The Knight 7

The Knight 7

Monday, November 12, 2012

There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe...

...She had so many children, she didn't know what to do...

Okay, okay, okay...I wouldn't necessarily call myself old (I'm still 29 for 4 more weeks, but who's counting?), but I do have a TON of kids.  Five, to be exact...all under the age of 7 (but who's counting?).

So many of you have been following our adoption story.  You've prayed for us, cried for us, and rejoiced with us.  I wish I could hug each and every one of you and personally thank you for standing with us through this battle.

But I can't.

It's mainly because I've been in hiding these past 3 weeks...which hopefully will also explain my lack of updates of Facebook.  I've pretty much been on lockdown since we got home.  We've had a few family members come visit and meet the new additions.  I've shown my face at carpool line and a few soccer games.  And I did venture out to church this past weekend...with my nursery beeper in my tightly gripped hand the entire service.

Mainly, I'm just tired.  The words "jet lag" seem far too sweet to describe the fatigue and exhaustion I experienced upon arriving home.  And it didn't go away for a solid week.  Actually, I'm still exhausted.  But I think my only excuse now is that I have 5 children.  I've resigned myself to the fact that I will be doing laundry every day for the rest of my life.

James and Jolie have fit right in with our family.  Immediately.  Thanks to the modern miracle of Skype, they knew exactly who Ava, Greta, and Harper were.  They knew who their grandparents were.  They, of course, knew who their Daddy was.

They slept 11 straight hours in their own beds their first night here, and have done so every night since then.  They take great naps in the afternoon.  They eat like little champs.  They're happy all the time.  They love their toys.  They love their sisters.  They love each other.  They love their beds.  They love life.

I understand that this is all probably just a "honeymoon" period.  But after the literal hell I went through in Uganda to bring these kids home, I am loving every minute of this little honeymoon.

I would love to sit here and write about all of the wonderful little moments we've had with these precious children in the past few weeks, but I would be here forever.  So, instead, I'll just share a ton of pictures and you can see for yourself...      

Here are a few pics from our plane ride over from Africa.  These 2 babies slept our entire first leg from Entebbe to Dubai.

James loved eating on the plane.  I think they gave him enough bread.

He LOVED watching movies on the plane.  Anything Pixar.
Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and Cars were his faves.

Our little (BIG) family reunited at the airport.  
Can't even begin to describe how great this felt.


This is what the back of my car looks like from here on out...

Before we even went home from the airport, our first stop was Chick-Fil-A.  
The indoctrination has begun.

With Hoss and CoCo!

Sweet sisters.

I have a new baby doll to dress-up.  I kiss these sweet lips all day long.

My 5 little babes eating at our breakfast-nook table. 

Trick-or-Treating!  The littles had NO CLUE what was going on, but they LOVED riding around the neighborhood in the wagon!  And my bigs took turns filling their buckets up with candy.

My little Jolie-girl dressed up as a cheerleader.  I kiss these sweet lips all day long.  

As if our 5 children weren't enough, our besties, the Brady's, brought over their 4 children.  
Just to kick the circus up a notch.
(Jolie was OVER Halloween by this point.  Hahaha.)

Our first outing to Stonebriar Mall...J and J had a blast on the carousel.  

Jolie rode with CoCo!

This is what our mornings look like...3 little people piled on my couch
watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse".  

Sad day at the pediatrician getting A LOT of shots.  Sorry, babies.

As newly-minted citizens of the United States of America, they joined me in performing my God-given responsibility and we all ROCKED THE VOTE.
(They're all wearing "I Voted" stickers, but they're too small to see.)

We had a great time with Pops and GiGi!  So glad they could come for a few days to visit!

One of the Knight kids' favorite things to do...ride the horses outside of 
La Hacienda Ranch in Frisco.
I dreamed about this restaurant the entire time I was in Uganda.
I love their fajitas.  Seriously.
But back to the kids...look at how happy my baby boy is!!!  And my sweet Harper!!!
We're all together!!!  YAY!!!

I hope you've enjoyed my digital photo album of the past few weeks of our lives.  I've had so many people wanting to know how we've been doing since we got home.  And the short answer is GREAT. God has been so faithful to our family.  We have been blessed beyond measure.  We are reaping the rewards of our labor.  I know there will be many hard days ahead of us.  But right now, these are sweet days.  I wouldn't trade them or anything.  Thank You, Jesus.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lost and Found: James' Story

Today, Bradley and I became the parents of a 2-year-old boy named James.  Here is the miraculous story of how the Lord brought him to us.

