India Adoption: The Journey Begins

Lauren Waller
Lauren Waller Hobe Sound, Florida

Amid the trash heaps, the rubble, the slums, the heat, and the death-defying traffic we made our way to Purani Khondii. This is where we foreigners were going to share the matchless treasure of Christ with children we had never met.

Our Story—Separately

Initially, I (Lauren) was not a huge fan of the weather, or of children. I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that we had a priceless opportunity. The treasure carried within these jars of clay changes lives (2 Corinthians 4:7).

What we encountered far surpassed any of my expectations. It was clear that the Lord didn’t only bring us there to work on others’ lives — He had work to do in ours. At these children’s camps is where the Lord really started teaching me of the value of children and the value every human life. Each child is made in the image of God and is a life worth loving (Genesis 1:27). And those gorgeous, eager brown eyes begging for more melt even the hardest of hearts. For the first time, I began to have the desire of having my own children.

Fast forward three weeks, unconscious in a hospital bed, life was fleeting and the thought of children further.

Fast forward three years, and I was married to the love of my life, Shawn, with a bright future ahead of us.

Shawn’s story begins in 2004. In his freshman year of college, the Lord brought him to repentance and salvation when confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While attending college to become a physical therapist like his dad, the Lord gave him a heart to see others come to know Christ, both in this country and abroad.

As he was considering medical missions as a means to do that, the Lord directed his heart to take a short trip to Brazil. During his time there, he was brought to the favelas, or slums, where he saw many children living in the streets suffering from malnutrition, starvation, and poor health. It seemed a dark place with no hope. While he couldn’t physically bring the children back to the States, he brought their faces and their stories home with him in his heart. This was the first seed that God planted deep inside him prior to meeting me.

Our Story—Together

Fast forward to one year into our marriage, when the trial of infertility begins. At first, it wasn’t hard (for me). The traumatic brain injury made infertility a strong possibility. It also made the recent memories made in India dim, unclear, and a distant, faded, partial-memory. After all, the desire for biological children had only just recently appeared on my radar, even though Shawn desired children strongly from the beginning of our marriage. But, with infertility front-and-center, the strong desire for children, and India still on the mind — however dimly — adoption quickly became an option.

And then, in the Lord’s sovereign will, and with medical intervention, I became pregnant. I was shocked at how quickly attached I became to this life growing inside of me. Before this happened, I was trusting that the Lord would change my heart and my attitude towards children. He certainly did.

But it wasn’t to last. As we continued to monitor the pregnancy through bloodwork, we found that hormone levels weren’t rising as they should. Heartbreakingly, very early within the first trimester, we lost our Anaya.

After the miscarriage, during my recovery, adoption took front and center. If the miscarriage showed me anything, it was that I did want children — biological AND adopted. But we aren’t the ones who make the decision about which comes first. Shawn began researching agencies and asking questions. So after three months of physically recovering from the miscarriage, we decided on two more months of medically-assisted attempts. But since we don’t decide whether life begins or not, they were to no avail.

In my heart I can sometimes wonder, “why would the Lord give me my own child and soften my heart towards the idea of having children, only to take mine away?”

I think the answer lies in what we named the baby we lost — Anaya, or “God answered.” God answered so many prayers with the fleeting life of Anaya. He answered our prayer for a child — however brief. He answered the prayers for the desire of a child. He calmed my fears of “will I have a desire for my children? Will God change my heart?”

God answered.

Our Story—Looking Ahead

He answered a lot. And now that we have answers to some of these questions, we want to adopt — from India, where the longing first began. And we ask for your help in making this happen.

When we found out that India has the largest orphan populations in the world — 30 million (more people than the entire state of Texas), baby girls are buried alive for being born female, and children are abandoned on the street and put in orphanages for the smallest things (as well as financial strains and things families can’t control), India was really the only country we considered. Each child should be given the same opportunities and privileges no matter their station in life. And a child’s gender shouldn’t determine whether they live or die.

When the Lord saves individuals, they are adopted into His family. They have no worth of their own (Phil 3:9), and yet they receive all the same rights and privileges as God’s only Son — Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). We want to give a little girl the same opportunities that we have. Lord willing, we now know the identity of our child, and we are praying for our little Indian girl :+).

We believe the Lord has uniquely equipped us to care for this little girl who has some unique challenges. The Lord has given us both hearts and unique skill sets — as a physical therapist and one who has walked through the difficulties of recovery. We are trusting that the Lord will uniquely use our stories in the life of our little girl. We hope to call her Jubilee as a reminder that the Israelites waited eagerly for the year of Jubilee, the year of redemption and liberation. It also reminds us of our excitement as we watch the Lord continue to unfold His plan. Our hearts are rejoicing in the anticipation of seeing how God will unfold the details of that plan.

Our Story—Where You Come In

We realize that we are living in unprecedented times with so much uncertainty. But, as believers, we know the One who is certain (Numbers 23:19,Hebrews 13:8,James 1:17) and who holds all things in His hands (Colossians 1:15-17).

We also know the heart of our Lord. We know that even though our times shift and change, He does not, and that He still cares for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27; Psalm 34:18; 68:5). If you would like to help, please consider coming on our journey with us in one of these two crucial ways.

Partner With Us

As to our future adoption plans, Lifeline (our adoption agency) has estimated that our adoption will be anywhere from $39,000-$42,000. From our family savings, we have been able to cash flow about $6,000 so far.  Shawn has been taking on additional clients as a physical therapist, and we have been doing as much as we can to set aside as much as possible for Jubilee’s adoption. 

If you’d like to contribute in any way, please view the important details below this post, and visit the “donate now” button at the top right of the page.

If you cannot partner with us, but would still like to be a part of our journey, there is still another absolutely crucial thing you can do.

Pray With Us

We don’t know exactly what Jubilee’s needs will involve or what the financial needs will be when she arrives home, but we are trusting in the Lord for His provision and care. Would you please consider praying that the Lord would continue to provide for us (and her) in the meticulous, sovereign, and good ways that He cares for the needs — and desires — of His children? Will you please pray that the Lord would prepare us (and her) for the big changes ahead?

We are in the middle of a long journey. Because we’re working with a lot of unknowns (and two governments), Lifeline has estimated that adoption from India will take 2-3 years (only time will tell how Covid-19 will impact this estimate). 

For a little picture of what has to take place in that time (and where we are in the process), you can view or download our “India Adoption Timeline” (the download doesn’t accurately reflect where we’re at, but it will help you read the descriptions better). We will also try and post any new updates on here. Be sure to subscribe at the right (the “receive story updates” button) so that you won’t miss any of our updates!

While this page represents only a snippet of our story, we welcome any questions and the opportunity to boast in the Lord’s work in our lives in so many other ways. If we can offer any additional information about our story, our desires, or our plan, please do not hesitate to reach out or comment and let us know! It would be our pleasure to provide that to you. 

Be sure to check out our video on here as well! And don’t forget to subscribe (click “Receive Story Updates” on the right sidebar) so that you won’t miss any of our updates! We will have another exciting update coming soon! :+)

Thanks for lending us your “ears” for a few moments; it’s a privilege to have you as part of our journey. 

Shawn & Lauren

P.S. Please share with anyone you know who would like to pray for us!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for praying. Some have also asked how they may participate in giving towards our adoption.

Contribute Online (click the button on top right of this page): Online donations have a 2.2% credit card processing fee before going towards our adoption.

Write a check: Checks must be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans,” and must include “Waller #8951” on the memo line of the check. Please mail to: Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 9, Gridley, IL 61744. No fees will be taken out. 100% of this donation goes directly to us.

Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.  Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.  Lifesong is a 501©3 tax exempt organization.

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Raised to date by 79 people
 of  $44,000
Campaign Ended

My Story

Amid the trash heaps, the rubble, the slums, the heat, and the death-defying traffic we made our way to Purani Khondii. This is where we foreigners were going to share the matchless treasure of Christ with children we had never met.

Our Story—Separately

Initially, I (Lauren) was not a huge fan of the weather, or of children. I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that we had a priceless opportunity. The treasure carried within these jars of clay changes lives (2 Corinthians 4:7).

What we encountered far surpassed any of my expectations. It was clear that the Lord didn’t only bring us there to work on others’ lives — He had work to do in ours. At these children’s camps is where the Lord really started teaching me of the value of children and the value every human life. Each child is made in the image of God and is a life worth loving (Genesis 1:27). And those gorgeous, eager brown eyes begging for more melt even the hardest of hearts. For the first time, I began to have the desire of having my own children.

Fast forward three weeks, unconscious in a hospital bed, life was fleeting and the thought of children further.

Fast forward three years, and I was married to the love of my life, Shawn, with a bright future ahead of us.

Shawn’s story begins in 2004. In his freshman year of college, the Lord brought him to repentance and salvation when confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While attending college to become a physical therapist like his dad, the Lord gave him a heart to see others come to know Christ, both in this country and abroad.

As he was considering medical missions as a means to do that, the Lord directed his heart to take a short trip to Brazil. During his time there, he was brought to the favelas, or slums, where he saw many children living in the streets suffering from malnutrition, starvation, and poor health. It seemed a dark place with no hope. While he couldn’t physically bring the children back to the States, he brought their faces and their stories home with him in his heart. This was the first seed that God planted deep inside him prior to meeting me.

Our Story—Together

Fast forward to one year into our marriage, when the trial of infertility begins. At first, it wasn’t hard (for me). The traumatic brain injury made infertility a strong possibility. It also made the recent memories made in India dim, unclear, and a distant, faded, partial-memory. After all, the desire for biological children had only just recently appeared on my radar, even though Shawn desired children strongly from the beginning of our marriage. But, with infertility front-and-center, the strong desire for children, and India still on the mind — however dimly — adoption quickly became an option.

And then, in the Lord’s sovereign will, and with medical intervention, I became pregnant. I was shocked at how quickly attached I became to this life growing inside of me. Before this happened, I was trusting that the Lord would change my heart and my attitude towards children. He certainly did.

But it wasn’t to last. As we continued to monitor the pregnancy through bloodwork, we found that hormone levels weren’t rising as they should. Heartbreakingly, very early within the first trimester, we lost our Anaya.

After the miscarriage, during my recovery, adoption took front and center. If the miscarriage showed me anything, it was that I did want children — biological AND adopted. But we aren’t the ones who make the decision about which comes first. Shawn began researching agencies and asking questions. So after three months of physically recovering from the miscarriage, we decided on two more months of medically-assisted attempts. But since we don’t decide whether life begins or not, they were to no avail.

In my heart I can sometimes wonder, “why would the Lord give me my own child and soften my heart towards the idea of having children, only to take mine away?”

I think the answer lies in what we named the baby we lost — Anaya, or “God answered.” God answered so many prayers with the fleeting life of Anaya. He answered our prayer for a child — however brief. He answered the prayers for the desire of a child. He calmed my fears of “will I have a desire for my children? Will God change my heart?”

God answered.

Our Story—Looking Ahead

He answered a lot. And now that we have answers to some of these questions, we want to adopt — from India, where the longing first began. And we ask for your help in making this happen.

When we found out that India has the largest orphan populations in the world — 30 million (more people than the entire state of Texas), baby girls are buried alive for being born female, and children are abandoned on the street and put in orphanages for the smallest things (as well as financial strains and things families can’t control), India was really the only country we considered. Each child should be given the same opportunities and privileges no matter their station in life. And a child’s gender shouldn’t determine whether they live or die.

When the Lord saves individuals, they are adopted into His family. They have no worth of their own (Phil 3:9), and yet they receive all the same rights and privileges as God’s only Son — Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). We want to give a little girl the same opportunities that we have. Lord willing, we now know the identity of our child, and we are praying for our little Indian girl :+).

We believe the Lord has uniquely equipped us to care for this little girl who has some unique challenges. The Lord has given us both hearts and unique skill sets — as a physical therapist and one who has walked through the difficulties of recovery. We are trusting that the Lord will uniquely use our stories in the life of our little girl. We hope to call her Jubilee as a reminder that the Israelites waited eagerly for the year of Jubilee, the year of redemption and liberation. It also reminds us of our excitement as we watch the Lord continue to unfold His plan. Our hearts are rejoicing in the anticipation of seeing how God will unfold the details of that plan.

Our Story—Where You Come In

We realize that we are living in unprecedented times with so much uncertainty. But, as believers, we know the One who is certain (Numbers 23:19,Hebrews 13:8,James 1:17) and who holds all things in His hands (Colossians 1:15-17).

We also know the heart of our Lord. We know that even though our times shift and change, He does not, and that He still cares for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27; Psalm 34:18; 68:5). If you would like to help, please consider coming on our journey with us in one of these two crucial ways.

Partner With Us

As to our future adoption plans, Lifeline (our adoption agency) has estimated that our adoption will be anywhere from $39,000-$42,000. From our family savings, we have been able to cash flow about $6,000 so far.  Shawn has been taking on additional clients as a physical therapist, and we have been doing as much as we can to set aside as much as possible for Jubilee’s adoption. 

If you’d like to contribute in any way, please view the important details below this post, and visit the “donate now” button at the top right of the page.

If you cannot partner with us, but would still like to be a part of our journey, there is still another absolutely crucial thing you can do.

Pray With Us

We don’t know exactly what Jubilee’s needs will involve or what the financial needs will be when she arrives home, but we are trusting in the Lord for His provision and care. Would you please consider praying that the Lord would continue to provide for us (and her) in the meticulous, sovereign, and good ways that He cares for the needs — and desires — of His children? Will you please pray that the Lord would prepare us (and her) for the big changes ahead?

We are in the middle of a long journey. Because we’re working with a lot of unknowns (and two governments), Lifeline has estimated that adoption from India will take 2-3 years (only time will tell how Covid-19 will impact this estimate). 

For a little picture of what has to take place in that time (and where we are in the process), you can view or download our “India Adoption Timeline” (the download doesn’t accurately reflect where we’re at, but it will help you read the descriptions better). We will also try and post any new updates on here. Be sure to subscribe at the right (the “receive story updates” button) so that you won’t miss any of our updates!

While this page represents only a snippet of our story, we welcome any questions and the opportunity to boast in the Lord’s work in our lives in so many other ways. If we can offer any additional information about our story, our desires, or our plan, please do not hesitate to reach out or comment and let us know! It would be our pleasure to provide that to you. 

Be sure to check out our video on here as well! And don’t forget to subscribe (click “Receive Story Updates” on the right sidebar) so that you won’t miss any of our updates! We will have another exciting update coming soon! :+)

Thanks for lending us your “ears” for a few moments; it’s a privilege to have you as part of our journey. 

Shawn & Lauren

P.S. Please share with anyone you know who would like to pray for us!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for praying. Some have also asked how they may participate in giving towards our adoption.

Contribute Online (click the button on top right of this page): Online donations have a 2.2% credit card processing fee before going towards our adoption.

Write a check: Checks must be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans,” and must include “Waller #8951” on the memo line of the check. Please mail to: Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 9, Gridley, IL 61744. No fees will be taken out. 100% of this donation goes directly to us.

Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.  Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.  Lifesong is a 501©3 tax exempt organization.

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Day 723: Year of Jubilee

December 16, 2021

“Wow, she’s already so attached!” is the shocking comment we received so many times while in India, as Jubilee clung to me like her life depended on it.

It’s also proof that our Lord answers prayer :+)

So far, Jubilee has adjusted and attached to us so well, me (Lauren) specifically. Her attitude toward Shawn is not nearly as clingy, but she’s definitely attached. 

While in India we first heard her call me “Mama” on day 2 of us picking her up. That was thrilling…until we learned that she calls every caregiving figure (including daddy) “mama.” 

But as far as “first words” go, I do actually think “daddy” came before “mommy” ;+)

Answered Prayer

It’s only because of the Lord’s kindness and answers to so many prayers that Jubilee attached to us so well. Thank you so much for your contribution! Please continue praying! 

A few specific praises and answers to prayer that we saw throughout our trip:

  • —The Lord’s timing is absolutely perfect. Due to the Covid Omicron variant , Jubilee’s state closed one day after we picked her up. India basically closed the day after we left. But our flights still made it—talk about perfect timing.
  • —God orchestrated every detail to go far smoother than expected (we applied for and received our exit permits 3–5 days early, embassy appointments went quickly and smoothly, and our medical appointment went without any complications)
  • We were safe, and jet lag was basically a non-issue.
  • —Our time in India was fun and culturally informative (because everything went so quickly, we did a lot of sight-seeing).
  • —Jubilee adjusted and attached to us extremely quickly. There are still many issues, but overall it has gone great.

As with parenting any child, parenting Jubilee has its challenges. We have seen some behavioral difficulties that stem from Jubilee’s traumatic past, but the Lord has provided grace for each day (and we are so grateful). Please continue to keep praying for us. We need great wisdom, endurance, and patience.

We have also seen the typical sinful, childish behaviors that come from being born… a sinner—without five years of parenting. Please pray for our parenting as we attempt to address these, along with the additional challenge of not speaking the same language and trying to build trust with our new daughter.

Jubilee’s Personality 

Jubilee is physically growing like a weed and we are seeing a lot of cognitive development as well. (She has grown 2.5” in the last month and a half, when we first got her measurements). Somehow we managed to adopt the only Indian that doesn’t like spicy food, but other than that our little girl is so much like us that she may as well be our biological child. Who does she look more like?

  • —She cleans up after herself like mom
  • —She’s super stubborn like mom (but if it’s a battle, mom will win)
  • —She’s a smart Alec like mom (“Jubilee, use your words.” “Words.” Ugh. People like me are annoying.)
  • —She’s a tough girl like mom (Big bumps to head? Skinned knee? No tears.)
  • —She likes paper like mom
  • —She cleans her plate like dad (their plate cleaning competitions are hilarious)
  • —She’s compassionate like dad
  • —She’s very observant like dad
  • —She is [mostly] very careful with books like dad

We see many areas where Jubilee is not skilled because she’s a kid (like cleanliness), but the desire is there. That’s huge, and that’s one of the first things that drew us to her. Even though she is very behind, she is very driven.

An interesting thing we have learned about Jubilee so far is that she is extremely observant. The quickness with which she notices and picks up social skills and habits amazes me (and is way better than mine—I’ve got a lot to learn).

One example: after we found out she enjoyed playing in the toilet water, we quickly established the routine of closing the toilet lid. One of the next times we went to a public washroom, she closed the lid herself when she and I were finished.

We also learned that Jubilee is very kind-hearted (most of the time). Despite growing up an orphan and occasionally taking food off another plate, she regularly shares with us the food that Shawn and I feed her (in-between her own bites). This is such a humbling example to me. (I like my food.)

She is also full of surprises. Many of the things I expected her to struggle with have been a non-issue:

  • —Masks for example: At least in India, she loved wearing her mask. She actually “asked” for one in her own Jubilee-way (she is a pro at communicating with body language). She has even pulled mine (and hers) up so it’s positioned correctly (over our noses). She wears her mask better than most Americans. And she’s five.
  • —She loves anything involving small amounts of water. She loves washing her hands. She loves brushing her teeth. She will even make excuses to go to the bathroom just so she can do one of these things. (Lying, which was most likely a survival skill she learned) — even via body language — is an issue we need to work on. But the language barrier makes it super challenging.
  • —She loves cleanliness. Though she regularly makes a mess and is definitely not a clean eater, she regularly asks for her mouth and hands to be wiped (she takes after her mom). She will also attempt to clean up a dirty table where she’s made a mess. And her attempts are quite amusing.
  • —She generally just loves imitating mom. If mom does it, chances are Jubilee will soon follow suit. We may have seen this first with the masks, but we definitely saw this with socks. For someone who has probably never worn shoes her entire life until now, I thought shoes would be an issue (so we only brought sandals to India). But she kept seeing mom put socks on. One day in India, when mom was putting her socks on, to my utter amazement, she motioned for socks of her own.

These are just a few little things we’ve enjoyed getting to know about our daughter in the weeks we’ve known her. But as we rejoice in Jubilee’s adoption into our family, we are reminded of Christians’ adoption into God’s family—made possible through the birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection of God’s only Son—Jesus Christ.

Jubilee’s full name is Jubilee Arti Elizabeth Waller. It’s fitting because “Jubilee” is a season of celebration and “Arti” often means prayer. This season of celebration would not have happened without so many of the prayers of God’s people.

Words fail to describe how incredibly grateful we are.

We pray you join us in a celebration of adoption this holiday season so that you, along with us, make every year a year of Jubilee.

Please continue to pray for us:

  • —Communication is a massive issue. Even though she is very good at communicating to us through body language, body language has its limits (and by itself won’t get you very far in life). She also understands a ton (she understands and follows simple instructions very well), but because she doesn’t communicate in English, we have no idea how much she understands.  So please pray she learns — and communicates in— English quickly. Also, we’re not sure how much she actually understands the words we’re teaching her (but she is repeating a lot). Please pray for that too
  • —Please pray for her endurance. It has got to be incredibly frustrating to have parents that just don’t understand. She said “all done” about five times the other day before I realized that was what she was saying. Who knows how many times that has happened. “Water please” cutely comes out “watah pweep,” but that’s one’s more understandable
  • —Please pray for our understanding. That we would not only understand her when she tries to speak, but that we would not get frustrated at her inability or *apparent* lack of growth or quickness 
  • —Please pray that we would be sensitive. Sin is sin, but a lot of the skills and bad habits she’s learned are heightened because she’s had to survive in a tough environment. Please pray for us to meet her where she’s at.
  • —Along with that, please pray for our patience. She’s going through a lot. Regression is common in adoptees, but even if she’s not regressing, she may not learn things as quickly as we’d like. She’s been taken away from everything she’s ever known and learning an entirely new way of life. That takes anyone time. But even more for someone who hasn’t been raised in a stable environment. Please pray for patience with us as we learn her and as she learns
  • —Please pray for our parenting. Any first-time parents need a lot of prayer. We are basically trying to make up for five years of parenting Jubilee never had (and the challenges that come with that). Please pray for special grace and wisdom (for both us and her). 
  • —Please also pray for us as we learn about and shepherd her through attachment issues. Because we’re learning (and learning her), what may be allowed today may not be preferred tomorrow (especially as we see how she responds). Please be patient with us and pray for us
  • —As you can see, Jubilee has a beautiful smile (and gorgeous hair, but that’s beside the point). That was one of the first things that drew us to her — that someone in her position could have such contagious joy was astonishing to us. We have since learned that that smile can we wiped off just as quick as it can be put on, so please pray for us as we shepherd the heart issues that come with that
  • —Please pray for our return to work. The Lord has blessed us with Shawn having the ability to take a significant amount of time off, but he resumes work in the beginning of January. It has been so wonderful to have him at home, but I am already nervous for what life looks like when he goes back to work. Please pray that we use our time now well, and everything goes smoothly when he returns. As far as I go, my “return” to work is, probably understandably…complicated. Please pray for wisdom as I still own a business and maintain client relationships
  • —Please pray for our example. Children imitate their parents, and we’ve already seen how much Jubilee imitates me. Another story: Jubilee saw her mom use q-tips to clean her ears a few times in India. The other day she found the q-tips, and she approached me with an extra large handful of them…wanting her ears cleaned (I wondered how we were going to manage that…hmph). All of that to say, whether we can understand her or not, Jubilee is watching every move we make. Please pray that we are a good example to her, and that we honor the Lord in what we do
  • —Ultimately, please pray that Jubilee comes to know the Lord. That is our greatest desire for her and really, for anyone. Please pray that the Lord would use the circumstances in her life to draw her to Himself in repentance of her sins and faith in Christ as her only Savior.

We have already seen the Lord answer so many prayers. It’s so encouraging and humbling to hear how you have been specifically praying and reflect on how the Lord has answered those very prayers. So please keep praying! We need it, because we need the Lord.

Thank you so much for your prayers, and thank you so much for your material kindness to us. Your gifts to us, monetary, time, talent, and tangible, have been such a humbling reminder of the undeserved love of Christ. Words fail to describe how incredibly grateful we are. We have felt so loved.

Soon following this post, we intend to close down this fundraising site as our adoption is complete. However we will redirect this link and occasionally post more at my CaringBridge. Once again, thank you so much for your prayers and following along with us during this little piece of our Journey to Jubilee.

Love,

The Wallers

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Day 697: 23 Months Later…and Right on Time — or — Thanksgiving Humble Pie on a Camel?

November 20, 2021

After many months of infertility treatments, a miscarriage, and doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment, blood draw after blood draw, and many conversations, we went for it. On December 24, 2019, we submitted our “pre-application” for adoption.

When we began our marriage, adoption was always a desired option, but infertility pushed us that direction much faster.

Shawn had done much research, but in the end the Lord made it clear that we were going to adopt from India through Lifeline Children’s Services. We knew going into it that we were in it for the long haul. Lifeline estimated the adoption process from India to take anywhere from 2–3 years.

At 23 months in, we are on the very early end of that spectrum. In the Lord’s eyes, we are right on time.

As we anticipate traveling to first meet our daughter, thoughts and emotions, current and future needs, and a heavy dose of uncertainty flood our minds.

Gratitude. Prayer. Dependence. Sleep. Excitement. Nervousness. The last twenty-three months of gripping on to an emotional roller coaster look like nothing as we contemplate the next few weeks. Please pray for us.

Eighteen hours in an airplane followed by a short night stay in New Delhi followed by another two-hour flight, followed by a four-hour car-ride (or 12+ hour camel ride?!) in unfamiliar territory is what we anticipate just prior to meeting our daughter for the first time. Please pray for us.

Bringing any child into a family isn’t easy. Most families come out of the hospital exhausted. We’ll come out of an airport, then car (or Shawn’s really hoping off that camel), exhausted. In unfamiliar territory. Meeting our new child. Please pray for us.

Side note: I have learned that when I genuinely get tired, my brain literally begins to stop functioning normally. And caffeine doesn’t do the job for me that it does for others.

Please pray for our daughter, Jubilee. Please pray not only for her quick attachment and adjustment to us, but also that she won’t encounter exhausted zombies as her new parents (as if the situation isn’t already traumatizing enough). Then pray for quick learning and strength catching up. She’s got her work cut out for her (we already know she’s a hard worker, but still).

Please pray for our safety. Traveling anywhere has its risks. Traveling anywhere exhausted is even more risky. Traveling outside of your country where you don’t speak the language, don’t know the territory, and where your skin color automatically grabs eyeballs is more risky still. Oh, and don’t forget the unfamiliar traffic laws (that appear nonexistent to us), and new daughter. We are so thankful that our agency, Lifeline, has set up 2 guides in each of the areas of India we will be traveling to who will be able to assist us in everything India. But still, please pray for us.

Please pray for our anxiety. The unfamiliarity combined with his protective nature and heightened sense of responsibility I think has Shawn the most nervous. The whole thing makes me nervous: the unfamiliar territory (which Shawn probably thinks I should be more concerned about), the litany of things to remember at the right time (there are a lot), the fact that we’re getting a new daughter that we’re now responsible for (and I don’t know how to be a mom yet), all combined with the reality that we’ll be exhausted (and I don’t function well tired — manhole story below is case in point) has me quite nervous.

Time to preach to myself (and you get to listen in). In Philippians 4:6, the Lord commands us not to be anxious, but rather to present our requests to Him with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for who God is, what He’s done, and what He’s going to do. 1 Peter 5:7 instructs believers to cast their anxieties on the Lord. Why? Because He cares for us. Casting our anxieties and cares upon the Lord humbles us. So as you eat your pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving Thursday, be sure to have a slice of humble pie with us as we learn to cast our burdens and cares upon the Lord. 

But wait. Our Lord cares for us? He’s God of the universe (Genesis 1; Psalm 24)! He holds the oceans in His hands (Isaiah 40:12)! He tells the lightning where to strike (Job 36:32)! He cares for us? And for Jubilee? And or you and your family?

A resounding yes. The scriptures tell us so.

Now that’s a humbling, sobering reality.

Why do we have cause to be anxious? The same God who sees when a sparrow falls to the ground, not only numbers every hair of our head, He says we are far more valuable than a sparrow (Matthew 10:36–36).

So I don’t need to be anxious. 

But you can pray for us (that we won’t be) :+)

Thank you so much for your prayers for us over the last 23 months. The Lord has been so kind to use (and answer!) them. Shawn worked really hard to get his assignments done several weeks early, and our 8-month bathroom project is — Lord willing — getting finished this weekend!

It is also unbelievably encouraging to hear how you all are praying for Jubilee — specifically for her attachment, adjustment, and comfort. I am so encouraged that our girl is being prayed for! While Shawn and I can and will do our best to comfort her, encourage her, and raise her well, we ultimately know that it is the Lord who enables anything to happen. And He uses our prayers! Thank you, so much (!!!), for praying!

But please keep praying! Please pray that we would be safe and that everyone around us would be safe. It seems that the Lord has been teaching me some pretty tough lessons lately centered on just paying attention. One of them involved a manhole jumping out to grab me to do some pretty serious damage to all of my limbs. (I didn’t go down without a fight though!)  Please pray for a speedy recovery before we leave (and a content, happy heart that rests in the Lord’s sovereignty; that’s the biggest issue here).

My concern (other than contentment) is not only for everyone’s health and safety, but that I would actually be more aware of my surroundings. I need it (obviously), but my daughter needs it more. She needs a mom who is not oblivious.

As much as these “lessons” have been quite painful and very humbling, I’m extremely grateful (and relieved) that only I (and a mail receptacle) were injured — and that the Lord is teaching me now with only minor consequences. Please pray that I would learn the lessons the Lord is trying to teach. I can be quite slow. 

Please pray. This 23-month process has most certainly shown us that our Lord listens. Our Lord hears! And our Lord answers the prayers of His people (this is taught and shown frequently throughout scripture, but see 1 Samuel 1 for just one example). 

