If you have visited here before, you can probably see that I have changed the name of the blog again. I started blogging at 4URuthie to tell the story of our journey to adopt our 1st daughter. I changed it to Mountains for Maggie when we were praying for God to move mountains on behalf of our 2nd daughter. Well now it is no longer just Ruthie’s or Maggie’s stories. It is now our family's story, and the stories of those we share life with, as we Conquer Mountains together. Both ConqueringMountains.net and 4URuthie.blogspot will lead here.

About Me

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I am a pastor's wife, mother of 4 kids (2 adopted and 3 with special needs), physical therapist, and photography junky. This is where it all comes together for me. Feel free to join along as I process life out loud.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Energy for the wait

God tends to give me energy for what He has called me to and it is a pretty regular part of my spiritual language.  I find it simple to say no to something if "I don't have energy for that".

With this adoption process, I would frequently get overwhelmed when I looked 2 steps ahead of me and it was generally because I just had energy for whatever came next.  When we would wrap up one step, I would feel all empowered to conquer the next one.  Until now.  Now we wait.  We wait for CNY to pass and we wait for them to issue our TA.  There is nothing I can do.  There is nothing to speed it along.   For the first time, I don't have energy for the next step.  I have energy for 2 steps from now- travel.

If you know me (and you don't even have to know me well), you know that I don't wait well.  So now we find ourselves back in the wait, and I simply don't have energy for that.

Exodus 14:14- The Lord will fight for you; You need only to be still.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

TA Wait Begins

We are through the immigration steps and man were they tough.  First it was our I800, then the NVC, that darn GUZ # and pdf, and finally to the Consulate for an Article 5.  When we adopted Ruthie, those steps did not exist.  I completely understand their purpose and will not complain about their existence, but I am REALLY glad they are DONE!

So what now?

Well we celebrate the year of the horse with the Chinese until they return to work somewhere around February 8-10th.  Normally, CNY is a fun holiday around here.  Last year we released lanterns and made big memories.  This year it is that week that stands between me and my child.

Now we wait again.  We would love to travel in February but recognize that things would really have to fall into place for us.  Please be praying with us that we receive our TA quickly after they return to work.  We are ready to bring that baby girl home and get her the care she needs.

In the meantime, I am trying to make the most of the time with our family as it currently stands.  I feel this deep need to gather my kids and do lots of snuggling.

Here is a pic of my youngest two enjoying the recent ice day.  Umbrella hats courtesy of a Forbidden City vendor on my last trip to China.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Doing Life Well

We are getting closer with each passing day to traveling to get our Maggie.  Because of the uncertainty of travel, I cut back on my photography commitments this spring and it has left me with extra time on my hands.  That has given me more time to cook, clean, prepare, and just think.

I feel this stronger than normal urge lately to DO LIFE WELL.
It got me thinking about what the components are of a life lived well and here is what I came up with:

1. Slow Down- I don't know about you but my pace of life is the #1 enemy to me doing life well.  I am so busy checking things off of my list most of the time that I sacrifice what counts, like family dinners and eye to eye time with my kids.   The hubs read a book once where the author said, "Hurry is the enemy of Love."  So true.

2. Find the Purpose in all that you do-  I have been feeling a bit disconnected from my PT job lately.  It was starting to feel like a means to a paycheck to pay off another adoption expense and I was ceasing to enjoy it.  Then something clicked for me last Sunday.  I am missing the opportunity to minister to the older patients who come across my schedule.  I still had purpose in the clinic (beyond a pay check).  I just needed to find it.   This week has been more fulfilling and purposeful.

3. Stay True to the Commitments God has Called You to-  When times get tough, it is so easy to want to bail on our commitments.   Satan climbs up on our shoulder and whispers in our ear how much easier things would be if we just let go of XYZ.   Staying committed and fighting the good fight is where God refines us into His image.  Living life well requires committing and staying committed to God's calling, even when it is hard.

4. Trust in the Unseen- Sometimes we see God moving and every corner is a revelation of His plan, but sometimes it just gets still.  It is during the still times that we have to trust in the unseen.  We have to cling to what we know is true.  These are also tests of our faith and times of being refined.  We must trust in the unseen in order to live well through the hard times.

5. Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone- The times that I have seen God move and have experienced the most growth is when I have said yes to the things that made me more uncomfortable than I had wanted to be.  The first step is to lay down your entitlement.  That will separate you from the first 90% of Americans (in my opinion).  Then you stop and listen to God's call.  Where is He moving?  What is He consistently putting in front of you?  What would require a step of faith?   Then take that first step.  You don't have to take them all at once, just the first one.

