Happy Birthday to me

Today is my 39th birthday. We got back 2 days ago from our 6th family week in Haiti. It was my favorite trip yet. What a gift to be able to bring our first two boys to be with their brothers for the first time since last May. A LOT has changed since last May…….the boys (all of them) are physically bigger. Owen and Bennett have known a year’s worth of waiting and praying and hoping for their brothers to come home. They have stayed at home without us for most of the trips and done their best to hold on tight as our family has changed it’s priorities and lived in constant uncertainty about our future.  Marc-Eli and Fritzner have had another year’s worth of seemingly random visits from us. They have known great happiness to live and eat and play with us for a week at a time at a hotel. They have learned to swim and speak English and be loved on. They have also known unexplainable heartache as we leave each time……they do not understand where we go or why we leave. They are always taken by surprise and so betrayed. And yet, they accept us again and again and they are growing in their love for us.  My heart swells with gratitude as I think of Fritzner’s joy and laughter on this trip versus his solemn, blank face in March of 2011, when he didn’t even know where to put his arms when I held him. I know for sure now that these trips have been well worth all of the heartache and time and money and tears and uncertainty that has come with them. Will and I have also grown in this crazy process…..we have stopped planning as it is clearly futile. We (read: I) have become adventurous travelers, accustom to rough flights that scare the crap out of us (me) and make us (me) act foolish to the poor, unsuspecting person who sits next to me. My worst display happened on a rough night flight when Will and I did not have seats together and I burst into tears, certain we were falling to our deaths. I insisted that the kind Haitian man sitting next to me go find Will even though he clearly did not know Will. I think he was happy to try just to get away from me :). At any rate, we really have learned to trust God, be courageous, depend on His timing and chose joy in the midst of such pain. He has brought us to a place of surrender. We have become willing to go where He leads and do what He says and we are excited to see how all of this unfolds. We have met so many people and come to love them and their families. The time we spend together every 3 months in Haiti has made all the difference. God is moving all over the earth and placing the burden of love and justice on all kinds of people.  Just last month, our family was overwhelmingly blessed by one man who led a community of people, most of whom we don’t even know, to raise over half the money we will spend on this adoption and the trips to see the boys until they can come home. How can we ever repay the kindness and generosity of that man and all of you people who have invested in us, in our boys, in the kingdom of God?  We are so very blessed to be surrounded by family and friends and strangers alike who are moved by the heart of God, who loved us first and taught us to love. I so hope in my 39th year, that I will know Him more and truly live out His gospel, His plan for me and my family. This adoption is clearly a small part of His great plan for us to love Him and to love others as we love ourselves. Thank you all who are praying for us and walking with us on this journey.  We are hoping to be out of the government part of the process this summer and praying they will be home by the end of the year. We will travel again to Haiti next month to file another part of the paperwork and then again for what might be the last family trip in August! Until then…..let’s all hold tight, people, because LOVE WINS .

Home again

I am home again…..from my 8th trip to Haiti in 16 months. This trip was a combo of shoebox distribution with EWO and another family visit with our boys there. What an honor to be able to go to the poorest country in the western hemisphere and see the love these beautiful people have for the Lord. Oh how I LOVE to go to church in Haiti…..the service we went to was in a small hut-like structure, no bigger than my kitchen. The people crowded into every space. Their voices surely what Heaven sounds like. They need no preparation, no being led into worship, no fancy instruments or lighting or air or even actual flooring. A pure treat to behold and take part.The shoebox distribution was amazing as ever…….little kids beside themselves to receive a box of soap, shampoo, pencils and small toys. They are so sweet and excited and thankful. Tom and Bev Brumbley are continued inspirations as they love and serve and sacrifice it all for His namesake there.