In April of 2011, a woman by the name of Halai Agatha was digging for produce in the brush of far eastern Uganda…right on the border of Kenya.  While looking for food for her family, she found a baby boy abandoned underneath a coffee bean shrub.  He was very small – he couldn’t walk or talk.  She immediately took him back to her house in the village of Muzetati (in the Manafwa district) and began inquiring after who he belonged to.  Agatha and her husband, Michael, already had 8 children of their own, whom they could not afford to feed.  Michael was not keen to the idea of taking in a new baby, however temporary the circumstances may be.  Due to the rural location of their village, any inquiries regarding the baby’s parents were made on foot and took many days to complete.  During the tenure of over a year, the baby stayed with Agatha and her children while investigations were ongoing. 

Agatha named the baby Mumwata James.  Mumwata – meaning “abandoned one.”

Michael (a polygamist Muslim) became extremely hostile toward James and Agatha.  While there is no written statement that he physically abused James, I am absolutely certain that he did.  And I know for a fact that he abuses Agatha to this very day.  The situation got so bad that at one point, he threw Agatha and all 8 of her children out of their house.  The police got involved and forced him to accept them all back.

The presence of this little baby boy caused immeasurable grief.

During this time, the Manafwa District probation officer, Issah, got in touch with Emma and learned about a certain family in Texas looking to adopt a baby boy.  The situation at Agatha’s house had become so stressful, and James had become so ill, that Issah gave Emma special permission to take James back to Kampala to live with him until we could arrive. 

This move proved to be a life-saving occurrence.  Due to the extreme malnourishment that James faced in Muzetati, along with the lack of proper clothing, shelter, and medical treatment, James developed a severely low immune system and became susceptible to every kind of illness he came in contact with.  His little body had absolutely no defense mechanism.  Dr. Emma was able to treat him and get him the best medical care possible.

Emma says that when James first came to live with him, he was terrified of men.  Which makes sense.  The only man he had ever really known was extremely hostile towards him.  Men could not be trusted.  James wanted nothing to do with Bradley during the first week we had him, either.

By the time we arrived in Kampala 6 weeks ago to begin this journey, James had been hospitalized for several days due to acute malaria, bacterial infection, and jaundice.  Here are some pictures of us meeting James for the first time at the hospital:

The first week or so of having James in our care was honestly a complete nightmare.  Having spent several weeks in Emma’s home and experiencing true love and care for the first time…James wanted nothing to do with us.  All he wanted was Emma.  We knew that attachment would take some time and we weren’t really discouraged – we were just sad for him.  At our hotel, James would stand by the door and just wait for somebody to open it so he could leave.  He looked perpetually sad.  He never smiled or laughed.  And why would he?  Up until this point in his little life, he had no reason to laugh or smile.  Life was not fun for little James.

Here is a picture of his very first bath with us.  And nap time with a tuckered out mommy.

During the first week we had him, we took the trip up to the village of Muzetati to get several documents signed and to meet Agatha.  I was not prepared for the heartache of this meeting.  As soon as James saw Agatha, he ran to her and she held him tightly.  It was obvious that she loved this boy.  She had endured so much for him already.  Through an interpreter, she retold the story of finding him under the coffee bush and keeping him in her house despite her husband’s threats and abuse.  She told me how happy she was that James would have a good home and that he would get to live in America.  I was absolutely torn up over this.  When it was time to leave, I made Emma take James out of her arms…there was no way on earth I was taking him away from her. 

This was the first time I saw James cry.

And he cried for about an hour.  And I let him.  I held him and I didn’t try to make him stop.  I have never and probably will never experience the grief and confusion and terror this little 2-year-old boy felt that day.  I don’t know what it’s like to be abandoned in the jungle.  I don’t know what it’s like to be rescued, only to find that your new environment is hostile and dangerous.  I don’t know what it’s like to have a strange white woman take you from the only “mother” you’ve ever known.  I don’t know what it’s like to be unsure of where your next meal will come from.  But James knows all of these things too well.

Over the last few weeks, James has become extremely attached to me and Bradley.  He calls us “Mama” and “Dada” and is very affectionate with us.  He treats his sister, Jolie, with kindness.  He loves being a big brother!  He knows the names of all of his big sisters at home in Texas.  He loves skyping with our family.  He now plays, laughs, and smiles often, and is a generally happy little boy.  He still has moments of extreme grief and intense crying.  We deal with each of these moments as they come.  He still has a deep-rooted fear of abandonment.  He freaks out any time I leave the room.  There is much healing that needs to take place.

