Friday, January 29, 2010

We are logged into the National Visa Center!!!!

I'm so excited!!!! Its virtually impossible to get through to the National Visa Center (NVC) especially with all the Haitians Visa's being processed now, so I called at 6:30am, I'm up anyway, and was able to actually reach a human being!! (This, after several days of hearing nothing but their recording… "Hello, you've reached the National Visa Center. If you're calling about a Haiti related issue, dial 1, …I'll spare you the whole message.) Anyway, a very nice lady said our case was logged into their system on January 27th and would probably be processed and logged out soon. (Average processing time is 2-5 days) I was given my case number and then hung up!! I'm so happy!! This means several things:

  1. Our case information has been entered correctly into the system (a huge relief because it doesn't always happened this way)
  2. They are processing Visas normally; no significant delays because of Haiti!
    I am done with paperwork because they have it all, and it's all correct!!

What does this mean as far as a timeline? Well here's what has to happen before we can get a travel call:

  • NVC will log out our case and send the information to the embassy in Seoul, South Korea.
    The U.S. Embassy will send a packet called the P3 to our adoption agency.
  • The agency will gather all the necessary paperwork and return the completed packet to the embassy. (We have to have our Emigration Permit (EP) in order to have the packet returned…ours was submitted on January 12th. We expect it to be approved in a couple weeks)
  • The agency can then schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy for the baby, social worker and foster mother. This is called the Embassy Appearance. (AKA: EA)
  • After the appointment, the official Visa Interview will be scheduled (AKA: VI)
  • About a week later we get a travel call. (AKA: TC)

When will we travel? It typically takes about a month from the time you receive your Emigration Permit. So if I was to put a general timeframe on this, I'd say 6-8 weeks? Maybe less maybe more. Who knows..I do know were moving and getting closer!!! YEAH!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Job description of a Pastor

My church is currently looking for a pastor and there is much debate over this as one can imagine! I ran across this great description of a pastor by John MacArthur. I really appreciate his completely Biblical viewpoint and his absolute refusal to allow the world to pressure or change his view of what God says a pastor should be. Here are some excerpts:

"And my heart aches for pastors these days, it really does, because it's seemingly more difficult now than it was in past years. We live in an anti-authority culture, we live in a culture that has lost all respect for people in positions of influence and authority. It's tear down everybody, tear down everything. It's a destructive culture and it's hard for us to survive in that because even our churches are seems to me that this is the age of Diotrephes, people want to rise to have the preeminence..."

"You get discouraged because you don't have more people, or your church isn't growing. You go to some seminar and somebody gives you a bag of tricks how to get more people, and books are written about how to increase your numbers. And you go to another seminar and somebody tells you how to impact your culture and how to penetrate your community, and how to come up with this program and that problem...that program so you can reach beyond the church and grasp the culture and revolutionize the culture., and pastors get beleaguered with this stuff, they get discouraged with this. It's all intimidation. It really is, and it's really off the point of what we do, and I want to tell you what the point is as simply as I can..."

"If you're a pastor, you have one have one job. It's this, Shepherd the flock of God among you....that's your job. You are not a cultural evangelist, you are not a society penetrator, you're not an entrepreneur, you're not a revolutionary, you are a feeder of the flock of God."

Jesus said:
“I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
“All whom the Father chose will be called.”
“All who are called will come.”
“All who come will be received by Christ.”
“All whom Christ receives, He will keep. All whom He keeps, He will raise at the last day.”

"Our job is to feed His sheep. And the day you move your eyes beyond the people sitting in your church who belong to Christ, that's the day you just lost your purpose."

To read the entire article click here

Monday, January 25, 2010

We have been officially approved!

I came home today to find an envelope lying on my counter. The return address was marked U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I became immediately interested, thinking that this may be our i600 approval we've been waiting for form immigration. I also thought it could be yet another request for something else immigration needs; another file, document, who knows…So I opened it and to my complete delight I saw the words, "Notice of Approval…" I flipped!!!

I really didn't expect this so quickly! I thought it would take at least a couple weeks to process our fingerprints, but it only took two days!!! I'm so happy!!! I'm about to cry right now. I even took a picture of the note for you all to see! It's the one of the most beautiful things I've ever read!!! I have no idea what this means as far as our timeframe, but it's a huge obstacle that we are now FINALLY over!!! I'm so, so thankful.