The time with my boys was great……long days, longer nights. Lots of laughs and hugs and precious exchanges that remind me this is right, no matter how it hurts. Amazing families… alot of new ones this time 🙂 to share with and cry with and try desperately to traverse this ridiculous process with. The boys are quicker each time to let down their guards and be present with me…….and I, in return, am much less offended, doubtful and hurt by their responses…..knowing it’s just a matter of time until they settle in and allow me to love on them. I am believing that God will preserve them for love…..to love and be loved and that the years the locusts have eaten will be restored to them (Joel 2:25). Meanwhile, I attempt to keep my wits about me as I come home again. Sometimes I hate coming home. Not because I don’t miss my family here when I’m gone. But because I feel terribly guilty for leaving Eli and Fritzner there. There is something fundamentally wrong with leaving two 6 yr olds in a third world country while I return to the first world without them. This trip was the first time Eli said “No, Mom, you don’t go. I go too”, and Fritzner completely shut down….would not even look at me once he knew I was leaving again. Oh dear God, how much longer? The doubt, the fear of the unknown, the enormity of the situation always kicks in the day after I get back and I cannot get myself together. I weep. I plead. I make crazy plans of how we can somehow swoop in and rescue them. I sit in despair and realize I cannot make a way for them. No matter how hard I try. Then, gently,  the Lord restores my hope in Him, as there is no hope in the process, the statistics, the ever-changing timeline. There is no way to make it better or easier or faster. I come to the end of myself and back to the basics of faith. It’s all I have and it’s enough. He is enough. As my wise friend said to me in my desperation, “He is either on the throne or He isn’t. He either keeps His promises or He doesn’t. He either loves the orphan or He doesn’t. You cannot be self-sufficient and trust Him at the same time.” And so, I get back up. I decree that He is and He does. I refute the lies of the enemy and the doubt and fear and I start looking forward to May, when I will do it all again.

I am so thankful for the canopy of prayer and intercession on our behalf. So blessed by those of you who have given financially so that we could go visit; for the hosts of angels who have been dispatched and given charge over our boys as they wait. And thankful for Jesus, who first loved and adopted us.

 

change

Change……I hate it and yet I long for it. Truthfully, I only hate it when it’s not what I want. Like every time my best friends move away, or when plans we thought we understood are just….not. But, oh how I love the change that comes and makes all the difference. When I think of the changes that have  occurred in our lives in this last year, I am overwhelmed. It was one year ago today I met our new sons for the first time. ONE YEAR!! How is that even remotely possible?! My 6 trips to Haiti have changed me. The sites, smells and devastation in Haiti have changed me. It’s people have changed me. Changed the ways I think, feel and process; changed the way I love. Yet through all of the heartache and despair, God has not changed. His ways are perfect; His burden easy, His yoke light.

 A quick catch-up since I wrote last: I got to go back to Haiti in August with my sister and my amazing friend, Christi. What a fantastic trip…..we got 5 days with Eli and Fritzner. We swam, ate, read, played, laughed and cried with the other families. A relaxing and sweet trip I will never forget. It was, by far, the worst good-bye yet, as I also had to tell them they were leaving the orphanage and moving to the near-by “boys home” , where you go to live once you reach the ripe old age of 6. They now live with all other boys ages 6-16. This was a hard thing to accept in our minds as we had hoped to be moved there before they had to go. But, alas, we were not there and they moved. We hear they are adjusting and as always, we are praying God’s hand, favor and protection over them there.

In September, as it was becoming clear to us that we were unable to move, we re-enrolled our first boys in school and went back about life as usual…..living for the next visit.  Last week we got great news that the last piece of paperwork for the boys’ dossiers have been found! We are hopeful that once the boys’ dossier gets filed, we might only be looking at 8 or 9 more months until they can come home.For now we continue to wait. Wait for the paperwork to go through; wait for the Lord to work out His plan; wait for our family to change. We don’t know if we will be moving to Haiti. We are willing to go and  also willing to wait on the Lord to instruct us and make a way. We are profoundly thankful for this past year and all of the changes it has brought, even the change of plans . We return to Haiti again in Nov. for our next family week.  We are moving forward to prepare for our expanding  family and we are believing God’s plan is ever perfect, timely and purposeful.