Want to hear a story about that?  I did not go into Ruthie's adoption with the plan to adopt a special needs child.  My first step was just calling the agency and getting an application.  The second step was answering the phone when they called and saying "no" to the waiting child program for kids with special needs.  Third step was praying again and letting God change my heart.  About 101 steps later, we had Ruthie.  I am so glad that we took that first step.

With foster care, I had the application in my drawer for a year before I filled it out!!!!  See you don't have to do it all at once.  Just take the first step toward living outside of your comfort zone, whatever that may be.

I hope this encourages you as we press on to live life well.

Here is the verse for today from my bible study.  I thought it was fitting





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I800 APPROVAL!! New prayer request!!

We got our I800 approval just now and so we have a new prayer request.

***Please pray that the NVC would process our paperwork and send us our GUZ# and pdf before the end of the week.


THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!   WE ARE ONE STEP CLOSER!!!!!!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Everyday Courage

My friend gave me this bracelet right before she left for the mission field and I wear it every day next to a bracelet that I bought in Baoji.  

At first when I would look at it, I would think of the friend who gave it to me.  Her choice to sell everything she owned and go to a foreign land was one of the greatest acts of courage that I have seen in a long time. 

But I got to thinking this week about a different kind of courage.  It is not the courage that enables us to do big things like go on the mission field, train for a marathon, or quit a job, but it is the kind of courage that simply gets us through today.  

It is courage to take care of difficult child, it is courage to get out of bed some days, it is courage to believe in a struggling marriage,  courage to take control of your health, courage to ask for help when that is outside of your comfort zone, courage to speak the truth in love, and the list goes on and on.   
Side note- these are not all personal so don't worry dad. :)

C.S. Lewis wrote, 

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of 

every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of 

highest reality. ”

Reread that and think about it:

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ”

*So courage is walking out any given virtue when it is most difficult to do so.  So what virtues are we talking about? Okay all of them, but let's name a few and provide some examples:

Acceptance- Courage to accept a certain set of circumstances or a certain person as God's best.
Cheerfulness/Joyfulness- Courage to see the beauty in our day and find joy in it.
Confidence- Courage to walk boldly in the path that God has set before us.
Devotion- Courage to stay faithful to our commitments.
Endurance- Courage to continue in the race before us when we want to be done.
Excellence- Courage to do our best when our motivation may not be there.
Gentleness- Courage to not respond out of emotion but to be gentle in the way we approach others.
Hope- Courage to trust in God's promise and look to the future when all around you may seem lost.
Peacefulness- Courage to pursue peace in your day and your circumstances
Thankfulness- Courage to set your eyes on your blessings, to have perspective, and to give thanks.

Oh my goodness these are just a few out of probably a 100.

What do you need courage for today?
It doesn't have to be something enormous by the world's standards.  Maybe it is just enormous to you and you have reached the "highest reality" of a specific virtue.   I can tell you that what I consistently need courage for is letting God have the big things like the adoption so I can honor Him in the everyday.  I guess I would be at the "highest reality" of trust.

May we all embrace the realities of our day with the virtue of courage.





Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Introducing Maggie Mei Rebecca Henderson

Today we received our LOA which means we can now share pictures with you of our precious baby girl.  We are praying for a speedy TA process so we can bring her home as soon as possible. Thank you to everyone who has helped make that possible.





Monday, January 13, 2014

Our Experience With Foster Care and the Answers to a Few Questions

I don't share much about our foster child here mainly because I don't want to violate his privacy.  The Lord has placed him in my home for a limited amount of time and I really want to honor the little guy  and his family in what I do and don't share.  I feel the same way about my other 4 but since they are fully mine, it is a little different.

We are coming to a close on our experience with DJ.  He has been with us for almost 7 months now and he is about to move into his permanent placement.  We are sad to see him go but also overjoyed for him and for what we see God doing in this new family he is helping to form.

I thought I would answer a few questions about our experience for those who are considering the process or who have just wondered about it.

Why Did You Become A Foster Parent?     
I became a foster parent because I wanted to be obedient to what I felt like God was calling us to and honestly I wanted to see Him move.  Life gets way too comfortable around here if we let it and I knew that foster care was a place I could step out in faithful obedience and see God's hand at work. I am afraid of becoming too comfortable.

Trent added to that (when we were praying about it) that we don't think we will ever stand before God someday and have Him say that He is disappointed in us for taking care of the least of these.

How Did You Get DJ?
DJ was the 3rd child we were called on.  I say this to encourage those of you who fear what situation might be assigned to you.  The first was placed with someone else and the 2nd was going to be more than I could commit to.  CPS had spent days trying to find a family willing to take DJ but they all felt ill-equipped to handle his medical needs and the daily trips to the doctor that he required the first few weeks.

