Monday, December 27, 2010

Can you imagine Hannah's face when she sees this?

Our Christmas was fantastic!  It was laid back and low key . . . Here's a picture of our family.

We took some group shots of all the grandkids and Nana and Papa.   It got me to thinking about when we will be given approval to ship a photo book to Hannah and she sees this . . .

And she realizes that ALL of these people will be related to her.  Can you imagine?  She has 2 more cousins from Ben's side of the family besides.  I sure wish I could be a fly on the wall that day!

I sure hope your Christmas was spent enjoying friends and family no matter the size! And that you took time to thank God for your many blessings.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You Can't Walk on Water Unless YOu Get Out of the Boat

I have been thinking back through some of the historical accounts in the Bible of where God has shown out big. God rarely does the exact same thing twice, but I believe there is one consistent thing that you will find if you look closely -- you always have to DO SOMETHING and it usually doesn't make sense to the world. Let's briefly look at a couple of those events in history:

The parting of the Red Sea.... God didn't just part the Red Sea, he told Moses to hold out his rod over the sea to part it. He did so and God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk over on dry ground.
The crossing of the River Jordan into the Promised Land.... God told the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant across the River (which was flooded) and into the Promised Land. The moment the priests stepped foot into the river, it became dry ground for them to cross.
The conquest of the city of Jericho...... God told the people of Israel to march around the city of Jericho... and they did each day until the appointed day that God caused the walls to fall.
God told Noah to build an ark and gave him very specific instructions for doing so. Keep in mind... up until that day it had never rained as the earth was watered by a mist that came up from the ground. Noah obeyed and was ridiculed, but God caused a flood to come upon the earth and destroyed it and everything in it..... except for Noah, his family, and 2 of each animal he had brought in just as God has said.
When the Israelites were in the wilderness God provided manna from heaven to feed them. However, it required them to actually go out and pick up their DAILY supply. God specifically told them to not pick up more than one day's supply. Those who did pick up more than one day's supply of manna found that it all spoiled and they didn't get more the next day.
Peter walked on water, but he had to first get out of the boat.
In order to have eternal life, you have to surrender to Jesus. He is the way..... He is the ONLY way. But you do have to do something... you have to surrender and have no "Plan B".
God led Julie and I to adopt Hannah........ so far He has provided each step of the way, but only after we take the action in that step. As soon as we make the appointment for the first Home Study meeting, the amount is provided. As soon as we make the appointment for the last Home Study visit, the amount is provided...... get the idea.
With that historical background from Scripture, I want to share what God did today..... As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we would have to pay $450 on our first home study visit.... we made that appointment and had that visit and God provided. Our social worker wants to have the 2nd and 3rd visit next week and the last visit (when the last payment to them is due) on 1/5/2011. We really need to get our GBI background checks done and complete our required training prior to 1/5/2011, but we didn't have the money for any of the above, so we pray and wait...... If you have already read Julie's blog from today you know the rest of the story...... A close friend was at work and in the course of doing her job was carrying on conversation with a customer. In the course of that conversation she was sharing about our adoption and how God has provided each step of the way. At the end of the conversation the lady gave her $200 cash to give to us to help get Hannah Home. That $200 combined with $20 that we had already been told we would be given tonight will pay for both the GBI backgrounds and the training. We were literally at the point to where our adoption would have started to slow down if we didn't get these two things done now, but God provided just the right amount at just the right time. This all happened within hours of my making the appointments for the rest of our home study even though we didn't have the money to pay for it all.

God obviously wants to show us (us personally, but also those of you who read our blogs or follow our adoption) that He is in control, that He is the provider, and that we can virtually walk on water if he tells us to as long as we are willing to get out of the boat...... that is what faith is all about.

If you don't hear from us again until after Christmas, we wish you all a Merry Christmas!


God is Showing Out!

Today has been a little stressful--we had to answer what seemed like a bazillion questions about ourself, our family, our marriage etc., we are completing the questionaire necessary for the homestudy.  When we completed it, we asked now what's next?

