Monday, December 30, 2013

Soon Enough

Only 16 more days until.....we are officially licensed and home study ready!

Oh how I have waited so long to write that! When we started this process, we expected to be licensed by Thanksgiving... Now, it's hard to believe that it's been over four months since we first started our adoption journey and now, just one day shy of 5 months, we will officially be licensed and ready to really begin the waiting game. And although that length of time used to irritate me I trust that God knows exactly when we need to be licensed by and that He has a plan for the waiting to begin exactly when it does.

Yep....the waiting really begins in 16 days. Oh, yes, more waiting.

On the bright side, work will be keeping me incredibly busy over the next few months and, in the down time that I do have, I'll be busy frantically completing agency and grant applications to what seems like hundreds of places. And these applications really take some time...But just being able to do something will make me feel like we are making progress again.

Preparing our home for our home study has been a little surreal for me... You see, when Jarrod and I first moved into our cute little home, we 'set aside' a room right away to be our eventual nursery. For what seemed like too many months, the room was just a storage room - where all the 'extras' in our house got stashed until we could figure out what to do with them. It became the ironing room, the winter coat storage closet, and the occasional room to set up an air mattress in when we would have friends visit. However, neither Jarrod or I quite expected for the room to sit as empty as it did for as long as it did. But, regardless of what we had planned, God had a different idea altogether. So...the room sat empty and unused.

Until this weekend...

This weekend, we cleared it out, organized the closet, rid of the floor of the 'extras' and began to prepare it to be 'inspected.' Now, we don't have to have a nursery ready to our home visit but Jarrod and I had decided long ago that we would start slowly getting the nursery together when our home study was finished so that we would be ready no matter when our baby decides to officially join our family. So we bought an area rug, put up a shelving unit that already holds a few children's books, many stuffed animals and a few baby blankets that have already been gifted to us in anticipation for our child. All of these already makes my heart bubble over with joy to see these little elements that will be a part of our life with baby. But then....we were given a crib for Christmas and a rocking chair. Although neither of these pieces have arrived at our home yet, nor are there any decorations on the wall or toys in the toy box, knowing that these items will adorn that cozy room soon enough fills me with such joy and excitement.

Currently I can't stop just walking into that room and laying down on the carpet while my sweet little doxies cuddle up next to me. And then I just spend a little time laying on the floor praying for my sweet baby - whoever he or she may be. And then I pray for whoever the birthparents are of this sweet child. I pray for whatever situation they might be in or the difficulty in coming to the decision that they are making. I pray for peace over them. I pray for both mine and Jarrod's hearts in this waiting - that we can confidently trust that God has all the details worked out already and trust that He will bring our baby to us at the right time.

Although there's no colorful quilt, no scent of wipes, no soft lullaby music playing, or no sound of a little child breathing right now, I can relax and rejoice in that room knowing that, in God's time, that room will be a nursery.... in God's time, it will be filled with wipes and diapers and sweet music.... in God's time, I'll sit in that very room while rocking my baby to sleep remembering what it was like to simply dream about that moment.... in God's time, a child will be in that room and call us mom and dad. Praise the Lord for his timing right?

Sometimes, I think God just looks down at me in my anxious waiting and says, "Trust me child. Soon enough..."

And I know that His promise of 'soon enough' will be more than enough.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trust the Engineer

Last night after my post, I came across the image below.

And today, I couldn't help but share it. 

I woke up today trusting that God's in control.

I committed what I was feeling to the Lord last night and laid it at His feet.

I ask him now to continue to redirect my pain into passionate faith that He is working. And today that's what I'm doing...

Thank you Corrie Ten Boom for your bold and beautiful words to remind me who the engineer is.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

May You Find A Light

Tonight, I sit and stair and the Christmas tree in front of me. Usually at this time of year, I'm the giddy one that wants to shake every single present under the tree and who anxiously counts down the days until Christmas morning. I may be 25, but my heart is 6 at Christmas.

But this year feels different...


My heart has been heavy this holiday season. 


I told Jarrod last night through tears that I officially feel like I'm feeling Christmas like an adult would feel it. Gone is the giddiness. 


Christmas is a beautiful, joyous season, but this season I'm struggling to look beyond and see that there is more.


This year I'm reflecting on my hopes and dreams for what I wanted this Christmas. I remember last year at this time very well. I remember looking around at my family and getting excited that there'd be one more of us next year. I remember watching my nephew open up his presents last Christmas and getting excited for helping our little one rip paper off a box next year. 


I'm not trying to dwell on the past. But the reality is that this is hard this Christmas. It's hard to notice that it's still just the two of us and our dogs that will wake up on Christmas morning. Just the two of us will be going over to celebrate with family. It's still just the two of us...


For some reason this pain has just resonated in my heart more than usual the past few days. It aches more than I expected it to.


During one of our visits with our social worker, she told me something that felt very freeing for me. She said that it's normal to have different periods of grief where suddenly the pain swells and you hurt for a while while you work through whatever circumstance brought about the pain. This made me feel normal...


