11.06.2013

Provision of Our Father {guest post}

Before we finally decided to take the leap and commit to adoption, I was following a blog called Adding a Burden. Jillian, the author, writes in amazing detail of the adoption of their adorable son Arie, and life since. I have held the hope of having her guest post since I started the blog and the day has come! As with many trials in life, there are some things you just can’t understand unless you’ve been there - Jillian has agreed to share with us a bit about the pain of lost time in adoption and how she found her way through it. I'm so honored to have her words appear here and I know that so many of you will be able to relate...

Jill, thank you so much for taking the time out of you busy life to share with us today. Your words and encouragement are so helpful!

**

This morning I was reading a children’s book about Russia to my three-year-old son. My husband and I adopted him from Moscow almost a year ago and I love learning with him about his cultural heritage. In the back of the book was a list of Russian words, spelled out phonetically with English translations. I went through the list with him and remembered with emotion the times those words fell upon my ears in Russia. I read “good morning,” “please,” and “thank you” while he smiled and tried to say the word after me. “What does that mean?” I would ask and he would just giggle in reply. Then I sounded out “duh svee-DAH-nee-ya” for him and he replied, correctly, “Bye bye!”  


Outwardly I praised his memory, but inwardly I felt a familiar sense of hollow as I reflected for perhaps the hundredth time on how I know so little about my son’s past. Or how little I know about what he remembers. I know where he lived and that he was taken care of by nannies in his orphanage…. but I don’t know how he was put to sleep- with rocking? With singing? With a bottle? With nothing at all? I know he was a “good eater,” but I don’t know what his first food was or the face he made when he ate it. I know he was shy, but I don’t know how he showed it or whose comfort he sought when he was scared. I know he loved music, but I don’t know his favorite Russian songs or lullabyes.

Arie as an infant in the orphanage
For the first two and a half years of his life, I wasn’t there. During those years, I was not part of his story and he was not yet a part of mine. I ache to know him as a baby. I long to feel his newborn skin, to hear his early babbles, to smell his baby soft hair, and to see his first steps. But I never will.


Mostly out of necessity, I’ve had to learn to take these hollow feelings to the Lord in prayer. Early in our adoption process, I spent many nights struggling with God, laying my grief before him- sometimes in anger- and asking what he was going to do about it. I knew in my head that he was a God of healing and redemption, but as my heart ached so badly for my son; I questioned how he could ever heal the brokenness I felt or redeem the years my son spent without a family.

Meeting Arie for the first time.
In response, I believe God revealed two scripture passages to me and invited me to a deeper journey of faith through them. The first was the story of Job- a story that’s really hard to make sense of. In the story, God allows Satan to destroy Job’s life, killing his family and destroying all his wealth and possessions. Then a very rich conversation happens between Job, his friends, and God- which you should really read if you haven’t yet- and basically God comes out and says, “I’m God and I know what I’m doing,” only in a more poetic way. The story ends with this:


After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before….The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part…..After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.  And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” (Job 42 vs. 10, 12,16-17)


Now when I first read that story, I could only think one thing: Who the hell cares that the second part of Job’s life was better than the first?!? Can new fortunes and a new family make up for all the pain, loss, grief, and devastation Job experienced?? “Sorry I allowed you old wife to die, but here’s a new one!”


No. I did not like that. I thought about my son and the time we lost together and I insisted that no matter how good the future could be, it would not make up for what we had lost.


But then I came across another passage with the same message. In Joel 2, God speaks through his prophet to his people who have been hungry and devastated by a locust plague. There’s a long, awful description about the pain and decimation the locust bring and then there’s this- a promise, a word of hope:


“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).


Wait. Repay you? Other translations say “restore?” How can you repay, God, something that’s gone forever? Your people can never get back those years they lost in the famine! The hunger, the disease, the death… how can you “repay” that?


How can you restore the years my son and I lost together? How can you repay him for all his cries that went unanswered? The long dark nights alone in his crib? The hole where his mom and dad should have been? Repay? For that? I don’t think so.

As I questioned God in the midst of my pain, his answer came so gently to me: isn’t this what your whole faith it about? Don’t you believe that I am restoring all things through the cross? You ask me how I can restore those 2 years to you, but I am restoring all things. I am making everything new. You ask me how I can repay your son for the years he lost? Though my son. I gave you my son to live perfectly, to suffer excruciatingly, to die unjustly, to take upon himself all the sin and all the brokenness of the world, and to rise again eternally, so that you and your son will be fully restored.


