Friday, November 29, 2013

counting the days

In a season full of hustle and bustle, we try to be intentional as a family about slowing down our lives and our hearts to remember the real reason we celebrate. That it's not about the gifts, the parties, or even family and traditions. Christmas is about God's great rescue plan to redeem a dark and broken world.


In past years we've done a Jesse Tree, a beautiful tradition of using ornaments and scripture to tell God's grand redemption story. This year, we're counting down the days to Christmas using The Jesus Storybook Bible (more here on how much our family loves this little book).


Every night, the kids will grab a little bag filled with the story and scripture we'll read together. I love how The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the entire story of why Jesus came in the first place. It "tells the story beneath all the stories in the Bible...and at the center of the Story, there is a baby, the Child upon whom everything would depend. From Noah to Moses to King David every story whispers his name. Jesus is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together." 


I found this fantastic printable over here at Home with the Boys.

Update: another great resource here, The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent calender printable!

We'll also be going through this brand new little book, Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional. There are daily readings for adults as well as for our kids and a weekly family activity created by my sweet friend, Jami


Too often, we only remember part of the story this season. We recite the narrative to our children of an angel that came to a young mother, a crowded inn, the animals in the stable, the visiting magi, and a baby in a manger.

But the story is so much bigger than what happened in Bethlehem so many Christmases ago. It's a story that began with a lie in a garden, a promise to an elderly couple, laws that were given that we could never measure up to on our own, and prophets who pointed us to one who would keep the law perfectly in our place. It's a story of hardship and struggle and sin and brokenness. But it's also a beautiful story of hope.

More than anything this year, our family needs to be reminded that we're in the midst of a greater, grander story. That God had a universal rescue plan. I want my kids to see more than the roughly hewn stable in Bethlehem this season. I want them to see the rugged and bloody cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem. 


I want them to see Jesus this Christmas.

A King who serves.

A Savior who rescues.

And a God who redeems everything that's broken...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

in honor of national adoption day

Today was National Adoption Day, a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families. This annual, one-day event has made the dreams of thousands of children come true by working with policymakers, practitioners and advocates to finalize adoptions and create and celebrate adoptive families.

In total, National Adoption Day helped nearly 44,500 children move from foster care to a forever family. Communities across the county celebrate the Saturday before every Thanksgiving. In 2012, more than 4,500 children were adopted by their forever families during the 13th annual National Adoption Day celebration in almost 400 cities across the United States. (Info taken from nationaladoptionday.org).

It's estimated that over 4,500 children were legally adopted today.

Today, I guest blogged on Kansas City Mom's Blog. Swing by and hear what advice I have for adoptive and birth families and what I wish people knew about adoption. You can also hear how one of my adoptive mamas, Elizabeth and her son is doing and another mother's passion for adoption and foster care.



Want to see more of what the legal process and get a peek into a courtroom finalizing an adoption?

It looks like love. It looks like family. It looks like redemption. 

Friends, adoption looks like the gospel.


Monday, November 18, 2013

congratulations Nik and Megan

Nik and Megan became a family of three last week in a whirlwind that could have only been orchestrated by God himself. As part of the preparation process, we review things like emergency placements or "stork drop" situations and how to prepare for the "fast and furious" type adoptions. Most families tuck the information away, but last Monday, after giving Nik and Megan the news that they had been chosen, that became their road map as they needed to catch the earliest flight and work out dozens of details to meet their son. I'll let Megan fill in the rest of their story...

  
You know when something happens in your life and there is not an explanation except for God? 




Getting Elijah is at the top of that list. Without God, there is no way we would be holding him in our arms right now.

To start, Nik and I just decided to pursue adoption at the beginning of September. We hired an adoption consultant (Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants) and started working on our home study through a local agency (All Blessings International). This is where the story gets a little nuts…

On Tuesday, November 5, our Home Study was finalized. We sent a digital copy to our consultant (who works with several agencies) and started working on our applications to a handful of domestic agencies. Those applications, though, are still sitting on our dining room table…unfinished.

On Thursday, November 7, we received an email about an urgent situation. A baby boy that had been born the Sunday before (on Orphan Sunday!) was in desperate need of a family. His birth mom, had not made an adoption plan, so this sweet baby boy was just waiting at the hospital for his forever family. On Friday, we decided that we wanted to pursue him. So we sent our Family Profile and waited. The weekend came and went with no word.

On Monday, November 11, we got THE call. He was ours! The agency had sat down with 7 or 8 other profiles and had picked US! We had prayed over the weekend that this boy would go to exactly who he was supposed to. 

