Thursday, December 22, 2011

another update

Got this email just today!

It reads:

I just wanted to let you know a brief update which we heard from China this morning. Your paperwork for the agency Letter Seeking Confirmation was sent to the Consulate today (12/22 in China) and we expect that the Article 5 will be issued by the Consulate on January 5. Usually the Travel Approval is issued about 2-4 weeks after the Article 5.  At this stage my rough estimate for your Travel Approval would be early February.

It's really happening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

two things

Two things to share really quick before my spaghetti water boils...

1.  A family has committed to adopt Jonathan!  Excellent!  Keep up with the progress here.  And please, if you feel led, continue to pray for this sweet boy.

2.  Our DS-230 was express mailed to the US Embassy in China yesterday.  When I asked our social worker how long from now (it seems I can't get enough explanation!), she said 2-3 months until travel approval.  Not 2-3 months until travel.

But you know what?

It's fine.



No matter.

If I've learned anything about this timing thing it's that God really does know best.  What in the world was I thinking by wanting to travel before Christmas?

So, so glad we've stayed put.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

moving right along...

We got our letter from the National Visa Center on Friday!  We should have our Article 5 in a month or so and then our travel approval after that!

Most excellent.

Friday, December 16, 2011

no words

just a couple of things...

We didn't share with anyone that there was a potential glitch headed our way.  A glitch that could've delayed our trip to China by another two to three months!  Oye.

We just didn't want to get everyone (including ourselves!) in a frenzy if it didn't pan out.

I only mention it now because a soft, quiet Voice said, 'Just ask your agency again if this precaution is really necessary before speaking with the folks at Immigration.'

So last week, I went to our social worker and asked if we really needed to go back and cross that 't' from months ago.

'Is it really necessary?  Or just a hunch?',  I asked.

So our social worker sent an inquiry to the US Embassy to double check.

And we waited.

Just a day or two, but still...the waiting.  Always some kind of waiting.  Believe it or not, I am getting better at it!  Go figure.

And then the email came.

"The embassy said everything looks good and we don't have to go back and file the such-and-such."


God, thank you for whispering to me.  Thank you that sometimes I actually hear You because so often I'm just deaf to You.  Plain old not-hearing, not-noticing, too busy, too distracted, too frazzled.  So thank you that there are times when I do hear Your soft voice.


A knitty-gritty update: We should be getting a letter any day from the National Visa Center confirming that our approval cable has been sent to the US Consulate (embassy) in Guangzhou, China.

Then our agency will file the DS-230 with the US Consulate asking them to issue and send a document called the Article 5 to the Chinese authority for adoptions (CCCWA) that states that our adoption complies with US immigration law.

This should all occur in the next month or two.  Then our travel approval will be issued by the CCCWA and we'll travel within a month of receiving our travel approval!

I'm still 'feeling' February...


I found this blog a year or so ago when I googled 'Ethiopian adoptions.'  I have found Missy's way with words funny, light and on-the-mark.

I found this post especially poignant today.  Never thought much about Mary.  I do now.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

if only, if only, if only...

If only we could adopt them all.

Stories such as these break my heart.

God is big enough for this.


Please feel free to share about Jonathan with anyone and everyone.

What an amazing kid.

Friday, December 9, 2011

60 days and counting?

We experienced something neat on Thursday night.

We had our 'travel conference call.'  Meaning, we're far enough along in the process that when our agency had their monthly travel call for families who are approaching travel, we were included!

So there we were with five other couples on an hour-and-a-half long conference call talking over all of what to expect when we travel.

Others with our agency who are gearing up to travel were from Texas, upstate New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington DC.

It was so cool.

It really made it feel real.

Because of the Chinese New Year (I think she said it's January 28th?), our agency won't allow any families to be in China for several weeks in January.  Things virtually shut down there (including government offices, of course) so there's little reason to try to complete an adoption during that time.

So, if we're not ready to travel by January 6th (which we won't be), then we'll definitely travel sometime after February 2nd.

These are real dates!

It really looks like we'll be traveling in February!

That's like 60 days from now!


And...we got a new video the other day of our boy.  Man, oh man.  To think that'll his little body will be in our arms is...well...I don't know.  I'm at a loss.  No words.

Thanks for hanging in there with us!  The time has almost arrived.

modern day drummer boy

Have y'all seen this?

So cool.

Some of the youth today so, so encourage me for tomorrow.

Here's a brief article about this modern day drummer boy.

Who just wanted to play his drum for Jesus.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


My goodness.

This little TJ is our James!

So much hope!

So much promise!

What a gift it was to read this story.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the rich family in church

I learned of this story recently and read it to our children.  And plan to read it to them a few hundred times over the years to come.


Clearly, this time of year is quite 'materialized.'  The effort on the part of parents to de-materialize Christmas is an uphill battle -- I know it is for us.  The commercials.  The catalogs.  The circulars.  The flyers.  The store windows.