Because lately I've felt like it's not okay for me to show that I'm hurting through this. 


But how can I deny that reality?


I heard a song today that I resonated with (see the song below).... The song: May You Find a Light by the Brilliance.... It's beautiful and is the prayer that I feel so strongly right now: Lord, would you help me find the light? Would you reach down and know my pain and carry me through it? Would you guide us home to our baby? Would you direct our decisions, our conversations, and our hopes/dreams/emotions over the next few weeks? Would you lead us?


I know that God is working....I have no doubt. And, even though I'm hurting, I can still cling to that without a doubt in my heart because my God is ALWAYS good. My God knows that baby and birth mom by name already. 


So now I pray for a little light amidst what feels like a dark season to me....I know my God is good and He sent his only Son this season as a light...So in the darkness I'm still choosing to cling to that truth.


http://youtu.be/oXEcplj8DMM

Monday, December 9, 2013

Finding the Words to Say....Thank You

If you've spent any time at all following this blog, you are aware that this last weekend was a big weekend in the Stichter household. We hosted our first adoption fundraiser this weekend.... This post is intended to update everyone on how the fundraiser went.

The problem is....I can't seem to find the words to express the gratitude, joy, humility and blessings that both Jarrod and I felt after Saturday night. We went home with many, many tears in our eyes grateful for what God is doing.


Family and friends - over 150 of them - came out to enjoy the beautiful Christmas music, eat at the delicious Christmas cookie buffet, and check out our 40 silent auction items! 





We kicked off the whole evening by singing some fun and traditional songs about the Christmas season. 






Then Jarrod and I got up and shared a little bit about our journey to adopt - how we got here, where we're at now, and what God has been doing in hearts to prep us for these very moments. 





After a quick intermission to end the silent auction bidding, we dove right into hashing out why this Christmas season is even important in the first place - because Jesus came to earth as a baby to save a world that so desperately needed saving. But instead of just focusing on that birth, we decided to go beyond that. We sang songs and celebrated that fact that Jesus came as a baby to grow up and die to redeem each and every person on this earth... 



BUT he didn't just come to redeem...He came to build a relationship and to, ultimately, adopt each of us as sons and daughters into the kingdom of God has heirs to that beautiful glorious throne of grace, mercy and love. 

Now there's a reason to celebrate the Christmas season!


Although the evening was centered around one individual adoption, we ultimately wanted to bring all of our friends and family together to celebrate the adoption that each of us has been given. More than any sum of money that we could have raised, that was the focus and the prayer of the evening. The God would be glorified. That hearts would be touched and moved toward a closer relationship with Him.



When we ended the evening, tears were inevitable. God had moved. It was evident. I think that you could feel it in the room. We were at a loss for words... Praise the Lord!

...And then we got home and added up our total amount raised from the evening... If we have an average priced adoption, we raised just under 20% of the amount needed to finance our adoption....

Mmmm our God is good. Need I say more?  

We are trusting him to provide and the ways in which he is providing is astounding us.



Thank you to all who came. Thank you to all who generously gave up their Saturday evenings and let the Lord move them toward understanding the task before us. Thank you for those who selflessly gave of their own resources. Thank you to those who stood in the back and counted tickets, sold t-shirts, baked or served cookies and coffee, gave of their musical or technical talents, donated what they could to the silent auction, setup, tore down, cleaned up, and so many more. Thank you to those who could not attend, but faithfully lifted our evening up in prayer and trusted with us that God would provide. 

Thank you is not enough of a word to tell you what this means. Thank you does not accurately express the emotions we feel as a result your selflessness. But thank you are the words that we can offer. We are humbled and we could not have done this without you.




I'd like to end this post the same way that we ended our fundraiser. We shared this wonderful video. I'd invite you to view it through the lens of the Christmas season. It's a beautiful reminder of what God, our father did for us: "Sends for his son, crushes his son, in order to redeem sinners like you... But not just redeem you - ADOPT YOU."


Friday, December 6, 2013

A Dedication of What's To Come

For what seems like forever now... Okay, really more like a few months, I've been looking forward to what tomorrow night will bring. For those of you just jumping in, tomorrow night is our first fundraiser for our adoption. For me, it's the first big step toward getting even closer to bringing our baby home.

Tonight, as I sit at work imagining the evening and reigning in my expectations, I have to take a moment and recognize that although my heart has focused on this event for so long... Although I've sat down with numerous people how have dedicated their time and efforts so selflessly to help bring all of this together... Although I've mulled over detail after detail to make sure that everything is coming together well... Although I've held this event in my hands and my heart for quite some time now, I have to recognize this one simple fact:


This event was never even mine to begin with.


So tonight, as I prepare for tomorrow night, I have to take a moment to dedicate my heart... this event... the details... and all the plans that make up tomorrow's fundraiser and place them in the hands where they have belonged this whole time. 



Father God, 


Sometimes I am at a loss for words when I think of the ways in which you've already orchestrated so many details to bring this adoption in our lives. You've known all along that our lives would be led down this road and you've prepared our hearts with each little step.