We should never think that our prayers don’t do anything. Certainly, the Lord may not answer our prayers the way we, with our limited understanding, would prefer, but His ways are always better! Because His ways are always good (Psalm 119:68). (Please pray that I would remember this.)

So we should always let these truths motivate us to pray. It’s so sad that humans have to be urged to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18) as it should be the desire of our hearts. And we really should be excited to lift our hearts to God! We actually get to talk to the Creator of the universe! And this God, our God, the only God, cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)!

Why don’t we pray?

So please, especially in the next several weeks (and really, for the rest of our lives), when you think about us, pray for us. We so dependent on the Lord and His grace. Please pray that the Lord would be honored, and pray that we would trust in Him.

The Journey Continues

As this journey “comes to an end,” it’s actually really just beginning. Please continue to pray for us as parents as we raise our little Jubilee. As with raising any child, raising Jubilee will have its challenges. Not the least of which is the immediate unfamiliarity we encounter upfront, but also as we learn to be a family together. Just as we’ve never had a child in our home, Jubilee hasn’t learned what being in a family means.

This means that, initially, we are going to try and keep our world very small. Because Jubilee is about to go through more trauma than she probably ever remembers — new culture, new language, separation from friends and caretakers, learning what being part of a family means, being introduced to a plethora of hedgehogs around the Waller home, and so on, it’s so important that Jubilee learns to see us as her primary caregivers (called “attachment”). We need her to see us (only us, not strangers) as the primary people who will provide for her needs.

Because of this, at the beginning, we do not plan to leave home with her, and interaction with others will be very limited. This is called “cocooning.” And even though Jubilee is five years old, we are told her emotional needs will be like that of a newborn at first. We need to remember that. So please pray for all of us.

It has been so encouraging for our faith just to hear so many of you tell us that you’re praying for us. Your kindness and generosity — not only in the prayers, but in the gifts and encouragement, have strengthened our faith immensely. (Also, both Heather and Shawn, thank you for your kindness and skill in your exceptional “wound care.” Your gentleness and generosity are such an example to me.)

We can’t thank you all enough.

So, for your easy reference, 

Please pray for us:

  • —To trust the Lord on this emotional roller coaster
  • —That all goes smoothly as we meet our daughter for the first time
  • —For our flexibility and trust in the Lord — as all schedules are subject to change (but that everything would go smoothly)
  • —For Jubilee as she goes through so much
  • —For our safety
  • —That we won’t be anxious
  • —That we would be safe and that everyone around us would be safe.
  • —For a speedy recovery before we leave (and a content, happy heart that rests in the Lord’s sovereignty)
  • That I would learn the lessons the Lord is trying to teach
  • —That we wouldn’t be anxious and that we would trust the Lord
  • —That the Lord would be honored in our efforts
  • —For quick attachment as we cocoon
  • —For our ongoing parenting of Jubilee as we get to know her and try and raise her to know the Lord
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Day 674: What They Said

October 29, 2021

They told us it would be strange if we couldn’t get Jubilee by the end of the year.

They told us that the orphanage director applied for Jubilee’s passport the day he received her birth certificate.

They told us that he expected to have her passport within twenty days.

Our friends (they adopted from the same orphanage) told us they received their son’s passport in ten days.

God tells us that He is the one who is sovereign over plans and timing (Proverbs 16:9; James 4:14–15).

Our caseworker just told us that we received Jubilee’s passport.

!

!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friends, that’s 8 days. In India. Using the mail. At an office 10.5 hours away.

Let that sink in.

This month, Jubilee became our child verbally, then she became our child in writing, then we received article 23, then we applied for and received emergency visas, then we received her birth certificate, and we just received her passport. All within the month of October.

In American time, that’s amazing. 

In Indian time, it’s incredible. 

It’s been a busy month.

Wow.

(October really is the best month ever.)

Next Steps:

  • —We decide on a day we can travel

  • —We coordinate and receive confirmation from the orphanage & guide that those dates will work

  • —We book flights

  • —We prepare, we pack, and we fly

Please pray with us:

  • —My brain is in overwhelm mode and is about to explode, please pray for us in general
  • —Shawn is the planner (he’s amazing); please pray for wisdom, efficiency, availability, trust, and calmness for him
  • —Please pray we find reasonably priced flights. As you might imagine, now with the holidays coming up is the *the absolute cheapest* time of year to fly *cough.* Also, timing is really confusing and complicated, please pray for clarity in and for scheduling
  • —Please pray that we trust the Lord. A lot needs to happen. A lot still needs to be done. Our hearts need to trust that the Lord knows what He’s doing and His way, His timing, are best
  • —Pray for her. She’s about to face a lot. Please pray the Lord prepares her heart. She needs grace
      • :: Side note: We got to video chat with her on her Birthday! It was wonderful. But we could tell she’s confused by us and she’s struggling to process us and what’s going on. This is super encouraging but super hard to see all at the same time. You can see that she knows something is happening but doesn’t really understand what. We know she’s [even recently] seen friends leave, but how much can a 5-year-old orphan really understand adoption/family/different countries, etc? ::
  • —Please pray she gets on our health insurance as soon as possible (and all the other practical logistics)
  • —Please pray for our safety and smoothness while in India. A lot needs to happen at specific times in unfamiliar territory. We need grace and wisdom (and lots of it)
  • —Please pray for travel itself. We need grace. She needs grace. It’s a long flight both ways (8ish flights total). We’re going to be exhausted new parents trying to figure things out. She’s going to be exhausted, confused, traumatized, unable to communicate, and feeling like she’s losing her identity. We all need grace
  • —Please pray for coming home. We need wisdom on the first (and continuing) steps to take when she gets here. And so much more. Please pray God gives us exactly what we need when we need it
  • —Please pray for communication. Neither of us knows the others’ language. I think that says enough. We need lots of grace…and lots of patience

A theme in pretty much all of these requests is grace. We need grace. And lots of it. In situations like this, we are desperately feeling the need for the Lord’s undeserved kindness and favor.

Which is exactly where we need to be. We are always dependent on the Lord — even for every breath (Acts 17:25). Every kindness from Him (even every breath) is undeserved. But often it isn’t until we are out of our comfort zones or really struggling that we really understand or realize our need for Him. 

That’s one reason why, believe it or not, I am thankful for a traumatic brain injury. Life is more difficult, sure, but I am more dependent. I physically feel my need. I realize, daily, that I need the Lord’s strength to make it through the day — both alive and sane (and everyone else around me too). I understand that nothing good happens apart from His enabling power.

With our adoption of Jubilee, in some ways our lives will completely change. But in some ways, life will be no different—but even moreso, we will be acutely aware of how much we need the Lord.

So please pray for us. Please pray that we will recognize our need for the Lord, and that in our time of need, we will cry out to Him for assistance. Please pray that we will recognize that He is the only one who’s sovereign, wise, and good, and that His ways are best. All the time. No matter what.

Please pray we will teach Jubilee that too.

 

 

 

PS. A sweet friend got us the balloon in the photo after we received NOC. It’s still inflated and hanging *up* there.

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Day 655: Is this real?

October 9, 2021

Me: “Do you know who you’re talking to?”

“Lauren’s boss?”

“You are! But you’re also talking to Jubilee’s mom…her official, legal mom that is.”

“Do you mean it’s official, official!?!?” a good friend said to me.

Yes friends, it’s real :+) We are now officially, legally the parents of Jubilee Waller, our daughter in India.

Wow.

The last two months have been an absolute blur of…everything. Expectations unmet. Expectations exceeded. Expectations…everything.

Just everything.

I could detail everything that has (and hasn’t) happened in the last two months, but I won’t. I’ll only share some of the highlights.

Our daughter lives in Parbhani, Maharashtra, India. It only makes sense that her adoption case would be heard in the local court there, right? After all, that’s where pretty much every other Parbhanian (is that a word?) child’s case is held.

And in Indian terms, the court in Parbhani is really fast — only two to four months!

Also, it’s only supposed to take ten days after NOC to get a case registered in court. So at day twelve, we were “stressing” out because it hadn’t been yet.

“But God.”

Two of the most precious words in scripture reminded us — once again — of how small-minded we often are.

But God had something different in mind. Our case was not registered in Parbhani in ten days because it took twelve days to register us at “Mumbai High Court.”

(Once *small* little detail: Mumbai High Court is not a local, district court. It is a high court. Like, the supreme court of Maharashtra. Ten and a half hours away. Go figure?)

Mumbai High Court, where expectations were unmet. Also where expectations were exceeded. And the Lord reminded us that we’re not the ones who know things…He is.

Much ink could be spilt regarding everything that’s happened since the last blog (mostly regarding details and what’s going on in our hearts), but suffice it to say, we got verbal court orders (“verbals”) in about a month in a half (they “said” we were her parents). And two weeks later, we received “writtens” (it’s in writing that we’re her parents, and that she’s officially Jubilee Waller).

We’re parents.

!

!!

!!!!!!!!

Next Steps:

      • The orphanage director applied for her birth certificate as soon as he received the orders
      • We apply for emergency travel visas
      • Once they receive her birth certificate, the director applies for her passport
      • Once she receives her passport (and we receive our emergency visas), we fly

They told us it would be very unusual if we weren’t able to get her before Christmas. (Just to give you an idea of how timelines *work* in the India-adoption process, a week ago they told us we could expect to travel in 4 months.)

Eek!

I’m getting super nervous. And excited!

Please pray with us:

—Please pray that all parties involved in these next steps would continue moving quickly to get our daughter home! (And that everything would go quickly and smoothly with our visa applications — and nothing would get lost.)

Please pray that we can video chat with Jubilee a few times (especially on her Birthday!) so she gets more familiar with us before we bring her home

—Please pray that we will trust in the Lord’s perfect timing. We were told that we would most likely travel in 1–2 months (but maybe faster?) 

Guys. This is real.

—I am empathizing with our dear daughter. I moved across the country at age 17, and it was traumatizing. I was a wreck. So please pray that the Lord would prepare her heart: moving across the world to a different culture, different language, and away from everything you’ve ever known is even more traumatizing. Pray that the Lord gives her so much grace for this transition, and that she wouldn’t feel like we’re kidnapping her

—Please pray that she doesn’t lose her smile (or, more importantly, her joy). At least, not for too long

—Please pray that she would quickly learn how much we care for her and want the best for her (and that she wouldn’t be freaked out by that)

—Please pray that the Lord would prepare our hearts; we need to learn a lot and grow a whole lot

—We need wisdom, and lot’s of it. Please pray for wisdom on the first (and continuing) steps to take when she gets home

—Please pray that the Lord would give us (and her) an extra measure of grace as we deal with the language barrier

—Please pray that COVID would not delay Jubilee’s (or any child’s) homecoming (from her side or our side). COVID is still a very big variable at every stage (the testing at each stage in travel is…a lot to keep track of)

—Please pray that our grants would come through, and that we could find some travel grants. (If anybody has suggestions, we’re all ears)

— Please continue praying that everything in the house, that needs to, will be done before Jubilee gets here

Our world is about to change dramatically.

 

—Please pray for Shawn’s semester in seminary. He has a lot he would like to get done soon so that he can spend more time with me and Jubilee

— Please pray for my work. I actually own a growing business (I say that with surprise, but I know it’s seriously all because of the Lord’s kindness and grace). Owning your own business makes things both easier…and harder. Easier because I don’t have to appeal to a boss. Harder because I have multiple “bosses” to appeal to — my clients. I don’t know what work will look like in the upcoming months, so please pray for wisdom (but if you want to hear my story and how Inkling Creative started, you can join my email list here—I was reading it again yesterday and the Lord is so kind :+).

Thank you all so much for your prayers. The Lord has been answering so many lately, and we are so humbled by and grateful for your (and ultimately His) kindness.

Thank you for asking for updates and how to pray! We love sharing what the Lord is doing and how He is answering prayers.

Love you guys!

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What do memory, adoption, and the Bible have in common?

August 28, 2021

Memory. Adoption. The Bible.

How do these subjects go together?

Other than all of them playing defining roles in my life, let me explain. (It requires a story of course :+)

Ever since my little head bump (TBI) in 2011, my life has had memory — and the importance and improvement of it — as a headline. And as a Christian, I know that God’s power has given to us everything we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3). 

Because of these two things, earlier this year I decided I wanted to read through the Bible to see what God has to say about memory and some of the other issues I struggle with (specifically related to the TBI).

It’s been a fascinating and encouraging study.

Specifically, both fascinating and encouraging, is Judges 6–7. This passage records the Midianites oppressing Israel, the calling of Gideon as Israel’s deliverer, and the deliverance of Israel out of the of the Midianites’ power.

Talk about a story that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.

There are so many encouraging aspects of this passage, but what was specifically encouraging to me was in chapter 7 verses 9–14.

Gideon is like all of us humans: weak, afraid, and lacking faith — even after God has demonstrated His power and faithfulness many times. So starting in verse 9, God basically says (my paraphrase), 

Hey, go down against this army because you’ve already won—I’m giving it to you. BUT, if you’re still afraid, go down with your servant and eavesdrop on what they’re saying. You’ll be encouraged.

This is simply the kindness of the Lord in knowing — and being sympathetic to — our weaknesses (Psalm 193:14)! He didn’t have to do this!

Anyway, what happens after this is what absolutely amazes me and brings me to tears.

Gideon, still afraid, obeys the Lord and goes down to check out the camp. Now scripture doesn’t specifically say he’s eavesdropping, but he’s in enemy territory. So I think he is. I imagine he and his servant are being quite sneaky.

At the exact time Gideon nears camp, he overhears a man describing a dream he had to his comrade. While Gideon is still listening, his comrade then “interprets” the dream and says, “‘This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.’”

Wow.

Talk about encouraging and strengthening.

Just think about this. 

God specifically ordained for this man to have this dream. THEN God specifically planned for this man to be talking to his friend at this specific time with this specific content. 

And oh yeah! He ordained Gideon to “overhear” that specific conversation at that specific moment so that Gideon could be specifically encouraged to accomplish his mission.

Wow.

Just wow.

Talk about God’s perfect timing.

Initially, this story was an encouragement to me because I often struggle with my seeming inability to say what I think needs to be said when it needs to be said. 

(Side note: this is called “prospective memory” — remembering something we need to do in the future when we need to remember it. *Calendar reminders are so handy…if you check them.*)

But, through His scriptures, even using the lives of unbelievers, God showed me I don’t need to fret about remembering to say the right things at the right time. (Hmm. Imagine that.)

As a few weeks have passed, we’ve lived more life, and experienced more waiting…and more life. I’ve also come to realize, it’s so easy to fret about timing. (Imagine that.)

But I’ve been also been thinking more about how God — the Lord of the universeHis timing is perfect.

I was trying to think about examples in my life and examples in scripture where I’ve seen that to be true. And what passage comes to mind? Judges 7.

The timing in this passage couldn’t be more perfect. The timing of me reading it couldn’t have been more appropriate either.

So friends, be encouraged with me.

God specifically tells us not to worry, fret, or be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6–7).