Flying home from Moscow.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”(Rev 21:3-5.)


Well.


Now I feel a little sheepish.


Can the future make up for the past? According to the Christian faith, yes it can.


My son will not grow up without scars from his past. As he ages, I anticipate that I will learn more about what he remembers from his life without me and even how things he doesn’t remember from that past have shaped him. Even so, the life we are building together as a family is healing and restoring his past. He is learning to trust, to receive affection, to give love and to get love. Where he once experienced the worst of his culture- lonely orphanage life- he now cuddles up beside me to read and learns about the best- caviar and blini, Fabergé eggs and ballet, adorable Russian blue cats and the big borzoi dog, and how to spell “I love you” in Cyrillic. This is just one small picture of the full redemption that is to come.

Angie and Ryan and all you future adoptive parents out there- the time you miss with your child(ren) will never go away and you won’t forget about it. But take it from someone who didn’t believe it could happen- it will be restored! In the years you spend with your children here on earth you will experience that restoration and you will learn about redemption in a new and profound way. There will be times when you will be hurt and hollowed by the scars those missed years have left on your children. Do not lose heart. A fuller redemption is coming! We have every reason to hope for bright and brilliant futures for our children- both now and forever more.


Our family: Fall, 2013.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

**


xo

11.04.2013

TGGE GIVEAWAY WINNER!!



((drumroll please))

using Rafflecopter's random entry selection tool, entry #21...

 STEPHANIE N. !!!

You, Stephanie, have won a $25 Target gift card for helping us raise the 
money we need to bring our kiddo home!

I will be sending emails out shortly with everyone's partner information so you can all get started on making your garland - you can expect them before 12p.m. central time today. I am SO EXCITED to see everyone's masterpieces!

We have 20 participants but because of some extra love, have received a total of $185 for the adoption fund!!! We did not reach the $1000 donation goal BUT I am going to keep that giveaway going! As soon as we reach a total of $1000 in donations - whether through fundraisers or straight donations - I will be giving away that $15 Starbucks gift card, $25 Thirty-One gift card, 5 elastic hair-ties (in your choice of colors) and a "love" MudLove bracelet (in your color choice)!! 



Thanks again to all of those participating 
(and that made donations) - you have truly blessed us and I am 
thrilled to be adding $185 to our adoption fund!
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10.26.2013

Garland Exchange

I know you have been so excited waiting for this "FUNdraiser"!! So here it is, what you've been waiting for... a GARLAND EXCHANGE!

Now, before you panic and think "I can't sew!" have no fear... you don't have to! Hole punches, staples, ribbon and glue work wonderfully. Truly, ANYONE can do this. Check out my Garland Inspiration Board on Pinterest to get an idea of just how broad this category is. 


The exchange is open to anyone, children and young adults included {I will try to match you with someone in your same age range}.  If you are outside the US you must be willing to ship internationally, but I will do my best to match you with someone from your home country.   


So here are the specifics:

  • You must sign up by November 2nd in order to participate and you must fill out the form below.
  • The cost to participate is $5 plus the cost of your materials {it is completely possible to use supplies you have on hand and not spend any money on your garland}. 
  • PLEASE DO NOT SIGN UP FOR THE EXCHANGE IF YOU ARE NOT 100% COMMITTED TO GETTING YOUR PACKAGE IN THE MAIL BY THE DEADLINE. Please do not be that person that leaves their partner hanging!! Your partner will work hard at making a fabulous garland for you and it should be reciprocated!
  • PLEASE BE KIND. The point of this exchange is to help bring home "Baby" Studebaker.  The perk is that you get to receive a fun little gift while helping us.  If your package comes late, or you don't love it, or you never receive it, or if you send a package and don't get a gushing thank you from the recipient... PLEASE JUST REMEMBER "BABY" STUDEBAKER.
  • HAVE FUN! The spirit of this exchange is giving.  It's an opportunity to do something amazing for an orphan and a childless family, make a new friend, be blessed and be a blessing! Please keep all that in mind and give without expectation!
  • THERE WILL BE NO REQUESTS ALLOWED FOR THIS EXCHANGE. The assignments are made randomly.  Please do not ask to have a specific partner.
  • INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPANTS ARE WELCOME, BUT MUST BE WILLING TO SHIP INTERNATIONALLY.
  • Please pay as soon as you sign up.
  • You will create a 6 foot garland for your partner, which should only cost  a couple of dollars at the most to ship First Class Mail. You will receive the info about your partner by November 4th.
  • All garlands must be shipped by November 19th, which gives you two weeks to create. The goal is to get your garland to your partner before Thanksgiving so they can enjoy your fabulous creation throughout the holidays! 
  • If you would like to exchange more than one garland, please submit a new form for each one that you would like to do, and then pay the appropriate fee {$5 per garland}.  That way I will know that your multiple entries were intentional. 
There are so many possibilities for creating fun garlands.  Here are a few fun examples:  