I thank you for each of the individuals that play a part in tomorrow's concert - the musicians, the singers, the donors, the attendees, the prayer warriors, and so many more. I thank you for their selfless attitude and the ways in which they ministered to us along this process. God I thank you for putting people in our lives that understand what this is like and that can be your love to us. 

As we prepare for tomorrow night, Lord, I ask that you would refocus my heart. I ask that you would take the stress, take the details, take all that this involves and make it yours. 

God I pray, more than anything - more than any amount that raise tomorrow - that tomorrow night would be for your glory and not our own. God I pray that you would use the words, songs and people involved in tomorrow night to reach hearts with your truth of adoption.

Thank you for the ways in which you sacrificed to adopt each of us into your family. Thank you for loving us enough to pay that lofty price. Thank you for giving us such a high value.

Lord, I value you above all the details. I trust that when my plans change, that you have a plan. I trust that when I ask why, that you already have the answer.

Your plans are so much better and so much better. God, tonight, I dedicate all of this - tomorrow night, next week, next month and the many days to come - to you. It's yours God, for your glory. 

Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Updated Silent Auction Item Listing

I continue to be blown away by the support that we are seeing flood in for our fundraiser this weekend! Just today MORE items have been added to our silent auction list.

NEW items include...

Previously advertised items include...
  • Thirty-One 'Weekend Away' Travel Bag Set from Laurie Norton
  • Pedicure
  • Back Spa Treatment
  • Landscaping Package by Precision Landscape
  • 'Joy to the Word' Painting, Wine bottle wall decor set, and Decorative Soda Bottle Crate by Grace-filled Designs
  • Decorative Home Interior Christmas Baskets by Kim Roderick
  • Famous Chocolate Cookies by my mother-in-law, Sue Stichter
  • Orange Handbeaded Belt from Leah Scicluna of Noonday Collection
  • Jewelry by the Bling Divas
  • Package from Family Health Quest
  • Box of biscotti's by JoAnn Burgener
Please invite your friends, co-workers and family members to come on out to this fun event! It's going to be a great time!

 Tickets will be available at the door ($10/adults | $5/Child). If money is an issue, please pay what you can and feel free to come and join us for the evening! The more the merrier! 

Doors open for bidding for the silent auction at 6:00 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Just 5 More Days...

I cannot believe our big fundraiser is only a few days away! I'm so excited to share our journey and celebrate the Christmas season with each of you!

As a part of the event, we will be featuring a silent auction. Listed below are just some of the items that we will be featuring and auctioning off for the evening!



  • Thirty-One 'Weekend Away' Travel Bag Set
  • Pedicure
  • Back Spa Treatment
  • Landscaping Package by Precision Landscape
  • 'Joy to the Word' Painting, Wine bottle wall decor set, and Decorative Soda Bottle Crate by Grace-filled Designs
  • Decorative Home Interior Christmas Baskets by Kim Roderick
  • Famous Chocolate Cookies by my mother-in-law, Sue Stichter
  • Orange Handbeaded Belt from Leah Scicluna of Noonday Collection
  • Jewelry by the Bling Divas
  • Package from Family Health Quest
  • Box of biscotti's by JoAnn Burgener

...AND SO MUCH MORE... Don't miss it!


If you haven't gotten a ticket to the event yet, they will be on sale at the door ($10 Adult / $5 Child). 


We will also be featuring these awesome t-shirts in a cardinal red on sale for $10 each. We will only have a limited number of sizes available and then we will need to order more. Get them while they last!



Please remember that 100% of ALL proceeds from the evening will go directly towards funding our adoption process. 


Sadly, adoption is an incredibly expensive endeavor. I've had many people lately ask me how much the adoption will cost us or how much money we are hoping to raise. Unfortunately, we will not know the exact amount until we are matched. However, we are looking in the range of $30,000-$45,000. So while an event like this may seem small, we cannot tell you the difference that it makes to us. Just the faces that walk in the door that evening to show their support will mean more to me than any dollar amount ever could!


That being said, I hope that you'll consider joining us as we celebrate the reason for this wonderful season - Jesus, our Lord's, birth - and ultimately his desire to adopt you and I into His eternal family. Come on out this Saturday and rejoice in that truth with us!


For information on tickets, visit http://cominghomechristmas.eventbrite.com/ or email stichteradoption@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reflections on Joy

I haven't posted in a while.... Or at least nothing substantial about what's been going on with our adoption. Life has been busy. And quite frankly, lately, I haven't wanted to answer questions about everything or pour out my heart. I've been content to just keep it to myself.

But today I have to break that cycle.


Today I want to celebrate...


Right now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop confirming plans for our upcoming fundraiser next weekend and although my heart is anxious, I'm beyond joyful dreaming about that fact that next year at this time, I might be preparing a Thanksgiving meal with a baby in my home. Simply the thought of that bubbles over with laughter and joy in my heart.


Yes, this journey is difficult. It's hard. It's painful.


But it's also full of joy. 


