Friday, April 17, 2015


"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above
coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation
or shifting shadow." - James 1:17

Each and every day our Father is showering gifts on us.  Sometimes they are easy to recognize and we embrace them willingly and with joy.  Other times they might be needed, but they aren't that exciting (like underwear at Christmas).  Sometimes we are too busy to even notice them.  And many times we wish God had saved the receipt so we could return them.  Yet our Father, our Papa, delights and sings over us and loves to give us gifts.  He knows us better than we know ourselves and has a perfect understanding of exactly what gift would be best for us.  And when we purpose to thank Him for everything He gifts us with, our eyes are opened to see the beauty of the gift.  

This week, it is easy for us to recognize some of our Father's gifts.  But what about the past year of agonizing delays in this adoption.  Was that a gift?  What about losing a loved one to a terminal illness?  Or a miscarriage?  Or watching a son suffer a debilitating stroke?  Financial ruin?  Are these also gifts from the Father?  Why would a loving Father allow such pain in the lives of His children?  Why would he withhold good when He has the power to rescue, heal, and restore in just a word?  Because God's ultimate purpose in giving these gifts is to give us more of Himself.  He wants to give us the ultimate gift, which is His glory, and He knows that the vessels that reflect His glory the best have been refined in the fire.  He knows that it's only through tribulation that we develop perseverance, which leads to proven character, which leads to HOPE.  Hope recognizes that the love of God has been showered upon us.  Hope sees God's goodness in the pain.  Hope looks beyond the moment to the eternal.

"And when we find ourselves most hopeless, the road most taxing, we may also find that it is then that The Risen Christ catches up to us on the way, better than our dreams, beyond all our hopes.  For it is He---not His gifts, nor His power, not what He can do for us, But He HIMSELF---who comes and makes Himself known to us.  And this is the one PURE JOY for those who sorrow." Elisabeth Elliot

And so as we reflect on all we are thankful for this week, we also thank God for the pain of the last year.  For without the pain we wouldn't have come to know God as intimately, or to love Him as deeply, or to trust Him as completely.

And what are the gifts of this week?
Well of course, this boy...

Lots of kisses...

Playing with and hugging and loving on these children...

Friends who have prayed, and sent notes, and words of encouragement, and crafts, and gifts...

Teachers who have loved, cared for, and even cried with our boy in our absence...

Watching Igor interact with his friends....
Conversations in Russian/English....realizing that we all understand the language of love....
Being a "parent" for a couple days for orphaned children to show off to...

Our facilitators Alex, Nastya, Svetlana, and Alyona who work endless hours to see orphans placed in families (and even let us facetime them so they can translate the Ukrainian menu for us) ...

Staying with Karen Springs at Hospitality House...

No bus tickets to Kiev left for Friday so we had an extra day at Pishana...

The ease at which all has been accomplished this week...Jim and I have commented several times, that we didn't feel our presence was even necessary for all the documents to be approved, signed, delivered...

A whole week with my sweetheart!

Tomorrow we will get up early to make the long drive back to the highway and catch a bus to Kiev.  We will arrive in the afternoon sometime.  We are getting picked up at 3am on Sunday to get to the airport by 3:30 for our 5:30am flight.  Svetlana and Alyona are hopeful that we can return in 3 weeks for court.  May it be true!  And then our boy will be given a new name!

And you will just have to wait until then to know it...

Thursday, April 16, 2015


On Wednesday morning we got up early to catch a 7:30 bus to Balta.  Around noon the bus dropped us off along the hightway and we met up with Svetlana and Alyona and began the long and torturous drive across the country's worst roads.  Sometime around 1:30 we arrived in town.  We needed to drop our dossier and referral off with the social worker and get some documents notarized.  We also checked into our hotel.  When we stopped at the first notary office we found it locked up and closed, although they were supposed to be open until 4pm.  There are two notaries in Balta, so we went to the 2nd office.  The notary was there, however she told us they closed at noon and she couldn't help us.  Even when we offered to pay double, she refused to notarize our documents.  Svetlana and Alyona both got on their phones to come up with plan B and we began praying.  As they talked to different people to figure out what could be done, we learned some information that once again reminded us that God was in the details and He fights for us.  Apparently there is a big notary conference today (Thursday).  All the notary offices in this region will be closed as the employees attend this conference.  If we had gotten our referral on Wednesday as planned (instead of Tuesday) we would have been arriving in Balta today with no options at all for getting our documents notarized.  We could see God's provision for us even in allowing us to pick up the referral on Tuesday!  After several phone calls, the ladies figured out what could be done, and by 3:00 we were on our way to Pishana.  Another 45 minute, jostling ride had to be endured before we finally arrived at the orphanage.

