I haven’t been married for 5 years yet (a common requirement for international adoption)? The DRC. What country will we know other families, from Bozeman, who are adopting from there? The DRC.

The answer seemed easy, we would adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their adoption process from start to finish was supposedly 9-10 months. Their rules were a little more lax. They often made exceptions to the rules if you were deemed a “suitable family”. And we knew quite a few people who were in process to adopt from here…

Easy enough, right?

Well, we are about to start month 15 of waiting to bring our boys home. We don’t get communicated to about what is going on. The rules are constantly changing about what they do or do not require. What was supposed to be an easily done process has become a very difficult and confusing process that doesn’t seem to know up from down or left from right.

I’m telling you all of this because the picture that the world paints of adoption is not accurate. It is not easy. It is not “perfectly beautiful”. And honestly, at times it makes you want to yell at the top of your lungs that you are finished…

I’m not writing this out of desperation…

Okay, let me try that again (honestly this time)…

I AM WRITING THIS OUT OF DESPERATION.

There.

Adoption is something that comes with many tears. So many tears that we often joke that there must be some sort of “adoption hormone” that causes us to be higher strung emotionally and crazier that normal.

In fact, I stopped blogging because I didn’t want my crazy to show…

So much for that, right??? Because let’s be completely real for a moment, we need real in our lives. We need real so that we can function. We need real so that we all know we are not alone. And we need real so that we know that we are all a little crazy at the heart of it (can I get an “Amen”?!).

So, before I write my next bit of “real”, let me say, this is in no way something that I am upset with any of you about. These truths are written so that you can understand a little bit of what adoption has been like.

Okay, here we go:

1.) Adoption has made me absent minded. 

Trust me when I say that I don’t like feeling like I don’t know where I left my brain. Sometimes I forget appointments (yes, even if I write them down and have a dozen reminders on my phone). Sometimes I lose my keys… I found them under the bathroom sink the other day (It wasn’t even baby girl’s fault, it was a child safety locked cabinet). Sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes I forget about feeding Charlie (until she gets in my face and screams for about 10 minutes). Sometimes I don’t call, email, text or Facebook people back. And the list goes on. And no, it isn’t because I’m busy – which I am – it is because I have misplaced my brain so I can fill it with forms and documents from the adoption.

2.) Adoption makes me want to  hide.

It isn’t that I am depressed. It isn’t that I don’t like my friends. It isn’t that I don’t want to be social. I do… sometimes. It is just that When you are adopting you get so exhausted that you don’t want to have to be around other people. You don’t want to have to answer more questions. You don’t want to have to act excited about the adoption process because, honestly, right now you aren’t. You don’t even want to have to pretend to be engaged in the small talk. It takes too much energy, and quite frankly, when your heart is split in half between two parts of the world it takes all of your energy to think or talk about anything else.

3.) Adoption is messy.

That’s all I can really say on that. Just because there are forms and applications and agencies to get some of the work done does NOT mean that it is a simple, “tie a ribbon around it” process. And the messiness doesn’t end when you are on the plane heading home, it continues because now you have two kids who don’t speak your language, and need to attach to you after being used to taking care of themselves. It is hard. It is messy.

4.) Adoption hurts.

Again, your heart is split in two. And the part of your heart that is in the other country is often times, malnourished, ignored, abused, brokenhearted, alone and literally having to be “the least of these”. How do you reconcile this? It is nearly impossible.

BUT there is one more thing that adoption is:

5.) Adoption is beautiful.

Not the beautiful in the way that the world describes it – no, it is beautiful in the way that the Bible describes it: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)  When I think about all of the tears that have come from this process, or all of the questions about who God is in this, I often forget to think about how hard the process was for Our God in adopting us. Let’s face it, it wasn’t easy. He had to die for us. It wasn’t a neat little package wrapped with a bow. He was tempted, He was tried, He was crucified all so that He could adopt us – you and me both – into HIS Kingdom. I have learned so much more about adoption in Christ from the trials and the heartache of this process than from anything else… “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

Adoption sucks.

Adoption hurts.

Adoption makes you question everything you believe.

BUT

Adoption also heals.

So why are we still adopting if it hurts? Because God has called Caleb and I to this.

Would I suggest adoption to anyone else??? Wholeheartedly, yes!! But in doing so I would say, make sure that you understand that it isn’t easy. It will never be easy. In fact, I could bet that it is the most difficult thing you will decide to do.

I would also say that there is healing for your heart and your kids’ hearts in seeing your adoption into God’s family through His eyes. And those trails and difficulties that bring that healing?? I hear that it’s worth it ;)

Until next time,

Laura

[All that being said, we have some prayer requests: Please pray that our adoption process starts moving forward. We have been at a stand still for 3 months now. Please pray for all of the people you know who are adopting, they are fighting a hard, trying, exhausting battle that sometimes seems to have no end. Pray for unity among the families and parents adopting - that their hearts will become strong in Christ and unified so that they can fight these battles together... Thank you.]

All She Had

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There’s this story in the Bible about a time that Jesus was in the temple and sat opposite of the place that offerings (tithes, donations, etc.) were given. Now, picture this with me for a second… Jesus, the man who had come and been warning people (in the passage before) about the teachers of the Law – everything that they based their lives off of, comes and plops himself opposite of the place where people were giving their money.

