My Abnormal Life

It's All About Jesus

January 24, 2015
by myabnormallife
0 comments

God’s Timeline

It was recently brought to my attention that some of you, maybe new readers, may not know the story of how my wife and I came to the conclusion that God was calling us to adoption and more specifically, Haiti. Well, it’s not quite as simple as He spoke and we obeyed. You see, I need to go back a few years…a little more than 4… ;-)

So, my wife and I were childless in 2009 after 3 years of marriage. We got married in July 2006 about a month before we were separated for a year by a place called Kirkuk, Iraq. At this time, we were in the process of building our house in the secluded woods of Waterboro, Maine. A year later, I returned home and we began a quiet, secluded life together in our new home.

{7.0 Earthquake devastates Haiti- January 2010}

We had flippantly talked about adoption and had even brought up China as an option but one day while mowing the yard, it seemed God just told me that it would be “us and the dog”. My wife was fine with that…until 2 weeks later.

Two weeks later, July 13, 2010 to be exact, we were where God needed us to be. We had just dropped off my mother-in-law at the airport when I saw the opportunity to have lunch at one of my old favorite lunch places in Portland. When we sat down, I noticed a somewhat large family across from us and it wasn’t the size of the family but rather that they prayed before eating. I never noticed the woman and her 2 boys sitting in front of me…or behind my wife…we were in a booth after all.

How we noticed the boys was that the littlest started playing with her hair. When she turned around to see the boy, we both were met with the 2 biggest, whitest smiles we had ever seen! Once apologies and small talk was completed, the woman opened up and told us about the orphanage in Haiti where her 2 boys had once lived. It was a great story. The second we closed the doors on our vehicle in the parking, lot of the restaurant, our conversation went this way:

Wife: “I’m good.”

Me: “What do you mean, ‘I’m good.’?”

Wife: “I don’t know. I think I could adopt from there.”

Silence the rest of the way home.

When we arrived home, Alissa had received an email from the woman we had met. It was immediate encouragement for her but I was still apprehensive. We made plans and went to supper at their house the following week, in the middle of a tornado and a power outage! It was after this supper date that we planned on visiting the orphanage. First things first though, we needed passports. During this waiting time for our passports to be processed, Alissa emailed the orphanage director and we started our home study. “Our plan” was to travel to Haiti and the orphanage to see what children would be drawn to us and what children we were drawn to. God had a much different plan.

Here is God’s timeline of our adoption of Micah and Rilee:

August 4, 2010- Approved to adopt from the orphanage

August 5, 2010- “the twins” arrive to the orphanage (or around this date, still a little unsure exact time)

August 19, 2010- booked our first trip to Haiti to travel on October 21-26, 2010

August 30, 2010- emailed for updated pictures of “the twins”

August 31, 2010- pictures received via email

Twins (5)

Our Twins, Micah and Rilee

 

 

 

 

September 1, 2010- emailed the orphanage director to ask for approval to adopt “the twins”

September 4, 2010- approved to adopt “the twins”; named them but didn’t reveal names at this time

September 15, 2010- Announced to the world, Micah Ethan and Rilee Hope

October 21-26, 2010- Haiti changed our world with the first visit

First Meeting Holding Love

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2010- made plans for our 2nd visit to the orphanage in January 2011

November 30, 2010- booked our trip to Haiti

December 15, 2010- dossier arrives in Haiti

January 14-18, 2011- another amazing trip to Haiti

July 7-12, 2011- Alissa makes trip to Haiti without me….needless to say, this would never happen again!

