Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blogging Again: A New Adventure

Standard

Are you surprised?  I know I am!  I had always wondered when and if God would call me back to this blog again.  Here we are.  A grand new adventure.  Where do I begin this story?  I think it goes back a ways, but I think I will start where we are and weave back to where it began.

So the news today, we are moving.  Chad has accepted a position as an Operations Manager at Young Life’s newest camp on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Tudor Farms.  How we got to this place is nothing short of a million prayers and miracles…some of which I didn’t even know I was praying, they were just longings and feelings that I knew there was something that we had planned for that had not yet been realized.  God was still working out so many details and so much time had to pass so that all things could work out in his timing.

This will no doubt involve many changes for our family.  The first is a big move…actually in stages.  Chad is moving on January 12, Samuel (5th grade) will be joining him on January 19 *sob*.  The other 4 of us will remain for the rest of the school year.  The girls are both seniors and Thomas is a junior.  We will be selling the house and moving in at some point with very generous friends.  🙂  During this time Samuel and Chad will be renovating our 95 year old farmhouse that will be our home come mid-June when we are all reunited in Maryland!  I think that is all the news I can manage for today…I will keep you posted and will post pictures as time goes by, especially of our farmhouse reno!

love, amy

Advertisements

A New Year, and God is not done yet!

Standard

Well here we at our second Christmas.  Our second New Year’s.  Wow.  So much has happened…let me give you an update!

Vanessa is in the 9th grade. I am so proud of her,  truly, Vanessa has amazed us.  As of this very moment her average in Algebra I is a 103.  She struggled horribly with Pre-Algebra last year and we were so nervous about Algebra this year but she has rocked it out!  She has done the same in her other classes.  She has also jumped right into high school life, from clubs, to sports, to Young Life.  It has been great to see and another way that God continues to show us his goodness.

We are so thrilled to be on our second year…we had a fabulous “Gotcha Day” party in August to celebrate her being here with us for one year.  It was so wonderful to see so many who have prayed for us and loved us and her all together in one place.  It was also special to have Vanessa’s friends with us as well.  I think it was very cool for her to get to celebrate being adopted with her friends.  It sets her apart as something so very special.

I could make this post go on forever…but I really have one particular thing to share that has just happened.   Just before Christmas we got a call from our adoption agency asking us if we would be willing to share part of our story for the local news as a way to promote older child adoption as well as the summer hosting program that our agency has.  I immediately said yes…bolted out of Kohl’s and ran home to shred my house in preparation for them coming the VERY NEXT MORNING.  Fortunately, before I got too far she called me back and asked if we could switch it until January 2.  Whew.  Crisis averted.

As our 2 weeks of Christmas break passed by we talked a lot about what would be happening when they were here.  We were all excited to share in this together and also so excited to see how many kids might get adopted or hosted because of our story.  We also might or might not have cleaned our house within an inch of our lives and *someone* might have talked herself into buying all new pillows for the sofa.  Then on Jan 1 we got the email that they wanted to change it to the 4th…now I am frustrated.  But on the 3rd we got the email that they were indeed coming on the 4th at 1:30.  The kids were excited to get out of school early and I was thrilled because I don’t work on Friday!  More time to clean!!  On the 4th Chad and I went out to breakfast and I did do some cleaning but not as insane as I thought I might….someone did mention that if I made it too perfect the average family would think they couldn’t do it.  Then as I was on my way to the school to pick Samuel up I found myself praying, just praying to God that he would be glorified and that whatever he wanted would happen and please just help us be brave and maybe make my kids look like they don’t wrestle on the floor all the time.  And that was when I heard it.  God said, so deeply in my soul that it could only be him…”I am not done yet.”  The heaviness of those words were incredible…the weight in my heart is indescribable.  I am not done yet.  Part of that makes me shake in my boots and then another part thrills me to the core.

