Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Adoption Change...

If you have kept up with this blog, you know that a few months ago Ryan and I got some discouraging news about our adoption process. We found out that the process for adopting from Bulgaria was going to take at least 3 years, maybe more. We were devastated, you can read about it here.

The main reason we had chosen Bulgaria is that our options were pretty limited due to the fact that we live overseas. It is hard to find a reputable agency that will work with you and countries that are willing to adopt to Americans living outside of America. It came down to two options for us, Bulgaria or Ethiopia.

I'm gonna be real with you here. Our initial preference was Ethiopia. It seemed right for us. However, we were concerned and fearful about what it would mean to raise a child from Africa in India. The belief that white is beautiful/good, black is ugly/bad is a sad reality we deal with daily among Indians. Ryan and I struggled with what to do. We emailed with friends who live in India and are adopting from Ethiopia, we talked with friends in America who have kids from Africa, we analyzed, analyzed, analyzed. And I am glad we did. After we analyzed our hearts out we decided we should just go with Bulgaria, we decided to play it safe.... in a way.

Then we found out about the wait for Bulgaria.

Then we listened to some sermons from the Stone (our church in America) and we felt convicted.

Not convicted on our own racism, although I think all of us are prone to our own forms of racism. But, convicted that we were letting the views of Indian culture speak loudly into how we would grow our family.

Not to mention as we have grown in language and understanding of culture here, we realize we will always be misunderstood. We are different. So we adopt from Africa...we will just be more different.

So the big news is.... we are adopting from Ethiopia! We are really excited!

How long will it take, you ask. Probably a year and a half, but in the world of adoption, those projected time lines can easily change.

Please pray for the last bit of our home study paperwork. I feel like so many people we know are flying through their home study stuff, yet ours drags on and on. Mainly due to lack of electricity, random issues of living in India, ect.... So please pray for Gods favor and speed for these last few documents (on the home study front). There will still be more to come after that. Adoption is a marathon, but one we are excited to be running :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Review

Wow, I can't believe this year is over.  It has been a very different year than I expected.  Last year I wrote this, so I thought I would do it again.  Hope you enjoy a little overview of my year.

1.  What did you do in 2012 that you have never done before?

-lived with a Muslim Indian family of 8 in a 2 room house
-bought a scooter
-had a washing machine(first time in married life)
-got my nose pierced
-rode an elephant in the jungle
-lived over 8 months in a city where Ryan and I are the only westerners

2.  Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make more for this year?

-Ummm, not really a new year's resolution kinda girl, so nope didn't keep them and nope won't make more this year.  I think there is a lot of wisdom in what this guy says about resolutions.

3.  What countries did you visit?

-Thailand twice.  Once for a language learning training(outside of Bangkok) and once for a conference(outside of Chaing Mai).

4.  What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

- deeper friendships with Indian women
- a generator for the hot summer to keep from melting!!
- babies...

5.  What dates will remain etched in your memory from 2012 and why?  There are so many, but here are a few that stand out right now.

- March
  the day the mother in our bonding family took my face in her hands and told me they would be my family on Easter, because I was missing my family so much

  the day we finally found a flat to live in!  after searching for a month, I thought we would never find a place

  we went to a two week language learning training.  it was amazing, i learned so much more than just a method to learn a new language.  it was refreshing and inspiring.  unfortunately, Ryan got some crazy rash on the back of his leg...!

  we had some friends come spend some time in our city checking out if they wanted to move here.  it was so fun showing them around and spending time with people from our church, even if it was blazing hot!

  went back to Thailand and got to meet a lot of new people and spend time with friends from PA.  was so fun to catch up with them.

- August
  Rhett came to India!!  our first family member to come visit us.  it was awesome because he is a pretty awesome guy, we are trying to get him to come back permanently!

  our first Ramadan.  we had a great time breaking the fast with friends.  so many people were so inviting, i don't think i cooked dinner one time that month ;)

  our first Eid.  this is the festival at the end of Ramadan.  again, so much fun with friends and SO.MUCH.FOOD!

  our friends that live in our city had their first born son in America.  he only lived a few minutes before going to be with Jesus.  it was so hard to be so far from them on that day, but i will always remember hearing the news while sitting in a hotel in delhi.  you can read about their journey here.

  after a year of not seeing each other, my Mom came to India!  oh my goodness, my heart was so happy.  i loved every second of her being here. i didn't want her to leave, but was oh so thankful for the time she was here.

  going to a wedding with our neighbors.  it was the most fun day we have had in India.  we spent the day(in between the important wedding stuff) playing at the Ganges with our friends.  so fun!

