Monday, January 31, 2011

the prayer list

i'm overwhelmed with thankfulness for you, the precious friends and family who have sent us notes and messages letting us know that you're praying for us and asking how you can continue to be praying from this point on.  there are some very specific things we're putting before the lord for this next week, and we would be honored to have you join with us in these:
  • please pray for an overwhelming peace to cover our children's hearts while we're gone.  the longest they've ever been away from us was for a single night, and even then, we were in the same city. 
  • pray for safe travels for us to and from ethiopia (via germany) as well as for our families that will be driving our little people around in birmingham.  as we understand all too well, highway 280 can be a dangerous place!
  • speaking of the family that will be with our kids, josh's mom is driving over from atlanta in the morning for us to leave.  she'll be at our house with the kids until saturday at which point she and my sister, bethany, will hand the kids off for them to go stay at bethany's house in childersburg.  here's the kicker...bethany has 1, 2, and 4-year-olds of her own so she's going to have an enormous handful.  whereas i tend to be high-strung, bethany is as easy-going as they come so i'm sure they'll be just fine.  but please pray for grandpam and bethany as they're adjusting to caring for three extra little people.
  • we'll arrive in ethiopia late wednesday night and thursday morning is when we expect to meet micah for the first time.  i'm practically bursting at the seams with excitement over that moment!  please pray that he's well, we're well, and that we're able to spend some sweet, intimate time with our baby boy.
  • on saturday, compassion international has arranged for us to spend the day visiting the child survival program that we partnered with them for after judah died.  while we're incredibly excited about it, i'm a bit anxious as well.  this will be about the time that we're hoping to visit the cemetery where judah is buried, and everything about those two wrapped up together enters a very tender part of my heart.  please pray that god will hold us close but that he will use that time to further open our eyes to the dire need for effective poverty and orphan ministry in countless places around the world.
  • please, please be in prayer for us as we appear in court on monday morning, february 7 (which will be the middle of the night-ish on sunday here in the states).  a favorable ruling means that MICAH IS OURS!  we've heard from our agency that cases have about a 50/50 pass rate, and not passing court can be due to anything from a missing signature to the judge's desire for more paperwork.  
  • but above all (and in place of everything above, if needed), we are praying that god will continue to write this story in a way that only he receives great glory.  we're not exactly the poster family for an easy or smooth adoption process, but i know this:  over these past 27 months, we have come to know the lord more intimately, we have felt his presence more strongly, and we have learned far more than we thought we could about his love and his grace.  i truly believe that it's all worth it.
for some reason, i thought that rather than write it down, it was a good idea to keep the running prayer list tucked away in my brain.  well, between the 872 other to-do's in there and the cerebral frying pan  known as "the flu", i feel like i've forgotten so much of the things i wanted to mention.  but for now, please pray with us for the situations above, and if the lord impresses something on your heart, please be in prayer for that (and pass in along too!)

much, much love to you all, and we hope to see you soon (as a family of six!)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

what a mighty GOD we serve

yesterday at 4:00 i had symptoms of full-blown flu.  severe headache, nausea/vomiting, strong cold symptoms, high fever, body aches and chills.  we were working through the process of canceling our flights to ethiopia. 

today at 4:00 i had symptoms of a minor cold.  mild headache, sore throat, NO fever.  we're now working through the process of finishing our to do-list to leave on tuesday morning.

i think there is NO OTHER explanation than healing by the one who is like NO OTHER.  if i've learned nothing else over these past two+ years of our adoption journey, i've learned that the lord can most clearly display his power and glory when things are so seemingly dark and hopeless.  a small light is virtually imperceptible in a bright room; but put that same small light in a room full of darkness, and it stands out like a glowing beacon.  thank you so very much for your prayers.  please continue to pray for full healing for me (abby's already there!) as well as continued health for the rest of the five lewis crew.

"now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in christ jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! amen."
ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Calling All Prayer Warriors

Allison mentioned yesterday that Abby had come down with some sort of virus. The doc said she tested negative for the flu, but he wasn't ruling it out. One sure sign would be if someone else came down with it. Well, Allison woke up this morning with cold symptoms. She seemed fine at first, but by around lunch time she was flat on her back. The doc also indicated that another sure sign would be if Abby's fever continued to climb. She jumped up to around 102.5 today and Allison is right behind her. Abby seems better today despite the fever. We're hoping that the same can be said of Allison tomorrow.

As we inch ever closer to leaving in just under 72 hours, it goes without saying that we're in desperate need of your prayers. Please pray that God will heal Allison and Abby and protect Izzy, Jack and me from getting anything. Should He choose not to answer each of those prayers in the particular way we have asked, please pray that the Spirit will guide us on how best to proceed -- and that He would give us peace about whatever that looks like.