Agatha has made several trips to Kampala to assist us with James’ court dates.  She has always been very kind and compliant.  Every time I see her, I am reminded of the faithfulness of God in my life.  My husband does not beat me.  My husband only has one wife.  My husband is an amazing father to our children.  My husband is not an alcoholic.  My husband is an excellent provider for his family.  Thank You, Jesus.  I was completely blown away the last time she was in town…James preferred me over her.  He actually wanted nothing to do with her.  I couldn’t believe it.  It grieved me for Agatha’s sake…she had sacrificed so much for this little boy.  Here is a picture of the 2 of them together during her last trip to Kampala:

James’ story is my story.  It is your story.  It is a glaring picture of what we were before Christ rescued us.  Lost, abandoned, neglected, sick, alone, distraught, fearful, naked, abused, hungry.  Christ, in His unending love, sought us out.  He fought for us.  He found us.  He rescued us.  He clothed us.  He fed us.  He paid the highest price for us.  He traded our sorrow for His joy.  He traded our ashes for His beauty.  He traded our mourning for His dancing.  He adopted us into His forever family and gave us a rich inheritance in Him. 

I am James.  You are James.

God sent Bradley and I from our comfortable existence in Plano, TX, to the middle-of-nowhere Uganda to rescue this precious little boy because he has a sacred calling on his life.  James – you are no longer called Mumwata, “abandoned one.”  You are now called Akanonda – “God has chosen me.”  God has chosen you, little boy.  You now belong to the Knight family.  You now have a great heritage of faith on both sides of your family.  The Knight men and the Allen men are all servants of the Most High God.  You have been chosen to follow in their footsteps.  You will be raised as a mighty warrior for the Kingdom.  You are destined for greatness.

Dearest friends – allow me to introduce you to our son, James William Akanonda Knight.  James happens to be my mother’s maiden name.  William is Bradley’s mother’s maiden name.  And Akanonda is his Ugandan name…because God has chosen him.

“For the Lord your God has chosen you for His treasured possession…” 
– Deuteronomy 7:6

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jolie's Story

Hello friends.  By now, I hope you have heard that we were granted legal guardianship of a precious little Ugandan girl named Akansasira Joan - now called Jolie Danielle Akansasira Knight.  Since I have a few moments of peace (thank you, naptime!), I thought I'd let you all know about her miraculous story and how she came to be ours.

Jolie was born in the REMOTE village of Rutaka, about 15 miles outside of the town of Kisoro...right on the Rwanda/Congo/Uganda border.  Her mother died during childbirth and her father fled to Congo shortly thereafter.  She was then left to the care of her elderly grandfather, a polygamist Muslim with more wives, children, and grandchildren than he could afford to feed.

Here is a picture of Jolie's grandfather (who was drunk), along with Jolie's social worker from the orphanage, Annette (you can see how pleased she is to see him):

Here is a picture of the "town center".  This is where Jolie would've gone to school, had she survived her infancy.

Here are some sweet girls from her village.  How in the world does a Snow White dress make it to the most remote part of Uganda???

Jolie has an 11-year-old sister from the same mother.  I do not know her name (but WILL be finding out before we leave Africa), and I sadly did not have the chance to meet her and get a picture with her.  This past March (which is when we felt the Lord's call into adoption!), Jolie's sweet big sister carried her the distance of nearly 15 miles from the village of Rutaka, down the treacherous mountain road, and dropped her off at Potter's Village Baby Home in Kisoro.  The orphanage workers found Jolie extremely malnourished and sick.  They agreed to take her in.

The Potter's Village appeared to be a nice, well-run establishment.  It had nice (for Uganda) buildings and appeared to be clean.  There were scriptures gracing the walls of the rooms, and a chapel schedule with memory verses.  For all of the "warm fuzzies" that the place gave me when we arrived, they were immediately gone upon meeting our daughter.

Upon arriving at the Potter's Village, Annette (Jolie's social worker) told us that she was 23 months old.  This seemed about right because we had been told a few months ago that Jolie was around one and a half years old.  So we were expecting to see a little girl running around and able to function as an almost-2-year-old should.  

When we first met Jolie, she had been "upgraded" to the toddler room because she had just started "walking"  (if you consider taking 3 steps at a time then falling down "walking").  In the toddler room, the babies are expected to feed themselves and are not given diapers to wear.  A worker handed Jolie to me.  This poor baby's face was covered in porridge (remember - she had to feed herself), her bottom half was covered in urine (no diapers), her tummy was swollen from intestinal worms, and she had a white-ish discharged coming from both ears.  She was terrified of anyone new.  For fear of traumatizing her, I had no intention of taking her out of the worker's hands.  But she was thrust upon me and immediately began screaming.  It took a few minutes to calm her down and I was able to get a few pictures:

My initial reaction to this child was "Dear God, this baby needs us."  My second thought was "There is NO WAY this child is almost 2 years old."  

I once again asked Annette - was she SURE this child turned 2 next month?  Annette assured me, according to the orphanage's records, she turned 2 years old in October.  (I would later discover that her court affidavit stated that she was born in 2011 - though it did not give a specific date.  So the orphanage records were wrong.)

