Sunday, November 30, 2014

7,925,760 miracles (and counting) since...

My how time flies?!?! We last wrote on Dec 22nd...344 days ago (or so). No excuses as to why, we've obviously devoted time elsewhere over the last year and leaned on other forms of Social media to share pictures and updates.

As we had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Edyn's first Thanksgiving in the US last week, and in looking back over the memories made this time last year (while in Peru), all the while looking ahead at what is to come- we felt it was time to share more than a quick FB status, note or picture update. Of course, we'll try to keep this as concise as possible, yet fill you in as best we can on what God has done for our family. I won't take you as long to read this as it did to compose it.

We moved to Little Rock, Ar on Sat, Jan 4th of this year. We were quite busy during the Christmas season with family from Texas & Pennsylvania with us, as well as packing our belongings.) Our last visitors left on Thursday, Jan 2nd & we began loading the moving truck the next day. We spent the first few weeks (which then turned into months) unpacking, getting Edyn registered and set up as a day student at the Arkansas School for the Deaf, & making several trips back to Chattanooga to see through the sale of our home there. It was mid-March before we really began to feel the rhythm of life here in Little Rock.

Along with getting settled as a family in a new place (and with a new member), we began having Edyn's health evaluated. We knew she would need all of her immunizations, but we also wanted to have her hearing tested as well as other precautionary tests. You may recall that in Peru, she was diagnosed as having Cerebral Palsy (CP). Naturally, we wanted to know as much as possible about her health. (More on that in a bit).

Even before we moved, we knew exactly what Church God was leading us to become a part of here in Little Rock. We attended the first 'Next Steps' class that was offered in January and joined a small group as quickly as we could. By God's providence,  the small group we were placed in, is one that  is led by two medical doctors. Matt & Leanne (and their family) have been an indescribable blessing to our family and have quickly become great friends. They aren't just ANY doctors though, they both work for Arkansas Children's Hospital. Oh, and they're an adoptive family as well. Talk. About. God.

I cannot begin to tell you how many doctor's appointments Edyn has had...or how many procedures (I bet Mommy can), but suffice it to say our Insurance out of pocket was met pretty quickly (again, another God thing- thankful for insurance)! So as to not bore you with the details, the Doctors determined rather quickly that she does not have CP, but most likely some form of Ataxia. I say 'most likely' because we are still awaiting some specific blood work results that will (hopefully) pin point exactly what kind of Ataxia she has.

Truthfully, this past year has not been all roses. Adoption. IS. Messy. I repeat, ADOPTION IS MESSY. We've had challenges... we've shed tears... happy ones, sad ones... we've laughed, hugged, kissed & cried some more. Edyn is doing great in many areas, as is our entire family unit. Yet, we've faced some of the most frustrating & challenging times as it relates to her health in just the last 2-3 months. The short of the long is- Edyn has lost a significant amount of her mobility. She began sleeping more & more, often times forgoing dinner after school to go to bed. She stopped using her walker (which we used for distance, at school, etc) and asked to be carried citing she was weak (and pointing to her legs). When she did walk, she was falling quite often- one time hitting her head on a TV stand. It was with much prayer, and with medical consultation that the decision was made for her to begin using a wheelchair. Surprisingly (and thankfully), she welcomed this change. She was very excited to begin using this medium of transportation as soon as we got her loaner chair. She still walks short distances while in our home, but she uses the chair outside the home & while at school. She will have a power chair by the end of the year- hopefully! We are still awaiting insurance to approve this.

So... where does this leave us? Waiting & trusting. We have seen & felt God's hand time and again throughout our lives and even more so as it relates to Edyn. We looked at a wheelchair-accessible van within the last few days that will fit our family perfectly and most importantly- allow us to move about as a family comfortably. The van we have now works... but Edyn has to move from her chair into her seat, and we have to heave-ho the chair into the van. With her 300 pound power chair, that will not be an option. We are trusting that God will provide the financing needed to purchase this accessible van. Will you join us in praying that God will guide us in this process? He has never let us down. After all, He has provided approximately 8 million miracles in the form of breaths taken into our lungs since we last wrote. He has given the means for us to take each breath...surely He will provide the means to continue forward on this journey.

Well... hopefully that gives you a good glimpse of where we are. As always, if you don't see or hear anything from us, don't hesitate to check in along the way. We'll certainly try to do better with this blog.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

My ONE gift?!

