Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's In a Name?

We've had a lot of discussion around the house recently about what Mercy's middle name will be. Before I had traveled to Ghana we discussed the idea of having her birthmother's name as her middle name as a way to honor her. However, when I discussed this idea with Mercy she reacted negatively. I think for now it might just be too painful for her.

We'd like to have a name that meant something special. Honestly, I know it's hard to pair anything with Salzwedel and have roll off the tongue. I'm hoping you can help me out with some good suggestions!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

God IS in the Miracle Business

Yesterday I decided to check ticket prices for flights to Ghana and was most unpleasantly surprised to find out tickets were now $1,000 more than just a couple of weeks ago. And I did it again - put God in a box. Like God doesn't own the cattle on a thousand hills. Like He couldn't provide however much extra we would need. Like whether we need $1,500 or $3,500...He knows.

As we were leaving the house around 6:00 I remembered I hadn't gotten the mail today. You know, never really look forward to it. Usually just bills and junk mail, but today there was something different. A hand addressed envelope with no return address. And inside that envelope was another envelope with "Mercy" written on it. And inside that envelope was


Just like that...boom...$1,300. Just yesterday the mountain seemed huge and today not so much. That, my friends, is God. And when I doubt or have fear I need to remember this moment and all of the other moments where God has shown His loving faithfulness. He will complete this good work He began.

Thank you Lord and thank you anonymous. We are blown away by God's goodness and your generosity.

"God owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
the wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
the sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -
He is my Father so their mine as well;
God owns the cattle on a thousand hills -
I know that He will care for me."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fingerprinting: A Day to Remember

Today was a GREAT day! We traveled to Milwaukee to be re-fingerprinted. Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to the long drive and of course I was disappointed that we even had to go through this again. When I realized this would have to be done it was really just another reminder that Mercy wasn't home. I am really eating my words now because it was a very memorable day.

We left on time (a miracle for us!) and had a leisurely drive to Milwaukee. We stopped for breakfast and it was nice to be able to just talk without being interrupted. We reached our destination at USCIS about 15 minutes early and even got a parking spot close by. After digging around for some change for the meter I got out and promptly stepped in a large pile of doggie poo. Seriously. Even this could not deter our joyful mood. Actually we got quite a few chuckles out of it. Sick eh?

We got right in and were blessed with a friendly employee who chatted us up and shared a few laughs. She asked about who we were adopting and was excited that we were bringing an "older" child into our family. She was fun and we were in and out in 30 minutes flat.

We took the opportunity to explore Milwaukee a bit and drove down by Lake Michigan to walk around the Milwaukee Art Museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed, but there was still plenty to explore for free outside. I was particularly enjoying the beautiful architecture in the area. It was fun and leisurely which was a welcome distraction to the wait.

We made a pitstop in Oshkosh on the way back home and had a late lunch at Red Robin with our great niece. It was a long day and we are tired, but who knew a date for fingerprinting could be so much fun! We were blessed with an amazing day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Praying for Mercy

Today our I-600 paperwork arrived in Texas! It feels SO GOOD to have this out of my hands. I was so excited to have mailed this yesterday so when I came home from my morning ladies group and saw I had new pictures in my inbox I was doubly thrilled.

Until I opened them.

I noticed with the previous set of pics (and other people commented as well), that Mercy just seemed off. She wasn't her usual perky, smiley self. Needless to say I have been very concerned for her well-being and shed quite a few tears over these.

We are praying for all obstacles to Mercy's homecoming be removed. We are praying that any approvals we need will be obtained quickly and without fail. We are praying for a hedge of protection to be placed around Mercy. Also, we are praying that the finances needed for travel will not be an issue and that anything we need for when that time comes will be there. We are trusting God for his love and protection over Mercy's life. Our hope is in Him.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Kindness of "Strangers"

I've recently become "bloggy friends" with a wonderful family from the midwest who is currently living in Italy and adopting from Haiti. Her husband happens to travel to Ghana quite frequently with his work.

I was blessed when she wrote recently to ask if there was anything I had wished I would have brought back from Ghana but didn't. I was amazed by her generous offer and wrote her back to let her know I had bought a Ghanaian clothing item for everyone but myself. She quickly offered that her husband needed a reason to shop in Ghana and that he would be on the lookout for something special.

The box arrived the other day and I opened it to find an exquisitely embroided ensemble and a figurine that symbolized "life is precious". The outfit also came with a headwrap that I have not quite mastered (yet). I plan to wear it on the day Mercy is dedicated at church.

I feel blessed that God chose to connect me with this family via the United States, Italy, Haiti & Ghana. The world is certainly feeling like a smaller place all the time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pictures Are Better Than Gold

A friend's husband got these pictures of Mercy while he was in Ghana recently. New pictures always bring about a flurry of emotions. I wonder what she is thinking. I wonder if she wonders if I'm really ever coming back. Oh how I love this sweet, spunky girl!

