You make me brave!

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God has been reminding me lately that it is HE who makes me brave!

Brave to have those difficult conversations.

Brave to trust and have faith when there is change in a job and finances.

Brave to face another change in caseworkers and the many unknowns in the adoption process.

Brave to parent.

Brave to attend an event when it would be more comfortable to stay home….or to be brave and stay home when that is the harder choice.

Brave to let go of my expectations and embrace what He has given us.

Brave is defined as to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear.  It has been my prayer recently that He would give me fearless trust.  To exchange any fear I may have and replace it with trust.  To trust and know He is with me and for me!  In scripture God repeatedly reminds us of His presence, that He is our help, and we are to not fear.  I am thanking Him that He is the one that makes me brave and no fear I have will ever hinder who He is and the promises He has for me.

Much love,

Kari  ♥

There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life-fear of death, fear of judgment-is one not yet fully formed in love.  We, though, are going to love-love and be loved.  First we were loved, now we love.  He loved us first.  1 John 4:18-19 (The Message)

*Quick adoption update-we just received in the mail our official approval letter from Immigration (USCIS) stating the Lovely family is approved to adopt 3 children from Costa Rica.  We are giving Him much praise and thanks for this next step!!  Would you continue to join us in praying for the children He intends to join our family-specifically for efficiency in processing paperwork for the children waiting to be declared adoptable.

You Make Me Brave~

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

YES!!

We often get questions about why we are adopting and why we have said yes to parenting 5 or 6 children.  A friend of mine shared this amazing blog post (read it in entirety here) about saying yes.  I got to read this shortly after we shared that we were saying yes and stepping out in faith to the possibility of adopting 3 children now instead of 2.  Her words in her blog post put words to the cry of our heart.  It is so much bigger than our yes!  I want to share part of it here with you-

“We say yes.

We say yes to adoption. 
Not because we are

ready,
gutsy,
extra loving,
secure,
or financially capable.

We say yes to adopting children with special needs. 
Not because we are
strong,
capable,
patient,
knowledgeable,
or prepared.

We say yes to adopting children with developmental delays.
Not because we are
competent,
gentle,
even tempered,
brave,
or undaunted.

We say yes to adopting medically complex children.
Not because we are
fearless,
equipped,
trained,
heroic,
or energetic.


We say yes to adopting multiple children.
Not because we have

an extra bedroom,
a big house,
a jumbo van,
an unlimited bank account,
or parenting expertise.

We say yes to adopting older children. 
Not because we
are
qualified,
unafraid,
up to it,
secure,
or valiant……….

Rather, we say yes because we are expectant.  Though we tremble, we expect God to take our yeses, redeem the broken, and weave a great story.

The truth is, we might possess a few of the characteristics that the world would deem worthy reasons to say yes to adoption, orphan ministry or orphan hosting.  But, for the most part, we know ourselves to be timid, weak, ill equipped, messy and wavering.  We waffle in our decision-making and fail in our parenting.  We have every reason to say no.   

But here is the glory part.  When we utter even the weakest yes, we find God to be big.  Bigger than we once thought.  Bigger than our lack.  Bigger than our doubt.  Bigger than the needs before us.  Bigger than we can comprehend.  Bigger.  And He proves Himself good, steady, intentional, on time, able, strong, and sovereign.

So we take our small, mustard seed size faith, combine it with what we know to be true about God, and say yes.   

We say yes because the call is whispered, or downright shouted, into our hearts.
We say yes because we want a child.
We say yes because we have love to give.
We say yes because we prefer front row seats to God’s miracle work.
We say yes because we walk by faith, even when the future makes us quiver.

We’ll never feel adequate for the call.  The circumstances will never be quite right or the timing ideal.  But with hands open and palms up, we say yes anyway.  And another crib is emptied and new chapter written.

So we say yes.  Yes to a lifetime of unqualified yeses.  Yes to moving forward in our smallness and God’s bigness.   

In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God
continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory.
If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves.
If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no
danger that we’ll confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.
Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water”

I pray that wherever you are at in life right now, that you find encouragement from her words and step out in faith and say yes to what He is asking of you.

We now get to update our paperwork to make us officially able to adopt 3 Ticos.  We  would love prayer for our home study update on Thursday at 3:45pm.

We love you!!

Kari for the crew

Trust in the silence and “in between”

Our dearest Ticos,

Today we celebrate our resurrected King!   He is no longer in the grave, but He has indeed risen, just as He said He would!!  This is the part I love, the day that is so fun to celebrate and praise His name…..but there is so much more to the story.  Before today, there was confusion, pain, despair, waiting and not knowing how this story was going to end; possibly how you my precious children may be feeling on this very day!