Not only does God care for us (as we saw in Judges and as He says in 1 Peter 5:7), God’s timing is utterly flawless. It literally could. Not. Be. Any. Better. 

There’s so much going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of — that we don’t need to be aware of — because we know someone who is. (And, might I add, He’s the one who can actually do something about it…we usually cannot.)

So we pray. 

And we wait, with confidence. 

Because we know someone who’s “got this.”

Please pray with us:

    • We’re waiting on a court date — the date Jubilee officially becomes a Waller! Pray that it happens soon. (And we trust the Lord for His perfect timing — the Lord’s lessons here are so…timely. Imagine that. 😉)
  • After that, we need the official documents from the court saying that she’s a Waller (Article 23). Then we need her birth certificate. Then we need her passport. (Along with our visas.) Pray that these all happen quickly.
  • We’re still praying to be able to get on or before her Birthday in mid-October. We are on the edge of our seats over here.
    • Pray that she remembers the toy we sent her (Happy the Hedgehog). We showed her the same one in our video call, and we would love for her to have that connection (something that I’ve learned is essential—also, a video of her opening it would be cool 😇😍🙏 ).
    • Pray for the Lord to prepare her heart for big changes coming soon. My heart hurts for her. We know that having a loving family will be better for her, but she doesn’t. And leaving everything you’ve ever known hurts a lot. A whole lot.

Thank you for asking for updates and how to pray! We love to share how the Lord is working and how He is answering prayers.

Love you guys!

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Day 592: Jubilee Groceries?

August 7, 2021

After an uneventful but exhausting day of travel, we pulled into the plaza and arrived at our dinner destination: the Silver Coin Indian Grill.

We were shocked by the storefront we saw directly next door: Jubilee Groceries.

Even if a bit unusual, birds chirping happily at 3:30 is not the most unpleasant wakeup call…as far as alarms at 3:30 go. But with that, our day began. Our flight to Birmingham left at 6:15 Thursday morning, went through Charlotte, and arrived midday.

We needed to travel to Birmingham for a weekend conference on adoption. Lifeline (our agency) hosts this conference, and they require all families to attend before travel.

Because this was a multi-day conference, planning needed to start weeks before. (I’m so thankful for my husband.) So we dutifully booked our flights and found an AirBNB in the area to stay.

About a week and a half prior to leaving, our AirBNB reservation canceled due to COVID. Sure, not the most convenient thing ever, but we went ahead and booked another.

Five days prior to the leaving, this one canceled too.

That was enough to get me thinking.

To me, one cancel was simply an inconvenience. But two cancels made me consider:

Okay, the Lord doesn’t want us in either of these two locations. Either He is protecting us from something or He has something specific in mind for us. We may never know what His reasons are, but as the Proverbs say, ‘a man plans his way and the Lord directs his steps.’ This is always true, but now I’m really paying attention.

Our hostess at the new AirBNB (the one that didn’t cancel, now on the opposite side of town) was a very nice lady. When we arrived, out-of-the-blue, she recommended both an Indian restaurant and a Thai restaurant.

Since we love Indian food, and we were “on vacation,” we decided to check it out.

After zipping through the rolling hills and vastly different Alabamian landscape in our rented Fiesta (Shawn was having a blast), we pulled into the plaza and arrived at our restaurant recommendation: the Silver Coin Indian Grill.

We were delighted, amazed, and astounded to find Jubilee Groceries directly next door.

How often does that happen?

Our curiosity and excitement got the best of us, so we went in to check it out. It turns out that Jubilee Groceries is an Indian grocery store. It was amazing. (Jubilee does love food, so it’s fitting that she has her own grocery store. Also, cooking Indian would be so much easier with one of those nearby.)

Already overwhelmed by the astonishing kindness of the Lord at such a delightful, clearly providential find, Shawn made the obvious connection, “maybe this is why we were supposed to be on this side of town.”

We never would have gone to that restaurant and seen the store if we were at the other AirBNBs.

While we were at the restaurant, we received the opportunity to speak with the owner. He offered his help while we’re in India and gave us his cell number! He even translated two of our videos and gave us some insight into our daughter (and boy does she have a personality).

There may have been other reasons for our location runaround, but this just showed the absolute kindness of our Lord. It was such a humbling reminder that our God who’s in control is not far away and distant from His people. 

He is a God who’s near. He is a God who cares (1 Peter 5:7).

What a reminder that was (and still is)!

Though you can’t really top that, the conference itself was very helpful and gave us a lot of needed information. We heard from several people who saw our daughter’s file, and we learned that she’s totally a favorite of pretty much everyone who’s seen her ;+). 

For an introvert, this is going to be very interesting. And stretching. And fun. Pray for me.

We were even greeted and confronted by the interim India program director, “I want to meet Jubilee’s parents!” 

Man, she’s already more popular than we are 😉.

Shawn has received several comments that “she has your smile!” (Her most defining, delightful, and adorable characteristic.)

Feeling a little left out, I did get the comment that she looks like me this weekend. It sounds like he was referring to her skin tone…and unless I am really, really tan (I’m pretty pasty), I don’t think so. But I’ll take it. 

*Shawn interjects: “she gets all of her cuteness from you!”*

I was planning on joking about how she looks like us a bit later on, but I guess others beat me to it (but they sound kind of…serious?)😉.

At the conference, we also learned that COVID has changed a whole lot about the process. We were supposed to get a few days of bonding with her before we whisked her off across the world.

Now, it sounds like it’s a few hours…maybe.

Thinking about that from the perspective of a five-year-old, that’s traumatizing in an already traumatizing situation.

To make it *hopefully* less traumatizing, we were hoping to get to video chat with her several times, so she can at least get acquainted with who we are. 

We were super excited at the opportunity to video chat with her for the first time the Sunday after we got back, but ten-thirty came and went, and the phone never rang.

That was hard.

I am so thankful though that the Lord knows what we need, when we need it. He knows our frame (Psalm 103:14). 

If this weekend taught and reinforced anything, it’s that. We can trust our God. His timing is perfect.

That’s an especially helpful reminder even now, as I think about the flight home on Saturday.

When we boarded the airplane, they delayed take off due to mechanical issues. Finally, the issues were taken care of and we were deemed “safe to fly.”

However, because of the mechanical delay, a lightning storm rolled in making it unsafe to fly. So all passengers were asked to deboard the plane for safety, making it very difficult for most to make connecting flights.

So I started praying, “Lord, please help us to make it back in time to talk to Jubilee tomorrow.” I found a flight that would take us into West Palm a few hours later that evening and I asked the Lord if we could make that flight.

There were a whole lot of variables involved, but we made it. On that flight.

We made it back home in enough time to get a few hours of sleep, make it to church for a bit for “promotion Sunday,” and make it home for our call that never happened. (Thanks Charles and Lynn for both picking us up and taking over class!)

Yes, I’m disappointed the call didn’t happen. But as it was reinforced this weekend, we can trust our God. Our God cares for us.

As much as we love and care for Jubilee, the Lord, our Lord, loves and cares even more for His children (Psalm 103:13).

I’m grateful.

And while that initial call never happened, one did happen the next Wednesday! We met our daughter!

*Phew* this is getting real. And I’m getting nervous.

Please pray with us:

—That all parties involved in these next steps would continue moving quickly to get our daughter home!

—That we would not be required to make two trips, and if needed, the judge would allow for a virtual hearing

—That Jubilee’s case makes it through court quickly and smoothly

That we can video chat with her a few times so she gets more familiar with us

That we could go get her on or before her Birthday in October. We learned this weekend that this will definitely take a work of the Lord, but He can still do it

—That we will trust in the Lord’s perfect timing. We are still praying expectantly for October, but even if it doesn’t happen, He is still good. And His timing is perfect (it’s so cool to get glimpses of possibilities of why timing may not happen when we think it should). Pray that we trust God regardless

—That the Lord would prepare her heart: moving across the world to a different culture, different language, and away from everything you’ve ever known is traumatizing in so many ways. This conference helped me realize that I don’t even realize the half of it; she needs prayer

—That the Lord would prepare our hearts; we have a lot to learn

—We need wisdom, and lot’s of it. Please pray for wisdom on the first (and continuing) steps to take when she gets home

—That the Lord would give us (and her) an extra measure of grace to deal with the language barrier. In our first call with her, we were expecting some translation and didn’t receive much, so that was a good reminder that this is going to be challenging. We need God’s grace

Parenting any child, much less an extroverted one, makes me very nervous. Please pray for me (it’ll be good for me, but I’m nervous)

—That COVID would not delay Jubilee’s (or any child’s) homecoming (from her side or our side). COVID is still a very big variable at every stage

—That our grants would come through

— Her orphanage sent us new pictures of her, but she looks like she’s grown up three years in 24 hours! It’s so sad to see her growing up without us :+( Please pray for my heart: that I would be content with the Lord’s perfect timing — however long that is

— PRAISE! The Lord’s timing in scheduling for housework has been amazing so far. A lot is done, but there’s still more, and we still need to prepare for Jubilee to come home. Please keep praying that everything that needs to will be done before she gets here.

Thank you all so much for your prayers. The Lord has been answering so many lately, and we are so humbled by and grateful for your (and ultimately His) kindness.

Love you guys!

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Day 578: Who likes Knock Knock jokes? The emotional roller coaster of adoption

July 24, 2021

“Knock knock”

“Who’s there?”

“WE GOT NOC!!”

Casually and calmly sitting and thinking one early morning, out of the corner of my eye, I see Shawn come over with the biggest, huge-est, ginormous grin on his face.

Before I could even ask what the grin was for, he blurted, “WE GOT NOC!!!!!!!”

How’s that for an exciting wake-up call?

NOC or “No objection certificate” is a certificate that all Indian adoptees are required to get from the Indian government. It’s a branch of the Indian government basically saying, “we have no objections to your family adopting this child from our country to be a citizen in yours.” (However, our case still has to go through court before we legally become our girl’s parents.)

!

Our caseworker said that they were typically seeing NOC reviews take 1–3 months, longer in some cases. Shawn was “randomly” checking the Indian government’s website, and we received ours in 14 days.

(!) 

(!!) 

How humbling is it to see the Lord hear and answer our prayers?! Thank you so much for praying!! Please continue!

However, about a week after we received this excellent news, we found out that this was not the certified NOC needed to proceed to the next steps. 

I have to admit, that was a bit of a letdown. We received NOC in 14 days…but not really. Finding out that it still had to be certified before we could move on was not my idea of exciting.

BUT.

About a week after we received the not-as-exciting news, we did receive the exciting news that our dossier, our big pile of paperwork, arrived at Jubilee’s orphanage. From Jupiter, Florida, to Parbhani, India. That’s no small feat.

That was an excellent reminder to me that the Lord’s timing is perfect. Even if we did receive a certified NOC, it wouldn’t do any good until the orphanage received our paperwork.

It was a good reminder that there is so much going on behind the scenes that we are simply unaware of.

But you know who is aware?

The Lord. Our Lord. Our Lord who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

That’s no small detail, and something that must not be forgotten. (And something I need daily reminders of.)

But, a week or so after we received the news our dossier arrived, we got the news our NOC was certified (making that entire process 28 days…but who’s counting? ;+).

The next few steps: 

—The SAA gives the NOC to a lawyer to look it over and file our daughter’s petition in court (SAA=orphanage; this typically takes a few weeks with several variables and as long as nothing gets lost in the mail).

Court process (typically takes several months depending on the state and judge)

At the point the court process begins, the judge could call our family to attend a court hearing. If this rare circumstance happens, we would plan for two trips: one for the court hearing(s) and one for the final travel to complete the adoption.

But Shawn was, once again, checking the government website, and it looks like the last two cases in Maharashtra have taken almost exactly 2 months (and these two allowed for virtual hearings with the parents).

When the court process is finalized, the court issues the written court order for the adoption, making us the legal parents of Jubilee!

We are in the final stages of this process, anticipating(!) the day we get to bring our girl home.

We can’t wait to introduce our daughter to you. 😇

Please pray with us:

—That all parties involved in these next steps would continue moving quickly to get our daughter home! (And that nothing gets lost in the mail!)

—That we would not be required to make two trips, and if needed, the judge would allow for a virtual hearing

—That Jubilee’s case makes it through court quickly and smoothly

Our caseworker told us that there is potential we could video chat with her! Even the prospect of that has me emotional, but pray that that could happen and we could “meet” our daughter before we go to pick her up

—We can send her things now! Pray for wisdom in what to choose and that the items arrive quickly and safely

That we could go get her on or before her birthday in October. Even though we see the light at the end of the tunnel now, the more we learn about the process, the more getting her by October seems like a huge stretch (and mountain-moving, essential)

—That the Lord would prepare her heart: moving across the world to a different culture, different language, and away from everything you’ve ever known is traumatizing. Not to mention the people who call themselves your “parents” are…strange

—That the Lord would prepare our hearts. We are going to be parents to a living child very soon, and we have a lot to learn. This 19+ month process is only the beginning

—That COVID would not delay Jubilee’s (or any child’s) homecoming (from her side or our side). COVID is still a very big variable at every stage

—That our grants would come through

— The Lord’s timing in scheduling has been amazing so far. Please keep praying for this last little bit of housework to be done (well) before Jubilee comes home

Thank you all so much for your prayers. The Lord has been answering so many lately, and we are so humbled by and grateful for your (and ultimately His) kindness.

Love you guys!

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Day 550: Some Exciting(!) News

June 26, 2021

The phone rang.

I saw who it was, but it didn’t really register. I answered.

“Hey Lauren, it’s Olivia.”

“Oh hi Olivia! How are you?!”

Earlier this month, Shawn was trying to decide whether he should take Hebrew or not this upcoming semester or wait a few years, so we called Lifeline asking when they *think* we could bring Jubilee home.

They told us they can’t say anything for certain, but then gave us the exciting news that it could be by the end of the year(!) or if not, by next spring.

My little brain started working: hmm…October is the end of the year, right? She turns five in October (it’s also both Shawn and I’s Birthdays). It’s a stretch, but we have a personal relationship with Someone who can move mountains. Let’s pray for October.

When asked for updates, we gave the exciting news we received and began asking for prayers we would get her in October.

Back to the phone ringing. It was our caseworker calling on a Friday. 

“We just got your dossier authenticated!” [Our dossier is our big pile of paperwork — basically the nitty-gritty details of our entire lives — that needs to be sent to India for their final approval — NOC — to adopt Jubilee.] “So as soon as we get your Article 5 [a letter from the US Embassy in Delhi saying we are eligible to adopt], we can slide it in your dossier and send it off to India!”

We chatted a bit more and she told us that we’re ahead of schedule for this step (I guess, as much as you can be with undetermined amounts of waiting at almost every step). But then she got to some more updates.

“Lauren, as you know, we require all of our adoptive families to attend our Rooted in Love conference for encouragement and preparation. Last year, we had to stream it because of COVID, but we have started hosting them live again. Our next one is July 31, and the one after that is at the end of October.”