The next two things needed to  help complete the Homestudy are our GBI checks and our 10 hours of Hague Training. 

Well we knew that we had a deadline of Jan. 5th to get these accomplished, because that is when our actual home study visit will be.  We were wondering how we were going to pay for these costs.  We have been trying to be careful not to tell the amounts before the need is met, because we just want God to get the Glory.

So today Ben went ahead and scheduled both visits, knowing that God would have to take care of the costs.

Then I got a phone call.  A friend of ours was at work and was talking to a customer about Hannah.  She was telling her how God had been meeting our needs for the adoption.  As the woman was getting ready to leave, she took an envelope and put $200 into it and said, "When the Holy Spirit speaks, I listen."  I want you to give this to that family.

Can you guess how much we need for our GBI checks and our 10 hours of Hague training?  It is about $225.00.

I'm not sure what to say--except Thanks!  Thanks to our Heavenly Father who is proving himself over and over.  Thanks to the woman who listened to the Holy Spirit and obeyed. 


Monday, December 20, 2010

We Got An Early Christmas Present!

Can you guess what it is??

We got our PA--today--just a few minutes ago!  WOW!! I can't believe it!

Okay so NOW I can share with you her picture . . .

Here is Miss Hannah Grace (We will add her Chinese name in here somehow)

Tears of Joy!  Tears of Joy!

Our God is Mighty and Able!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blessings in many ways

Yesterday --yes Saturday--we had 4 doctor appointments.  It was such a blessing!  They were all well-baby check-ups for Hannah's adoption. 

I had tried to schedule the appointments with our regular pediatrician , but the staff person I was talking to told me that the doctors had decided not to take any well-baby appointments unless the child was under 4 years old.  She told me to check with an urgent care place.  Well I tried--but the urgent care place wouldn't touch it because they had to order tests etc. 

So I found a doctor that could get them all in this week.  When I went by our pediatrician's office to have our files sent over to the new doctor, our pediatrician came in during my conversation with the staff about transferring our paperwork.  She looked at me and said--No, this is what we are going to do--and she proceeded to tell her staff that she would she us on Saturday when her office is not usually open.  THAT just doesn't happen every day.

I also had the opportunity to get to have some funny moments with our kids.  They each had to fill out their own paperwork--per the doctor's request.  I laughed at some of the answers they wanted to write down on their form.  In fact the nurse closed the door on us one time cause we were being a little "rowdy".

The doctor told me two things as we were getting ready to leave.  She asked, "Do you know what a special family you are?--You have a great group of kids."  Well I think so too!  When I told her how much we appreciated her seeing us on Saturday -- She looked at me and told me it was the "Right thing to do!"  I had to agree!

So I just wanted to share with you our continued blessings!

Spend sometime this week doing the Right Things and see how many people's lives you can make a difference in!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aren't you afraid of being hurt again?

We have been told by some of our close friends and family that they are fearful of us being hurt again. As I mentioned in the background, we went through two very difficult adoption attempts (one from Kazakhstan and one through foster care) that left us wounded emotionally. We were asked "aren't you afraid you would be hurt again?" The answer is YES, we are absolutely afraid we could be hurt again. BUT God is in control, God has told us to do this, and even if we get hurt again, we would rather be hurt doing God's will than to be comfortable not doing His will. So yes, pray for us to not be hurt again, but more importantly, pray as Jesus prayed, "not my will but Thy will".


Monday, December 13, 2010

Have you Been Wondering-- HOW --God was going to do It?

Well we were wondering too!  Today is the day we are supposed to send in $2100.00 to our adoption agency so we can send in our Letter of Intent to China.  So--we were waiting and waiting . . .  Even yesterday we only knew where some of the money would come from.

Have I mentioned lately that we weren't expecting to be adopting this year?

Well anyways--God is so funny with how the money came to be in our possession.

We sat down to look and see if we could find any money in our budget--you know do without this or that etc.

So we started looking and . . .