source: Pearls & Pasteries Shop
source: Flamingo Toes
source: DIY Confessions
source: Hostess with the Mostest
source: my sparkle

Have I convinced you???  I hope so.  This is going to be so much fun... you won't want to miss it!

To sign up please complete the following two steps:


1. Fill out the registration form here.


2. Click on this link to be redirected to PayPal to make your $5 donation. If the link does not work for you, leave a comment on this post and I will send you an invoice. You can also donate through paypal by sending funds to acstudebaker@att.net - all of the funds you donate will go directly to our adoption fund.  Please feel free to donate more than $5.  PLEASE MAKE YOUR PAYMENT AS SOON AS YOU SIGN UP.

Just in case you're not convinced, I'm sweetening the deal a little and will be offering TWO GIVEAWAYS! You can earn entries for the first one by completing the tasks below. Come back every day until registration closes to enter again. *You are only eligible for this giveaway if you make a donation*


a Rafflecopter giveaway


And as if that weren't enough, as soon as the donations reach $1000. There will be a second giveaway that looks like this:


A $15 Starbucks giftcard, a $25 Thirty-One giftcard, 4 elastic hair-ties (in your choice of colors) and a "love" MudLove bracelet (in your color choice)!!

If you're still not convinced, you can still help! Please share this post with your friends and family - help us spread the word!
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10.23.2013

(Good) News

I  have written this a thousand times - never making it to the end without having to stop, get on my knees and pray. I've had so many things I wanted to write through, things I wanted to share...but I've had no words. Please forgive my absence. If you have been following our journey, you know that we have been waiting for news on a sweet Bulgarian boy. A boy that ravished my heart the second I saw his face. A boy that I just knew was ours. 

A little over one week ago we received an email that we hoped would contain the news we were waiting on. Holding my breath, I opened it with one eye shut as if to keep the monsters from coming out of the closet. With my one open eye, I read:


"...we found that he has been placed. They found a family for him." 

That sentence and a half left my heart torn to shreds, mascara dripping down my cheeks and my face all scrunched up in that horrible face you make when your heart hurts so badly that you can't even make noise when you cry. Despite all of my preparation for this email, I felt like I had no coping skills. I didn't know what to do - I was a hot mess. How do you explain the loss you feel when you lose a child that you never knew, never talked to, never felt? I felt frozen, our path was no longer clear, my entire body paralyzed in anger. Thank God for the amazing women He put in my life just for that moment! They helped me to remember my purpose, my intent and encouraged me to relinquish the hold that I had on the situation. They reminded me of His promises, that He is in control and that He's not finished yet. Because of them, I was able to get on my knees and ask for mercy and peace. He knew I would need them and He provided because He goes before us and stands behind us.

He does amazing things like that, friends. You know what's even more amazing? Our sweet Bulgarian boy is no longer an orphan!! Praise God - He is good and faithful all the time! If that's not good, I don't know what is.

This was just the first of probably many setbacks we will encounter along this journey. Adoption is hard and not for the faint of heart - though His mercies are abundant and the grace He gives is ample. We have been praying hard and we are still totally committed to pursuing international adoption. There may be some big changes in the coming weeks (think countries and agencies), so stay tuned! I am also planning a super "FUNdraiser" and will be detailing that in my next post - try to contain your excitement, I don't think I can!

