The fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Dueteronomy 14:29

~ Silas and Naomi are HOME from Uganda ~

29 September 2010

Little Clouds in the Heat

Why did the weather turn up to mid-July heat the very weekend we held our yard sale?  I have no idea, but we were hot and very tired after 3 long days of moving "treasures", standing in the sun, true lack of sleep and sharing our story with so many people...all this may have enhanceed to my incredibly emotional state, but that probably wasn't really it.

You see not only were we gifted with so many donations for the sale (most from families we had never even met!), but the tenderness of those who came to shop, visit, or just bless us was so completely overwhelming.  Amidst all that heat, God showered us with His love this weekend and His little cool, clouds bearing those blessings came in many shapes and sizes... the sister and brother-in-law who allowed their yard and home to be overrun for 3 days... the young mom who bought two items and left a check for $300 in my hand... the incredible woman of faith who placed her hands on the pictures of my children and prayed out loud for them... the family we have yet to meet who sent a $500 gift because they felt their donated items were not worth enough... the sweet little hands who decorated cupcakes and rice krispy treats for us to sell... the grandma who pulled up and unloaded decorations from her own home so she could give us something... the family that thanked us over and over for the clothes left from the sale that we gave them... the little boy who emptied out his wallet of change to buy some blocks... the biker man who bought so much he had to come back the next day in his jeep... the dear friend who came just to stand by me and cry for a while over the Hand of the Lord we saw moving before our eyes...

...and so many others.

We were overwhelmed, blessed beyond our wildest dreams, and assured once again that our GOD is in control.  He is present and He is working together the ransom for our children.

Thank you all who helped, donated, baked, shopped, prayed, and supported us!  We were so touched and praise Him for what you did for our family.

Total towards the ransom:  Blessings rained down to $1,710.53
Singing and Praising! A miracle of a Yard Sale!

23 September 2010

Sacrifice and Confession

I wrote this last Thursday...but it took me a week to actually post it.  It was definitely for me, but maybe it's for someone else too...

Without much new information to share on our adoptions, or be distracted by, my mind has wandered these last several days…wandered into dangerous areas, terrifying close to the edge of that mental cliff where you are just so tempted to “jump” because the fight seems to be too much! The internal struggle of my emotions, heart and mind is warring at a heightened extreme and I just want PEACE! My own efforts to bring that calm which every ounce of my being longs for, like a drop of water in the desert, have fallen dramatically short, and that is probably a huge understatement. But of course, like a stubborn child, I keep trying, grasping, acting through the day in an attempt to get a little more control and bring my emotions back into my comfort zone. One epic failure after another…. (just ask Craig)

So this morning, in the shower (where God and I have our best talks), He says, “My child, don’t you know I have equipped you with all you need – I have GIVEN you this life so you have something to GIVE back to me.” And then I remembered… sacrifice.

It’s a lesson I learned during another very difficult phase in my life. I was alone, drowning in a pool of emotions so deep the bottom was black. And the Lord, My God, my Kinsman Redeemer, demonstrated so clearly to me that He WANTED my pain, my devastation, my lack of control, He actually WANTED it and not only that, it was beautiful to Him. And that brings me back to our conversation in the shower…sacrifice.

The Old Testament is riddled with that word: SACRIFICE. I see red when I read or say it. In my mind it means blood…not the romantic, vampire-induced type our society is so obsessed with, but gruesome, steaming blood poured out in violence on the dust from the veins of a living breathing thing. It is horrific. I can’t even begin to imagine just how many animals would have lost their life at my hands had I lived before Christ walked the earth. (Read Leviticus and keep a tally…I’m talking flocks of doves, and herds of sheep…per year in my name.) But all that is over! Christ’s Sacrifice, His blood, the violence He endured, it became my sacrifice…all of them, once and forever paid! ATONEMENT!!! And it’s not surprising that I see red when I write that word too.

So what does this all have to do with NOW? With our adoption? God reminded me this morning He has given me this 3 year and 9 month (and counting) long adoption journey of frustration, agonizing waiting, deep longing for my children, and blatant embodiment of my insufficiency SO THAT I have something to give back to Him. I have no control, but He does! I am so very small, but He is as vast as the stars are numbered…and on my own I have nothing to offer Him. SO He has given me these things, and beginning this morning, I lay them on the altar of my heart where my God reigns as King:

My impatient spirit with this lengthy process, wrapped in so much red tape it looks like a Christmas present

My ever-deepening longing to embrace my precious children who are so far away
My doubts, always veiled by trusting words, in His ability to supply our financial need for our kids’ ransom

