Friday, January 30, 2009

It Doesn't Seem Real!!!

After all this time we have been waiting, it doesn't seem like our time to travel and get our daughter has actually arrived. But oh has it ever arrived. We are really enjoying putting the final touches to our travel preparations. We've been filling suitcases, shopping, filling prescriptions, shopping, writing notes and details for our kids, getting hotel reservations, and then packing some more. We received an unexpected bonus of having the last four days off from work due to an ice storm, so we have been able to get all the things we needed to get to with patience and with a bit of joy!!! God has been so good to us! I have been nesting like crazy on these days off. Not only have I been getting ready for our journey, but have been able to complete A LOT of small projects around the house and spend time with the family. One important job was putting the finishing touches in the girls' room. Last summer we began ripping out carpet, painting walls, putting wood down and painting the floors, painting pictures, and buying bedding. It has been a fun project!! Hally drew the pictures of her and Rae, and I did the embellishments. It is amazing that in a few short weeks that Rae will be in the room, too!!!

We are hoping to blog while we are in Ethiopia, so check back with us next week!!! PLEASE keep us in your hearts and prayers that we would have safe traveling, that Rae would transition well to her new family, that we would not get sick or hurt, that our children will be strong and protected while we are gone, and that there wouldn't be any unexpected glitches that we haven't foreseen. Thank you!!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What a Day!!

We were so thankful yesterday to get the news that we passed court and are now the proud parents of Rahel "Rae" Scout Blackwell. That smile was really the inspiration to keep her birth name and to call her Rae as it seems the sun is radiating from her face. We are firming up our travel plans and are leaving the 5th to fly to DC and will be flying to Ethiopia on the 6th. We will be back in Missouri on the 14th with the best Valentine's present our family could ever dream of getting. We have so much to do in the next two weeks, but are thoroughly enjoying every step of planning and preparation for our journey to get Precious Baby Rae!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Court Day is Coming Soon!

Next Wednesday, the 21st, a judge will hear our case and decide whether or not Kevin and I can can be R. Scout's mom and dad. Since Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us, this could all be occurring in the wee hours of the morning. I am getting very anxious and feeling the need to be diligent in calling out to God to help us in this situation. Families who have recently have had court appointments last week have not passed. This is very sad. My heart hurts for these families who have waited so long to be with their children.

Please also pray for the Semlows and the Kulps as they have court dates on the 20th. They have been told that they specifically, due to the orphanage their children are from, will need a miracle to pass court this Tuesday. I am praying, praying, praying that these families will receive their mircacle and can be united with their children soon.

All in all, I am feeling great and excited to see how our story will unfold. I am so grateful for all the support that Kevin and I have been getting from friends and family. I appreciate your kind words and prayers. They are definately helping us. I can't wait to show you our little girl. Jamie Jo and I worked on her introduction video/slide show last night and it is so cute!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

TentativeTravel Date and A Little Inspiration

I received an email today from our travel coordinator saying that our TTD is February 7-14. YEAH!!! That is three weeks away!!! We are planning on leaving the 5th to fly to DC, stay there a night, and then fly out of DC to Ethiopia on the 6th. All of the advice we were given is to go a day earlier so that our bodies can get used to the time difference before we meet our daughter. PRAY PRAY PRAY for the 21st!!!

I thought I would share an interview of Rick Warren that was forwarded to me via email. It has spoken straight to my heart, and I adore his attitude towards life and relationship with God.

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond, In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body - but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillion of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life: The goal is to grow in character, In Christ-likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you got to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believ'e that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain."

But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people...You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instanfly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before.

I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for you to own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan - to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better...God didn't put me on earth just to fulfil a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.