Silence again… and several trips to Augusta and Boston…          

September 14, 2012- numbers received from IBESR

April 20, 2013- called to be in front of a Haitian judge on April 24

**Side note- I was working 8 hours of OT this day and left my phone in the office while I was working in the warehouse. When the day was about to end, I looked at my phone and saw 18 missed calls from Alissa!! When I asked the office guy if my phone had been ringing, he just looked at me and said “I thought I heard something.” I called Alissa who just answered my call and said “I’m going to Haiti, do you want to go with?” WHAT??!!**

April 23, 2013- arrived in Haiti

April 24, 2013- Haitian court…we sat in a pickup truck for about 2 hours and then in a room for another few hours

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July 21, 2013- paperwork says “simple” adoption…not good

February 11, 2014- paperwork is corrected

February 27, 2014- USCIS receives our paperwork

April 7, 2014- hard copy of I600 approval received

April 9, 2014- Micah and Rilee’s passports received

May 7, 2014- first birth parent interview

May 13, 2014- second birth parent interview because the first date couldn’t be met

May 19, 2014- third birth parent interview because paperwork was never taken to the second one

June 27, 2014- notice of favorable determination; on to visas

July 15, 2014- final via appointment

July 17, 2014- visas in hand

July 18, 2014- booked our final trip to Haiti

August 4-6, 2014- Haiti and Home with “the twins”

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Today, we look back on such a long adoption journey of our precious twins but thank God for His timeline. We would have certainly made it a lot shorter but this was totally His plan and we thank Him for setting up the meeting in a small town restaurant and two of the biggest smiles in the world we have ever seen!!

To all those in the process and still waiting, there isn’t much comfort anyone can give; we get that but please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your children WILL come home. Remember, our plans would be pretty dull and mundane but when God is in the picture, He makes it one roller coaster of a ride. One you will NEVER forget!

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-Shalom

 

December 25, 2014
by myabnormallife
0 comments

A Complete Family

DSC_0022We waited so long for this.  To celebrate Christmas together as a forever family.  Four years in the waiting but it has finally happened.  Amazing! We can say we are a complete family.

What is a “complete” family though? Is a complete family one who has both parents, 2 sets of grandparents, and 2 pets?  Is it just a perfect American dream and realistically unattainable? Is it perfect harmony in a 4 bedroom home with 2 and a half baths?  Is a complete family a mom, dad, and a son and daughter?  Does it include a dog?  Is the family a complete family by attending church every Sunday? Is the family who “prays together, stays together” complete?

I think so many of us have misconceived notions of what that perfect, complete family looks like.  A lot of times we look at other families and get this idea of, “I wish we had THAT kind of family.” or “They are such a great family.  What are they doing that we aren’t?”  I believe there really is only one contributing factor that makes a family a “complete family”.  I could say “we now have our children home from Haiti and we are now a complete family” but even that statement would be untrue.  There is one reason we are a complete family and that reason is Jesus Christ.

Now, before you stop reading, let me explain in as simple terms we can understand.  Jesus came to call us to family.  We are a broken people who need a Great Physician to heal us.  We all need a Savior.  Our family is a “complete” family according to the world but it is Jesus and Him alone who makes our family complete.  Without Him, we are incomplete.  He calls us to His family through His death, burial, and resurrection.  When we accept His invitation to make Him our Lord and Savior, He welcomes us into the family of God.  This is the true complete family.  Our family is complete only by the love and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who knits us closer to Him and each other as a family.

If you don’t know Him as Lord, He is reaching His hands to yours and all you need to do is accept His free gift of salvation through His blood and make Him your Lord and Savior.  If you do that today, welcome to His complete family.DSC_0031

God bless you and your family this Christmas 2014!

-Shalom

November 27, 2014
by myabnormallife
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Happy Thanksgiving 2014!!

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Our first Thanksgiving as a family of four! So much as happened in the short 4 months that Micah and Rilee have been home.  We are learning every day that it isn’t easy for any parent to raise 4 year olds, although any children no matter the age is a challenge I’m sure.  This Thanksgiving Day was truly special as we had our first big storm of the year with upwards of 11 inches of snow and a loss of electricity almost 24 hours ago (I am writing this under generator power).  So this Thanksgiving Day we are truly grateful to God for our children to be home enjoying all that it means to be a Mainer at the end of November.