Don't get me wrong.  We haven't gone to the mall yet, but will!  Although I do love to 'get out in it' during the Christmas season and be amongst the hustle and bustle and Christmas shoppers, we don't shop at the mall.  We just get our coffees and hot cocoas and stroll.

This is a great story to drive the point home that the state of our hearts is what's truly important.  And, frankly, my heart isn't always well-ordered.  I struggle.  I want.  I yearn.  I strive.  And then (often times) I come to my senses.

I'd like a heart state like this family had.

It's truly remarkable.

The Rich Family in Church
by Eddie Ogan

I'll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the paster of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. Then we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and we babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders to sell for $1.

We made $20 on potholders.  That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At nigh,t we'd sit in the dark and talk about how much that poor family would love having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in the church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked up to the grocery store and got the manager to us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.

We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning rain was pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in  the $10 bill, and each of us put in a $20.

As we walked home from church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 bill, and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whoever got the spoon or fork that night.

We had two knives that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we  must be poor. I didn't like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn out shoes and felt so ashamed-I didn't even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!

I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn't know. We'd never known we were poor. We didn't go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way.

Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but needed  money to buy roofs. He $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people?" We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering.

When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn't expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich people in this church."

Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100."

We were the rich family in the church! Hadn't the missionary said so? From that day on I've never been poor again. I've always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!

So, I asked a friend recently, 'Is it possible to be poor in America today and not know it?'  I wonder.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

amazing things

Love Without Boundaries is doing some amazing things.

And was recently part of a documentary called 'One Day on Earth.'

The video below is about 9 minutes long, but worth watching.

 I've heard it said before.  

And it's so true.

The nannies are the unsung heroes in these children's lives.

No wonder James is so attached to his.  

She's his mother.  

For now.

Boy, do I have my work cut out for me.  

Some shoes to fill.

But I'm up for the challenge.  

I cannot wait to love on that boy -- for him to receive love from all of us!

Watching this video made me more excited than ever to travel.  To see James' land.  To experience the wonderful Chinese people.  

China gets a bad rap.  Just like America gets a bad rap.  But it's the individual people.  Not all Americans are represented well by Jerry Springer.  Well, not all Chinese are represented well by their government's decisions (like the one child per family regulation).

**We got the second part of our 1-800 approval in the mail!  James' visa is being applied for.  We're hoping to have our travel approval in the next six weeks -- maybe, just maybe?  That means we could be traveling sometime in the first quarter of next year (thanks, Steph!).  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

missing james

Was looking at some old photos of James today and yearning to hear about him again.  We had a little stretch there where we were receiving photos and videos of him frequently.


It's just quiet.

Sometimes, frustratingly quiet.

Don't get me wrong, I'm doing okay.  As are the rest of the Beam Team.

I just want to know how he's doing.

Is he getting stronger?

Is he standing better or still scooting around on the floor?

Is his hair freshly cut or a little on the long side right now?

Is he still okay being separated from his nanny when he goes to preschool?  Or is he struggling being apart from her?

Does he have a clue that it's Christmastime?

To look at his photos -- and into his little eyes -- and know that he doesn't even know we exist makes me sad.

He doesn't even know that we talk about him everyday.  

Every single day.

He doesn't even know that he's already part of our family because he's in our hearts.

This weekend, JD was cleaning out our little attic space and stumbled upon an old 'Tennessee' Christmas tree that his mom had given him years ago.  In true UT fashion, it's a white tree with orange lights, UT ornaments, orange bulbs and a big orange-and-white bow for the top made out of UT ribbon!  It really is fun.  When we were first married we used to put it up in addition to our more traditional tree.  But we haven't pulled it out in the last couple of years.

Well...once Jackson and Brooks learned that it was a Tennessee tree, they were beyond excited at the idea of putting it up in their 'Tennessee bedroom' (this is what they call their bedroom that's trimmed in orange and white and plenty of UT paraphernalia).  JD, being the awesome dad that he is, put up another Christmas tree in this house!  While they were unwrapping the ornaments, Jackson came to me with a bulb that is a picture frame but didn't have a photo in it.

'Momma, we need a photo in here!'

'Okay, what photo do you want to use?  Do you want me to find one that has you and Brooks in it so you both can be on the bulb?'

'No, James.  I want a photo of James in it.'

Huh?  Did his little mind just go straight to James?  He didn't even think of the obvious -- him and Brooks.

'Aww, buddy, that's so sweet.'

So we looked at the various photos and he chose the one he wanted.  I told him it was printing on the printer upstairs and next thing I know I see the back of him as he tore out of the room to go get it!  Then  he's back with scissors and the photo is in the ornament and hanging on the tree in a matter of minutes.


My heart is just pointed to Jesus in every moment like this.  I am just in awe at the way God is moving in all our hearts.  It amazes me to see how we love this little boy that we've never met.

I admit that I'd heard it many, many times from adoptive parents.  They'd say how much they love their adoptive child.  How the love's the same as their biological children if they have any.  I hoped it was true.  I wanted to believe it was true, but I wasn't sure.

I'm sure now.


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