Igor had been watching for us.  He was giddy with excitement!  After greeting us, he immediately ran over to Svetlana and Alyona and began firing away questions.  How long would we be there?  When would court be?  How long until court?  When would we take him with us?
The director and teachers at his orphanage had prepared him before our arrival.  He understood that we were redoing everything and he couldn't come with us this time.  He asked us if we had finished all our paperwork.
We learned from the social worker and teachers from his school that last February, when he was told about our dossier being thrown out, he cried for a long time and was inconsolable.  They told us he had all the teachers crying along with him.  
While this long delay has been hard on us, it has been most excruciating for Igor.  We pray that God will quickly finish this for Igor's sake.

We only had 45minutes to spend with Igor before we had to head back to Balta to pick up paperwork by 5pm.  But now we are headed out to spend the whole afternoon with this sweet boy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

We got it!

We arrived in Kiev at 1pm on Monday afternoon after 18 hours of travel.  Praise God our trip was uneventful and without delays!  We are blessed this week to be staying with Karen Springs in her beautiful apartment.  Karen is a missionary in Kiev who graciously opens her home to families who are here for adoptions.  Hospitality House is a perfect name for the oasis of refreshment Karen shares with adoptive families.
This morning at 10am we arrived at the SDA for our "redo" referral appointment.  We weren't sure what to expect as our appointment process in November took 3 long days.  We were pleasantly surprised this morning!  We were there for a total of 10 minutes.  No arguing or pleading necessary.  The SDA officer showed us Igor's file (again), we signed off on it, and she told us she could probably have it ready for pick up this afternoon.  Usually you pick up your referral the next afternoon.  At 4pm we arrived back at the SDA, signed our names again, and 5 minutes later walked out with the referral!

In between our appointments today we had time to do some sightseeing in the beautiful city of Kiev.  We spent a couple hours touring St. Sophia Cathedral.

Part of the Easter celebration (which was April 12th for Ukraine), is decorating with the Psyanky eggs.  St. Sophia had a beautiful display of them throughout the grounds.

View of the city of Kiev from the Bell Tower of St. Sophia

St. Sophia Cathedral

As we walked back to the apartment we stopped at a little kiosk and 
had "The World's Best Hot Chocolate"
And it truly was!!

Tomorrow we get up early to take a 4 hour bus ride to Balta.  There we will meet up with Svetlana, our facilitator for that region, and Alyona, our translator, and head to a meeting with the orphanage director and Igor.  If Igor says yes to adoption (we're not too worried) then our paperwork will be filed again and head back to the SDA for approval and court assignment.  We are told this process will take at least 3 weeks.  We're hopeful that we will be heading back to Ukraine in early to mid-May.  Because we will have limited internet in Balta we probably won't be able to update our blog until we return to Kiev on Friday.  

I have been praying that my eyes would be open to God's gifts on this trip, whatever they might be, and I want to share one from today.  The sunflower has always been my favorite flower.  I don't know if it's the tall, strong stature, the bold yellow color, or the fact that it just reminds me of happiness, but I've always been drawn to this flower.  Today as we were passing a vendor selling handpainted plates, we stopped to admire some of her wares.  She pointed out this one, and told us that the sunflower and these berries (Sorry, I forgot the name) were symbols of Ukraine.
"How fitting!" I told Jim, "that my favorite flower would be a symbol of the country we adopt from."  Jim reminded me that recently someone was asking us why we picked Ukraine to adopt from, and I told them that I didn't choose it, Jim did.  Jim pointed out to me today that God chose Ukraine for us and before I even had an inkling that adoption was in our future, God placed in me a love for sunflowers.  A link to the country where He would gift us with a boy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but desire fulfilled is a tree of life." 
Proverbs 13:12