We reflect and give thanks for the journey that brought us to this point.  We reflect and give thanks on the following; yes, even some tough times too;

-Nine round trip tickets from Boston to Haiti and back (Nine because Alissa went one time without me)

-Marta’s fabulous cooking

-4 previous Thanksgivings as 2

-Prayers from our close family and friends

-Tears

-Watching adoptions blow up our church family

-Listening to Mimose lead the children in hymns

-Feeling the sweltering heat of Port-Au-Prince

-Paperwork, Forms, and more paperwork

-Skype

-Photos of our children from adopting families visiting their children and the orphanage

-Talking in broken French-Creole (or our own version of it)

-Meeting other adopting families and becoming friends for life

-2 little boys in Friendly’s with their Mom who was willing to talk to us; albeit reluctantly at first

-Plantains, bedbugs, bucket showers, concrete, and rebar

-Twizzlers (Jill T. may be the only one to get this one)

-“If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.”  But no paper of course…

There is so much more I could list here but although the list is already long, it leads to one thing.  I will always and continually be brought to the praise and worship of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I pray that all these things brought glory to His name and with the future Thanksgivings we will have as a family, we will continue to praise Him for His goodness and greatness.  Again,  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

-Shalom

 

 

August 31, 2014
by myabnormallife
2 Comments

A Spectator Sport?

DSC_0014     We recently went to the beach. I got in the water with them.  That is how they knew they didn’t have to be afraid.  In the bathroom at the supermarket the other day, Micah did NOT want to use the hand dryer as much as I tried to show him there was nothing to be afraid of, he still didn’t want to try it.  So, we will try another day.  I crouched down as Rilee held on ever so tightly to show her that Fenway was our loved pet and he was kind and gentle.  Although it took a few days, she warmed up to him.  I had to show her I love Fenway.  I had to show her so she wasn’t afraid.  I am constantly having to show Micah and Rilee to enjoy the things around them and that life can be fun and not so scary.  But, I have to show them. Each day is a new experience, a new lesson if you will.  I have a deep love for them.  I want the very best for them and for that I am willing to be “in the game” with them.  I refuse to be on the sideline and just hoping they will figure things out.  I refuse to let life happen without me.  We live in a world that has accepted the fact that men will leave their children to be raised by Mothers and Fathers are just needed for one thing, to make the baby.  I want them to know I will be with them through every part of their lives.  See, God didn’t create the universe and then step back to watch us implode.  He continues to work in our lives every day.  Micah and Rilee need Jesus.  I need Jesus.  Pray that I can show them the love of the Father.  I will be involved and if you see me at any time sitting on the sideline, grab me and THROW me back into the game! I will continue to show my kids that there are things they don’t need to be afraid of.  To do this, I will do those things.  As God disciplines us, I too have come to the reality that they need boundaries and I must discipline too.  At the same time, I am a sinner and have already needed to ask them for forgiveness.  I hope they catch on quickly that I am NOT a perfect father.  I also know that I don’t have to be.  I just need to be active in their lives and discipling them well by pointing them to Jesus every day.  Being “Papa” to our children will never mean I sit silently on the sideline but I will be “in the game” being their biggest and loudest cheerleader!!

And so it is with our Heavenly Father.  He showed His love to us “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus came to earth to show us true love by shedding His blood to cover our multitude of sin.  He has shown me the best example of Fatherhood to follow. He is “in the game” every day with us.  Thank you for your loving grace and unending mercy.

-Shalom

August 21, 2014
by myabnormallife
2 Comments

Some of the Things I’ve Learned Over the Last 2 Weeks Since Our Children Came Home

DSC_0035-I can’t take enough pictures

-I can’t get enough hugs and kisses

-I’m still in awe that they are home

-I love being Papa but hate having to be Papi

-My wife is an amazing Mama

-Micah and Rilee hate to share

-They shovel food in their mouths like it’s their last meal *Disclaimer: Rilee is now getting picky as to what she eats as she slowly  realizes there is always something else to eat.  Micah is a little slow with this still.*

-They have awesome personalities of which they both love people and love singing and dancing

-They have parasites but they love medicine

-They hate dirt in their shoes

-I can speak 3 languages at the same time: English, French, and some form of gibberish baby talk but they still understand me

-I need God’s Grace and Forgiveness every day

-I cry more than they do at the Doctor’s Office

-I get frustrated too easily

-The language barrier still sucks

-They love ice cream…YEAH!!