Yes...I'm a dork and took a picutre. Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Holding loosely

Still struggling. Still battling anger and grappling with despair; 4 months later and we're not even close. I mean not close at all. No Emigration Permit, no i600, nothing…we have nothing. Now the National Visa Center is backlogged with Haitian visas they're rushing through…and rightfully so, I commend them for this, it must be done, I'm glad its being done! Please do this! God bless them!!!!…but its just one more thing. Every day its just another thing. How did I end up here? Why am I here? I have no idea. I have no fight left in me. I have come to this conclusion; If I ever hold this baby it will be an act of God; nothing short of a miracle.

So with that in mind, I am not calling one more person. I'm not sending one more email. I'm not checking on anything. I am not lifting a finger. For the past 4 months I have done nothing but, call, email, write letters, track down paperwork and run to FedEx to get documents where they need to be, and It has done nothing to help us. I've spent more money on overnighting papers that I can count, and for what? …so they can sit on a desk, untouched. I can't do it any more. I'm tired. I'm defeated. I'm spent and I'm not lifting a finger. If this baby is to be a part of our family, then God Himself will have to orchestrate it, because I'm not God, and I can't do anything about it. This is His issue. I lay it squarely at His feet. Sweet Ha-Seon is His baby and He will do as He wishes with her future. I hope I am included in it, but I have no guarantee of this. Admittedly, it is nearly impossible to hold so loosely onto something so precious, but it is good to know that she is tightly held in the hands of God who is always good, even now, even when I don't understand, even when I'm frustrated, even when I can't stand it, even when I just cry, He is good. Maybe God's been waiting for me to lay it down. Humm...I'm clearly a very slow learner.

Job 2:10 "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Raw Truth

The following is an excerpt from the most compelling article about abortion I've ever read. I first read it on 1516 (another blog I love!) and was so moved that I had to direct you to it as well.

"Hern and Harris chose to stay in the abortion business; one of the first doctors to change his allegiance was Paul Jarrett, who quit after only 23 abortions. His turning point came in 1974, when he performed an abortion on a fetus at 14 weeks' gestation: "As I brought out the rib cage, I looked and saw a tiny, beating heart," he would recall. "And when I found the head of the baby, I looked squarely in the face of another human being—a human being that I just killed."

"Kathy Sparks is another convert formerly responsible for disposing of fetal remains, this time at an Illinois abortion clinic. Her account of the experience that led her to exit the abortion industry (taken from the Pro-Life Action League website in 2004) reads in part: The baby's bones were far too developed to rip them up with [the doctor's] curette, so he had to pull the baby out with forceps. He brought out three or four major pieces. .  .  . I took the baby to the clean up room, I set him down and I began weeping uncontrollably. .  .  . I cried and cried. This little face was perfectly formed."

"Other converts were driven into the pro-life movement by advances in ultrasound technology. The most recent example is Abby Johnson, the former director of Dallas-area Planned Parenthood. After watching, via ultrasound, an embryo "crumple" as it was suctioned out of its mother's womb, Johnson reported a "conversion in my heart." Likewise, Joan Appleton was the head nurse at a large abortion facility in Falls Church, Virginia, and a NOW activist. Appleton performed thousands of abortions with aplomb until a single ultrasound-assisted abortion rattled her. As Appleton remembers, "I was watching the screen. I saw the baby pull away. I saw the baby open his mouth. .  .  . After the procedure I was shaking, literally."

To read the entire article (…which I strongly encourage you to do…) click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bind my Wandering Heart…

I wake up every morning angry; angry I'm still waiting; angry that the immigration officer won't approve my i600; angry she waited to mail the fingerprint forms; angry it took 10 weeks to get legals, angry we don't have an Emigration Permit; angry my baby is half way around the world and I can't hold her and no one seems to care, and no one can, or is willing, to help. Angry I'm still waiting while others have their babies in their arms; Angry this has taken almost two years; Anger - I wake up with it eating at my soul and then I spend the next hour begging God to take it away and fill me with His Holy Spirit; begging God will just grant me a heart that rests in Him and doesn't fester and grow like cancer; pleading he will strengthen me and give me hope that is grounded in Him, not in an i600 approval and admitting I can't I can't even begin to bring him glory or be anything He wants me to be without his complete intervention in my life. I just pray daily that God will tether my heart to Him, because if He doesn't hold me in His tight, unshakable grip, I will dive off the cliff of self-pity and despair. I used to think I was so strong in my walk with Him, and now I see I am so weak. Apart from Him I would completely self-destruct. I am reminded of this truth daily.