Please accept our apologies for not writing in a few days. If we're friends on Facebook, you're probably aware that the last 48+ hours have been a bit of a whirlwind. Here's what God did- 

On Friday, we were at the US Embassy by 9:30 AM and by 11, we were leaving with a pink card that would allow Jonathan re-entry at 3 PM to pick up E's Visa. We immediately went back to the house we were staying in and called Delta to see about moving to that night's flight instead of the flight on Monday night. It took three phone calls (we kept getting disconnected as we were calling via Skype), and long conversations with multiple people. Finally, we got to the right person at the right time. After sharing our story, and explaining that we were in a home without furniture, using air mattresses and a small wooden patio table, and simply that we just really needed to get home- the wonderful agent waived all Mileage requirements (they were asking for 30,000 more skymiles a piece for 2/5 tickets) as well as $400 each for two of the other tickets. This is in addition to the change fees they had already agreed to waive. That's a total of $1,500 right there. Go God! Oh, not to mention we got the last 5 seats on the plane. 

E was SO EXCITED when we told her we were flying home to the US that night. Of course, J and L were also pretty ecstatic. We got to the airport in plenty of time, about 4 hours early just to be safe, only to learn that we wouldn't be able to check in until at least three hours before. It was all cool though, because the family that "just-so-happened" to be in front of us were some Missionaries that teach at La Molina Christian School there in Lima. It was neat to talk with them, share our story and hear theirs. We checked in okay, and made it through immigration and to our gate. Part of the dilemma of booking a trip last minute, and getting the last seats on the plane- they're not together. Our wonderful gate agent was gracious & patient enough to move some things around so we could have seats together. E was asleep before we took off & stayed asleep until breakfast was served an hour before we landed. I think she slept better and more than the rest of us. 

We had a great 2-hour ride back to Chatt from the airport and then just vegged around the house, enjoying time as a family with Josh, Michelle & Sadie. We're so thankful they were able to meet us at the airport and spend the day with us. 

It was both humbling and joyous to see E's reaction as we entered the house and saw the Christmas tree, and then as she saw her room. She had seen her room before via skype but now she was HERE
 and experiencing it for herself. For most of the morning, she stayed in her room and played while we were downstairs talking. Every chance she got to tell us (as we checked on her), she would remind us that she was in "my room" playing with "my toys." She's never had that before. Oh my, what we take for granted. When she did come downstairs, we pointed out some gifts under the Christmas tree and indicated that one was hers. The way her face lit up, you would've thought she was just crowned Miss Universe (which by the way, she and her Mom are front runners anyhow). She then said "one gift, mine. That's all" but she was content. We were touched at her sincerity and the realization yet again that by Gods grace, E has been given (and will continue to be) more than her little mind can ever imagine. 

What's so crazy about that, is that is exactly how our relationship works with God. When we accept His invitation to be a part of His family, EVERYTHING he has becomes ours...and we cannot and will not ever fully grasp the depth and grandeur of His love and how much he provides for and protects us. Wow. 

Well, we want to Church today. It was a blast. Great to be 'home' with the people we've called family for over 10 years now. It was so much fun to share her with everyone. Some dear friends came by after Church to share some gifts and visit. We enjoyed the time with them. Next few weeks promise to have some ups & downs as we transition to Little Rock, but we're confident this is His plan for our family.  

Michelle's family arrived this evening. My family is en route. Chrismas will indeed be special, for many reasons not the least of which is celebrating how much God loves us and how He has blessed us richly this year. 

We'll write again in a few days. Here's some pictures- 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

UPDATE- Moving mountains (Day 31)

Please forgive the lack of posts yesterday and today (Saturday), long story short- God moved the proverbial mountain(s) yet again and as I type, we're home in the US! It's been a whirl-wind 36 hours and this on about 3 hours sleep. We'll compose an exciting post tomorrow (Sunday). Appreciate your prayers and support. 


Most of you are aware by now, LOADS of things happened today with our journey. To sum it up in one word- God. That's all. Really, we could end today's post right there but for anyone that knows me- you'll probably agree that I'm usually not a man of a few words. At least not once I start to talk or write. 

On to today's events- our lawyer(s) were promptly at the main ID office today when it opened as that is where we were told the paperwork would be delivered first thing today. They were expecting an uphill battle trying to push for its printing by late morning and it's delivery to the pick-up office on the noon courier run. This way, we would hopefully have it by mid-afternoon and subsequently get the passport. Enter God. (Of course He has always "been here" and "mountains" have always been moving- it's just that these were the size of Rushmore-minus the faces, and we got to see them moving right before our eyes).