Here is the sobering part - the Potter's Village only keeps babies up until the age of 2.  After their 2nd birthdays, they must be returned to where they came from.  And according to their records, Jolie was 23 months old.  That means that this precious little INFANT would be returning to her grandfather's "care" next month, regardless of his ability to provide for her.  Somebody needs to take a moment and thank God for His perfect timing.  Sweet Jolie - you will not be returning to Rutaka to live in poverty and face inevitable disease and death.  God sent us from Plano, TX to Kisoro, Uganda in September of 2012 because He has a calling on your life.  You are now part of the Knight family.  You will be well-cared for and LOVED like crazy.  You will learn about your Heavenly Father.  You are His.  Thank You, Jesus.  What a Savior You are.

If you've made it this far in the blog post, thank you for sticking with me.  But this story is nowhere near finished.  I'm now going to tell you what a flat out MIRACLE it was that we were granted legal guardianship of this child.  (If you want a good laugh, see my previous blog post on Miracles.  Jesus - You have a crazy sense of humor.)

The weeks and months leading up to our visit to the Potter's Village were spent dealing with a gentleman named Ezra - the senior administrator of the orphanage.  He was a kind man who loved the Lord.  He was extremely helpful and knew that little Jolie needed a good home.  Things seemed to be going smoothly...until the day before we got there.  The Potter's Village is owned by a British woman named Jenny.  Jenny had been on "holiday" for the previous 5-6 weeks and had not been informed about our desire to adopt Jolie.  When she arrived home and learned of our plan, she immediately shut it down and said "no way".  Having been a Ugandan resident for many years, and an adoptive mother herself, she would not hear of an American couple waltzing into her orphanage and taking a baby.  Her orphanage had never dealt with an international adoption before.  We were the first.  And IT'S NOT LEGAL for non-Ugandan citizens to adopt Ugandan babies.  She did not know that we were seeking guardianship, which is perfectly legal.

When we arrived at the orphanage, we were instructed by our attorney to stay in the car and let him try to reason with her.  We could hear them speaking...though we couldn't make out words, we could make out voices...and she was doing most of the talking.  It was not sounding promising.

We were motioned to come into her office, where we were seated in a circle of about 7 other orphanage administrators.  We were then put on the witness stand.  Jenny hammered us with question after question about why we wanted to adopt.  What were our intentions?  Why Uganda?  Why would you EVER want to take children out of their country and raise them as Americans?  Don't you know how HARD it is to deal with adopted children?  How will these children ever know about their heritage as Africans?  The judge you will see for her case is DIFFICULT...he hardly ever grants guardianships.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS???

We answered every question she gave us as honestly and gracefully as we possibly could.  The bottom line was this:  We would not be here unless we were 100% SURE that the Lord had sent us.  This is HIS plan, not ours.  We are simply obeying.

And that's when it happened.  The most bizarre change of personality I have ever seen.  Out of nowhere, Jenny says "Well, then.  You better go get her and take her with you.  She needs to get used to you before your court date tomorrow."



Ummmmmm...okay.  Quick.  Sign the papers.  Get the baby.  Get in the car and SCRAM before this crazy lady has a chance to change her mind.

And she did change her mind.  The next day.  After we had already been given a care order from the orphanage.  So it was too late for Jenny.  We had every right to keep Jolie with us until the judge's ruling.  We literally had 5 minutes of grace from this woman...right when we needed it.

Speaking of the judge...(This story just keeps going.  Is anybody still reading this???)... 

We had been warned that the judge was tough in Kabale (where the district High Court is).  But we had never been inside a Ugandan court room, so we didn't know what that meant.

Here's what it meant:
This judge never even looked up at me or Bradley during the entire hour we were in his office.  He was rude to our lawyer, and didn't really look over any paperwork that was handed to him.  We had 3 additional witnesses with us to testify that Jolie's best interests would be served in our care - Ezra (from Potter's Village), the district probation officer, Columbus Stanley (can you handle that name?!), and Jolie's elderly grandfather.  Out of all of these witnesses, the only one the judge wanted to speak to was the grandfather.  This man had been debriefed by our lawyer (George) as to EXACTLY what to say when called upon.  Unfortunately, things didn't go down as planned.  He told the judge that he didn't really know who we were.  He "guessed" we were taking his grandchild to America, but he would probably never see her again.  He really didn't know what was going on.  He was extremely noncommittal...not exactly what you're looking for when your judge is "difficult".  (Side note - a few weeks prior, this grandfather had practically BEGGED Emma and George to take his other grandchildren.  Can they all go to America?!  Hmmmmmm.)

George kept bringing up the fact that the grandfather is a polygamist and couldn't afford to feed his family.  The judge would hear none of it...he knew of many children raised in polygamist families and they turned out alright.  This argument was invalid to him.  

