Monday, December 17, 2012

Plans Unknown

I am amazed by how our God works!  To say He works in mysterious ways...seems like an understatement when you can look back and actually see where and how He was working.  Ways that you never would have seen coming.  That you couldn't have planned.  I am amazed, in awe, and cannot wait to see what else the Lord has in store for us!

So, by now you know that I have longed to adopt, for years and years, but you might not know that the time for us to turn in our just WEEKS away!  We started fundraising in November for our Application Fee, knowing that once we raised the money we would submit our application.  What we didn't realize is that it would only take 3 weeks to raise that money (and praise the Lord we are now on our way to raising money for our future Home Study, after Baby Seals #2 is born this May)!  Which put us in the busyness of Christmas, us packing to move, finalizing things for buying our first we decided we will submit it in January.  Let's back track for just a moment:

Back in 2004, the ministry I was involved in on campus, The House, was sending out 7 mission trips during spring break.  One of those was to New York.  That is where I wanted to go.  I love the city and wanted to serve the homeless there.  My mom, however, after looking over the locations, told me she thought I should go to Romania to work in the orphanages and with street children (I would have kept my daughter IN the country and not shipped her across the ocean, but the Lord was quietly working in her heart without her even knowing it).  She told me, 'I bet God can teach you a lot through a trip like that.'  I bet she had no idea, nor could she imagine, what would happen while in Romania.  My first day in the baby orphanage, while holding a baby, I knew...I just knew...I was supposed to adopt.  God had called me to adopt.  No idea when, or where, but that seed was planted, one of His callings on my life was now known to me, and my heart has been exploding since.

Fast forward to 2011, I'm pregnant with my first child, and I want to buy EVERY. SINGLE. BEANIE that I see.  But that could get pretty expensive, fast!  I decided I'd learn how to crochet.  Make some beanies for other women in my life having children, make several for my unborn child, and then start selling some to bring in a little extra cash.  Only God knew that about 20+ months later, I would be crocheting beanies to raise money for our adoption.

I know the Lord has planned my days.  I know He knit me together in my mother's womb, and I know He knows me better than I will ever know myself.  Still, I stand amazed in His presence when I look back through my life and see how one thing leads to another through no direction of my own but by His gentle guiding, calling, and grace.  I look forward to see what He uses next from my past to bring hope to our family's future!

If you would like to order a beanie from us (visit me on my facebook page, Moments Sealed), or just make a donation towards the Seals' Adoption Fund, please click the donation button to the top right of this page :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Busy Anticipation

I know, I know, I don't post on here enough!  While keeping up with my pregnancy blog, and Roman, this blog has been put on the back burner, which is ridiculous!  Whew, I have been busy lately!  Busy crocheting that is, because our fundraising for adoption is off to a great start via me crocheting beanies.  We will be submitting our application in January, and after such a long time desiring this, I am thrilled that the Lord has brought us to this moment.

Who knew that when I started crocheting beanies while pregnant with Roman (because I wanted every beanie that I saw, and lets face one can afford that!  haha) that it would lead to not only keeping his head warm but raising money to bring our children home!  I will tell you Who knew!  The Lord.  God is sovereign over everything and His plans...they are to bring a hope and a future...and that little desire to crochet beanies for my unborn baby that He put in my heart nearly 2 1/2 years bringing a hope and a future to our family, in so many ways.  Praise God!  His ways are so perfect.

We are closing on a house the end of this month.  We are 16 weeks pregnant.  We are starting the adoption process.  We are busy, but not so busy to see where God is at work, to recognize our need for Him, and to rejoice through our tiredness and excitement.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Give Thanks

In my Scripture reading this morning, Psalm 107 commanded me, and all believers, to give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble, and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south."

