Piece of the Puzzle

Piece of the Puzzle

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guest Blog for 3six5

I got a chance to guest blog for 3six5 (dot) com again this year.  Here's a link to my post. Please leave a comment on the site to increase my chances of being able to blog for them again!



Friday, June 1, 2012

Journey in Patience

Well today is June 1st. It makes 17 months that we have been on our adoption journey. I never imagined that the summer of 2012 would come without our son at home with us. I know in Jamaica they would say that "ev'ry ting is irie" but it's really not!! I miss my little guy so much. Someone who visited JA in April sent me some pictures of Keddar from their trip. It's amazing how much he has grown since I was there in December. It's starting to lose his "baby face."

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with our assigned adoption worker in JA. She had FINALLY done her "adoption readiness" interview with Keddar. She had anticipated completing it in early April, but I guess late May is that "same ting". Anyway she commented about how impressed she was with Keddar. She said he is an amazing young man (of course he is!!). He told her that she needed to hurry up and finish the process so that he could be home in time to start school in the fall. A boy after my own heart - prioritizing education!  The good news is that she was so smitten by Keddar that she said that she is going to work diligently to finish us up by July!! WHOOOO HOOOO!!

So we've applied for the girls' passports and are standing in faith that July is the magical month. We are asking for all of our friends and family to also stand in agreement with us for a homecoming next month. It's so difficult to be so close and have no means of speeding up (i.e. controlling) the process. For those who know me, you know that this unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory for me. But I guess that's why I've called this a journey. It's not only a journey towards adoption, but also a journey in faith and trust and patience!!

Tonight is hubby's album release party where we will raise funds for the adoption. I'm looking forward to sharing our story with the folks that come. Maybe beyond being inspired to give, someone will be inspired to adopt!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's a New Season

Last night I was laying in bed thinking about how much I LOVE spring, even though it is one of the most unpredictable and frustrating times of the year. One day it’s sunny, the next day it’s raining and the day after that it’s overcast & windy! Once we get a couple of warm weather days, I excitedly pack away my heavy, bulky winter gear so I can get reacquainted with all my cute skirts and strappy wedges, just to have to frantically tear apart my carefully sealed “winter wear” boxes because the weather dropped 20 degrees overnight! And then there are those days when I’m dressed for 60 degree weather (because that’s what the weatherman predicted) only to have it heat up to a balmy 75 degrees by lunchtime.  Do you know how it feels to be standing on an asphalt playground in 70+ degree weather supervising recess in knee high black boots with sweaty calves?? And let’s not even talk about the days of getting caught in the rain without an umbrella. One of the black woman’s worst nightmares!
Despite all the erratic climate patterns, I still LOVE spring. Even in the midst of all the uncertainty, my step is lighter, my smile is brighter and I have a joyful expectation for what the new season is going to bring. I believe that this is exactly how God wants us to receive every “season” in our life.  
Sometimes we go through unpredictable & frustrating seasons of change. Despite our best planning, sometimes our “forecast” is off and we are left standing a little unprepared and uncomfortable. There are times when we feel completely caught off guard or like we’ve encountered the worst thing that could ever happen. Even in the midst of those seasons, we can still “count it all joy” because even when we don’t know what the future holds, we do know Who holds the future!
The bible says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  I love this verse because it reassures us that everything on earth is seasonal & therefore temporary. No hardship will last forever. We can also be comforted in knowing that there is a purpose for everything that we go through – even the difficult seasons.
The Word of God also tells us that “… ALL things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28). And ALL means ALL! Everything that we are going through will work together for our good. Just like the exasperating irregularity of springtime serves as the springboard for new blooms, new growth and new life in nature- our seasons of unfamiliarity, drought, &/or difficulty serve as the springboard for something new & good in our own life.  
So do not grow weary in well doing! Approach each day with a joyful expectation for what God is going to do in, and through, you! Give thanks, even in the hard times, knowing that your new season is on its way! 

What is it that you believe God is birthing in you? What "new season" to you believe is coming your way?

Monday, April 9, 2012

He said "YES!" (12/7/11)

A few days ago, I found some writing that I had done when I went to Jamaica in December to turn in our completed Home Study and to share with Keddar that we were adopting him. Here's part 3

December 7, 2011 -

I'm weepy all through breakfast - can't stop that rebellious left eye from leaking. It's blowing my cover!! How am I going to make it to tonight???