1) found that several of our bills had been lower for the months of Oct. and Nov. so we pulled $25 from this one, $40 from that account , etc. and deposited that into the adoption account.
2) discovered that we had a surplus in income for various reasons that we had not noticed before.
3) added the donations that some pretty amazing folks gave to bring Hannah home.
4)threw in some Christmas money that Ben and Julie had been given (what better gift then the gift of a Life right?)
5)had a family meeting and asked the kids what they thought about giving the money we had been saving for a trip to Six Flags for all of their birthdays--without hesitation-- they said "YES!" "Hannah's more important" and so we added that to the pot. (Let me just say that--We have a bunch of awesome kids who get it!)
6) today a special friend brought us an additional donation
and you know what????

It ADDED UP!!!! Now that is GOD's kind of MATH!  What didn't look possible--became possible in God's timing!  So we just sent in our contract and our LOI today. 

We are Smiling--Ear to Ear!  We are giddy with Joy!  We are celebrating that on the other side of the world tucked away in a bed, hopefully sleeping, is a sweet little girl, who doesn't even know that the Agee Family is waiting to bring her home! 

Okay--so now little tears are sliding down my cheeks!

All I can say is Thank you God for showing me again how real you are!  May the glory be all YOURS!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Bit Closer to Hannah

Well--two things to report . . .

1) We heard back from the test results that our doctor asked us to get--One test is fine. To be quite honest I'm not sure what the results of the other test mean, but I know that it appears to be something that can easily be dealt with.  I'm so glad we didn't wait to start the paperwork until the test results came back.  God is showing me that our decisions must be bathed in prayer and made according to God's will. 

2) God gave us a glimpse of his glory last night. Someone in our church blessed us with a love gift to "Help get Hannah Home".  It was like he was saying--this is just the beginning, do you trust me for all that you need?  So--while we take baby steps on another faith journey, we are still watching to see God work.  Please continue to pray with us for the financing. 

Thanks for all of the encouragement yall have given to us!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bring on the Paperwork!

Okay--so today we begin the paperwork portion of our Journey to Hannah!

I can say this today, because until yesterday we were not certain WHEN God was going to give us clearance to begin. 

But God spoke to Ben during the sermon yesterday, in fact--he was so sure that while I was explaining to some friends that we were waiting for God to let us know--that Ben says, "It's time to go ahead and begin." 

I love that about my husband--that he listens to the voice of God.  (Sometimes our answer's comes from the Bible, and other times through people--this time it was through the preaching of our pastor and friend--Ed--when he was quoting what his wife Kim had said to me the day before.--No, I had not told Ben what she had said.)

So today we will complete the application and wait for approval, then we will lock her file, then we will send in a Letter of Intent to China, then we wait for our PA--pre approval, then we begin collecting our paperwork for the dossier and homestudy.  So let the paperwork begin!

Here's what I read in the Bible today---Psalm 20-- go look it up!

Also, please pray for these sweet families who are also adopting--AGAIN!  For Robby and Stan--adopting from China, for Vicki and Billy--adopting from China,  and for Joli and Jason--adopting domestically.

Also, pray for Josie Tatum- Robby and Stan's daughter and Leighanne's buddy she fell at gymnastics and broke her arm.  She had surgery and is doing better, but she needs to heal.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our hearts have been captured by Hannah!

I don't know exactly when God started healing my heart from all the ups and downs of foster care/adoption and loss of Taylor in January 2010 and the loss of Madina from 2005, but slowly he has in His own way.  We weren't looking to have our heart captured, but God has been known to do the unbelieveable. 

In July/August of this year our church started planning a mission trip to Honduras.  For some reason Ben and I just didn't feel like God was telling us to go on this trip, instead we felt like God was saying--go to China.    So we began looking into trips to China, we wanted to take Leighanne back to the city where she was found.  We wanted  our whole family to be able to love on some orphans while we were there.  We also wanted  Leighanne to be able to expereince some of the beautiful sights of China.

