Monday, December 15, 2014

The Bumpy Ride (at times)

Time has really flown by since the last time I updated the blog. I've been writing and rewriting this post many times over the past few months, especially in November, but never felt ready to put "pencil to paper" as they say or fingers to the keyboard in this case. :)

Let me start first with a disclaimer... I often worry that people are going to get sick of hearing about our adoption details or give up on us that it is ever going to happen (please feel absolutely no pressure to continue reading; this is going to be a long one). Now, don't get me wrong. No one has responded in this way at all, but it is just something that floats around in my head. When we applied to start the adoption process with Lifeline, it was early September 2012. Though much has happened in the 2+ years since that time on one hand, little has changed on the other.

Ok.. disclaimer out of the way... Philip sent me this blog post on November 21 that very accurately describes the adoption journey as a "paper pregnancy." The author also does a really good job in verbalizing why Christians are involved in adoption (it is a great read!).

This blog post came at just the right time for me.

In early October, we got a very informative update on the status of adoptions in Ethiopia and our agencies plans moving forward with their Ethiopia adoption program. A few weeks after this update, we got an additional email updating us on the change of costs for the Ethiopia program. This change, though not entirely a shock given the additional time children are staying in the orphanage, was quite a significant increase. As a person who thinks and deals in numbers all the time, this made my mind begin to swim thinking and calculating what would need to happen for our savings to reach this number.

On November 3rd, we started the 10 week class to become licensed for foster care. We are still not quite sure where this journey will lead us, but are moving forward to go ahead and get licensed when we finish the class and then at that point evaluate where things are at in the Ethiopia process.

Early in November, we received an email sent out to all families in our agency about twin boys available for adoption from another country program. The email gave very few details and stated you could call for more information. I spoke with the other country program director. She gave me as many details as she could over the phone and offered for us to view the file that included detailed medical records, videos, pictures, etc. As Philip and I discussed the possibility and asked some close friends and family to pray for wisdom and discernment, we decided not to move forward and view the file. I knew that it would be very difficult to see the boys and then say no. There were some pieces in their medical information we did not have the peace to say "Yes". We know God knows the right forever family for these twin boys even if we are not that match.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I contacted a friend who runs a shop of handmade and vintage items for sale one weekend a month. I talked to her about making and selling scarves and holiday bunting at the sale in November to put the money made toward our adoption fees. She graciously gave me the opportunity. I sewed around the clock leading up to the November sale which went very well. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the friends and family who went out to specifically buy items I had made to help us out. Then I began sewing some more to get a head start for the December sale.

As I posted pictures of the finished scarves on Facebook, friends, family and friends of friends and family began contacting me to order scarves. I would barely get some scarves sewn and post pictures and within days or even hours at times, the scarves would all be sold. I have shipped scarves from Utah to Ohio and Iowa to Oklahoma as well as many all around the state of Kansas. I basically was down in the basement sewing during any free time I had in the evenings or on weekends for the past 3-4 weeks. It was a good problem to have. :) The Facebook orders kept coming as the weekend for the sale at the shop got closer, but thankfully, I was able to get enough inventory done for an even more successful sale at the shop this past weekend.

Who knew that scarves would be such a hit? God did. Who knew that some ladies who could easily sew their own scarves would still order because they wanted to support our adoption? God did. Who knew the generosity of so many to pay above and beyond the actual amount of the scarves and leave a note "put the extra toward your adoption"? God did. Who knew that we would find out about the raise in costs right before weather turned cold and people began shopping for scarves for the cold weather and for Christmas gifts? God did.

Oh and I have almost forgot the best part of the last month... for the last week and a half of November, there was regular posts on our agencies Facebook page of families being matched with children. It was a flood of good news on a daily basis and even some days where we found out about multiple matches which means movement on the list for those of us yet to be matched! December 1st when the monthly email came with the update of our wait list number, we knew for the first time in months, it was going to be a big jump!

We know not every month is going to be like November.

Every month will hopefully not be such a roller coaster of emotions.

Every month unfortunately will not be as much movement on the list.

But every month, God will be present with us through the journey.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Great Eight

What a great eight years of marriage so far! Not to sound cliche, but time has most definitely flown by.

The Great Eight... some of my favorite memories so far! (In no particular order other than as I found the photos for each one!)

1.) Spending our first anniversary in Nigeria. This was such a sweet time of reconnecting with friends I had met on my first trip to Nigeria in 2005 as well as Philip getting to meet them all. We got to help with their collegiate Nav ministry there and work with an after school program. I left some of my heart in Nigeria in 2005 and just left a bigger part in 2007.