Ha! I didn't need to worry about that. The kindergarten class was exceptionally challenging today, leaving me not a moment to think about anything else. It was the toughest 3 hours I've had in a long time. But I must admin, also the most fulfilling. Being able to use my gifts in serve to these children is a tremendous blessing to me.

After lunch, Portia (one of my co-travelers) and I head down to the construction site to help out the guys. Or at least that's the story we're telling each other! I think she's going to see a special employee and I'm really  going to wait until Keddar get out of school. :0)
No sooner that I see Keddar's teacher leaving for the day, do I hear a pair of size 2 feet running across the walkway. He rounds the corner and stands transfixed - just staring at me with that captivating smile of his. I hold him hostage a few more moments while I take in his too big shoes, ashy legs & knees, "hammy down" shorts and mix-match sleeveless shirt revealing undersized limbs, and those pleading eyes - before I tell him to come over and give me a great big hug!!

Tonight after service, we had planned to Skype Fil so Keddar could say "hello". Little did he know the real purpose of the call was for Fil and I to ask him if he would allow us to adopt him. We'll share the video when the time is right, but I'll just say "He say YES!!"  It was one of the most powerful moments in my life. I can't begin to explain what those few moments were like. It's a feeling like no other. In the midst of our celebration, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was created to be this little boy's momma. Everything in my life has been preparing me to to have the unbelievable privilege of caring for and raising this precious child of God.

Sunday on the mountain (12/4/11)

A few days ago, I found some writing that I had done when I went to Jamaica in December to turn in our completed Home Study and to share with Keddar that we were adopting him. Here's part 2

December 4, 2011 -

I love Sunday mornings on the mountain. I think the higher the elevation makes me feel closer to God - or maybe it's just being surrounded by so much natural beauty - whatever it is, it's definitely God's country up here!  As the children file into the Multi-Purpose room, I can barely contain my excitement. Is it wrong to be more excited about seeing Keddar than service? If so, all I can do is ask for forgiveness because that 's the honest truth.  

The stage has somehow been set prior to service & everyone knows their part. I'm tickled to see all the older boys saving a spot next to me because that's "Keddar's seat." The message travels quickly to the girls and younger boys, as well. No one argues, they just move accordingly. Finally Keddar is in his rightful place next to me & the children are ready for service. Midway through, I notice an added weight on my arm & look down to see that Keddar has traded in his bible to share mine. How sweet is that?? 

Welcome to Jamaica - again! (12/3/11)

A few days ago, I found some writing that I had done when I went to Jamaica in December to turn in our completed Home Study and to share with Keddar that we were adopting him. Here's part 1

December 3, 2011 -

As the captain announces our decent into Jamaica, I feel by body begin to tense. I'm unclear as to what to attribute this to. I should be ecstatic, happy, joyful, but instead I'm anxious about the moments ahead. I feel like so much is riding on this trip . . . I try to calm myself by remembering all the God has done to bring me to this moment. There is comfort in that  - knowing that God is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me & He has ordained this time.

It's funny that the interior of the Jamaican airport has begun to feel familiar. I guess 3 trips in one year will do that! I gather my luggage & step out into the Jamaican humidity. Even this is now familiar and no longer feels oppressive. The enveloping muggy air enwraps me like a hug from a welcoming friend. I take a deep breath, and look up into the mountains - both anxious and excited to get up the hill so that I can see my son.

With that thought, I realize that I have no idea who's picking us up from the airport. I begin to scan the crowd looking for a pale face (no offense Steve Jr!) in the middle of all the beautiful brown tones. . . . And then I see a familiar little face. My heart skips a beat and then does a little dance in my chest! It's the best "Welcome to Jamaica" greeting ever! Keddar is at the airport! I think in that moment that my smile is as big as his. We just stand there for a full minute grinning at each other before I give him a great big momma bear hug.

Even though we know that God is an amazingly great God, there are times when there is no denying not only His love for us, but His concern about every little detail of our life. Seeing Keddar at the airport was like having God say to me "daughter, I know your spoken & your unspoken desires and I delight in granting them. You have nothing to be concerned about. I have ordained this and it shall be. Just sit back and enjoy the journey."

Speaking of . . . on the way up the mountain, Keddar lays his head on my shoulder and goes to sleep like it's the most natural thing in the world.  And I believe, it is.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Let's Jam for Jamaica

Today was another God appointed day!! What started as a plan B, ended up being all a part of God's PERFECT plan!!!