We frantically pulled ourselves together. We did not have our financials together, we didn't have all our paperwork completed…we hadn’t even applied to the agency yet! But, we hopped on a plane as fast as we could to meet our boy. Somehow, it all came together. Our family graciously bought our plane tickets. We got a free place to stay (at my SIL’s mom’s house) and one of our pastor’s friends lent us a car. People have donated money and baby supplies. It’s been overwhelming the love and support that we have felt. We cannot even begin to express how grateful we are for our community of friends and family.


Elijah is doing amazing. Elijah is a miracle. It just is crazy to me how well he is doing; how perfect he really is.


At this point, we are hoping to head home late this week. We can’t wait to celebrate the most thankful of Thanksgivings ever!
-----------------------------------------------------------

Nic and Megan's story is a beautiful reminder that God's timing is perfect. That He works in the details. That His provision is enough.


Although this little guy was born on Orphan Sunday, his Heavenly Father had already ensured that this precious boy would never be an orphan - not for a moment. He was wanted and loved from the very beginning.

Nik and Megan began the adoption process just two months ago.  But God had been preparing Nik and Megan to be his parents since the beginning of time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

congratulations Shawn and Holly

One of the matras I have in counseling couples on the adoption journey is to "love big." 


Shawn and Holly have been a beautiful example of loving big, particularly when it comes to their sweet birth mother. They met her at a sandwich shop for the first time just a month after their home study was ready. What always begins as an awkward meeting ended in praying over the expectant birth mother and hugging her neck. 

I watched over the next few months as they continued to build a relationship with her. Catching up through phone calls and texts, planning for the baby's arrival, and praying over her, her family, and the baby they would all call their son.

But loving big always involves risk.

Will this turn out the way we planned?
Will our hopes finally come to fruition?
Will everything go smoothly?
Can we trust that God will be faithful?

Shawn and Holly entered into all the questions, all the risks, and all of the unknowns and fully embraced all of the bittersweetness of adoption. They grieved with their birth mama. They celebrated their son's life. They held their breath in the waiting and marveled at God's goodness in the fulfillment of their dream.


The first thing Holly told me once they knew he was forever theirs? That her heart was heavy for their birth mother but that she has complete confidence in God's ability to supernaturally meet all of her needs and that she was in awe of this woman who has given their family so much. 


Loving big is so worth the risk. Especially in adoption.

Monday, November 11, 2013

adoption story: chris and shelley

Over the weekend, Shelley shared her story with Christian Adoption Consultants and our blog and I thought I would share it here as well! Shelley and Chris are former clients of CAC and are the parents of an absolutely darling little girl introduced to you earlier in the blog.  In her own words, Shelley shares her answers to the following questions about their journey:

Stricker Photography
Q: How did the Lord lead you to pursue adoption?
Adoption was something we talked about for years when we realized it wouldn’t be easy to have biological children.
But there was always something in the way — an element of fear — that excused us from pursuing it…
“Would we be able to afford it?”
“What about the health of the child?”
“How long will it take?”
It was when friends our ours adopted their son that we really felt a tug at our hearts saying, “Fear not!”
In February, we took the first leap of faith to call Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants.
Six months later, we were holding our baby girl in our arms!


Isadora Photography

Q: What was your journey to your child like?
Our journey to our daughter was a whirlwind.
Looking back, it went so fast, though I can tell you that some days were long and rocky.
A few months after signing on with Susan and CAC, we found ourselves presenting to a birth mother in Vegas who gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
She chose another family.
It was tough.
It was just a week later when Susan emailed us about a birth mother in Texas who was set to have her baby the next day.
Susan overnighted our information while we kept our hearts guarded and prayed over this birth mother.
Less than 48-hours later, we were on a flight to meet our daughter and her beautiful birth mother!
We had no bottles, no clothes, no diapers, no bows… but we had each other and the help of our families and CAC to welcome our precious little girl home.


Stricker Photography
Q: What has God has taught you about Himself through your adoption journey?
The biggest thing we’ve learned is that God has a plan, and it is perfect in His timing.
When we first held our daughter in our arms, we knew at that very moment she was meant to be ours all along.
Q: What did you appreciate about the help of Christian Adoption Consultants?
We love Susan and Christian Adoption Consultants.
Both will always be a part of our family.
Susan regularly emailed us and always knew how to keep us encouraged along the way.
Her experience of working with birth mothers and countless adoption agencies offered us comfort and hope along the way.
In a journey with so many unknowns, it was reassuring to know we always had her in our corner — a woman constantly praying for us, working with us, to make our dream of a family come true.
Susan’s constant support in the wavering waters of our adoption journey was more than we could have asked for.
We could never thank Susan and CAC enough for all they have done to lead us to our daughter.


Stricker Photography

Thank you, Shelley and Chris, for giving Christian Adoption Consultants the joy of sharing in your beautiful adoption journey!

adoption discount extended through this week!