We are looking to the future with our eyes wide open and we are full of hope because the one thing we know for sure is that this is what we are supposed to be doing.

photo source

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9.17.2013

You Slay Me

This wait is not meaningless. The pain, the hurt, the longing, is not meaningless. It all has purpose.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Merriam-Webster defines the word renew as "to make new, fresh, or strong again." During our wait, I have found that renewal is not a one time thing. It's something that must be done day by day, sometimes multiple times a day for me. Matthew 6:34 says, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" - each day has it's own trouble and destruction which is why we must regularly allow Him to renew our hearts. And even though each day has its own troubles, Lamentations 3:22-23 says "The mercies of the Lord are new every morning."


"God saves us through a thousand battles, a thousand renewals, so that we never, never forget that we are weak and He is our strength. He is our strength, our living water, our food, our gas, our medicine." - John Piper**

So we are to "Serve by the strength that God supplies - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:11). We are made weak and require renewal every day so that we do not lose heart. It's okay that this is hard, that we are weak, that we are selfish, because His mercies are abundant! He has given us the promise that our afflictions, even if they are for a lifetime, are light and momentary and meaningful.


"Compared to endless ages of ages, these seventy or eighty years are nothing. Compared to the weight and greatness and wonder of the glory we will see and we will be, this inglorious, shameful, painful affliction is light. His yoke is easy and his burden - even a lifetime of affliction - is light." - John Piper**

All of this, today's trouble, tomorrow's despair, next Monday's heartache, this is all meaningful. It is “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The glory that God will give us is beyond imaginable - not to fill this post up with Bible verses but this is one of my favorites: "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

This is all great and perfect, right? I can plaster scripture all over the place and quote a great sermon all day long but how does this really help my hurting heart?! We have to stop focusing on what we see and start focusing on the unseen: the promises of God. He never leaves us, or forsakes us. He goes before us, and stands behind us. I have found that in my moments of weakness (and believe you me, there are MILLIONS of them!) that stopping, even for just a second, through my tears to worship Him and to call upon Him and to remember that He is faithful and just and true is an immense comfort. Does it wipe away my hurt? No. Does it make me glad? Not all the time. But it does makes things more clear, and I am able to remember that He sent his son to die on the cross so that I would not be an orphan and this wait has got nothin' on that!

I'm going to close this post with an example of what I think all of this means from John Piper's sermon "Do Not Lose Heart"**.

The death of John the Baptist. From one angle this must be one of the most tragic stories in all the Bible. Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). And now he is in prison because John said publicly: “No, King Herod, it is not lawful for you to have your brother Philip’s wife Herodias. You are living in adultery.” 

And as he sits alone in jail, wondering, is this how the kingdom is supposed to come, Herod throws a birthday party for himself. And for a little sexual bonus for the guests he has his step daughter dance. She was so pleasing that Herod promised whatever she wanted as a gift. She consults with Herodias her mother, who hates John the Baptist, and says, “The gift I want is the head of John the Baptist on a platter” (Matthew 14:8). 

And in two simple verses, it is done. And how many times have I put myself in John’s position. He is sitting there in prison hoping for release to continue his ministry and his life. The door swings open, and there are two men, one with a sword. A moment of silence. Then the executioner says, “Come over here and kneel. If you struggle, we will bind you.” “Why? What’s going on? What happened?” “They liked the king’s daughter’s dance, and she asked for your head.” And the last thing John is left thinking as his short life ends is: “A dance? A dance? My life for dance?”

And everything in us wants to cry out: Meaningless! Meaningless — except for one thing. We have looked to the unseen. And I have heard God say in 2 Corinthians 4:17: This too, this seemingly irrational, pointless, meaningless murder of a great man is preparing (producing!) for him an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

It was not meaningless. At that moment eternity changed. A special, particular weight of glory was forged for John the Baptist forever.
And so it will be for you. Therefore, do not lose heart. Look at this unseen, eternal weight of glory day by day, and be renewed.


I hope that this post helps someone find peace the way discovering John Piper's sermon helped me. Please let me know if you are in need of or want prayer - I am praying for breakthrough for all of you!

As for our situation, we do not have any news to report. We are still practicing patience and fervently praying that His will be done and that His arms are wrapped tightly around our boy. Please continue to pray last Sunday's supplication prayer request while we wait for news.