My manipulative thoughts and prayers, as if I can coerce God into doing something different than His perfect plan

My physical and emotional fatigue from fighting this battle that has already been won for my family by His mighty hand (it’s as if I am beating at the air…and I am tired)

…and the list will continue to grow daily I’m sure

Then yesterday - the real yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 22) we received an email saying that because our precious girl is no longer sick, we are back in line, to wait.until.January.  My heart sank, my stomach instantly tied itself in a boy scout knot, I slid from the edge of our bed where I sat reading staring at the blurry screen of my laptop, and my eyes welled up with hot tears...tears of devestation, the only way to outwardly express the ache that seared through my body, tears.
and then, it happened, in an instant, my body was washed in peace!  Sweet, cool, refreshing PEACE that settled deeply into my chest, soothed my sobs, and brought me to my knees.  My GOD was still in control, He still held my children, both near and far, safely in the palm of His hands.  The realization that I had nothing to give but my longings and desires, nothing to control but the sacrifice of that pain and deep emotion, nothing to do but to relinquish everything to the Only One Who has control - it set in right with that peace and I felt utter and complete CALM.
It is going to be ok - as our social worker reminded me, we will NOT WAIT FOREVER, and
and again,
"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26

20 September 2010

Praises & a YARD SALE

Thank you from the deepest place in our hearts for all of you who prayed and/or fasted with us and so many others on behalf of the orphan. Your comments/emails brought tears to our eyes and so much joy to our home last week. God heard! And He has been moving big mountains ever since. Linny has been keeping track and posting some of the amazing stories if you want to read some and be amazed by our Lord.  But I can’t help but share that 3 – THREE! – children have been pried from the enemy’s grip and released to their loving, forever families! These cases were extreme and nothing short of a miracle!


Her lungs appear to be free of infection! What a miracle! The power of prayer, the voice of His children, our God is faithful…thank you for being a part of that work…and we wait expectantly for more to come. (stick around and I’ll keep the updates coming) We are continuing to pray for soon-travel, even October. HE.IS.ABLE.

When we heard we might have the opportunity to travel sooner than expected to bring our kids home, my incredible husband shifted into typical male-mode:  ACTION!  In one long night he cleared out our entire garage, which ellicited several embarrising comments from neighbors over the next few days, inlcuding "Are you moving?"  and "This is far to unorganized for garage sale, so WHAT is going on here?!"  Yes, our garage was that bad, which has turned into a major blessing with hundreds of items to SELL!!!  Including a nice high pub table and solid pine dresser!'s YARD SALE TIME!

My sister and her husband have offered to host it at their home and several families are contributing their own "treasures" to the sale.  We are praying this effort will bring us a few clicks closer to the ransom total we need to bring our kids home.  If you have any items of your own we would be blessed to add them to our lot.  We will provide drop-off addresses or gladly pick them up if needed, just let us know through a comment or email.  We will also have baked goods available, so if you have a prize-winning recipe you'd like to share we would love that!  Thank you all for you encouragement and loving support!  Please stop by and say HI if you have a minute this weekend!

Sale info:

FRIDAY - SUNDAY, Sept. 24-26
2783 Kaweah Court
Cameron Park, 95682

A wonderful new friend shared this with me recently (thank you, S):

"Whom have I in heaven but you?

And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:25-26

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will SOAR on wings like eagles; they will RUN and not grow weary, they will WALK and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

07 September 2010

Beseeching the Lord

Like the tab on the side says…God writes a different story for every adoption, but each is beautiful and glowing with His glory. For those of you who are just getting to know us, and for those who just haven’t heard the whole story, here’s a glimpse of the shine we’ve experienced over the past 4 years . . .

So after ½ a year of prayer, research, prayer, consulting with family and close friends, and more prayer, we were both faced with the same conclusion . . . Adoption is now a decision of obedience for our family. We got started right away and began our homestudy for Vietnam. We completed the process and watched in awe as God provided every penny each step of the way. (more than a few amazing stories for another post) Our 4- 6 month process turned into 6-8 then 10-12 and after waiting almost 16 months being told over and over we should be next, after several heartbreaking discussions with our agencies about the corruption and devastating acts taking place in Vietnam, after feeling certain our case would slip through, the US Embassy stopped processing adoptions from Vietnam. It was over. Every penny was gone with no refund, and we were left with a gaping whole in our hearts that a child we had loved dearly but never seen would never fill. We were later told that our file was the next to be granted a referral…next! What assurance that our God had held our file down on that desk. It was the peace we needed to press on.

