Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Things He Has Done

Wow...I can't post often enough to even keep everyone in the loop! Things are constantly changing over here, and we keep having to shift gears.

First, let me share with you how faithful the Lord has been to our prayers and your prayers on Emmy's behalf these past few days:

  • Pray for good memories to be made this weekend.

We had the best time this weekend! Emmy was her normal, adorable, easy-going self. I got to rock her to sleep Saturday night. She napped on my husband's chest for about half an hour Sunday. Such sweet, sweet moments. I had a great run and met my sweet baby girl and my amazing husband at the finish line. In many ways, it was a spiritual experience for me.

  • Pray for my extended family as they surely grieve with us.

My dad came in town for an impromptu visit with Emmy last weekend. My brother had planned to be in town this weekend, so he was able to see her as well. My mom came in town Sunday night and kept Emmy for me while I taught a class Monday morning. My husband's family lives in town and have all seen Emmy within the last few days. When my mom journeyed home yesterday, so called to tell me how much better she was feeling about Emmy. The time she had to play with her, hold her, and pray over her, really gave her a sense of peace that things were all going to turn out fine. As I reflect on all of this, I'm completely overwhelmed at the Lord's care and concern for our grief.

  • Pray for the Lord's strength to help me be at peace for Emmy's sake on Monday.
  • Pray for the lawyers and case workers who are working together to make this the best transition possible.
  • Pray for time to pack and collect memories to send with Emmy.

Well, this brings me to the most important update we have. Without divulging all of the details, let me just say that Emmy's lawyers and our agency case workers have really gone to bat for us and for Emmy. As of Friday, the plan was that we would have a Family Team Meeting sometime this week, possibly a couple of overnight visits for Emmy at her grandparents' house, and that Emmy wouldn't go to live with them until those things had been done. We were so pleased with this transition plan. Since then, we've spoken with Emmy's CASA, and Emmy's CASA called and got a very different story from Emmy's grandfather. We are anxious to see what will transpire at the Family Team Meeting, because the outcome could be quite different than anyone has anticipated - due to a terrible lack of communication from Emmy's case worker. Please continue to pray that the truth will prevail and that Emmy's best interest will be protected throughout this chaotic process.

  • Pray that we will find ways to make an eternal impact in Emmy's life over these next few days.

We've bought Emmy a Jesus Storybook Bible to send with her as well as this big girl English Standard Version Bible. Then, because it was free from the store, we went ahead and picked up this What's In the Bible DVD from Phil Vischer. (If you haven't seen these, they are so fun. Wish I could watch Emmy watch them one day when she's old enough!) We're hoping to have a going away party for her soon, but if that doesn't happen, we still have big plans for this Bible we'd like to send home with her. We'd like for everyone who knows or has been praying for Emmy to highlight scripture verses that they'd like Emmy to stumble upon as she is (we pray) reading her Bible as a young child/teenager/adult. If you'd like to participate, you can comment on the blog or e-mail me with a passage or passages that you'd like for me to highlight. I'll be so happy to highlight them for you. Otherwise, feel free to come by sometime or stop me if you see me around and highlight it yourself. I am so excited about how the Lord could use this to impact Emmy's future in our absence.

So...as you can see, the Lord has shown such care for us and for Emmy these past few days. I know that so much of this is thanks to prayer support like we have never seen before. Thank you for loving Emmy. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for lifting us up!

Emmy should return any moment now from her first overnight visit with her grandparents. She left yesterday at 1:30pm. I just got a call from the transporter and heard Emmy screaming in the background. My heart is just breaking. I cannot wait to hold that girl. Please pray that we'll have a nice, easy night and that Emmy will once again feel safe and secure. Pray, also, that her grandparents will have clarity in the direction they'd like to go.

No Family Team Meeting on the books yet. I'll let you know when that is scheduled. I'll keep everyone updated as often as I can, although it is getting rather tricky these days. To God be the glory...great things He has done!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


"Jesus wept." - John 11:35

At this moment, I find no greater comfort in all of scripture than this passage.

Just a few weeks ago, a dear friend shared with me this devotion from Focus on the Family, and I have reflected on it over and over and over again since reading it the first time:

"In the final analysis, God does not answer the problem of unjust human suffering by explaining it. Instead, He enters into it. In the person of Jesus Christ He experiences what it is like to be unfairly accused, arrested, tried, condemned, beaten, reviled, spit upon and put to death. An innocent Man, He bears the penalty while Barabbas, a criminal and an assassin, goes free. He takes upon Himself the burden of our anguish and pain. He drinks the cup to its dregs without murmur or complaint. In so doing, He demonstrates His love for us and sends us this unmistakable message: the answer to the problem of suffering can't be discovered by means of theological rationalization. The answer to the problem is Jesus."

The sorrow and anguish that I'm feeling is not foreign to God. He has experienced this and more...all on account of my sin. Oh, the grace.

