LIFE IS HARD!!! Does everyone know this? I'm sure everyone does, but when those hard times actually come it's literally like a "BREAKING NEWS" kind of moment. The world stops spinning, life as we know it has paused and all of your attention is on the "news" of that moment. Maybe it's just me, but when something difficult is in my path, it's hard for me to focus our push past it until the problem is solved, a resolution has transpired or until I realize I was wrong, repent and that's when I can finally move on.
One of those "Breaking News" moments has come upon our family. For those following about our adoption, thankfully it doesn't directly involve that. That process is completely on schedule as far as we know. It's now a waiting game on our match. This particular news worthy moment is something that involves our immediate family. It's hard not to get into too much detail now, and I'm sure at some point I will, but for now just know our little family is needing prayers.
I actually started this post a few weeks ago, just hoping maybe it would work itself out by now. No, our family is still in "wisdom seeking mode" but we have succumb to the fact that no matter what God is in control. I know a lot of my posts seem to feature that sort of theme of trusting, letting go and giving control to Him. Obviously it's a personal struggle I have. When I write these posts it's like my own personal therapy session. Every word I type is sometimes a slap in my face, like God is using my fingers to tell me something He's been trying to tell me all along. "AIMEE - when are you going to let Me have control?!" I'm really trying...I think. I keep coming back to it though. Picking that same thing back up. How do you give Him full control over something? How do you not let those "breaking news" moments consume you and make your world stop spinning?
Faith. Prayer. Living in His Word.
Help me to live out those things, Lord. I don't want to walk this road without your guidance.
This morning it hit me like a ton of bricks, things are changing in our house. My little cozy, comfortable routine that I'm so used to is quickly changing and there is nothing I can do about it.
Thankfully, these changes are not "bad" changes at all. They're actually really wonderful changes. Tucker (my precious 5 year old son) is starting kindergarten in August, I think that's what poked this bear inside of me. This morning I went to the school to register him. No, I didn't cry, I was fine, but I realized that things were going to be different in our house very quickly. Not to mention we (hopefully soon) will have our sweet China Baby! It's all laying heavy on me today that my world is about to be wrecked, in a wonderful way, of course, but still wrecked!
I've quickly realized through this adoption process that I like to be in control of my situations. I like to have a plan and follow it. Tucker starting school in August is completely wrecking our routine and it's freaking me out a bit! Of course, not Tucker's fault, we do realize education is important, but I have no control over any of it! I'm the type of person that needs to have a plan, needs to know the plan in advance and quite honestly preferred to have made the plan itself. I like to know where I'm going and what will happen when I get there. Which is quite funny when you think about it because the adoption process is complete opposite of that. Oh yes, we have "timelines" and "guides" but there is literally no real timeline, we have NO CLUE when we will be matched and when we will travel. We just have educated guesses, and in some cases, just a guess.
So why am I ok with that lack of plan and not ok with all the changes that are happening right now in my life? Maybe because I've been in control far too long and God is trying to break me of that habit? Maybe He's telling me to let go of my plan and let Him plan for me. Maybe, He's trying to set me free?
He knows the plans He has set before me. He knows what will happen when Tucker starts kindergarten and all that will involve. He knows our China Baby and where she is and who she's with and that He is preparing her to become a Harmon. He knows ALL. He knows the past, present and future. Why am I trying to control what I see in this tiny moment of time?
It all comes down to these 5 letters. TRUST. Do I trust him enough to push past my need for control and let Him plan my future. It seems sometimes the "big" situations in my life are easy to give to Him, but the little things that may not be much to anyone else, but keeps me up at night (what will happen to our routine when Tucker starts school? Who will pick him up? How will we find time to help with homework?) Those things seem easy for me to hang onto. God wants it all, because He cares about it ALL. He cares that I want to be there for Tucker to help with homework. He cares that I want to pick him up from school and ask about his day. He cares about all of those things. So if the God of the universe cares about those things.....can't I trust Him enough to know He already has a plan in place?
Thank you, Father, for caring for me in the big things and the little things. Help me to remember that and cast all my cares upon you. Help me to trust you in every way.
I'm writing this today with tears of joy, gratitude just an overwhelming sense of unworthiness of all the blessings He has bestowed on us this weekend. We had an amazing fundraiser in our hometown of Decatur, TN and it seemed like all of Decatur showed up to support us. It was incredible.