Lately I've been reflecting on what my life would be like had none of this happened. What would my life look like if we had just been able to get pregnant? 


It would look different. Not bad, but different.


In this journey I have learned so much about myself, about my marriage, about my friends and about who my gracious and powerful God is. And you know what, I wouldn't trade any of that. If I had to choose, I think I would choose to have to start this all over again. 


In the past year I have experienced pain in a way that I never have before in my life. I have never felt so hurt. I have never felt so sensitive to words. I don't think I've ever cried more. I don't think I've ever felt so strongly the need to prove myself to others who are in charge my ability to adopt that I'm going to be a good mom. I have never felt more isolated and alone. 


But I can also contrast all that by telling you that I've also probably never had more faith and hope than I do now. I have never experienced a community of support in the way that i have now. I have never felt as humbled. I can tell you that I've never felt God work in my life as real and personal as the ways that he is doing now. I've never felt more broken on my knees in prayer and yet so full of power and hope at the same time because I have a God that is not bound by my circumstance


Today I am struck by the fact that my God is greater.


My God is stronger.


My God is faithful.


My God has a plan.


My God means all this for good.


My God is able to stand next to me in these moments, hold my hand and say, "It's okay Amanda. I already died for all this pain. Let me handle it."


What a powerful and beautiful thing that is to realize.


And so today I celebrate and choose to be joyful in this.


Once I was mourning. Now I am dancing in joy that only my God can provide.


My God is GOOD.





Prayer Requests (11/27/13)
  • Praise for what we have been learning in this process and what God is doing in our lives.
  • Prayer for our first home study interview next week in Chicago. Prayer that we will be able to move quickly through this process and be licensed.
  • Prayer for our upcoming fundraiser to run smoothly and that we can celebrate with our community about the joy of Christmas and adoption.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Time Away

Anyone that knows Jarrod and I knows that our life can tend to be a little crazy. Take Jarrod's crazy youth pastor schedule, add my work schedule, the fact that we are both in school and everything going on with the adoption = we almost always have something going on.

At the beginning of November, we were incredibly blessed to be able to spend some time away rejuvenating in the sun and warmth in Florida. We spent the first day embracing our childhood at Walt Disney World. Truly there is just something about that place that makes the day feel magical. Yes, I may have even cried a little during the fireworks.







After a day at Disney, we headed to Melbourne Beach for the remainder of a week for a retreat for youth pastors and their wives. First of all, I have to stop and thank the amazing church family that you have that sent us on to this retreat. As you can imagine, the past few months have been busy and full of emotion with very little time to process things together. The escape we found in Melbourne was so needed and rejuvenating. We were able to spend time alone exploring. We were blessed to network with a group of people that already feels so much like family to us. We were able to walk away from our cares, worries and daily tasks and refocus on the Lord who has been directing so many steps and recommit the coming days to Him.


Left: The view from our balcony every morning.
Right: Hanging out by the pool.

I think that sometimes it's important to remove yourself from your circumstances and to reconnect with your spouse in a place where there are no expectations. Jarrod and I needed this so badly. Although we came back to a life that had not stopped while we were gone, I can truly say that we came back ready to take on the next steps of life, ministry, our marriage and adoption and ready to listen to the Lord's guidance in these moments.




Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

The first Sunday of November is Orphan Sunday. It is the annual day across the nation when church families stop to recognize the needs of orphans around the world for someone to notice them.
Today is the day when we take a stand to recognize what God has done for us and what we can do for his other children around the globe. 

Today in our church service they showed this beautiful video recognizing a family that has a beautiful vision and a beautiful way to show God's love:




We adopt because God first adopted us. No, not all believers are called to adopt. But what if at least a small percentage of us did something about the orphan crisis around our globe? What if we took the stance that Christ took on our lives, to rescue us from our affliction, and did the same for others?


The picture below took my breath when I read it earlier today... But isn't it the truth?


"When God set out to redeem us, it killed him"




Tonight, I have no great vision for where this post should go. Nor do I wish to write a lot. I just wanted to share with you these pieces of media that touched my heart today.

I'll be writing soon on 'Beyond Orphan Sunday', because truly there's so much more to focus on with orphans and adoptions than just one day a year.... 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Just Like the Rest of Us

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the questions that people ask you when they find out that you're adopting. Over time, Jarrod and I are learning to handle those questions with grace and patience. But after the initial questions, I'm continually struck by how little people are willing to say to you once they know.

A couple weeks ago at church someone approached me and said words that have resounded in my heart on a daily basis since then...And I've decided that I want to share my thoughts on that.

Sadly, there is something about the adoption world that feels isolating from the rest of society. Please don't hear me wrong - yes, we have found an amazing community of people that have experienced adoption and inferility that can walk with us through this process in a way that few others can. That, in itself, has been such a blessing I never expected in all of this.

But there's also a very large part of this adoption process that feels incredibly isolating.

When someone is pregnant, everyone has a million exciting tidbits to share or questions to ask of the pregnancy and the plans for the baby. Most people could talk for hours about a pregnancy, their experience with it, the ultrasounds, birthing methods, etc. ... the list goes on.