We had been planning for the past several weeks to go to Lake Tahoe this weekend. The "plan" was to leave early - as soon as I got out of an orientation that was supposed to end at 11 am. Well of course a meeting full of women never ends of time! By the time I got of the meeting, we got back home and starting getting ready to go, it was already after 1 pm. The hotel that we wanted to stay in was booked. ARRGGHH!! It just didn't seem like our plans were falling into place. I really had to say a quick "Jesus help me to not get an attitude" prayer because I REALLY wanted to go to Tahoe!!

So we decided to put Tahoe on hold and take the girls to see a friend's art show in Auburn.  On the drive up there Fil and I start talking about putting together a benefit concert to raise money for the next stages of the adoption.  We toss a few ideas back and forth about location, venue, artists and then drifted off into another conversation.

We get to Auburn and share with our friend, Pierre, that we're thinking about doing a benefit show for our little guy. About 5 - 10 minutes later one of his friends walks in- another Jamaican brother - who is looking to start a t-shirt company. Pierre starts telling him about our adoption and he asks if WE WILL LET HIM make up some t-shirts for the concert to sell. Will we LET HIM??? Of course, we will. Then they start talking about all of their connections and their desire to really get behind a community event, especially one that would benefit a child in their home land and before we know it . . . they've narrowed down a location, made plans to get the event catered, started talking about artists & bands, promo plans - the works!!

What Fil and I had initially thought would be a small event where we could invite some friends, they had expanded into a full Jamaican festival with the potential of having 100's of attendees!! Oh man, when will I learn to stop putting God in a box?  We had been only thinking about what we could do within our own power, but God had a much bigger and better plan!! I am so excited. I can't wait to see what God is going to do! I know that something awesome, more than just raising money, is going to come from all of this!

So, look out . . . "Jam for Jamaica" will be coming this Spring!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rejoice in the Lord Always

The past few months of waiting have been so difficult! We have been calling and calling & emailing and doing more emailing to the Jamaica CDA since January with no results. Our phone calls have not been taken, our emails have not been returned - there has been no communication at all. It's so hard to be thousands of miles away just wondering if anything is happening on our behalf. In the meantime, we have taken our federal fingerprints, received our clearance, and had our paperwork sent to the Embassy in Jamaica and still SILENCE from the CDA.

I have cried to God, tantrumed, ranted & raved, been mad, felt hopeless, and downright orphaned by God myself because the CDA hasn't done anything.  It's been 3 months, THREE MONTHS, since I took our paperwork to Jamaica. They told us we would get our case number within 30 days and it's THREE MONTHS later.

Two weeks ago, we SKYPE'd Keddar for his birthday. After all the exuberant birthday wishes and with the most serious and sincere look on his face, Keddar asked us when we were coming to get him. How it broke my heart to have to tell him that we didn't know!! It's like being pregnant and preparing for the birth of your child, with no specific due date. What keeps most of us moms-to-be going through those difficult & uncomfortable months of pregnancy is that fact that we know that by a certain date, we WILL have our new bundle of joy. But with no end in sight, the waiting process just becomes agonizing!!

Last Sunday, I woke up in a funk (again), missing my son (again), angry that no word had come from Jamaica (again) and questioning God (again).  I stood in the choir loft, going through the motions, but not really "feeling it."  I just couldn't get past wondering "what about me God?" 

Midway through our choir set, Pastor stopped us and called forward those who needed prayer. Before he prayed, he talked about a very personal and sensitive situation that his own family is in the midst of battling. He then shared about another church member (who's son happens to work with me) who's wife is on her deathbed. As I watched nearly one hundred people come to the alter for prayer, I felt so convicted. There were a number of people that I had "meant to be" praying for, but because I had gotten so caught up in my own situation, I never prayed for them. In that moment, I clearly felt God tell me to stop praying for (& whining about) myself and to start interceding for other people. Tears blurred my eyes as my heart softened towards those whose needs & hurts are so much greater than mine. I promised God that I would focus more on lifting up others and less on complaining about my own situation. 

So on Monday, I set up a "prayer wall" in my bedroom. I listed out those who I had promised to pray for but never did. I asked the girls to help me list people/friends that they knew needed prayer. Family members who I have had strained relationships with also went on the wall.  Each day this week, I have gotten up and prayed over the wall. Each night before I have gone to bed, I have again lifted up those names. And in terms of the adoption, I have simply thanked God for what He is working out.