On Saturday,  I was reflecting about this “in between” day-the day after the day of sorrow and despair of Jesus Christ dying on the cross, and the day before the day of joy and celebration of His resurrection from the grave.  This reminded me so much of where we are at in our adoption process and you waiting for a forever family.  We are also “in between” confusion and clarity, “in between” darkness and light, “in between” seeing God’s good and mighty plan unfold for our family.

I want to encourage and remind you to remember that God too is writing our story, the same God who was faithful and did what He said He would do on the cross!  In the days where God is silent (or it may seem), when we don’t see His hand or where He is leading, we can trust He is at work.  We can trust He is working and working for our good.  He has not forgotten you or me.  In the waiting and “in between”, He is meeting us, refining us, comforting us, increasing our trust in Him and revealing Himself to us and those around us!!!  The feelings of loneliness and fear can be replaced with hope, freedom, JOY!

Next year I pray we can celebrate Easter together, reflecting on His faithfulness and the story He has written and continues to write for our family!

I love you more than words,

Mom

Psalm 9:9-10

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”

This is one of my favorites songs to listen to right now:

There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting, Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust

CHORUS
Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined, Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens, Reaching down in endless grace
Youʼre the Lifter of the lowly, Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me, Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
Youʼre working for our good, Youʼre working for our good and for your glory

A BIG week!!

Where do I begin?!!  So much has transpired in our hearts and minds in the past few weeks.  I want to let you all in on some exciting news AND also take you along for the journey of how we got there…..

The past few years, God has been teaching our family how to listen to His voice.  It has been a reoccurring “theme” in our life, and we are so thankful for the many different opportunities He has given us to learn more and practice hearing what He wants to say to us (some great sermons are here and here).

We all have unique “God languages”, or ways God has wired us to experience a deeper intimacy with Him (a great read on this is What’s Your God Language). For example, I hear (for me it has never been audible) from the Lord or experience His presence most often/strongly when I am in nature or caring for others.  Our family has been learning what it means to be still, ask God a question, and are learning to pay attention to how the Holy Spirit is nudging or prompting us….sometimes God speaks to us through words, songs, pictures, a reoccurring theme, or even dreams we have had.

Earlier this month we were doing a family prayer night, and God began to speak to us about our adoption and the number of children we were pursuing.  We all began to pray more about how we felt God was speaking and leading our family.  A lot of wrestling with God happened!!  The enemy threw a lot of fears and doubts at me, but God kept reminding me of this verse-

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Every time we would go to Him, seeking His face, listening to His heart for our family-He would give us His PEACE and remind us of His promises.  He would nudge us to step out in FAITH-to listen to His voice-and to follow Him!  He kept reminding us that His ways are always better than our own, that He will equip us to be the parents to however many children He chooses to add to our family, and all we needed to do was TRUST Him and say “yes”.

So, we took the leap of faith and made the call to our agency to share all that God was doing in our hearts.  They were excited to hear, and we were thrilled to share how He was moving!!  The next step was having our agency approve us on many different levels; which meant more paperwork dissecting our finances and answering pages of questions asking how we would handle different parenting scenarios.  We continued to pray, surrender all, and ask that if it was His will, that we would move forward in the approval process.

Well, we got the call this week from Lifeline that we were APPROVED!!  Approved to adopt 3 (three!!!) children from Costa Rica.

What does this mean and what happens now?  It means, PANI could still match us with 2 children, but they also have the option of matching us with 3 children…whatever is the best match for the children and for our family.  We will now begin updating our home study, immigration paperwork, etc.

We are so excited to see what God has in store for our family, and we will continue to hold on tight as He leads our family!

We would love prayer for endurance with more paperwork, for continual trust and joy in His will and way, and for protection over our Ticos as they wait for a forever family.

Much love to you all,

Kari ♥ for the crew

Faith-butterflies-hope

IMG_3670We are still smack dab in the middle of our journey towards our Ticos, with no end in sight.  We often get the question of how we are doing in this long wait.  I can honestly answer that I am so very thankful for this waiting season.  There has been such intimacy with my Lord in the hard, in the unknown.  He has done so much in my our hearts!   When I look back at all that He has done in and through this story He is writing, I would NOT trade this time of waiting.  We are not the same people.  He has been training, refining, preparing and equipping us to be the parents-siblings-for very specific children.  When the days are long, and we are tired of waiting and doing one more piece of paperwork, I get to cling and hold onto His promises and the truth of His character.  I get to continue to trust His good and perfect plan and the timing He has for placing those precious niños in our home!  He is never late in fulfilling His purpose and plan!