2.) Getting to go to the Desiring God conference for a second time FOR FREE! It was a short trip, but getting to go and do something entirely for free was nice and relaxing. Philip won the trip by entering for a free trip off a blog he follows. Luck is never on my side, but it was for him that day! Photo is of Philip at the bookstore at the conference. Can we just say kid in a candy store? :)


3.) We have gotten to see some pretty exciting sporting events in our 8 years, but I would say my favorite by far have been going to see some of my former students high school students play at the next level. First picture below is see Kaheem Ransom play for Sam Houston State in the Southland Conference tournament this past spring. Second picture is with Joseph Randle after a thrilling game between Oklahoma State and K-State at OSU. Joseph now plays for the best team in the NFL! Go Cowboys.
4.) We really don't vacation much, but we did go to Colorado for a week and got to revisit where we spent a summer in college for a Nav summer training program as well as do some camping and hiking. Colorado is so beautiful and I would go every summer if given the chance. Maybe we can retire there! ;)
5.) In the winter of 2009, we remodeled our kitchen which happened to fall right after I messed up my left index finger playing basketball. Both instances caused plenty of laughter and a few tears on my part, but both were learning and growing experiences in our relationship. Philip even learned how to help me put my hair in pony tail while my left hand was out of commission. The kitchen remodel would not have been possible without the help of my dad. First picture is one of my favorites during the remodel and second is of the contraption my hand was in for about 4 weeks. Don't worry I didn't post the picture before surgery and stitches.

6.) One thing I never thought we would do is get a dog and I definitely never thought we would have a dog before we had kids, but it is funny how things work out. We have had Lucy for just over a year. Granted we do not consider it the same as having kids, but she has definitely taught us a lot about what parenting might be like as well as shown us a small glimpse into the kind of parents we might be. Overall, she has been a good addition to the Linden residence even in spite of all the hair that is shed and the floor constantly being covered in doggie footprints. Below are a few of my favorite pics of the furry chocolate lab that may sometimes be referred to as "the fart face" in our house! Believe it or not she is bigger now then she was in these pictures.


7.) Three different times we have spent a week down in OKC attending the WCWS. Hopefully if you know me well you know what the acronym means! It is hot. We sweat a lot and usually get a little sun burned, but we see a lot of good softball, eat some good food (including a few snow cones to stay cool) and try to avoid major Oklahoma tornadoes while we are there. Good thing Philip enjoys college softball as much as I do!
8.) Adoption. The process. The paperwork. More paperwork. The waiting. Saving money. Planning. Dreaming. More waiting. All of it. It hasn't always been an easy road, but it is a journey of lessons learned and reminders of God's provision, faithfulness and sovereignty. I could not think of anyone else I would rather be on this adoption journey with than my best friend. Sometimes people ask us if it works with us both being teachers and spending so much time together in the summer. We just look at each other and grin. We love hanging out and being together. We are in it for the long haul!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Each Month

Anticipation.

Each month sometime on or after the 1st, we get an email from our adoption agency which updates us on our current number on the wait list. Each month I check my email far to many times on this day. Each month we hope and pray for movement. Each month we hope to get to share positive news of movement in our adoption process.

Each month... each month... each. month.

To be perfectly honest, when we started this process my lofty goal was that by this time we would have received our referral and be home with our child(ren) by my 30th birthday on August 9th of this year. This timeline was mine. This timeline was selfish. This timeline was not God's.

As many of you know, movement on the wait list since last August has been a snails pace. There is a long explanation as to why the significant slow down to nearly a halt. The simple abridged version is that the government in Ethiopia refined and changed the process for children to be referred to inter-country adoption. I compare this to when the IRS makes changes to tax law, the following year tax returns are processed more slowly. However, we are tentatively optimistic that positive movement is coming in the months ahead.

Throughout this wait, I have thought of the examples we are given in scripture for waiting on the Lord's timing. Abraham and Sarah waiting for a child. Moses waiting to go into the Promised Land. Paul waiting for his sight to be restored. Mary and Martha waiting for Lazarus to be healed (resurrected). Just to name a few...

I have also read a few articles and blog posts on waiting. This really are worth the read. Honestly worth more than reading this blog post. :)
"No One Prepared Me for This"
"Tired of Waiting Part 1" - Paul Tripp
"Tired of Waiting Part 2"- Paul Tripp

These articles/blogs do a much better job at articulating the struggle in the wait as well as the value of the wait. It did make me think of how much of our life we spend waiting.