As one of His redeemed, I know I do not give Him praise and thanks enough.  There are days that go by that I just forget...the thought doesn't even cross my tell the wonderful, MERCIFUL, Saviour, "thank you!"  Oh we should never forget or take for granted what He has done for us.  So undeserving.  So filthy.  And yet He calls us into His presence, cleanses us, wipes us clean, and calls us 'His Righteousness' and 'Holy.'  We have nothing without Him.  We have everything with Him.  We have a future and a hope, which replaced despair and death.

So give thanks to the Lord!  For He is good!  And His steadfast love endures forever!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lord's Calling

God's will always comes to pass.  Maybe not in the way we would expect, but it always comes to pass.  He is sovereign.  He has known my days since before the world began, and something He called me to do, before the beginning of time, He will see to pass.

I've mentioned before about my desire, passion, for adoption.  Back in the Spring of 2004, on a mission trip with my college ministry to Romania during spring break, my heart for adoption was clenched while serving in a baby orphanage.  I've known since then that I would adopt one day.  The country, the time, me, but not unknown to our Sovereign God!

Well, last week Zane and I decided that we will officially start the process, aka turn in our application and see where God leads us.  We are currently 13 weeks pregnant, so we might be limited as to how far we can advance in the process for now, but nevertheless we will begin and I'm so incredibly thankful for that.  This has been a longing for over 8 years and I cannot wait to bring my baby home!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blinded by 50 Shades of Gray

First, let me say I have no interest in reading this book.  The eye is the light to the rest of your body, and as a Christian, I must guard what I see.  When you read, your mind is forced to imagine what your eye is comprehending, and I firmly believe this book has no place in the life of a Christian.  

Since becoming a mother, I have become more aware as to how my actions can give approval, even if I don't necessarily mean to.  For example, I have no problem with 2-pieces, or bikinis, BUT I don't want a mother who does have a problem with her daughter wearing a 2-piece to hear, "But Mrs. Seals, (or But Emmie, Miss Emmie, etc) wore one.  Why can't I?!"

After having a brief moment of 'judging' those who are reading, or have read, this book, I heard, "Emmie, pull the log out of your own eye."  I looked over to the left where Zane and I have well over 300 DVDs.  Most of our DVDs I won't mind our children watching once they are at a certain age.  But some of them, I never want our children to watch.  Not even once they are 18.  I started going through them, row by row, and have found 16 that need to be gotten rid of.  Goodnesss, I can't believe these are in my house!  In fact, it makes me wonder what else I am giving approval to that I am not quite aware of.

So this is a call to not only hold me accountable for my actions, but also to remember who you are.  If you are a Christian, you are a child of the Living God.  We need to live differently and pay attention to what we are putting in our lives.  We are to shine for Christ.  Are you?  Am I?  

"The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"  Matthew 6:22-23

Friday, June 29, 2012

Forget being Stalled

Good afternoon!  On my last entry, I mentioned that Zane and I have been discovering that if we get pregnant during the adoption process, our application is put on hold, or in some cases, completely stalled and we would have to start all over again once our new child is 6 months old.  Talk about agony!  

Well, I am happy that we have found several agencies and countries that do NOT have that policy.  In fact, it can even help the bonding of the children the closer they are in age, right?  So, we have a lot of prayer that needs to happen, for God to give us wisdom as we pursue adoption.  We are narrowing down our agency choices, I think....and we are both feeling a heart towards Asia and Africa.  This comes as a shock to me because of my love for Romania.  I thought for sure I would feel pulled towards Eastern Europe, but God is working in my heart a different way than expected.  God does that, though!  And His ways are best.  I look so forward to what He has in store.

Have a wonderful Friday!  Stay cool.  It is so hot outside!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Holding for Pregnancy

According to one of the adoption agencies we have been in contact with, most countries will put your application on hold should you become pregnant during the process.  This gives me pause.  Zane and I want to start the adoption process, and knowing that it will be a several year journey, we would like to get pregnant and have another child while we wait to bring our children home from overseas.  But, if that would put our application on hold, then Zane and I have some considering to do.  Get pregnant sooner than we wanted?  Have a baby after we bring our children from overseas home?  So many things to consider!

