Natasha’s Coming Home !

19 Feb

  Yes it’s true our daughter is coming home ! Who would have thought that it would take 5 years ?

Not us but it did.

In Exodus 17:8-15 the Israelites were under attack by the Amalekites. Moses told Joshua to choose some men and go fight and” I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” As long as Moses held up his hands the Israelites were winning but whenever he would lower his hands the Amalekites were winning. When Moses grew tired Arron and Hur held his hand up.

If your reading this blog then you are probably our families Arron or Hur. You have prayed for his day to happen. Not only have you prayed, but you have cried, doubted, screamed, cursed, laughed and begged God to finish this. Well, we serve an Awesome God and he has heard all of your prayers and He is finishing it. Natasha is coming home to her forever family !

I would like to thank everyone for not giving up, for the phone calls, for listening to our rants, for loving us, for visiting us, for helping us financially, for praying for us over and over, for traveling to meet Natasha, for taking care of our kids while we were in Haiti and for not losing sight that it is all in “God’s Timing”. 

We love everyone of you and can’t wait for us all to be together to share in the gift that God has blessed us with.

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Army Of One

9 Dec

IMG_0280Been around the world, wonders to view

Been around the world, looking for someone like you

Pyramids try, Babylon too

But the beautiful-est treasures lie in the deepest blue
So I’ll never say die, I’m never untrue

I’m never so high as when I’m with you

And there isn’t a fire, that I wouldn’t walk through

My army of one is going to fight for you
Been around the world, universe too

I’ve been around flying, baby, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do

Dance with the stars, while I see the moon

I’ll be standing there besides you

Right when the storm comes through
Cause I’ll never say die, I’m never untrue

I’m never so high as when I’m with you

And there isn’t a fire, that I wouldn’t walk through

My army of one is going to fight for you

My army of one is going to fall for you, yeah
Cause you’re right, cause you’re right

Cause you’re right

My army of one is gonna call it through
Say my heart is my gun, army of one

Yeah my heart is my gun, army of one

Is my only weapon, army of one

Say my heart is my gun, army of one
Lyrics by Coldplay

As I listened to this song for the first time today I had a clear vision of my wife fighting to bring our daughter Natasha home. As some of you know our adoption has been a long uphill battle between good and evil for over five years. During those five years my families life has been turned upside down. We left our friends and family twelve hours away for me to pursue a second career that would hopefully get us back on track. During the past three years since we moved things continued to turn upside down including my wife’s health. A little over a year ago Jill had a stroke that can only be explained as having a “broken heart”. Over the past year Jill has had one test after another trying to figure out what is going on with her health. Just like everything else that we have going on, the Doctors don’t have an answer.

A few weeks ago my wife moved to Haiti to be with our daughter and FIGHT to bring her home. As the lyrics in the song above say –
” And there isn’t a fire, that I wouldn’t walk through

My army of one is going to fight for you”
My wife is the strongest person that I know. She has done something that few people could do and most people don’t understand. Her Faith is so strong and that has given her the strength to live in Haiti with Natasha until she can come home to her ” forever family”. Yes my family has had to make sacrifices but nothing compares to the sacrifices that my beautiful wife is making. I’m so proud that God has blessed me with such an amazing wife. I pray for the day when I get to come to Haiti and bring the two of them back home.

Love Mike

This is Our Story…This is Our Song..

19 Oct

It has been 2 years since our last post. Some of you may have assumed that our adoption journey may be on a new path and that we are learning to adjust as a family of seven. Unfortunately, that is not so. Yesterday marked five years since the first time I held Natasha and knew she was my daughter. That story has already been told in past blogs so today I will tell you a new story. It is not in fact all that new…God has been writing it for 45 years. Have you ever thought of your life that way? As a book being written with all different kinds of chapters?  Some that are more exciting than others and some that you may wish weren’t written at all? However, as a reader, those chapters that are really hard and sad, always seem to teach us something. In the second grade class I am currently teaching in, we have started our unit on Non Fiction and are teaching them to read each new story as a ‘gift’ …something new that you learn is a gift from the book and one for you to take away with you. My prayer is that maybe something from our story will be a gift to you about how God is faithful even when we don’t understand…even when there are cliffhangers that scare us and leave us on the edge wondering how we got there and how in the world could this possibly have a happy ending?

