Visas Issued – Now Looking Forward to New Beginnings in 2018

Last week, we finally got news we had been waiting on for months.  Let me back up a little and tell you about that night.  Here in Alabama it was Wednesday, December 27.  The last Wednesday of the year our church always has a large combined devotional and worship service.  It is usually one of my favorite nights at church and a very meaningful way to look forward to the new year.  This year we focused on cardboard testimonies.  Each person had a piece of cardboard to write things that we let hold us back or get in the way of our relationship with God, things we know we need to give up to God.  On my piece of cardboard I of course had to write about my desire to “be in control.”  Yes, I have mentioned I am little type A before.  I also listed that I wanted things on my timetable.  This whole adoption journey has taught me how little I do have control of, and I cannot control the timetable of this process or many other things in my life.  I’ve had to let go of those things, often with a great struggle, and just lean into God to let him carry me through.  Once we had our piece of cardboard written on, we walked up to the front and placed them at the foot of the cross.  It was a way to give up those things we are letting hold us back.  I got back to my seat and the thought crossed my mind that if our kids Visas were issued that night it would be December 28 since the Philippines is 14 hours ahead of us.  December 28 is a very significant day, our wedding anniversary.  I thought how amazing would it be if that happened.   I also thought about how God would have known all along even on our very wedding day that this would happen.  The service ended with one of the most heart felt sincere prayers from our preacher Frank Mills, which included a petition for our children by name and our adoption to move forward.  I was already teary eyed before he mentioned them and definitely couldn’t contain my emotions after that.  After we got home, I checked the website I have checked probably well over a thousand times waiting for a status change.   As I opened their files, 2 of our kid’s Visas were issued.  So we waited.  We didn’t want to tell anyone until all 3 said ISSUED!  Then finally it happened, 3 issued Visas.

 

So now what?

We wait for travel approval from ICAB.   They cannot issue travel approval until they have the Visas in their possession and all travel documents ready.  Usually this takes anywhere from 1-3 weeks.  We are obviously praying for it to happen quicker.  We finally feel like we are in the home stretch and know that God has an amazing new adventure planned for us in 2018.  Please pray for us and our children.  Our 3 new children are leaving everything they know behind including the tropical climate to make it to Alabama right in the middle of winter.  Pray for their transition and for us to have wisdom to be what they need.  Pray for the loss they will likely feel as the leave behind their foster family.  Pray for their hearts to be able to trust us and for all of us to bond as we become a family of 7.  Big changes are ahead as we step forward into 2018.  It is with great excitement that we wait to see how the rest of this journey unfolds.  To God be the glory.

 

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Holding on to Hope

 

It is Christmas Eve, a day filled with much excitement, fun, family, and focus on our savior.  To say that this Christmas looks a little different than what I anticipated months ago would be an understatement.  When people used to say things about having the kids home by Christmas I almost found it absurd because of course they should be home by Christmas.  Honestly they should have been home months ago, but they aren’t.  There are many things I have thought would have happened, but haven’t yet:

Visas that still are not issued, but could be any day now.

Bedtime stories I thought we would have shared for many nights.

Little girls hair I thought I would have fixed and put bows in.

Christmas clothes that haven’t been worn.

Presents under our tree that haven’t been opened, but will be some time in 2018.

Stockings that won’t be looked in on Christmas Day.

Christmas cards which I could not bring myself to do because some of my children would not be in the picture.

Yes, this Christmas looks different than what I thought it would be.  But I’m sure it does for so many others too.  I know many are grieving and spending Christmas without a loved one for the first time or other situations of loss that has changed how they thought they’d spend Christmas.

 

In the middle of the waiting and weary moments of the “not yet”, we will praise him.  Even when we don’t understand why this has taken so much longer than it should have we will praise him.  We will hold on to hope remembering that special day many years ago when Jesus came in the form of a baby human to offer eternal hope.  Our God that sent his son still reigns and gives hope to us today.  God’s goodness is always constant even in the moments of sadness and missed months without my children.  God gives us his Spirit to provide strength for a journey that has played out much differently than we hoped.   Although it isn’t the way we want it, we will choose joy in this season.  We will choose joy with our family here.  We will choose joy in the moments here even while part of my heart is half way across the world.  Although 2017 was a great year because it is the year we knew we would be adopting our 3, I hold on to hope for far better things in 2018 when God brings us all together.  His story for our life is still being written…

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Reflecting on our Journey – Orphan Sunday

