As I am one short day away from traveling to meet Jess for the first time, there are so many emotions happening in our household. We are so so so thankful that Jesus worked this trip out. We are beyond excited to meet Jess (me personally, & them via Skype)! We are all a little anxious, as ten days is the longest I've been away from my clan. But overall, we are resting secure in the Father's good plan.
All that being said, we humbly ask that you petition the King on our behalf. While there are hundreds of little details that need prayer, we have summed it all up into three basic prayer points.
-- Travel Days. I leave St. Louis Thursday the 8th at 1:30pm, & arrive in Congo Friday the 9th 1:20pm CT (7:20pm Congo time)... a total of 36 hours of traveling. I will try to get a good nights sleep on Friday, then on Saturday I will meet Jess! Then coming home, I'll leave Congo Saturday the 16th at 2:35pm CT (8:35pm Congo time) & will be back in St. Louis Sunday the 17th at 3:53pm. These travel days will be physically, mentally, & emotionally exhausting. Please pray for strength, a clear mind, & smooth flights/airport experiences.
-- Embassy Appointment. My embassy appointment is Wednesday, August 13, at 2am CT (8am Congo time). While the Congolese Government has already completed all necessary investigations to give us parental rights, the US Government still has to launch their own investigations, & come to that same conclusion. That being said, this is a crucial time in our adoption process. Please pray for favor with God & man during all of the appointments, meetings, & investigations.
-- Departing. Long term, it will be easier for Jess to spend a week with me, getting to know me as "mom" before we go to take her home perminately. That way, when I come the second time, I'm not a stranger, as there will already be a relationship & a trust built. However, none of this changes the fact that leaving her is going to be the most difficult thing I have ever done as a parent. Please pray that Jess be comforted by Jesus in a time that may be confusing, for even though she will be prepared mentally for my leaving, the heart & the mind are two very different things... especially for a six year old.
We are so thankful for the Alpha & Omega, as He has hemmed this adoption story in, behind & before. As we walk into this new, beautiful unknown, we trust that He goes before us still.
February 23, 2014
"As hard as it is, waiting is an essential part of orphan care. When you wait, you are visiting the orphan in her distress. Part of her distress is bureaucracy and red-tape and diplomatic turf-wars. Part of her distress is brain chemistry and PTSD and culture shock.
When you wait, you tell her, "I'm with you no matter what happens. I'm going to interrupt my middle-class life and set aside my first-world standards because you're worth more than me. I'm going to endure all the regulations and waiting periods. I'll face the injustices of prejudice and bribery. I'll do whatever it takes. I'm going to sit here with you till we're done. We may be oceans apart, but I'm with you. I'll cry with you. I'll be angry with you. I'll pray with you. I'll join you in the mess until God rescues you from it. I'll never leave. I'll always be here. I love you."
But why wait? Wouldn't it be better if God made the whole process a lot quicker? Why does it take so long? He's in control. He hears our prayers. Why am I still waiting?
There are thousands of answers to those questions. Most are beyond our comprehension, hidden in the Providence of God. But in Scripture, God does give a few answers for us to hold onto. Here's just one.
When we wait for orphans, we enter into their distress just like Christ entered into ours. Jesus, the Ultimate Superman, did not swoop in from heaven to rescue us. Our salvation wasn't neat and tidy like that. Instead, Jesus was born a baby in a dirty manger. He lived the life of a poor bastard child. He overcame those circumstances to become the greatest Man who ever lived, only to die in complete disgrace. He worked and waited thirty years with much suffering to accomplish our salvation.
He was made like us in every way, including in our weakness. Even now, after our adoption has been "finalized," Jesus Christ remains with us. Having us made us new, he waits for us to be made whole. Indeed, He is forever with us. He'll never set aside his flesh. He is forever Emmanuel -- God With Us.
The greatest need for your orphaned child, and every child, is to know Jesus. And not just the pretty storybook Jesus, but the Jesus who left the riches of heaven to join them in their hurt and shame. More than food and shelter. More than hugs and kisses. They need to hear, understand, and believe God's love for them -- expressed most perfectly in the coming and dying of Christ on their behalf.
In God's universe, waiting is not wasted time. By all means, don't stop praying for the details! Do everything your agency tells you to do! Join your child's longing to be rescued! But don't begrudge the waiting. Waiting is not nothing. In a tangible way, you are already parenting your child. Through you, he is beginning to see the God Who Waits."
For the full post by Dave Ainsworth, CLICK HERE.
at 8:16 PM
February 22, 2014
In our last post, we said that Jessica was ours. Legally speaking, that wasn't quite true. You see, a few weeks later we realized there were some errors & missing documents in the paperwork we received. So while the court ruled her to be ours in September, it wasn't until last week that we received all of the final documents to be able to move on to the next (& FINAL) step: the U.S. Immigration process.
Along with a bunch of other legal documents, we were given the birth certificate of our daughter, Jessica Craft. So what has been true in our hearts is now true legally. She's officially a Craft... Praise the Lord God Almighty!!
One of the many reasons we are so thankful for our agency is the fact that we receive bimonthly updates which include pictures & health/physical changes. In our most recent update we had the surprise blessing of her foster dad asking Jess if there is anything she would like to tell us, her parents. Her response: "I love them." Though oceans away, our little girl has captured our hearts & we cannot wait to bring her home!
The question still remains: WHEN? The U.S. Immigration process can take four to six months, if everything goes the way it's supposed to. We are by no means at the end of this journey, but we are slowly inching our way there.