Let me start by saying that this current chapter is a hard one. I feel as if it has actually been written before as we are back to a point in our adoption where we are at a standstill of sorts. Over the past two plus years we have been fixing all of our documents which has taken longer than expected due to the way things work in Haiti. It is just the way it is there and that is it. Now…the US government has decided to throw a wrench in the way our (meaning all adoptions) documents describe the adoption. In laymen terms….one word is holding everything up…again. There is no solution yet as to what the protocol will be for these families, including ours. Just three months ago families with the exact same documents were allowed to bring their children home, but now we are not. Cliffhanger for sure. I am beyond sad and frustrated. For the first time in these five years I have found myself actually wondering if she will ever come home. Throughout these years, I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to visit Natasha about four times every year. This past year has been different. Mike and I were with her in February but due to circumstances beyond our control, we haven’t been back since. She knows we usually come to see her more often and she definitely understands that one day she will leave the orphanage because she has watched so many of her friends go with their families and not return. Of course, she can’t understand anything that will happen beyond that, but knowing this time has passed is so hard on all of us.

So in this story God has been writing, Mike has often joked and titled it “God is a Slowpoke”. Pretty clever, I think. However, all of us have gotten to see many things that He has done in the waiting as we read through our previous chapters. We moved to Florida, Lauren and Robby got married, Michael graduated from college and started a great job, Brock graduated from high school and has found his passion in serving others, Mitchell graduates this year and Ellie is going to be in high school next year. When you look at the picture of all of us on the blog…none of us look the same!!! That is how long it has been. Those chapters were good and heartwarming. Through each one, God took care of all of our needs and more. What I am learning as each day, month, and year pass is that no matter what…He will write each chapter with His love and kindness. Even when it is painful and I just want to skip to the end He reminds me that He has so much more to write and such a better ending than I could ever imagine.

Recently, for my birthday, I finally got a tattoo that I have been thinking about getting for about three years.

20151019_163123_resized (1)

This word has been written in about every chapter of my life. Through all of those years when I thought I knew better than anyone else and for the years when my decisions almost changed the path of this journey. The scripture Joel 2:25 says “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—”. For my story, this scripture encompasses everything about the redemption times of my life. My marriage, my mistakes, a childhood friendship….for the time that I wasted trying hard to do things my way, He has given me back all of that time and more. This morning, as I was reflecting on our five year chapter, God reminded me of my tattoo and why I got it. He reminded me of this “just as I have redeemed those years better than you could have imagined, I will also give you the years you have waited for your daughter. I will because I do not lie. I will because I am good.”

So that is a sneak peak into our ending. We have not seen it yet and this chapter may be on page 1,826, but we know it will be a good ending no matter what because that is what God does so well. Even if it is not how we want it to end or how we expected it to end. I must make a disclaimer….I don’t always do this waiting well. Let me be clear. I am thankful for the family and friends that continually stand beside us giving us encouragement and unconditional love. Our sweet nieces and nephews that have waited and loved Natasha well.

As I said, I pray that something from our story gives you a gift to take away with you…perhaps it is hope. Perhaps you will look at your own story and see how God has been faithful even when the chapter seems to never end. Those that know me well know that I love a good song to bellow out in the car and this one I have to share because it was actually the inspiration for my blog. Take a listen and share your story. It matters. Thank you again for all that have been praying….you are helping to write this story too.

The Battle to Come Home

30 Oct

 

I don’t often write our posts, but this is what God put on my heart
today and I needed to share..

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and
Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you
come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going
back and forth on it.”
Job 1: 6-7

This is probably the least likely scripture ever used to update an
adoption blog, but I feel it’s very relevant to the difficulties
confronted daily by us and many other families adopting from Haiti.
Satan has a strong hold on Haiti and the last thing he wants is a
bunch of Christians coming down on mission trips, sharing the word of
God and then deciding to adopt a child that Satan knew someday would
be on his team. As I read this scripture this morning, I pictured
Satan saying to God that he had been roaming back and forth throughout
Haiti.

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?
There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man
who fears God and shuns evil.”
Job1:8

As I read this scripture, I thought of all the adoption families as
being like God’s servant, Job.

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept
good from God, and not trouble?”
Job2: 10

As Job responds to his wife, in this passage, I am reminded of
everyone that I have met during the past three years that are
adopting. They are people of FAITH, and just as with Job, everyone of
them have had to deal with unimaginable circumstances that has tested
their FAITH.

