Saturday, February 22, 2014

Orphan Hosting

        In recent weeks I've started to see new photo listings and information shared for orphan hosting in summer 2014.  I realized that while this information comes up regularly in my world, it may not be the same for many of you.  Orphan hosting is just one more, of the many ways that we can answer the call to care for the fatherless.  There are many organizations that travel to meet, interview and spend time with orphans who are eligible to travel to the United States for a period of time in the summer and then again around Christmas time.  The children are then chosen, photographed, and their information is shared in hopes that a family will choose to welcome them into their home...into their family.

        For those who may not feel that adoption is an option...or who may be hesitant and unsure....orphan hosting is a great opportunity.  I have read countless stories of those who have taken this journey, and what a blessing it was.  (And many...many...many!!! have gone on to pursue adoption for the child(ren) that they hosted.)  I do believe there are some training requirements and there is a fee.....but please do not let this hold you back.  I really hope you will consider and pray about this amazing opportunity......an opportunity to show these children what family means, to teach them about their heavenly Father, to demonstrate unconditional love and offer hope.....to answer God's call on all of us to care for these precious children...to open the eyes of our children, family, friends, community.....to be blessed more than you could imagine.  Below I have listed a few of the organizations that offer orphan hosting, but first I wanted to share "A look into orphan hosting" (taken from this blog) from a few families who have been there.......






                             And here are a few organizations if you'd like more information.........




Thursday, February 20, 2014

Moving On!

           We officially have our home study in our hands!  I had two envelopes waiting with all other necessary paperwork ready to go and excitedly added the home study to each this morning.  Off they will go today....one to USCIS, the other to Lifesong for a potential grant - the only one for which we are eligible this time around.  Now, as we prepare a few documents for our dossier, we wait for our USCIS approval.  Once that arrives, we can send all of our documents (our completed dossier) to U!  It's crazy how much quicker the process is this time around.

             It's exciting to be at this point, but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that I feel hesitant.  With all that is currently taking place in U, I wonder what will happen with this adoption.  As of now, families are still there....things moving along as usual.  I'm so thankful that there has not be any interruption as of now...that children are still being welcomed into their families!  I pray that it continues....and that this country can find peace.  In the meantime, we will continue to move forward.  God knows what will happen.....He knew this would be the situation.....we really do have peace in this.

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           On another note, I've added another photo to our blog, showing the personalized soaps I am selling in addition to the bracelets.  Both are available at any time for sale.  Please feel free to email me - karissacruse@hotmail.com or comment below if you are interested!  Thank you!!

           

             
                     

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Only Fitting Response.....and some other stuff

         Every now and then I find myself writing a post that's pretty much all over the place.....just a warning, this is one of them.  This is sort of what five minutes in my head is like....one thought which leads to another and another, seemingly without any real connection.  I've inwardly debated publishing this, but feel compelled for whatever reason.

        I think sometimes people get the wrong idea.  I feel I need to clear something up, with the risk of it coming across the wrong way.  This is a place where I share what I believe to be the memories of my life that are significant....that I don't want to forget.....the ways that God is working and the ways I'm blown away by that.  I never really expected anyone to care to read what I write, except for some close family and friends who maybe would want to know what was happening with the adoption from time to time.  I've tried keeping journals, but it never lasts.  Somehow this has.  But I think that sometimes people read this and see most of the good in our lives.....most of my being thankful and praising God for how he has chosen to use us in ways beyond what I could ever have imagined........and think that everything's just wonderful and perfect all the time.  Or that we somehow have it all together.  I get a lot of, wow it's amazing what you're doing...and while we so appreciate the encouragement, I wonder if sometimes I misinterpret the reality.

      The reality that I have frequent moments of doubt.....occasional moments of wanting to just stay where it's familiar and comfortable.  The times when I fail to be grateful, or start to think I deserve the blessings in my life.  A while ago I posted about how everything is a gift and all of the ways in which God was transforming the way I perceived events and things in my life.  And in just a few short months I feel so far away from where I was then.  Life became insanely busy and draining, and I stopped being so intentional about looking for the gifts.  My journal came to a screeching halt when I was so close to the thousandth gift and has been left untouched for who knows how long.  I can see...and feel...the difference.  If I'm not being intentional about looking for the gift, and seeing everything as one.....it seems the opposite occurs and instead I find reasons to complain, or to be frustrated.  I'm impatient with my family.....raising my voice and watching eyes get wide and tears roll down the face of one who is so precious to me.  And then the instant regret, guilt, and anger at myself.  These are things I'm not proud of.....things I don't really want to share....don't really want to remember.  But then I think that these too are important.....essential to remember so that I don't keep going back.  They also become major teachable moments as my children see that I too make mistakes and am able to demonstrate what it means to take responsibility and seek their forgiveness.  But oh are they hard....and painful.  And they often lead to doubt......doubts of being able to be the parent that even more children need......able to deal with the many issues and challenges that may soon come with daughters who carry so much hurt and loss.