On Wednesday, March 25th, I got a call from our adoption coordinator.  Our dossier made it through the various offices in Kiev and we have been assigned an SDA appointment for April 14th at 10am.  You would think this news would bring joy and jubilation.  However, that was far from what I felt that morning.  After hanging up with Tonya, I headed out for a run.  Instead of tears of joy, there were tears of anger and frustration.  As I sifted through my thoughts and emotions, one overwhelming thought prevailed.  A whole year!  A whole year of waiting.  A whole year of discouragement.  An additional year that Igor has had to wait in that orphanage.  We should have been traveling in the spring of 2014 to get our boy.  And here it is spring of 2015 and this adoption is still not completed.  And now we must redo everything we did last November.  The SDA appointment, the visit to the orphanage, the meeting with the orphanage director.  Such a waste of everyone's time and money.  For what purpose?  Why God, must we keep waiting?  Why must we redo everything?  My heart was so burdened and heavy as I struggled to submit to God's perfect plan.  I didn't realize until this week, how much of a toll this adoption journey has taken on me.  A friend asked me at church last Sunday if I was doing ok.  He said I'd lost my joy and hadn't looked happy in a long time.  I was saddened to think this ache in my heart was obvious.  And so, this blog post is really more for my sake than for anyone else's.  As I try to journal this adoption journey to share someday with Igor, I need to remind myself of some important truths and refocus my gaze.  When we started this adoption journey in November of 2013 I thought for sure God would bring Igor home in 2014.  But as we've now finished the first 3 months of 2015 I have found myself losing hope.  I have believed the lie that God is good, but He's not good to me.  He accomplishes great things for others but not for me.  My thinking needs a transformation (Rom. 12:2)
As Satan bombards my mind with these lies, I need to battle them with the truth.

1.  God is good to me.  Ps. 34:8
2.  God delights in me.  Zeph. 3:17
3.  God has a good plan.  Jer. 29:11
4.  God is in control of this. Prov. 19:21
5.  God has not forgotten or forsaken us.  Deut. 31:6
6.  His ways are not our ways.  Isaiah 55:8
7.  God heals the broken.  Isaiah 61:1-4
8.  He loves the orphan and is a Father to the fatherless.  Psalm 68:5

God has encouraged me through the devotionals of Elisabeth Elliot so often lately.  I love her devotionals because they are so full of God's truth and she has a way of addressing exactly what I've been struggling with.  I'm going to quote one of her devotionals in Keep a Quiet Heart called "Maybe this year…?"
Will 2015 be the year of my desire fulfilled? "…or perhaps on the other hand, it will be the year of desire radically transformed, the year of finding, as we have perhaps not yet truly found, Christ to be the All-Sufficient One, Christ the deep sweet well of Love…Life is likely to continue to hold many forms of torture and dismay... for all who refuse to receive with thanksgiving instead of complaint the place in life God has chosen for them.  The torture is self-inflicted, for God has not rejected their prayers.  He knows better than any of us what furthers our salvation.  Our true happiness is to be realized precisely through his refusals, which are always mercies.  His choice is flawlessly contrived to give the deepest kind of joy as soon as it is embraced. "
Deuteronomy 8:2-3,5, 7-9
"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart…He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord…Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord is disciplining you…For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land - a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey, a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing."

God has been using this time to teach me to hunger only for Him.  And perhaps He is using this wilderness time in Igor's life to teach him to long for God alone and to find Him to be the All-Sufficient One.  
Elisabeth Elliot goes on to say, "The cause of our discontent?  We simply do not believe God.  The wilderness experience always leads to the promised land….Be patient.  Wait on the Lord for whatever He appoints.  Wait quietly.  Wait trustingly.  He holds every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year in His hands.  Thank Him in advance for what the future holds, for he is already there."    

This week as we are in the middle of Easter week and celebrating all that Christ accomplished at His resurrection, my friend, Glen, made a wonderful statement about hope, which parallels well the hopelessness I have felt over the last few weeks.  My sweet husband shared this with me yesterday with these words…"God will not leave you in the darkness.  Hope lives."

"There was a parenthesis of three days following Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. It was hard to be hopeful when it seemed so dark. Had the Romans won? Were the religious accusers right? For many disciples of Jesus their hope died when He died. They forgot or failed to believe His promise to bring Himself back to life after a short delay- maybe that was God testing them? Hope was threatened."

What were the disciples feeling after Christ's death?  Fear?  Abandonment?  Confusion?  Wasn't Christ supposed to be their Messiah?  Their rescuer?  And now he was dead?  Did they remember His promises to them?  Scripture tells us they were hiding, afraid, deeply grieved.  They had lost their hope.  But God was not defeated!  God was about to do above and beyond their wildest expectation!  Hope was dawning!  A Glorious Unfolding was coming!  Jesus was alive!  He conquered sin and held the keys of death in His hand!  He was victorious!  The grave could not hold Him!  

The sky is always darkest just before the dawn.  And if I squint….
I can just begin to make out signs of pink on the horizon….

Psalm 62:5
"My soul wait in silence for God only, For my HOPE is from Him."