I might have mentioned before how quick I am to forget?  Well I am in a stage where I have forgotten how tenderly and perfectly the Lord cared for us during all the months of waiting, in the first months of arriving, during our struggles and during our joys.  For some reason I keep thinking that now we are “settled” that all his attention is gone.  That our story is over.  But it’s not over!  Now we have the chance for even more kids to be adopted because of our story!  Who knows where this will lead in the future.  And even if it only leads to this one news story and even one kid being adopted it is one more way of God showing us He is not done yet.  Not done with our story (it’s not over), not done with Vanessa (she is His precious daughter), not done with me (he will never leave me or forsake me.)  I am so excited to see what will happen next!  And I so badly want to continue to remember that God is not done with us yet.  He will never be done until Christ returns, and what a GLORIOUS day that will be!

♥amy

We Are Not Forgotten

Standard

You know, the more I learn the more I realize how much I don’t know…and God has a wonderful way of shining a mirror on my unbelief.  I often feel like the man who tells Jesus, “I do believe!  Help me overcome my unbelief!”  I want to believe I always trust God and know that his provision is perfect, but then He says, “Yeah, I know you believe me for *this*, but what about all the other stuff?”  I have been reminded in the sweetest way of God’s perfection and his unending involvement in our story.

In recent months, (really maybe since we returned home), I have felt like the MIRACLE of the adoption was over…God had shown us his kingdom perspective, we had responded, he performed about a million miracles….and now it was my turn to pull up my bootstraps and struggle through the rest of it….that whole unbelief thing.  Like I think God is going to say, here she is!  now you are on your own!  Kind of like the nurses when you are leaving the hospital with a newborn.  But he is SO NOT LIKE THAT!  He is ever present, ever tending to each one of us, right where we all need it most.

Now on to the story…honestly, school has been very hard for Vanessa academically.  We had to jump her ahead three grades from where she was and let this year be her “catch up year” before going to high school.  She is an incredibly hard worker and her teachers adore her.  They have been wonderful and have gone above and beyond in so many instances.  Our ESL teacher has literally carried her (and me) through the entire year.  In our state there are end-of year exams that are extremely difficult for ALL kids….tremendously more so for a student who has jumped ahead three grades and is experiencing her first year in full English immersion.  She was exempt from the Reading for this one year, but had to take Science and Math.  The math was the one that had me truly terrified.  It is hard!  And she had to take pre-algebra this year.  Her grades have been good and are a true testament to her hard work, but this was a standardized test. Chad and I even met with the staff at the school to discuss HOW she would be told that she didn’t pass so as not to devastate her.  😦  I was literally feeling sick about it all.

This is where the story starts to get good. The week before the EOGs I got a letter from the school in the mail.  It said that Vanessa was being given an award at by her school at an awards night that recognized all the students in our cluster.  I cried and cried.  I was stunned, but not half as stunned as she was!  Her school was recognizing her hard work!  It was a surprise as to what the award would be until that night but all we could think was, What a blessing.  The awards ceremony was going to be on May 22, the week after EOGs.  I was thinking about how sad it would be to go to the award ceremony when all she would be thinking about was how she would have to retake the EOG, (you get two tries).  The last day of EOGs I took the kids out to dinner to celebrate…it was OVER and no matter what they had all done their best.  While at dinner my cell phone rang from our middle school….I almost fainted bc I was sure it was the call I had been dreading!  I jumped up and walked away from the kids, we were sitting outside, and braced myself.  It was our assistant principal.  He said that he had to call me tonight because he couldn’t wait until tomorrow for me to find out that Vanessa had passed the math!!!!!!  Talk about light-headed.  I thanked him over and over and went back to our table.  I said, “That was Mr. N.  I have something to tell you all. ”  Very sober faces.  I started smiling and shared the good news.  We all started cheering and hollering…it was a great moment.  And then something came out of Vanessa’s mouth that I pray I never forget…she said, with a look of amazement, “God did not forget me!”  I could have laid down and sobbed my eyes out at the moment….because you know what?  He didn’t forget me either.  And I was walking around feeling like I am carrying all of this huge burden of her schooling, and her emotional health, and her adjustment and in that moment God said, “I have still got this Amy.  Believe it or not I am still 100% in charge of all of this, regardless of what you think.”  I am sad to say that I sort of feel like he had just left me here too.  Much the way she must have been feeling.

