Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Miracle of Adoption-Part Two

The call to Guatemala that night changed the course of our lives. Until that moment, it was words on paper, a promise of what could be. But, with sound of her voice, our future had new meaning.

All the stress and fretting over paperwork was worth those precious words, "I'm holding little Andy, your son." All the months of anticipating were over. We were Mommy and Daddy now, to Andy.

There was just one little thing; actually it was a very big thing…distance. He was 2,500 miles away and it would be two months before we would see him face to face; two months before I would hold him and tell him how much he was wanted.

And the w a i t i n g began.

Baby showers were given, plane tickets were purchased, and we  w  a  i  t  e  d.

In the meantime, these pesky papers came in the mail saying something about my fingerprints being done improperly, but I didn't think it had anything to do with bringing my baby home. The papers didn't say, "URGENT, YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO BRING YOUR BABY HOME IF YOU DON'T GET THESE RIGHT."

(Note to self: You might want to have an attorney review matters of foreign interest in the future.)

The long-awaited day arrived and we were Guatemala bound. Neither of us had ever left the country before. We had no idea what to expect, except there was a little boy waiting, who needed us as much as we needed him.

We arrived in Guatemala City at eight o'clock in the evening. We were on the ground floor of the airport. Claire was holding Andy over a balcony on the second floor so we could get a glimpse of him. It was love at first baby sight. I couldn't get to him fast enough. From the moment she placed him in my arms, we bonded. He became our son and we were a family. His eyes searched mine and we connected.

It didn't take long for love to pass between us.

We quickly left the airport and made our way to the hotel for our first night as parents with a real baby in the room.

Before Larry and Claire left us for their room, Larry wanted to see our legal papers. He wanted to make sure everything was in order. He said, "Can I see Andy's Visa?" My husband and I looked at each other and said, "What Visa?"

I knew we were in trouble.

Larry told us Andy needed a Visa to allow him into the United States. I told him we didn't have one and then realized why one had not been issued.

Fingerprints. Those pesky fingerprints again.

Guatemalan Women 
The power of prayer is a real thing. God showed up and turned the hearts of stone cold people, into people who were willing to allow me to complete my fingerprints AFTER I returned to the states, WITH my baby. One official told me it had NEVER been done before and I would have to return to Miami, Florida, without my baby.

God is sovereign and He will have His way if we ask; And we asked. We even made petition through our U.S. Senator.

The Visa was granted and we were all set to return home until…passports were frozen for all minor children in Guatemala.

Our hearts sank. It seemed everything was against us.

We used the time we were in Guatemala to explore the mountains and volcanoes, visit Southern Baptist missionaries and learn all we could about the culture. A lot of our time was spent in government offices pleading our case. We went before the Consulate General to share our hearts and prove we were legal, adoptive parents.

Plane tickets were changed as our hearts grew heavier.

Finally, after prayer intercession once more, his passport was issued. We were jubilant. Goodbyes were said to the missionaries, Larry and Claire, and also Southern Baptist missionaries, George and Helen Hardeman, whose home we'd stayed in the last part of our journey.

What an adventure this had been, but home was on my radar. A nursery prepared for our baby awaited.

God has used adoption in my life to help me grasp what Jesus did at the cross. Many times through the years, I've reflected on God choosing Andy and Bailey to be mine. I love the picture of Him choosing us through adoption, as His children for eternity.

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son,
born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,
crying, "Abba! Father!"
Galations 4:4-6 ESV

"The fullness of time…" We don't understand His ways sometimes and why we have to wait. My years of waiting were worth every disappointment, every pain, and every tear because the joy I found in His plan for me was better than anything I could imagine.

In the fullness of time His plan will unfold for eternity. Will you be counted as one of His adopted children? Can you cry, "Abba, Father?" Just as I had a nursery waiting for my babies upon their arrival, Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you.

One prayer can change the course of your life...


Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy 

P.S. Bailey's story to come in a post soon. Hers is as unique as Andy's and had its own harrowing moments. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Miracle of Adoption

The miracle and blessing of adoption is one that never ceases to bring awe into my world. All these years later, I still look at my children and am filled with joy from a place deep inside me; a place only God can see.

The mere thought that two children, not made of my flesh, nor born of my body, could capture my heart, and be so much like me at the same time, is a miracle to me. Each of my children, in their own way, have my characteristics and mannerisms, quirky ways and loves. Only God, in His great love, could orchestrate hearts and minds to do that.

Larry and Andy(3 Weeks Old)
When our journey to adoption began early in 1986, there were very few foreign adoptions. We knew nothing about it and when we received three pages of typed instructions from the missionaries, Larry and Claire, it was overwhelming.