Shawn and I already spoke about this, and because of all the crazy stuff that’s going on with our house and everything, we decided July was probably too soon and October would probably be better. 

But then Olivia continued,

“Things in the area where Jubilee lives can tend to go pretty quickly after a certain point. Now, we can’t promise anything, but we think October might be too late. We think you should come to the conference in July if you can make it.”

Mic drop.

Now THAT’s exciting news. October might not be as much of a stretch as we thought it was!

So we spent the weekend working hard. We picked up a bed for Jubilee and Shawn refloored her room — finally (her room had a leak that made getting rid of the 30-year-old carpet a necessity).

Then Monday morning rolls around. I went for a run, and when I got back, Shawn calls me into the office with urgency.  “I won’t check my email until you come over!” (I thought he was referring to something else.)

Not super psyched about walking through the house drenched with sweat, I decided it would only take a few seconds and no harm would be done.

I looked over his shoulder and saw his inbox with a new email with the sender: “New Delhi, Adoptions” and the subject line: “Waller: Request for Article 5.” Pointing (and blubbering I’m sure), with excitement I exclaimed, “Open it!”

He opened.

“Please find attached the scanned copy of the Article 5.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October really isn’t looking like too much of a stretch :+) (Keep praying though! Some of these next 10-ish steps have been known to take as long as 8 months…and as few as 12 days.)

Please pray with us:

—That all parties involved in these next steps would continue moving quickly to get our daughter home!

That we could get her on or before her Birthday in October

—That the Lord would prepare Jubilee’s heart: moving across the world to a different culture, different language, and away from everything you’ve ever known is traumatizing. Not to mention the people who call themselves your “parents” (what does that mean anyway?) look like ghosts and are really weird

—That COVID would not delay our girl’s (or any child’s) homecoming

—That we can continue to apply for more grants and for provision (Praise!—We received one and were asked to finish applying for another, a specific answer to prayer!)

—You can pray for us. We have a lot to learn about being parents

— Please pray for God’s perfect timing in scheduling. We have some house projects that need to be done before Jubilee comes home, and the scheduling is getting challenging

—Please pray for India. Now that the curve is flattening after a deadly second wave of COVID, they’re facing a new wave of infection called “black fungus.” Please pray for health and safety

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Day 521: Thirty Million

May 28, 2021

By anyone’s reckoning, thirty-million is a huge number.

Thirty-million is about the population of Texas or almost 4 times the population of Switzerland. It’s a big number.

But what else does that number represent?

Thirty-million is the number of orphans in India.

Are you shocked by that?

I was.

And it raises a host of “why” questions. 

But honestly, more than anything, that statistic humbled me and raised a different set of why questions: 

Why do we get the opportunity to adopt one of these children?

Why is our little Jubilee one of a select number in the system?

The answer? God’s grace.

We don’t deserve the Lord’s kindness in getting to care for a little soul. And just like us, Jubilee is on the receiving end of God’s divine favor.

Though the last few months have been full of running around, arranging schedules, squeezing appointments, and more waiting (yay! Home study update done! I-800 filed and approved!), the Lord never ceases to remind us of how much we don’t deserve and how good He really is.

And so, thirty-million minus one. 

Even though one might seem like nothing in comparison to thirty-million, that one is an eternal soul.  

That one has a face.

That one has a name.

And we call her Jubilee. Pray for her.

Please pray with us:

—That all parties involved in these next steps (US Federal government, Indian adoption authority and federal, state, and local governments, etc.) would move quickly to get our daughter home

—That the Lord would prepare Jubilee’s heart: moving across the world to a different culture, different language, and away from everything you’ve ever known is traumatizing. Not to mention the people who call themselves your “parents” (what does that mean anyway?) look like ghosts and are really weird

—That the Lord continues to provide for our adoption, and that we can continue to apply for more grants

—You can pray for us. We’ve never been parents before, and there’s a lot we need to learn

—You can praise the Lord with us! One step of the process is putting together a dossier for final approval from India. Some of the documents we need to sign are Jubilee’s official medical files — physically sent directly from her SAA (orphanage). It takes many families months to get these. We got ours in a matter of weeks. (Don’t forget to factor shipping time from India into that.) So that’s extremely cool. We are so grateful :+) Pray that the rest of the steps go that quickly :+)

—Please pray for India. You may’ve heard, but they have a new strain of COVID, and they are not faring well. Adoption is definitely not a priority for them right now, because they are simply trying to stay alive. So please pray that the virus abates, that they would know the Lord, and that our Jubilee (and other children) would still be united with their families—soon

 

In other news, our puzzle is done!!!! (That’s WAY more exclamation points than I am typically comfortable with, but this is exciting!!) Jubilee’s puzzle is complete! Your generosity is so humbling to us, and we can’t say thank you enough :+)

Thank you all so much for all your prayers and support!

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Day 444: We know who she is!

March 12, 2021

We’re matched!

Ever since we started this journey, we wanted to name our girl Jubilee. While her name is not yet Jubilee, her personality definitely is.

And Lord willing, we now know who our girl is (!!) (She’s the one I wrote about in the last post :+D)

What came before this post was the longest, shortest, most challenging,  most emotional, most amazing, and about-any-other-superlative-you-can-think-of-est month ever. 

We have to be very careful in what information we share, but she has the biggest, happiest grin, and we even gave her a theme song. (Listen here.) If music could describe her, we think this song would :+) (Let us know what you think in the comments!)

ANY attempt to describe what happened this month falls woefully short.

But we saw the Lord work in amazing ways — ways that we’ve never seen or expected.

One of many highlights:

One of Shawn’s past coworkers that we consulted has an Indian coworker herself that…wait for it…has adopted an Indian girl herself, and…wait for it again, speaks our little girl’s language (spoken by only 6% of India)! What are the chances?! (Apparently 100% when God’s wants it that way :+)

She (among so many others) gave us very helpful insights.

That’s just one of the many amazing highlights. (Like I said, woefully short.)

And though that was an absolutely amazing answer to — some very specific — prayers, the decision was not easy.

There are still so many unknowns.

We now need a home study update before any of the next steps can occur (which is a lot of mini steps), then we have to get another check mark from the US government. We also need to put together a dossier of more official paperwork to be sent to India. 

Following that we wait for India’s officially official approval of her adoption. Then we move to the courts (which has timeframes that vary).

Like I said, LOTS of unknowns.

Please pray with us:

—The next season of waiting begins. Please pray that it would pass quickly and that we would bring our little girl home soon. Every. Single. Day. She’s in an orphanage is one more day she’s not with us. It’s one more day that she is not getting the nurture and care we would like to provide for her

—Please pray that our everything needed for our home study update happens quickly. We have to submit updated financials and medicals (the medical part can take a while)

—Lifeline estimates that the next 16-or-so steps will take us about a year. We don’t even get “official” approval from India until step 17, so please pray that all of this happens very quickly

—A move across the world to another country with another language and away from everything she’s ever known is trauma. Please pray that the Lord would prepare her heart for a move, and that Jubilee would endure it with a smile on her face, and that she would quickly know that we care so much for her

—That she would be safe and grow strong

—That we would be patient and trust the Lord as we wait

—That those in the Indian (and the US) government would feel (and act on) the urgency of getting these children into families

—We are now in a stage that can be greatly impacted by COVID. Please pray that it wouldn’t be

—Please pray that COVID would not delay our girl’s (or any child’s) homecoming

—Pray that the Lord would keep us motivated to work hard and bless that

—Now that we’ve been “matched” we can apply for a few more grants, please pray for the Lord’s provision here (most of the rest want us to wait until we’re closer to travel though)

—Praise! Shawn found his passport! Thanks for your prayers!

In other news, our puzzle is almost complete! 449 pieces! (Only 51x left!) The Lord’s kindness and generosity through you all continues to greatly encourage us. 

What’s even more encouraging is the texts and words from so many of you telling us that you are praying. It is so humbling and so appreciated to know that you are pleading with the Lord for us and on our behalf.

We are simultaneously on steps 9, 10, and 11 of a 25 step process (step 25 being travel). So we’ve got a ways to go, but God’s grace is sufficient for our needs (emotional, financial, etc.). As always, we need to trust Him.

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Day 394: Trust the Lord…Here too

January 31, 2021

Still reeling from the shock, surprise, and excitement of finally getting India’s approval to adopt, within 24 hours, our agency called us.

“We’ve pulled a file for you.”

Wait…what?

Our heads were still not on straight. We didn’t know how this worked. 

Yes, we had been told how it’s supposed to work, but being in it is different from hearing about it.

Over the phone, our agency gave us the overview of the little girl— her “mini bio” per se. Not thinking quickly or clearly, and having “our expectations” of what we think we’re capable of, initially, we declined. 

We were still getting our feet under us.

After several more days, detailed looks at other files (including hers), prayer, thinking, emails, and questions, we decided we wanted to take a closer look.

But a few other families, who have been waiting longer, had the same idea.

So, we wait. And we trust.

And in the process, we keep looking— we actively wait. 

“No one is going to adopt your child.” Extremely comforting words from a dear friend come back to remind us of God’s perfect sovereignty and infinite wisdom (Romans 8:28; 11:33; Colossians 2:2–3).

We don’t know who our child is, but we do know God is wise. We know God is good. We know God is faithful, and we know God is sovereign.

So we pray, and we trust.

We want every single one of these children to be in a God-honoring family. And we want that family to be the one God intends.

So please pray with (and for) us:

      • That these children would be placed in God-honoring families, no matter who that is
      • That we would be patient as we wait
      • That the Lord would grant us much wisdom as we review files, ask questions, and seek to determine what’s best for our family
      • That the Lord would grow and strengthen our marriage through challenging conversations and decisions
      • That we would have the resources and contacts we need when we need them
      • That the Lord would make it abundantly clear who our child is
      • That our child would be safe and grow strong
      • That we would find Shawn’s passport…we can’t seem to locate it right now

In other news, our puzzle is at an astonishing 436 pieces! (Only 64 left!! We are almost there!) The Lord’s kindness and generosity through you all continues to amaze us. Thank you so much for your kindness in helping us bring our child home. We can’t wait! (Or actually, we can wait. We are waiting. Please pray for us as we actively wait!)

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Day 361: Trust the Lord

December 19, 2020

Eek!! (that was my excited squeal)

Okay…regain composure. Let’s try again.

Human Adoption: When a family chooses a child without a family to be part of their own.

Spiritual adoption: When our heavenly father chooses undeserving children to be part of His family and called His children. These children have no worth or merit of their own but are still given the privilege of being called God’s sons and daughters.

Human adoption is but a shadow of spiritual adoption. But one of the main commonalities is: we don’t deserve either.

 

We don’t deserve to be God’s children.

We don’t deserve the privilege of taking in another’s child.

 

But the further along we get in the India adoption process, the closer that reality becomes. 

So without further ado, on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 (day 351) we received initial approval from the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) in India!

 

Translation: India approved us!

 

Words can hardly express our excitement! We are one big step closer to meeting our child. 

So what happens now?

Well, according to Lifeline (our adoption agency), we are now on step 8 of 25, and this is a big one. (They’re all big, but this one seems especially large.)

And what step is this” you might ask?

Matching. 

Yes, we’re now in the matching phase when we get to “find out” who our child is.

 

And I plead with you, please pray for us.

When we received approval from India, we also received access to their portal and the “waiting children.”

Guys, this is heartbreaking. 

We are now able to see the names and faces of many Indian children that don’t have homes. 

Our agency’s matching team has access to further information about each of these kiddos. When they think one meets our “criteria” — age, special need, background, etc. etc. they will pull the file from the “public” site and allow us to review it.

At this point, we have a little bit of time to say “yes, we would like to look into this child further” or “no, we don’t believe we are equipped to care for this child.”

If we say “yes,” we then have 30 days to ask questions and review the child’s medical files and any background information, pictures or videos. We can also use this time to speak with family, friends, and doctors about their thoughts.

If we say “no,” the child goes back onto the waiting child list for other (many loving and potentially better equipped) families to review.

 

Guys, saying no is hard. 

 

Every one of these children needs a family.

Every one of these children needs a chance.

 

This is the beginning of another unknown amount of wait time. The amount of time it takes for us to be matched depends on several things:

  • Our openness to age
  • Our openness to gender and [the big one]:
  • Our openness to special need

I’m thankful for the way the Lord wired us women. As one who never really wanted children, when I saw the faces on that site, my immediate thought was, “why don’t we adopt her…and her…and him?” (In my mind, by the time we’re done, we could end up with 12 or more…abilities and resources notwithstanding.)

I’m also thankful for the way the Lord wired my husband. He is thinking logically and rationally about this: what our desires are (and why) and what we are/aren’t equipped to handle. He helps me think.

For me, when the logical side my brain finally kicks in, it’s real easy to become fearful. With God’s grace, what are we equipped to handle? What if we make the wrong decision?

When a child is born to you biologically, you know that the Lord has already determined that you are capable of handling that child—with His grace (1 Cor 10:13).

When adopting, you know that God is still completely sovereign and works everything for the good of His own (Romans 8:28), but it’s not as clear cut. Human responsibility *seems* to muddy the waters a bit…or a lot.

This is where fears come in and insecurities arise. What if we make the wrong decision? What if we don’t get all the information we need? What if we can’t handle her or him?

 

I guess there’s a reason that the lesson of my life for the past ten years has been trust the Lord: 

I’m still learning it.

 

So please pray for us:

    • That the Lord would help us (me, Lauren, specifically) to trust in His sovereignty and goodness
  • That the Lord would help us (me, Lauren, specifically) to trust His sovereignty and goodness
  • That the Lord would give us an immense amount of wisdom and grace
  • That the Lord would grow and strengthen our marriage through these challenging conversations and decisions
  • That we would have the resources/contacts we need when we need them
  • That we would trust the Lord in who He chooses to send our way
  • That we would trust the Lord in our decision-making
  • That we would be patient in the process, but dare I pray it? That it would be soon
  • That the Lord would make it abundantly clear who our child is
  • That our child would be safe and grow strong

Thank you so much for your prayers! We need them more than ever! Each new step in the process shows us another area (or areas) we need to be dependent on the Lord. We covet your prayers.

In other news, our puzzle is at a whopping 388 pieces! (Only 112 to go!) Thank you so much for your kindness in helping us bring our child home. We are so excited to introduce her/him to everyone who helped! (Just warning you now, when that day comes, I’m going to be an emotional wreck.) :+)

Oh, and Christmas Eve signifies a year since we began the process. :+)

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Day 326: In All Things, Give Thanks

November 14, 2020

“How do you explain sight to someone who’s blind?”

This, and other, questions are ones we’ve had to think through as we consider international adoption. It came up again as a mom-friend and I were discussing the learning styles of different children.

“Wow, I’ve never thought of that,” she said, “it shows us how much we take for granted.”

In the past few months especially, I’ve been convicted of how important gratitude is as an attribute of the Christian life. Shawn even had the idea to start a gratitude journal — where we begin and end each day with three things we are grateful for. As we began doing this, I even took it a step further and thought to myself, “What if — one day — everything was taken away that isn’t written down?” 