Today, Friday, we finally got the email from CDA that we have been waiting for!! We were given our case number and worker and told that our case is moving to the next stage. WOW!! It is such great news. It's also so amazing to see how God works. When I submitted myself to His will and stopped focusing on myself (& trying to "control" God and the situation), God took care of it - all by himself, without any help from me! LOL!

This is a huge lesson for me. God promised us over a year ago that this adoption was going to happen. But I allowed myself to be moved by the circumstances and not God's word. As long as I was in that mode of doubting God & feeling sorry for myself, nothing happened. When I laid MY burden at God's feet and picked up HIS yoke (His will for me), the heavens opened and God intervened.

Praise God!! His Word is true and I'm so thankful that His mercies are new every morning! He is so patient and loving towards me.  He extends such grace towards me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Catching Up . . .

I can't believe that it's been 2 months since I last updated our blog . . . so much has happened!! I'm not even sure where to start, but from the beginning makes the most sense, I guess!

Let's see - we finished up our home study interviews & house visit and received the final "approved to adopt" home study in late November. Right in time for me to travel back to Jamaica with our church team during the first week of December.

Just a couple of weeks prior to traveling to Jamaica, I called the Jamaica CDA worker that we had been working with to let her know that I was coming to bring my home study report and final documents. I was promptly informed that she had retired and no one knew where our file was!! Oh boy, that was not a fun (or "in faith") moment for me. In fact to be completely transparent, it led to a major panic attack!

Just days before leaving for Jamaica, I was able to get in touch with a CDA worker who found our file. She stated that we were missing several documents from our file and that I would need to bring them with me. These were documents that we had already submitted and for which I only had copies and couldn't get originals before I needed to travel.  I asked, begged her to please double check and get back to me. Right in line with how things were going with the CDA, I didn't hear back from her. And when I called two days before I left for Jamaica, I was told that she was out for the rest of the week and no one else could access my file. ARRGGHH!!

Fil wasn't able to go to Jamaica, so I went with 3 other people as part of our church's missions team.  We were a small, but mighty group. After a long flight to the island, I was met at the airport by the biggest smile on all the island! Our son-to-be had ridden down the mountain to meet me at the airport. What a wonderful "welcome back"!! It was so hard to "play it cool" and not just wrap him up in a big momma bear hug.  Oh, I couldn't wait to tell him the good news!!

Fast forward to my trip to CDA - all the paperwork that I was told was missing, was actually there! Our home study was the only document left to submit and that was turned in during my visit. WHOO!! HOOO!! We are all done with everything that is within our control to do on the Jamaica side of the adoption

This is what was waiting for me atop the mountain when we returned from CDA. I think it was God's way of reminding me that He is faithful to fulfill His promises:

Mid-week, my son-to-be and I SKYPE'd Fil to chat with him. But really it was all a plan for Fil and I to tell, ask him if he would allow us to be his parents. What a precious moment that was. I thought my heart was going to leap out of my heart when he said yes!! Fil then asked him what he wanted us to call him. After a long, excrutiating 6 minutes (well maybe it was only like 36 seconds), he told us he wanted us to call him son!! In that instant it was like all the space and time that had separated us since his birth melted away and he was mine, ALL MINE! Despite what the courts, public records, or any legal document might say. He was my son, fully in my heart.

The sunset the night we became a family of 5 in my heart:

The morning after we asked Keddar to join our family. He told all the boys in his home that he was being adopted and that I was his new mommy! He then went to school and told his teacher that he had a new name: Kedar Graham. Check out the name on his spelling test!

The hardest thing was leaving my son on that last day. It felt so guilty - like I was abandoning him. It was one of the most difficult "good byes" of my life. He kept asking me when I would be back and when he could come home. It was so hard to only be able to say "I don't know. As soon as I can."  The CDA says it could be anywhere from 3 - 6 months!! Actually they said it would be a "couple of months", but when I asked if that meant February, I was told "NO! Not the American kind of 'couple'. It could be 3 - 6 months."

When I got back from Jamaica, we sent off our paperwork to US Immigration (Homeland Security) so that we can get our federal fingerprint clearance.

So, now we must wait and pray. We have done all that we can do to get him home to us. The rest is up to God and His perfect will and timing.  In the meantime we are preparing our hearts and our home.  We are also raising the last monies needed so we can finalize the adoption here in the states.

Thank you for your continued prayers and  . . . if you haven't already donated to our Piece of the Puzzle fundraiser, please prayerfully consider doing so!

God bless