A wise Ann Voskamp once said, “You haven’t forgotten us or this chapter or this story, and if You haven’t forgotten us (or our Ticos), we’re not about to go forgetting that Your stories always work out in the end-and if things aren’t working out quite yet, it just means we’re not quite yet to the end.  We’ll literally practice our faith-we’ll practice saying thanks in the middle.

FAITH thanks God in the middle of the mess,

FAITH thanks God in the middle of the night,

FAITH thanks God in the middle of the story–

Because it believes in the relentless goodness of Him who won’t stop writing till there’s good at the end of this story”.

Amen!!  That is how I want to act out my faith.  Giving thanks when I can’t sleep-tossing and turning another night thinking/dreaming about these children.  Giving thanks when this process is messy, hard and unknown.  Opening my eyes to how He is shaping me, and to enjoy this journey with Him, because HE is good!

A sweet gift God has given me along the way has been showing me butterflies.  Early on, He started showing them to me and reminding me of the process and stages they must go through to become “beautiful”, similar to what He was doing in me during this waiting season.  Those butterflies have brought me much hope and encouragement on so many days!!  I started taking pictures of them to remind me of His faithfulness and His love and care for me. I love how others have started praying for our Ticos when they see a butterfly.

Thank you for your prayers, we know He hears them and is at work!

Our love,

Kari 

Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

So much LOVE ♥ {Thank you for sharing HIS love}!

Romans 4:21
“He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”
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We knew we had an AMAZING village, but on 11/14/14, you brought it {His LOVE}!  You all were so loving, encouraging, and supportive!  Seriously, His love was flowing through you.  Your texts, FB pics/messages, emails, prayers, and verses you sent us have truly spurred us on!  We are still in the middle of this “marathon”, with no finish line in sight, but I feel like we have more endurance and strength than ever.  God is so good and faithful!  Thank you for taking the time to pray and share His love with our growing family!  I can’t wait to share these photos and the many stories with our Ticos some day.

We love you!!

Kari for the Lovely crew

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Colosians 3:12 
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Psalm 27:13-14
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Pray with us on Nov. 14, 2014~

Draw a heart on your hand, wear your LOVE shirt or anything with a heart, as a reminder to pray for our family and our adoption on Friday, November 14th, 2014:

Pray our Ticos home!  Please pray the following with us:

  • Pray that our Ticos would feel God’s love through the hands of those that are caring for them now.  That God would send people that would tell them of His love through their actions, stories, singing and prayers.
  • Pray that our Ticos’ (our family’s too) HOPE would be in God alone.
  • Pray that the Ticos would know that God is sending them a “forever family”, giving them peace and encouragement for each day.  Give us dreams of one another.
  • Pray that God would prepare our family and our Ticos for one another, in ways we don’t even realize we need to be prepared.
  • Pray that the paperwork would be completed in a smooth manner, full of integrity, so they can be legally adopted.
  • Pray for our Ticos’ safety and protection and that there would be people advocating for their needs and well-being.
  • Pray that we would seek God for His patience, for sustainment, for wisdom and discernment, and we would wait expectantly with peace.
  •  Pray that nothing stands in the way of God accomplishing a completion of the match that He has for us.   For Him to receive all the praise and the glory!
  • Praise God for His goodness and faithfulness! God is our provider.  He is in complete control.  We trust His good and  perfect timing with this adoption and the children He has to join our family. Thank you for praying with and for us!!

DSCN0049 With much love,

The Lovely crew

Romans 15:13-“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 86:15-“But you, O Lord,are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”

John 13:35 “Your LOVE for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Chronicles 20:12 “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Share the Love in the desert….

Lately this season of our adoption has reminded me of a desert.  It has been long, hard, and exhausting at times.  Much longer than we expected….yet, I would not trade what I have learned and who we have become in this waiting time.  His timing is good and perfect and I trust that with my whole heart.  Does believing this truth make my mama heart ache any less to hold our two precious Ticos in my arms?  No, but I do have His peace that truly surpasses my own understanding.  As I sit at the feet of The Lord and ask for more of HIM and less of me in the waiting, He continues to meet me, shower me with His love, and show me that I have much to be thankful for….one BIG reason we are giving thanks, is that on Halloween, we got the official word that PANI re-approved us to adopt from Costa Rica (this was what all the paperwork from the summer-home study update and more fingerprinting-was for).  Yes, you can do the happy dance too!!!