We carefully read each page of instruction, and completed them to the best of our ability; all on our own, with no legal advice on this side of the border.

I'm a, "let's do this the fastest way possible," kind of girl when it comes to something I want…and I wanted a baby. This was the first time there was hope in sight. Our hearts were set on go.

We had many documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, needing authentication by our government at the State Department in Washington, D.C., and the Guatemalan Consulate, also in Washington. So…what's a girl to do but get in her car and drive the documents to the government offices and present them in person, with a smile, of course.

I left on a Sunday morning so I could be there early on Monday. My friend, Terri, was going with me, but she could only be gone two days. As soon as we finished on Monday, we had to return to South Carolina.

With papers in hand, I went to the State Department of the United States where George Schultz presided at the time. I was in and out of there in minutes. There were nine documents for each of us; eighteen in all.

The Guatemalan Consulate was not as cooperative. It wasn't their policy to complete adoption papers in the same day. I explained the situation about my friend to the receptionist. I said, "She has to get back home to her little girl, so I have to leave the city at five o'clock today." I went on to tell her it was a twelve hour drive to South Carolina.

The lady replied, "You want us to do what? We don't do this in one day. You can leave these with us and we can possibly get them back to you tomorrow. I can't make any promises."
Andy-3 Months Old
I repeated my need to have them authenticated that day. She was not impressed with me, but agreed to give them to her boss. I was sure this was God's plan for us, so we left the papers. I told her I would return at the end of the day.

We spent the day at the Smithsonian Institute of American History; most of the time in the First Ladies Exhibit. Terri has a relative who was a former first lady.

We returned at four-thirty that afternoon to find nine pair of documents with red and blue ribbons and streamers adorning them. The receptionist who gave me the papers was quiet as she handed me the papers. She hesitated, then said, "I don't know who you are to get such treatment." I thanked her profusely and out the door we went, papers in tow.

I thought to myself later, it wasn't who I was, but Who I belong to.

We left the city, along with the gazillion other citizens who work and visit there on a normal Monday, with the most decorated papers I'd ever held in my hands. Twelve hours later, I pulled into her driveway and hugged Terri's neck, knowing we'd shared a life-changing event.

We completed the paperwork and sent it by DHL to the missionaries in Guatemala. We called at approximately midnight on December 13, 1986 to let them know the papers were on their way.

The next words we heard were the sweetest words I'd ever heard up to this point in my life. Claire said, "I'm not supposed to tell you this yet, but I'm holding little Andy, your son."

Tears of joy erupted as we held the phone between us. I blubbered something about not being sure if we were going to call him Andy or Drew. Claire said, "Oh, he's definitely an Andy, he's not a Drew." We spent the next several minutes hearing how our son came to be ours. The planning began in earnest to go after him…to bring him home.

God pursues us in the same way. He desires a relationship with us and He will go to extreme measures to capture our attention…to find us wherever we are…to rescue us and put us in a place where we can be loved and cherished. He will give you His promises and the faithfulness of I AM to stand behind every word.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me all the days of my life.
Psalm 23:6 NLT

It wasn't easy, as the heartaches multiplied before the plane landed on American soil and our sweet boy was tucked safely in his bed at home. Our journey to adoption will continue next week...

What journey are you on? Do you know He wants to pursue you too?

Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Season of Waiting

Do you know what to do in a season of waiting? Or what not to do?

I'm in a season of waiting. I'm not sure what I'm waiting on, but I know it's a "wait" period.

When I emerged from the season of pity after my nest emptied, life began to change; small changes at first, then things picked up measurably last year with writing.

Now I'm back to waiting. Waiting to downsize, waiting to finish projects already started, waiting on properties to sell, and dare I say…waiting to get old.

I've been asked the question if I'm ready for grandchildren. My response is very kind but something like this, "My nest has just emptied and my children aren't even married. There is a natural process my brain follows and grandchildren are not on my radar. But thank you for asking."

Sigh…

I'm in an online book discussion with two lovely women who are as much like me as we are different. This makes for a lively time together. We're at the end of Emily P. Freeman's book, A Million Little Ways––uncover the art you were made to live. Page 147 in the chapter on Waiting says, 

"But the waiting can also grow us, shape us from the inside out for sacred work. This is a kind of work that happens only in the secret place of abiding in the presence of Christ even in the midst of broken dreams and tired circumstance."

Life is lived in the waiting moments; the "in-between moments," as Jeff Goins, the great writer of the book, The In-Between, has coined. No matter what your age is, you will wait for something, at some point…a baby, a job, an answer, a date, a vacation, children or grandchildren to visit or a dream to be fulfilled.

