Monday, February 28, 2011

The best things come in THREES...

The saying, "The best things in life come in threes" became true for us this weekend...

1 We had an amazing CRASH Weekend with our youth group (our version of Disciple Now) which culminated with the vote and announcement that Ben is the new Youth Pastorat Lake Ridge Bible Church! We are so excited about this! This past year has been a year of learning to be patient, bear with one another, and trust the Lord in spite of uncertainty. One of my favorite bands is Waterdeep, and I was reminded of the lyrics from one of their more recent songs yesterday when we got the news. "It's a long, hard road, with a good, good end..." This is a good description of howI'm feeling. But, really the end is just the beginning! Please keep us in your prayers as we begin this new journey together. While Ben has been serving as Youth Assistant and Junior High Director for the past 4 years, there are still unchartered waters ahead for us. We desire to submit ourselves to the Lord, recognize this is HIS ministry and we are simply entrusted with it. We ask for prayers for wisdom, discernment, vision & passion, patience, unity among our youth workers and students, that we would all seek to glorify God, for spiritual growth, and a ministry that produces servant leaders with a heart for Christ's heart.

2 Ben's parents have decided to move back to the DFW area! We are also very excited about this. It will be so nice to have both sets of grandparents in town when we begin our family hopefully this year. The Lord's hand has been visibly and unmistakeably at work in the process of their finding a new home here. He took care of all of the details just this weekend in their short trip here to decide on a house. They will be closing on April 13th and will move six weeks later! Ben's brother and our sister-in-law are considering moving back as well. Please pray for them as they seek the Lord's desires for their future home, career, etc. It would be so wonderful to have all of the family back here together again. Ben's sister Mary is getting married in August (for those of you that know her story, this is a HUGE praise!). Much is changing in the lives ofthe Lowery family, and we are looking forward to all that's ahead!

3 Last, but not least, we got word that our dossier is in Ethiopia! This is a HUGE relief! We honestly could get a referral any day now....which is incredibly exciting, but also really nerve-wracking! The Lord is in complete control of this, and we trust that He knows exactly which child (or children) are to join our family and when. It's crazy to think that the process could go really quickly from here, but we are prepared for it to take a while as well. We could get a referral as soon as a week from now or as long as six months from now. We will be sure to keep you all posted as the process progresses.


We hope to get an email soon letting us know we're on the waiting list! Should be any day now that we know our dossier is in Ethiopia. Please continue to pray for:
1. The needed finances for the rest of the process
2. Good stewardship and financial planning with the additional income Ben will be bringing in
3. The health and protection of our little one(s)
4. Preparation for us - mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally as we get closer to becoming parents
5. Peace of heart and mind as this process progresses
6. For wisdom and discernment as to how we will manage the tension between being parents, full-time ministers, Ben's school responsibilities, and Abby's business

We hope and pray that you are experiencing the joy of the Lord today! He is a GOOD God - in the good times and the hard times. I'm so thankful for a living and active God - even though I don't always understand how He works. He loves us so much and has a good plan for each of our lives. I pray that we would be aboutHis Glory today and every day. Please pray that this would be true in my life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dossier update....more opportunities for FAITH!

The Assistant Stork received our dossier yesterday! They will be taking it to the US Secretary of State and then the Ethiopian Embassy in the next week. This is becoming even more REAL.

We took a BIG STEP OF FAITH and mailed out a check for the $4,000 today. We know God will provide for our next BIG set of fees. He has been so faithful - and this is definitely a process of learning to trust, be good stewards, exhibit humility, accept help, work hard, and the list goes on and on. It's funny....I wrote that check today without a hint of hesitation, and Ipraise the Lord for that! I'm not naive enough to think that this means I can cross the lesson of trusting in the Lord off of my "to-do" list, but I am so excited and thankful to see that He is allowing me to grow in this area and that maybe I'm getting a little better about submitting.

"Lord, grant me the grace to continue in obedience and trust as we move forward in this process. There is so much ahead, but you are a GOOD God with a GOOD plan. Help me, by your Spirit, to continue to walk in faith and rely solely on You."

Our agency said that once they receive the check we'll be placed on the official waiting list! I'm hoping for the end of next week. I told Ben that God has some pretty amazing timing (and maybe a little bit comical too). We should also find out next weekend if Ben will officially be the next Youth Pastor at Lake Ridge. BIG weekend for us!

We are going to end our current t-shirt fundraiser with
Adoption Bug on March 1st. We are going to need some of those funds pretty soon, and they cut us a check after the entire fundraiser is complete. It's possible we'll sell t-shirts through them again later if that is an option. If you would like to
purchase a t-shirt from us, please go directly to our store. The t-shirts are SO comfy! They can run a tad small, so keep that in mind when ordering (especially if you are purchasing the fitted tee style). We appreciate everyone who has ordered t-shirts from us so far! You guys are AWESOME!