When I was told about DJs injuries, it reminded me of a child whom I had worked with on one of my PT clinical rotations.  I felt like God was telling me that experience 15 years before was to prepare me for this moment and give me the confidence I needed to say yes.  DJs condition did not frighten me but only because I had been exposed to it before.


Why Aren't You Adopting DJ?  How Do You Let Him Go After 7 Months?
The number one reason I hear people say why they don't become foster parents is because they don't want to have to let the child go.  I get that, but I view it completely different.  First, I believe the best place for a child is to be with his biological family (if they are able to care for him) so from the beginning I am for the parents if possible.  Second, I view foster care almost like being a school teacher.  That child is placed in my home for a designated amount of time.  My job is to love them unconditionally, give them stability, introduce them to the Gospel, and help make sure they are ready for where God takes them next.  My primary goal is ministry to the child not growing my family.   Here me say though, that I fully support growing your family through foster care.  That is just not the role God called us to.

It was clear pretty early on that DJ was not going to be returning to his biological family.  It was also clear that because of his experiences and how he related to those that he needed to be long term in a home where he was an only child.  Trent and I felt like God had placed him in our home for healing but that growth was going to happen in a different environment.   Thankfully, the Lord chose parents  for him who we are good friends with so we will continue to be in relationship with him and our story will be a positive first step in his new beginning.

Has It Been Hard? Would You Do It Again?
Yes it has absolutely been hard.  But think about it, any time you bring a new child into your home it is hard.   I was not taken off guard by hard.  I knew it was going to be hard and I knew that was where God would continue the work His process of breaking me of my selfishness and it would force me to look to Him.    Yes I would absolutely do it again.  I think when Maggie is stable and secure in our family unit, we will look into fostering babies some day.


How Did It Affect Your Kids and Family?
I worry that my children are growing up in a bubble.  Trent and I choose to be intentional about exposing them to the world outside of comfortable suburbia.  This was a piece of that.  It has been  hard on my kids but for the most part I am okay with that.  It  is teaching Jack to be more patient and flexible with what goes on around him.  It is teaching Sam that it is okay to love and interact with the person who doesn't appear "safe" in their behaviors.  I see in Sam a quality that I have struggled with all of my life.  We are both able to scan a relationship, determine it might be unhealthy or too hard, and then completely shut down and walk away from it.  I saw this in Sam with DJ for the first time and I am now very aware of it and my need to help him become more vulnerable.   It was probably hardest on Ruthie, but it showed me the coolest trait in her.  She is the most forgiving child I know.  I loved seeing how she would forgive and reach back out to DJ over and over.  

Trent and I learned to be more intentional about our time together and our time with our immediate family unit.  We will carry that intentionality over into life after he leaves and our family will be better for it.

Any Advice on Choosing an Agency?
We work with Jamison out of Clear Lake and I have had an incredible experience.  I have several friends who use Arrow and have also had a very positive experience there.  I would not be scared away if the first agency's training does not fit your schedule.  Check around and compare your options.  Each agency has its own set of requirements and guidelines.  Also, don't get overwhelmed by the requirements but just tackle them one at a time and they are very manageable.

Have any more questions?  Feel free to leave a comment and I am happy to write part 2.






Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Have Learned a Few Things About Mountains...

I have learned a few things about mountains over the last 5 months.

 1. Some Mountains Move:

Matthew 17:20- He told them, "Because of your lack of faith. I tell all of you with certainty, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. 

      When someone tells you it can’t be done without a miracle, that is the perfect time for God to show Himself and move a mountain. We have seen this several times throughout this adoption so much so that we kind of expect that response and then expect to see God move.
      The faith for that is not something we muster up in ourselves such that we can take credit for it, but it something He gives us.    This has been a big lesson.  I don’t think we can talk ourselves into believing in something enough to see God do it.   Likewise I don’t think can get enough people praying on facebook to fill up our faith meter to talk God into it.
      Let’s get back to basics of who God is here.  He is sovereign.  He is going to move that mountain and He invites us to watch Him.   I think giving us faith for it is part of the miracle of inviting us into that process and revealing Himself to us in it.


 2. Some Mountains Aren’t Meant to Move but May be There For Our Protection: 

     This is what I am sitting with most this week.  My biggest fear is that Maggie is going to get sick while in China and may not make it long enough for us to get her.  A wise friend at church pointed out last week that God may have Maggie in the orphanage a little longer to protect her from the flu and all of the other things she would be exposed to this time of year outside of those protective walls.
      I can’t help but wonder how many other things He is protecting us from that we don’t ever see.