Today is known as Orphan Sunday.  On November 15, 2015, Will and I attended church like we do most Sundays, not knowing how our lives would be changed.  That Sunday two years ago was Orphan Sunday. Adoption was something we had talked about off and on for years, but never felt the time was right to proceed with adoption. On that Sunday almost two years ago, we listened to a message about caring for children in need.  I honestly don’t even remember the specifics of Frank’s lesson, but I know it had a big impact on me.  After that lesson Will and I talked and decided to pray about whether we should adopt.  We prayed for about a week and knew this time we were ready to jump in and move forward with adoption. Little did we know the BIG plans God had for us. As I reflect with excitement that our journey should soon bring us to our 3 children we are waiting to meet, I am still deeply touched by the orphan epidemic.  Once you enter the journey, the statistics you see are staggering.  It is estimated that there are 140 million orphans world wide.  Knowing that made it easy to say yes to 3. We also saw this statistic as Lane was preparing to give a speech at school on adoption.

I know not every family is called to adopt, but you wouldn’t think 7% of Christians would be that hard to come by.  For some, you are called to help and support others.  So many have done this for us.  You have walked along side with us, supported us financially, and prayed often for our journey and children.  We are so appreciative for that.  I also would encourage those who are considering adoption to ask us questions or others who have walked through this journey.  I will never tell you it is easy, but I have no doubt it will be worth it.  God has worked to change us so much already.  I understand so much more about God’s love and pursuit of us from this journey than I ever did before. I cannot wait to see what is in store when we are together, and know God will have many more lessons for us.

 

One lesson I am still trying to learn is patience.  At times God has carried me while I’ve struggled greatly.  Many of you ask if we have updates or how I’m holding up with the wait.  Honestly, I have good and bad days.  This is such a stretch for my Type A personality that likes to know when things are going to happen. I’ve already packed the children’s suitcase filled with clothes for them and gifts for their caregivers.

Their backpacks are loaded with coloring books, stickers, and toys to keep them busy on the flights and give us things to do together.

We are ready!

We’ve been ready.

We know it will happen.

We just don’t know when.

 

I pray for them daily.  I look at their pictures countless times.  I check the Visa website page knowing one day it will say “Issued.”  We will press on and trust in God.  He loves orphans and wants them to be in families.  So we celebrate today knowing we will soon be with our 3.

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Strength Renewed

The past month has been a tough journey for us.  What many people may not understand who haven’t been on this journey is how difficult the waiting is.   Once you are matched or see your children, they have your heart.  Our three have felt like our children since the day we asked to be matched to them.  They have been prayed for daily since January 6 when I first saw their picture.  It’s such a unique experience for part of your heart to be half way across the world.  We are constantly aware of the time zone in another country and wondering if our children are sleeping, in school, or what they are doing.  We are deseparate for an update through email to hear about their passports or if their visa appointment has been scheduled.  Through it all God has been our strength.   He has provided in ways bigger than we expected.  When we get to the point when we don’t know how to survive the wait any longer, He comes through and renews our strength.  We were at that point this past week.  We were feeling frustrated, discouraged, and needed a renewal.

 

This week we had the most AMAZING experience.  We have been asking for months to Skype with our children and honestly didn’t think it was going to happen.  We thought the first time we would get to talk to them was when we would meet them in the Philippines.  I think God knew how badly we needed our strength renewed.  We found out this week that we would get to Skype with our children and it happened two days later.  We’ve been looking at the same pictures of our children for months.  When I say that, I mean I begin every day looking at their picture and praying for them, and end the day looking at their picture and praying for them.   Once we got to Skype, we saw their sweet faces, smiles, waves, and kisses being blown across a computer screen.  It made it all so real.  To see that they recognized us from the photo books warmed my heart.  We got a glimpse into our children’s personalities for the first time.  I am so excited about the rest of this journey and pray we are united with them in the Philippines soon.  I cannot wait to see what else God has planned and praise him for providing new strength just when we needed it.

 

Please continue to pray for us.  Pray that they will have their visa appointments scheduled soon.  Pray for their transition.  Pray that God grants us wisdom to provide and care for them just as they need us to.

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Finding Joy in the Waiting

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus”

 

The other day I told someone adoption is like a constant roller coaster.  You wait and wait to get one step completed.  Once you do it’s like you’ve topped the hill, but then there is the next hill to climb with more waiting.  The cycle goes on and on. Sometimes the waiting can get really frustrating, but I believe that Jesus has and will continue to provide me with joy while I am waiting.  Joy can fill me even when I frustrated and ready to top the next hill.

 

I cannot begin to describe how blessed our family feels by the love, prayers, and support of friends and our church family.  Our church family has stood beside us and done more than we could have asked or imagined.  It would be hard to not find joy with such an amazing group of God’s people by your side.  These ladies outdid themselves and blessed us with such a fun celebration.

