There’s More to the Story

Three months.

That’s how long we’ve been back in the U.S. and squatting at my parents’ house. We have loved being here with family, experiencing fall, and just resting- but I’m sure it’s not a surprise that the transition has been difficult as well. There is a lot to process, a myriad of emotions, and a lot of uncertainty. I’d like to think it is culture shock, but there’s nothing really shocking about where we’re at right now.

Recently Al and I have been in a weird place. While we love being here and are so thankful for my parents’ willingness to let us live here, we are wondering why we’re here and what is next. We feel like God told us to come back to the U.S.- specifically to Atlanta. He worked out everything for us to come back in amazing ways, but now that we’re here, we’re a little lost.

We don’t feel like we can move to Atlanta quite yet because I’m 20 weeks pregnant and I have to see my high-risk specialist weekly due to what happened when Mariah was born. We don’t feel like we can settle down here and have Al get a real job because we feel like we’re supposed to go to Atlanta. Several doors have closed for temporary jobs for Albin. Our house hasn’t sold in Costa Rica despite numerous people interested. The position we hoped for in Atlanta as houseparents is no longer an option since my due date is a day before the position was to begin.

It’s just confusing.

We’ve found ourselves huddling up with the Lord and asking Him what is going on. A little part of our hearts has wondered if maybe we didn’t hear Him correctly about the whole moving back thing. Why would He take us away from our community, our fostering ministry, our house, etc. and then bring us here to do seemingly nothing? It feels like we’re wasting precious time. We know the Lord has called us to open up our home and our family to those without families, but we can’t do that being unemployed and in a temporary living situation. It just doesn’t make sense right now.

Yesterday morning we had planned to try a new Hispanic church in hopes of finding some Spanish speaking community. We didn’t end up making it to church because Mariah woke up in the middle of night vomiting everywhere. Instead, we decided to listen to a sermon and God spoke straight to our hearts through it. The pastor spoke about how there is always more to the story than what is currently seen. It’s easy to get caught up on a “scene” of our story, rather than the whole story itself. We can’t possibly know how God is working in our little steps of faith to set the future in motion. He is constantly working in our lives to make our story much grander than we could have imagined.

That was a great reminder for us last night. This “scene” in our lives seems a little anti-climactic and. it’s. okay. This is only part of our story and God is setting things in motion because we stepped out in faith. I am ashamed to admit I’ve kind of been like the Israelites in the desert; whenever things got rough, they asked God why He brought them out of Egypt if they were just going to starve, die of thirst, etc. They had seen Him part the Red Sea and do tons of miracles, yet they were worried that He wouldn’t provide for them. It’s incredibly easy to judge them until  I realize that God worked everything out for us to move back and we’ve seen Him do miracles, yet the moment things look a little confusing, I start asking if it wouldn’t have been better if He’d just left us in CR. Lame.

So that’s where we’re at. I have hope that someday I will look back on this post and be able to testify that this period of transition in our lives was just a part of the story. I know God will fulfill His purpose for us and I’m resting in that.

Psalm 138:8

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re Back…with a Little Surprise

Well, we made it to America. I just might have teared up when we went through immigration in Atlanta and Albin was welcomed as a legal resident. I mean, it took a lot of work to get here, so the tears may have been merited…but I’ve also been pretty emotional these days. About two weeks before we left Costa Rica, I was working on insurance paperwork and had to answer a question about whether or not I was pregnant. I hesitated for a hot second on that question. I’d been really tired, but I figured it was because of the whole moving to another country thing. Nope. I took a pregnancy test and that double line showed up loud and clear.