Here I was, back in my naive days, thinking I knew just about all there was to know regarding adoption, just longing for the time that God will put this calling into motion.  Haha!  But now, actually researching agencies and countries with my husband, going to meetings, talking with  people who have made this journey...well, let's just say I didn't know all I thought I did.  Don't you just love wake-up calls!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Longing Worth Waiting On

The idea of adopting is even more beautiful now than it was 8 years ago when God first put the PASSION in my heart.  It is all I can do to contain this joy in eager anticipation of God's timing.  You might notice, over to the right, we have a 'donate' button now to our adoption fund.  We might only get pennies donated at the moment.  Who knows?!  As Zane puts it, "I wouldn't donate to someone if they hadn't started the process yet, at least chosen an agency and a country."

However, I'm of the mind that people who know me know that this isn't a whim.  They know we will be adopting, as soon as God says 'now.'  I have zero doubt in my mind that God will provide for us financially to bring our children home.  And, if this is going to be a 3 year + journey, why not start raising money now?  The more money we raise before we start, the easier (hopefully!) it will be to complete our dossier (fancy word for a ton of paperwork) and have it sent to our country that we will be adopting from.

Friends, I look so forward to our precious little ones.  Baby Seals #2 and #3 (or #3 and #4, should we become pregnant before bringing our adopted ones home) are already greatly loved, prayed for, and LONGED for.

I hope you are having a beautiful day, filled with God's love and warmth shining down!

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Informing Meeting

Zane and I went to our first Informational Meeting regarding adoption this past Tuesday.  I have not been able to get it out of my head.  I'm so excited to be on this path, though I've seen it coming for 8 years!  The meeting was...enlightening.  There are so many more countries that we are eligible for than I thought.  Terminology does not always mean what you think it does.  We have a list of countries, 5 actually, that we are interested in.  One country that I thought was a 'no' is actually a 'yes' I found out, and I cannot get two little faces out of my head!  No, I haven't seen our future children...I know I haven't...but I still see these two little faces every time I think about adoption.  My heart is being tugged towards a particular country.  I'm not quite sure how God gets a husband and wife to both desire a child from the same country, but I'm waiting to see if Zane starts bringing up this particular country before I let him know how I'm feeling.

While we are not starting the process at this time...hopefully in 2013 or the end of 2012...I am doing my research on creative fundraising methods.  I cannot wait to start this process and welcome others to help us bring Baby Seals #2 and #3 home!  (Unless I get pregnant..then #3 and #4.)  Did you catch that?  Yep, we want to bring home a sibling group.  Originally I thought God would allow us to go through this process multiple times, but both Zane and I are desiring 2 at once.  Praise the Lord for working in our hearts regarding that and bringing us to the same conclusion!  I. Cannot. Wait.  My heart is bursting at the seams thinking of my precious little ones.  Roman will make a great big brother.  Zane makes an excellent father and will love these precious ones as his own, just like he does Roman.  And me...I've been desiring this for so long I don't quite grasp the reality in it all.  Oh joy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stalled for the Moment

Well, it turns out that the Condo we had a contract on just wasn't meant to be.  Praise the Lord He had already been working in my heart!

For a little over a week, prior to finding out our contract was falling through, I began having doubts about the Condo.  Were we making the right choice?  We offered a little more than we were originally comfortable with.  We weren't going to have a yard for Roman, and future children, to play in.  Something just wasn't sitting right.  I was becoming less excited about becoming a home-owner of this Condo, and more worried that there was something else out there for us.  Maybe a house.  Maybe we just need to renew our lease.  I don't know...something.

