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When Things Don’t Make Sense…His Ways Are Not Our Ways—They are Better {part 1}

When you are called to just love big…

I’ve been MIA lately sharing my heart–because much of what is going on in my heart and on my mind has to do with our being on our knees and daily updates really with T…that I haven’t been able to share. Much still has to happen, but much has been done–and we ask her precious prayer warriors to pray alongside with us more than ever now. This story won’t be able to take place in 1 part–but really 4–and only 3 of those parts have been written. So bare with me this week while we {I won’t be the only writer from here on out} while we share…together.


BUT–really…that is not where this story begins to have God’s fullest glory in it. This story really starts 16 years ago on July 30th in the Ukraine. And while so much of this precious life was shared with us–this part of the story is NOT mine to share. It is hers. And I do know one day she will share much of it–and she will use it for God’s glory. Maybe here. Maybe in a book. Maybe all over the world. God will use it. It is raw. It is tough. It isn’t fair. But it’s beautiful. And one little girl–spent much too long without a momma or daddy. God gave her a family for 5 short weeks for the summer for the first time in a very, very long time–healing happened…love happened…but what happened at the end the summer known of us could plan, create or even dream up. {Get your tissues…because God is good.}

Through out our summer, we continued to pray hard–asking God what it was He wanted us to do.

Do you want us to adopt? Do you want us to advocate? Do you want us to support her in the Ukraine? Do you want us to move to the Ukraine? Do you want us to find a family in the Ukraine to partner with us? Do you want a better school there for this child? We asked ourselves and the Lord all of these questions–some more than others all depending on what we were gaging from our sweet T.

We watched others who were brought in to love her with us–mostly my parents–begin to ask these stories too…and to ask these questions with us…and even by themselves–between them and the Lord.

The wrestling for each of us looked different…but it was good–and I can honestly say it was pure…it was centered all around His will–and for her.

We had a little bit of an advantage than other hosting families when it came to going really deep with our girl as we have so many dear friends who speak Russian. Many of these friends also got to know our sweet T well–and because she was very clear in the first weeks that she WANTED to return to Ukraine and go to the trade school…and because connecting in the first weeks was more like survival–we really sensed the Lord was saying we were to love her big for the summer…until we were shown otherwise. I met with one of my dear Russian speaking friends and mom who has 8 adopted children from this part of the world (thank you Susan Hillis for SO MUCH of your time, energy and love this summer!) to seek her wise counsel–and as she had gotten to know our girl–she said it was very clear to her that we were hearing the right thing, to keep doing what we are doing. She confirmed from her countless conversations that it was also clear to her that T was very much connected to an aunt and cousin in Ukraine, that she didn’t express interest in staying–and that there were things she could do to help us look after here there. MIND YOU–that this was just our 1st and 2nd week into hosting…we still had 3 weeks to go.

But one gift we did not have like the other host families had–WAS TIME. Our sweet T was turning 16 in just 3 weeks. Any of you who have adopted know that 3 weeks is much too short to even update a home study much less have one written–so the chances for us were truly impossible–yet we believe in the impossible so we this was why we tip-toed carefully in trying to feel out her heart…because for other families they could wait after their host children go home to have the orphanage ask them their desire–but for T…someone would have to guess and take a leap of faith. For now, with everyone she met she glamorized the Ukraine and her life there–and we wondered based on the stories if she lived in an orphanage at all.

But you see–the truth for many of these kids is anything BUT glamorous. Our sweet T has so much pride and dignity. She is also a very smart girl, who knew the time table reality–with no idea that adoption for her would even still be possible. When you host through New Horizons you are not allowed to use the word adoption so these children don’t get false hope. This is tough in our house–because this was something that is obvious in our house that we have a heart for. She would ask questions about our son from Ethiopia daily–about his past, his birth mom, his history. She would ask to see pictures–to hear his story–and how he became a part of our family. She loved these stories and asked the same questions over and over. And every time–my heart didn’t want to answer. She’d sit there with my little boy in her lap asking these questions–and I’d talk to God in my heart full of WHYs and WHAT ARE YOU DOING? every time too. Why Lord does there seem such long wait lists for some? Why Lord does no one stand in line for older children like her? Why Lord are you opening my eyes–yet you aren’t telling us to move forward? Why Lord? Why Lord? WHY LORD?