 3. If We Try and Climb the Mountain on our Own Strength, We Will Surely Fail: 

      Sometimes when things don’t happen the way that we would like for them to, we decide to do it ourselves.
      I might have been guilty of that a time or two. Problem is, we just end up wearing ourselves out and then more frustrated then we were before the climb.
     Things to remember- It is His mountain, He will never leave us or forsake us, and He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.


 4. Sometimes We Aren’t Supposed to Move or Climb the Mountain At All : (but rather step into the boat and let the stream of God’s will and timing take us around it while we rest)

      This is the most difficult of all for me because honestly I have a hard time seeing God from the boat and I don’t do slow very well at all.   I have several friends who would love to ride in the boat every time and just soak up the peace of God’s presence in the quiet.   My problem is that I either can’t take my eye off the mountain or when it’s quiet I fear that God is no longer moving and I long for some kind of action.   I know it’s crazy to you resting people.
      Paul says “I have learned to be content in all circumstances”.   I believe those of us who don’t enjoy the stream probably have a problem with contentment.  Which then probably means we have a problem with sacrificing our will for God’s will.
 
      I wanted God to move the mountain of this LOA to get us to China before Chinese New Year, but He hasn’t done that.   Instead I believe He has placed my butt in the boat and set me in the stream. Okay, right now I am standing in the boat and rocking it like crazy because I am so uncomfortable in the stream.   My prayer is that the same faith He gave me to see the mountains move, He will return to me to help me honor Him in the boat.
     Then maybe He will let me out on the other side???

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Humbled and Amazed (And an update with ways to pray)

Humbled And Amazed:

When we adopted Ruthie, we didn't do any fundraising.  Honestly, I was too proud at that stage of life to ask anyone for help.  Also with Ruthie, we took 2 years from entering the process to getting her so there was time to save.

Our experience with Maggie has been much different.  Not only have fees gone up quite a bit, but as soon we decided to move forward we were significantly financially invested.  We have paid extra to expedite parts of her process and have moved much faster in getting her home.  We decided to move forward a few days after I returned in August and by October we were about 10K into the process.

But here is the AMAZING part!  As great as our expense has been, God's provision has been even greater.  Our friends and family have come behind us with a garage sale, t-shirt sales, a lemonade stand, personal craft sales, and other donations.   Laying down our pride (okay my pride) has allowed me to see God move through those who love this child already too.  One friend volunteered to paint cross canvases to raise money for the project and got a tremendous response.  You can read about it HERE.  

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our fundraising effort.  You are all a blessing and I can't wait for Maggie to some day read this and appreciate for herself all of the people who helped bring her home.


The Update:

We are currently waiting on a piece of paper called our LOA (Letter of Approval).  Because of our special situation, we were told that our LOA had been issued in China but they aren't sure when it will arrive.  Usually you don't know when it has been issued, but it just shows up.  This piece of information was very encouraging because it at least tells us that she is officially approved in China to be ours and stuff is moving.

Once our LOA arrives, we apply for our TA (Travel Approval).  This is a 2 step process.  There is a US Immigration step and then a China step.   My immigration officer is a gift from God and has been great at helping us along so I am encouraged that this step will go quickly.  The China side is a bit unpredictable.  TAs for normal adoptions have been taking about 8 weeks but since we are expedited we are hoping for something much quicker.

WE NEED PRAYERS:
1. For our LOA to arrive to our agency ASAP
2. For China to want to clear off their desks before Chinese New Year and process our TA super quick
3. For God to protect Maggie's heart and lungs.  In order for her to be a surgical candidate, her lungs have to be in good enough condition.  The pressure of her single ventricular pump is hard on her lungs and the surgeon says it is a miracle that she is alive.  They are wanting to reroute major veins directly to her lungs but can only do this if her lungs can handle it.   My fear is that she will contract pneumonia while waiting on us and her lungs will be too damaged to support her.

Thanks for praying with us and supporting us.



Friday, January 3, 2014

I Can't Believe She is 7!



Ruthie's 7th birthday was this week.  Instead of a party, we decided to celebrate with a series of special outings.  On Tuesday we took her to Chuck E Cheese with the neighbors, on Wednesday we went to Build A Bear and The Cheesecake Factory, and on Thursday we went to Kemah.  I didn't tote my camera along because I wanted to be all there and not hiding behind my lens.  I did however get a few shots of our day Wednesday with my cell phone.  



Happy Birthday sweet girl.  I love you more every day. 

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