You can also still purchase coffee (and other fun goodies) from our Just Love Coffee store. W
e're hoping to have another fun and creative fundraiser this Spring, so we'll keep you
posted! Thank you guys! We love you!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Out of our hands....

We mailed our dossier off this morning!
The paperwork is literally out of out of our hands. Of course, everything about this process is really out of our hands and completely in the Lord's - which is exactly where it should be. We are, however, very thankful to have it physically done and out of the house. It's been a long road...and a confusing, up and down one at that.

So, many of you are probably asking, "What's next?" Here is your answer:
1 We mailed our original dossier to "The Assistant Stork" this morning (they assist with the processing of paperwork for adoptions). They'll receive it and take it first to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington D.C. for authentication. It will be reviewed, authenticated & bound. Then it will be taken to the Embassy of Ethiopia also in D.C. They will send it on directly to Ethiopia. (we paid about $300 for this)
2 We also mailed copies of our dossier to our agency (Love Basket) in Missouri. They will review it along with the Application Packet we just completed (paid $570 for this) and then will place us on the waiting list for our child! We can possibly expect to be placed on the waiting list within a week or two. We'll let you know when that occurs.
3 Once we're on the waiting list, we wait to be matched with a "referral" (a child). This could take 3-6 months, although it's usually on the shorter end of that timeframe. We've asked for a child (either gender) 0-2 years old. The youngest a child can be at referral is 2 months. (apparently we now owe $4,000 to our agency to be paid to the Ethiopian Embassy at this time as well which we were just told this morning AFTER i emailed our agency to tell them we had mailed everything off. She somehowforgot to mention this......TRUST IN THE LORD. He's given us lots of opportunities to put this into practice throughout this process).
4 After we receive our referral, we'll spend some time reviewing the child's file (personal & family history - which isn't always available or very extensive, medical records, medical tests, etc.). We'll take the file to an international adoption pediatrician for review as well. And of course, we will PRAY. We do not expect to reject a referral, so then we'll accept the referral, and we'll know exactly who our child is!
5 Once we accept the referral, we'll pay Love Basket another $6,000 and things will start getting underway legally. Our child will be moved from the orphanage to the transition home and we'll be waiting on a court date - which will be our first of two trips to Ethiopia. We'll be presented in court and the child will be legally ours. (we'll pay possibly $2000-$4000 for this trip) We'll have to leave our child there and come back home. (another $3,000 is due at some point during this time as well)
6 We could possibly wait 2 - 6 months before we get to go back to Ethiopia (another $2000-$4000) to finalize everything, apply for our child's visa, and take our child home. Once we get back to the U.S., the child will be OURS! We'll schedule pediatrician appointments and begin life and a crazy new adventure together as a family!

So, that's kind of the update and what we can expect. More paperwork, lots more to pay out, some crazy emotions, and lots of unknowns! It's all so worth it. The lessons we're already learning are invaluable. It's an amazing thing to literally be waiting on the Lord for EVERYTHING in our lives right now, and to have to fully trust Him. It's quite freeing actually (and this from a confessed ex-control freak).

In other EXCITING news:
Ben has been nominated as the official candidate for Youth Pastor at our church! We are so overjoyed at this, and we're praying for God's continued affirmation and direction. We will have a Town Hall meeting next Sunday, and the congregational vote on the 27th. We have been confident of God's leading us to this position, but it has been a long road with again, many more life lessons over the past year. We are thankful for God's faithfulness, patience, love, and direction, and for allowing us to be part of His work with these youth. This past year has been difficult and FULL of steps of faith, but it has definitely driven Ben and I to our knees and closer together as a married couple.

Thank you for your constant prayers! Some things to SPECIFICALLY PRAY for:
Finances: God has been SO faithful and so "on-time" throughout this process. We are trusting Him for everything now and as we continue down this path. So many of you have been so generous to us, and we are overwhelmed and humbled. We still have at the very least $15,000 more to save/raise before this process is finalized. Please continue to partner with us in prayer for God's provision, and for our patience and good stewardship with what He provides for us.

Life: Please pray for us as we are juggling a lot in our lives right now - school, Abby's business, this (hopeful) promotion at church, the adoption, and life in general. We want to be faithful, holy, and honor the Lord in all of these endeavors. We realize they all belong to HIM. We pray for wise use of our time, for continued growth in Abby's Premier business, for faithfulness and vision in our ministry at church, humility, passion in all we do, and growth as a married couple.

Our Child: Please pray for our child (who may or may not be born yet!), the child's birth parents, the orphanage he/she will be living in, the transition home, for his/her adjustment to us and our culture, and for his/her future salvation through Jesus Christ. Pray for us as we learn to be parents....and parents to a child who has lostso much already and will have so many adjustments to make here in the U.S.

We love each of you, and thank you so much for your encouragement and support. It means more than we could ever attempt to say.