-Haiti seems so far away now

-We will have toys thrown all over the place but I’m OK with that

-Aside from God, Family is most important

-What used to be just normal food to me has suddenly become new and exciting again

***But MOST importantly…***

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-God’s amazing love is just that…AMAZING! He continues to shower our family with His Love and Grace and grows us closer everyday with Him!

Thank you all to those who supported us throughout our4 year journey.  Although it was tough at times, you all held us up in strength in ways only Heaven can reveal when we get there! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

-Shalom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2014
by myabnormallife
0 comments

Some of the Things I’ve Learned Over the 4 Year Adoption Process

The Day We Met

The Day We Met

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    -4 years is a long time for us, not so with God

    -Obedience to God brings trials

    -It’s a fight, be ready for it

    -God gets all the glory

    -People love updates

    -Satan hates adoption

    -The strength I need to obey God is not in my strength but His

    -It is NOT for the faint of heart

    -God calls and we follow-no matter what it means that we have to face

    -Even though someone along the way says they are a Christian and wants the best for your family, doesn’t mean it’s true

    -God always wants what is best for us

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-When you think it’s over, it probably isn’t

-One step forward, two steps back

-Adoption is ultimately God’s plan no matter how much you try to make it your own

-Every Christian is called to orphan care, just not always in direct adoption

-Adoption opens your eyes to greater needs

-I am not doing enough for God

-Orphans are exploited

-Families are broken without Jesus

-It is not fun

-They’re God’s children, not ours

-It’s not about money

-When you say yes to God’s plan, trouble starts

-While we wait, life goes on

BUT…

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God is good, all the time!

-Shalom

 

 

June 28, 2014
by myabnormallife
0 comments

My Fear of Fatherhood

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In just a few short weeks, we will be heading to Haiti to bring Micah and Rilee home. Some people have asked how I feel. Excited? Surreal? Anxious? How about scared. Not scared of travelling, or having them home, or keeping them safe from harm but afraid of fatherhood.

Afraid of loving my children more than God

Afraid of my anger dictating my actions when my children mess up

Afraid of not reflecting Jesus

Afraid of not listening to my daughter’s hurt when she tells me about something that hurts her heart

Afraid of not having compassion for my son when he skins his knee

Afraid of sheltering them

Afraid of becoming frustrated with my wife when she just wants to get away because the kids have driven her nuts all day

Afraid of relying too much on the church to teach them about Jesus

Afraid of expecting more than what they can give at the time

Afraid of not telling them “I love you” enough

Afraid of what I’m going to tell them when they ask why someone says mean words to them

Afraid of being too busy

Afraid of being overbearing

Afraid of not raising them with their full potential

Afraid of always having to work instead of playing

Afraid of not seizing a teachable moment

Afraid of lacking patience

Afraid of not letting them explore

Afraid of hearing “You’re not my Dad!”

Afraid of failure

Afraid of not praying with them enough

Afraid of being the father I have been called to by The Father

But…

Romans 8:22-28

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts know what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

 

…As a father, I have prayer.

-Shalom

March 30, 2014
by myabnormallife
8 Comments

Forging Weapons

Warriors

It is difficult at times to look at such a blessing in our lives such as children and think of them as weapons.  As Christians, we know we are at war.  We know God has given each of us gifts to use for His glory and for the expansion of the Gospel.  For example, Love would be one of those gifts we can use as a weapon in the war against the world which burns in hatred; therefore, we show God’s love to the world.  The weapon of love is used to battle the spiritual forces in this world that desire nothing more than to watch the world destroyed through hatred of one another.  We can then advance the Gospel of Christ into the world by utilizing one of our weapons- the love of God.  There are so many other weapons that God has equipped us for war.