However, I've noticed that, after the initial questions of 'why adoption,' the conversation ends.  

No one knows what to say

They can't relate so they stop talking.  Period.

Even some of the people that are closest to me haven't asked me a question about our adoption in weeks. And it's obvious that they're not asking because they have nothing to say. They don't know what to say. So they ignore it or change the topic or stair at their shoes.

This is very isolating. And sometimes, it's very hurtful when it comes from those that you least expect it to.


Now, I don't want to force those that aren't supportive of our adoption or who don't care to know details to ask questions that they don't want to ask.


Instead, (and I think other adoptive moms would agree with me) I want those that are interested or supportive to know that it's okay to not know what to say. I'm not looking for someone to understand what this is like unless you've been through it. You don't have to be able to relate to my story for me to be able to share what's going on with you. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions just because you know that I might not always have a new answer to give you. No, there's nothing growing in my belly, therefore, not all days are different for me. Many days the answers will be the same: "Yes we are still waiting"..."No, I don't know who our baby is yet or when he/she will be born"..."Yes we are excited". But I don't tire of telling you what God is doing in our lives through this. He's doing a lot and I love sharing about it. I don't mind telling you our plans for the nursery or if we've gone shopping for any baby items yet. 

I simply want to feel like my baby is important even though I don't know if he/she has even been conceived yet.

So back to my story from church:


When this woman approached me after the service a couple of weeks ago, we began by chit-chatting about children, families and then a little about the adoption. She shared how excited she was to hear and read about what was going on. And then...she said something to me that touched my heart so deeply. She said something along the lines of the following:



"You know you might not be bringing a baby into your family in the way that most families expect, but nonetheless, you are expecting a baby. You should be excited! You're just like the rest of us."


I could have cried on the spot. 

Those words were unlike anything that I've heard from anyone in this process. I've had other adoptive moms tell me this. But I've never had someone who hasn't gone through this process be able to look at me, look past the initial questions and recognize that I'm an expecting mom too. To see that I'm just as excited as every other mother-to-be to bring a baby into my family. To recognize that my journey to motherhood might look a little different than yours in that I'll have interviews instead of ultrasounds and home visits instead of hospital tours. But I'm still a mom too.

To the woman who said this to me (you know who you are), thank you for touching my heart so deeply. Your words encourage me daily to push through the difficult moments and rejoice in the hope of someday bringing my baby home. Thank you for speaking so much truth into my life, whether or not you knew what it would mean to me. Thank you for letting the Lord speak through you. You have blessed me more than words can express.


For those of you who encounter couples at any stage in the adoption process, I challenge you to remind yourself that they're just like every other parent. That child is as much theirs as your biological child is yours. Don't feel pressured to have to say something specific in response to their story. Just rejoice in that story with them. 


Everyone has a unique story and that's what makes God's work in our lives so beautiful. I just challenge you to be willing to recognize the beauty in differences and the similarities in love.


--Manda



**Disclaimer: I do not hold anything against those that don't know what to say in response to our adoption and that's not what this post is about. It's simply about awareness. I appreciate all those who are supporting us and have done what they can do show us that.**

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Orderly House, Orderly Heart

Life sometimes gets out of order. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this.

As humans living in a world tainted by sin, we experience events, emotions, hurt and situations that spiral our worlds into a disordered blur. Much like a child's bedroom may often look like a tornado has swept through and disrupted the order of his or her belongings, sometimes our lives can look the same way.

When processing through adoption, disorder is inevitable. There are so many details to handle - physically, spiritually, and emotionally - that our world can seem like a tornado has picked up us and tossed us miles from the order that we used to know. Good, orderly days happen. And then... the tornado strikes.

This past weekend, after watching a movie that got my emotions all in a bunch, I drove home in tears, attempting to process why I was feeling the way that I was or why I felt like I needed to hide those moments.

When I arrived at home, I quickly rushed inside and began to do what I almost always do in moments like these: I cleaned my kitchen. About halfway through scrubbing my sink, I began to ask myself why cleaning the kitchen was the one thing that I always gravitated toward when my life or emotions spin out of control. And then it hit me...Disorder is not desired. It is not natural. It is not the way were designed to be. Yet this was the effect that sin brought into my world.

Yet, because of the disorder, humans are naturally inclined to search for order. We take whatever we can find that provides answers or peace - even if it's not always the right place to find these things - to bring order into our worlds. We are designed to want...to need order!

It began to make sense to me why I always seek out cleaning the kitchen: It's something that I can put into order. I have control over whether or not my kitchen is orderly or disorderly. 

And something about this act of cleaning and putting my home in order prepares my heart to place the emotional, spiritual, and physical things that I'm experiencing in to a position of order. In the midst of some semblance of order, my heart opens and I can ask questions and process thoughts in a different way. I can refocus my mind on where it should be or what I should be thinking. I can center my disorder back onto the one that created order.

I can began to reevaluate that maybe what may seem like disorder in my eyes, is perfect order in God's eyes. 