This is just a few of the pictures from the weekend. It was so amazing to see folks helping with the spaghetti dinner and silent auction from sun up to sun down, practically. There were some folks that helped that didn't even know Jason or I personally, but knew other family members and showed up early to help set up, serve and clean up. We can never repay them for what they have done, but they will be cherished in our hearts forever.
Just as the Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now all glory to God who is able through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we may ask or think". We saw His work this weekend, people being the hands and feet of Christ. It was far above than we could have ever thought or imagined! God is always more than enough.
Let me just take a moment now and share that if you are even considering this path, I urge you to explore it thoroughly. We had no clue in the beginning how we would fund this, but we knew God was calling us to this so we took that leap of faith. That's it! A leap of faith and God is providing and we are trusting in Him to do so. He's faithful and He's not going to leave us on this journey that He has called us on.
Please, ask me any questions about adoption, I am always more than happy to answer those questions. The adoption agency's are always willing and ready to answer your questions. If you feel God calling you to this, don't push it away. You will not believe the blessings you will receive when you obey. Jason and I feel so unworthy of all of this, but we are so thankful and give God all the glory.
It's been on my heart for sometime to tell my story. My faith story. This has nothing to do with our adoption, per say, but it has everything to do with God...who eventually led us to adopt.
I'm writing my story on the cuffs of having been to the Brooks House recently. It is a shelter for women who have no where else to go, who have been abused and or addicted something and have nothing and nowhere to turn. We chose that place as our "mission project" in my small discipleship group. In my mind I thought we would go there and share with them our stories and "bless" them and tell them about Christ. Instead, they shared their stories. Their stories of abuse, neglect, brokenness, addiction and loneliness. I was the one who was blessed. They were the ones who showed me Christ in a very real way. It was an incredible evening. After hearing their stories it made me realize even more how much we need to share our stories. No, I don't have a story like my new friend Felicia who was sold at 13 years old for prostitution, and then sold again for drugs at 17. I don't have that story, but I do have my story.
I can't share my story without sharing a little of my parents story. I was born in Albuquerque, NM. My parents met there while my Dad was driving through on his way from Tennessee to California, stopping along the way to make some money to get him to his next stop. It just so happened he stopped at my Grandpa's gas station looking for work. He met my mom there and 4 months later they married. Fast forward about 10 years and my brother was 5 and I was 10 months old. My Dad knew he needed to get back to TN, because the drugs and alcoholic lifestyle he was living wasn't good for our family. So we moved to TN to live near my other grandparents. My Mom started attending church with my Mamaw & Papaw and accepted Christ as her Savior. My Dad, having been an alcoholic, most of his young adult-adult life finally came to know Christ when I was 6 years old. At that moment our entire family tree changed. Had it not been for that event, I'm not sure where my brother & I would be today.
It was when I was 6 years old I knew 100% that God was real and that He had changed my Dad. There was a visible difference in him. He threw away all the alcohol and he became the Dad my brother and I needed. At 6, I knew God had changed my Dad and I had no doubts about how real Jesus is or who He was.
Then life changed dramatically because Dad wanted to start a ministry, a singing ministry. So we quickly became The Standridge Family Gospel Singers. My brother played the bass, my mom sang, dad sang and played guitar & I sang and played a mean tambourine! (ha!) So that was my childhood. Singing with my family from the time I was 6 years old until around 21 years old. We would sing nearly every weekend my entire childhood. To say I was at the church every time the doors were open was an understatement.
When I was 8 years old, I remember going to the front and thinking I had accepted Christ. But as I got older, I realized I didn't know him. I was a rebellious, typical teenager. I was a "good girl" but I didn't have it all together like I looked like I did. Finally at 17 years old I remember walking down to the front of the church having grabbed my Dad by the hand and telling him, I needed to be saved. I didn't have Jesus in my heart. My Dad lead me to Christ at that moment. We prayed a prayer together and I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Everyone I knew was shocked because I had stood up in front of the church and sang and I did all these things" in the name of Jesus." Obviously, I knew how to act the part.
Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart, and He knew my heart wasn't following Him.
So, fast forward about 13 years and I had a husband a baby a new house and everything on the outside looked all nice and shiny, but inside of me was dark. I felt nothing. I had everything I had ever wanted, but I wasn't happy. I was angry all the time, I was bitter about everything, I had lost all my joy. For really no "real" reason at all. I literally was living my dream, but I was in miserable.