happy birthday, Fritzner

Today is Fritzner’s 6th birthday. I bet he doesn’t even know. Exactly four weeks ago today he was taken to a “hospital” in Haiti and almost died from cholera. A week later, he was back at the orphanage and I got to love on him and hold him while he slept and then I had to explain again why I was leaving. I have been off the grid since I got home, trying to process and pull myself together. I am definitely better and excited to see both boys again in 20 days when I go back for our 3rd “family week” visit.

I shutter to think of how many days my boy has spent at the orphanage and I struggle to think of all the “norms” that should have been in place long before now.  He was turned in as an infant when his birth mother couldn’t care for him. I can’t imagine what his birth must have been like. I am grateful to her for saving him from starvation and I am looking forward to giving him a life she could never imagine. I met Fritzner for the first time in October of 2010 on a visit to find him and his brother. Fast forward 9 months and I cannot believe how I feel about him; how I love him and hurt for him, how I long to hear him laugh and I crumble when he cries. I wonder if he has ever been anyone’s favorite. I wonder if he used to suck his thumb or if he was amazed the first time he peed in the potty. I can’t stand his solemn stare and his sad appearance. I am discouraged every time we are together for the first few hours/days and then something changes……he smiles; he laughs; he plays….he grabs my Mom’s face and says “I love you, Mom-Mom” out of nowhere, and suddenly I have hope again. When we leave he retreats back to the solemn place and I know we will start all over next time. But it’s in him, the ability to love and feel loved; the ability to be a fun-loving, silly kid. I pray over his mind and for his protection, for favor with the orphanage workers, for a bright, open mind that is not afraid.  I pray for his future and I wonder if he will need therapy. I want to be with Fritzner and Eli and yet I pray God will do a miracle and release them to come home so we don’t have to move there.

At any rate, I thank God for Fritzner and for all of the countless ways He has prepared me to be his mom. I am grateful for who Fritzner is and I believe that one day he will be a well-adjusted, joyful, hopeful and loving young man.  Until then, I will love him and look forward to the July 23rd when we are all together and my son knows cake and ice cream and what it is to be celebrated.

 

An attempt to organize my thoughts……

I just got back from a 3 day emergency trip to Haiti. My youngest son Fritzner had cholera and was in a “hospital” there. He is better now and got to come back to the orphanage the day before I left. Meanwhile, the day I left to go to Haiti, my oldest son, Owen, had to go to the hospital here in the states for his asthma and was sick while I was away. He is also better now and breathing easy. I am overwhelmed by what I have seen and emotionally spent. I feel shocked and am having a hard time getting the images out of my mind and pulling myself together. I can’t talk about the trip yet because I haven’t had time to process and I’m going to need some help. But I wanted to post to thank all of  you who prayed and stood in the gap for me and my sons this past week. There was a vast army of people, some I know and some I don’t. I cannot express my appreciation adequately because I cannot even begin to imagine what Fritzner was spared physically and what I was spared mentally because of your pleas on our behalf. I love you all and I am grateful for your hearts and your time spent in prayer for me and mine. Thank you to all of the Texans who lovingly and generously paid my way…….most of you have never met me and yet you gave abundantly and without hesitation unbeknownst to me. I pray that all of you who have had any part in this journey will be blessed beyond measure and that your families will be protected and hedged in. A special shout out to Will for letting me go even though he knew it would shake  me to my core; to Kimberly for assembling the an army; to JoAnn for crying with me and knowing me; to Karla for hearing me and not trying to solve it yet; to Sonya who has let me be fine one minute and a basket case the next; to Shelly for wanting so badly to fix it all; and to Jill for the long Skype call that made life normal again while it lasted….I love you all.