The idea of infertility and sometimes even adoption seems like a complete disordered mess in my own eyes based on the 'order' that I expected from my life. Yet, when I take the time to refocus my heart on God, I can see that this 'disorder' was God's order for my life all along...

These things going on inside of me are His order. They feel disorderly to me because their not 'normal' for our society and, yes, quite frankly, it's uncomfortable. But God is greater. He created order, therefore, He can make my disorder into order.

And I trust him fully with that task.

I would challenge you this week to evaluate the areas that you run to when you need order in your lives. I challenge you to consider what it is about that place, thing or person that gives you order. Fill in the blank for yourself: Orderly _______, Orderly heart. 

Then I challenge to you to seek the Lord's heart and to him if it's possible that you find as disorder could be his order.  This is a difficult question to ask, but the answers are far better than what we could have prepared for ourselves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Adopt Together

Recently, Jarrod and I have been overwhelmed by how blessed we are with such an amazing community coming around and supporting us through our adoption! And overwhelmed is an understatement...

A couple weeks ago, we shared our news of adoption with our church family and what an amazing group of believers we have supporting us at Park Hills Church. And can I just say that it is so good to have it all out in the open and have people know what God's been doing in our lives.


And as if that wasn't enough, when we shared the news of our adoption over facebook with our friends and family near and far, along with a link to this website. In a matter of 30 minutes, we went from 2 page views in one day to over 2,000...


Woah.


In moments like this we have to stop and say thank you to those that are taking the time to encourage us, pray for us, support us financially, or pray about how they, personally, can join us on this journey. We could NOT do this without you.


And we say that so humbly...


We realize that there are so many people, places, and things that are vying for your time and your attention. So asking you to think about one more thing is a lot. And I promise that we understand that. 

But, we realize that this adoption journey is so much bigger than us. 

In fact, we realize that from the very beginning of this process we weren't doing this alone. There's birth parents involved in this. There's us, the adoptive parents, involved in this. There's the baby. There's supporters. There's prayer warriors. 


I repeat...there's so much more than us.


And so we would humbly like to ask you to join us on this process. 


We are first, and foremost, in need of people to join us in prayer.

It is through prayer that we can daily (maybe sometimes evenly hourly) place all of the details of our adoption in the hands of our Lord and ask him to orchestrate it all. It is through prayer that we can shower everyone involved in this process in the presence of the Lord. And it is through prayer that we confirm and illustrate the Lord's power in our life no matter what the circumstance.

Secondly, we are in need of help financially.

Yes - the reality is that adoption is expensive. However, as previously mentioned, we know that if the Lord has called us to adoption, then he will provide the means for us to get there. Therefore, all though I do worry sometimes about the finances, I can also confidently say that it does not scare us. If it scared us, we wouldn't be doing this.

With that in mind, we would humbly ask you to prayerfully consider supporting us financially if you are willing and able. Any size gift makes a huge difference! We appreciate every penny equally.


We are pleased to announce that you are able to support us financially by making a tax-deductible donation through our funding organization, AdoptTogether. Donations can be made online by visiting www.adopttogether.com/stichter. Or donation checks can be mailed to:


AdoptTogether

Attn: Jarrod & Amanda Stichter Adoption
251 W. Central Avenue #278
Springboro, OH 45066

(When making a donation online you will instantly receive a receipt. When mailing a check, you will be mailed a receipt at the end of the year for tax purposes.)


There will also be a couple of fundraisers that we will be doing to raise the finances for our adoption. Please visit the fundraising tab for more details.


So ... we humbly ask that, if you are willing, would you join us on this journey? Would you subscribe to our blog and read and pray through our updates? Would you consider attending our fundraiser(s?)? Would you pray with/for us, the birth mom, our baby and the many, many details involved in this process?

It is only through the grace of God that we can write this today and it is only through Him that we ask you to experience the miracle of adoption with us.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Other Words: An Open Letter to the 9,999 Who Don't Adopt Davion

If you watch the news, I'm sure you heard the story of a sweet 15-year old orphan that went before a church in St. Petersburg, FL to plead for a family to adopt him and left without one. This morning, I read the below blog post from Susan's, our adoption consultant's blog, My {Grace Filled} Mess

It's a beautiful picture of hope and the reality of adoption. I encourage you to read, ponder, and pray through the below article.



Taken from My {Grace Filled} Mess:

For several days now, I've been thinking about the phenomenon that has swept the nation.  They're calling it the "Davion Effect" with thousands of families calling to adopt the boy who asked for a family recently in a church.
"I'll take anyone," Davion said during his plea at the Saint Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be."
My friend, Susan Michelle Tyrell, wrote an excellent piece today (first published here at Live Action News) and beautifully put into words the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head about Davion, the orphan crisis in America, and our response.