Almost every argument was invalid to him.  

He then began flipping through his date book, deciding on a time to hand out our ruling.  He kept flipping and flipping and flipping...WAY too many pages.  For the love of God!  Are you going to keep us here until Christmas?!  

September 25th.  Come back then and I'll give you a ruling.

Bradley and I have never felt such defeat in our lives.  We left that court room not knowing what to do.  We collapsed in our hotel room and sobbed while sweet Jolie just sat there and looked at us.  We were ABSOLUTELY SURE that this judge would NEVER give us this child.  What do we do with her?  Do we send her back to Potter's Village?  What's the point in even keeping her with us when she'll just be taken away in a few weeks?  


But she was so sick.  She needed so much care.  Care that she couldn't possibly receive at the orphanage.  


As long as I am capable of caring for this child, I will do so.  Even if she is taken from me in a few weeks.  At least I can get her well NOW.  Precious girl, let's go to Kampala and get you some medicine.

Bradley and I cried the entire 10-hour drive back to Kampala.  It was during that drive that the Lord ministered to both of us and told us to wait this thing out.  See what He does.  "They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength..."    

And so we waited for 3 weeks.  Falling more and more in love with this angel every day.  Jolie quickly warmed up to both me and Bradley.  And we quickly discovered that she is Miss Personality.  She is very vocal (a true trait of a Knight girl, if ever there was one), very funny, very friendly, and oh so sweet.  And she loves to smile.

Daily I BEGGED the Lord to give us this child.  I BEGGED Him to give me a sign, a scripture, a word from Him to cling to.  Something that assured me that He would give her to us.

But nothing came.

The only thing I ever heard from God was "Trust Me.  Trust Me.  Trust Me."

TRUST YOU???  What does that mean?!  Does that mean that You'll give her to us?  Can I trust You to give her to us?  Or does that mean that I'm going to go through more pain and heartache and I'll have to trust You then???  I need an answer!!!  Will she be ours???!!!

Holly, you are Mine.  Trust Me.  Trust Me.  Trust Me.

Okay, Lord.  I'll trust You.  I'll trust You.  I'll trust You.

This became my life...I'll Trust You.

When I had to send Jolie back to Kabale for her ruling to be handed out, I had absolutely no assurance that I would ever see this precious baby again.  If we were not granted custody, she would return to the orphanage.  It was the lowest I've ever been, yet the safest I've ever been.

God - I've seen where she came from.  I know what her life will be like.  I know that she won't survive.  I know that there are millions of orphans like her around the world and it breaks my heart, but I KNOW this one.  Give this one to me.  Save her life, Jesus.  Save her.

And on September 25, 2012, Jesus saved her life.  We were MIRACULOUSLY granted guardianship of this precious angel.  No one was more shocked than me.  No one had doubted more than me.  

Jesus - YOU ARE GOOD.  You are trustworthy.  You keep Your promises.  You love Your children.  

You love this precious child more than I ever possibly could.  

Jolie's Ugandan name is Akansasira, meaning "The Lord has had mercy on me."

Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You, Jesus.  


Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Africa We Go's been like 6 years since I've posted on my sad, neglected blog.  And it's not because it's been dull around the Knight casa.  Quite the contrary.  Things have been a-movin' and a-shakin'.  We just haven't had any concrete information to share.


Yesterday morning, we received word that we will be traveling to our beloved country of Uganda on Monday.  As in this Monday.  As in 4 days from now.  No big deal.  I mean, it's a piece of cake to pack for a journey to an unknown third-world country whilst preparing your 3 precious children and their care-takers for the ins and outs of daily life in your absence.  This is like the easiest thing I've ever done.

I know what you're all thinking...shut up, Holly!  Cut to the chase!  Tell us about your African children!!!

With pleasure.

This is James.  He is 2 years old.  He is our son.

This is Joan.  She is 18 months old.  She is our daughter.

You will have to pardon the pictures...the lighting is not the best and it's hard to see their features with that beautiful dark skin.  We will post better pictures NEXT WEEK!!!

The gentleman in both of these pictures is our hero, Kasadha Emma.  Emma runs a pro-life medical clinic in Uganda and ministers to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.  Many mothers choose life for their babies because of this man.  Emma loves Jesus more than anybody I know.  If anyone reading this post is praying about a ministry to support financially, this would be a great choice.  You can follow the link above to his website.

We do not know how long we will be in Uganda.  We only bought one-way tickets and will not return until the process is finalized.

How can you pray?  Thank you so much for asking.