I'm doing all I can to inundate all of our systems with all the right remedies, but ultimately we can do nothing more than pray in faith and trust in God's sovereign plan.


Friday, January 28, 2011

speedbump # ...oh, i've quit counting

UPDATE: strep test was negative, flu test was negative. but considering abby's strong flu-like symptoms and our unique leaving-the-country situation, our pediatrician went ahead and put her on tamiflu to try to get this under control (and help the others not get it). pray for our pumpkin, please.

imagine this:  you're cruising down the road, marveling at the good time you're making in moving toward your destination.  the last part of your journey has been remarkably uneventful (with the exception of the fact that you had to "change planes" at the very last minute), and you're anxiously awaiting the final leg of your trip.

WHOA!!!  what was that?!?  looks like we just came flying up on a big and unexpected speedbump.

meet the speedbump:
no, my precious daughter is not, herself, the speebump; however, the illness that has suddenly taken a stronghold inside of her body is. i'll know more after her appointment at our pediatrician's office this afternoon, but my guess is: THE FLU.
for the many, many of you who have asked how to pray for us as we prepare for and make our trip to ethiopia, i have a post in the works detailing exactly how to do that, but for now, please pray for abby's health (as well as that of the rest of our family). my mommy heart is simply torn in two thinking of a son who desperately needs me in ethiopia as well as a daughter who needs her mommy just as much here. i have no choice at this point other than to lay this squarely at the feet of the great physician.

and as much as we love dr. mccown at southlake pediatrics, he's not the one i'm talking about. :-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

wordless wednesday (now we just need a baby to put in it)

a huge thank you to my sweet friend, jenny!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the pachyderm parade

somehow i've lived in birmingham for close to 15 years now and have completely missed out on this little annual treat.  this morning at 9:35, i ran across something online that mentioned the elephant parade downtown as the elephants would be walked from the train station to the civic center to prepare for the circus this weekend.  i had canceled a commitment i originally had today so that i could spend some dedicated time with my sweet little people, and so i excitedly thought that this would be a perfect spontaneous treat for us to all enjoy together.

the problem?  the elephants were supposed to come through at 10:00.

do the math with me:  25 minutes until scheduled go-time + a momma and three children casually eating breakfast while still in their jammies (love, don't judge) + a 20-minute ride to the civic center = probably not gonna happen.

i ran downstairs to josh's office and asked his thoughts on whether i should give it a try or not.  he yelled, GO! -- and the frenzy started.  i informed the kids that they needed to inhale their breakfasts while i ran around their bedrooms gathering up clothes, shoes, and coats.  at 9:45, we jumped in the car and started off toward downtown (still in jammies).  when we got to the suggested point of elephant-viewing, i stripped everyone down, tossed on their clothes, zipped them up into their jackets, and hit the streets with my camera and an umbrella (thanks to the 38-degree drizzle).

was it worth it?  you tell me...


i did realize a little something about izzy while we were there, though:  perhaps we should work on prepositions because "on your nose"...


is apparently easily confused with "in your nose".   ha!


on a totally different note, on my way to meet with a bride and groom tonight, i got a call from expedia letting us know that our flights back from ethiopia had been canceled.  not bumped up, not postponed...canceled.  when i first got the call, i immediately hit panic mode.  i rambled on and on about how we simply couldn't stay in ethiopia for several more days and that we had to get back to our other children in the states.  but then i stopped, i prayed, and i committed to trust.  as we started trying to work out a new flight schedule, it quickly became evident that unless we wanted to hang out in ethiopia for most of that week, we were going to have to scrap the whole itinerary and start with a new one.  so for almost two hours tonight, that's precisely what i did on the phone with the most patient and kind representative i've ever talked with (those wonderful attributes made up for the fact that she spoke about as much english as micah does).  and after digging and searching for quite a while, we now have flights that have us away from home for one less night - PLUS, it ended up costing several hundred dollars less than our original flights! 

here's hoping that the results of our language barrier doesn't have josh and me flying to estonia rather than ethiopia.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


at the time, the question felt piercing, heavy, and in some ways, difficult to discuss.  it's not that i didn't know the answer, but within the confines of my often self-conscious, always limited being, i felt like i was crawling inside myself and butchering the beauty of what god was doing in our lives.

