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 ~

24 November 2010

50 and counting

inspired my dear friend to make my own list. my perspective has started to change, not as much as it should, but i’m thankful now for things i have not thought twice about before…

1. the fruity-spicy applesauce smell coming from my kitchen right now

2. new mercies every morning

3. hot vanilla lattes

4. orange, red, and yellow leaves…they mean winter is coming

5. my 4 children and all their colors

6. the sacrificial hearts of some incredible people

7. the Cooking Light magazine that comes to my house every month

8. ginger peach tea

9. the man who comes home to me EVERY night and still loves me each morning

10. sweats, the old, holey ones

11. people who travel the globe, giving their lives in service to the King

12. people who stay at home, giving their lives in service to the King

13. really small hands, there’s nothing like their precious touch

14. this incredible home my husband made with his hands

15. the facial expressions of my oldest as he makes up profoundly theological songs

16. beautiful, exotic Uganda and all its smiling people

17. Veggie Tales, Mickey Mouse, Kid’s Action Bible Songs and all the other contributors to a 20 minute accomplishment

18. the love letter my God wrote to me

19. nickels…jars of nickels (and pennies, dimes, and quarters)

20. boots (the kind that still let my kids go outside in bad weather)

21. big coats (same reason)

22. my washing machine and dryer

23. large corner bath tubs

24. diapers

25. a faucet that gives me water every time I turn it on

26. HOT water…that never runs out

27. my little girl who tucks in the picture of her baby sister on the computer screen with her blankie and bunny, then and cuddles up to snuggle with her (melts my heart every time, and yes, she does it a lot)
28. peanut butter, especially mixed with milk chocolate

29. date nights!

30. examples of true, pain-filled faith in those around me

31. sweet sister who buys me clothes, loves on my kids unconditionally, and walks with me through every trial

32. toothbrushes

33. submission

34. pediatrician who cares, really cares about our family

35. girl’s night . . . ha! girl’s weekend!

36. second son who’s comedic streak fills the orphanage with laughter

37. my honeymoon, yes, still

38. family, by blood and by spirit

39. the body I so often despise but works and enables me to serve and love my family

40. OBGYN that feels more like part of our family than some professional

41. friends who say what needs to be told, not what wants to be heard

42. my camera

43. my itty-bitty baby girl whose will to live surpasses her age by decades and whose life has demonstrated more of God’s grace to me than any other

44. my heritage, faith-filled and solid

45. biblical teaching

46. surrender – it’s a beautiful thing

47. my husband . . . I know, he’s on here twice

48. conditioner

49. un-surpassing, undeniable, unexplainable. PEACE

50. I john 4:19 – we love because He first loved us

had to add this as i checked my "to-do" list...

51. how many thank-you's i still need to write to those who have served, given, cooked, decorated, prayed, supported, and loved our family over the past 6 months...this adoption journey would be so empty without your demonstration of God's love to us.  THANK YOU!

19 November 2010

Woohooo! Well, not the BIG woohoo, yet…but a little woohoo closer to the big one. We heard good news today that things are moving along – our paperwork is in country and we should be signing some final papers from our lawyer in December, all getting us ready to go in January! We’ve had estimated dates/times/months before, but this has all the signs and evidence of being the real thing. Ultimately we are still at the mercy of Uganda’s court system, and above all – God’s perfect plan for our family.

So this is it – the final push!

If you are one of the families blessing us with a “Nickels for N--” jar we are going to try to collect those by the middle of December. Feel free to bring them to the church office, or just let us know and we can come by to pick them up. We have been so overwhelmed by the number of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters we’ve received! WOW – those add up! And I never fail to cry when a sweet little person hands me his/her jar of change…actually I usually weep. Sorry to all the kids I’ve scared as I blubber out my thanks while they gingerly hand me their gift.