My ways are not His ways. And I consoled my heart telling myself that this was not she wanted as she was very clear about how wonderful the trade school would be…how she’d be a cook one day…about how much she missed Ukraine. And every time–God was faithful…and when I asked if He wanted us to take a leap of faith–I would hear so clearly in my heart, “Wait. Trust Me.” This sounds easy enough–but every night I’d sit with the Lord after she was asleep and I would cry. I sensed I was missing some of the truthful parts of her heart…was this really what she wanted–or was this tough skin? What would her life be like? I know you can do anything Lord. Are you going to use her there–but will you protect her? I want to trust you here Lord–but who puts an orphan on a plane and wishes them well? I can’t do that. Lord–you are saying WAIT–you are telling me to TRUST YOU…oh this alone is going to be a leap of faith for me.

We made my parents nervous sharing with them the Lord wasn’t telling us to wait–and that we felt we were just supposed to trust the Lord with her future–and be a part of it in some way but we weren’t sure yet. This made my parents wiggle–okay–it made them toss and turn…wait–it made them wrestle with God…what could they do…what did He want them to do–and Richard and I along with my sisters stood alongside amazed that they were even asking these questions. The Lord had opened their eyes and my parents were not okay with kids–especially this one–aging out. My dad began making phone calls–to schools about VISAs–even asking if they were in the position to do something permanent. They did all the background checks and got approved by New Horizons to have her for a weekend–and in that weekend spending time with her and also a Russian speaking friend they got the same exact feeling we did…they too felt she wanted to go to the trade school. They began brainstorming with us and calling Ukraine ministries to see what the options were and how we could love her big across the world. And for those of you who think THIS would be a miracle to do with your parents–as hard as it all was…I was seeing the Lord and His glory. (Thank you mom and dad for loving so big with us. When I was so tired and needed rest–you were there. You loved big in ways that ministered to ME. Thank you for teaching me again how to love big. Mom…you amaze me. Dad–I don’t even know what to say. Just wiping away tears thinking of how amazing your heart is. God’s love is present in you! I want to love like that every day…thank you daddy for teaching me how to love big this summer.)

By week 3 we all felt certain we were to love big this summer. But by week 3, we were also getting into our groove–and I began to wrestle with God in a new way. Okay Lord, I hear you saying wait. But just so you know–we all love her now. We aren’t okay with her going on the streets. We will trust you–but this is serious now Lord…I mean–Lord, you do realize this is serious??? HELP!!! And there was silence…met by tears…because we knew we were supposed to wait. So in the waiting–we rested in our hearts (the best we could) and we loved big. All the while–in the back of our minds…there was a big clock quietly ticking. I just couldn’t imagine this little/big girl not in a family…not having a momma and a daddy…did she want this–would she want this–maybe from afar? Oh the questions we asked. And oh how we loved. Unless you have ever hosted or fostered a child like this…you will never know what this does to your heart…how it opens your eyes…how you feel like you are giving your heart to the Lord just to be broken in a million pieces…and to KNOW you could jump before God says jump…yet you wait. There are so many times I would just look at Richard and tell him to take me to the hospital because I needed oxygen to breath. Every night, I would ask the Lord to take away all the worry–so I could just LOVE BIG in the morning. It wasn’t pretty at night–but joy always came in the morning.

Because her story didn’t begin when she came–because there were layers upon layers–it was really hard to tell what this angel wanted in her heart. As I began to see glimpses by the 4th week–and my heart knew. I knew she wanted more. I knew she’d never admit it. But I also continued to hear God say WAIT. At this point, we were all madly in love with our big stinker. Lord, you see that she turns 16 in a week…right? You see that she’s about to age out??? I mean–just wanted to be sure you hadn’t forgotten. Okay Lord–forgive me for asking you that. I KNOW you see this. I KNOW you love her more. I KNOW you have a plan. We trust you Jesus…and then the tears at night would come. This mom is NOT a cryer. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not. Richard could (before this summer) count on ONE hand how many times he had SEEN me cry. I was desperate for something to happen…tell us…tell my parents…tell SOME BODY. I got online and knowing the timeline–and that now truthfully if this girl was going to find a forever family it would have to be someone who was ALREADY approved by USCIS for the Ukraine. I felt like I should just advocate…I had heard the WAIT–but I felt like it was now or never…and something in me said it was okay to do this. I typed on Facebook for others to pray for a family who was approved by USCIS for Ukraine already and basically for a family who didn’t have a child already to adopt or for one whose adoption had fallen through. Okay, okay–I know a long shot–but I typed it none the less.TRUST ME.

The day before her birthday–I took her to Stone Mountain Park. It was just T, me and Isaac. The two miracles and I rode to the top of the mountain–something this heights phobia mom would never do with or for anyone else…but it was her request–so we went. I sat on top of that mountain with these two–and there was SUCH A PEACE. God loved her. God loved Isaac. God loved me. And He would take care of us all. We could rest. We could wait. We could trust Him. I watched her dance on that mountain top…and an older man close by laughed–I wanted to tell him that he was watching a miracle dance…I knew and believe His hand was on her. I knew we’d always be a part of her life in some way. I knew she was not supposed to be our daughter. I pulled out my cell phone and not sure if I had service–but I called my parents from that mountain top. I called them and told them there was a plan–I didn’t know what it was–but it was right and it was good.

Then the next day–something happened that none of us were prepared for.

It was her 16th birthday. The day this child would “age out” and on September 1st after returning to the Ukraine would be transferred to the trade school. We knew this school wasn’t glamorous anymore–as our sweet friends the Brubakers had shared with us what it was really like. They had recently adopted Oksana (now 15) from Ukraine earlier this year. They had gone in and seen the trade schools…and what really happens after the lights go out there. We knew we needed to get her in a different school. Can I just fly back on a plane and figure this out??? Oh my heart.

The birthday was glorious and sweet. Her first birthday celebration ever–and she told us normally she just got a candy bar on this day–but today–it was just glorious fun! Jumpies, cake, ice cream and coke…singing and dancing…and of course Brittany Spears really loud. I shared about this sweet day–and how she prayed over us. But after she prayed–I left something out. We had several Russian translator friends here–so there was no missing what she said or wanted to say. On her 16th birthday and just 3 days before leaving–she told us in front of everyone that she did NOT want to go back…she had never been loved so big–and she wished she could stay. She shared with everyone how at first she didn’t want a family but now she wished for more…and she shared how much love had done for her–and how much she loved us.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. And everyone there–was desperate with us. They now sensed their own taste of this wrestling we had been doing. Friends came to say their goodbyes and only whispered in their hug that they were praying for her and for the rest of our week–and thank you for letting them love her. They knew the days ahead would be sacred and they wouldn’t hear from us from awhile. My dad had to drive back to Alabama to work the next day–and no one will never know what this man did this summer…but when this stinker was giving us all the stink eye he knew HOW to love her (he’s parented 3 stubborn teenage girls) and he was the one that taught us how to really love. She sensed his unconditional love–and he had become her most precious friend and grandfather too. She squealed “PAPA!” louder than all the other grandchildren…and when he got ready to leave…we saw her heart break in two as she knew this would be the last time she saw him. It was like telling your grandpa goodbye forever…and this was the only Papa she had ever known. For the first time I saw our princess weep–and for the first time my children saw their Papa cry too. It was so emotional…just too much…and our sweet son struggled and cried too–but not because of what you would think…he was crying because he said he missed his Papa–and all of us. An older child comes with lots of layers–and lots of layers need lots of attention. We knew we were all where we were supposed to be. But it just didn’t make perfect sense yet. The princess dried her tears–and Oksana saved the day by asking her to spend the night. We were very protective of the time we had left, but the Brubakers had become close to us–and Oksana was a dear friend now…and we knew she needed to go.