      I could go on and on......but what I want to get across, and what I want to remember myself, is that it's not always easy....I'm not always in the right place.....I'm not always thankful.....I fail, often......and I don't always remember that it is not in my strength that I do anything.  ANYTHING.  And that is the whole point....the things we're doing....they're not because of us, in any sense.  We are just very average people, who are naturally selfish and fail often....BUT....because, and only because, of what Christ has done for us and continues to do in our lives, in His strength we are able to overcome and to have hope and life and purpose.  We just returned from a youth retreat that we bring the youth group on each year.  In everything he shared, the speaker used the following phrase that will forever remain with me.  He would say, time and again...."In light of the cross, in light of what Christ did.....the ONLY fitting response is for me to ___."  He shared personal experiences and events, and in every situation where he was called to do something so difficult....so seemingly impossible.....so against our human nature...he would remind himself that in light of what Christ had done, the only fitting response was for him to do what God was asking him to do.  And that resonated with me.  Because in all of this...in all that we share....in all that "we're" doing....it's not us....it's not our strength, it's not anything we deserve credit for.....it's simply this:  In light of what Christ did for us, the ONLY fitting response is for us to say Yes.....to step out of our comfortable lives and to be obedient to Christ's call on our lives, no matter how difficult it may seem.  PERIOD.

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       So here's where I deviate and one thing leads to another.  As we're preparing to go on this trip, I realize something insane.  Next year, we could potentially be bringing one of our own to this retreat.  We could have a child in the youth group next year.....or this summer for that matter.  I used to think we had 8.5 more years until we had a kid in youth group (yes I think about these things)....and wondered if by then Luke would even be the youth leader anymore.  And now, here we are....months away from potentially being the parents of teenagers! AH.  This is a huge maybe, but still crazy to think about.    

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         Life has seemed crazy busy lately......I think ever since our move this past fall, things have failed to slow down.  On top of which, it seems that each week someone in our family is sick and then the following week the next person and so on.  It takes me half a year to read one book and by the time I'm done, I can't remember what on earth I wanted to take away from it.  Anyway.....I read this blog post the other day (I think blogs are becoming more appealing to me because they're short - if they're not written by me - and I don't necessarily have to keep up with them like a book!) and I think it was extremely well written.  Challenging and so very true.  Don't let your busyness get in the way of what Christ has planned for you...what He's calling  you to do!  I would encourage you to read it: nogreaterjoymom

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          In the craziness, it seems like we have had one thing break, or go wrong, after another.  Our washing machine...twice.  Our furnace....twice.  Our cars....oh a million times.  God has blessed us with the ability to be able to have these things fixed and He has blessed us with family that is always right there ready to help.  But I started to get frustrated at first......we finally seemed to have a reasonable savings and I was getting excited that we may have a good chunk of what we'd need for this adoption.....and then things kept going wrong and I watched the numbers go down....and down....and down some more.  I finally came to the conclusion that it seems that God doesn't want us to have what I would call a reasonable savings.  I'm not sure that's really true, but I've started to think that God is allowing everything that we own to break....repeatedly....so that we will be in a more helpless state....or rather a more, "needing to rely on God to provide" state.  I'm always so ready to feel comfortable.....able to meet our own needs, and then God seems to step in and remind me (in ways I may not find appealing) that we are to depend on Him.  This is a lesson we've learned repeatedly throughout these past couple of years.  I have the experience to know how amazing it is when God provides and makes a way when there seems to be no possible way.  I know how exciting that is to be fully reliant on God and to have Him come through......and yet I still fall back into the habit of wanting to be self-sufficient.  And so, I purpose to be thankful for the reminders that God is in control and that in my weakness, He alone makes me strong.  

        “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

     
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         Okay I think this is the last thing whirling around in my brain.  This blog post keeps showing up that many fellow adoptive families have been sharing.  How to be the village.  You may have seen it...you may have even read it.  I've yet to read a negative comment about it, and I am not including this to be negative or to bash anyone in any way.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and for that reason I often stay away from saying things like this.  But.......while there is some truth, for me, in some things shared in this post.....I would hate for someone to read this and associate it with our family.  Here's why:  I believe that being offended is a choice AND I believe that many times, if we stop and consider a person's intentions, although it may seem as if they're coming across as offensive, that does not reflect what is in their heart.  I don't want people to read things like this and feel that they have to be so careful of what they do and don't say to us.  I WANT to be reminded that God's timing is perfect because as obvious as it may be, sometimes when you're in the midst of a difficult situation, the obvious is not as clear as it should be, and you need to be reminded of what you already know.  I also know that before we started to research and learn more about adoption, we were uneducated.....there was so much we did not know about the world of adoption.  So yes, as a result sometimes people's questions or comments may seem insensitive.....but if I choose to be offended by them, then I'm losing the opportunity to share what I've learned.....to educate.....in love.  We don't want people to feel that there is anything they can't ask us.....sometimes I can feel people stressing as they try to ask a question in the "right" way.  Please don't feel this way with us....ever.

        On the other hand......I do love that the author shares a bit about after the children come home and sheds some light on how that may be.  I know for us, with Levi, we were surprised at how soon we were able to be out and about.  He was very easy going and not overstimulated/overwhelmed by being around a lot of people.  However, with older children, we are prepared for a very different response this next time around.  We will likely keep to ourselves for a while, and we expect that it will be challenging.  These are great things for everyone to know and understand.  Again, let me reiterate that I am not intending to be negative about this post, the author, or those that have shared it.......I simply want to let everyone know that you can feel free to be open with us.

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