We are so thankful for all of our friends & family who have come alongside us during this crazy season of waiting. Through prayer & acts of encouragement, God has done amazing things through His people to confirm to our weary hearts that this is indeed the path He has for us.
at 10:56 AM
January 8, 2014
|Last sunset of 2013.|
2. I don't always have to be ready. During November & December I was really starting to panic a little bit about the coming year. I was in no way ready for what was ahead &, because of it, I was downright scared. But lately I have been so sweetly reminded that I don't have to be ready for this next season of my life, because He is ready. He walks before me & leads the way. I simply have to trust Him & follow in obedience.
3. The Lord's plans are always WAY bigger than mine. His plans are always so much bigger & better, always. Following Him is hard, but He is so worthy to be trusted.
(written by Rylie)
at 11:07 AM
November 29, 2013
This post is long overdue. The past few months have been a roller coaster, making it difficult to post an update as we have been unsure of where things stand. While much remains unknown, we do have a lot of news to share. Some is fantastic, some frustrating. Here is what we currently know:
- Here is the best news – Jessica is our daughter! We have cleared the court phase and she is legally our daughter in DR Congo. This has taken a bit longer than we expected, but we are so excited to have her officially become a member of our family. However, there is still a long road ahead of us to bring her home. We still have a lengthy process with the US Embassy to facilitate her immigration along with some temporary roadblocks within the DR Congo that must pass before she can come home. The timeframe for her to come home is still at least 6-12 months from now. The details of this are outlined below, but the fact remains that this process is unstable and in constant flow. When we began this journey at the beginning of this year, there was the potential that we could be bringing her home around now (in the rosiest of scenarios). This year has seen a lot of changes to the process which has caused long delays for all involved.
- Through our agency, we have learned some about Jessica’s personality. She sounds like an amazing little girl with a big, tender heart. We hope to make this a post of its own shortly.
- Over the next month or so, Tarah will get to fly to DR Congo. She will get to meet Jessica and spend a few days with her. The main purpose of her trip will be to petition the US for Jessica’s immigration. She will file all of our documentation with the US Embassy in Kinshasa. This sets in motion the next leg of this adoption roller coaster. The US Embassy will begin its own investigation into Jessica to determine that she is indeed an orphan. This investigation can take anywhere from 2-6 months (sometimes longer). Because Jessica was abandoned with no family history, we expect this investigation to be on the longer side as it will be more difficult to gather information. Yes… this delay is frustrating. However, it is a necessary step in the process. This process is intended to prevent trafficking of children and is a safeguard to ensure that children are not misleadingly taken from the homes. It is unfortunate that it is necessary and the process is far from perfect, but the intention is to protect the children and families of DRC.
- If our investigation with the US Embassy were to go quickly, there is still one major obstacle in bringing her home. The very last stage of the process involves the DRC’s immigration agency, known as the DGM, issuing and exit letter which will allow us to leave the country with Jessica. In late September, the DGM announced that they were suspending issuing exit letters for a period of up to 12 months. Apparently, the DGM has some concerns about the current process, so they have shut down their part of the process until some improvements can be implemented. The timeline is unknown at this point, so we are trying to remain positive and patient. The rest of the process can continue during this suspension. So, our hope and prayer is that the DGM is back open and issuing exit letters soon, which could mean that we would not be affected by this.
This is where we stand and a brief glimpse into our world for the past few months. It has been a difficult process, painfully slow, and constantly changing. However, the more we learn about this special little girl, the more we know that she is worth it.
at 8:33 AM
June 23, 2013
“God has called us to be a defender of the defenseless because that is who He is. We are returning worship to God when we show His character to the world by championing the cause of the least of these.”
Caring for orphans is not the responsibility of the state or the government of another country: it’s the work of God’s people. And I believe it starts with us and our families.
IDEAS FOR YOUR LITTLES:
Start with scripture. There are five things God's Word tells us about caring for the poor. Even young children can count to five on their fingers and memorize these things. (Thanks to Lisa Kjeldaarld for giving me permission to share these with you!)
1. God is concerned. (Psalm 140:12)
2. God identifies Himself with the poor. (Proverbs 14:31)
3. God commands us to act. (Isaiah 1:17)
4. God blesses those who serve. (Proverbs 19:17)
5. God punishes those who ignore orphans. (Jeremiah 5:28)
Serve with your kids. I have yet to find anywhere in the bible where it says mamas with lots of littles are exempt from serving. There are seasons I understand where serving is not possible, but a season is a season. There are places you can serve with your kids. You just have to seek them out, ask, and sometimes get a little creative.
Visit refugee families. In our area there are a TON of refugee families in need of stuff. We have stuff (we are American after all) so we can give some of it away. I love involving my kids in cross-cultural ministry because they get to see that not everyone looks like them, talks like them or has all of the things they have. Search for a refugee ministry near you.
Sponsor a child/woman/familiy. Through Compassion International you can search for a child by location, gender, and age allowing you to sponsor a child/children the same gender and age as your kid/dos at home. I think this adds an extra layer of interest and reality for your kids as to the life of your sponsored child.
PRAY! Our kids pick up on what is important to us. If we are not praying for orphans and vulnerable children, our kids won’t be either. Ask God to break your heart and the hearts of your children for what breaks His.
at 3:25 PM
June 20, 2013
'Don’t climb on that; don’t break anything; don’t be so aggressive; don’t be so noisy; don’t be so messy; don’t make such crazy risks.' ... But God’s design -- which He placed in boys as the picture of Himself -- is a resounding yes. Be fierce, be wild, be passionate.
at 2:24 PM