Hold on to that Tree

lone tree

Hold on to that Tree. It’s a phrase my one of my dear friends and I say, text, email to one another when we are growing weary in our adoption journeys.

A few months ago I read this post on Ann Voskamp’s blog, written by Jennifer Duke Lee (please take the 5-10 minutes to read). Her words stirred a deep truth in me that I needed to remember, one that you need to remember too.

Whether you are in the midst of waiting to bring home your precious child or you’re in the throws of attachment and bonding or maybe you’re only praying about adoption, we all need to remember that clinging to Jesus is the only way we can walk this path that is filled with many joys, but also many heartaches.

“When trouble comes – and trouble will come — when the river through your life swells and rages; or when the creek-bed cracks dry; when the storm marches across the sky, or maybe straight across your heart; you will be scared.

And it might feel cold. You might be tempted to grab for a sorry substitute, begging for the false hope of a rope.

But friend, you are strong. Hang on to the Tree that is even stronger. Hold tight to the tree that has already redeemed you, the tree that bore every ache you could fathom, the tree onto which every sin was nailed.

Hold on to the tree that held your Savior.”

 

So, this Friday as you close down your notifications on your email one more time or as you gear up for another weekend of what could be heart-wrenching work to break down the walls our little ones have built up for protection, remember that we have a Savior that has already bore every pain and He knows our tears.

 

Run to Him and never let go of our Tree. He is gracious and faithful to provide all the strength and patience that we will ever need.

 

Hold on to that Tree, sister.

 

{You’ll find this post over at Mercy Found Ministries as well. It’s a place for families on the adoption journey to find encouragement as they continue to trust God in the process.}

Small Change for G & M!!

Many of you may have seen my Facebook, twitter, and Instagram photos of the new fundraiser that Jason and I have started. For those of you who don’t follow me on any of those social media avenues, here is what this little fundraiser is all about!

For the next four weeks we are asking people to fill a jar, mug, baggie, shoe…anything that can hold change…with your spare change from the end of the day. A few months ago I made a coin jar out of a mason jar with the outline of Africa. We’ve been filling it up with our loose change and cash ever since. I thought that this might be an easy way for an entire family to be a part of helping bring home our little girls.

If you want to make a jar here are the easy-peesy steps to make it happen:

Items needed: mason jar, sharpie, Africa cut-out, chalkboard paint, small paintbrush

1. Find a mason jar at a grocery store or in your cabinet

2. Print off an outline of Africa from the internet. I downloaded this outline and resized it to fit my jar.

3. Grab a sharpie and outline the continent.

4. Use a small paintbrush and paint inside the outline.

5. Let it dry and you now have your own Africa coin jar!!

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On Monday, September 16th dump out all the change and count it with your little ones (or you can do it on your own :)) and take it to the bank. As a way to help you out, I’m asking you to donate your change to our online tax-deductible account with AdoptTogether. Once the spare change is in your bank account, you can go online and donate your change to our account! If you do want to give us the change, you can mail a check or if you live in Tucson, give it to me in person.

adoptTogether

Our hope and prayer with this simple fundraiser is that more people will hear about how God is working in our lives and in the lives of our children on the other side of the world. Please share this post with your friends, family, co-workers, etc. We want God to receive the Glory in giving our small change to help make BIG changes for our little girls who are waiting for their mommy and daddy to come take them home to a forever family!

As a side note, we received new pictures yesterday of G & M! oh. my. heart. They are getting so big and they are SO beautiful! The change in their pictures from February to now is unreal. I am thankful every day that we have the ability to provide food, medicine, supplements, and clothing for our girls through their foster home while we all wait to be united!

Keep praying that we pass court by September!

And start filling up those jars!!

Thank you from the bottom of this mama’s heart!

Life Lately: Monday Edition

Today I’m linking up with Blaire at Wild & Precious 

Last week was a blur of movement but it also felt like it moved at a snail pace. Do you ever have weeks like that?

All week long I was waiting for an email with photo updates of our girls because I knew that they were supposed to be on their way. I was seeing other adopting mamas announce that they received their pictures and every day I was disappointed to not hear that notification on my email. It’s been three months since we’ve seen their faces and I wonder how big they have grown and whether baby M has hair! I know that many adopting parents don’t get any photo updates and I am thankful that we have had three different sets, but it’s hard when you know that it’s supposed to be coming but never does. I  let the disappointment control my outlook on life last week, which caused a lot of hurt to fester. I was grumpy and weepy all week, not the way that I want to live my life. Today, I’m committing to be thankful for the gifts I have with me now and to not hit the refresh button on my iPhone email as often.