We were pretty surprised, but then again, God seems to like throwing us a curve ball or two. Keeps life interesting. We’re excited though. Just embracing the transition in Ohio and trying to survive morning (all day) sickness. I’m 14 weeks and praying the nausea and vomiting calms down soon- but most of all, thankful for a healthy pregnancy. Despite wanting to puke my guts out most of the time, we’ve had fun. We made a trip to Chicago, went camping , and I’ve been able to introduce Albin and Mariah to all things fall. Mariah celebrated her second birthday here and is enjoying being spoiled rotten by my family. It’s nice to have free baby-sitters as I’ve milked my first trimester for all its worth. As far as our future plans- they are a little up in the air right now because this new baby might change our timeline, but we’re trusting God with the details.

One of these days I’m going to post about transitioning back to the U.S., but I just wanted to put a quick update out there and announce our exciting news. God is always so good.

 

So many answers…

Just a quick update because A LOT has happened in the last week. God has been showing off these last few days which is giving us a lot of peace.

  • Saturday we were able to meet the beautiful family that J will go to live with. I was pretty anxious, but we were so surprised to find out that they weren’t complete strangers! They actually went to high school with Albin  :). So not only were they a wonderful family, but we’ll also be able to keep in regular contact with them to know how our sweet baby is doing. He will go to live with them this Saturday, but we have so much peace now. I LOVE seeing God’s hand.
  • There was some confusion about when we would be able to fly home because of a check we needed from Al’s employer. We heard from HR and were given the green light for them to deposit into his account rather than him needing to go and pick up the check…which means we will be able to fly home in time for some family events we really wanted to be home for.
  • Since we had the green light from work, I started seriously looking for flights. I’ve been searching for the last couple months and was anticipating to pay around $1000 for all three of us to fly home. I prayed in the morning that God would make it incredibly obvious which day we should fly and later that day I found a great flight that was half as much. I spent $540 for all three of us to fly home. Just huge.
  • As a lot of you know, we’re still in the process of selling our house. We really want to sell it before we leave, but we also felt like we should buy our tickets for September- so we bought our tickets in faith that God will sell our house in His perfect time. We hadn’t heard much over the last few weeks, but in the last four days we have had four showings (two of those with the same family because they wanted to see it again!). No one has made an offer yet, but we know at least two of those families were extremely interested, so please pray that they would make an offer so we can close on the house by mid-September.

In short, this week has been encouraging and peace-giving. Even in regards to selling our our furniture and finding a dog flight kennel for cheap (which is not easy in CR), God has been aligning this thing for us in incredible ways. There was never any doubt that God was guiding this process, but it is doubly- exciting when He shows off.

So that’s where we’re at. We have about a month to finish everything up and say goodbye. Obviously there are a lot of mixed feelings, but man, its a relief to know a Sovereign God has it all in His hands.

Saying Good-Bye to our Fuzzy Foster Baby

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The fostering agency we work with asked us to create a photo album to document the last nine months we’ve had with our foster son. As I was looking for quotes to put in the album, I came across the one above and it stuck with me because soon we’ll be saying good bye to our fuzzy foster baby. He is almost 10 months old now and we’ve had him since birth. The tiny, premature, five pound little bundle that was handed to me nine months ago is now a thriving and happy baby ninja who literally does not stop moving and surprises us every day with his stealthiness. Of all the countries and islands and babies in the world, we were given him. It has truly been a privilege.

Over the next week or so, he will be transitioning to another family as we are not allowed to bring him to the U.S. and as I mentioned previously, Costa Rican Social Services doesn’t allow foster families to adopt (of course we tried). As I prepared his album, I was thinking about what a privilege it was to have spent these last nine months with him. It hasn’t always been easy, and it most definitely won’t be easy to see him go, but God allowed us to meet him and raise him for this period of time on purpose. Of all the babies and all the families, somehow we ended up together and I pray that the time we had with him created a foundation in him that will set him up for blessing in the future.

J 1 mes

There are a lot of emotions surrounding saying good bye, but most of all we’re thankful for and humbled by the privilege of being a part of J’s life.  Many people make comments about how he should be ours and how unfair it all is, but truly, he never was ours. God entrusted him to us for a time and God is far more aware of J’s care than we are. So we entrust him back into the hands of the perfect Father, knowing that God is more than able to guard what was always His anyway.