So, to all my friends and family that ask how our adoption is ” coming
along ” please take that time to pray for Haiti and it’s people. Pray
that Satan loses his stronghold on Haiti. Pray that the spiritual
battle between good and evil is won by God’s people.

Together, we can change the course of Haiti and along with it, bring
our children home. This battle is long and hard and we could not do it
without the prayers from each of you.

Mike

The Day We Met

18 Oct

Happy Anniversary sweet baby girl so far away. Today you will wake like every other day, but today my love, your Mama and Papa woke knowing that on this very day, three long years ago…our lives changed forever.  Not in the way we would think or could ever imagine, but changed just the same.  Over the next three years, we would learn more about ourselves, our children, our patience (or lack there of), but most of all…the faithfulness of Our Father.  You see…on that day three years ago, I woke in Haiti with our friends at Evangelistic World Outreach.  I was so new at the ‘discovering the world outside your own small window’.  This was my first trip to Haiti, or anywhere for that matter, outside of vacationing.  Little did I know there would be thirteen more to follow because Haiti has become part of our heartbeat.  This day we would visit an orphanage, H.I.S. Home for Children.  I clearly remember the conversation I was having with God on our way there…”Please don’t make this hurt my heart so bad that I can’t go home and not think about every one of these children.  Please don’t even think that I can do something like adopt a child.  Please just let me love on these children and go back to my nice, normal, comfortable life.” I truly believe He was laughing….shaking His head at me….thinking…my girl, oh how you love to sing in church the words to the song you love so much “break my heart for what breaks yours….”…well, He was about to.

The following pictures will tell their own story.  My dear friend Kelleigh was there because she  knew she wanted to adopt, but never could have imagined what would happen next.  No one does.

Natasha first 2

This was her very first picture of Kelleigh and one of her sons, Marc Eli (the one standing)…..and now….

natasha first 4

Almost three years later…they are a family.  I love Kelleigh’s shirt because I too “Love Hope”.  I am thankful for this picture…it gives me hope.

Next, on that day at the orphanage, we would go to the ‘toddler room’.  This was the first picture I took there….

161That little munchkin on the left knew exactly what she was doing….she stole my heart immediately.  This would be us for the rest of the day…..

natatsha first 3

Wow…how you have changed.  How I have changed.  Through you, Natasha, God has taught me so much.  Waiting for you to come home, having so many disappointments, meeting so many amazing people who are now my dearest friends..these past three years have been some of the hardest days of my life.  We gave you the middle name of Joy because of your exuberant  joy.  Through you, God has used that word to teach me what He wants all of us to understand…His Joy.  Nothing compares to it.

We are still waiting.  We are walking each day out one step at a time trusting the only One in control and knowing that because He is faithful and sovereign, He will bring her home.  Thank you for joining with us in prayer.  My hope is that through our Natasha Joy, you too will learn to find Joy in Him.

The Message version of Phiipians 4:10-14  sums it up for me today…

Content Whatever the Circumstances

10-14 I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.

Not Just Yet…An Update

26 May

It has been quite a while since my last post, but truthfully, I haven’t wanted to as of late. We have been rejoicing with friends over the homecoming of their children over the past two months… It has been bittersweet. We are beyond thrilled and excited to watch children that are family to us finally come home to their ‘forever family’. To see videos and pictures of children that I have only known in Haiti home snuggling with their Momma and Papa, brothers and sisters and especially the dogs… These kids love their dogs! (and don’t forget an occasional baby bird..you know who you are:) We have even had some friends adopting domestically finally have their daughter in their arms and others willing to open their hearts to foster children that they love with all of their heart knowing it may not be forever. It has been humbling  and beautiful to watch from the sidelines.  I will admit, it has also been hard.  We were waiting two months ago for the email from the government in Haiti that would say “this is the date of your Visa” and we would know that Natasha was coming home.  I had finally bought two items…a car seat and an outfit for the ride home.  We were sure she would be in our home, hearing her footsteps on our floors within  a month.  We were ready!!! Then it came.  The email.  I saw the sender’s name “USCIS Haiti” …my stomach flipped and then it sunk.  Basically, they informed us that Natasha’s birth certificate was incorrect and we needed to start over.  It actually makes my stomach drop all over again just typing those words.  In a nut shell….over the next several days (weeks) I lost my mind a bit.  It was that moment when you simply can’t understand what in the world is really going on here??? why??? My children were devastated.  I had no way to comfort them or explain how or why their sister still wasn’t coming home.  I still don’t know but I have learned so much over these past few weeks.  What I have learned most is that nothing is in our control.  How many times do things not have to go ‘my way’ before  I realize this?  Probably many more before I go Home.