 

It is hard to describe the feelings I had once I was at home that night and was able to process everything.  The kindness and generosity we were shown was overwhelming.  We had gifts, stacks of gift cards, and even donations.  Knowing so many people wanted to support us and that they are continually praying for my children means the world to me.  I sat at home that night, cried tears of joy, and thanked God for providing like He has done so many times during this adoption.   I know my village will be here for my children too.  I am so excited for them to get to know this group of God’s people that will bless their lives in so many ways.

 

We are frequently asked where we are in the process or if there is an update.  We are still waiting to hear about their passports.  Then they will get a date scheduled for their visas.  We have no control over any of this and just have to wait.  But, we can pray and do pray daily.  We find joy in knowing God loves our children and that God hears our prayers.  He has planned this journey for our lives. We will continue to trust and praise Him through it all.

 

While we are waiting, we’ve had lots of fun finishing the kid’s rooms and getting ready for their arrival.  The gift cards and many gifts helped us to finish things up.  I pray these rooms will be filled with lots of love, laughter, hugs, and great memories.

 

This is the girls room that they will share.  This was Madalyn’s bed for several years, and we were able to find some other pieces of furniture that were the perfect compliment.   We had to add just the right touch of girly accents for our two sweet girls.  Most of all, I love the reminder on the wall that we have prayed for these children daily and hope it reminds us all of God’s faithfulness.

We had fun with his room too.  I had some sweet church friends walk up to us and just give us money when they found out we were adopting three.  We used that money for his furniture since we were starting from scratch in his room.  It has been fun decorating, but I’m just ready for these rooms to be filled with my kids and the memories that will be shared in our home.

Our church family has been a constant source of encouragement.  It makes it easy to find joy God provides when you are encouraged by your church family and friends.  I Thessalonians 5:11 says “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”  Thank you Cross Point family, friends, and coworkers who are living this out.  Your encouragement, kindness, generosity, and prayers do not go unnoticed.  We love you all and thank you for letting God touch our hearts through you.

 

As we continue on this journey pray especially for our children’s transition.  Pray for us to have wisdom as God guides us on this journey.

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Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day and I have so many thoughts going through my mind.  I am thankful for so many reasons today.  I have a great mom, who has shown me what a woman of God should live like by her example.  I still get to celebrate and spend time with my grandmother who is excited to meet 3 more great grandkids.

 

I have two wonderful kids with me now that I am thankful for every day.  But, there is a longing and part of me that is not complete.  My other 3 children are half way across the world and not here celebrating with us today.  I am also missing my mother in law and thinking of the joy she would have shared with us over our 3 children that we are waiting to hold in our arms.

Mama Lynn in 2001 when Madalyn was born.

 

For the most part today has been an emotional day, not all sad emotions, just lots of emotions.  My emotions are mixed with tears of joy, feeling incomplete, excitement, and anticipation of what our future holds..   Tears of thankfulness for our preacher and church family that have supported us in so many ways. I don’t even have words to describe my gratitude for Frank Mill’s prayer this morning that included my children in the Philippines.

Sweet notes and donations to help us with our journey continue to bless us today.

God is good and the waiting is hard, but He will carry us through until the time comes.  He will be my peace, comfort, and strength as I wait knowing I am the mom of 5, but am not able to wrap my arms around all 5 of my children yet.

 

Then there are emotions I have as I reflect on those who desire to be moms that are not.  Or those that have babies in heaven resting in God’s arms.  Or the moms who have made the decisions to give up their children hoping for a better future for them.   Stories that may tell of loss for one, but bring joy to another that will get to be a mom to those children.  Stories that God can use to redeem the broken.  I pray for those who step in and take on the job of mom while I wait for paper work to be completed for my 3.  I think of foster mothers and those who work in orphanages across the world.  The ones who step up and love on children from so many different paths and situations.  I am thankful for the work they do to begin healing the broken past in children.  I pray God’s blessings on them and the work they do.

 

I want to encourage anyone that is struggling with loss or unfulfilled wishes that “God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” Psalm 147:3.

 

I want to encourage anyone that is waiting like we are to trust that God will complete the good work he has started. Philippians 1:6

 

I want to encourage anyone who has thought about adoption, but you haven’t taken that last step yet.  The need is great, and there are children waiting for someone to step up and be their forever family.  God can provide and overcome the barriers that you may be facing.  He can and will provide if He calls you to it.  He has shown up and shown out for us time and time again.   We serve a Mighty God!

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Longing

Longing is that state I am in during this waiting phase.  I long for the day I will get to see my children face to face for the first time.  I long to hear their voices.  I long to be able to hold them, read to them, hug them, and just give them love.  I know time will fly the next few months, but in some ways it seems to crawl by at a snail’s pace.  I know without a doubt God is working while we are waiting and giving us peace during the waiting.