Of course it’s a struggle. We knew it was going to be hard when we signed up to foster. Naturally it is heartbreaking to give him up, but it is more than worth it. It is far more important that J learn how to form an attachment than it is for our family to protect ourselves from the pain of losing that attachment. Rather than laying in a crib all day in an orphanage, he was a part of a family that taught him how to love and be loved. In all sincerity, we didn’t always have perfect attitudes and we definitely had days we were exhausted and questioned why we volunteered to foster, but there were far more good days than bad. We know he’s too little to remember us, but we know that the rocking him in the middle of the night, the physical therapy we gave him several times a day, the word of God being read to him at bedtime, and the love showered on him by us and those around us have profoundly stimulated his physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development.

So we have a lot of peace. We’re reminded that life isn’t about us. It’s about Him. If He asks us to receive a newborn and then give that baby up ten months later, we will. If He asks us to move to another country with only a vague idea of what He is calling us to, we will. We trust that God has all of this in His hands and that He has incredible and unimaginable plans for both J and our family. We can move forward knowing that while we didn’t do everything perfectly, we did our best to do what God asked us to do and walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:5-6). We have learned so much, grown in incredible ways, opened our hearts and our home, died to ourselves over and over again, laughed a lot, cried a little, loved well, and have tried to bring a little more of God’s kingdom to earth.

We love you and will miss you J!

J 9 meses

 

Moving Back to ‘Merica

It’s true! We’re in the process of moving back to the U.S.

I’m probably more shocked than you are.

I’ve been overseas for almost eight years and the thought of moving back seems rather surreal, but Albin had his residency interview at the U.S. embassy on Tuesday and he was approved! If you don’t have regular contact with us, you might be surprised that I’m just now posting about this without having mentioned it before, but we didn’t want to advertise it until we knew for sure.

I’ll save the whole story for another post, but in short, we feel like God is leading us back to the U.S. There were many things that happened that led us up to the decision to apply for Al’s residency. After a lot of prayer, we decided to move forward with the paperwork and see if God was going to open the door. He has and we’re going to walk through it, trusting that He knows what is best for our family.

Obviously the next several months are going to be big for us. We would totally appreciate your prayers. The U.S. gives approved immigrants six months to enter into the U.S., so we need to be home by November. Here are the specific things we are praying about:

  • Our foster son. He is now eight and half months old and we’ve had him since birth. He was recently declared abandoned and the biological family has not appealed the decision, but for some reason, social services hasn’t taken steps to move forward with his case. As many of you know, Costa Rica does not allow foster parents to adopt children in their care (we know, it is absolutely ludicrous). While we would LOVE to adopt him, unless God does a miracle (which we totally know He can if He wants), he will most likely be adopted out to another family chosen from the long waiting list here in Costa Rica. Please pray for him and us as we trust the Lord with J’s life. We know God brought him into our lives for these last eight months for a purpose and we are willing to accept whatever God decides in regards to who will receive our sweet baby boy.

fathers day covered

1 Front.jpg

  • Our transition. We are super excited about this change, but are also aware that it is a huge transition for our family. I’ve been overseas for a long time and Albin has never lived outside of Costa Rica, so we definitely need to prepare our hearts. I know I’ve become a different person and view the world differently than I did eight years ago, and the United States is a whole new world for Al and Mariah. Plus, there are a lot of details, things to do and a lot of emotions.

So that is where we’re at right now. We have a vague idea of where/what God has for us once we get settled, but for now, we’re focused on now. We know He has plans and we trust Him in that. Today as we were having a little family worship session/dance party, we put on a song that we sang over Mariah a million times when she was in the NICU as a newborn. At one point she raised her hands to the sky and started spinning in circles. As I watched her dance to the song I sang over her two years ago when God miraculously healed her, I was reminded again that God holds our lives in His hands and He is sovereign over everything. And that’s where we find peace in the midst of the unknown.