In August, my heart was burdened to take on the details of an Orphan Sunday event.  I went to our pastor and youth pastor and we started planning a service to simulate what it is like to be an orphan/social orphan in the world today.  Basically as people entered the sanctuary, they were given a booklet that had the beginning story of an orphan from either China, Russia, Africa, Honduras or India.  They then traveled as a group from simulation room to simulation room, and even ate a meal simular to what an orphan from that country would eat.  When they came back into the sanctuary they found their orphan's picture on the wall and found out if they lived or died.  All of the stories were based on research that I had been looking up during the months of Sept./Oct.  We followed this up with the "Answer the Cry" video and a what can I do now session.  As I was gathering information about waiting children for people to pray for, my kids were sitting in my room with me and we started looking up waiting children on Rainbow Kids.  I said hey let's look up  older girls near Leighanne's age from China.  Well that's when it happened--we saw Hannah's picture and our hearts were captured.  All of the kids said mom--Hannah's it--she's the one.

Well, you could imagine that I wasn't quite ready to say yes- let's adopt Hannah, but my heart was drawn to this sweet face.  I began praying for her. 

On Orphan Sunday, November 7th, I put her picture up on a board for people to take a child's picture home to pray for.  Guess what--her picture was still there at the end of the night--so I brought it home.

I didn't sleep much that night--I just couldn't get her off of my heart.  The next day I asked Ben if I could call the agency and find out if another family had already chosen her.  To my dismay there was a family looking at her file and they had already moved her to the "pending" part of the waiting children list.  I told God that I was okay, but could he please make sure that Hannah was adopted into a christian family.  Ben agreed to complete the waiting child application with me, just in case this family decided not to adopt Hannah.  However, we were not expecting to be given a chance.  On Friday, I received an email from the agency--Hannah's file was ours to look at.  I was so nervous I could hardly open the documents on the computer.  She is a precious 7 year old and she is from the same province as Leighanne. Oh--and just another small detail, but Hannah is the name we had picked out for Austin if he had been a girl.  Isn't God cool?

So now we are waiting for doctor reports.  We also are praying hard--we do not have any money set aside for this adoption.  We are asking you to join us in prayer--we have to have a certain amount soon.  We know that God is able, more than able, and because we can't possibly come up with this amount on our own in the next couple of weeks, we will wait to see God get the glory in this.  We ask you to pray, that if Hannah is to be ours, that God just show up and show off in a way that others will say, "Wow look at the God they serve!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where it all begin

In May, 2010 our family took a wonderful cruise to the Bahamas. We immediately came back wanting to schedule our next cruise, but God kept telling us that our next family trip would be something that was focused on him and not just a relaxing vacation.

In August our church started planning a mission trip to Honduras. Julie and I both want to go on this trip because we have friends in Honduras we would like to see again, but neither of us have felt a peace about us personally going on this trip for a variety of reasons. Instead, we were already praying about going to China as a family to love on orphans, let Leighanne (and her brothers) see the country (and hopefully even the village) where she was born.

November 7, 2010 -- Julie (my wife) led an Orphan Sunday emphasis at our church on Sunday evening. It was called "One Day in the Life of an Orphan". During this emphasis, we had orphans and their stories from 5 different countries and everyone who came to church was given one of the orphan stories and went through simulation rooms as to what sleep, bath time, school and play, eating, etc. was like for that orphan. Then we all came back together to learn what happened to our orphan in the end and to watch the "Answer the Cry" video and then talk about some practical ways we could do something for orphans. One of the ways Julie had for people to get involved was to take a photo listing of a waiting child from one of the 5 countries and pray for that child to get a Christian forever family. In the process of collecting the information on those waiting children, Julie and our other children focused on this one child from China that was about 20 months younger than Leighanne. As you would have it, that child (we will call her Hannah") was not taken for prayer that night so she brought her information back home for our family to pray for. Both Julie and our children were all talking about adopting Hannah, but as the financial provider for the family (I know.... God is the provider.... I am just the conduit) and after been through what we had already been through with the other two failed adoptions, I wasn't interested in having in part of it, but I was willing to pray about it and let God tell me it wasn't something we should do (you do understand I already had my mind made up though right?).