Recently I read a devotional from a woman who recalled times when she would see someone else’s prayers answered while she felt hers were left unanswered and she called it ‘answer envy’.  The times when I turn to “poor me” mentality when He answers someone more quickly than it seems for me or when it is a “no” or a “not yet”.  The beauty here is that in the middle of my pity party, He always….always…pulls me out of the pit of my pity party.  He kindly reminds me of all the good things He has done and I am able to start over again.

So here we are…still waiting.  We have hired a new lawyer and he is fixing what needs to be fixed.  We have no idea how long this will take.  I am done setting a time line because it only leads to disappointment.  The only thing we are doing now is trusting.  We are, as a family, believing the Only One that will bring this to pass.  I am excited to see how He will bring her home.  I am excited to watch my children get to see just how God works on behalf of those that love Him.  He is giving Mike and I the opportunity to fully depend on Him and for that we are grateful.

Thank you for your support, love and prayers.  We will update when we know more, but for now, you too can watch to see just what He will do….

The Giving Tree

26 Jan

I always know when it is time for me to post a blog again because there are thoughts in my mind that just won’t go away! There is not too much to tell in the arena of movement in our adoption.  Our papers are still in the same ‘place’ as they were the last time I wrote.  Frustrating.  Irritating.  Upsetting. Devastating. Unfortunately, extremely common in this process.  Our hands are tied…there is absolutely NOTHING we can do except pray.  Yet again, God has shown us what only He can do…and this time it has been to show us the generosity of those around us.

Several months ago, a friend here in Florida saw our need for financial support, and she hit the ground running. She quickly organized a fundraising event and people showed up that didn’t know us.  A friend from my old hometown of Salisbury, Maryland heard about it and decided to do the same….and it happened again! People I knew and people we have never met came and supported us!  Some couldn’t come but sent beautiful words of encouragement and financial donations.  You people….ALL OF YOU….thank you.  Thank you for your kindness and your generosity.  Thank you for your words that have given us the strength to keep moving forward.  We have loved hearing the way our story has affected others.   Family Week has come upon us once again.  We were truly hoping that the one in November would be the last one and that we would be bringing Natasha home by now, but that is not so.  We were going to have to forego this trip this time because of expenses. Again…God said “Trust Me”.  No one knew this except a few ….last Sunday, a check ‘appeared’ on our front doorstep.  Literally.  Written out to me…a cashiers check so that  we couldn’t know who had given it. I have asked the five people I know in Florida, and unless they lie well, it is not them.  So..can you see a pattern here?  We are blessed beyond measure.

In trying to put my thoughts together to write this blog, all I could think about was the poem from Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree.  I couldn’t remember the poem but could picture the front cover of the book that is probably still sitting on the shelf in my childhood bedroom. So I decided to research and here it is for those of you that have never heard or have forgotten…

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Once there was a tree….. and she loved a little boy.  And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.  He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek.  And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree…….very much.  And the tree was happy.

But time went by.  And the boy grew older.  And the tree was often alone.  Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”

“I am too big to climb and play,” said the boy.  “I want to buy things and have fun.  I want some money.  Can you give me some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money, I have only leaves and apples.  Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.” And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.  And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time… and the tree was sad.  And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.”

“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm.  I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house.  Can you give me a house?”

“I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house.  Then you will be happy.” And the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house.  And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come, Boy,” she whispered, “Come and play.”

“I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that can take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”

“Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away…… and be happy.” And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.  And the tree was happy…. but not really.  And after a long time the boy came back again.

“I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree, “but I have nothing left to give you.  My apples are gone.”

“My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy.

“My branches are gone,” said the tree. “You cannot swing on them.”

“I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy.

“My trunk is gone,” said the tree. “You cannot climb.”

“I am too tired to climb,” said the boy.

   “I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something—— but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump.”

   “I don’t need very much now,” said the boy. “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”

 

   “Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” And the boy did.  And the tree was happy.

 

Oh how this relates to my relationship with God!!! I wasn’t expecting that! This time it is different.  Again I have gone before Him, the ‘tree’…asking.  This time I will choose to stay.  I will sit and wait with expectancy because He loves me…and you! Won’t you come and sit and stay this time too?

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