But, I digress...at 11:30am today, I received a voice mail from Emmy's case worker asking me to call her back. The fact that she didn't say anything in her message made me slightly nervous, so I braced myself and dialed the phone.

"Mrs. _________? Yeah...the [name] family's home study has come back approved, so we're looking to move Emmy as soon as possible. All they need to do is get a crib, and they said they're getting one today, so we'll probably move Emmy tomorrow."

...and then it started. Uncontrollable sobbing. Fortunately, by the time I talked to her, I had arrived at the church to teach a fitness class, so I ran upstairs to cry with dear friends in the children's ministry office (as I have done so often before). I hardly said anything on the phone. I just said "ok" a lot and that was that.

Later, she called back and said they were going to wait until Monday to move her, so as it stands right now, Emmy will be leaving us on Monday. I can hardly even put words together, but I wanted to let everyone know what's going on. This weekend will be filled with tears, packing, printing pictures, and trying to write down everything we can possibly remember to tell Emmy's new parents about her life thus far.

I'm not sure I've shared on here, but I have been training for a half marathon taking place this weekend. We planned for Emmy to stay with someone else Saturday night before my race on Sunday in a different town. We've reconsidered that, and Emmy will be staying with us this weekend after all. I cannot tell you how many references to perseverance have been made in my presence lately and about "running the race set before us" (Heb. 12:1). Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and on and on. I have chuckled from time to time as people have made parallels between between training for a race and living a life for Christ. It's all very real to me at this moment. I can hardly wait to get my feet on the pavement Sunday and run that race with every fiber of my being, as an act of worship, believing every step of the way that it is but a small thing compared to The race that lies before me every morning that I wake up...believing even more that the most important race I run is not run by my own strength or stamina, but by God who, by grace, gives me just what I need to endure.

I'll try to post more later when I'm a bit more coherent, but this will help you know how to pray:
  • Pray for good memories to be made this weekend.
  • Pray for the Lord's strength to help me be at peace for Emmy's sake on Monday.
  • Pray for my extended family as they surely grieve with us.
  • Pray for the lawyers and case workers who are working together to make this the best transition possible.
  • Pray for time to pack and collect memories to send with Emmy.
  • Pray that we will find ways to make an eternal impact in Emmy's life over these next few days.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;  
they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;  
they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,
but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable."
1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

His Living Word

Emmy had visitation again on Friday, and all reports were great again. Her grandparents even sent a note home this time! It said, with perfect spelling and grammar:

"Thank you for your letters. We really appreciate them. We really enjoy our time with Emmy. She truly is a joy to be with. Thank you so much for taking great care of her. If it is at all possible we would like to have the visit a little early on 10/28/11. We will notify Emmy's case worker of the time. May God bless you and your family."

Monday after the visit, I received a phone call from Emmy's case worker saying that her grandparents have, in fact, changed their minds about adoption. They signed the papers yesterday to move forward with adoption. Nothing is final yet, but the reality hit me like a ton of bricks that Emmy might leave us...soon. No matter how hard I try to keep things in perspective. No matter how diligent I am in conversation to reiterate that everything can change in an instant, guarding my heart is a difficult thing. While I knew this was a possibility, my heart secretly hoped it wasn't. Ultimately, my husband and I realize that this could be just the answer to prayer we were looking for. Sometimes, however, God's answers to our prayers are difficult to stomach.

I've always said that one benefit of foster parenting is that you face, daily, a reality that many parents don't realize they face daily as well - the reality that none of us is promised tomorrow with our children. Today and yesterday, we have enjoyed Emmy immensely - soaking up every laugh, every babble, every smile - knowing that we may not have as many ahead of us as we anticipated.

My husband and I have started reading a Psalm to Emmy each night before bed. I'll leave you with the Psalm we read Sunday night before we received this news on Monday.

Psalm 10

 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
   Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
   let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
   and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
   all his thoughts are, "There is no God."
His ways prosper at all times;
   your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
   as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, "I shall not be moved;
   throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity."
 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
   in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
   he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down,
   and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, "God has forgotten,
   he has hidden his face, he will never see it."

  Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
    forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God
   and say in his heart, "You will not call to account"?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
   that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
   you have been the helper of the fatherless.
 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
    call his wickedness to account till you find none.

  The LORD is king forever and ever;
   the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
   you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
   so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

And in addition to that, here is a passage on which our pastor preached on Sunday. I have been repeating to myself this powerful notion all day. "I can [insert your own, personal, struggle] care for children as my own only to watch them walk away, because I know that one day, the Lord is creating a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more tears, no more injustice, no more fear, and no more orphans."

Isaiah 65:17-25

"For behold, I create new heavens
   and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
   or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
   in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
   and her people to be a gladness.
 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
   and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
   and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
   an infant who lives but a few days,
   or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
   and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
   they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
 They shall not build and another inhabit;
   they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
   and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
 They shall not labor in vain
    or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,
   and their descendants with them.
 Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
   the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
   and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
   in all my holy mountain,"
                 says the LORD.