*First and foremost, pray that the entire process goes smoothly.  We will be dealing with different courts, as well as the US Embassy, in finalizing all paperwork.  This will be quite an undertaking and we will need God's hand on every step of the process.
*Pray that God provides every dollar we need.  
*Pray for safety, both for Bradley and me, and our children (all 5 of them)
*Pray for great ministry opportunities.  We are hoping to get knee-deep in ministering to the precious people of Uganda while we are there. 
*Pray for my mother, Kathy Allen, and our dear friend, Lisa Clark, as they care for our girls while we're away.  Pray for supernatural strength and energy.  Pray that they don't spoil my children rotten.  Pray that my children don't like them more than they like me. 
*Lastly, and probably most urgently, pray that I don't die from the pain of leaving my 3 girls.  I can hardly type these words without losing my mind.  Ava, Greta, and Harper are everything to me.  They're my hobby, my job, my joy, my pain, my thrill, my passion...they're IT for me.  Being away from these precious angels will by far be the hardest thing about this journey.  Jesus, give me strength.

So...that's it in a nutshell.  I would love to elaborate on this entire story and share the details with you all, but that will have to wait...because I'm packing to leave for Africa in 4 DAYS.

John 14:18 - "I will not leave you as orphans;  I will come to you."  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

He Sets the Solitary in Families

So, I'll just get straight to the punch line:

The Lord has called me and Bradley to adopt 2 children from Uganda.

There.  I said it.  Aaaahhhh, that feels so good to get off my chest.

Now, for the backstory:

A few months ago, Bradley and I were both praying for a financial situation.  We needed God to perform a miracle in our lives.  While we were praying separately, God spoke to both of us separately and told us that not only would He provide for our every need, but that He was going to add more responsibility to our already crazy lives...through adoption.  And not just one child - but two.  We are very aware of how crazy this sounds.  And some of you are probably thinking "You were praying for finances?  And the answer you got was adoption?"


I'll go ahead and encourage you today and let you know that within 24 hours of receiving and accepting the call of adoption, our financial miracle came.  And we had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Nobody had anything to do with it.  But our heavenly Father, Jehovah Jireh, had everything to do with it.  It was as if He said, "I'm gonna handle this financial situation right away because I have something greater for you.  Come, follow Me."

My God - Holly's God - will supply every need of mine according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 4:19)  Friend, He's your God, too.  If you have a need or are in a desperate situation, go ahead and pray as if the provision is on its way.  He asks us to have crazy faith in Him.  So go ahead.

Okay, okay, okay.  Back to the adoption.

After the initial call into adoption, we had no clue where our children would be coming from, or when we would be able to bring them home.  We began begging God to show us where to go for these children.  And, if I'm being quite honest, I told God that He was going to have to smack me in the face with these answers.  That "still, small voice" stuff doesn't usually work for me.  He was going to have to be obvious.

Shocker.  He answered our prayer.

And He answered it 21 days after we began praying.  For those of you who have read Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker, you understand the significance of the "21-Day Prayer Challenge".  For those of you who haven't read this book...what is wrong with you?  Go get it and read it immediately.

Uganda is where our babies will be from.  THANK YOU, JESUS!!!

He truly does set the solitary in families.  (Psalm 68:6)

Here are some of the details:
- We have asked for 2 children, ages 4 and under.  We would like to keep siblings together, if possible.
- We have requested either 2 boys, or a boy and a girl.  For pete's sake, we need a little testosterone around here!!!  Bradley's going insane!
- We do not know who our children will be, as of yet.  But my God knows who they are and you better believe we are praying for them every single day.
- We are currently up to our eyeballs in paperwork with the home study process.

 So there you have it.  Our little white family of 5 will soon be a beautiful, colorful family of 7.  We will need prayer, people.  Lots and lots of prayer.

Here's how you can pray for us:
- First and foremost, pray for the protection and provision of our children in Uganda, which is an extremely poor, impoverished, war-torn country.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't pray that they are getting something to eat, that they have shelter, that they are being touched by only loving hands, that they feel safe.
- Pray that they are quickly found and placed with us.
- Pray that every dollar needed for this process will be provided.  I already know that He's gonna answer this prayer.  But you can pray, anyways.  Start praising Him for it, even.  As many of you know, the adoption process can be quite expensive (as in tens of thousands of dollars).  But my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), so providing this money for us is no big deal for Him.  "When God gives a vision, He makes provision."  (Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker)
- Pray for patience.  Adoption is a lengthy process, and Bradley and I are chomping at the bit to bring our babies home.  God's timing is always perfect.
- Pray for impact.  Our motivation in adopting these children is not to draw attention to ourselves or for people to pat us on the back and say "attaboy".  But I pray to God that we do get a heck of a lot attention. I pray that people will see us being obedient in this area of our lives and think, "Hey.  If Bradley and Holly can do it, we can, too."  Our prayer is that, like Paul, we can say "Follow our example, as we follow the example of Christ."  (1 Cor. 11:1)  There will be more blog posts to come about this subject.  So just get ready, people.
- Pray for favor with our home study and the mountain of paperwork that we face.

