Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Projects and Toys

I know I said that I wouldn't post until Thursday when I had pictures from our first fundraiser, but I got so excited today that I had to post early. It is really rather silly, but I made a run to the Parent Teacher Store to pick up some supplies for a project for Sylvie, and I found so many fun things for Asher! They had several new games/toys that had won all kinds of awards...elephant stacking blocks (you'll just have to trust me on this one...very original!) and a miniature thematic sand box (with construction, zoo, or dinosaur pieces) about the size of a monopoly box that comes with its own sand. I have to admit, I felt like I did when I was pregnant and would swoon over baby clothes...and I got so excited! We haven't even begun buying clothes or accessories for our little guy yet, but when we do, I'm going back to the Parent Teacher Store and picking up some of these fun new toys! I can't wait to share all these experiences with our little guy! Hurry home, Asher!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Eat Mor Chikin!

Okay, folks, we are having our first fundraiser this Thursday night, April 2, from 5:00 to 8:00 at the Chick-Fil-A in Brentwood. We are so thankful that the adoption process is moving so quickly, but because of that, we need to raise the money even more quickly! Soooo...if you eat at Chick-Fil-A in Brentwood this Thursday night, the manager will donate a percentage of the sales to help fund our adoption as well as the adoption of our good friends, the Francises. Our whole family will be there, and you might even catch Danny in an apron and serving food! We would love to see you all and give you a big hug! Hope to see you there! Remember...Eat Mor Chickin! We'll be sure and post pictures from that night as soon as we can.

We just filed our I600 A over the weekend (that was a big one!). We are still waiting on custody papers from Uganda. If things continue to move along, we are looking at mid-summer to bring Asher home! Please pray that the process will go as smoothly as possible, that paper work will flow quickly, and that we can bring Asher home in early summer. We continue to get emails from some dear people who have volunteered at Amani. They have blessed us with stories and pictures of Asher from the time he first came to the orphanage...priceless stories and pictures that we will cherish forever. We haven't even met the little guy, but we feel like we already know him. I think some of that is from the stories, and some of that is from God Himself. Like I said earlier, it's hard to explain, but there is now this empty place in our family that Asher is meant to fill. I think it's just God's way of preparing our family for this new arrival.

I'll post again on Thursday with pictures from our Chick-Fil-A Fundraiser. If you're from this area, we'd love to see you!


Friday, March 27, 2009

Our Spring Break Trip to France

Over Spring Break, Danny and I took a group from our school to France. Not only did we see all the breathtaking and romantic tourist attractions, but we also visited many World War I and World War II sights. It was quite an education for me! Here are just a few of the pictures:

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's All Yours

I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
I see the scars that war has left behind
Hope, like the sun, is fading
And they're waiting for a cure no one can find
And I hear children's voices singing
Of a God who heals and rescues and restores
And I am reminded that every child in Africa is yours
And It's all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours...
You're the Maker and Keeper and Father and Ruler of everything
It's all Yours...

I love these lyrics by Stephen Curtis Chapman! Every time I look at the picture below, I think of this song about the dirt roads of Uganda, and I thank God that each one of these beautiful children belongs to Him. I pray for healing and restoration for these orphans who, even though they may not have an earthly father, still have a Heavenly Father Who loves them beyond measure.

(God is restoring! All four of these boys have forever families now! Asher is on the far left and Judah is second from the right!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Here he is!

With the help of a sweet friend, we have some pictures of Asher!

(Asher in his coat of many colors!)

(Asher is on the right in an orange shirt.)

I cannot tell you the excitement that Danny, the kids, and I are feeling! We have pictures to go with a name! Not only that, but we just heard that one of Owen's friends, Michael, got to play soccer with Asher while he was in Uganda over Spring Break. Michael described Asher as "outgoing" and "joyful"... joyful! Can you believe it? One of our friends went to Uganda for Spring Break and just happened to meet our son! God is so big! When we first started on this journey, Danny and I had no idea that God was bringing together so many different families; we just knew He had called us. Now we see three, perhaps more, families being drawn to adopt from this same orphanage on the other side of the world. We see dozens of families giving their time, gifts, and money to help these children. I cannot wait to see all that God has planned for our little neck of the woods in His Kingdom work.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Have Our Referral!

We just got in town last night from our Spring Break trip to France where we had an amazing time with the families who went with us (Look for pictures soon!). When I got home, I happened to reread my last blog and was blown away by God's faithfulness. Let me explain...

As soon as we reached the U.S. and got our phone to work, I called sweet Mary with Amani. That's when I heard the good news...we had a referral! She told me the little boy's name is Asherife (sometimes spelled Asheraff) and described him as a "precious" and "sweet" child. She told me that a few days ago, Asherife came up to the director of Amani with a big smile on his face and told her that he was getting on an airplane and going on a trip! She said this was rather amazing as he doesn't even know he has a forever family yet. While I laughed and giggled when I heard this, I don't think I realized the significance of Asherife's words until I got home and read the last line of my last blog written the night before the left: "And, God, please let our son know we will be there soon." Wow! We prayed that he would know we were coming, and the next week he tells the ladies at the orphanage he's going home. Thank you, God, for answering prayers!

Danny and I have decided to keep Asherife's name since he was old enough to remember it when he came to the orphanage. Therefore, we are going to call him Samuel Asher Keck: Samuel, after Hannah's son whose name means "Heard of God"; and Asher, short for Asherife and the name of one of the twelve tribes of Judah. Just as He did with Hannah, God has truly heard our hearts and answered our prayers!