Whoa. Sobering.

(Side note: Actually, since I began writing this, several things that I have written down have malfunctioned. I’ve found that being grateful for them as gifts from God helps with contentment when they are gone.)

My friend’s comment — about how much we take for granted — just once again reminds me, as good as we think we’re doing with gratitude, we still miss a whole lot.

Because this topic is becoming a precious truth to me, I’ve started studying it in scripture. But the other day, I wasn’t really even thinking about it and started reading in Colossians 3. In the few verses following the “put off, put on” passage (verses 15-17), some form of thankfulness is expressed three times:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [emphasis added.]

Just prior to these verses in verses 5-14, Paul finished describing what actions and attitudes believers are to “put off,” and conversely, what actions and attitudes believers are to “put on.” In the verses that follow (15-17), Paul describes the general disposition with which we are to do it.

There is obviously a lot more to these verses than simply gratitude, but it really struck me that thankfulness is so important that it made it into these verses three times. 

Let Christ rule in your heart, and don’t forget to be thankful.

In your interactions and singing, do it with thankfulness to God.

Whatever you do, do everything giving thanks to God.

Another precious truth in my life is the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, and our resulting responsibility to trust Him. Jerry Bridges ties these two truths together in his book Trusting God. He says, “The extent to which we genuinely thank God for the blessings He does provide is an indicator of our trust in Him.”

Wow. Think about that for a bit.

According to Bridges, thankfulness is an indication of trust.

If you are alive right now you have so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a holiday we celebrate once a year — it should be every day. Even if circumstances are not ideal, even if elections, or whatever, don’t turn out as we would like, we have been given life. On earth. We are not suffering eternal punishment.

If you are not a believer in Christ, there is still time to repent and believe so that you don’t suffer eternally (2 Corinthians 6:2; Mark 1:15, 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

If you are a believer and want to know the will of God, this is it: give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

For all of this, and the countless other blessings (health, home, country, mind, etc), we should be grateful. We need to be grateful. We must be grateful. And ultimately, our gratitude can only be rightly directed to one place — one person — the God of the universe who has given us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). Whatever you have, you have been given (1 Corinthians 4:7b). And for that, we must be grateful.

And we are. We are grateful for many things, not the least of which is the 372 pieces in our puzzle! Through this wait, the Lord has continued to provide through the generosity of His instruments, and we continue to be so humbled, and grateful, for that.

So pray with us:

  • That in all things (including what our nation is going through right now), we would be grateful
  • That would specifically be grateful for this period of waiting and what the Lord is doing in this season
  • That we would receive approval to adopt from the Indian government
  • For our daughter — that she would be safe and grow strong
  • That we would really learn the lessons the Lord wants us to learn in this time
  • That the Lord would prepare our hearts for times to come
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Day 268: Life, Death, and Fish Bones

October 10, 2020

Happily cleaning the dishes after our dinner, I felt sharp something in my mouth. My mind froze. I didn’t swallow.

After a week of delicious, leftover, Birthday-Carrabbas, we finally began to cook our own food again. So we decided to make fish. We were trying a new fish (“barramundi”) along with the previous mahi-mahi we purchased.

And so, as we were eating, Shawn and I were talking about the day and about the email we had just received from our caseworker about CARA (India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority). She was letting us know about advocacy efforts on our behalf for approval from the Indian government, as we’ve been waiting well over 3 months now.

She gave us both encouraging and discouraging news that was…wait for it…another opportunity to trust the Lord. (The Lord knows I need to learn this.) 

It’s encouraging because it sounds like India is doing their best to make sure Indian children get into good homes.

The news was discouraging because we still don’t have approval.

Shawn and I finished dinner as we were discussing her email and whatever may happen with CARA approval. As I was contentedly cleaning dishes at the sink, I noticed a bit of remaining food caught between my gums and my teeth (there is a point to this, I promise). As I was loosening it with my tongue, I didn’t immediately swallow it.

I felt something sharp.

So I fished whatever “it” was out of my mouth. 

It was fish meat surrounding a tiny little bone. 

And I was immediately praising the Lord.

We actually know of someone who died from a small bone in her food. Like her, I could have swallowed it. I should have swallowed it. But I didn’t.

“Somehow” this little bone ended up caught in somewhat of a crevasse in my mouth. And it occurred to me: the same God who is sovereign over life, death, and minuscule fish bones, is the same God who is in control of governments,  paperwork, and the hearts of men (Proverbs 21:1).

It was just the reminder that I needed.

 

 

So please pray with us:

        • That we would trust the Lord’s sovereignty and timing

        • That the fact that this is “out of our control” would drive us to prayer, not despair

        • That our file would end up on the right person’s desk

        • That they would look upon our situation with kindness

        • That they would do any research accurately and quickly

        • That Jubilee would be safe and grow strong

Thank you so much for your kindness and your prayers! We are thankful you are on this journey with us.

All our love,

The Wallers

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Day 254: God Knows Best

September 26, 2020

There are many points in the process where adoptive families are in a wait of an unknown duration. We are in one now. But among other things, this wait is a good reminder to “keep the main thing the main thing”:  these children need families. They need the Lord most of all. And death is not a good thing unless you know Christ. Anything that distracts from those truths is not worth dwelling on.

We (or I) can also get caught up in “what ifs.” “what if our Anaya was alive?” “What if we did [this or this or this] differently?” Well thankfully, the Lord knows our hearts better than we do (1 Samuel 16:7b, Jeremiah 17:9-10), and He gives us His Word. Not only did He give us His Word, He gave us faithful pastors to explain it.

A helpful point, that addresses this very issue, was brought up by Pastor Jon in his sermon on Sunday about contingencies. He gave the example of Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:20-24. He said, “God alone has that knowledge, God alone knows the future, God alone knows contingency.” God knows what could have been. He knows what would have been. And God knows (and planned) how things are. We need to trust Him; He knows best.

It’s easy to get discouraged at times: at the wait, at the constant stream of pregnancy announcements, and so many others. But as Daron Roberts said in his sermon on Sunday, “Discouragement is just one step away from self-pity.”

To battle against self-pity, below are some truths I constantly have to keep reminding myself:

    • God calls me to honor Him in my life, not someone else’s (1 Corinthians 10:31)
    • God’s timing is perfect
    • The Lord is good and does good (Psalm 119:68)
    • “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And that good is becoming more like Christ – the main goal of the Christian life (Romans 8:28-29)

So whether things are going as we would prefer or exactly as the Lord planned (hopefully the two are the same…often they’re not), we need to remember Isaiah 55:8-9: 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

With those verses in mind, even though my deceitful heart would prefer things going my way, I must remember that God’s ways are FAR better. Also, as much as I would like to pretend I am, I am not omniscient. And unlike someone I know, I don’t turn the kings heart wherever I want (Proverbs 21:1).

God is omniscient. God is all-powerful. God is all wise. God is all good. I am none of these things. Even my best efforts are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It only logically follows that if things went my way…they wouldn’t turn out very well.

When things aren’t going as you may have planned, rather than being discouraged, be encouraged. God knows better than you.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading the sermon I get to preach to myself every day! And thanks so much for your prayers, the Lord is moving — not only in our hearts, but in India! While many aspects of this process are discouraging, we did get some really exciting news these past two weeks. Even though Covid is still running rampant in India, they are now issuing visas and opening borders for families who have finalized adoptions! 

At this point, this doesn’t affect our process, but we are absolutely rejoicing that many children will finally be united with their forever families! This is definitely a huge answer to prayer, even specific requests that were made two weeks ago. Are you encouraged? We’re encouraged. 

Knowing that the Lord hears and answers our prayers should cause us to — even more — boldly approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). So please pray with us:

    • That these families would quickly be able to travel to India to pick up their children — and the process would go smoothly
    • For CARA approval for us — we need approval from the Indian government to move any further in the process 
    • That the Lord would continue to provide — spiritually, emotionally, financially, etc. He has been abundantly kind thus far, but we always need more grace
    • That the Lord would prepare our hearts for the matching process, and that we would be granted great wisdom and grace when the time comes
    • For contentment in where the Lord has us, and that we would remember (and take to heart) the truths of all of those verses (and more!) written above
    • For the pandemic to slow in India…and here…and everywhere. But also that we would trust the Lord’s faithfulness nonetheless
    • Also, we are having homeowner’s insurance renewal issues. Please pray that the Lord would give us wisdom and guidance as we navigate these waters

Thank you so much for your care for us and following up with us about how the process is going. We are thankful for each one of you and the opportunity to share our thoughts and needs.

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Day 240: This season of waiting

September 12, 2020

Right now, we’re all in a season of waiting due to Covid-19. When will life return to normal? Will it ever?

We are still waiting for CARA approval from India so that our adoption can move forward. So far, comparatively, our wait has been relatively short. But we don’t know how long the wait will continue. Maybe we’ll get approval this upcoming week. Maybe we’ll be waiting another 14 months. We just don’t know.

Many of you are also in seasons of waiting that are not Covid-related. But how do we respond when we are seemingly thrust into these trying times? Doctor Zemek wrote something very helpful that aids us as we biblically think through the circumstance of waiting.

To begin, believers need to think through waiting, not as a trial to be merely endured, but as one of the primary ways God uses to build our character. Romans 5:3-5 encourages believers to rejoice in our afflictions because afflictions produce endurance. When we wait, when we endure, our character is proven, and this proven character produces hope.

On the contrary, when we fight against these seasons of waiting, we rebel against God who ordains all (Ephesians 1:11) and who instructs us to endure afflictions with joy (James 1:2-4).

Nowhere does it say in Scripture that waiting is, has to be, or even should be, easy. In fact, in the Old Testament, we see quite the opposite with encouragements and instructions to wait patiently (Psalm 25:3, 5, 21; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 40:31).

In the New Testament, waiting on the Lord is not singularly focused on simply the present, but it instead looks ahead, to Christ. Passages such as Romans 8:18-21, Philippians 3:20-21, and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 encourage us in our longing to waiting eagerly for the life to come. 

After all, every believer is waiting (and hopefully longing) for the return of Christ and our future glorification.

As Doctor Zemek so encouragingly writes,

So as we wait for the glorification stage of our salvation including the resurrection of our bodies we know that the reaching of that goal is guaranteed by God in His Word. And as we celebrate this season of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, although physically spread out because of social distancing, we’re still spiritually One Body in Him. Furthermore, He who is our Head is “the resurrection and the life.” So just meditate on this: our physical resurrection indeed is future but we have been blessed with eternal life already. Therefore, that sublime reality calls for our unceasing praise no matter what the circumstances.

This is a good reminder for all of us. Whatever we’re waiting for, believers have already been blessed with eternal life. When we think about this truth, we realize that our season of waiting is smaller than a grain of sand on the shores of eternity. And this reality calls for our unending praise — no matter what.

So please pray:

          • That we would wait patiently and learn the lessons the Lord wants us to learn during this time
          • That we would make the best use of the time
          • That we would receive CARA approval
          • That the Lord would prepare us to wait more
          • That we would be a gospel witness to everyone we receive the opportunity to interact with
          • For the families who have been waiting far longer than us (in this and various stages), that they would be patient and turn to the Lord in this season
          • For the children who need and are waiting for families

Oh, and just because we don’t necessarily see the Lord working in, for example, CARA approval, it doesn’t mean He’s not working in that — or other — ways. It is such an encouragement and blessing to see the ways that He IS working, for example, in provision! Our puzzle is now up to 339 pieces! 

We don’t know the stories behind each piece, but we know there is one. We can’t tell you how humbling and how sweet it is to put each piece of the puzzle together (and to imagine just a glimpse of the story behind each one). We can’t wait to write names and messages on the back of every piece! This puzzle will be a tangible and sweet reminder of the Lord’s kindness, not just for Jubilee, but for us also.

Thank you so much for your generosity! We only have 161 pieces left!

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Day 226: Take a little, throw the rest out

August 29, 2020

I’ve been thinking about thinking a lot — about how important critical thinking is — especially in the days we live in. Critical, biblical thinking is important in every area of life, and adoption is no exception.

What can I do?

As hopeful adoptive-parents-to-be, Shawn and I were listening to an adoption podcast that made me think of a few very important points. The first is, if you or anyone you know has been in the adoption or adoption education world for long, it can be easy to think at certain points in the process (and we’re in one now), “I have no control.” Or “There’s nothing else I can do.” And it’s tempting to lose hope.

(Actually, you don’t even have to be an adoptive parent for this to be the case.)

And this is where biblical thinking is important. We need to recognize outright lies and half truths. Not just the ones that come from outside — from other people — but the ones that come from within our own hearts. 

Because, to a certain degree, from a human perspective, this might be true — there may be nothing else that we can physically, tangibly do. 

But just because there’s nothing we can physically do, doesn’t mean there is no hope. There is hope, because there is something very important that we can do. 

We can pray (Eph 4:6).

We can petition the only One who actually has the power to do anything (Psalm 34)! And this, this is a reason for hope.

So have hope this week (and every week!). When you are feeling like you’ve lost control, like there’s nothing else you can do, that’s a great thing. That’s exactly where the Lord wants us.

We need to come to the end of ourselves so that we depend on the Lord. 

Biblical filters

The other thing that I’m learning is the importance of having a biblical filter and biblical discernment.

As you are well aware, there is a lot of garbage out there. And social media makes everyone’s voice a great deal louder. 

And not every resource digested is written by someone who has the same worldview as you. So while it’s good to research and educate yourself on things you don’t know, all of it needs to be filtered through the lens of the Bible (Phil 4:8-9).

What does that mean?

Ultimately, that means know your Bible. Know it, and know it well. Use the lens of the Bible as a filter through which all worldly wisdom must go (James 3). And that filter is going to catch a lot of junk (like an N95 mask).

Often times, this means gleaning some tips from an article or podcast, but throwing the rest out. 

But adoption and adoption education aren’t the only two subjects this applies to. This applies to life. And that’s one reason I’m so excited for a series our pastor just began Wednesday nights. The series is called “Critical Thinking in Critical Times” and it’s all about how to think through and respond biblically to the lies and errors the world is throwing at us on a daily hourly basis. I would highly recommend tuning in (at this link). It’s so helpful and so encouraging.

Pray with us:

    • That we would think critically and biblically in this season.
    • That we would take our thoughts captive and trust in and depend on the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5, Proverbs 3:5-6).
    • That we will think rightly about where we’re at in the adoption process (Phil 4:8-9).
    • That we might be an encouragement to others.
    • That we would receive approval from the Indian government, and that they would handle this Covid-crisis with grace and wisdom.
    • For our daughter — that she would have her needs met and grow strong.
    • For the Lord to prepare our hearts for challenging days sure to come.

And guys, our puzzle is up to 330 pieces! Each piece of this puzzle is such a neat reminder of the Lord’s work in our lives, and we are filled with gratitude when we see the outward expression of God’s love through His instruments. We only have 170 pieces left!

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and encouragement. We truly appreciate them.