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To the other 9,999 who expressed interest in adopting Davion Navar Henry Only, the 15-year old orphan who went to church to plead for a family and left without one:
According to ABC News you flooded the phone lines and the email until the adoption agency in charge of Davion’s case was “overwhelmed” and nearly crashed from the traffic. And hundreds of you reportedly said you wanted to get information about adopting other children, so maybe I’m only writing to 9,499 of you.
Remember when the agency said to contact someone in your city because “there are Davions in every city in America.” They weren’t kidding. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services child welfare division, on September 30, 2011, there were an estimated 400,540 children in foster care. The data varies slightly, but 400,000 is a consistent estimate.
Now, of those more than 400,000 children, some are in temporary placements and will be reunited with their family, but 9 percent were in institutions and 6 percent were in group homes. To put that in perspective, that means over 36,000 children would then be in institutions and over 24,000 in group homes. Davion is one of those; his plea is to know a family and not only a group home.
The same is true for many others. The HHS report says of those 400,000, 25 percent had a goal, a hopeful outcome, of adoption.
Those are numbers, numbers you maybe can’t immediately see behind the face of this sweet boy who managed to articulate his need. If you can, remove yourself from the raw data and picture 100,000 (25%) children without stable homes, whether their parents are alive or just incapable of care.
recent story in USA Today reports that the median age of these children is 8 ½, and the story quotes an adoption director, saying, “Older children in foster care and families who adopted kids need more help.”
Older adoptees will likely have more issues when they come to you. They have problems sometimes after being outside a family situation for a while, or maybe, like Davion, forever. They may have been ripped away from someone they loved or may be dealing with intense issues of attachment to caregivers. These are problems that make a lot of people reticent, scared even. But they are kids, and they need someone to fight for them.
Can you actually picture 100,00 children? Imagine a broad expanse of land. There stands line upon line of children, babies to 17-year-olds. Most of them between 8-9. They want a family. They want the pro-life Bible verses and theology to be true after they were born. They need families. They would likely agree with Davion who says,
I’ll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.
He adds,
If you can, reach out and get me and love me until I die.

Is there anyone alive who wouldn’t want to know someone loved him or her until death? Many take it for granted, but not foster kids, not orphans. It touches me, as an adult adoptee who knows the desires to have a family. You see, this one is personal, and that’s why I write this not only with statistics that bring the reality home, but with a heart that knows what it’s like to be a child longing for that. The devastating pain is preventable, for Davion and for the other thousands.
When I read that you flooded phones and almost crashed a website with your heart for Davion, it encouraged me that families still exist who might fight for these who are not often the subject of the fight. They need that. They don’t need us to cry over sob stories or argue why it’s too hard to change our lives to love them.
Like Davion who says he will take anyone who will love him until he dies, so will most of these 100,000. Even when the issues are too big for our minds, or seem like too much to handle, that doesn’t invalidate all those Scriptures in the Bible. If we fight for all babies to be born, we have to have a place to put them – a good, healthy, loving, and deeply committed place. Natural parents rarely feel equipped for what’s coming. Parenting is on-the-job training for the willing.
While everyone does not have to adopt, and everyone shouldn’t, a whole lot more probably can than think they can. So to the thousands of you who called the Florida agency, who previously hadn’t even begun the adoption process, if Davion doesn’t come to your home, will you invest in that process for another Davion who hasn’t become famous for wanting a family?
When the publicity dies down and American celebrates the orphan who found a home, will you be behind the scenes still pursuing an orphan who needs a home? What about those 24,000 in group homes who long to know what it’s like to be special, who maybe wonder why they were born only to love in a group setting and then age-out and be sent away on their own? Can we really celebrate like all the orphans are saved when 100,000 of them still need a family?
Within church culture, the concept of “the family of God” is stated as a reality, but without adoption – the very thing on which Christianity is founded in the sense of Jesus giving his life to allow others to be adopted into the family of God – without that, the family of God becomes more like a Christian club. Being pro-life has to mean being pro-adoption – and that’s more than a sentiment. Adoption doesn’t happen because we like the idea or quote a verse about orphans. Adoption happens when people like you, people who found a place in their hearts for Davion, pursue that place for the child who may be yours soon. Adoption happens when you find that pregnant woman and offer to help her and adopt her baby – and care for her as well; that’s family. Adoption happens when family becomes more than flesh and blood even when it doesn’t look like what we imagined, even when our schedule changes, even when our comfort changes. Even when it changes forever.

Regardless of religious values, the reality is that there are children in need. The arguments on theology are irrelevant when you picture that expanse laden with children in need.
“It’s not really cool not to have anybody,” Davion says.

So to you, the 9,999 who don’t end up adopting him, please don’t quit. Please consider keeping that paperwork in motion – or starting it now – and searching your hearts and the foster care system.
Look again at that mass of children on the wide expanse, and now imagine adults walking in. From all sides, they come and take children, one-by-one, or three-by-three, and they walk off, away from the expanse and into a home. You can be a part of that.
Please, ask yourself what opened your heart to Davion. If that was a true desire to love an orphan, don’t let that die out in the aftermath of publicity over one. Be the one for the next one.
There are thousands of Davions out there. They need you.