 The phone call that changed it all. While waiting to speak with someone, Karina's phone rang. It was someone from the ID office letting her know the ID had been generated and would be sent to the San Borja office. Then, almost immediately another call came in, this time from the lady we dealt mostly with yesterday at San Borja, who said "We have your ID ready, come and get it." Naturally, she did. She informed us as she was on her way and I contacted Guille so he could reach out to his contact at the Passport office. (Mountain moved)

Within 30 minutes, Marilena (Karina's mom) arrived with the ID and while we were holding and admiring this most precious piece of plastic that has taken years off the end of our lives, Guille pulled up. We piled in his car to head over to the Passport office. We first had to stop at the Banco de la NaciĆ³n (Nation's Bank) to pay the Passport fee- it's kind of nice that in any government office here, no money changes hands...I suppose it's to prevent the appearance of fraud or preferential treatment.  Anyhow, we walked into the bank and we're stopped by a line of people. Our wait there would've easily been 30-40 minutes were it not for the Peruvian version of the ADA. Since E was with us, and she is considered handicapped, we were moved to the front of the line. We walked out in about 8 minutes. (Mountain moved) 

We arrived at the passport office and while getting a few necessary copies made next door, Guille went ahead to notify his contact we were there. We must've walked past 30-35 people waiting to submit their passport application. We submitted E's and had her picture taken in less than 15 minutes. Then, we walked over to the area where one awaits the printing and delivery of their passport. Guille shared a few words with someone who appeared to be in charge behind that desk and within about 10 minutes, I was handed a hot-off-the-press passport. Literally, it was still warm when they handed it to me. (Mountain moved)

We immediately went to the Doctors office to request her medical file. Long story short there, the files were expedited this afternoon to the embassy to await our appointment tomorrow morning at 10 AM. More on that in a bit. We're not supposed to be able to have an appointment at the Embassy tomorrow, and Karina was trying to get an appointment for this afternoon- but the Counsel was not going to be able to see us. They were so gracious to grant us an appointment tomorrow under the circumstances. (Another mountain moved.) 

Wow. What a day. Go God. He did all these things, and He did them in His time and in His way. I'd like to day we never doubted but if you've read this blog, you know that's not true. I'm pretty sure that's true for all of us from time to time in our lives. If you DON'T ever doubt, we need to talk. Apparently you've got plenty of money and stuff in this life and you need to share. 

Here's what's really awesome about all this timing. The Doctor's office closes at 1PM tomorrow (their normal lunch closing time) but they won't open again in the afternoon as they usually do...and in fact, they won't open until NEXT Friday. So, IF we had not been able to get the ID until tomorrow morning, and if we hadn't been blessed to meet Guille (who um, by the way is a part of a small group of 7 or 8 couples that God has flipped upside down since April of this year...several marriages reunited, several of the couples got saved...all because of a marriage retreat...and David & Lala "Just-so-happen" to be a part of this group assisting the lead couple...I could go on) we may not have gotten the passport until later in the morning...which may have caused us to miss the 1PM closing. 

I rest my case. Mountains moved. That is all. 

Tomorrow, we have E's Visa interview at 10 AM and Lord willing, we'll have her visa. If not, Mountaims will still be moved. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spiritually Bi-polar (Day 30)

*Let me start off by saying what I hope is obvious- by no means do I intend to disrespect the term or those who suffer physically from the disorder.*

Have you ever experienced times in your life where one moment you felt great spiritually and undoubtedly, God was in control, or what about a time when you felt like God was far off and your prayers were ricocheting off the ceiling above you as if you weren't worthy enough to utter such petitions? Perhaps you've been in tense moments when you've prayed silently over & over while things were being said or done right before your eyes that God would work right then and there. Well, that about sums up what we encountered and experienced today. 

In my heart of hearts, I wish I were writing that we received E's ID today but I'm not. Marilena (Karina's mom-also an Adoptions Attorney) and I were promptly waiting at the ID office when it opened at 8:30 this morning. After a few rounds with several of the office personnel, and a brief but cordial meeting with the director of the office- we left with the understanding that essentially the ID process now starts from scratch and since it won't throw any flags (the old one has been cancelled), we should have it (God willing) within 48 hours. 