And then just a few days later, the following Tuesday, we sat in that awards ceremony with our family, my parents, and our pastor, as our sweet girl walked up on the stage to receive her award.  Most Improved Student in Cuthbertson Middle School for the year!  Only one student gets this award.  I sat on the floor trying to get a good picture, but the tears made it too blurry.

And all I could think was, “God Has Not Forgotten Us.”  He is so sweet to remind me that he has not forgotten even one of us.  He holds every tear and I believe he remembers all of our laughter too.  How quick am I to forget all that he has done.  And that He continues to blow me away…I have another one to add to my list of great and awesome wonders that I have seen with my own eyes.

New International Version (©1984)He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.

New Living Translation (©2007) He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.

And the other one I do NOT want to forget again is this one!

Mark 9:22-24

But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Springtime

Standard

It is hard to believe that it was Valentine’s Day the last time I posted on here!  I guess no news is good news right?  We have continued to move right along.  Some days are unbelievable.  So much joy in our home and so much harmony that it is impossible to believe that she has been home a mere 8 and a half months.  And then other days there is still an air of uncertainty.  I find that there are things I don’t know how to parent.  I find that attachment may be an ever elusive term.  How do you know when you are there?  How will we know that we are attached?  When will she believe that she is really staying forever?  I think she knows it in her head…but when will she believe it with her heart?

This is really God’s story….NOT MINE!  It only is mine in the sense that I get to show off his glory in our lives.  That is the beauty of following God into his kingdom.  There are moments where I feel discouraged, I guess that is really true of all parenting, but there are moments when God whispers to me, “Look how far she has come.”  And she has…we all have.  And by God’s unending grace we will continue to move forward.

For all intents and purposes and from a world view Vanessa is doing great!  She sings, she dances, she has friends that she hangs out with…she does homework, goes to youth group and watches movies with her siblings.  I want you all to know how very happy she is!  She is a very different girl than the one we brought home.  She was OH SO SHY when we first arrived in the Philippines to pick her up and in the first weeks home.  I honestly thought that “shy” was just her personality.  Nope.  Maybe it is the bad influence of our very loud family, or maybe it is the security of home.  But she is no longer the once shy girl we brought home in August.

We have been blessed.  We have had the privilege of watching other adoptive families bring their children home.  We have been blessed to talk to several families interested in adoption about our experience.  Some have made the decision to move forward and some have not…which again is all God’s plan.

Here are some pics from the Spring…

Valentine’s Day Card, from Chad

Standard

I don’t know about you but I hate picking out V-Day cards.  It is hard to find one card that says it all so I end up settling for a card and adding a few words of my own.  This year I found myself reflecting a little more on the whole love thing and what I wanted to express to Amy…after all, this has been quite a year for all of us and no card can even begin to express my feelings and gratitude for her. 

So, I decided to write a blog post instead of spending a small fortune on a card…I am not sure if this follows the blog etiquette, but you can send your complaints to Amy since it is her blog! 

When I think about the past six months these words come to mind:  grace, patience, and courage.  As a family we have learned so much during the transition of Team Martin.  I am proud of the courage that all our children have displayed and God has given us just enough patience and grace when we needed it.  When I look back I often ask “how did we do it?”  God’s grace continues to be sufficient and we give Him all the glory for His faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1)

In addition to God’s grace a lot of credit goes to Amy for modeling and living out grace, patience, and courage for our family.  I am proud of her and while she would never admit it, she has been strong and brave.  I’ve read Proverbs 31 and there are a lot of things in there about a wife, but here are some of the reasons (not found in a card) that I love my wife and the mother of my children…