Learning to wait patiently,

The Wallers

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Day 212: God Works in Mysterious Ways

August 15, 2020

God works in mysterious ways
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm

In deep unfathomed mines
of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
and works His sovereign will

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercies and shall break
With blessings on your head

Trust not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

This poem, by William Cowper, that I learned in junior high while an unbeliever, has stuck with me for these many years. The word pictures, the cadence, and the truths contained within this poem have made it memorable. The fact that I’ve seen it so true throughout my life in various events and different seasons makes it…poignant.

And this adoption is no different. Thursday marked one year since we found out about the life of our little Anaya then soon learned out about our heartbreaking loss.

So unlike this time last year, I’m not pregnant, and we don’t have a child. But I am about seven months “paper pregnant.” (My belly’s not getting bigger, but our pile of paperwork certainly is.) And we’re still waiting. And we’re still learning.

One of many key themes in my life is what Paul Tripp calls “holding things with open hands.” Friends, we must always remember that our lives our in the Lord’s hands. Not our own.

As the Proverbs say,

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (3:5-6). 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (16:9).

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (21:1).

Or, as Shawn says, “we do our best, and trust the Lord with the rest.”

So, that’s what we’re doing. If the past years have taught me anything, they have taught me those truths (and believe me, I’m still learning).

And this is true of our adoption as well. Going back up to that poem, Anaya – the child we lost — was definitely a frowning providence. But Lord willing, we’ll see the Lord’s smiling face in the countenance of Jubilee.

With so many unknowns — even new ones that happen almost weekly — we are reminded that trust is absolutely essential. This week we were told that India is now changing some processes in regards to the psychological evaluation. We do not yet know if ours needs to be updated or changed yet (= more time + more money) but please pray that it goes through as is. Our eval was done via video conference, so we don’t know if we’ll have to get another done (and we don’t know when or if we will know).

Also in the pattern of trust, we have told our adoption agency we would like a young Indian girl. But we ultimately don’t know what age or what gender we will be matched with (but we do know the One who does).

So please pray with us:

    • That our hearts will continue to rest and trust the Lord’s sovereign purposes — whatever they are

    • That India will take our psych eval the way it is (which says — and you may beg to differ — neither I nor Shawn is certifiably insane)

    • That we will not be anxious (Phil 4), and that we’ll remember Proverbs 21:1 (we are thankful for the Lord’s timely and kind reminder of that verse this week) and prayer toward that end

 

    • For our daughter (as a dear friend so wisely put it, “for now, she’s Jubilee”) – that she would have her needs met and grow strong

    • That the Lord will continue to provide (and you can praise the Lord with us that we did receive another grant!)

And guys, this is so cool, we’re up to 330 pieces this week! Each piece of this puzzle is such a neat reminder of how “the Lord works in mysterious ways.” It is unbelievably humbling to see both God’s love and the love of the body of Christ represented by every one of those pieces. I can’t believe we only have 170 left!

Thank you all so much for your love and your prayers. We truly appreciate them.

Learning to wait patiently,

The Wallers

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Day 198: Biometrics

July 31, 2020

Hey guys,

So last Wednesday (July 22) we drove down to have our biometrics taken. It was a pretty uneventful morning. Shawn and I got up, went for a short run, quickly proceeded through our morning routine, and left rather hurriedly. Thankfully, the traffic was not bad at all. There were quite a few people out, but I’m not sure that everyone is back to work yet.

When we arrived at the USCIS Application Support Center (ASC), it was pretty empty. There was a small masked group of people gathered in front of the door, and at right about 8 o’clock, they scurried away. I was surprised at how very controlled the ASC was. We live in a different world now, right? Outside the door, there was a lady sitting at a table “guarding the door” with an official nearby.

When we mosied up, the double-masked official checked our paperwork and IDs, and asked the obligatory checkup questions: “Are you sick? Have you had any symptoms? Have you been around anyone who has had symptoms in the last 14 days?”

After I “passed the test,” the lady at the table checked my paperwork and ID and let me inside. Indoors, there looked to be one large, open, empty room (with maybe two more in the back) with 12 chairs neatly spaced 6 feet apart. Immediately on my left there was another “station” with a “spray shield,” a desk, and a person behind it. This lady again checked my ID and told me to proceed to the front of the chairs. (Everyone inside had double masks, a trick I learned from Shawn. “You’re not supposed to wear a mask more than once, so you wear a washable mask over your N95 so you don’t have to throw it away.”)

Following this, they let Shawn inside. (I think there were  a total of three employees in the room with us.) To the left of the chairs, there were about 4 or 5 cubicle looking areas. They wanted me to go to the third one where a nice [masked] lady proceeded to roll my fingers across a screen to take my fingerprints (it’s a lot more complicated than it used to be — no more ink and paper).

After I was done with the uneventful fingerprinting (that probably took between 5 and 10 minutes), I went to stand at the back of the — still empty room — to wait for Shawn. I felt fairly awkward, but that only lasted about two minutes indoors because, from across the room, they told me I could no longer be inside. There were still a few people outside though, so the awkwardness did continue…just outdoors this time (I didn’t have the car keys).

Shawn was inside a few minutes longer (I guess he didn’t put a date on something), but we then left. Overall, it was a pretty uneventful experience (praise the Lord!).

We expected to wait 2-3 months from the time of submitting our paperwork to the time of I800 approval. (This would have put us at August 10-September 10). But actually, 8 days after we got fingerprinted, we received our I800A approval!! So exciting :+D Kaylee (our case worker) said that’s definitely the quickest she’s seen approval following fingerprinting. So yeah, we’re pretty psyched. :+D

This really doesn’t mean anything for us right now, but it’s definitely an exciting step. :+D

Kaylee called us to congratulate us, and she also told us that she missed a call on our behalf from a granting agency. She asked us to sign a “release of information” before she called back, but that’s more super exciting news. Now, we’re excited about opportunities there. Please pray for us and for them!

We had very little news to update on — aside from our trip down south — when I began writing this on Thursday. But as we all know, the Lord doesn’t work on our schedule, just reminding us once again that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

So please pray with us:

  • Our three month CARA approval window is up mid-August.  That’s when our agency has a plan to start advocating for us to the Indian government. So please pray that we actually get CARA approval before that needs to happen.

  • I asked Kaylee about the new president of CARA, and we do not yet know if they have officially appointed someone. However, they have listed a temporary director on their website.  So please pray for whoever ends up in that position.

  • Please pray for our hearts as we continue this season of waiting — that we would trust that the Lord is sovereign and that He works all things for our good and His glory

  • Please pray for the hearts of those at the granting agency we applied to: that they would look with favor upon our family and that they would prioritize the glory of Christ in all of their dealings.

But in other news, our puzzle has 302 pieces. That means only 198 left! We’re so close! It is so humbling to see what means and who the Lord uses to provide for His children. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to our adoption. Whether that’s through financial gifts or through prayer or kind words, we are incredibly overwhelmed and so utterly grateful.

Thank you all so much!

The Wallers

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Day 184: Exciting News!

July 18, 2020

One afternoon last week, Shawn asked me if I would go out and check the mail. 

Now normally, this is no big deal. But those of you in Florida know, it’s hot. Like, go outside and melt your face off, hot (and for me to say that — the one that’s wearing a sweater when it’s 80 degrees — means it’s hot).

But, I figured, the mailbox is only like 50 feet away, so it won’t kill me. Besides, we have air conditioning (Praise the Lord!).

So I meander out to get the mail, and there’s a package! It just so happened to be one that I was waiting for since early June, so I was excited and immediately distracted. I also grabbed some political mail, whatever else was in the mailbox, and headed inside.

Shawn asked if we got anything interesting. I responded with something about political mail from a cousin of a friend of ours. Kind of — what I hoped was — nonchalantly, I gave him the package (I knew it was a gift for him). I then went in the kitchen and bobbed around a bit. I was about to throw the mail away, but I figured I should actually check it since I didn’t actually remember looking at it.

Then Shawn hears an excited squeal. With concern he says, “What?! What is it!? What’s wrong?!” 

“We got two letters from USCIS!”

“Well,” he said excitedly, “let’s see what it says! Let’s open them!”

Suspecting and hoping it was what we thought it was, we hurriedly (and carefully) open them. To our delight, it was as we thought, we received our fingerprinting appointments!

Normally, getting letters in the mail from the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration isn’t typically a reason for rejoicing (at least, I wouldn’t think). But last week it was. Our appointments are scheduled for next week. So please pray with us:

    • That the appointments actually happen. With Covid cases in Florida increasing daily, please pray that this office would remain open and that we would get our biometrics taken.

    • That we make the appointment. At a normal time of day, the appointment is about forty-five minutes away. But ours is at rush hour. And if we don’t show up, our case is “considered abandoned” [scary]. Please pray that we make it on time (we may leave at 4 am…kidding).

    • That they would process everything quickly and smoothly, without any hiccups. These days, the world is full of unexpected snafus at every turn. Please pray that that wouldn’t happen here.

    • For our hearts. This will hopefully be one more step completed, but we still have a lot to go, and a lot of waiting to do. We need the Lord’s grace and patience.

    • And, as always, for Jubilee and her mom. It’s really hard for biological parents to know what to do some times. For almost anyone at any point, it’s hard to part with a child. Please pray for wisdom, safety, and salvation for her.

Also, thanks to y’all (spelled correctly this time?), we’re now at 280 pieces! Our puzzle is really coming!

We love you guys!

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Day 170: Process Updates

July 4, 2020

Phew! It’s been a big week. And we have exciting news! Well, at least hopeful news :+)

This week we heard the news that Lifeline spoke directly with India’s office that handles adoptions (CARA). Lifeline updated all of us adoptive families on the conversation points in that meeting. 

In our Zoom call, we were updated on each aspect of the adoption “journey.” And as a result of the call, it now sounds like Lifeline can now expect and more formally advocate for a quicker turnaround in many of the stages of Indian adoptions (including the one we’re in).

Ya’ll, this is exciting.

(I think having an agency in Alabama is bringing out the Southern that’s…not really…in me. It’s my dad’s influence?? Oh well, never mind. Tangent.)

Our host from Lifeline started our call with “Keep in mind, this is international adoption, nothing is certain, and things often change.” But still, this is good to know. And Lifeline has seen quite a bit of movement for other couples since following up after this meeting (!!!).

It sounds like Lifeline already has an excellent relationship with CARA, but it looks like there are quite a few potential transitions that may occur in the next few months. Some of these are leadership transitions, and some would make for a more streamlined adoption process.

So please pray with us:

 

 

  • That leadership changes would go smoothly, and that the Lord would have His hand on the ones who take new roles

  • That the adoption process would become quicker and more streamlined

  • For our CARINGS approval, and that we would be patient and trust the Lord in the process (and that fingerprinting — from our side — would happen soon)

  • For our hearts as we wait. That we would trust the Lord, learn a lot, and make the best use of our time

  • For our Jubilee. That she is cared for, her needs are met, and that her heart would be softened toward the gospel

  • For those families that have been waiting to travel since before the lockdown. I can only imagine how difficult that must be, so please pray for a special measure of grace for them

And for even more great news — as you might know, we met our matching grant! (And we added that as a $4000 gift to our fundraising.) Hurray! And, we’re at 256 pieces! We have officially met the halfway mark of our puzzle :+) Thank you so much for your generosity and prayers!

We cherish your prayers as we continue to wait for Jubilee!

Sincerely,

The Wallers

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Update • June 20, 2020

June 20, 2020

As I write, the doves are singing, the geese are honking (rather loudly and persistently I might add), and the weather is HOT. Also, two more, rather uneventful weeks have passed with the main message being “wait.”

India is locked down until at least June 30 when they will, once again, reassess. We have been informed by our adoption agency that their team has come up with a unique plan for every family in the India program on how to move forward once things open up, but once again, the theme here is wait.

BUT we have good news from over here in the US of A! According to our agency, the USCIS will begin reopening the adoption support centers for the purpose of biometric fingerprinting July 13 (yay)! However, we still need to [wait] to receive our letter for our appointment. But we’re at least headed in the right direction. 

My heart is brought back to the scriptures where waiting is not simply a part of life to be endured, but a part of every Christian’s life where believers are to exercise patience and dependence while eagerly anticipating the Lord’s work. We get a glimpse of this is Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

So, as always, thank you so much for your kind gifts and your prayers. (We now have 240 puzzle pieces!) Please continue praying: for India to reopen, for fingerprinting to go quickly and smoothly, for the lost and hurting to come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and for us to patiently wait for the Lord, trusting in Him and eagerly anticipating His work and His arrival.

We love you guys!

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June 6, 2020

June 6, 2020

Wow, today is June 6, which means yesterday was June 5. If you don’t know, the significance of that day is indelibly marked on the collective consciousness of the Graham-Waller memory.

If you haven’t heard the story, you can read in detail about it on CaringBridge (go back to day 1 to get the whole story). Or I’ll give you the very short version. Nine years ago yesterday, and three days upon return from my trip to India, my brother and I were t-boned on my side of the car.

The Lord’s grace woven throughout the story is amazing, but the short version is that I survived a traumatic brain injury (and I can still function as a *mostly* normal adult — the lack of normalcy may not have anything to do with the TBI…). There are obviously still difficulties (and this is probably the reason Shawn and I can’t have biological children right now), but the Lord knows all of that, and He knew that we would pursue adoption of our little Indian girl :+).

Updates

So anyway. The latest news and updates. After our last post, we pretty quickly reached our matching goal! Words can’t describe our plethora of emotions. But they can try :+):  Super excited. Extremely happy. Overjoyed. Exceedingly grateful. Beyond humbled. Throw some more superlatives and joyful adjectives in there, and you’ve kind of described how we’re feeling.

Speaking of joy and excitement, we also heard back from some of our grant foundations! So that is super exciting as well! As you can see from the image, our puzzle is still coming together (224 pieces!). We are so…[all of the adjectives above]…for you guys and the work the Lord has done so far. It’s so humbling and such a privilege to see all that the Lord has accomplished in such a short amount of time.

But speaking of time, India’s lockdown is loosening, but has been extended another month. That we know of, this isn’t affecting us too much yet, but please pray for those nearing the end of their India adoption process. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for them; they need a special grace and wisdom right now. (And those orphans need to be with families!)

We are still waiting for our fingerprinting appointment to be scheduled, and we do not  know when that will be. We did receive word that fingerprinting did not resume the day it was supposed to, but no information has been given on when it is supposed to restart. Please pray that that will be soon and that the backlog will be processed quickly and efficiently.

Oh, and not directly adoption related, but related in a third-degree sense, please pray for  us and our roof. Those of you in south Florida know that we have had 100 year rains in our area in the past few weeks. We already knew that we were going to need to replace our roof soon, but these rains have made it evident that that will be sooner than expected. So please pray for wisdom, a fix, and everything else related to that.

As always, thank you for your prayers. Thank you so much for your support. We look forward to answering any questions you may have and keeping you updated on how things are going.

Love you guys!

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Another Two Weeks Down

May 23, 2020

Hello everyone!