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Life of Excess

I sat in our basement yesterday and cried. I've been cleaning, organizing and purging down there in preparation for adding another member to our family and was just suddenly overwhelmed at how much "stuff" we have. Mind you, I've already sold or given away huge amounts of "stuff", but I still felt deeply ashamed of all that we have.

"Stuff" packed up in boxes. "Stuff" we don't care about. Boxes and boxes of clothes the children have outgrown.

Why. oh. why. did. we. buy. all. this. STUFF!?

We do not live an extravagant lifestyle by American standards. I generally clearance shop and don't spend any money on perks like a professional dye job or manicure. We don't live in a huge house or have a new car. Our shopping and spending habits changed drastically a few years back when Jeff lost his job, but we still have work to do. Learning the difference between what we NEED and what we WANT has been good for us all - including the kids.

When I looked around at all of our "stuff" I realized how foolish and wasteful it was. I wept for the dollars I spent on things that don't matter to us. Things that get shoved to the back of a closet. I think of all of the good that could have been done with that money. A few dollars here and there would have added up to a lot that could be given to people making a difference or to people lacking the basic essentials to live.

The truth is that I have a deep desire to simplify. I want to be a better steward. My possessions have slowly lost their meaning and I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 23rd the day we have our FINGERPRINTING appointment! Of course I wish it were next week, but I am thrilled that we have an appointment at all. Knowing we are in the home stretch is quickly becoming the hardest part of the wait. It's like having a piece of cheesecake sitting in front of you, but being told you can't eat it. HARD!
Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers

I was blessed with new pictures today. One of them shows her talking on the phone with me. I love, love, love this girl!

The Good, The Bad, and the Wee Bit Sad

Yesterday was a rollercoaster of emotions kind of day. I was thrilled to wake up and find an e-mail containing the last bit of stuff we needed to file our I-600. It is a huge relief to have everything to be able to do this. It was sweet to see our last name behind Mercy's on an official piece of paper. Unfortunately I can't do anything with this paperwork because of our expired fingerprints.

Normally I would be semi-content to wait, but the reality of Mercy's living situation has me feeling in a hurry. I haven't said much on here, but the orphanage where Mercy was living was closed at the beginning of summer. She has pretty much been bounced around from place to place since then. She is currently being cared for by a lady I was told is her grandmother, however, the social welfare report I received says it is her aunt. Familial terms seem to be used very loosely in Ghana so it's hard to know how exactly this person is related to her. I did have someone check on her last week and was told that the "grandmother" was out traveling and she left Mercy in the care of her older male cousins (again, a guess). You can imagine that this has been very concerning. If she were in an orphanage setting I would at least feel confident that she is being supervised and fed. The reality is that I don't know either of those things are happening right now.

It was also the sad realization that one year ago yesterday Anchise was placed back with her mom. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Anchise and my journey to Haiti. The truth is that I wouldn't change any of it. I am so thankful for the people that I've met by being a part of the Haiti crowd. I am thankful that I got to love Anchise (and still do). The reality is that I think my children are best cared for by me. If Anchise's mom is able to care for her, then that is where she belongs. Maybe my role in her life was to reunite her with a mom that loves her. I may never fully understand it this side of heaven, but I am at peace with it.

If you feel inclined to pray, we covet your prayers for Mercy, our fingerprinting appointment and the final steps to bring her home. Please pray for our remaining finances needed ~ we need about $1,500 yet to buy Mercy's plane ticket and my in-country expenses for pick up. Also, please take a moment to pray for sweet Anchise. I pray God's blessings are showered on her and her mother.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jumpin' the Hoops

One of the things non-adoptive families have been curious about is why in the world your fingerprints expire. All I can say is that it makes no sense to me personally. At some point you just get used to jumping through all the ridiculous hoops. You almost expect them. Like if something actually made sense it would almost make no sense to someone who's been in the adoption process for some time.

Our fingerprints expired last Thursday and I haven't received a new appointment yet. I was excited when I went to the mailbox today and found an envelope from USCIS. The letter said this:
We have received your request to be re-fingerprinted. You will receive an appointment letter within 6 weeks. If you should have any questions please contact your adoption agency.

Seriously? They sent me a letter to let me know they would send me another letter with an appointment. Why not just schedule a time and send one letter thus freeing up more time of one our valuable government adoption workers? Nothing really surprises me at this point, but after talking with Mercy this morning I am happy to jump through whatever hoops necessary. It is worth it. She wants and needs a family. We want her to be a part of our family. I will keep jumping with God's strength.

But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
Oh my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, oh God, are my fortress, my loving God.
Psalm 59:16-17