I can’t imagine that it was done with any malicious intent but with the intent of finding someone or something to show to the people of what true, God honoring, giving looks like. He is sitting there, hanging out, possibly praying that God would bring the right person along as an example. All the while, I’m sure that Jesus keeps seeing the wealthiest of all the people in the temple giving the bare minimum of what they were told they needed to give back to the Lord. I’m sure every once in a while you could hear a sigh coming from the corner that Jesus was sitting in too, not because He was bored, but because He was broken over the fact that these people weren’t living in the sacrificial way that He was calling them to. Then Jesus probably saw some of the wealthy people tossing large sums of money into, what I imagine to be a wooden box, showing others with grand gestures how much they could afford to give. With that being said, I could picture a cringe coming across Jesus’ face, thankful they gave but saddened by where their hearts were when they were giving.

Then it happened.

A poor, almost on her last legs, woman who recently (or not so recently) lost her husband to death… This is one of the most devastating circumstances any one person can go through in their entire life. But she still came with all that she had: two copper coins. When I imagine this happening, this woman probably came with a deep, heavy shame that this was all that she had to give. I can imagine her coming with a cloak over her face so that people couldn’t recognize her. I picture her in clothes that are dirty, old, ragged and possibly smelling like they needed to be washed down by the cleansing pool outside of the city gates… But she came any way, sadness of heart and all. She gave everything that she had to give. This widow knew that this is what she was called to do and she sacrificially gave everything not knowing when her next meal would be. Or how long it would take for her to beg her way back to being able to give again.

widows-mite

Can you imagine the Lord’s delight?! Can you feel his heart soar at the image of that woman giving so little and it meaning so much?! He calls to his disciples to come over and tells them, “‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”’ (Matt. 12:43 & 44 NIV) I can hear Jesus saying this in a voice of a proud Papa, “That’s MY girl! She is the one who gets it! I am so proud of her sacrifices!” I can see the smile on His face and I can hear his heart racing, palms sweating, as He experienced what God had brought Him here to see in that very moment. I can see even our Lord and Savior’s heart being ministered to in that very moment.

This story of the Widow’s Mite has been ringing in my heart and mind through the past week or so. THIS woman’s face, burned to my memory. But not just her face – your faces… Those of you who have given when there really was nothing to give. Those of you whose hearts are beating fast with the thought that this will cut into your grocery budget this week. YOU are the faces burned onto my brain and my heart. YOU are the ones who make me see what God has brought me here to see in this very moment.

I keep getting people who are donating to our adoption with the statement of “I know it’s not much, but we want to help” or “I wish I could give more, I know this won’t do much, but it’s all we can do to bring your kids home”.

But can you imagine with me one more time? Picture Jesus sitting across from you as you hmmm and haw over what to do in this situation. Imagine His smile and His joy-filled heart as you give even those $5.00. Think about him saying ‘‘’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matt. 25:40 NIV). Look into my face, see the tears of joy that flow quickly and freely as I write this and think of our kids who have, what we would consider to be, nothing. And search the depths of God’s heart for you and hear Him saying, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matt. 25:21 NIV).

So thank you. Thank you for giving freely. Thank you for making all of the difference in the world. Thank you for trusting that God will provide for you. And thank you for loving like our God has – sacrificially and bravely. My heart is full because of your grace and faithfulness. And more than that, that $5.00 or $100.00 that you have given is working hard to bring our kids home.  If you have shared our fundraisers with your friends I have been shaken (in a good way) by your kindness in spreading the word about trying to adopt two kids. And those prayers that you have offered up to help us bring our kids home, they literally rock my heart in ways that you could not even begin to imagine. Thank you for that.

The one thought that I have to offer to all of this is, please don’t ever second guess what you have given. Even if you have sacrificed all that you have in two copper coins, I can imagine Jesus pointing you out and saying “They get it! I am SO proud of my children for giving as sacrificially as they have!”

The Apparent Project

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Look what I just got in the mail today!

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Yep, it’s a bit confusing when you look at the picture, right?! But how about this one??

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Pretty cool, huh?! They’re paper bead bracelets made in Haiti by parents or siblings who are trying to keep they’re kids (or siblings) and fight the orphan crisis while there, in country! They are also individuals who are trying to earn money to go to school or start a business and become self sufficient. So, the best thing about this is that they do this to raise funds for themselves while also allowing people to raise funds for whatever the cause may be! You can check more information out here at http://www.apparentproject.org.

Each bracelet is made by someone specific. You can see his or her picture and story on the tag that is connected to these beautiful bracelets.

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This is Kaliko’s story: “Kaliko is a hard working young man who wants to use his earnings to support his mother and his six brothers and sisters. He also would like to finish school. He is our class clown of artisans and a joy to be around.”

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This is Victoria. “Victoria has two beautiful children and is raising them by herself. She would like to use her earnings to pay for them to both stay in school and help her family. She is twenty two years old.”

I have 500 stories just like these sitting in our family room. They are all unique beads and the stories are all special to these individuals. Would you consider supporting them as well as our adoption?

50% of the proceeds will go towards the people making these bracelets and 50% will be going towards bringing our boys home. So we will be selling each of these bracelets for $8 a piece. If we can sell all 500 of these we will be sending $2000.00 to Haiti and $2000.00 will be going to our adoption.

Please consider purchasing one of these bracelets! And then spread the word! I think if we all share this with our friends we would be able to sell 500. Here’s the catch: we only have 6 weeks to sell each of these bracelets. So by June 11th, we will need to pack up any remaining bracelets and the money raised for them sent back to Haiti.

If you would like to order any bracelets please comment or you can send me an email at laura.walker2010@gmail.com.

Thanks again everyone for your love and support! Let’s bring our kiddos home!!