Last week I also started helping an old friend jump start their workout routine before she travels to Europe for vacation. It has been fun creating workouts and encouraging her to reach her goals. It also felt good to know that I can still kick butt! Many of my old clients used to look at me and think that I looked too nice, but as one of my clients from Iowa once said…”Behind that pretty smile is a devilish desire to make you feel pain”. At least I do it with a smile right? 🙂

We are well on our way to completing the renovation in our third bedroom! Painting the room white and laying flooring has done wonders in making the space feel roomier and calming. I can’t wait to start decorating it to be our guest/office room. As of right now it’s just a toy room for all the children we have in our house on a weekly basis (and it’s the dogs’ room too). We are still deciding on the color scheme…any ideas?

bedroom renovation

The Fall catalog for Thirty-One came in the mail and I’m excited to share their Fall line with people. The prints are fun and the new styles of bags are beautiful and practical. If you want to host a party (catalog or “real life”) contact me through my website: http://www.mythirtyone.com/sarahwood

A few months ago Jason and I began sponsoring a child through Amazima ministries in Uganda. If you’ve ever read Kisses from Katie, this is her ministry. Our sponsorship will provide a year of schooling, three meals a day, clothes, medical care, Christian mentorship and much more for a child in Jinja. In Wednesday’s mail I received quite the gift from Amazima! We were given a picture of one of the boys in the school plus a handwritten note and picture that he wrote for us. Even though we didn’t receive pictures of our girls last week, having that picture on our fridge makes me smile every time. Knowing that we are helping bring redemption back into a poverty-stricken community makes me want to sponsor every single child. If you’re interested in sponsoring a child through Amazima, click on this link. It’s only $25/month!

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This week will be filled with more dinner dates, 31 parties, and what I’m most looking forward to….Missional Community! Jason and I are missional community leaders and host about 20 adults in our home every week. We love opening our home and our lives to live life in community with people from our church. We are praying that this season will be filled with hearts being changed, gospel stories, and many more memories made around the dinner table.

What has your life looked like lately?

Five Minute Friday: In Between

adoptionannouncement

These little shoes have little feet to fill them.  Those little feet are on the other side of the world, where my heart is.

We are living in the in between of not being parents and being parents. Every morning I wake up and wonder what our daughters had for lunch and if they are laughing and playing with their foster mom. Every night I pray that they are sleeping with full bellies and healthy bodies. Knowing who my daughters are, but not being able to care for them is just plain hard.

The in between stage for the majority women is a well defined 9 months. When people ask us how long we will wait, I go into a rehearsed speech of why it could be 7 months or why it will more than likely take at least a year for them to be in our arms and then explain that there is always the chance it may never happen. Every time my heart hurts when I speak those words.  I do not do well in the in between stages of life.

It’s here in the in between that I have found a deeper need, no a desperate need, to hold on to the One who holds time in His hands. He is the Only One who will be able to hold me in this season of longing for our daughters, to having in our arms and have our hearts filled with their presence. He is who I cry out to every morning, afternoon, and evening to be near our babies and to be near me.

I have found something special here. My loving heavenly Father is nearer now than ever.

In my in between.

Today I linked up again with Lisa-Jo Baker & her Five Minute Friday community. Every Friday a one word writing prompt is given and for five minutes you share your heart on what that word means to you.

Did you read my post where I shared my heart on the loss of our first referral? You can check it out here.

Our Story is Not our Own {Mercy Found}

Today I’m over at Mercy Found Ministries. Mercy Found is a ministry founded by 3 adoptive mamas who saw a need to encourage adoptive families on their journey. They understand the financial burden and need for community that the adoption journey requires. God opened their eyes to the plight of the orphan and used their individual adoption journeys to ignite in their hearts a desire to financially and emotionally support adoptive families before, during, and after their adoption. 

africa adoption--pink-puzzle

In February of this past year, I anxiously opened my email to see a picture of two beautiful faces looking back at me and we were told that these girls would be ours. We lovingly named them A & M and began dreaming about the day they would come home. Six short weeks later, I received a phone call that knocked me to my knees. Those precious girls weren’t going to be coming home to us. A situation had occurred that would not result in an adoption.