Waiting to start school. Waiting to be 16 and drive. Waiting to get the college acceptance letter. Waiting to start college. Waiting for that guy/girl to notice you. Waiting to get married. Waiting for the phone call that you landed the job. Waiting for the first real paycheck. Waiting for your doctor's office. Waiting for your plane to land. Waiting to leave on vacation. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for water to boil. Waiting for food to cook. Waiting for a wound to heal. Waiting for spring. Waiting for your milestone birthday. Waiting on the phone on hold. Waiting to get the email. Waiting for the news, good or bad. Waiting to get pregnant. Waiting for children. Waiting to get promoted. Waiting for the referral. Waiting to travel. Waiting to bring them home. Waiting until we see Jesus. Waiting to be home in glory. Waiting.

Being the type-A doer that I am waiting is not my most favorite activity. (Is it anyone's favorite activity though?) However, as tough as it has been at times and as tough as it has been to remain positive and hopeful that this process will result in the beginning of a family, I have learned the hard lesson that (as the blog above articulates) "waiting is not nothing." And it will be worth the wait. As much as I have struggled to want to do something to speed up the wait, God has continually reminded me that he is in control. He is sovereign and his timing is not my timing. His plans are not my plans. His are best. His are perfect. I am His. Our future adopted child is His and he cares far more than I ever could for the orphan(s) who will one day be Ingrams. He is the father to the fatherless.

Sometimes I question. Sometimes I complain. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel.

He is always faithful. He is on his throne. He is the ruler of the universe. He knows the day and time our referral will come. He knows the day and time he will call each of us home.

I was reminded of that last fact recently by the death of my high school volleyball coach. She battled cancer twice. She spent her last weeks at home with her family. She told her family she had nothing to be afraid of in dying. She knew where her eternity would be spent. This world is not our home. These bodies are not our eternal bodies. Do we wait with the same eager anticipation when we will be joined for eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the same way we wait for our favorite TV show to come on or to see our favorite sports team play?

Do I eagerly anticipate my reunion with my heavenly father who adopted me into his family as heirs with Christ the same way I anticipate being joined with my adopted child and bringing them home? God has not allowed me to spend many days on this adoption journey without reminding me of his Gospel through which he adopted me into his family.

He has much bigger plans for me through this adoption process than I have for myself.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Clean Sheets

There is something really special about climbing into bed the night after you have washed your sheets on your bed. If you disagree with me, well... hmm... I can't think of why anyone would not love climbing into a bed with freshly cleaned sheets.

At church, we are going through the book of 1 John in a sermon series titled, "Are you Really a Christian?" The title alone is enough to get you to sit up straight and pay attention. A few weeks ago the sermon was on confession of sin and that one of the "tests" of a true believer is a regular confession and turning from sin.

"If we deny our sin, we mock the most important work of God on the cross." As the pastor said this that morning, it really struck me and I have come back to it often in the past few weeks.

So Holly... why is the blog post titled "Clean Sheets"?

Good question... that same weekend about confession of sin, we washed the sheets on our bed. Yes, there is more than a timing coincidence.

As I went to bed, the reality of what work was done on the cross sank in deeply to my heart.

Clean sheets.

His work on the cross 2000+ years ago cleanses me from all unrighteousness. He died for ALL sin... past, present and future. He died for my sin. He died for your sin. He died for THAT sin that no one speaks about in the church. He died for all the unspeakable acts that humanity has done in all history. He died for that rude comment you made today. He died for the jealousy you feel around that friend. He died the angry look toward your colleague. He died. Once. For all.

There is a comfortable embrace when you climb into bed with freshly cleaned sheets. There is an embrace that awaits as we accept the forgiveness he offers us on the cross.

Our legalistic society wants us to focus on the good works we do or the bad works we need to improve on. Christ calls us to understand the ONE saving work he did on the cross. He does not have to die daily on the cross for our daily sins. It was a payment, a ransom... to satisfy our just God that is good for all time... for each of us. Yes, we must be daily confessing our sins... specifically. But, we can live in the knowledge knowing that sin is forgiven, paid for, washed clean.

We cannot pay the debt. We cannot work enough to get there. We cannot get our act cleaned up enough.

The really crazy part of it all is that as we allow ourselves to understand our identity in Christ as a forgiven and adopted child of God we can live with freedom to experience the sanctification and transforming power of the Gospel daily in our lives.

As Josh says, the already, not yet... we are already saved, but we are not yet fully saved from our sinful earthly bodies. We are already made right before God, but we are not yet living in eternity with God.

I'm pretty sure that clean sheets will be the only kind of sheets in heaven!