6.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?

-...umm we passed our home study.  that was a GREAT achievement that brings us one step closer to baby Hartsfield.

7.  What was your biggest failure?

-this question is tricky.  there is a lot this past year that i have felt like a failure in.  my biggest regret, not sure i would call it a failure, because failure seems so final, is that i was/still am so timid to put myself out there in trying to speak Hindi/Urdu.  i have this gross tendency to want to look smart and that has caused me to not try to speak knowing i will look dumb.  pride and fear....gross combination, i know.

8.  Did you suffer illness or injury?

-had some stomach illnesses, but hey that is life in India...right?

9.  What was the best thing you bought?

-washing machine :)  so boring, huh?
-scooter, it is so much easier and faster to get places now.  i do have a love/hate relationship with the scooter.  i didn't know you could have so much fun and feel so freaked out at the same time.  traffic in india is crazy.
-vegetable chopper, seriously it makes chopping veggies so much better....
-microwave.  the convection kind that you can make cookies in.  we don't have an oven, so this was a great purchase

i see a household item theme....i feel old...

10.  Where did most of your money go?

-to the above items
-plane tickets, train tickets
-a deposit on our apartment

11.  What did you get really excited about?

-adoption and getting closer to bringing our little one home, even thought the paper work feels never ending....
-being able to understand and communicate deeper things with friends here in a their language.  being able to understand their stories
-monsoon season...the summer was hot yall!

12.  What song will always remind you of 2012?

-"For Your Splendor" by Christy Nockels.  this year was extremely challenging personally and for friends in our life.  this song continuously spoke to me in a deep way.
- "Some Nights" by Fun.  this was our pump ourselves up song.  so much time spent dancing to this song.

13.  Compared to this time last year are you:

-happier or sadder?  honestly...probably sadder.  the last 8 months have been a pretty lonely time.
-thinner or fatter?  hmmm not really sure.  probably a little fatter right now, haven't had stomach problems for a while :0
-richer or poorer?  richer, baby!!

14.  What do you wish you would have done more of?

-pushed myself to speak more in all those hours of language learning
-danced more with my hubby(that stinking long hot summer prohibits some of my desire to dance)

15.  What do you wish you would have done less of?

-being self-critical.  feeling like i should be better or doing better at language/adjustment stuff

16.  How did you spend Christmas?

-ate some chocolate chip muffins then headed to the train station.  we were planning on a 4 hour train ride to visit some friends, but it turned into a 3 hour wait at the station and a 15 hour train ride....dang fog!

17.  What was your favorite TV program?

-i know we are totally behind, but we started watching the office from season 1.  i love it.  michael is so hilarious and i love jim and pam(like i wish we could hang out with them)

18.  What were your favorite books?  this year i had a bad habit of starting books i thought i "should" read and then getting bored with them, but some of my favs were:

-Jesus Storybook Bible.  i know this isn't really a "book", it is a children's bible, but it is so good!
-The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
-Luke for Everyone by NT Wright
-Saturday Nothing by Josh Martin
-Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis
-The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
-Anything by Jennie Allen
-MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
-Simply Jesus by NT Wright

I am currently reading-
-Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
-Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parent Knew

19.  What was your favorite music from this year?

-Andrew Peterson's new CD
-Austin Stone's Christmas CD
-Christy Nockels new CD
-Chelsea Moon
-The Civil Wars,
-Phil Wickham

-i'm always wanting suggestions for new CD's esp since we live out of America now!!! suggest away.

20.  What were your favorite films this year?

-oh man, we only saw a couple movies when we were in delhi.  our theatre in our city only shows movies in Hindi.
-Argo was good
-counting down the days til Les Mis comes to Delhi....