Just remember, when you think nothing is happening, a sacred work is being done. God is at work in the secret place. In the stillness He is at work accomplishing His plan in your life. Look for His handiwork. Get quiet before Him. Seek His face in humility with gratitude. Time in His presence is never wasted. He will rejoice over you with singing.

After I wrote this post, the following morning my reading in Jesus Calling said this, "Waiting, trusting, and hoping are intricately connected, like golden strands interwoven to form a strong chain…Because you are Mine, you don't just pass time in your waiting. You can wait expectantly, in hopeful trust." Those words were exactly what I needed to hear in this season of waiting. And the timing was perfect, especially since He knew I was waffling on publishing this post. 

I waited almost nine years on a baby, thirty-eight years to finally grieve my mom's death, and forty years for the return of my childhood Bible. This season should be a piece of cake…or chocolate. But, it's still difficult. 

Are you waiting for something in your life? Place your trust in the One who knows the future and has the end result for your good in His sight. 

Those in-between moments can be some of the most fulfilling if we trust the outcome to our Creator. 

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14 NIV


Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sole Hope Spells Love

How do you spell Love? S.O.L.E. H.O.P.E.

If you've never spelled it this way, read on to find out why I changed the spelling.

Holly and Anna
www.solehope.com is a ministry dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus through shoes. Dru and Asher Collie founded Sole Hope as a means to provide shoes for children who suffer from the affects of jiggers, a parasitic sand flea. Jiggers bury themselves in human flesh and multiply. If left untreated, they cause infection which leads to disease, amputation and even death. The insects have direct entry into feet since most children in third world countries don't have shoes.

Asher conceived the idea of making a shoe to fit little feet and the plan of having shoe cutting parties was birthed. Shoe parts are cut, and placed in plastic bags to be sent to Uganda for assembly. Factories in Uganda are employing local people…teaching them a skill, offering a better life, a hope for a future…not only a future here on earth, but a future in heaven.

Sole Hope seeks to share the love of Jesus, who  compels them to serve…to wash feet, to remove jiggers, to love the lowly.

The process reminds me of biblical days in the washing of feet…

Picture this with me, if you will… children in long lines…all sizes, shapes, large round eyes, beautiful eyes…

   Wounded children

      Hurting children

And they know at the front of the line there are nice people with a warm pan of water that will bring relief to their pain…they've heard the rumors…they've come to see for themselves…maybe…just maybe…they might help them…

The children's feet are washed, jiggers removed, and feet are treated with medicine. The families are educated on jigger removal and the subsequent care of wounds. Happy children are given shoes, many times, their first and only pair.

Access is given into homes and schools for spraying to eradicate jiggers. Lives are changed because somebody cared enough to do something…to lay aside their own agenda and ask the question, "How can I help?"

My church, Concord Baptist, hosted a Shoe Cutting Party in January. Over 100 women participated, including those who dropped off medical supplies to be shipped to Uganda. Pamela Jones and I had the privilege of delivering our shoe parts and supplies to Asheville, North Carolina, the home base of Sole Hope.

I was excited to see the operation for myself. I'm a visual learner…I want to see, to touch, to experience. I was not disappointed.

Walking through the front door of Sole Hope, we were greeted by two lovely young women, Holly and Anna. They quickly showed us around two rooms of boxes stacked nearly to the ceiling. Churches and organizations from around the world have heard the message of Sole Hope.

We worked four hours unpacking boxes, then repacking, to send on to Uganda. Each bandage, each roll of gauze, and each tube of ointment would find its way to a suffering child. And eventually, each bag of fabric would be sewn by African women, into shoes worn by those same children. Many of the seamstresses have been rescued from human trafficking.

As I told Anna, "There's so much suffering all around us, and we feel helpless, but this is a ministry we can get involved in and see it's making a difference."

The Collie's moved to Uganda in early 2013 with their three young children, to live and work in a country where jiggers are common in children's feet. Yet, they did something uncommon…they went to the problem. They were moved by a heart of compassion to help those who are helpless, to literally, put feet to their prayers.

How about you…are you looking for a place to serve? Do you feel helpless and want to reach out and help the lowly, the orphans, the unloved? Sole Hope is a great way to start. Shoe Cutting Parties are easy and can be done with a few or many. Here's the website www.solehope.com. It will tell you everything you need to know.

If you live close to Asheville, you may want to volunteer your time. You'll be so glad you did.

Now do you understand why I spelled love differently?  
L.O.V.E. = S.O.L.E. H.O.P.E.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love;
but the greatest of these is love. 
1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV 


Blessings from My Little Corner,
Cindy


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