Julie contacted the agency that Hannah was listed through to get more information. The first step was to complete a free online pre-application. I helped Julie get the information she needed for the application (income, net worth, etc.) and she filled it in and sent it along. We learned that another family already had Hannah's file and she was listed as pending (meaning there were more than one families in line for her) so we all concluded it probably just was not an open door for us (I felt relieved).

On Friday, November 19th, Julie received an e-mail from Hannah's listing agency with her file attached. We have two weeks to review the file, have doctors review the file, and make a decision. Okay, so now I have to start getting serious about whether God is really calling us to do this. I get on the internet and research the agency. As with any agency there are people who love them and people who hate them. I checked their financial forms filed with the IRS and didn't like what I saw, but I already knew they were not a Christian agency and their focus on working with orphans is not in line with mine so it really wasn't a surprise. Honestly I think at this point I was looking for a reason to not do this and I thought I found it. Over the weekend, God showed me the following truths:

In history (as documented in scripture), God has on more than one occasion used people who are not His children to accomplish His will. God is in control and even those who do not believe in or follow him are under his authority and work towards accomplishing His will even though they may not know it.
God provides all of the resources necessary to accomplish His will.
We were already praying about going to China as a family.
Hannah is from the same province that Leighanne is from and one of our reasons for wanting to visit China was to visit her province.
Somebody (God) has already opened doors that were not supposed to be opened to get us the file.
As of Sunday (November 21, 2010), I have concluded that we are almost certainly supposed to proceed with this adoption. We are still working on getting doctors to review her file, etc. before we make the final decision, but based on what I know right now the answer is likely yes.

Here are our immediate prayer points:

For wisdom and discernment as we get Hannah's file reviewed by medical professionals.

For financial provisions to proceed with the adoption if that is God's will for our family. I know it doesn't surprise you to know that we don't have an adoption savings setting there waiting on God to tell us to adopt again. We already know we have the first amount due within a couple of weeks if this is to be, so we are waiting and praying.
I thought I was over the corruption, evilness, and loss that we experienced with the attempted adoption from Kazakhstan, but this has brought up a lot of emotions that apparently God wants me to work through for the next level of healing.

Please subscribe to the blog as I will post what I know (that I can share) as it happens.


Some background information

Our family has three biological children (all boys ranging in age from 14 to 17) and one girl that we adopted from China 8 years ago as a 9 month old. For the past 8+ years we have been very active in advocating for adoption and in Orphan Ministry.

In the summer of 2003 we hosted a 13 year old girl from Kazakhstan for 4 weeks and attempted to adopt her until she turned 16 in January of 2006 and was no longer adoptable. As you might imagine our hearts were broken for a child we had already gotten to know and love. We continued to serve faithfully in orphan care ministry, but this threw us for a loop for a little while with regards to considering adoption.

In 2009 we felt the call of God to step out again and go to the U.S. foster care system to foster and adopt. In August, 2009, a little girl slightly younger than Leighanne came into our home as a foster child that was expected to become available for adoption. For the next 6 months we went through an emotional roller-coaster dealing with various issues with this child. During the final time of her being in our home her biological father was located and he did not know he had a daughter. She is now in his home to stay and has adjusted well. As you might imagine, we went through emotional trauma of once again getting attached to and coming to love a "daughter" and then having it disrupted. At least with this one we can see how God used us to give this child some stability and tools that she needed to be a success so her biological father could be successful with her and as much as it hurt, we praise God that she is now with her biological family who loves and cares for her.

With this background, you should now understand at least part of why I would be reluctant to go into another adoption -- especially of a child that we know anything about so early in the process.......


Friday, November 12, 2010

God is Up to Something!

God truly is up to something if I'm blogging!  I have spent about 6 hours proving to myself that I am blogging-challenged.  Finally, I have made some headway and have figured out a few things like--I am not cut out to design blog backgrounds, I need help with the simplest of things and that you need to make your pictures way smaller before trying to upload! :)