This has been an incredibly difficult summer to say the least, but also one so incredibly full of blessings.
Our summer began with getting our paperwork sent to China and then receiving our LID or log in date, which was a critical step in being able to reuse our dossier. We were overjoyed to get everything in before the deadline, and so thankful for all the support from our home study agency, New Beginnings, who moved at record speed to help us achieve that goal!
Shortly after that we began our downhill slide. My beautiful Aunt Sharon, who has been one of my closest confidants, succumbed to cancer. Losing her has definitely been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to deal with. Through that loss though, I found myself rejoicing that she was no longer suffering, no longer in pain. I talked with her about her salvation, and I know that she is in Heaven now, reunited with her father.
The loss of my aunt, who was the glue that held our family together, has been difficult for us as a family, and there have been things that have been said and done, that can never be unsaid or undone. Our family has fractured, and I don't know if we will ever be able to mend it. I am 38 years old, and I have never, ever spent a single Thanksgiving or Christmas without my extended family, and this year, will be the first that we will not all gather together. Plans have been made, and I am beginning to realize that this might just be the "new normal" for us. It truly breaks my heart. But I have cried, and prayed, prayed and cried, and I have come to realize that from the ashes, new opportunities arise. We have asked Greg's parents to spend Christmas Day with us, something we've never had the freedom to do before, and we are grateful that we won't have the craziness of all 30+ family members to deal with mere weeks after coming home with Matt. I see it as a blessing. This year we should be focused on our more immediate family, and maybe this is Gods way of gently showing us that.
Just over two weeks after losing my Aunt, my Dad was admitted to the hospital, and had to have open heart surgery. We found out that the doctors that had previously seen him and placed stints, had done it incorrectly, and that he had been a ticking time bomb. They said if he'd had a heart attack, he would not have survived it. Talk about grateful! We are all so incredibly grateful that he kept insisting that there was still a problem, and that he sought a second opinion. Grateful that they saw the problem and worked immediately to do what they could to stabilize him, until they could do the surgery he needed. Grateful for the surgeon, whom we were repeatedly told by hospital staff was the best they had ever seen. Grateful that he came through the surgery with no complications, and that he is home now, recovering.
Just two days after my Dads surgery, my best friend lost her sweet Daddy, in a tragic accident. It was so sudden, and unexpected. My heart still breaks for her and her pain. He was such a good man. The kind of person who was always there to help, and willing to share what he could with all of his friends and family. He treated me like family, and always had a smile on his face when I saw him. We just never do know when God will call us home, and again, I am comforted by knowing that he was a Christian, and is now resting in Heaven with Christ.
The day we laid him to rest was very bittersweet. We finally got the call we had been waiting on all summer, that our LOA had finally been issued. This is the official letter stating we have been approved to adopt, and it is what begins our countdown to travel. I had also contacted our agency the week before to inquire about a little guy that has been on my heart and mind since we travelled to Annabella's orphanage last year. If you are a blog follower, you may remember the pictures of him, and me talking about him. He was a little boy with just stumps for arms and legs, who had learned to scoot himself around, and could hold a toy around his arm, and a sucker in the crook of his elbow. I have actually asked about him before, and thought that I had a peace of mind, that a file was being created for him, and that he would find his forever family...but something just kept bringing him back up in my heart and mind, and so I asked again about him. The day we got the call about our LOA, I also got an update on him, and learned that he had passed away. I don't know why, or how, nor will I ever have any answers, but his death has weighed heavily on me. Knowing he is in Heaven, and no longer an orphan is such comfort, and I praise God for his perfection, and grace, and love. I praise Him for the pain I feel, because it means that this little boy was loved here on earth. I loved him, and I can't wait to see him made whole one day when I can rejoice with him in the Kingdom of heaven!
Through all of this sadness, and all of these trials, God has truly blessed me too. He has placed a support system of other adoptive families in my life, that have been INCREDIBLE! They have blessed me with little uplifting notes, supported our adoption fundraising by encouraging me to open an Etsy store and sew for the public, then supported me by giving me more orders than I've known what to do with! They have prayed with me, and for me, and kept up with our journey enough to ask questions, and send kind thoughts our way. They have shared our frustrations, and delays, and rejoiced with us through the successes and fulfillment of each step towards Matt. I have laughed and cried and cringed at their stories, and been thankful every single day for this group of people who have blessed me daily!
I have met new people, and forged new bonds, and friendships. And Christ has shown us repeatedly that we are indeed, doing His will, by providing financially for us every step of the way thus far. Now, however, we feel that He is asking us to allow Him to work in others to bring us to our goal. So, I now ask you to please pray for our family, pray that we can step aside and allow Christ to take the wheel, and that we can fully trust in Him to provide the financial means necessary to reach Matt. We do trust that God will make a way, but we struggle with the enormity of it all. Help us pray for the people God plans to use, that they will answer His call and welcome it.
We estimate according to current flight data, and our estimated departure and arrival dates, along with the data fromour agency about all remaining fees, that our total adoption, including all the travel, will be $35,150.00
Of that, we have already paid 10,700.00 through God's amazing provisions.
That leaves 24,380.00
And we have to pay 2,246.00 of that by September 10, or we will be delayed in getting to Matt.
I keep turning to this scripture from the book of Matthew, chapter 17 verse 20... "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.' "
This is one of my favorite scriptures, and the basis for the very first small group study I led. So now, I am trying to remain focused on that mustard seed, and having the true faith God requires. I am believing that God will give us exactly what we need, and that He will do it in His time, and in His way, and not in ours. I believe that He is asking us to turn to you, our friends and family in Christ. Pray for how God wants to use you in our adoption. Whether He would like to pave a way for you to make a donation, or perhaps, He wants you to share our story. Maybe He is calling your church, your Sunday school class, or your youth group to take up a collection, or even host a fundraiser. A car wash, bake sale, or yard sale perhaps? Maybe He is calling you to post fliers at you place of business, or to collect donations form area businesses for our online auction that we plan to begin in a couple of weeks. We have worked tirelessly since February, accepting any and everything that has come our way as a means to reach our goal of getting to Matt. Greg has worked every overtime shift that has become available, I have begun to sew for the public, we have hosted an online yard sale, I even was blessed to be able to keep a little boy over the summer in our home. We have been told that we can expect to travel between October 28 and November 14. That is 8-10 weeks from now.
We have 8-10 weeks to reach our goal of 24,380.00.
So please, pray with us. Pray our letters are received with open hearts, and that God will use them to fund our way to Matt. Pray for our story to be heard, and for those that hear to be led down whatever path God has in store for them, whether it be to help financially with our adoption, or prayerfully. Pray for our son, who is about to be taken from everything he has ever known. Pray for him not to be afraid, and for his health. We still don't really even know what his medical condition is, or if he has minimal or severe health concerns. Pray for a smooth transition for all of us. Pray for our travels, that we stay safe and healthy. And pray for Matt's caretaker who will grieve when we come to take him home with us.
And if you find, that after prayer, God is calling you to donate, you can do so by either using our Paypal button on the top right hand side of our blog, or by mailing a check to our church, with a note attached stating it is for the Bennett family adoption. You can send that to:
The NorthStar Church
112 Bauhaus Dr.
Saltillo, MS 38866
I will be adding a meter to our blog, that will track the amount we receive in donations, and until then, I will be updating our blog at least twice weekly with our total funding. Please continue to pray for our family, and for God to show out! Pray that our story opens the doors for others that God needs opened, whether it is to adoption, or to Him. And most of all, please continue to pray for our precious baby Matt!
I'll end with this...our most recent picture of our precious little baby, Matthew Gregory Bennett
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27 ESV