"O to grace how great a debtor

daily I'm constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter,

bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

prone to leave the God I love;

here's my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above."

("Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" Hymn written by Robert Robinson; 1735-1790)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I’m just emotionally spent…

This afternoon I received an email from Holt stating they had submitted the paperwork for our baby's emigration permit on January 12th (AKA: EP) I was baffled. You see, on November 2, 2009, I received an email stating our baby's emigration permit was already approved. I was, of course, delighted because this is a key document and can and does hold people up and slow down the process. So I asked Holt what was going on and sent them the old email. They apologetically explained that the original "approval" I received in November was for our first baby, Brooke, not Addison. They of course were very apologetic and I do understand how the confusion happened; lots of families, lots of babies, lots of paperwork, mistakes will happen.

I, on the other hand, am upset. The Emigration permit was the only thing we've had go smoothly. It was fast, and it was the one "key" pieces of paperwork which we no longer needed to wait on. Instead, we now find out we will indeed have to wait on it. I can't even begin to articulate how discouraged and upset I am. Truly, I'm a wreck. When I say, "We've had nothing go smoothly" that is in no way an exaggeration. I know we throw around all inclusive words like "nothing" and "always" without meaning them, but I really do mean that NOTHING has gone smoothly; absolutely nothing.

Before you berate me for not being a good Christian or for being ungrateful, please note, I do understand that God is sovereign over this adoption. I understand that these circumstances are ones he has allowed. I fully know and believe that God will work it out for my good. I truly do intellectually agree with the saying, "God's timing is best." All of this I fully affirm and know very well, but the fact remains, I am human. I have emotions and right now I am emotionally exhausted and my heart is breaking…again. I'm to the point that I do not have the emotional fortitude to get up and scrounge for even a one morsel of good news because everytime I find one, I turn around to be slapped in the face. Maybe that's a harsh analogy, but I'm not in the mood to sugar coat it today. I am sad, I am at the end of my rope, and I just want to either burst into tears, or scream. I can't decide which would feel better…so I've done neither. I truly don't know how to cope or even how to think. To give you just a small glimpse into our situation; there are several families who had were matched with their babies in September who have already traveled to Korea. We, on the other hand, aren't even half way there. 3 ½ months later, and we've only had one piece of paperwork arrive; Her legals. That's it.

I know that if she ever ends up in my arms this will all melt away into the trivia of life, but that is so far away it holds no comfort right now, especially if you consider the fact that her birthmother could come back at any time and legally take her back. I'm just simply drowning right now, and I can't see any way to cope, or go forward with a smile on my face. I'm sure I'll come around, but right now this is really, really difficult. This arduous path is overwhelming me to the point of wanting to quit.

I just ask for your prayers, because clearly, I need them. I would also love for you to send me scriptures that God may lay on your heart. I really need God's word right now, not shallow platitudes. God has been very good to surround Mark and I with such good friends who love and support us and we are very thankful for you all.

"Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. Hide not your face from your sercant; for I am in distress; make haste to asnwer me."

-Psalm 69:16-17

A powerful testimony from a humble, broken woman

Sanctity of Life Sunday is January 24th. As a woman who is pro-life, I am deeply convicted that we should embrace, forgive and love those women who have had abortions and are dealing with the gravity, guilt, and horror of what they have done. They need a Christian community to forgive and help them. This video is beautiful testimony of why abortion is a travesty against women and the unborn children. It also speaks strongly to the affect a harsh, judgmental word can have on a woman who is alone, pregnant, and struggling for direction. I pray we have compassion on anyone who is in this situation and can show them the love of Christ when they desperately need it unlike the protestor she describes who screamed she was a “baby killer.” I pray the Christian community will reflect Christ to a lost world by compassionately, and practically helping these women in there time of desperation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yet Another Delay...