With this said, I want to look at one of the most powerful weapons we have to combat the spiritual forces around us – our children.  As adoptive parents waiting for our children to come home from Haiti (4 years now); God has not called us to be just waiting but preparing; preparing for war.  We understand that although our wait has been a battle in itself, the war wages on and will continue long after our children come home.  Our preparation comes in the fact that once they are home with us, pure discipleship begins.  We know our children are weapons we will have to forge in the advancement of the Gospel of Christ in this spiritual war.  This is precious time as we are not here forever but for a blink of an eye and the time raising children is just as fast.

So, we are called to nurture and prepare our children ultimately for war.   Some of the words to describe “nurture” are encourage, develop, and support.  Nurturing is action.  We encourage and help our children to develop the good gifts God has given to them.  These attributes are then forged into weapons for the advancement of the Gospel.  Although we may fall on the battlefield, they will pick up the banner where we leave it and fight on.  People may call this a legacy but whatever the wordage may be, we will mold, cultivate, and develop our children into warriors.

This world is cold, unloving, scary, cruel, vast, daunting-for a few descriptors of it.  We need to, as Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  I’ve been in some serious battles throughout my 40 something years of life.  I thank God almost daily for a father who raised his son knowing the battle would not end with him but that the war wages on well after he is gone.  See, this war has been waging since Adam sinned in the garden and the war will continue until Christ returns for His Bride.  We need to raise our children with warrior’s hearts and undying spirits in the face of this blood thirsty world.  The same world that put Jesus on the cross and denied Him.

We cannot put blinders on our children and shelter them in the thought that we can protect them.  The truth is that we cannot fully shelter our children from the woes of this world, only Jesus can do that!  Train up your children in the ways of spiritual warfare and when they are old, they will fight valiantly for the glory of God! Some may fall away and may seem to forsake all but take heart, God is good all the time and your efforts will not be for nothing.  God says in Proverbs 24:16 “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again…” So we read that the righteous have times of struggle and faltering but will never be destroyed.  We fight on and we need to teach our children to also stay encouraged and fight on.  This adoption has certainly been one of the battles in the war that we’ve struggled and fallen but most importantly, been raised only by the power and grace of God.  Allow your children to see you struggle and let them see you rise again but most importantly, let them see you praising the Savior through all of it.  They will soon understand that while this world can win some battles, it will never win the war and God is to be praised through it all.  Always keep in mind that our children are precious weapons forged on the battle lines that God will use at His timing and in His purpose with His engrained gifts for the advancement of the Gospel to the glory of His name.  You are called for this purpose as parents…the time is now more than ever! The war wages on.

-Shalom

 

February 14, 2014
by myabnormallife
0 comments

We serve a great God.  When we become Christians, God calls us.  It is not a matter of when He might call but that He is calling us now.  We can wait for someone else to answer the call or we can act because as Christians we are called into action by God.  Fear grips the heart.  We can let that fear hold us back from the blessings that God has stored up for us when we step out of our comfort zones and answer His call or we can be miserable, unsatisfied Christians.  God will not honor that.

Blessings will come when we serve others and answer God’s call on our lives. Pain is a part of the call.  We need to experience pain and heartache sometimes in order to know blessings.  We cannot expect an easy road when we head on the path to following Christ’s call on us. We cannot enter into following Him with our heads in the sand.  We still live in a broken world and heartaches come with living here.  However, this cannot stop us from this journey He calls us to.  There would be no hope or satisfaction in the life He calls us to if we just lived “safely”.  There would never have been a “Via Dolorosa”.

God would never have sent His Son to earth to take up His cross and lay down His life for each of us had there been no reward.  He knew the cost but still came. We are the reason.  We turn and give Him our lives because of what He has done for us.  It comes with pain.

