Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Puzzle Update #3 and THANK YOU!!

We are so excited that our puzzle fundraiser is coming along and the picture is starting to take shape! Only 350 more to sell! We can do this! When we complete this puzzle we will have raised $10,000 and that will be a tremendous help for our traveling and in country costs to the Uganda government.
We wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to the people and families who have donated to our puzzle so far:
Rocky and Linda R.
Emily V.
Graham and Alisha W.
Alan and Megan A.
Clayton and April B.
Zach A.
Chris and Nedra M.
Barry and Debbie R.
Marc and Gayle B.
Jaimie S.
Barbara M.
Jim and Lana D.
Miron and Julie B.
James and Jeanne E.
Wayne and Jen J.
Brian and Erica S.
Paul and Stacey D.
Billy and Linda S.
Jeff and Bethany B.
Yvonne B.
Mike and Betty M.
Lee and Susan W.
Craig and Loretta Y.
Bill and Trish L.
Lauren and Cade A.
A Sweet Anonymous Person
All the ladies who came to our Blessing Unlimited Party where we raised $400!
Thank you to all of you wonderful people for giving and joining us on this incredible journey of bringing our baby(ies) home from Africa! One of the unexpected blessings of the adoption process so far is watching how The Lord is using so many people to love, pray, support us financially and walk beside us. It is incredibly humbling and such an amazing feeling! We are honored and filled with JOY as The Lord moves and teaches us.
Here is how you can donate: Just click the 'Donate' button on the right side of our blog to sponsor and we will put your name on the back of each piece you buy as a testimony to our adopted child(ren) of the Lord's provision and love for them before we even knew who they were. Thanks again to everyone who has sponsored pieces! You have blessed us tremendously!
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chosen Half Marathon

Andrew and I trained 3+ months, filled out all the paper needed, had shirts made (love them!), created the A Team (including us, Alan, Megan, Suzanne and Mandy), made all the arrangements for the weekend and headed to New Braunfels, TX for (my first!) half marathon. We were so excited to be a part of this day and a part of this amazing fundraiser for our adoption called Chosen- Running with a Purpose.

The wonderful Aunt Zuzu stayed behind to take care of our kiddos for the weekend. They had a blast and we were so grateful for her help.

We made it!! Memories from the day: how COLD it was!, running beside two of my favorite people in all the world- my husband and bestie Mandy and how much they encouraged me and pushed me along, seeing all these wild deer on the course, how much fun we had with Mandy and the Adkins, how beautiful the course was, the emotions and how I wanted to thank every runner for helping us with our adoption, the amazing feeling of unity and spirit of encouragement among the racers, the winner of the marathon (who PASSED us!) and how joyful he was as he praised God running to the finish line, the wall I hit at mile 8 and how wonderful it felt to cross the finish line holding hands with my husband, and how emotional I was after the race knowing we would get to share one day with our kiddo from Africa about this amazing journey The Lord has taken us on before we ever even met them.

The race was such a picture of how this adoption journey has been for us. Training is like all the paperwork, training videos, books and home study we have had to do. The anticipation (and fear) of the race weekend feels the same as our anticipation for the child on the other side of the world who we will bring home in the next year. We can wait to see their sweet face and to hold them for the first time. We can't wait to see how their personality develops and watch The Lord capture their heart and give them a passion for His kingdom. We can't wait to have our family complete and to be on the other side encores going others through the adoption process.

We raised $2,000 from our Chosen race experience! That was more than expected and we were so excited! It was totally worth it and was a completely incredible weekend! We are coming for you, sweet one!

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Puzzle Update #2

Praise the Lord! We have continued to receive sponsorships for "the PUZZLE"! We are so thankful for how God is working and for the willingness of family and friends to sacrificially step out in faith and join us in this ministry of adoption! We only need 3 more puzzle pieces sponsored to complete the edge part of our puzzle! Each piece is $20 and we would LOVE to complete this phase of the puzzle by the end of the weekend! Just click the 'Donate' button on the right side of our blog to sponsor and we will put your name on the back of each piece you buy as a testimony to our adopted child(ren) of the Lord's provision and love for them before we even knew who they were. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored pieces! You have blessed us tremendously!

'I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.' Psalm 108:3-4

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 29, 2012

Puzzle Update #1

Here is our puzzle so far!!