обичам,
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**This post is an adaptation of John Piper's sermon: "Do Not Lose Heart" which I highly recommend. Many of these ideas are not my own, just reworded, shortened and moved to touch on points of his sermon that have great meaning for me.**

9.08.2013

Sunday Supplication + Update

If you have liked the Raised From the Water facebook page, then you already know that my phone call on Tuesday did not go as hoped. I was basically shut down completely and our only option at this point is to wait. For two months. This will be the longest two months of my life. This wait will be longer and harder than any of the waiting I did while trying to conceive. The pain in my heart is greater than the pain I felt every time I stared at a negative pregnancy test. 

Waiting is hard, folks...waiting on the unknown is even harder! People regularly ask me, "How are you?", "How was your week?", "How are things with the adoption?" Typically I smile and respond with something like, "I'm trusting in His plan." or "God does not put us in circumstances he cannot overcome!" but what I really want to say is, "Crummy!" The truth is that it's hard. It hurts. I'm angry and achy and CRY. ALL. THE. TIME! This does not mean that I'm hopeless or throwing in the towel. This does not mean that I no longer have faith or believe that God has a plan. He is still leading me, my faith is still strong, my conviction even stronger and I'm not kicking Jesus to the curb. I do not feel like God has forsaken me, or that I'm alone. I am not discouraged, I am encouraged. 

Wait. What? Encouraged? YES! I am encouraged to fight. To seek Him above all else. I am encouraged to wait. ((deep breath)) Being an orphan is so much harder than what I'm going through. And Jesus went through a lot worse so that I could be adopted by the Father...I think I can handle waiting. I am choosing to wait, but that does not mean that it's easy.

 

Paul and Silas bound in jail
Got no money for to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Paul and Silas thought they were lost
The dungeon shook and the chains fell off
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Freedom's name is mighty sweet
And one day soon we are gonna meet
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

I got my hand on the gospel plow
Won't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

The wait is slow, and we've so far to go
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

The wait is slow, and we've so far to go
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Only chain a man can stand
Is that chain of hand on hand
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Ain't no man on earth control
The weight of glory on a human soul.
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

The wait is slow, and we've so far to go
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

The wait is slow, and we've so far to go
Keep your eyes on the prize 

When you see a man walk free,
It makes you dream of jubilee.

When you see a child walk free,
It makes you dream of jubilee.

When you see a family free,
It makes you dream of jubilee.

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.



Sunday Supplication:
Please pray that I learn to wait well. Please continue to pray for everyone involved in our adoption, specifically our agencies (American & Bulgarian), our coordinator, those taking care of our child, and for our child. Please pray for Ryan and I, that we are able to guard our hearts but continue our journey with great passion and selflessness despite any wars the devil may wage against us. 


Thank you!


обичам,
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9.01.2013

Sunday Supplication

I know, this isn't part two of my last post...it is coming, I promise! Keep coming back. :)

Because the process of adoption brings most of us to our knees daily, often repeatedly throughout the day, I thought it fitting to begin a weekly post titled "Sunday Supplication" in which I post our weekly prayer requests. I must admit that sadly, this is not my original idea. The BRILLIANT Jillian from over at Adding a Burden turned me onto it (if you haven't read her blog and are in the process of adopting, I highly encourage you to check it out)! I have been feeling a great need for prayer this week and decided that this would be the week I start this series.

So, as Jillian so wonderfully put it, "If you're like me and have a hard time remembering who to pray for, I'd love it if you would say a prayer as you read the post. If your memory is sharper than mine, I'd love your prayer throughout the week!" She then shares the quote, "One should never initiate anything that he cannot saturate with prayer." And asks for her readers to join her in saturating their adoption process with prayer.

I am asking the same of you.

If you have read my last post, you know that things are happening. Mountains are moving. Either closer together or farther apart, is not yet known. This week, and possibly the next two months, are chock full of possibilities. I am planning a telephone meeting with our agency on Tuesday that could easily result in devastation but has the potential to yield good results.


Sunday Supplication:
Please pray that I will have the wisdom and the right questions to ask on Tuesday. Please continue to pray for everyone involved in our adoption, specifically our agencies (American & Bulgarian), our coordinator and our future child(ren). Please pray for Ryan and I, that we are able to guard our hearts but continue our journey with great passion and selflessness despite any wars the devil may wage against us. 


Thank you!


обичам,
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