I was sitting in church one Sunday thinking to myself something has got to change. I have got to do something, I am miserable. I literally thought to myself "I wish my friend, Deanna, was doing a bible study, because I would do that. I guess I should start reading my bible?!" Right after the service Deanna turned to me and said, "Hey, I'm doing this bible study/small group thing, you wanna join me?"
"YES!!!" I think I probably scared and shocked her with my response, but I knew right away God was calling me back home. I wasn't doing anything "wrong", but I wasn't living for Him and He was telling me to come back. I thought, "Ok God, this is you telling me to get back on track, I hear you loud and clear!"
I started getting into the word, learning really for the first time, EVER, how to study the Word, how to absorb and focus on scripture and praying on a daily basis. How to take that scripture and apply it. And the fire that was once there, started to rekindle. I enjoyed His word, I enjoyed church again. I was no longer just going through the motions of being a good little church girl. I got it this time! I understood what grace was and what love He had for us. I realized what it's like to walk with Jesus on a daily basis. I understood what it meant to surrender yourself to Him and it was all good.
I'm so thankful for that turn around in my life, because just a few short months of my "revival" and d time of growth we had a miscarriage. You can read more about that in previous posts. This was probably the hardest time I've ever went through. I knew I could get mad at God and turn away from Him or run to Him. I'm so thankful I ran to Him. It was during that time I learned to trust Him in all circumstances no matter if they seem unbearable or if they don't make sense to us. He always turns them for our good! Now, we are adopting a little one from China. You can read about His perfect timing here. Had it not been for that time of loss, grief and total dependence on Him, we wouldn't have this honor and privilege to be adopting. And I'm not sure if I would have learned His voice and learned to heed that voice had it not been for that time.
Through these last two years I have been growing and seen my family grow in their faith and walk with the Lord. No, it's not always easy, but nothing worth going after ever is.
Obviously my story isn't complete....but no one's is until we reach Heaven...so in the mean time I will just say...
To Be Continued....
So now I challenge you.....What's Your Story? You never know how it will impact someone else's life and ultimately show them Christ. Please feel free to leave your story in the comments. I would love to hear it. If you don't have a story, send me an email, I would love to talk to you more about how to start your story. Thanks for letting me share mine.
I was gently reminded this morning what I was doing on this very day last year. In my celebration of our Dossier being sent to China, I had forgotten the pain of this day. God reminded me today that His plans are perfect, His timing is perfect and He always and only wants what's best for us. He is a Good, Good Father.
It was this very day last year I was sitting with Jason in my OB/GYN's office waiting for the results of tests that were taken on me. Waiting to know whether this little baby inside of me would live or not. The doctor came in and by the look on her face we knew it wasn't good news. I could continue to carry this child until I miscarried naturally or go ahead and start the process because there was a 100% chance that this baby would not survive. I have no doubt God can do anything and miracles happen every day, but that was not His plan for us. That day was the hardest day of my life. It was March 17th, 2016. I will never forget that day. I was crushed. But in my weakness, He is made strong. In my sorrows, He gives me joy. I knew joy would come in the morning, I just needed to trust Him. I'll not say it was easy, or that I just accepted that I wouldn't be delivering my baby in October as planned, but His ways are higher than mine. He knew exactly what our family needed. I trusted Him to take care of us.
Now, fast forward one year to the day. We are adopting a sweet baby. Our Dossier is being sent to China one year after our lives were turned upside down. I love how God works. He always turns things for our good. I would never know the joys of adoption or what God has already taught me through this process had it not been for March 17th, 2016. I'm not saying that day isn't still hard, but I'm thankful for the joy in the morning. I'm thankful his His grace, mercy and love and that no matter what He has me. Always.
Just keep enduring friend, morning is coming!
So what does this mean for us? What is our next step? The next step is more waiting. But now we wait with anticipation of meeting our child. We wait for that file to come in with our precious China Baby on it. This waiting is fun. It's like the last few weeks before giving birth, yes it's hard, yes it's sometimes miserable, but it's also exciting! I don't know our exact timeline, because it all varies, but it's closer than it was 6 months ago. I know that much! ;-)
I'm most excited that our Dossier is done. Someone asked me what a Dossier was...well here's the official definition: "A dossier is a collection of documents that are necessary to meet the legal requirements for adoption from a foreign country as well as the immigration requirements of the U.S. Government." That includes everything from brand new birth & marriage certificates to US Immigration service forms from which we had to go to the immigration office to do the forms. This Dossier has taken us 6 months to complete. It's been a lot of running, waiting, filling out, waiting and more filling out. My friend Tausha, who has also adopted, said that paper cuts are the stretch marks of adoption! HA!! So true! But that part is over. Thank you, Lord!