We are so excited to announce that we have raised enough money to mail in our I-600A and Home Study forms into the USICS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for approval!! Thank you so much to everyone who has given to our puzzle piece fundraiser! It is so fun writing the names of the families and individuals who have supported us in this way on the back of each puzzle piece. What an amazing testimony it will be to our child(ren) from Uganda to see all the names of the people who loved them with Christ's love before they even saw their sweet face! With every piece of the puzzle that we put together, I look forward to the day when I can sit with our child(ren) and read them the names and tell them about our amazing God who loves them and knew them before they were born, and who works everything together . . . for our good and HIS glory!!

It will take 4-6 weeks for USCIS approval and then after we are approved, our agency will submit our paperwork to the orphan home to receive our child referral. This part if the process can take up to 7-9 months. The USCIS approval fee for our agency is $2,500 and then $3,000 will be due to them upon our referral acceptance from Uganda. This is the amount of money we are hoping to raise by the end of the year through our puzzle fundraiser and others (that we will share shortly:). That way we are ready to say YES when we are referred a child from the orphanage! If you would like to support us by purchasing a puzzle piece, click the donate button on the right side of this blog. :)

Thank you again for all of your love, support and prayers for our family as we 'Joyfully Endure' and wait for our forever child on the other side of the world. We have such peace knowing we are being obedient and that the Lord will provide everything in His timing. What an amazing journey we are on and what an incredible God we serve!

"I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever." ~ ~ Psalm 86:12

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Puzzle Fundraiser

As you know, we are currently in the process of adopting at least one child, or, if the Lord allows, two siblings from Uganda. As you may or may not know, this is a very costly venture. We are so grateful for how God has already provided for us, and are excited to see Him working to bring in the needed funds!

The PUZZLE is an opportunity for you to join with us in this ministry of adoption. We will be putting together a puzzle for our adopted child(ren), and we would like to give you the opportunity to sponsor parts of that puzzle, whether it's one piece or several pieces. As each piece is sponsored, we will assemble the puzzle and keep you updated via our blog and facebook (or email if you prefer). If you choose to participate, your name will be written on the back of each piece that you sponsor. This way, when our child or children are home, they will have a beautiful record of how many people helped bring them home - and more importantly, of God's perfect plan for their lives!

Here is how it works:
We bought a 500 piece puzzle. Each piece donated is $20. You may donate as many pieces as you'd like and for as much as you would like to give if you want to donate more than $20.

We will be using Paypal for this fundraiser. The Paypal Donation button is located on the top right side of our blog. This will link you to our paypal account for you to send us your donation. If you don't have a paypal account or prefer to send a check, please email me and I can send you our mailing address. awerleys@yahoo.com If you could also share on facebook, email, tweet and tell everyone you know, we would be more than grateful.

This is a poem I found on an adoption blog I have followed that I love and feel fits our hearts behind this fundraiser:

Pieces are scattered everywhere,
With no reason and no rhyme –
Tiny glimpses of a picture
That my eyes can’t seem to find.

My fingers fumble clumsily,
Searching for that certain piece.
Glancing, shifting, gazing, turning,
But the fit is not complete.

Your life is like this puzzle;
Though you’re frustrated, mystified
With these glimpses of a picture
That your heart can’t seem to find.

God sees the puzzle of your life,
Not as pieces, but as whole.
His mind is not confused or bent
By the turmoil in your soul.

For each piece is carefully fitted –
Flawlessly filling every space.
A breathtakingly magnificent portrait
Of His glory, love and grace!

Thank you so much for your time in keeping updated on what is happening in our adoption process. And we could never express to you how much we appreciate your continued prayers during this process!!

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!"
Psalm 115:1

We are officially Adopting!!

Hello, family and friends! As many of you already know, we are currently in the process of adopting a child/children from Uganda. I want to first back up and share our story of how the Lord has brought us to this place:
We are blessed with 3 beautiful bio children who bring us more joy and love than we could have ever imagined! We are so blessed by their precious lives and thank God for the gift of them every day.

After we had our youngest, the Lord put in us a dream for another child. After several devastating miscarriages, a lot of prayer and discussions we felt that the Lord was moving our hearts towards adoption. We went to an adoption conference in Dallas and we were even more convinced this was what the Lord wanted for our family. So, we slowly began moving forward looking into the foster to adopt programs in our area. During that year, the Lord called us to a new city and a new church. Adoption was set to the side for a while as we adjusted to a new home, job and city. As we began the adoption journey again, for some reason we were having a hard time feeling good about the foster to adopt agencies in our new city. Can't explain it. Just know we didn't feel as connected or like minded as we did with the agency we began working with in Dallas.