Fall has been such a good visual reminder to me that as I patiently wait, He will bring a harvest.  He is at work.  I don’t always get to see His hand, but I can trust His name and who He is.  He is changing me and He will bring streams, life, to the desert.  desert-stream

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

(photo credit: graceandhonor.org)

 

To celebrate our latest re-approval to adopt, our 2 year official approval/start date with our agency Lifeline, on Friday, November 14th, 2014 (the same day we got engaged), we are asking our “team” to once again share the love and wear your LOVE shirts/sweatshirts.

Share the love with hands

While you wear the shirts/sweatshirts, not only will we feel the love and support, but we would love for it to be a reminder to you of all that God has done and for you to also lift our adoption process, our family, and our Ticos up in prayer! Even if you don’t have a shirt, would you join our “team” in prayer?

shirts-2 tshirt

Pray for God to move!!  Orphans are waiting to be adopted because their paperwork has not been processed.  Pray for our hearts to continue to be prepared for who is joining our family.  Pray that our Ticos would feel God’s love and that He would be their hope.

We love you!  Thank you for your love and being on our team,

Kari

Share the love-Please post or send us photos of you wearing your shirts.  We would love to put those photos in their adoption scrapbook.♥♥♥

 

 

His Strength

This summer as I was still in the middle of my tired and worn season……still very much in the middle of heart ache, grief, and loss, God met me in a way that I don’t think I have ever felt so tangibly before.  A loved one in our extended family died unexpectedly.  For two days we drove to the funeral….I was confused, weak, and the grief was intense and new to me.  As we made the trip out to be with other loved ones, I got to drive through towns/countryside I grew up traveling every summer and winter; it was a gift to reflect and remember so many childhood memories.  It also gave me the chance to just sit and soak in His creation, His word, and sing songs of worship. I love how God often uses nature and music to speak to me! The song, “Overwhelmed” by Daddy Weave played numerous times on the trip.  I was reminded of who He is, and as I looked around me, at the works of His hands, I was captivated and overwhelmed by His beauty admist the deep ache in my heart.

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IMG_0963As we started the journey home,  I remember sitting in the car, realizing nothing had changed with my circumstances, but I physically felt stronger.  His strength had come over me.  His power was made perfect in my weakness!  A verse from the Bible that I have often heard or read, just came to life in a new and powerful way!

I still had so many questions about the death of our family member, questions about WHY our Ticos are not home with us yet, questions about the sufferings, disappointments, and losses that some close friends experienced in that month, but I was comforted in that fact I didn’t need answers.  Instead, I could just rest on the truth of who He is and that my faith will stand!

1 Corinthians 2:5-
“So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 

By His grace and with much love ,

Kari
 

Tired and Worn.

Friends, I have had about 5 posts written and rewritten in my mind for the past few months, and so today I feel like it is time to just try and get my jumbled thoughts out there.  I still want this blog….this place of communication from me/us to you….to always give you insight into our adoption or as God laid on my heart before I started this blog, a front row seat into what He is doing and the story He is writing for our family.  It is time to let you all in.

Today as I sit and type, I am feeling very worn and tired.  The last few months of this process have left me depleted.  I have said things I never thought I would feel or think about our adoption…I have questioned and wrestled with God in new ways….. and I have felt loss and heart ache DEEPLY.  I know He is bringing much good from all of this…but it is hard.

The first 20+ months of our adoption process were for the most part easy, fun, and smooth (minus the craziness of the psych eval:)!) and then all of the sudden it was time to renew our paperwork and we experienced a lot of bumps- a BIG bump was losing our dear friend Iris (who was more like a sister at this point) as our caseworker for Lifeline. This was HARD, and there are days it continues to smack me over the head.  Thankfully, she will still be in our lives, it will just look different from this point on.  We also invested a lot more time and paperwork in this renewal than we were expecting because of the switch of home study agencies.  Just when we thought we were done providing proof of XYZ, we would need another document….my mama heart was DONE!  (Huge praise is that big packet of paperwork made its way to immigration yesterday!!).

So where does this leave me now?  I sense God calling me into a season of rest where only He can restore my soul.  For me to be okay with feeling weak and worn, and to let others in, so they can help carry the weight of this journey with and for us.  To ask others to pray for us and our Ticos when I don’t have the strength or know how to.

As I was driving today, the song “Worn” came on from Tenth Avenue North.  So good.  This is me!  God continues to speak and be near to me in this new season.  Someday, I will write about how He does that with butterflies….but until then, I will leave you with the lyrics from that song, and ask if you would be willing to stand in the gap for me during this season?~~ Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of when Costa Rica gave the Lovely family the big YES to adopt.  We are still hopeful….just a little worn.

Much love to you-Kari

“Worn”
“I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn
My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn”