Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Surprise Under the Christmas Tree

Two weeks ago, I sat down and wrote this post, "I started this blog to share my love for Christ and the joy of His call in our lives. Little did I know the spiritual journey I was embarking on. Many dark, empty days were looming in the mere moments following the first letter I typed. The first few entries I wrote were full of excitement and praise, and my feelings dripped with overwhelming love for my Savior. But as the months went by and the trials became more painful and difficult to wade through, my words became fewer and my entries further and further apart, and the praise was harder to find on my lips. I'm a work in progress...never perfect, never close. Numerous words of anger, bitter tears, and screaming my rage at God, turned to defiance, rebellion, and utter silence to the God I once completely claimed as my victory. It's almost December 1st. Two year and a half years after our adoption journey began and still we wait. Our hope for our baby girl, Aselah, ended in May. Our expectation for 5 year old Kalekidan, was ripped away in August. We are the top of the waiting list. The most accessible age group. Special Needs accepted. Silence. God, where is this child You promised? The one we said we would make our own according to Your word in James? I am at a fork in the road. Our paperwork is expiring and all needs to be updated. Our finances are dwindling. My patience is growing thin. Do we continue on the path we felt laid out by God, but where we see doors constantly closing? Or stop and wait on Him?" That was 2 weeks ago. I never posted it. Nick and I were struggling with what direction we would go and we prayed hard that God would show up and show us the way. The following Sunday, Pastor Tim was speaking over the Sovereignty of God. How He is in control over the good and the bad. It was such a powerful message and helped me realize that it's not necessarily going to be easy but it needs to be all for His glory. We felt convicted to continue to move forward. It was more of chasing the paper trail, making trips to Chicago and Springfield for re-fingerprinting and certifying paperwork. Its time consuming, unexciting work, but has to be done to keep your file up to date. I called our adoption agency on Thursday afternoon to update her on our document status and heard the same phrase, "We don't have any children yet." I wasn't surprised. I would have been surprised to hear different. I told her that was fine, and we would continue to wait. Friday morning I went online to look at the waiting children for our agency. I look quite often and have never found a situation that fits our own. But this morning was different... The first child listed was a 6 year old girl. Just being curious, I clicked on her picture. This smiling little girl waving at the camera captured my heart in an instant. She was beautiful and you could just feel the joy in her smile. I immediately texted Nick and told him to look at her profile. We called the agency to get more information about this little girl called TA. We discovered that she is a 6 year old girl who was orphaned at the age of 1, due to the death of her mother. She fit every requirement we had for our adoption. I was in love. Nick was in love. This precious girl was our daughter. On Friday afternoon, Nick and I accepted the referral of our fourth child. We are so excited to announce the addition of Kellerstrass baby #4, Tarekua...more details to come!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Carried for A Thousand Miles...

"No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:4-6 Three years to the date, Nick and I announced to our family and friends our desire to answer the call to adopt a beautiful baby girl from Ethiopia. We were excited and ready to face the challenges and roller coaster that we heard adoption could bring knowing that at the end, we would have another child to call our own. Two months later we got the call that changed our view of life mom was sick with leukemia. For the next 3 months our nights and weekends were spent in the hospital watching my Beautiful mother wither from a strong, intelligent woman to skin and bones who couldn't even use her hands to feed herself. I would never in a million years wish for anyone to see the sights I saw in that cancer ward. I will forever be scarred by the memories of those last months. Sometimes it's a like a nightmare playing over and over in my mind. The last day. The last hours. The last moments. The last breath. No one should ever have to experience the pain of losing a loved one. It's an ocean of pain that drags you under and holds you there until you cannot breathe. You get a wave of relief where you can finally suck in enough air just to be dragged right back down again. And so it goes, over and over and over, until finally you're too weak to cry anymore. Shortly after my moms passing, Ethiopia started making changes to their adoption policies. In an attempt to protect the children from child trafficking and unethical adoptions they were processing fewer adoptions. Rumors began that the country was moving towards closing down adoptions all together. That in itself was a constant up and down of emotions. The wait time kept getting longer and longer... Emotionally drained. Physically exhausted and spiritually lost. My faith faltered and my hope faded. Doubt moved in. God had failed. He didn't show up. And He didn't care. If no one was truly looking out for my best interests then I would look out for myself. Life on your own is hopeless. There is no peace. No joy. No reason to live. In May, we decided to leave our adoption agency for another one that was smaller with shorter wait times. We were able to find a waiting child and there was a 4-6 month timeline to bring her home. Our goal was to get her home by Christmas this year, and we were so excited! Our sweet little girl's name is Kalekidan and she was completely abandoned and living in a government orphanage with little supervision. We instantly fell in love and dreamed about life with our little Kalli Sue. My summer consisted of updating all the previously completed paperwork that had expired. At the same time, God began doing a work in my life and restoration of my faith was returning. Over and over, I was hearing how God is good. And only good. His will may not be our will but it's not to hurt us, it's to protect us. I was realizing that through it all, God was walking with us. In the days and months when I felt God wasn't there and couldn't possibly care, I realized He was carrying me. When I cried out into darkness without a sense of response, he was whispering promises in my ears. He never left me, He held me in my pain. He carried me when I couldn't possibly move forward on my own. He never left my side. Today we got the devastating call...Kalekidan's paperwork could not be completed and the police could no longer move forward in their investigation. Kalekidan would not ever be adoptable by us or any other family for that matter. An abandoned child with no hope of ever having a family. I waited for the pity party to begin and so far my heart is filled with peace. My God is good and only good. I believe He has Kalekidans best interests in mind and that He loves her. I believe He will be her family and her home. I believe He will provide for our family when it is His time. we don't know what our next plan of attack will be. Honestly, we are uncertain which direction we will take, but we know God's will and desire is for us to abide in Him and take comfort in Him. That He is in control of our lives, and we are in no better place than His arms. And in this we will find refuge. "After all You are constant. After all You are only good. After all You are sovereign. Not for a moment did you forsake me. Not for a moment will You forsake me"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Epic Fail