We were given our sweet Maela in January 09 and one year later the earthquake in Haiti shook our home as well. We knew it was time to get our adoption going again and the recent reconnection with some friends in Uganda was the open door we were ready to walk through. Here’s the abridged version:

February – Began homestudy #2 here in CA and were led to an incredible God-serving agency in Alabama that works in Uganda.

March - We were given the honor of praying for a baby girl, AB days after she was born extremely premature, and soon would decide to adopt.

April - We were matched with our sweet NJ by the orphanage director and fell in love!

God blessed us with a surprise pregnancy... Surprise!

We had to give up AB due to our pregnancy, grieved our loss but rejoiced that another family would soon have the gift of loving her.

May - We were told our homestudy was going to be denied due to our “conservative fundamental Christian beliefs”, unless we were willing to change them. Terrified we could loose NJ, we asked many of you to pray and God moved mountains and changed hearts – we were approved without forsaking the name of Jesus or the principles He has set before us to live out!

June - At 13 weeks, we lost our baby and once again found ourselves grieving. God poured His grace and peace over us, bathing us in the comfort only a Father who has lost a child can give.

July - Our agency informed us AB was still in the orphanage and we would have the opportunity to adopt her! Miraculous details God orchestrated kept her there, just for us!

August/September - AB became very sick and was hospitalized for 5 days. God in His infinite mercy provided a foster mom for her and heard the cries of many of His faithful . . . she was healed!

AB’s condition prompted our case to be considered a “special circumstance” and work began to potentially speed up our travel date. She is still very fragile and is in need of surgery. Here’s where you come in . . .

Will you join us in a time of prayer and fasting to beseech the Lord to send us to Uganda in October? This would be nothing short of a miracle, but our God is infinitely bigger than any hindrances that stand in our way! He can allow this and we are going to be on our knees before Him. Here’s what He is more than able to accomplish for us to go:

- AB’s investigation completed

- All paperwork is cleared and ready to go

- Judge is willing to see our case as a special circumstance and grants us an early court date in October

- Financial Needs are met (in 4 weeks rather than 4 months)

This time of prayer and fasting was prompted by a wonderful woman, Linny, whose family God has used to encourage us many times. Check out her blog to be uplifted by the worshipful music and read the many stories of other families in the midst of adoption hurdles. Will you come along side us, with Linny and many others, praying for the orphan and families around the world who are striving to bring their children home?

We have designated three days to go before the Lord, starting Wednesday, September 8. There is power in numbers and the Lord loves to see His children gather together in His name.  Remember Esther's call on the entire nation of Israel to fast and pray...history was changed and the Great Jehovah moved mountains! (thank you for that reminder, Linny)  He can do it again if He chooses and release the enemies hold on orphans all around the world.  Please join us!  Consider this Scripture with us as you pray and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for partnering against the enemy in this fight for the fatherless!

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”

Thank you all for your love, encouragement and support!
Abiding in Him,
The VanderStoeps
(all 6 of us!)

Mountians Can Move

Forgive Me.  I am convicted of my lack of Faith.  Saturday night Jen brought me a blog she has been reading lately.  The author of the blog was/is challenging the body of Christ to fast and pray for orphans around the world.  More than that they were asking the adoption community to take part by sending in some prayer requests and committing to pray and fast all day tomorrow.  Jennifer asked me to write a post.  I struggled and struggled internally...foolishly...selfishly...sinfully.

I believe that the Almighty God is fighting for and protecting and guarding his children throughout the world.  I believe that He desires his servants to take part in his work through prayer and whenever possible, however possible with their hands as well.  I believe that our Sovereign God hears our prayers and acts according to his will so that anything we ask in his name he will do.  God is the protector of the is something he Is.  God is good.  God is Love.  God is Merciful. God is Just. God is the protector of the orphan.  What power then to pray in this way.  What Mercy that God allows us to take part in his very Character in this way...

So I ask you to forgive me for may lack of faith.  I God's grace I believe.  Pray and fast with me.  Check out this blog site, and lift up the many and varied adoption situations that need our prayers and God's provision.  Please Please Pray.
Praise God
1) AB is out of the hospital after 5 days
2) Another Missionary has stepped in to continue the IV antibiotic at home
3) Her chest x-rays looked good her lungs were mostly clear, seems the Pneumonia is all but gone

Ask God
1) To clear away obstacles keeping AB's poor health from being considered a special case. Being considered a special case would allow us to travel early to get her.
2) For continued healing for AB's lungs, that they would continue to develop the way they need to
3) That if they move up AB's court date because of her health they would move NJ's case as well. They are not under any obligation to do so because they are not blood siblings.
4) That God would provide the rest of the funds we need for an early trip and that he would clear all obstacles in the way of us leaving early. Our home study needs to be amended for special needs.