This amazing man came home one day telling me about a meeting he had just had with a wonderful older lady from our church. He had spent 2 hours with her talking and looking at pictures of children in an orphanage in India. This sweet woman was hoping our church could help her carry the load of the $200 she had been giving monthly to this orphanage for the past 10 years because her husband is sick and it had become a bit of a financial burden. Little did she know that the Lord was going to use those pictures of those beautiful children to change our family forever. My husband came home that night and shared that something happened inside him when he saw those pictures and he thought we were supposed to pursue international adoption. I was not there yet. At.All. I was thinking CPS foster to adopt for so long it was hard for me to shift gears. I said I would definitely pray about it and we were confident the Lord would change one of our hearts either way. Andrew went away on a men's retreat for the weekend and I took the kids to my hometown to visit my parents and dear friends we hadn't seen in a while. In a God ordained conversation with one of my precious best friends from high school, she began talking about how her and her husband were praying about adoption in the future and she mentioned an agency in our hometown that specialized in infant and international adoption. Hmmm. Interesting. She said it was an amazing christian agency (they are!!) and several people close to her had adopted from them and had great experiences. Those were key words for me. It was important to me that if I was going to step WAY out of my comfort zone and adopt internationally, I wanted to know that the people helping and walking alongside our family to accomplish this were for us, believers and prayer warriors. I went home that night and spent over an hour on the computer reading everything I could about this agency my friend mentioned. It was wonderful and I knew it was what the Lord wanted for us. I couldn't wait for Andrew to come home to share with him the excitement rising in me about this new and scary journey. So, we chose our agency first and then we looked at what countries they helped people to adopt (kind of backwards, but it worked for us).
Ghana and Uganda. Those were our choices, so we prayed and read a lot about both countries and mutually landed on Uganda. As SOON as we said yes to Uganda, the Lord continually confirmed it over and over again through conversations, music on the radio while driving, events in the news, and in our hearts. I love how He does that!!

We mailed our application in at the end of January of this year, interviewed with our case worker (who we LOVE), were quickly approved and moved on to gathering our first round of paperwork and training for our home study. The kids have been involved in the process from the beginning and we love having conversations with them about Africa and the new sibling the Lord is going to give them. They are such great kids and can't wait for their new brother or sister to come and live with us. (They are not too excited about shots for the trip eventually to Africa, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it. ;)

We finally (and I do mean finally!!) compiled every thing needed for our home study and mailed it off in July.

We had our home study (nerve wracking!!) done by the end of the summer and were approved to adopt 2 children!! (We are definitely open to adopting siblings if it comes up at the time of our referral. We will see!) We were so excited to be 'official' and to be able to move forward in this process.
So, that is where we are today. We will soon mail in our approval to then be approved by the U.S. government and then hopefully around Christmas of this year, it will be sent to Uganda for approval. From that point we will have 7-9 months of wait time before we get to see our child's beautiful face for the first time. We have a lot of wait time ahead of us, but we are excited about what God has already done in our hearts through this process. We are ever more thankful He chose to adopt us and die for us so that we can live for him! Obedience is both a beautiful and challenging thing. We named this blog Joyful Endurance because that is what the journey feels like for us. We are filled with JOY for all the many things the Lord has done for us and given us and we also know that this adoption thing is not for the weak harded. We have already experienced some delays and frustrations and plan on more as we move forward in the process. We are hopeful and ready for the Lord to grow our family and place that forever child with us.
Thank you so much for reading and joining us on this journey! Here are the ways you can help us:
~ Please be in prayer for our family as we 'joyfully endure' this process. Pray for our patience, faith, joy and dependence on the Lord to increase in our waiting. The Lord has a purpose for this time for each member of our family and we desire to glorify Him in all we do and say.
~ If you desire to do so, please help us by participating in one of our fundraisers. Right now we have an online "shop" at Just Love Coffee where you can purchase coffee and $5 for each bag sold goes toward our adoption. We also will be participating in a half marathon at the end of the month for adoption called Chosen where you can contribute to our team for the race. We also are going to be several other fundraisers to help the costs of the 'in country' portion of this adoption process and the costs of getting our family over to Uganda when the time comes. (We will have to stay in Uganda 4-6 weeks. We could definitely use prayer for that, too!) More fun fundraisers are in the works and I will post about them soon.
Thank you all, again! We have such amazing family and friend support and we seriously could not do this without each of their love, prayers and encouragement.
'The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY.' Psalm 126:3