We don't know anything else right now, but we are supposed to get more info soon. Tears come to my eyes as I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. We can't wait for you to meet our new son, Samuel Asher Keck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wealth Beyond Measure

We leave for Spring Break tomorrow, and we still do not have our referral. In an effort to be "close" to our son, I find myself searching Amani's website and looking for pictures of these beautiful children, and I am struck by something extraordinary: though living with very little material possessions and comforts of this world, these children are singing, laughing, and smiling those amazing smiles! They are filled with joy! These pictures remind me of a passage I just read from Tozer's The Pursuit of God:

When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, “I am thy part and thine inheritance,” and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.
The man who has God for his treasure has all things....Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go,...he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight.

I am reminded that I too have been an orphan and that I have now been given a rich inheritance! Whether in Africa or America, our riches are not in the things of this world. God, thank you for your love, grace, and mercy! Please give the children at Amani a double portion of Your great wealth today! Let them know they are dearly loved. And let our son know we will be there soon...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Toilet Paper, Police, and Doughnuts

At one o’clock in the morning, our doorbell rang. It was the police. Behind them we saw our yard covered in toilet paper…and I mean our entire yard! The police wanted to know if we were going to press charges. We just laughed. This is the sort of thing that happens when you teach middle schoolers! We woke the next morning at 7:00 a.m. to this sight:

And this...

Have I told you that we absolutely LOVE our jobs?! We love these kids and their precious families! And we love the doughnuts they brought us for breakfast! It was a fun morning! I cannot wait for our forever son to join this crazy bunch!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sam and Esther

I first saw this video on someone else’s facebook page (thank you, Suzanne and Karen!), and it was another one of those moments that God used to break my heart and turn it toward Uganda. I must admit, though, it is VERY difficult to watch. Yet, I can honestly say that, after watching it, I am forever changed. I pray that I will never forget Sam and Esther and the millions of children in their same situation. It is hard for me to fathom that we live in a country where food goes wasted in my pantry, where my children fight over what dessert to eat, where I stop for Starbucks whenever I want, and yet there are children literally starving in the dusty roads of Africa. Before I watched this video, I felt that Danny and I could not financially support another child, that it wouldn’t be “responsible” for us to take on more than we could afford. Now, I look at what we can and cannot afford differently: we cannot afford to sit in our house and store up treasures for ourselves while God’s children are dying; we cannot afford to say we will pray for the hungry and the homeless without being willing to help. God tells us that whatever we do for the least of His children, we do for Him. His children are calling…

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Good News From Amani

We received some great news last night. Danny and I had originally been told that we would have to make two to three trips to Uganda—and one of those for four weeks—before we could bring our son home. Not only was this going to be expensive, it was going to be hard to orchestrate with school and children. Well, last night we got an email from Mary, the U.S. foster coordinator for Amani, and she said that now we only have to make ONE trip, and that will be when we have our court date. This is truly a blessing for our family! Hopefully, the timing will be such that we can go during the summer.

On another note, we have some good friends (check out “Joining the Journey”) who are going to Kampala, Uganda, over Spring Break to work with Katie at Amazima Ministries. I would LOVE to be matched before that time so that we could send a care package with goodies and pictures. I can’t believe that Suzanne and the gang will actually get to meet our son in less than one week! They promise to bring back lots of pictures. Join me as I pray for their trip and the orphans whom they will serve while they are there. And pray that we have our match by then!

I will end with the words that close every email from Mary: It is with praise and thankful hearts that we stand in awe of what the Lord has done!

Friday, March 6, 2009

How God Moved This Mountain

For me, it began at Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb” concert when Bebo Norman shared about Compassion International. Then, in January, Katie Davis came to speak to our school about her ministry called Amazima and how God was moving in Uganda. I can tell you that God met me there in that sanctuary and before we left, the seeds for adopting from this beautiful country had been planted.

I don’t think I was completely aware, though, of how God had also been working in Danny’s heart. Danny spent a week last summer at an orphanage in Honduras, and since that time, he too was opening up to the idea of adoption. So, when I came home and told him that I felt God calling us to adopt, he was right there with me.

However, I really saw God’s hand in the whole event when I attended a women’s retreat at our church two weeks later. I was able to catch up with a dear friend of mine, Lindsay Doyle, who had just moved to St. Louis so her husband could finish seminary. When I told her that Danny and I were thinking about adopting from Uganda, she began to cry. She and Ryan had been wrestling with the same decision! I told her about Erin Littleton, a sister in Christ who first told us about Amani Baby Cottage, and Lindsay promised to check into it. It has only been one month since that conference, but we have both been approved to adopt from Amani! Not only that, but we should have our referrals within a few weeks, and we should have our children home by this summer!

God truly can move mountains! His timing is perfect! And He is mighty to save!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Although it has only been a few weeks since I heard Katie Davis (check out Amazima Ministries) share her testimony with our high school students, it seems like a lifetime ago. In just that short amount of time, God has turned our hearts--and our family!--upside down. Did you know that there are 147 million orphans in the world? That a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds? And it is preventable? God has used so many people and events to turn our eyes toward His children in Uganda that we cannot look away. Instead, we are going...we are going to bring back our son! I know how crazy this must sound to those of you who have not walked this journey with us, but our eyes have been opened to a need that we feel compelled to meet. It's amazing how once God puts a burden on your heart, He changes your heart to make room for the change! A family that felt complete just two months ago is now longing for another son/brother to make it whole again. We cannot wait!

"...once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12