  • After returning from the Philippines during her first trip she didn’t pressure me to go back, but simply said, “I am just going to pray that God will lead us and He will get you there if that is His plan”
  • She worked tirelessly to complete all the adoption papers and process in record time because she said WE have to get our girl home…We have missed too much of her life already.
  • She also continues to work with our adoption agency to speak with families who are considering adoption and is the number 1 supporter of those children that need homes. 
  • She isn’t afraid to say that sometimes being a mother of four and navigating this transition is hard and some days just plain sucks
  • She always finds time to meet with ladies for coffee who just need to talk and is willing to listen even when she doesn’t have all the answers
  • She always adds that special touch that makes us feel special…I have always said she is the fine china in my paper plate life. 
  • She keeps me accountable and reminds me that life isn’t always neat and tidy
  • She’s my biggest cheerleader and believes in me…even when I fail.
  • She isn’t afraid to say, “don’t talk to me until after I’ve had my coffee” and “I hate mornings”
  • She reminds our children about the important things in life even when they don’t want to hear it
  • She’s never met a stranger and loves people and believes God is enough

I thought about closing with a verse from Proverbs 31, but instead I decided to quote a country song by Alabama…”She’s close enough to perfect for me”.   You see…life is hard and following Jesus isn’t always easy…it’s messy and complicated…the path is not always smooth.  Having a wife who gets this and is still willing to stay on the journey with us is enough for me. 

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Can You Believe It??

Standard

Well I can’t…I am sure you are shocked that I am blogging.  But that is actually not the ‘Can you believe it?’ that I am referring to.  What I can’t believe is that tomorrow will be one YEAR since I went into the office at Christian Adoption Services with my application and a check…and shaking hands and a commitment to adopt Vanessa.  This past weekend was one year since the longest 3 days of my life.  The three days in which Chad and I threw caution to the wind, squelched a million fears, and took a leap of faith.  Saying “Yes” to God was not easy.  It was terrifying.  But at one point in the weekend I remember lying in our bed, in the dark of night, talking and wondering about all the what-ifs.  We talked about obedience.  We talked about our 3 bio kids and what this would mean for them.  We talked about Vanessa and what this would mean for her.  We talked about money.  We talked about everything.  And then we landed on that we knew that we knew that we knew that this is what God was calling us to.  No matter what.  What we really did was decide to die to ourselves and our wants and say yes to the kingdom of God.  I really believe that.  And let me promise you, as terrifying as it was, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  One thing that Chad said that will always stick with me is, “What if we said no and missed something wonderful God had for us?”  Let me promise you, we would have missed something wonderful.  I would have missed having another daughter, Lizzie having a sister, and my boys having another sister.  We would have missed God providing every single penny we needed for our adoption!  I would have missed having four children.  Do you know how I LOVE to say to people that I have FOUR kids???  And how I love even more the chance to tell them that God did it???  That he grew our family again when we didn’t expect it, or plan it, or even dream it, he did it anyway.  Because he loves us, and he loves our daughter.  Do you know how humbled I am that God would trust me to parent her?  A sweet girl so in need of parenting…that he would consider Chad and I worthy of being her parents still knocks me straight to my knees.

We have learned a million lessons, maybe more.  One of my favorites is that when you say YES, you better be ready and then you better get out of the way, because God is about to SHOW UP!  And oh, how he has shown up…my relationship with the Lord (and Chad’s too I am safe to say) has gone to such a level that I never thought possible.  I trust him about a million times more with everything in my life.  And I thought I trusted him before!  When I say God called us to this, I think it doesn’t sound like a strong enough phrase.  I feel that God has called me to things before, like marrying Chad, or becoming a mother, or women’s ministry.  But THIS calling was so strong…we felt like we were flying high right smack in the middle of God’s will and it is by far my favorite place to be.  I want him to call me to something else, so I can be there again.  I loved it.  I wish I could find a way to find that feeling in my everyday life, not just in the big things. 