At that point, I couldn’t see past my own pain and loss. I doubted God’s goodness for my family and doubted whether I could keep going. I was tired of putting my faith in building our family, only to see my dreams time and time again fall through. What I didn’t see was that God was working on behalf of those little girls for their good and He was molding my heart so that He would receive the ultimate Glory.

When my husband and I began the journey of adoption, we didn’t anticipate roadblocks of the magnitude we experienced and we also didn’t expect that God would use adoption to open our eyes to orphan care around the world.  When we were told that A & M were not adoptable any more due to a family member stepping forward, I didn’t understand.

In my American prideful mindset, I thought that what my husband and I could provide them would be best. I didn’t understand that adoption isn’t always the ideal choice. I had thought adoption was the only way to help the orphan crisis. That was until we received that phone call about A & M and my eyes were opened to the true need in hard places, like Africa.

One rough morning I was crying with my friend on the phone and in her wisdom and through the Holy Spirit she told me something that has changed my heart for birth families forever. As she was praying she asked that God would open my heart to love and pray for the family of A & M. She called out to God and thanked Him that He knew that keeping A & M in Africa was the best for them and prayed that because they were staying in their biological family, the girls would grow to be women who love their people and help facilitate change. After that prayer, I was in hot tears. I was humbled by the truth that I was not the best for these girls. I will never know the outcome of A & M’s story, but in their short six weeks of being with me they have forever changed my story.

Adoption can’t and shouldn’t be the only answer to the millions of orphans living in the streets and in orphanages around the world. There are countless vulnerable children in the world who aren’t in need of being adopted, but are in need of their mom and/or dad having the resources to care for them.

As my heart has grown for adoption, I have also been challenged to start thinking about ways we can preserve the birth families of these children so that children can grow up emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy in their given culture. There will and are children who most definitely need the gift of adoption. And there are children like A & M who had family who wanted to care for them, but needed the resources to make that happen.

Where do I go from here?

Where do you go from here?

Begin with prayer. It will only be through the work of the Holy Spirit that change will happen and people’s lives will be restored. Pray for healing. Pray for restoration. Pray for goers. And pray about whether you are to send or go.

Start with being a learner and getting others involved in what you’re learning. Open your mind and heart to the possibility that some of our preconceptions about third world countries have been wrong. Learn about other organizations making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and women, such as Amazima and Compassion International. Read books like Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr.  Find your tribe of people who “get this” because we can’t live this out in isolation.

Finally, some of you will go to the hard places. It’s my dream to be able to go to the hard places of the world and help those in need. Not for my glory, but to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need and to experience a deeper intimacy with my Savior that rescued me from the pits of brokenness.

We as followers of Jesus are all called to care for the orphans and widows in their distress…how will you engage in that calling on your life?

And if you were wondering…two months ago we received another email filled with pictures of two other little girls who, Lord willing, will come home soon to us!

Thank You!

thank you

Our Thirty-One Fundraiser ended yesterday! The fundraiser went better than I was anticipating! We brought in $425 for our adoption fees. I just wanted to say thank you to all who shared our fundraiser, purchased product, and prayed for us!

We are getting closer and closer to reaching our next goal of $21,700! We have raised roughly $5,000 so far. I know that it seems like we have a long way to go (we do!), but we are tired and know that we are in need of taking a fundraising sabbath. The timing of our exhaustion works out well since we will be heading on vacation one week from today!

Thank you all for hanging in with us as we continue to wait for the day our girls are in our arms!

 

ps-If you’re interested in donating a tax-deductible gift at anytime, we are partnering with AdoptTogether. Here is our website: www.adopttogether.org/woodadoption/

I’m Over at Dreaming Big Dreams

Today I’m guest posting at Jamie Ivey’s blog, Dreaming Big Dreams. Jamie is the wife of the Austin Stone Community Church‘s worship pastor. She has been doing a Monday series of where and why friends (and blog followers) of hers adopt. Here is a little snippet and I hope you’ll jump over to Jamie’s blog to read the rest of our story.

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Pray. Take a step. Listen to your desires. Trust God.

 

My husband and I are on our first adoption journey of probably many. And I don’t say that because this specific journey has been easy, or even fun. It’s been hard. It’s been refining, yet there is a deep change happening in our souls. God is breaking our hearts for the orphan and He is cutting through and destroying my control idol.

 

Eight months ago, we decided to embark on this crazy road of adoption. We had been trying to conceive for a year with no success. We knew that God had called us to adopt sometime in our life, so we thought that this was that time.

Continue reading here