While in the office threatening action pushing for information, we learned that the picture we submitted wouldn't pass through the final step before printed (PROVIDENTIALLY), so we came back to the house to get E and take her to get another picture taken. After that, we went back to the ID office to drop those pictures off. Lo & behold, we were able to speak with the lady that we started off speaking with this morning. She instantly fell in love with E and began signing to her. She didn't know many signs, but she knew a few such as "I love you," among others. As we sat there watching her remove the old pictures and attaching the new ones, she said- "you know, I had another case like this once and the day after the old one was officially cancelled, we got the new ID." So, we took that as a reminder from God that ultimately nothing happens without HIS blessing. Certainly, we want to take what she said with a grain of salt, but thankfully- we can take God's promises to heart. He promised to never leave us or forsake us. Momentary doubts and fears aside, we are confident that God called us to this journey of adoption and we're equally as confident that He will see it through to completion.

Please keep praying for the following matters:
  • God to be glorified every step of the way 
  • E's ID to be generated 
  • That we can get the passport immediately after the ID 
  • Favor with the US embassy so we can get an appointment quickly (perhaps on Friday) and subsequently get the Visa ASAP.  
All the notes of encouragement via email, FB posts & messages have been very encouraging. Thank you! 

I leave you with a verse from Paul that was just a HUGE encouragement to me- "Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

II Thessalonians 3:16

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trying to Trust (Day 29)

OWell, in some ways it's hard to believe that we've been here for almost 30 days now. I'm pretty confident to say that we've experienced every kind of emotion, and every level of tension and/or stress that is humanly possible. It's been another disappointing day, speaking transparently. We still do not have E's ID, which is the ONE thing that has now halted the process since last Tuesday. We now know that her previous ID has officially been cancelled (see yesterday's or last Friday's post for more information), but this new request has to travel BACK to the office where we requested it (by Courier) and it won't be there until tomorrow morning. Then, once it's reviewed there- it goes back to the main office where it is now so the ID can be printed. Karina hopes to kindly put pressure on them tomorrow morning to do so quickly...

Here's the kicker- the US Embassy doesn't issue Visas on Fridays (as a general rule), so unless we can have everything in order by Thursday morning (getting the ID, then the passport), chances are- we won't be able to get an appointment at the Embassy until Monday. Monday, as we all know- is the day before Christmas Eve. We don't really know how things would work if it spilled over into Tuesday, but we know for sure that if it didn't happen by then, we'd be forced to stay through Christmas. Right now, we're scheduled to fly out of Lima just after 1 AM on Christmas Eve. Honestly, it would be VERY difficult to have to tell the kids (J & L especially) that we won't be home for Christmas if this stuff doesn't happen in time.

Since our family here is flying back to the US tomorrow night/Thursday morning, we too had consulted with Delta to see about the possibility of leaving at the same time. This was initially thought to be possible before this ID hangup. It would've made sense to leave then since the house will be void of furniture, but at this point- unless EVERYTHING happens tomorrow it's not looking like that is feasible. Also, for a 5 year old girl that's being adopted, and experiencing many new feelings & emotions, trying to understand the concept that "Tio & Tia" are leaving to go to the US, but we're staying for a few extra days might be daunting.

Appreciate you keeping in touch, if you have a second to write us by email, drop us a note on FB, or comment below to let us know you're "out there"- we'd be touched and honored to hear from you...not to mention it would most certainly be an encouragement during these stressful moments.

At the risk of sounding dismal, we wanted to be as transparent as possible with today's post. We hope you'll keep us in your thoughts & prayers.

Trying to trust that God knows's just hard to do sometimes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Heart of the Matter (Day 28)

Quite a bit has happened since we last wrote on Friday, unfortunately however- nothing as it relates to E's ID. We learned today (after several emails and phone calls to our lawyer) that the reason we don't yet have an ID is because her fingerprint was flagged in the system (no, she's not a wanted criminal) but she did apparently have a "false ID" before. This is something that was likely generated for her on behalf of the orphanage so that she could receive medical treatment, etc when needed. So, now that they've researched this, her old ID has been cancelled and once the ID office's attorney and chief of the office sign off, a new one can be generated. That may have happened today- except for the fact that said attorney was.... Out sick. What a bummer! 

Our Attorney (Karina) was instructed to be at that particular office at 11 AM tomorrow to see if these two signatures have been inked on the appropriate lines. Then, she can begin to push to have the ID generated by early afternoon, God-Willing. Once that is done, we can go straight to the passport office to get her passport. That part should happen rather quickly, as a general rule it can be made within a matter of hours. 