21.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

- two girlfriends from delhi came to visit for the weekend and we went to pizza hut with my language helper and her mom.  great fun!
-got my nose pierced :)
- Ryan had some of my closest friends send me video messages for me to watch on my birthday and some written messages.  he had them answer certain question about me.  he then organized us to skype with his family and my family and he had asked them to answer the same questions.  it was really special.  so thankful he did that and so thankful for such great friends and family.

22.  What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

-i loved the opportunities we have had to grown in friendship with locals, but having a community of Jesus followers would have been a great thing.

23.  How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

-haha, bright colors.  actually, in a lot of ways i just bought close quickly because i had to get a whole new wardrobe.  now, i am more aware of the styles here and hopefully this year i can grow into my own American living in India style ;)

24.  What kept you sane?

-Ryan-words can't express how amazing he is and how patient he is with me
-the mall with an AC during the summer when our power was out
-lots and lots of God's grace and remembering how Jesus experienced everything we have experienced

25.  What is a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012?

- i can't do things in my own strength, not matter how hard i try.  

Dear 2012, you were a lot more difficult than I expected and I am sure there are things that we experienced that may take many years to understand, but God has been faithful and he has given us exactly what we needed exactly when we needed it.  Bring on 2013 :)



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Living in the Longing

Living in India definitely has its perks.  The opportunity to learn a new language(on good days I call it an opportunity, some days not so much :/), new friends, a simpler life,  yummy food, vacationing in places like Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.  There is much about my life to be thankful for and much that many people would love to experience.  However, one thing I was not quite prepared for in moving here, was the longing I would feel.  The longing for things to be made right, for women to be equal, for kids to have clean drinking water, for orphans to have a warm blanket(not to mention a family who loves them!!).  My heart has learned to long for many things while living in India.

Christmas brings out the deep, personal longings.  In ways that make me want to not get out of bed and cry a lot. I know that the whole deal with Christmas is about how hope has come, Jesus has come and what wonderful news that is and the hope that he is coming again brings even greater joy.  Yet we live in the in between.  Oh that in between time, I feel like I am always talking about it, always thinking about how it is a beautiful yet dreadful time, full of hope and full of longing.

This Christmas there were deeper longings than I have felt in a long time.  This is not my first Christmas away from family or in a different country, but this year it just felt deeper.  I long to cuddle up on the couch with my nephew and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or who am I kidding, that would probably be boring to him(he's only 4).  Anyways, he would pick a Christmas moving and we would snuggle on my Mom's couch and drink hot chocolate and eat chocolate chip cookies.  I long to sing Christmas carols with my Memee.  She always wanted to sing Christmas carols on Christmas eve and it was always awkward trying to sing acapella when we are not exactly a musical family.  But,  I would hold her hand and sing my heart out and she would tell me I am the best singer she has ever heard.  And she would mean it.  I long to help my brother set up all the toys for Christmas morning for my nephew.  I know he hates all the instructions on how to put those toys together and I would help him..err Ryan would do it and I would keep them company.  I long to sit around that big wooden table Ryan's Dad made for his Mom so many years ago.  We would talk about marriage, relationships, intimacy, and how aloneness is so bad.  I would even drink a little coffee along with everyone else this year.  Then I would ask my bro-in-law question after question about girls in his life and he would pretend like it annoys him, but I know he likes it.  I long to sit around my Mom's house with some of my best girlfriends.  Hold their new babies, talk about husbands or boyfriends or how guys are jerks, and how much life has changed in the last year, and remember how we are best friends because even if we don't see each other or even talk that much (because lets be honest, I am a horrible long distance friend) it is so easy to pick back up.  My heart longs....

I used to think longing was a bad thing.  I thought that if you were really walking with God then you should always feel content and that longing meant you probably had some kind of sin in your life or something.  I don't believe that anymore.  We are living in the longing time.  That is what Christmas is all about that Jesus came into the world and we are longing for him to come back.  So Christmas looked really different and not really in a good way, but thats okay.  This year I grab that cup of longing and take it in both of my hands and drink deeply, because in the longing we remember we are still alive.  Our work here is not finished.  One day it will be and we will no longer live in the longing, but for now we do and we say, "Come Lord Jesus, come".