As you can see, God is working in major ways in our lives.  We don't know why He chose us for such an awesome task.  There is nothing special about us.  We are no better than anybody else.  In fact, there are probably many other families who are better qualified for such an endeavor.  But, as my pastor reminded us a few weeks ago, "God does not call the qualified;  He qualifies the called."  Our job is only to be obedient and say "yes" to whatever it is that He asks of us.  He will equip and empower us for everything.

We're ready.  We're ready to step out of our safe little boat and start walking on the water with Jesus.

"I will not leave you as orphans;  I will come to you."  ~John 14:18   

Monday, May 7, 2012

God Is Not Colorblind

I'm gonna step up onto my little soap box for a few minutes.  All of my life, and in particular in the past few weeks and months, I have heard the following phrases regarding different races and ethnicities:

"God is colorblind."
"We need to be colorblind."
"Christians should be colorblind."

Songs have been written about the issue.  Good songs.  With good intentions.

But every time I hear anything along these lines, something inside me flares up.  A little red flag pops up.  Warning signs start flashing.

I realize that I will be skating on thin ice with this post.  I realize that I'm not smart enough or educated enough to handle a full-blown debate where this subject matter is concerned.  I realize that I'm just a small, white, stay-at-home mother to 3 little white kids.  I realize that most of the people who read this post are much smarter than I am.  And I am asking you, the reader, to realize my heart and extend grace, if necessary.

But I have to ask the question - "Is God really colorblind?"

Now, I understand the sentiment behind the word.  It's meant to convey a message of racial equality...that God loves us all equally.  And He does love us all equally.  Make no mistake about that.  And scripture tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7 that "Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."  And in many ways, we are all exactly the same: we all sin, we all need a Savior, we all long to love and be loved, we all need a family, we all need acceptance.  In many respects, we are all identical.

However, this word also implies that He doesn't see our skin color when He looks at us.  And here's where I disagree.

How can the God of the universe, who spoke this creation into existence, who invented color, who created each and every human being - regardless of skin tone - in His own beautiful can this God be colorblind?

Revelation 4 describes the throne room in heaven, where God Almighty is seated.  Verse 3 says, "And He who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald."  According to this verse, God is literally surrounded by a rainbow.  He abides in color.  He dwells in diversity.  He is continually beholding beauty.  He takes delight in variety.

In Genesis 16, He is called Jehovah El-roi, "the God who sees."  He sees everything about us - He sees our bad hair days, our unflossed teeth, our chipped fingernails.  He sees our hidden pain, our less-than-perfect pasts, our secret regrets, our untold bitterness.  He sees us.

And He created us in His image.  We are His most magnificent works of art.  Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."  This is the part that blows my mind.  Think about all of the different races, tribes, nationalities, ethnicities, skin colors on this planet.  Every single human being on Earth, regardless of appearance, was created in the image of Almighty God.

We must serve one colorful Creator.

So, is God colorblind?  No.  I don't believe He is.

To my African-American friends with gorgeous brown skin - You are beautiful.  You were created in God's image.  He sees you and He delights in you.

To my precious husband, the whitest white boy I've ever seen - You are beautiful.  You were created in God's image.  He sees you and He delights in you.

To my Asian-American friends - You are beautiful.  You were created in God's image.  He sees you and He delights in you.

To my Hispanic friends - You are beautiful.  You were created in God's image.  He sees you and He delights in you.

To my friends of every other race, nationality, and ethnicity - You are beautiful.  You were created in God's image.  He sees you and He delights in you.

To my 3 priceless daughters - You are beautiful.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made.  God knit you together in my womb.  He saw you before you were even born.  And He sees you now.  You were created in God's image.  He delights in you.

So that's my soap box for today.  It is now our privilege and our joy, as Christ-followers, to love like God loves.  To embrace all.  To delight in all.  To accept all.  To see all.

We will not be blind.

Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight... 

Monday, April 23, 2012

5K's and Other Things I Hate

I hate running.  Detest it.  Loathe it.  Abhor it.  This picture sums up my opinion on the matter:

I am a fit person.  I'm at the gym 3-5 days a week.  I (quasi) watch what I eat.  Exercise doesn't bother me.

But I HATE running.  Up until this point in my life, the farthest I had run without stopping had been 1.5 miles.  And even then, I thought my life would end.

Now, I am very aware that some of you reading this post are chuckling with distain right about now because you could run a 5K for breakfast.  You're serious athletes.  Triathaloners, marathoners, iron men and women.  I get it.  I'm happy for you.  Losers.

So when a group of us decided to run a 5K in support of a friend's New Years' resolution, it promised to be more of a "walking/talking" social hour, NOT something that I actually cared about.