This pain gives way to blessings.  We are in this adoption process wholly devoted to Christ through the pain and heartache because Jesus never said “This is too hard for me.” Or “I can’t go on.”  He knew the pain would come but He also knew the blessings would be poured out on us.  We are nearing the end of our adoption process and we are beginning to see the “fruits” of this journey.  Just the excitement alone is a blessing.  We so want you to enjoy this excitement with us.

You can experience this excitement too but you need to respond to His calling.  The fact of the matter is that He is calling.  By responding to His call on your life says you are saying “Yes” to the pains and the heartaches while knowing that He will provide your needs and His blessings will be poured upon you.  Just remember, these come in His timing.  There are times when you won’t see any good, you won’t see any blessings, you won’t see any peace or hope but He is always good.  This is something I have needed to remind me through this whole stepping out into following His will.  That He is God and in control and is ALWAYS good!  Remember this as you answer His call on your life.

You cannot focus on the sacrifices and the pain that might come; they most likely will.  You and I will never be satisfied in this life if we sit on the couch and allow someone else to take on His calling because we are worried about the pain.  True, we all need cheerleaders but God is calling each of us to be on the field and in His game.  Pain, trials, and heartaches will give way to His blessings which will ALWAYS outweigh those “temporary moments of affliction”.  We pray you will know He is good all the time and His blessings are coming your way, just hold on!

-Shalom

January 11, 2014
by myabnormallife
1 Comment

The Pursuit of Love

If you haven’t been reading this blog up until this point, let me give you the overall “theme” of it.  It goes like this.  Adoption is hard.  International adoption is especially hard as it deals with additional factors such as language barriers, long distance “parenting”, long distance relationship building, long distance travel headaches, foreign governments, our own government’s red tape, etc.  My wife and I have had some of our toughest struggles ever in life with our adoption.  This whole process is a nightmare but we have Jesus.  There it is summed up.  However, there is so much more to it than those issues previously mentioned.  There is love.  It is not just a standing still kind of love but a pursuit of love.  It is a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.  This adoption happens because God chooses to pursue us with His love.

Although this process has been a nightmare and lengthy, we love our children and will never end this process because it has become too hard or discouraging to continue.  We are in it for the long haul! Some people have told us they would have given up a long time ago.  We won’t.  We will go through these temporary hardships, although the years have been taking their toll, because we have hope and a vision.  Vision requires hope.  The Bible, God’s Word, is full of hope for us to hold on to.  God’s Word for us gives us hope because His Word promises us that He will be with us through this life and into the life to come.  So, we pursue our children in this messed up process because they are our children and we love them with a never giving up kind of love.  The same love we are pursued by.

Pure love pursues.  God pursues after us with His perfect love.  You can run.  Years may go by as you run but God will pursue you.  Every one of us is pursued by love.  Years have gone by with this adoption but we are pursuing our children with love.  It is still an imperfect love but we are pursuing them with our love because it is compelled by His perfect love for them.

Maybe you are running.  Stop.  God loves you.  Sure, that may sound like a Christian cliché but He does.  You cannot outrun His love.  Trying to outrun Him is exhausting.  His love is perfect while you and I are a mess. He still loves you and me even in the mess.  We will never stop pursuing our children, even when they come home and even in this mess.  I will never stop pursuing the heart of my wife no matter how messy it might be.  She needs to know I will never stop loving her even if I have won her over but will continue the pursuit.  God does that with us.  He wants our hearts daily.

We are broken, fragile people pursued by a perfect, holy God Who loves us and wants us to be His children.  He pursues us through all the brokenness of the world.  He pursues us through the red tape.  He wants to have the relationship that your heart is longing for.  Your heart aches for something.  Our hearts ache for our children to come home.  We all ache for something.  The God of the universe is pursuing you and me to fill our heart’s void.  Let Him in.  Stop running and let God’s love overtake you.

-Shalom