We can almost see the finish line of this amazing journey. It's in our sights. We just can't lose focus now. We are coming little one!
Oh how true that verse is to the Harmon family today. Yesterday we received the news that we are approved and that one final paper we were waiting on (sometimes patiently, sometimes not) but it finally came! YAY! Thank you Lord! His grace is always sufficient, His timing is always perfect and His plans will not be thwarted. What's even better is it came on Jason's birthday, so we had even more reasons to celebrate! God just keeps showing us in those subtle ways this is His plan and it's been incredible.
So this was me today, at lunch dropping off that 3rd and final packet. I'm imagining this may be what it feels like when Tucker goes to Kindergarten this year. All the work, sweat, tears, errands, stress and LOVE going into that tiny little packet, just hoping it does exactly as you have prayed and hoped it would since the day you began. Yep, I could cry...so I will quickly move onto something lighter.
Next steps! So, our next step is...can you guess?! That's right, more waiting! Now we will wait to be matched up with our little China Baby. It's all in God's hands and (insert sigh here) I am TOTALLY good with that!
He started with us on the journey and He will be with us until we finish. What a comfort that is! Thank you for praying! Keep it up! It's working!
In my last post you learned we were trying to get our I-800A packet to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) before December 23rd to get a discount. You can read about that chaos here. So we did! We got their notice of receipt on December 22nd! YAY! Then we waited for another letter stating when we could go to the immigration office to be fingerprinted for the government.
The letter came and our appointment was scheduled for January 19th at noon. That date ring any bells for anyone?! Well, it just so happened that day was special to our family because it was Tucker's 5th birthday! We were able to spend the whole day together getting our fingerprints done and celebrating Tucker.
This was our birthday fun. We ate at the Pancake Pantry in Nashville, went to Bass Pro and the Disney Store. All his choices. We had the best day. And now he's 5 and he reminds me every day that he's 5. Growing up is hard on Mama! Sigh......I digress.
So...now we are waiting on a particular form that the USCIS is going to send saying we are approved. That is all we need in order to complete our Dossier, in order to be matched with our little China Baby, in order to travel to China to pick up our China Baby, in order to become a family of 4. That's it....one piece of paper. We just need one more piece of paper. But it hasn't come. Hence the picture at the top of this post. "When you don't move the mountains, I'm needing you to move, I will trust in You."
That is where we are. Just waiting on the Lord's timing and trusting in His sovereign plan. I have no idea if the paper will be here today, tomorrow or if it's another 3 weeks, but I do know one thing, God's plan will not be thwarted. He absolutely choose this adoption path for us. I have no doubts of that, so with that comes trust, faith and patience in Him. Which are all hard at times. I've had to succumb to the idea that I'm not in control. (Ouch! Just typing that hurt a little) But God is in control! I no longer need to stress, worry, freak out or control this situation. It's almost silly to even try. God has this in His hands. His plan is perfect, His timing is perfect and His will is perfect. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it, even before we know we need it! Why worry! Why stress! Why try to control! I've realized once I turn it over to God, I have a sense of freedom and peace overwhelm me, and that's a much better feeling than stress and anxiety. Plus when I give it to God, I no longer take Excedrin Migraine like it's some sort of candy! (Truth!)
So in the meantime we are praying that form comes in....but trusting in Him to know the exact right timing. We want what He wants...and nothing less.
He's fighting for me...for our family...for our China Baby....all I have to do is be still.
USCIS & I-800A! What the heck is that!?! Funny you should ask because I really don't know either! All I know is we received an email yesterday saying our home study has been approved! YAY!!! In the same email was a note from our agency stating when we receive our home study in the mail, we need to fill out a few more papers and mail it to the United State Government. If we send it all in before the 23rd of this month, we would be saving $75. Ok, that sounds good. We love a discount! Here was the catch, we received the email on the afternoon of the 20th. Our home study agency was mailing us the home study packet that day. That did not give us much time to get the packet, fill out the papers and send it all in BEFORE the 23rd. So today, Jason met our social worker at her office in Murfreesboro (about 45 minutes out of the way) to get our home study packet. He then ran that to me at my office we both signed everything and he drove to the nearest Fed Ex to drop it off. If we got it there before 6:00 pm tonight, it would reach the USCIS by tomorrow! Fingers crossed! We made the 6:00 deadline and are now praying it gets to it's designated arrival before the 23rd! Come on, Christmas Miracle!