What a mighty God we serve, and how thankful I am to be guided by His holy, living Word that meets me right where I am and pours out wisdom at every juncture. Pray for us in the coming days. Also, pray for our extended family who have fallen in love with Emmy as well. Pray for judges and lawyers. Pray for Emmy's grandparents. Pray for Emmy, as this could turn out to be a roller-coaster for her, since they are discussing the potential of offering overnight visits with her grandparents. Pray, more than anything else, that we would remain faithful to the gospel throughout this potentially difficult process, and that the Lord would be glorified through it all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Emmy visited with her grandparents last Friday (September 30), and I can't believe I haven't updated the blog since then!! Here's how the day went:

My mother-in-law was kind enough to stay at our house on Thursday night so that I could take my husband in for knee surgery in the morning while she stayed home with little Emmy. We intended to go to bed early in preparation for our full Friday, but true to form, we didn't turn in until 11 or 12 at night.

At 4am, Emmy decided she would randomly wake up and cry for no reason. This never happens anymore, so I could think of no good reason other than teething pain. I tried to help her fall asleep for about an hour to no avail. She would be fine in my arms but cry when I put her down. This is not at all Emmy's typical behavior, so I knew something was up. She was sad or scared or uncomfortable and wanted a buddy. For the first time ever, I grabbed the nearest stuffed animal, her pink hippopotamus, put him in the crib with her, walked out, and never heard a peep...who knew?

At that point, it was 5am. My alarm was set to go off at 5:15. (Gee thanks, Emmy ;o) My husband and I got ready and got to the hospital at 6am. Surgery went well, and by 11am or so we were on our way home! We came home and relaxed while I called Emmy's case worker and transporter to try to figure out exactly what the timing of this visit was and where Emmy would be going. Emmy's grandparents are allotted 4 hours of visitation, but if they wanted to leave early, they could. Unfortunately, that meant that there was no clear answer about when she'd be coming home.

I packed her for the long haul - 2 meals, lots of toys, pacifier, etc. The transporter arrived at 2pm to pick her up. I combed her hair and dressed her in one of her most precious little dresses. I handed her over to the transporter (the same transporter who drove her to visits with her mom during the first 4 months of her life), and she looked petrified. If you know Emmy, you know that she is a really happy-go-lucky kid without so much as a hint of separation anxiety. As I shared in my last post, I really think this girl internalizes everything. She analyzes situations and she knows when things are not quite right. She kept looking at the transporter, looking at me, looking at the transporter, sticking her lip out, on and on until finally she started to really cry...and my heart just broke. I was able to soothe her a little bit, but ultimately I had to put her in her car seat and send her on her way...tears and all. Thank the Lord that He had prepared my heart, and I was able to rest in the knowledge that He was holding that baby in my absence.

My husband and I had a few hours to spend some quality time together sleep before Emmy came home. The transporter assured me 5 or 6 times today that she would call me as she was leaving to give me a 45-minute warning of when she would bring Emmy home. Counting on this, I started working on dinner around 6pm. I had chicken on the stove, green beans steaming, and sauce boiling when all of a sudden, but not surprisingly, my doorbell rang. There I was, food I couldn't abandon, a husband laid out on the couch, a dog running around the house who would certainly bolt out of the front door the second I opened it. I turned off the stove, put Layla outside, and finally got to the door, where I could hear Emmy screaming from her car seat.

I got Emmy, moved the car seat, got all of her stuff, and finally got her inside around 6:30. She usually eats at 6, but they had been on the road. I got some food in her, gave her a bottle, tried to play, but she wasn't having it, so I went to put her down. When I put her down, she screamed like crazy. I think she was hopelessly confused about what was going on in her little life. She snuggled with dad for a long while watching his oh-so-appropriate selection - Veggie Tales "Where's God When I'm Scared." I finally finished dinner. Around 8:30 or 9, Emmy finally let me put her in her crib peacefully, and we ate dinner.

The reports I have received from the transporter as well as the case worker are that Emmy's grandparents adored their time with Emmy. Grandfather got on the floor with her the second she arrived and didn't get up until it was time for her to go home. They marveled at how smart she was. We had also written a letter. I'll post that soon. We're always a little anxious to hear how our letters are received, but the transporter said they adored the letter and could not stop talking about it. We were so encouraged! We are still being told that they definitely do not want to adopt, but things could change any day.

Please pray this coming Friday as Emmy goes for her second visit with them.

  • Pray that her grandparents would continue to have clarity about whether or not they are the permanent family for Emmy. 
  • Pray that the Lord would continue to guard our hearts here as we miss her while she's away and as we walk this tight-rope thinking about the potential to adopt Emmy. 
  • Pray that logistics will go a bit more smoothly and that Emmy won't be quite so rattled this time.