I am very busy giving my very favorite schpeil to myself. It goes like this……. “Nothing has changed. You are just aware of things you were not previously aware of. God is on His throne and He is not alarmed. He counts your tears and He sees you.” I am also being gently reminded by the God of the universe that He has loved my boys for much longer than I have even known they existed and that His ways are not my ways, His time not my time, His plans perfect and not delayed…. He is good and just and Holy and sovereign. I am trusting Him because I love Him and He loves me and He has never failed me and quite frankly, I have no other option.

sweet Fritzner

Our youngest boy Fritzner is in a Haitian hospital being treated for cholera……. That sentence doesn’t even seem real. My stomach dropped as we heard the news of his illness and as my mind began to run wild with thoughts and images of what is going on there. First to the severity of his dehydration; asking the Lord to spare his life and make him whole. Then desperately hoping he was not alone. When I found out women from the orphanage would take turns staying with him, I began frantically praying over them that they would comfort him and not just sit in silence next to him. Then quickly switching gears to the psychological part…….the hardest for me…..Fritzner is my solemn, quiet, clearly jaded boy who concerns me the most. He is detached, guarded and withdrawn on a normal day, never mind in a hospital with an iv with no one talking to him, no one engaging him, no one explaining whats happening or assuring him that everything will be ok. Haitians on the whole are not comforting people. They are not big talkers. These traits basically define me, so it’s hard for me to imagine any child of mine being without them. And then there are the nurse issues……Is he even in a bed? Did they hold him down to insert the iv or was he so sick he didn’t need to be restrained? Has anyone held him, kissed him, even touched him? Has anyone brushed his teeth since he stopped vomiting? Put vaseline on his little dry lips? Has he been bathed? Has he any idea what is happening? When he will go “home”? As sad as it is, and it is sad, I had to tell myself that he has no idea it could be any other way. The truth is, I am appalled that he is without me. But he would never think to associate me with being sick, never mind being in a hospital. He has not looked for me there, or longed for me there. He probably never thought of me as an option of comfort, and that is devastating for me. And yet, in some strange way, I am comforted that he doesn’t miss what he doesn’t know. My boys here would never understand being without me when they are sick, nor should they. But Eli and Fritzner just don’t know. I am thankful that one day they will know. And their children will know, too, because comfort and mercy and love will be what they are raised in very soon and it will become their norm. Thank you, Lord, for adoption and for new legacies and healthy norms and for giving us the ability to give and receive love.

I leave in the morning to be with Fritzner and to help out at the orphanage with the other sick kids. Please continue to pray for all of them. Thanks so much for reading and for your support.

hope

It’s been 24 days since we last left Haiti. Yesterday we got to see and speak with the boys on Skype. I am always torn about “Skype Sundays” because it’s awkward at best. Eli always just grins and Fritzner stares. Neither of them talk much, if at all, and it breaks me every time because I know how they transform after just a few days in a family setting. It makes me feel like this process is insurmountable when every time I see them on-line or visit them, we start out at square one. And yet, I live for Skype Sundays because I can see them and speak love to them even if it doesn’t seem like it matters. I know it does.

I have been recently inundated with hope. Hope in songs, hope in scripture. Where would I be without hope? Hope that the next family week in August will come quickly and that one day we will all be together for good. Hope that the God of the universe has our very best interest at heart. Hope that justice trumps evil. Hope that He is changing me daily and protecting us and our children from all harm. Hope that I can call on His name and He will rescue me from danger, apathy; from myself. Hope because  He is settling me as His spirit rises up over my flesh and assures me of hope in my future. Hope that our house will sell so that we can get to them and be a family; that they will be well-adjusted kids who love Him and know Him. Hope that they will not always have an orphan mentality and most importantly, that none of them will ever know a “normal” life, but instead a life of serving and loving and following Jesus because He is our hope; the hope of the world.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Pvb 13:12

Please pray for us as we wait and hope for that which we long for.