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we are offering a discount on our full-service consulting packages. 

Cole and Maria with their sweet little guy

10% off our top three, full-service consulting packages
15% off our top three, full-service Minority Adoption Program consulting packages.

This discount is effective now through November 15th!

*This discount does not apply to the DIY package, our returning client package, or our special needs program or with any other discounts. 


What is Christian Adoption Consultants?  Click here.

What does it mean to hire an adoption consultant?  Click here.

Want to get started or get an info packet?  Click here.

What if you have more questions?  Click here.


Today could be the first step you take on the journey towards adoption! 

Have friends who are thinking about adoption? Make sure you share this post! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

running the race

This past weekend was an especially hard one for me. Our family has been on a long, hard, messy, and beautiful road to healing for the past several years. If you're not familiar with our story yet, it's a good one.


And it turns out, it's a long one. We were recently told the healing journey takes at least two to five years. Next week marks a two year anniversary of sorts and that means we're not even to the mid-point yet. Of course, that's an average, but it's been helpful for me to have a grid for my heart.

Recently, the weariness has been heavy.

The journey has been long.

And exhaustion has set in.

This weekend it all hit. Hard.

So I went on a run. To clear my head. To get some time to myself. It was getting late and looked even later because of the time change the night before.

This time, there was no music or podcasts. I had a lot to talk to God about. But for most of the run, my mind was blank. And all I could think about was how physically hard my run was.

So instead of hashing it out with God, this was happening in my head:

It's getting dark - I'm getting scared...

How much longer do I need to run? 

I can't go on, I'm so tired! 

I just want to quit!


But each time I had one of these thoughts, scripture would immediately follow.

It's getting dark - I'm getting scared...

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

How much longer do I need to run?

Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

I can't go on, I'm so tired!

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame. (Romans 5:3-5)  

I just want to quit!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2) 


And I realized, about halfway in, that I WAS hashing it out with God. My weariness. My exhaustion. He was using my run to whisper to my heart what I really needed.

He is calling me to endurance.

He has called me out of the darkness into a glorious light.

He is using this season to produce character and hope.

And my job in all of this: simply to look to Jesus.


So here I am. Preaching the gospel to myself again. Because my heart needs to hear it over and over and over.

I like the King James version of Hebrews when it says, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

I just need to keep running. Jesus will finish it for me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

congratulations Chris and Jamie

For Chris and Jamie, their adoption journey has been a whirlwind. They began working with Christian Adoption Consultants late this summer. In just over 2 months, they were matched with their sweet birth mama. They welcomed their beautiful son last week. Three months to the day they began working with me this little guy was in their arms.


It's been a joy to work with Chris and Jamie. I've been amazed by their grace, faith in God, and passion they have had in their adoption journey. They have been a picture of a couple called, committed, and changed by adoption. They took the steps necessary, made hard sacrifices, risked their hearts, and are now a beautiful family of 3.


Yesterday, on Orphan Sunday, they held their son in their arms. Because of his birth parents and his adoptive parents bravery, courage, and sacrifice, he is one less who will never be an orphan. 


Congratulations, to all 3 of you...

beyond orphan sunday

Yesterday was Orphan Sunday celebrating the cause of the fatherless.

A time to remember global orphan care
A time to celebrate adoption
A time to honor foster care
A time for the least of these

God did not leave us as orphans and has called us to partner with him to "defend the cause of the fatherless." (Isaiah 1:17)

But adoption goes past holding back tears from a touching video.

Caring for the fatherless is more than dropping in a few extra bills in the offering plate once a year.

Changing the life of a child takes more than that.  Adoption takes real steps, real risks, and real investment.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families." (Psalm 68:5-6)

Is God setting the lonely in your family?

If you've considered domestic infant adoption, check out our services at Christian Adoption Consultants

This is Norah, a result of her parents taking the first step...

We are pleased to offer a discount this month to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month. We will be offering 10% off all full service consulting packages and 15% off all consulting packages for those open to our Minority Adoption Program. (This may not be combined with any other discounts.)

This discount applies to all applications received by November 11th.


For an information packet, please email me at susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com

Friday, November 1, 2013

happy fall from some sweet faces

Here's some sweet little pumpkins to brighten your day!

One of the biggest joys I get as an adoption consultant is to see these sweet little faces enjoying life to the fullest with their amazing families.  


Happy National Adoption Awareness Month!



And remember:

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we are offering a discount on our full-service consulting packages. 

10% off our top three, full-service consulting packages
15% off our top three, full-service Minority Adoption Program consulting packages.

This discount is effective from November 1st through November 11th.

*This discount does not apply to the DIY package, our returning client package, or our special needs program or with any other discounts. 

Contact me at susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more info! 
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