 

While I long to hold my children and wait for that day to come, the adoption journey is teaching me things about my heavenly Father.  A Father who longs for His children.  He loves us so passionately that He gave His only son for us.  He wants us to spend time with Him, talk to Him, and be in a relationship with Him.  God has chosen and loved us in a way I may never fully comprehend, but pray I continue to learn a little more each day of His amazing love.

 

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Next Steps and Blessings

April 14, 2017

One month ago today we got the news that we were officially matched with our three precious kids.  We often get asked what happens next.  The next phase in our adoption journey will be a series of paperwork for us and our kids.  Following our match we had to update our home study to be approved for adopting our three.  The home study and other papers have to go through immigration.  Once that is received in the Philippines, they will release our children’s legal documents.  Then we file more papers with immigration.  In the Philippines our kids will be waiting on passports and appointments to get their Visas.  Once we complete all those steps we should be able to travel.  Timelines can vary at this point, but it is common to travel about six months after matching.  We have no way of knowing an exact time at this point though.  We just pray daily for everything to move quickly through the right hands at immigration.  We pray for ICAB and the work they do in the Philippines.  We pray they are able to process things quickly.  We pray that the U.S. Embassy will quickly move when the Visas appointments are able to be scheduled.  Ultimately, we pray with our hope in a good God and with a great longing to bring our children home.  Our love for them grows daily, and I cannot wait to see them and hold them.  I rest each day in the fact that a good God is loving my children even though I cannot be with them yet.

 

Once we were matched, we also had to think about some fundraising since we decided to adopt three.  We have been blown away by the support of friends, family members, and strangers.  Our t-shirts sales did far better than I could have imagined.  We also have had gifts handed to us from church friends.  We have been surprised to find checks people have mailed to us. One of those checks came from someone we don’t even know.  They heard about our story and sent a check to us through a friend.  We could see God working through all of this.  Then there are days like last night when we got word of an anonymous donation which is coming our way.   That specific donation is beyond anything we would have imagined.   We had many unknowns when we stepped out on faith to pursue our three, but we believed God would continue to lead us and bless this journey.  He is on the move and is working through so many around us.  He has provided every step of the way.  We are so thankful to God and all of those who have been a blessing to us in this journey.

 

 

Thank you for praying for us along the way.  Continue to pray for our children in the Philippines and the transition they will make in the future to be a part of our family.  We would love to Skype with our children, but don’t know if it will happen or not, so pray for that request to be granted.    Pray that God gives us wisdom in transitioning to parenting five children.  Pray that our eyes constantly be opened to a good God who is on the move in this journey.  I do not want to miss the good things He is doing.  This is His story for our family!

 

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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Matched!!!!!

 

It’s official, we are matched!!!! Our family of 4 is soon to be Lambert Party of 7.  We completely didn’t expect this news today and at this point.  This will definitely speed things up some, and we couldn’t be more excited to think that our kids will coming home a little sooner than we thought.

 

 

Sharing the news with others and their reactions just made my day!

We already started making changes needed for our new children.  Saturday night everyone pitched in to repaint a room.  This is one small task of many that will need to happen over the next few months.  I love seeing our kids be a part of bringing home their new siblings.

 

In our dining room hangs this board.  The song has been an inspiration to trust God throughout our whole journey.  We are thankful for God’s constant goodness and faithfulness.  He has taught us so much about trusting His timing.  Today He showed up big and brought us a great surprise!

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Immeasurably More!

We are a little over a year into our adoption journey.  Paperwork continues because we have to update our home study.  But … we are hoping this is our last update.  Although we started this journey seeking to adopt one child, God has taken us on a completely different path.  I’ve always heard be careful what you pray for because God may very well grant it.  The verse I’ve prayed since the very beginning of this process is Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Well God is doing immeasurably more.  About 2 months ago we got the Special Home Finding list of children that comes out every monthly.  One set of siblings had my heart from the first time I saw their faces.  It is not the path we thought we would take, but God had a better plan!  A plan much bigger than we could have ever seen coming.  God has worked on transforming us daily through this process, and we are so excited to be pursing the adoption of three children that are siblings.  Yes, I did say THREE!  I can’t say we haven’t been scared or had many questions, but we are willing to step out in faith and trust God through this all.  At this point we have not been officially matched with them yet because our home study completely doesn’t match.  We are trusting that God is working and will work this out in His time.  Please pray for us that everything goes smoothly with our paperwork and we are able to be officially matched with them soon because we are so in love with them already.  Pray that our family grows in ways God needs us to so we are prepared to bring three sweet children into our lives.  Pray for these children and all the orphans throughout the world.  Pray that our focus remain on Him.  This is His story not ours.

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