I’m so frustrated I might cry. I thought we had recieved our i600 immigration approval but clearly, we haven't.

I received notification from USCIS that there was an error on our homestudy , so they needed a corrected version. I notified our social worker, got the problem fixed, and mailed a corrected version to our local USCIS. It arrived there Monday, Jan. 4th. The USCIS officer who processes i600s was out all week so it sat on her desk until Friday, Jan. 8th. When she returned she realized that we had to be re-fingerprinted and mailed us new fingerprinting forms which I still have not received. We can only be fingerprinted on Wednesdays which means now I have to wait another week just get that done, and then wait again to have them run and sent to her, so we can hopefully get our approval. This will delay us at least 2 weeks…maybe more..who knows.

I’m so upset. I feel like every time I turn around we get hit with a delay: Ten weeks for legals, error on homestudy, fingerprinting problems…I can’t stand this anymore. I’m about to burst into tears right here.

Why are we so offended?

I read the following post over at The Gospel Coalition which reflects upon the reasons many of us are are continnually offended. In this article, Kevin Deyoung makes some very true observations about our culture.
"Offendedness is just about the last shared moral currency in our country. And, I’m sorry, but it’s really annoying. We don’t discuss ideas or debate arguments, we try to figure out who is most offended. Buddhists are offended by Brit Hume. Christians are offended that critics disparage Brit Hume. Republicans are offended by Harry Reid’s comments about President Obama. If the shoe were on the other partisan foot, you can bet Democrats would be offended for President Obama (who can legitimately be offended by Reid’s remarks). Whenever someone makes a public gaffe, whether real or perceived, critics storm the microphones to let the world know how offended they are. Why is everyone in such a hurry to be hurt?"

"For starters, being hurt is easier than being right. To prove you’re offended you just have to rustle up moral indignation and tell the world about it. To prove you’re right you actually have to make arguments and use logic and marshal evidence. Why debate theology or politics or economics if you can win your audience by making the other guys look like meanies?"

To read the entire article, click here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Doctrine of Predestination

This is the best sermon I have ever heard preached on the doctrine of election. It is based on Romans chapter 9 and is definitely worth the time and effort needed to listen and think about this important Biblical truth.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Harbin Ice Festival in China

I came across these very cool photos at of the Harbin Ice and snow festival in China. The structures that are built for this festival are incredible. For more photos click here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nick's Gift to Me

Nick created the following video for me as my Christmas gift. Its very well done and thoughtful. In fact, I liked it so much I cried. Enjoy.

Well Stated Mr. Piper

Saturday, January 2, 2010 ROCKS!

I found the BEST website for girls clothes I've ever seen. I liked every article of clothing I saw while browsing! Take a peek!
And just in case you need to save some $, they have great sales too! And, no....I didn't order anything..although I was GREATLY tempted!!! Maybe later!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good News for a New Year

We are very thankful to have some good news to report!

First....We received a new photo!!! the above photo is Addison with the various items from the care package we sent her. She appears to be thinking, "What is all this stuff!?!"

Second: Addison's file was reviewed by a neurologist (Thank you Troy!) and he believes that she may have been misdiagnosed. He couldn't be sure, considering he has not physically seen her, does not have all of her medical records, or have her complete EEG, but from the limited amount of information he does have, he thought this could be a viable possibility. This doesn't answer all of our questions, but it is very encouraging.

Third: We received Addison's December Doctor's check-up and she is doing great! She is 8 months old and now weighs 20.2 lbs and is 27.6 in. long. This places her in the 81% for weight and the 41% for length. She is currently rolling over, crawling, sitting up, pulling herself up, walking holding onto furniture, and playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. We are delighted she is doing so well, and yet, we really long to have her home because were missing it all!

fourth: We received an email from the Kansas City Immigration office yesterday. They have our file, it has been reviewed, and all they need to give us our immigration approval is an updated homestudy. I sent it yesterday and it will be at their office Monday morning. I really hope this means we'll have our approval by the end of next week! Once we have this we only have about 6-8 more weeks to wait!!! YEAH!!!!

Have a Happy New Year and may you see God's blessings in every aspect of your life!