About the writer: Susan was born in Bethlehem to an unwed mother and rescued by Catholic nuns who took her to an orphanage in Bethlehem, which still helps single moms and rescues babies. Today she's an outspoken advocate for LIFE and speaks and writes about pro-life issues nationwide.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Out of Our Hands

I am a control person... Or maybe I shouldn't say control, but I like to 'get things done' in my time. Yep, okay I suppose that's the definition of being a 'control person.' I like to take what's in my control and do it to the best of my ability and get it done in a timely fashion.

In my theory of getting things done, when I'm done with my part and it's handed off to someone/something else, it will move quickly because I put it in motion to move that way... 


It would be an understatement to say that adoption has really tested that theory of mine...


When we first received our adoption paperwork my goal was to complete it as quickly as possible. I didn't want the process to be waiting on us. I was determined that we would do everything in our power to knock out that paperwork in record time and then turn it in, while the social workers grinned at my perfect ability to get things done. Ha... Yes, I'm laughing at that absurd and unrealistic though even now. 


So, naturally, when it came in the mail, Jarrod and I set to work.


And then the hand cramps set in...


And life hit...


And the answers were difficult to come up with...


Needless to say, my plan to turn the paperwork in in two weeks disappeared and I got frustrated. I got frustrated with Jarrod and I got frustrated at myself for my lack of diligence... But in those moments, if I do something to accomplish what I want finished, I can ignore those feelings. 


We went and got the notarized papers notarized. We went and got the witnessed papers witnessed. We dotted the i's and crossed the t's and sealed the envelope ready to go.



Completed paperwork ready to go.

So four weeks later the paperwork was finally finished. Only two weeks past my deadline. But hey, it was done nonetheless. 


It just so happened that Jarrod and I were driving into Chicago for an evening before we both had work conferences. I thought, "Oh we'll just bring the paperwork with us and send it in from the hotel." So I did.


And in the frenzy of the conference, I forgot to mail it.


And then when I left the hotel, I forgot the entire packet of paperwork at the hotel in Chicago, while we left for Atlanta. Realizing a day later what I had done, I pretty much panicked.


Reality set in. Control was no longer in my hands. I had to wait for the paperwork to be found. I had to wait for FedEx to call to arrange shipment. I had to wait for it to arrive in Atlanta. I had to wait... (Are you seeing a theme here?)


And it was then that I was reminded that this is so much bigger than my control or need to 'get things done.' Maybe I needed to let go a little and let it just happen when it happened.


When we received the paperwork back, there was truly only one thing left 'to do' and that was to hand the rather large packet of paperwork over to our social worker last night at our final adoption training class. It was a good feeling to get that out of my hands and have that part done. 


Yet, as soon as the packet left my palm, I felt the gut wrenching reality that there was nothing more I could do to 'move this along'. Someone else was in control of the process now. (In fact, side note, I was pleasantly reminded during that time that we can't officially be licensed and begin waiting to be matched until the government shut down ends...that was a slap in the face after all our hard work.)


That's difficult for me to process and handle. Jarrod, on the other hand, continues to remind me that God's got this and he's already got the perfect timing mapped out. (On a side note, I have the most amazing, patient husband ever. He balances these control things for me.)


And I remind myself of that every day. That God's got it.


So off with the paperwork goes my need to 'got it.'


He's got it. 


God's got it.


And, I don't need to 'got it.'


My hands are open and waiting for more 'to do', yet we trust Him in all the timing.













Officially handing over the paperwork.

Prayer Requests 10/15/13

  • That the paperwork will be processed in the right timing and schedule our home study visits
  • That we will be able to proceed despite the government shut down
  • That we will open up our hearts and hopeful timelines and let God's timing rule. Because He's got it.
  • That the fundraisers we are beginning to plan will be successful to pay for the next upcoming payments for agency applications.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jarrod & Amanda: An Adoption Story

We are a part of an amazing church, Park Hills Church, that strongly supports adoption and the families that have gone or are going through the process. The video below was filmed and shared with our church this morning to announce and inform them about what God has been doing in our lives. Please check it out for a little bit more 'personal' feel. 


Jarrod and Amanda: An Adoption Story-Full Interview from Park Hills Church on Vimeo.

Prayer Requests (10/6/2013)

  • Moving through the process and getting licensed through our Home Study
  • The emotions as we continue to process all the details involved in this - for the good days and the hard days
  • The birthmom, baby, extended families, travels to and from and raising of finances to be able to be matched to a baby

Friday, October 4, 2013

Adoption Family Photos

Jarrod and I recently had the blessing of connecting with Dustin & Katie Ludwig. Dustin is an amazing  photographer (www.dustinludwig.com) and they were generous enough to agree to work with us for our adoption. We will be using these pictures when announcing our adoption to others and in creating our profile book that will be shown to birthmoms as they consider us to adopt their sweet baby.

Now it's no secret that I love pictures so this session was so fun for me and I know that Jarrod had a lot of fun too! Plus Dustin & Katie made us feel so comfortable! I am blown away by how beautifully they turned out and am so excited to share them with you! 


Also I may have squealed with excitement when I saw some of them because I loved them that much!