We were excited, but scrambling too! Hoping this gets out in time and makes it before the 23rd. Yes, $75 isn't ALL that much money in the grand scheme of this, but we also feel like we need to be good stewards of our funds, and if that means working extra hard and making a special trip then it was worth it.
Here is the mailer going into the Fed Ex overnight shipping station. With this mailer, next comes a few appointments and paperwork that will take at most about 90 days. After this we will be officially "logged in". The timeline is still a bit fuzzy, but we hope to be logged in by March. After that we will just be waiting to be matched with our little one. It seems this is moving quickly and it's so exciting! Even our agency consultant today said our process is moving a lot quicker than normal. I can only credit that to the Lord. I have no doubt our child is waiting in China right now and God is protecting him/her and giving that little one peace while he/she waits on Mom & Dad to come.
Soon little one!! We are working on it as hard as we can! I'm praying this is our last Christmas without our 4th member and the last Christmas you have to spend without your family.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!!
"Where are you in the process? When will you get your child?" Those are questions that I get asked it seems daily. In short, we are waiting. We hurried and scurried to gather documents and paperwork and my daily lunch hours were filled with errands and scrambling...and now we wait. We still have more paperwork to do to be officially "on the list", but for now we wait. This hurry up and wait is a tough business. Seems I do much better when I have a list to check off and I am the one to check those things off. But this is where I have to pass the baton. Like Hebrews 6:15 says "Having waited....I realized and obtained what God has promised" I paraphrazed, of course, but just knowing that patience is going to be rewarded with our precious little child, is something I can deal with. The only way to deal with it, really. We know God designed this entire plan and had His hand on it from the very beginning, even before we realized what His plan was! And now we wait on Him and His timing. There is beauty in the waiting.
Last Thursday evening I sent off our first mailer. You can read about that here. It was exciting, obviously. After I sent it off I felt a big relief. That part, that had taken me 2 months to complete, was taken care of. WHEW! That was last Thursday. More than a week later, on Saturday morning, at 4:00 a.m. I woke up and realized I never heard if the mailer made it! Our agency said they would let me know they received it, it was supposed to be there in two days, I heard nothing. I was wide awake. I laid there and tried to sleep. Thoughts and anxieties were creeping up on me. The "what if's" kept running through my head. "What if it didn't get there? What if it's still sitting in the FedEx box never having been delivered? What if I have to do all that paperwork over again? What if it ended up in Russia or something?" Yeah, that last one was not even a bit logical, but I was anxious and thoughts were spinning! I got up finally about 6:30 and emailed our agency, even though I knew they were closed for the weekend and I more than likely wouldn't hear back until Monday morning.
So what did I do with all this anxiety?! First, I panicked. Not a good idea. I did however put it to good use because I cleaned out my dresser drawers. I have been needing to do that for a while and what better time than at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning! Before coffee!!! That is how much energy I had! Crazy!
Then once that was complete I realized where I really needed to lay my anxiety down, at the feet of Jesus. I texted some friends who I know are close to Jesus and asked them to pray. They all did. I prayed and read some verses that was sent to me and did my daily quiet time with Him. I felt a peace wash over me. It was calming, relaxing and I felt free. Free from the bondage of fear, anxiety, nervous energy and worry it all just fell right off. I was at peace. I knew God had taken care of that packet and He personally delivered it to where it was supposed to be.
That peace was truly a gift. I had an extremely busy weekend and I knew I didn't need for this to cloud my mind. That picture was sent to me from a new friend and it really helped. God gave me that gift of peace. Saturday passed.....Sunday passed. I hardly thought of my "terrible, awful, horrible" situation. The one that woke me up at 4:00 a.m. straight out of bed on a SATURDAY! The day I get to sleep in! God had taken it away so much that I didn't even remember it until last night at church a friend who I had asked to pray about it brought it up to me. I had forgotten about this thing that consumed me all Saturday morning! Thank you, Jesus that it no longer consumed me!
I let His peace rule over me and through me and all over me. Not saying this happens every time I feel anxious or worried, but this weekend was a win!
This morning, I received an email at 7:54 a.m. from our adoption agency saying they had received our packet and had already started the certification process. Thank You Lord!! You are the Prince of Peace and as my friend reminded me, Job 42:2 says:
I have no doubt this adoption is His plan for our family and no one or thing can prevent that from taking place. Not even a FedEx packet.