My dad cried all the way back to Alabama (he didn’t tell me that–I just know he did). I cried as I threw away each coke bottle…her most favorite thing. My mom was staying for the rest of the week to help us love big the last few days–and she tucked the other children in for the night. When all was quiet–I sat down to check my email…and there was a miracle waiting in my inbox. There was a couple we already knew who was adopting a 11 year old in Ukraine–and they were responding to an email I had written earlier about Tetiana.

Their adoption had fallen through. They had an SDA appointment the DAY T would be leaving–meaning they had to submit the name and personal info of the child they would be adopting by that day. I had learned of their adoption that fell through–and I took the leap of faith in boldly emailing them to tell them about our girl. I mean, what are the chances you’d change from a 11 year old to 16 year old?? But I knew this family–they were believers–and the were best friends with the Brubakers–empty nesters no longer empty nesters after they adopted their 15 year old from Ukraine recently. I sat their on the DAY of our girl’s birthday—the day the world says it’s too late…and tears streamed down my face as I read their words. For God–it’s never too late. HE IS ALWAYS ON TIME. This sweet mom had been reading my blog throughout the summer–laughing alongside many of you–crying alongside many of you–preparing her to bring home her daughter. YET…little did she know…that this little girl—might very well BE her daughter.

They wanted to know more–they were open but unsure…but first things first–they needed her personal information for the SDA appointment. NORMALLY–when I finally got to check my email she would have been in her room with her door locked. Explaining why I needed to get this information out of her room from her things would have been tricky had she been here as she couldn’t know about this yet as New Horizons is careful not to give these kids any sense of false hope–but the Lord had paved the way…she was spending the night with her new best friend…and I was able to send them all the information they needed. The decided we would Skype together the next morning so I could share with them without T here—and we’d Skype again at lunch so she could “get to know them”.

T would be leaving on Thursday morning bright and early–so our next 2 days were spent Skyping back and forth to the Ukraine–emailing them back and forth at night–and me on the phone 24-7 while PRAISE GOD my mom was here to watch the children. I was having to call New Horizons, the translator from the orphanage, this family’s adoption agent, and lots of communication back and forth to the Ukraine. The translator talked to her to feel her out a bit as this family’s situation was a bit different because they had their SDA appointment scheduled for THAT WEEK…and there was no doubt in the translator’s mind that this girl wanted a family–and she was totally interested in learning more about her best friend’s parents.

I had to laugh when I looked on their Facebook page and scrolled back to February when they announced their adoption. They shared that they were going to adopt one of Oksana’s friends in Ukraine…but little did they know that while they were in Ukraine–their daughter would be HERE–becoming best friends with their friend’s daughter. And little did we know–that a dad who loved to cook just like T–and a mom with who has a child psychology practice–would be the very parents for our girl. The translator had asked her some questions that got our girl thinking…and I shared some special things with T that you’ll hear about in the weeks ahead. She told me I was like a big sister…and I told her she was my baby sister–and I loved her to pieces. NOW THIS…THIS made sense to my heart…and we did what sisters do–we made pinky promises about the future…and for the first night–in many nights…this mom went to sleep with no tears.