Until that dang whistle blew.

My thought process was as follows:  "This shouldn't be that hard.  I exercise.  I work out.  I should be able to run 3.2 miles with no problem.  Yes.  That's what I'm gonna do.  I'm gonna run the whole thing.  No walking.  Oh, look.  There's mile marker 1.  That was easy.  I can do that 2 more times.  Wait, we're running up hill?  How are there HILLS in Flower Mound?  Another hill?  In the name of all that is sacred, where is mile marker 2????  We should've passed it an hour ago!  Another hill?  I'm going to die.  Oh, there's mile marker 2.  Thanks for gracing us with your presence, jerk.  My, how I love all of this sweat pouring into my eyes.  I love running.  This is so much fun.  I hate my life.  I hate my friends.  I hate Texas.  Death, come quickly.  Oh, look.  My legs just fell off.  My butt is currently dragging on the pavement.  How neat.  What's that?  There's only 400 meters to go, you say?  HOW LONG IS 400 METERS??!!  HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU PEOPLE I'M NOT A RUNNER???!!!  FOR THE LOVE!!!  It's equivalent to only one lap around the track?  Okay.  I'm gonna make it.  I can do this."

And that's when it happened.

My running partner, Missy Phipps (who was running her second 5K of the day), laid it on me.

"We're gonna sprint the last 100 meters."

Say what?

"As soon as we cross that street, we're sprinting to the finish line."

You are out of your ever-lovin' mind, Missy.

But I did it.  I sprinted across the finish line.

I may or may not have wet myself during these last few seconds of physical exertion.  (HEY!  All of you young 20-somethings who haven't birthed 3 children, you WILL wet yourself, too!  The day will come when you won't be able to sneeze, cough, laugh, or jump on a trampoline without something leaking out. So just prepare yourselves and DON'T JUDGE ME.)

Here is a picture of us Mighty Warriors after we all crossed the finish line:

During my 34 minutes of pure torture, there was not a whole lot of conversation going on.  I was mostly concentrating on breathing and not dying.  Shockingly, it was during these moments that the Lord spoke to me.  He encouraged me by bringing several scriptures to my mind.

For example, there were family members and friends spread along the course cheering on all of us runners.  In particular, there were many children there cheering for their mommies.  While my sweet family were unable to make it to the race, I couldn't help but think about my children standing on the sidelines, cheering me on.  And Hebrews 12:1-2 immediately came to mind.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

I'm aware that in this passage, the "cloud of witnesses" is referring to the previous section of scripture, Hebrews 11, lovingly known as the "Hall of Saints".  All of these giants of our faith are standing in heaven, watching us live out this thing called Christianity, routing us on.  They know the glory that is waiting for us on the other side of the finish line.  But I think the people that I influence on a daily basis are also in my "cloud of witnesses".  My husband, my children, my family, my friends.  They are cheering me on.  They're begging me to finish strong, to endure to the end.  I want to run my race with endurance, if for no other reason than the fact that my children are watching me and cheering for me.

Another verse that kept coming to mind was Romans 8:18.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Now, just bear with me for a minute.  I am extremely aware that running a 5K hardly warrants the term "suffering", especially when there is so much REAL suffering going on in the world.  But during my half-hour torture session, I was in pain.  I needed to know that the pain of "this present time" was not going to be my pain of "all time".  I needed to know that it would end.  I needed to know that it would be worth it.

It did end.  And it was worth it.

I've never felt such a sense of accomplishment.  I kept thinking to myself, "I can't believe I just did that."  I was proud.  But that's how life is, isn't it?  We need to know that our difficult times and our struggles will eventually end.  We need to know that they will be worth something.  And they always are.  God redeems everything.  He uses everything.  He can't wait to reveal His glory to us.

One last passage that now has new meaning is 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

Hand on the Bible, there is no way I would've run that whole race without Missy by my side, encouraging me to keep going.  Whenever I wanted to give up, she wouldn't let me.  I don't know how many times she told me "You can do it.  You can do it."  And I believed her.  She is a much more experienced runner than I am.  (Heck.  That's not that hard to accomplish, since I'm NOT A RUNNER.  But she's totes legit, as the kids say.)  I needed someone more experienced than I am pushing me to finish strong, encouraging me to not give up, making me SPRINT to the finish line.  I needed that.

We all need that.  Every day.

When we're stuck, ready to give up, fatigued, worn out, or just plain OVER IT, we need friends who love us enough to encourage us and help us stay focused.  Someone who won't let us give up.  Someone who has been there, done that, and knows what is waiting for us on the other side:  Victory.

2 Timothy 2:7-8 MSG
"This is the only race worth running.  I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.  All that's left now is the shouting - God's applause!..."

Run your race, Sweet Friend.  God is cheering you on.