Here's what's cool- yesterday, David and Lala (our gracious hosts) had a get-together for their small group. It was a "going away" sort of gathering since they're moving back to the US on Wednesday/Thursday. Well, they were gracious enough to invite us (we offered to bug-off for the afternoon), and their group welcomed us with open arms. They've known about us as prayer requests were shared with them over the past few weeks/months regarding our journey. Anyhow, my point- one of the gentleman in the group "just-so-happens" (Providence) to know one of the directors in the local Passport office. So, once we're ready for that step- we're to let him know and hopefully we will receive  a "fast-pass" to get her Passport even quicker than the standard issue time-frame. (There's a whole lot more to the story behind the members of this small group, no time to share here but just know God has done amazing things in each of their lives over the last 8-9 months and it was encouraging to hear such awesome stories.) 

In closing, Friday honestly was tough. We're SO close to being done and yet...NOTHING is happening (or so it seems). Add to that the stress of trying to sell a house (in one city) finding a place to live (in another), and preparing to move...all within the next 2-3 weeks, and I'm about to keel over in pain just thinking about it. We decided to get out and walk, just to get some fresh air and as I was thinking...praying...(letting God have it)... A song came to mind. I was more curious about the reason behind the song, more than the lyric itself and did some research. See, Matt Redman may have penned these words for a slightly different reason, yet the heart of the matter is this- distraction. I live my life...distracted with the shiny things. Lord, forgive me. 

Do you ever get distracted with the 'good things' in life that aren't the 'best things'? Here's part of the song- 
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus

So what all has changed since our last post? Our heart and perspective...hopefully. 

Please keep us in your prayers. 

Soli Deo gloria 

Friday, December 13, 2013

When God doesn't answer (Day 25)

Yesterday we asked all of our family and friends via social to join us in prayer that E's ID would be generated by the DNI office today. As a result we were most certainly overwhelmed by everyone's prayers and thoughtful words of support last night and today, however as it would turn out- we did not get E's ID. More on that later.

I'm aware of those who've had experiences more serious than this and not having an answer from God contributed towards a falling away of sorts. I mean, HUNDREDS...perhaps THOUSANDS of people were praying for this specifically, we ourselves were praying...we paused several times and sometimes lengthy periods to pray that this would happen, but it didn't. Why? Short answer- I don't know. Please allow me a brief moment to elaborate.

It's not that God DIDN'T answer, it's just that we didn't get the answer we wanted. What we were praying for was that the ID would come today, what we got was "No'. Now- I would think that most everyone reading this would agree that deep down inside each of us there's something that pushes back at that like a 4 year old being told they can't have something they really want. As the day progressed, and once it became obvious that today would not be the day...I began to do a self-analysis of sorts and while walking to the store a few blocks away (something that has become nearly a daily trip for groceries, etc), I was encouraged with two thoughts I'd like to share here.

  1. Be Thankful- In spite of not getting the ID today, we are still 'ahead of the game' in the process and are still well within our target departure date time frame in so far as the last things we need in order to head home. Also, as each DAY passes, we see more and more the ways in which God solidifies our family and draws us closer to each other. We are all healthy- many thanks to those who prayed for Jaiden and myself in our brief bouts. 

  2.  Be Trusting- God knows best. After all, if God was one that catered to my every whim & wish- I would probably be in a miserable state. There's an old hymn that contains a line- "oh for grace to trust Him more..." Truthfully, I don't like the fact that we didn't get the ID today- but I'm at peace with it...During my prayers today, I (by God's grace) had to get to the point where I could say (it wasn't easy) "no matter what God, if you don't want us to have the be it." Evidently I (we) needed to be reminded that ultimately this process HAS reached this point...and will only move further HOW and WHEN God wants it to. It all goes back to the lesson I shared in this post last Friday. I wouldn't want a God that was predictable, one that gave me EVERYTHING I wanted when and how I wanted it...essentially, I wouldn't need to trust...I think that's called entitlement. 
Although we didn't get E's ID today, we did get word that it should be Monday. We are praying that God would orchestrate that...again, if it's His will. We are still on track to have everything completed by Tuesday or Wednesday if all goes well on Monday. Also, we had E's TB site checked today after the 48 hour period and thankfully, it was negative so no further testing is needed. All medical 'work' is now done and once we have the passport (after her ID), we can pick up her medical report for the Embassy to get her Visa. God be praised!

Lala was gracious enough to take us downtown to the main plaza where we were able to see some gorgeous buildings and the Presidential palace. Here's some pictures of our day-

Much love to all of you. Most likely we'll take a weekend blog hiatus. Talk to you on Monday- with LOTS to report God willing.