I thanked God for telling me to WAIT and to TRUST HIM. Over and over and over again all summer I kept saying, “Lord–we could do THIS…I can do THAT…” People would ask and I’d hear myself say “We could…I could…somebody could…” But over and over we heard the Lord say, “WAIT. TRUST ME.” The Lord called us to love for 5 weeks. The Lord called us to stand in the gap until her parents were ready. The Lord called us to trust and to wait. YES–we could have jumped in before He said jump–and it might have worked. But it wouldn’t have been HIS WAY…and His ways are higher and better and more glorious than ours. We had seen this angel thrive most when she got a weekend all to herself with my parents–so while we knew she’d be awesome with littles…we knew she’d really thrive and dance with room to grow, heal and to just be loved BIG on. SO many things would have to fall in place in the days and weeks ahead. But for now these friends of ours where getting to know her…she was getting to know them…and there was no doubt (as EVERY one of their interests and likes were the EXACT SAME) that the Lord had hand picked this family for her. There was no doubt they would adore her…and there was no doubt that the Lord was going to work this all quickly…it was already happening. The Father’s love for our T is great…He would open doors, speed up the process…because she had gone long enough without a family of her own.

And that is where their story begins…also with loss–but ending…actually really beginning all over again with a beautiful, precious, baby girl…all 16 big years of her. And their faith to step out and say YES…because they didn’t hear WAIT…they heard TRUST ME and FOLLOW

…and they did.

Let the celebration begin!!! T has a family!!! She will be home forever very soon. And she’ll live around the corner from us. Close to her best friend Oksana–and close to her extended family…that in 5 weeks grew quite large. We need your prayers for a smooth court appointment (hopefully next week) too.

This is of course just or side of the story…to taste the full miracle–you need their’s too…and you need to “meet” them. This most precious mom will be sharing this week bits and pieces of what the Lord was doing on their side!!! Most of all–we need your prayers for the weeks ahead. Tetiana absolutely is in love with her new momma and poppa–and she is so excited to have a family…super excited to get to see Oksana for the rest of her life…and I got to talk to her on Saturday (I spent the morning at her new house with her moms and we called her together! She and her husband had just flown in from Ukraine for a breather after being there for a MONTH so they can gear up for a 16 year old before their court appointment.)

Their version is not my story to tell…so I can’t wait for you to hear this part from her. God is writing the most beautiful story for this family…and we are so humbled and honored to be a small part of their family’s beginning. They will now forever be family to us–and I really can’t believe we are going to get to see her again and again and again. I hope someone at her graduation asks us if we know her well…can’t wait to say, “Just a little bit;).”

Thank you to T’s new parents for letting us love your daughter. You have no idea how blessed you both are…and you know we are here for you every valley and mountain top. She is ONE AMAZING girl…and I can’t wait to now cheer on the sidelines. God is so good all the time. Thankful His ways are higher.

(I left out SO MANY details!!! I’ll have to fill in later…but the highlights are hopefully all here!!! T’s momma has so many details to share–and I can’t WAIT for you to hear her version of their journey…it is beautiful.) Thank you so much for praying…I say that on behalf of her new family. Please don’t stop praying…and pray hard until you see airport homecoming pictures!!!!

Love y’all.


Adrienne - August 20, 2012 - 2:28 am

I am wiping away tears!! I hoped this was your great news! I can’t wait to hear more!!! Praise God!!!!

Karen Twombly - August 20, 2012 - 6:46 am

Amazing, just amazing! Only God!

Larisa - August 20, 2012 - 7:23 am

What an amazing start to my week, Andrea….time in the Word and then reading your blog. I have goosebumps and tears and I am so in AWE of our Father and His love! I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

Andie - August 20, 2012 - 7:58 am

So VERY excited to read this. I have been checking obsessively all weekend 🙂

Kelli Kelly - August 20, 2012 - 8:18 am

YAY! God is so good! (I only know you through this blog and I just fell in love with your family.) My husband and I actually looked into hosting this past summer because of your blog. We were unable to because of a mission trip we already had planned. We were in Mexico on this mission trip when the kiddos would have arrived. So we are hoping and praying that possibly next summer will be the time to do it! 🙂 I just have to say that I’m a teacher and today is my first day of work and your blog post is going to make me late! 🙂 Have a great day! So excited for T, her family, your family (especially your Dad, he’s amazing) and all of her friends! God is LOVE.

daniellem02 - August 20, 2012 - 8:41 am

WOW!!! So happy for all of you!

laura o'neill - August 20, 2012 - 8:55 am

We know T’s new momma! I am overwhelmed by your story….what can I possibly say here? I have a sense of a big hug for all of you…. not in a trivial kind of way but like a huge warm blanket. Much love to you all. Amazing.