"why would god call you to adopt, particularly in a way that could prove to be so incredibly difficult for you and your family?"

the roots of the question ran deep and wrapped tightly around issues related to fear, financial pressures, racial concerns, and spiritual wrestling to name a few.  i think i blubbered out something related to god's sovereignty, his movement in our lives, and the fact that he tells us in scripture that his ways are not our ways (read: "his calling just doesn't make sense by the world's standards sometimes").  yes, those things are right and true, but if i'm being honest, those were just rote answers that i had tucked away in my brain from lessons long ago.

the real answer lies in a story...

november 2008.  a couple of eager 30-somethings sat on the couch in their living room and began talking seriously about what they had mulled over for years now.  the house was quiet as their four-year-old, two-year-old, and 10-month-old slept soundly in their rooms upstairs.  did it make sense to add yet another little person into their family of several already-present little people?  and was adopting from africa seriously a good plan?  many talks and countless prayers later, neither of them could shake what the holy spirit was speaking so plainly to their hearts. 

adopt.  from ethiopia.

january 2009.  they filed the paperwork to begin the adoption process, and almost immediately they were met with what can only be accurately described as enormous hurdles.  resistance, painful conversations, huge waves of expenses...and an accident that threw the husband of our little story into emergency surgery on the day their home study was to begin.  two camps quickly emerged:  the "see, if this were god's will for you, this would go a lot easier" side and the "trust, persevere, and rely even more on god" side.

and the eager 30-somethings?  they sat timidly dead on the middle of the fence and prayed to confidently join the latter.

as time went by assurance grew, faith blossomed, and on july 30, 2010 the couple ecstatically celebrated the first tangible fruit of their journey:  the birth of a new baby into their lives.  but before the euphoria even had time to wane, a tsunami-sized wave crashed over their unsuspecting hearts.  poverty, disease, and death claimed the earthly life of the baby they so desperately loved and wanted. 

hours of heart-ripping-apart agony turned into long days of the same, which gradually transformed into an entirely different form of pain.  he stayed strong, but she - that self-sufficient, got-it-all-together gal - began to unravel.  oh, you didn't see it happening.  nobody did.  she became the master of carefully donning her mask of okay-ness each morning, only to throw it off each night as she tried to sleep.  the vision of her baby's stiff, lifeless body haunted her dreams, and little by little, she slipped off into her own private world of unbearable pain, sin, and loneliness. 

as she spent her days convincing her family and friends that she was doing just fine, another story was being written on the other side of the world.  days after birth, a tiny baby was found on the corner of a dark street in ethiopia.  no home, no family, not a thing to call his own.  by the world's standards, he was a helpless mess and didn't have a thing to offer.  he desperately needed someone to come save him.  when the couple learned about him, it became their mission to give him a home, to give him love, and to give him life. 

as these two stories collide, it brings us back to the question that started this whole thing:  why would god call you to adopt in this way?  my friends, after more ugliness and pain than i can express right now, i can tell you confidently that i now know the answer. 

it's because adoption is god's specialty. 

"god decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through jesus christ. this is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."  ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

i am her.  i'm the broken 30-something that lay a crumpled heap on the floor.  and by the world's standards i, too, was a helpless mess and didn't have a thing to offer.  i, too, desperately needed Someone to come save me - to give me a home, to give me love, and to give me life. 

"what a wretched (wo)man i am!  who will rescue me from this body of death?  thanks be to god - through jesus christ our lord!" (romans 7:24)

never in my life has the lord's love and grace been so evident to me as it has been over these past few weeks.  i, myself, was an orphan, separated from my perfect, holy creator by an infinite chasm of sin and rebellion.  "but god demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, christ died for us"  (romans 5:8).  was my adoption into god's family an easy path?  was the journey quick and painless?  far from it!  as you read in the previous verse, the reconciliation of a wretched sinner to a holy god comes at a great price, and acceptance of that undeserved grace is the only way to be adopted as the lord's own. 

as for my own personal suffering, it "just so happens" that david platt spoke directly to this in church today.  he asked, "how can the world see a suffering christ in me if everything goes perfectly in my life?"  no pain, no difficulty, no reason to need anything beyond myself.  these last two years - those marked by hurt, intense struggle, and death - brought me to the end of me and, praise god, laid me squarely at the feet of christ.  it took me awhile.  and in all honesty, when i was at them i despised some of the stops along this journey.  but i can finally answer that question from so long ago:  as an undeserving recipient of god's limitless love and infinite grace, it's my honor and joy to thankfully reflect the beauty of my own new life by bringing a precious baby boy home to be ours and to tell him an even bigger, more glorious story of love, sacrifice, and adoption. 

as i shared with a friend this week, this story is such a dramatic mix of raw ugliness and intense beauty, and it points directly to the greatest story i know: 

"once you were alienated from god and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  but now he has reconciled you by christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemisn and free from accusation."  
colossians 1:21-22

Tuesday, January 11, 2011