04 September 2010

God is able

so for a few details… AB is still in the hospital. this is the start of her 4th night there. her pneumonia seems to be doing better but other symptoms are creeping in so she is being kept – we think. we get updates here and there and have amazing friends who are keeping us informed, but when it’s your baby no amount of information is enough – i need to hold my little girl. yet another missionary, a nurse from houston, is stepping in tonight to help with her care! AB will now have 4 different individuals who have come forward outside of the orphanage to love her, hold her, and pray over her in the name of the One True King since she was born…for those of you who don’t know what an orphan’s life usually looks like…this is nothing short of God’s miraculous hand intervening on behalf of His daughter.

my heart has been heavy this week and while there is so much hope that we will have the opportunity to leave sooner due to AB’s condition, healthy doses of reality continue to sink in. nothing moves quickly in uganda.

the hard working and faithful man i am married to didn’t get home from the job until 10:30 pm on wednesday night, so i had a long evening to myself. curled up on the couch, computer in lap, i browsed through blogs by families who have been there, walked in our shoes, and seen the finish line. a continual stream of tears kept my cheeks moist for several hours as I saw images that reminded me of my little ones that are so far away. all the tasks, checkpoints, and financial stumbling blocks that stand between us and our kids began to scroll through my visions…almost so visibly that I could barely see the computer screen. all that we had planned to raise, organize, finish, and research over the next several months could now possibly be squeezed into just weeks…weeks! one by one, i began to carry them to the cross where my Savior died, where He no longer hangs, but where freedom reigns. and then whispered…

Eph. 3:20 “now to Him that is able to immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us”

i KNOW He is able…i want to believe He will…but Lord, help me with my unbelief.  i thought to myself, what a weak prayer from such a doubtful heart

then craig walked in the door, so weary from a very long day, and after a kiss, dropped a letter in my lap as he headed for the fridge. i peeled back the edge of the yellow envelope and a card slid out. in scrolly, bold letters, Ephesians 3:20 was written across the front. the soft tears that had been trickling down suddenly poured out like a flood gate had been opened - while i was reading the words i had prayed in complete solitude not minutes before, a check for $2,000 floated from the card to my lap. the card had been sent the day before we found out that our sweet AB was sick…

He is more than able. and His power is working. praise be to the King, for His Kingdom is coming!

02 September 2010

Reflecting on a Quiet House

It is late enough for the house to be quiet now; the children have gone to bed, the lights have been mostly turned out and I find myself reflecting on a time when it was like this all the time. There was a day when I could tell Jen about my day without dodging tiny flying dinosaurs or changing diapers, or hearing Maela scream because Noah is desperately trying to pop the balloon that has become her most recent treasure. There was a day. The truth is that the sights and sounds and yes even the smells of parenting have become precious to me. The older my children grow the more fervently I pray to God for the presence of mind to cherish every moment I have with them. So when the weekend comes and the noise of childhood reaches my ears first thing in the morning I consider myself blessed.

I find myself also reflecting on the sounds I never hear but am desperately longing for, the sounds of my baby girl crying, the din of my little boy getting the best of me with his practical jokes. I am waiting, waiting for these sounds with all my heart. Uganda hears these sounds, other people hear these sounds but I do not…and my heart is aching for them. What I am confronted with tonight, however, is the truth that when I do not hear the sounds of my children my Father in heaven, their true Father is listening. We found out Tuesday morning that our little girl who was born premature had been taken to the pediatrician for Pneumonia. For a little one with underdeveloped lungs this is a very dangerous and life threatening condition. We immediately called the Woman who has been lovingly caring for her (and 43 other children under three) for the past few months to find out exactly what was going on…it was true she had pneumonia. It was also true that God had already made provision for her. We have some friends in Uganda who know a missionary who has been praying for and loving and visiting our little girl since she was born and she had offered to foster her for us until we can come get her. That same day this beautiful servant of God picked her up at the orphanage and took her straight to a hospital where she is receiving the care she needs. They are expecting to release her tomorrow. Praise God who is the helper of the orphan, the God who hears, the loving father. Praise the God of heaven that when I could not hear the cries of my daughter the Infinite Father listened and appointed for her one of his servants.

So until the day when my boys can gang up on me and my girls can learn to manipulate me I am here, listening for sounds I cannot hear and enjoying the ones I can. I praise God for being the helper of the orphan…for preserving the life of a tiny child in Uganda.