Allison - August 20, 2012 - 9:02 am

God is so good! What an amazing story!!!!!

Kim - August 20, 2012 - 9:06 am

Only God! I stand in AWE! Love & Blessings, Kim

Shirley Robertson - August 20, 2012 - 10:08 am

Awesome! I’m thankful that T has a forever family! I wish all children did, and that the families they have will be Christians who love God and will share that love with the children. I heard just yesterday of an adopted child who is punished by being made to stand outside in the horrible weather for bad behavior! Why adopt, then, abuse???

NAOMI - August 20, 2012 - 10:13 am

I too have been waiting to hear this!! I am so thrilled, I really cannot express just how much and how moved to tears I am by this story! Glory to God!!!! It is also such an encouragement to me as I am also being told to Wait and Trust Me!!!

jenny - August 20, 2012 - 10:44 am

Tears streaming as I read!!! GOD IS GOOD! What a beautiful, incredible story that ONLY He could write!! Amazing!! I cannot wait to read more!!! 🙂

Meaghan - August 20, 2012 - 10:57 am

AMAZING! So happy for T, her new family, your family and everyone involved! I’ve loved reading about your hosting all summer, and this is such a glorious ending!

Mindy - August 20, 2012 - 11:40 am

Weeping over here! Such wonderful news and tremendous evidence of the power of God! In the words of Paul Harvery, can’t wait to hear the rest of the story and see the homecoming pics!

Ashley - August 20, 2012 - 1:36 pm

God is AWESOME! This is just wonderful! My heart is beating so hard for all of you involved! My family will keep praying for you all! I pray she makes it back here safely, and adjusts quickly! This is just one of the greatest stories!
God Bless and Much Love,

Marian - August 20, 2012 - 1:46 pm

So wonderful! Crying my eyes out at the Lord’s love & faithfulness! x

Corinne - August 20, 2012 - 1:48 pm

Totally blown away and amazed at the outcome of this story! Wow Princess T has an amazing story of God’s love!

Jessica - August 20, 2012 - 3:47 pm

Wow!! Such great and amazing news. I’m so thankful that T will have a family and be so close to you and your family. I love it when God waits until the final hours (well, at least when I’m not the one waiting 🙂 to reveal the plan–that way, there is absolutely no question that it is HIS plan. Thank you so much for sharing.


Alison - August 20, 2012 - 5:54 pm

Amazing!!!! Praise the Lord!!!! T is coming HOME!!!

bebe - August 20, 2012 - 7:08 pm

Ah, Lord God! Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power!
Ah, Lord God! Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy outstretched hand.
Nothing is too difficult for Thee!
Nothing is too difficult for Thee!
Great and Mighty God, Great in Power and Mighty in Deed!
Nothing, nothing absolutely nothing! Nothing is too diffcult for Thee!

Jenna - August 20, 2012 - 7:10 pm

My name is Jenna,
Your kids are all cute, beautiful, and handsome.
I was born with a rare life threatening disease, and have 14 other medical conditions, and developmental delays.
I wrote this poem
Each of us are Special
Each of us different,
No one is the same
Each of are us are unique in our own way,
Those of us who have challenges, we smile through our day.
It doesen’t matter what other’s say
we are special anyway.
What is forty feet and sings? the school chior

Maureen Werner - August 21, 2012 - 9:50 am

I can barely see the screen I have so many tears! Thank you so much for sharing T’s story and your summer with us! I love your blog and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

Praying hard for T and her forever family!

Amy - August 21, 2012 - 9:34 pm

Beauty out of ashes. He is SO SO good. Cannot wait to hear the rest of this story!