Adopted by Design! So this is an incredible business a new friend of ours started just to help adopting families get a little closer to their children, not only because she is a soon-to-be adopting mommy, but because she loves the Lord and desires to serve Him with her talents. Wendy is an incredible artist, the really cute, funky stuff, you know! And she has designed a variety of Christmas cards, photo cards, greeting cards, signs, cookbooks and all sorts adorable things. She has featured us on her blog and added us as a recipient family for items sold in her store. When a purchase is made and our family is selected 40-75% of that item’s proceeds go to our family’s adoption fund! How amazing is that!!! She is already working on our Christmas card and I can’t wait to see it! So if you want to get a head start on a little holiday correspondence, or just stock up on a few unique and meaningful gifts, this is the place to go! (recently nick-named by a faithful coffee-connoisseur “Brown-baby coffee”) There is a special Christmas blend, lots of hats, t-shirts, and fun packages available just for the holiday season! If you love coffee, or know someone who does, this is the most delicious brew you have ever tasted (we’ve had many people tell is it’s better than, well, you know…the S- Place).  The packaging is so unique and you’ll love the way it makes your house smell! $5 from every bag of coffee purchased at our store (and a % of all other gifts) goes directly to our adoption fund. Plus it’s all bought through fair-trade coffee growers so major support to smaller farmers is provided. Just wonderful all around! AND, said connoisseur above also discovered “it is just as good run through a second time” upon forgetting to change the grounds out of his coffee maker on day two. We’ll let you be the judge of that though…

We are continually amazed beyond our imaginations by the creative and inspiring ways the Lord has provided the ransom for our two precious children…someday we hope to share all the magnificent stories with you, but until then PRAISE GOD for the work He is doing, in and through all of you for the sake of our children and His glory. This is the most humbling place we have ever been. Thank you with all our hearts!

18 November 2010

The Glass

Somewhere along the way, we are each told about the glass half-empty, glass half-full take on life; something about ‘perspective’ and ‘it’s all how you look at it’. Well I know that we are given an eternal perspective when we are children of the King…and honestly, I don’t really know how that affects our interpretation on the water level in the glass, but I do KNOW that perspective has greatly increased my ability to feel, to love, and to grieve. It’s like the wells of my heart have been deepened over the past 10 months, drilled out, and pressed to the very aching bottom of my soul. For such a long time I have been striving to balance this onslaught of emotions and thoughts, continually laying them down at the cross…but today, as I was driving with the kids down a beautiful road with autumn-laden trees arching over from both sides, I realized something profound, well at least for me. I have two glasses!!! And BOTH are brimming full, overflowing with an outpour of bubbling, frothy, and oh-so-real emotion. This song has been on repeat in my mind the past several days:

You are my strength when I am weak

You are the treasure that I seek

You are my All in All.

When I fall down you pick me up.

When I am dry you fill my cup.

You are my All in All.

Jesus, Lamb of God, Worthy is Your Name!

Jesus, Lamb of God, Worthy is Your Name!

My cups are full…one is a tarnished, slightly cracked, and sloshing around pure grief: the deep sadness I feel over the loss of our baby and the hollow emptiness that still echoes from my body occasionally, the intense longing for my two children that are still half way around the world and the desperation that threatens to overtake me every time we are told there has been another delay, and that sneaking reality that I am carrying some form of bitterness over it all…it all makes me so sad.

The other is different. It is beautiful, but simple. Shining, but not gaudy. The other is brimming with JOY. True, pure, holy joy that is replenished every day, each morning with every new mercy, every evening with un-surpassing peace, with each twinkle in my children’s eyes or sweet giggle from their mouths, the warm and protective embrace of my loving man, the comfort and encouragement from so many wise friends, support and prayers from those we’ve never met, and rising from the Word of Truth until I am overflowing.

So, how to reconcile the two? That’s where I stand now…but I’m beginning to think they are not so separate. Maybe just two sides to the same glass? I do know that I have not been forsaken, not destroyed, and nothing (no amount of flooding grief) will separate me from my God. So half-full, half-empty, or spilling over the edge…He fills my cup, He is my portion, and I will forever praise Him.

04 November 2010

Love and Protect

To protect our children, our family, and the sweet country of Uganda, we will need to change our blog to invitation entry only.  This will also give us freedom to share more details on our blog as we finally travel and meet our children.  We would love to continue to share our jounry with our family and friends - this is the Lord's story and it should be told to the nations, for He.Is.Good and worthy of praise!

If you would like to continue to follow our story as we prepare to travel and bring our children home, please email us at and we will invite you to pull up a chair to The Orphan's Table.  We'll compile a list of the readers and send you all an email when we make the switch.

Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers - He has shown Himself faithful through your gifts of love and service to our family.

Abiding in Him,
The VanderStoeps