Some things about this journey have been very hard, I will not lie.  But God has been tender with us and handled us so gently.  There is much left to this journey.  On February 16th, Vanessa will have been here 6 months and she will OFFICIALLY be ours…her name will officially change and our adoption will be final.  In some ways I though we would be farther by this point and in other areas, I can’t believe we’ve come this far.  We realize that is just how it is and that we keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Please know that we still have hard days…I think a lot of people thought the hard part was over when we got home.  In actuality, everything leading up to our landing at the airport was the Prologue.  When we stepped off the airplane we started Chapter 1. Vanessa is doing beautifully at school and in all of her relationships, both at home and school.  We are waiting for that magic moment when we think she really believes that we will be her parents forever.  I am waiting with much anticipation for her to call me Mom.  I know it is worth the wait, because when she says it, she will mean it.  I would rather wait than have it be empty.  She did however, write a note to me that started with “Mom-” this week so I see progress.  🙂  I savor every baby step we take!

I feel that I have rambled on too long!  Keep praying for us!  We love and cherish your prayers and involvement more that you will ever know!  I will try to blog more often!

♥amy 

Preparations for Christmas

Standard

I cannot believe it is already December 12! On the 16th Vanessa will have been home for 4 months. Time is flying by! She is doing so wonderfully! We are seeing her adjust so much now as the homesickness is fading. She has made a sweet friend with a girl in our neighborhood. I am so thrilled about this and can see a definite change in her since this has happened. School is going well, although pre-algebra is certainly a challenge. She is working so hard and we know that she will be successful.

She is enjoying the Christmas season. ABC Family plays 24 hour Christmas movies and on the weekends she is watching them almost around the clock! She has enjoyed the baking and the decorating. Yesterday she got to experience her first parade in our sweet little town! Her friend and she painted their nails to look like candy canes. I have to admit…she is seeming more and more like an American teenager. SHOCKING I know! The other thing she has loved is surprising Samuel every morning by having his “magical” elf, Rebecca, do mischievous things around the house. The heartbreaking part…one night after designing an elaborate hoax she said, “I wish I was still little enough to believe in this.” It slayed me. I too wish she had been with me since she was a little girl. I wish I had been able to protect her from so much heartbreak! There is so much struggle in my mind as to why her life had to be so hard and have so much abandonment and loss and change.

On the flip side…one recent success we have had is that after hearing that there were some changes at the children’s home where she lived, the girls are living in a new place, she said, “I am glad I am not there.” I know this may not seem like much to you all, but it took all I had not to jump up and down with pure joy! I am really waiting to hear her say that she is glad she is here. Time will provide for that, I am sure.

We are looking forward to having her experience Christmas with us. God has blessed us with an amazing year and when I think about how much I was missing her last year and that this year the “unadoptable” girl is LIVING IN MY HOUSE…AND SHE IS MY DAUGHTER NOW!!!! Two verses have now combined in my mind…the first I have shared before from Deuteronomy 10:20-21 20 Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.   I am certain I never want to forget all the great and awesome wonders I have seen with my own eyes, (and continue to see).  The second that has come to me during the Christmas season is from the story of Jesus’ birth from Mary’s point of view.  Let’s remember, Mary rode on a donkey to Bethlehem, full term and possibly in the early stages of labor, had a baby in a cave or barn of some sort with stinky animals all around, without the benefit of a dr, epidural, hospital bed, or even electricity (and her approximate age is 14, the same as Lizzie)….and then shepherds started showing up.  REALLY?????  I think that must have been what she was thinking!   But in the book of Luke it says…But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  I want to be like Mary.  When my situation seems stressful or crazy or just plain out of control…instead of saying “REALLY?????”  I want to treasure up all these “great and awesome wonders” I have seen with MY own eyes and ponder how awesome my God is.  That he would allow us to be witness to this adoption and to his true story of redemption in the most beautiful of stories.  Wow.