Other than that we’ve had an extremely busy two weeks of life, the adoption front has been fairly uneventful — as far as things we’ve had to do. We did receive a letter from the US Department of Homeland Security (which is always a little intimidating). It informed us that they would be making us a biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment sometime in the next few weeks. I also found that if we don’t make that appointment we are considered “absent” or something and we forfeit what we’ve done so far.

That’s unnerving.

We also received notification that we are now registered on CARINGS! This means that we are now registered with the Indian government so that India’s CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) can begin to put us in the queue.

The way I’m thinking about the past two weeks is that we’re one step closer to being “in the system” (which, ironically, we’re actually excited about in this case).

So if you don’t fully understand the function of/difference between all the acronyms, neither do I (and I thus didn’t explain it well). All I know is, we’re one step closer (or two I guess).

How’s the puzzle?

Well, if you look over to the side, you’ll see that we now have 169 pieces! The Lord is so kind to use very kind-hearted and generous people like you that are reading this. So we still have over half of the puzzle left, but it’s definitely coming along thanks to people like you guys.

Everyone who has donated thus far has had their money doubled thanks to First Baptist Orlando. Because of them, we received a $4000 matching grant — which we are still working on (with only a little left!). 

Thank you to all who have contributed thus far!

How to pray

Our next steps are to show up for the biometric appointment and to get approved by CARA. 

• We are praying that we are able to not only attend that appointment, but that it wouldn’t be significantly delayed due to COVID.

• We are also praying for a quick approval by CARA. Kaylee (our social worker) told us that that normally takes 3-5 months, but they’ve seen it take as few as 2 or as many as 8 — with no rhyme or reason as to why. So please pray with us that that happens quickly, but whether it happens quickly or not, that we would be patient and trust the Lord.

• Also, we applied for several grants a few weeks ago. We can pray that they would be kind to us and assist our attempts to fund our adoption :+)

Thank you all for your generous love, support, and prayers! Please don’t hesitate to contact us or comment with any questions! Love you guys!

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Another Two Weeks Down

May 23, 2020

Hello everyone!

Other than that we’ve had an extremely busy two weeks of life, the adoption front has been fairly uneventful — as far as things we’ve had to do. We did receive a letter from the US Department of Homeland Security (which is always a little intimidating). It informed us that they would be making us a biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment sometime in the next few weeks. I also found that if we don’t make that appointment we are considered “absent” or something and we forfeit what we’ve done so far.

That’s unnerving.

We also received notification that we are now registered on CARINGS! This means that we are now registered with the Indian government so that India’s CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority) can begin to put us in the queue.

The way I’m thinking about the past two weeks is that we’re one step closer to being “in the system” (which, ironically, we’re actually excited about in this case).

So if you don’t fully understand the function of/difference between all the acronyms, neither do I (and I thus didn’t explain it well). All I know is, we’re one step closer (or two I guess).

How’s the puzzle?

Well, if you look over to the side, you’ll see that we now have 169 pieces! The Lord is so kind to use very kind-hearted and generous people like you that are reading this. So we still have over half of the puzzle left, but it’s definitely coming along thanks to people like you guys.

Everyone who has donated thus far has had their money doubled thanks to First Baptist Orlando. Because of them, we received a $4000 matching grant — which we are still working on (with only a little left!). 

Thank you to all who have contributed thus far!

How to pray

Our next steps are to show up for the biometric appointment and to get approved by CARA. 

• We are praying that we are able to not only attend that appointment, but that it wouldn’t be significantly delayed due to COVID.

• We are also praying for a quick approval by CARA. Kaylee (our social worker) told us that that normally takes 3-5 months, but they’ve seen it take as few as 2 or as many as 8 — with no rhyme or reason as to why. So please pray with us that that happens quickly, but whether it happens quickly or not, that we would be patient and trust the Lord.

• Also, we applied for several grants a few weeks ago. We can pray that they would be kind to us and assist our attempts to fund our adoption :+)

Thank you all for your generous love, support, and prayers! Please don’t hesitate to contact us or comment with any questions! Love you guys!

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So…how’s the puzzle coming?

May 9, 2020

Well, I’m glad you asked!

Due to the kindness and generosity of 18 individuals and families, we have pieced together just over a quarter of the puzzle (130 pieces)!

If you are reading this and are one of those donors, thank you so much. We can’t tell you how grateful we are and how humbling it is that you would be so kind to help our family out (during a pandemic of all things). It is a genuine privilege to count you as friends.

Also, if you are one of those people, would you please message us with the note you would like to write on your piece(s)? You can also tell us what color you would like it written in.

But, you may be wondering, how is the adoption itself coming? Is it “on hold” like the rest of the world?

Well, thankfully, no, not quite :+). We received word from Lifeline that they were going to mail our application into the US government yesterday for our I-800A (this gives us permission from the US to adopt).

To get our I-800A approval, we will need to get fingerprinted again. Unfortunately, those sites are closed until at least June 5 due to COVID. Please pray for those sites to reopen in a timely manner and for us to get fingerprinted quickly.

Next week, Lifeline plans on submitting our CARINGS application (managed by CARA). Once that’s approved, we have permission from the Indian government to adopt.

Despite India’s total lockdown continually being extended, they are still processing initial approvals. Please pray that continues.

After we receive approval from CARA, which typically takes 3-4 months (but sometimes over 8), we enter the matching process! While India is still processing initial applications, we do not know if they will be delayed at all. Please pray that somehow, things move along, and potentially even quicker than before.

Meanwhile, we’re still depending on the Lord and working on our puzzle. 

Thank you so much for being part of our story! Whether that’s by reading, contributing, praying, or some combination of the three, we greatly appreciate it (Jubilee does too).

We love you guys!

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Great News! And a Neat Idea

April 24, 2020

Our home study is complete, and we have sent off our application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to get our I-800A!

We are simultaneously “applying” to the US government (USCIS) and the Indian government (CARA/CARINGS) for eligibility to adopt. But our first priority is the USCIS. After the USCIS receives our information, we will then get a letter from them acknowledging that they received our application. At the same time,  they will schedule us for a finger printing appointment.

That’s where the sticky part comes in. Because of Covid, fingerprinting, which is required, is currently shut down. We don’t know how long it will remain closed, but right now these sites are closed until the beginning of May. (And when they reopen, there will probably be some backlog in appointment issuing.)

Now that our home study is complete, we’re working with a lot of moving parts to try our best to get a few grant applications in before their April 30 cut off.

So our first order of business — as always — is to pray. 

1. Pray for us and the other adoptive families in this stage to be patient, wait on the Lord, and trust in His timing.

2. Pray also for the government officials, that they would be kind, have a good attitude, and also, ultimately, trust the Lord. I imagine this is pretty stressful for them too. 

3. Pray that these sites would open quickly, and the workers would be efficient and quick in completing these appointments.

 

4. Pray that we would be able to get our grant applications submitted before the cut off, and that these foundations would be kind in providing for our adoption.

After the USCIS step, we can move forward to the next step.

This is all very exciting, and yet, a cause for more dependance on the Lord – just like all of life, but its cool to talk about specifics.

Speaking of specifics, we get to speak of the Lord’s sovereign provision! 

We received a $4000 matching grant!

A very kind church in Orlando has a heart for orphans and wants to support Lifesong adoptive families. So everyone who has been kind enough to donate so far, your money is actually doubled! And anyone who gives to help us out, up until $4000, your money is doubled. This is a huge blessing, and we praise the Lord for it. So we were thinking of doing something pretty cool…

Puzzle Fundraiser

And this is where our neat idea comes in. We decided to have a custom, 500-piece puzzle made for Jubilee to have in her room. The front will have the picture of our adoption announcement, and on the back, we plan to show her how many people helped bring her home! The process will look like this:

How this works

•  Each piece is $15. 

•  Everyone who donates “buys” a specific number of puzzle pieces for us to put together. (And everyone who has already donated has already “purchased” puzzle pieces.)

•  On the purchased puzzle piece(s), we will write your name, a verse reference, and/or a very short message (the puzzle pieces are quite small).  The more pieces that you buy, the longer your message can be.

 

•  When the puzzle is complete, we will get a double-sided frame so that Jubilee (and us) can see who helped bring her to her forever family! 

We hope that you will help us bring our Jubilee home (and remember, your money is doubled until we get to $4000)!

If you decide to donate (or already have), please message us and let us know whose name (you can buy for other people) and/or message what you would like written on the puzzle piece(s). 

We’ll try and do regular puzzle updates on here (subscribe for updates at the top right of this page — where the megaphone icon is) and Facebook so that you can see the puzzle coming together.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

– The Wallers

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The First Hurdle – Almost Crossed!

April 20, 2020

We are getting ready to leap over our first hurdle (that we’ve been working on since January)! As we are getting ready to finalize our home study, we just received the paperwork and needed documentation to complete our I-800A.  

This form is basically permission from the US government to initiate the immigration process for our daughter. During this process, we are required to get fingerprinted again. As of right now, Covid-19 is delaying these appointments.

Please pray that those fingerprinting sites would be reopened and any backups would be minimal.

Please also make sure to subscribe at the top right to receive future updates!

Thanks again for your prayers! They mean so much to us!

Read More

Comments

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Dec 8, 2021

“So happy for you!”

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Nov 2, 2021

“Can’t wait to meet her!”

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James

Oct 13, 2021

“We are so excited about Jubilee. Hopefully this will help in your expenses a little bit. Love you guys.”

$100

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Oct 4, 2021

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Catalina

Sep 29, 2021

“Lauren I know we don’t keep in touch, but I’m sending you lots of love and hope for this amazing dream to come true very soon! You continue to inspire me :)”

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Sep 4, 2021

“No thank-you note is necessary. :)”

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Aug 7, 2021

“Don't waste the cost of a stamp on me please! 😁”

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Jun 26, 2021

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Melissa

May 29, 2021

“Excited for your one! Praying! Melissa and James Brownlee”

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Terry

May 28, 2021

“We are very happy for all three of you and praying Jubilee will be in your arms as soon as possible. May His will be done 🙏🏻❤️🙌🏻”

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Mark

May 28, 2021

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Apr 18, 2021

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Jordan&Liz

Mar 25, 2021

“Continuing to pray, love reading your updates!”

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Mar 6, 2021

“Praying for you guys. :)”

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Mar 6, 2021

“Praying for you guys. We love you and can’t wait to meet Jubilee!”

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Dec 20, 2020

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Todd

Nov 13, 2020

“Shawn and Lauren, we are excited for your adoption journey and trust that you are getting closer to bringing a child home to your family. Many people helped us with our 5 adoptions so we want to bless others who are doing the same. Praying for you as you navigate the adoption road ahead of you and looking forward to seeing who the Lord will bless you with!”

$50

Joseph

Nov 9, 2020

“Praising the Lord for you Shawn and Lauren Waller! :+)”

$100

Teresa

Nov 8, 2020

“I’m praying the Lord will help you on this journey to finding your child.”

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Laurabell

Oct 16, 2020

“Praying for you!”

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Steven & Daphne

Aug 1, 2020

“God bless you and every step you take towards your girl. We know God is writing an amazing story for your family. We are grateful to be getting front row seats to His miracle!!”

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Jul 23, 2020

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Laura

Jul 20, 2020

“I'm so thrilled for you as you begin this exciting journey! I will be praying that God uses this adoption to put the love and mercy of God on clear display to a watching world. "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people." Eph. 1:18. Love you guys!”

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Mark & Krystal

Jul 19, 2020

“Hi Shawn & Lauren, We are so excited to hear about your pursuit of adopting a little girl from India. We are praying for you guys, as you embrace the joys and challenges of this new journey. We love you both dearly. Mark & Krystal”

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Jun 20, 2020

“Dear Shawn and Lauren: We are excited to share your joy as you look forward to the arrival of your daughter. Thank you for letting us peek into your lives and see how God is working in you and through you. You are loved!”

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Jun 8, 2020

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Jun 6, 2020

“Love y'all!!!!! Excited for your journey.”

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Elizabeth

Jun 5, 2020

“Praying for this little one! So excited for your family!”

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Irving and Emily

Jun 2, 2020

“Dear Jubilee, We are so thankful that you are a part of the Waller family! God is so kind to give us our families. They are a reminder of how important God's family is. It is our prayer that you would turn to Christ as your Savior and Lord so that you might not only be a part of the Waller family, but a part of God's family! John 1:12-13 Love, Emily and Irving Campbell”

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Kevin

May 25, 2020

“We love and miss you guys very much! Praying for you!”

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May 23, 2020

“Praying for God's blessings on you as you walk this journey. Love you guys!”

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Mark

May 23, 2020

“Thanks for sharing with us your journey of adoption. Praying for you guys. We love you guys! The Summerville Family”

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Rusty, Jenny, & Elliot

May 23, 2020

“We know that little Jubilee will be as much of a blessing to you as you will be to her! Trusting the Lord that your prayers will be answered and that your hope will be fulfilled! ❤️”

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May 18, 2020

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May 18, 2020

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Patrick

May 14, 2020

“Delighted to come alongside and watch the Lord work beautifully in your lives as you live in the "waiting" and soon in the completion. We have loved reading each update and getting a glimpse of your heart and His kind providence at work in every single detail of this whole process. Rejoicing, praying and waiting with you Wallers!”

$300

Marco & Amanda

May 8, 2020

“Praying!”

$500

Emily

May 3, 2020

“Emily and Chris ...from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - Psalm 103:17 with more love than you can imagine...”

$100

Jonah and Karina

May 3, 2020

“Praying for you in this journey of adoption! Much love to you and your family! Praying for your sweet daughter!”

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Lourdes

May 1, 2020

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Justin & Alyssa

Apr 29, 2020

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Apr 15, 2020

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Apr 14, 2020

“We want to be a part of blessing a child with you two as parents!”

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Apr 13, 2020

“Our hearts are with you. Our prayers sent daily.”

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Ron & Caren

Apr 11, 2020

“Lauren & Shawn, I've been praying for God to bless you guys w/a natural birth or an adopted child...... &/or BOTH (..!!!) for about last 3 months. Penny was so excited she couldn't contain the news....We're very proud of you both as to how you're going about starting a family. I will continue to lift those special prayers unless you share up-dates requiring something more specific. Please don't hesitate to text, email or call. Blessings & hugs, AC XOXO & UR”

$200

David & Bethany

Apr 11, 2020

“Thanks for sharing your story with us! We will be praying for you on this journey and can’t wait to see God work. God bless you and keep you.”

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Apr 11, 2020

“We'll be praying for you that the adoption process will go well.”

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Apr 11, 2020

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Deborah

Apr 11, 2020

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Mark

Apr 11, 2020

“Love you guys!”

$100

Anna Cook

Apr 11, 2020

“We are beyond excited for you! Praying it all works out sooner than expected.”

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Apr 11, 2020

$100

Karen

Apr 11, 2020

“Thank you for sharing your journey. Praying for you both for Gods timing, provision, blessings and encouragement EVERY step of the way. ❤️”