One of the greatest blessings this world can offer is the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. It's a lesson I've been relearning each year of my life and during each trial. This past year, my relationship with Christ and my belief in His character has also caused the greatest strife in my life.

Because when you accept Jesus, you also accept the spiritual battle that is being waged for your soul.

Satan is the Master Deceptor, and he wants nothing more than to take the joy and redemption from your walk with Christ. Satan wants to destroy this gift you've been given and turn you back to a child of darkness.

And he's been playing hard with me.

For a year now, he's been whispering the most evil lies into my ear, and in my doubt and sadness, I've believed him. It's an ugly truth and one that has kept me from sharing my thoughts, feelings, and journey with all of you. But by Grace, I'm seeing my failure.

I'm realizing some of the misconceptions I have about God based on my own human perceptions and "satanic convictions". My mom's two year battle with breast cancer, leukemia, and all the complications and near death experiences caused by this disasterous disease drew me closer to God like never before. The nurses and doctors were calling her their "Miracle Girl", but we all knew who performed the miracle. Her life and story was a testimony to so many people, it was hard not to stand up on a table and shout...


But the night that she died, it was a shock and huge slap in the face.

I remember being with her during her last few hours and my entire family crying out to God with eager anticipation for His next miracle. We knew He was using her story for His glory, and I was confident that He was going to step in and wow us all.

When my mom took her last breath, I was confused. I may have even looked around with questions on my face, I don't remember, but I clearly remember thinking, "He missed it. He came too late. He failed."

As so I've been wrestling with this mentality and doubt all year.

I'm a control freak and I've always struggled with trusting people with responsibility, relationships, and my feelings because I fear they will fail me. But I've always been taught that God will never fail us. The agony in losing that hope overtook me and I put up a wall between God and I.

If no one can be trusted to put my good first then I will trust the only one who is looking out for me and my desires...myself.

My other misconception of God has truly been a lifelong battle to overcome. I can honestly say, I'm still there yet. To me God is distant. He sits on a throne up in the sky moving people around like chess pieces. The little things in life are not a concern for Him...

BUT if we sin He is right there to knock our pieces over.

To me God is about discipline. I put Him in a box that only I can understand. I don't "get" unconditional love. I'm a "do-er", a hardworker. Everything I own, I work for. I take pride in my clean home, my well fed family, my servant heart. I worry that if my kids are acting out or a hair is out of place, then no one would want to associate with my out of control famiy, or that I am failing my husband.

I am Martha, and I earn your love and approval by my actions and talents.

At the same time, I'm completely insecure and need a lot of reassurance of one's love, so I work even harder to earn it. I know if I fail, then I've disappointed someone and somehow that truth is unbearable for me to live with.

But with God, relationships don't work this way. I can't earn my way to Him, I can't earn His approval.

I already have it.

He already loves me.


I just can't wrap my head around it. I've "done" nothing to deserve it, and if anything, I deserve the wrath and punishment I feel should be coming. I know I've disappointed Him with my life. So I see the bad things in my life as my punishment.

So here I am today at a fork in the road. Where will I choose to head this day forward?

Our pastor, Tim Harkness, has been in an amazing series and he spoke right to my heart the past few weeks. His message, along with some convicting worship, opened my eyes to some of these false convictions I've been allowing to capture my thoughts.

Will I allow my personal grief and misconceptions of Christ to make my heart cold or will I trust that He knows if a sparrow falls to the ground, and the number of hairs on my head, or more importantly that my mom's life coming to an end was a part of His greater plan and not a mistake.

Will I believe that He never fails and sees all. Will I learn to understand, as Pastor Tim said, "What I DO is not 'to be loved'. I AM LOVED!"

I still have a lot to learn and process, but I believe God will help me find my way back to trusting Him.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6,7