I received a call from our lender Friday evening.  Now, I had been praying all last week that if we weren't supposed to have the house, God would make it clear to us by Friday.  Sure enough, Friday at 5 p.m., our lender called to let us know two problems going on with the FHA insurability of the Condo.  Basically, it wasn't going to happen, and there wasn't anything Zane or I could do.  It required the owners of other condos, and the HOA, to follow the guidelines laid out by FHA, but they were both far behind.  I'd say God answered my prayer loud and clear!  Praise Him for that!  Even if we were to follow through on our Condo, and somehow HOA and other owners did what they were supposed to do, the liklihood of us falling into this same predicament when we try to sell is very high.  
Now, what this means:  We are giving ourselves until Friday.  If God wants us to have a house, we will see it between now and then.  If He doesn't, we will renew our lease until December.  Which would mean: A) I'm most certainly not getting another dog right now (please imagine me moping...I just love dogs!) and B) we are MOST DEFINITELY not starting the adoption process at this moment.  We need to have a home to grow in before we can add on another child...or two...or three.

Life is a roller coaster.  I'm so thankful God is planning every day and holding the Seals' family each step of the way!

Monday, June 4, 2012

It Begins...

And the road to adoption begins....

Well, let's be honest.  For me, it began when God was knitting me together in my Mother's womb and planning my days.  I realized it was beginning while on a mission trip in March of 2004 to Romania when I was holding a severely malnourished 4 year old who looked to be the age of my now 8 month old son.  Since that trip, I have not been able to look back.  That longing to adopt has grown, and grown, and grown, and I just don't know how much more it can grow without bursting my heart wide open.  I have such joy when I think about seeing my child for the first time.  I have such pain when I think of all the 'what ifs' that can take place during the process.  A long, tedious process that I don't think ever goes smoothly.  Sure, it is worth it in the end!  Of course it is!  May the Lord be gracious to my family, and my little heart, during the years ahead!

So, you might be thinking that Zane and I have started paperwork.  You would be wrong.  Several weeks ago we decided to start researching agencies and 'gathering the information,' if you will, so that when we are in a position to be ready to add a second child to our home, we will know the agency and country we wish to adopt from.  Part of this push to start gathering the information was because some friends of ours who have been on the adoption road for a year now found out just a few months ago that the country they were working towards would no longer allow them to adopt.  That struck pain into my heart for them.  And pain/fear into my heart for what is up ahead.  God has called me not to live a life of fear!  He is sovereign and our journey, their journey, is in His hands...but the human in me cries out so loudly when I become abundantly more aware of the lack of control I have.

During our research of agencies, we found that Bethany Christian Services offers meetings, monthly, for prospective parents of International Adoption.  While we have not decided on an agency, it is a GREAT idea, I'd say, to go ahead and go to a meeting to get ourselves informed.  I've also contacted an agency from Georgia, An Open Door, to ask a few questions and discuss concerns.  Zane and I will be visiting with a couple from our church in the next week or two to learn about their journey through adoption twice: once domestic and once international.  And my hands have busily been creating beanies for football season.  Every thing I crochet from here on out is to raise money for adoption.  (So if you see something you like on my Etsy shop, Moments Sealed, feel free to purchase it knowing what it is going towards.  You can always let me know what you want and I will do my best to make it for you.)

Feel free to pray without ceasing for us.  For me as I get way ahead of myself and hate the whole waiting thing.  For Zane since he has to deal with me hating the whole waiting thing.  For God to be at work in us and through us during this time.  To draw us closer together.  To cause us to focus on Him more.  For Roman to see a glimpse in this of what God has done for us, adopting us as His children.  For our future adoptive child/children and the emotions/insecurities they might go through.  For the birth parents, for them to come to know Jesus as their Savior; for them to be at peace with their decision; for God to be their comfort throughout their lives when they think about their child, where he/she is, what he/she looks like, etc. and praise Him on their behalf that they gave him/her life rather than aborting.

We invite you to go through this journey with us, praying alongside us.  Thank you for reading, and I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just Ask

We have a contract on a condo!  And I am very thrilled.  Since 2004, I have sensed a great desire to own my own property, and stop this horrible cycle of wasting money on rent.  When the economy tanked a few years ago, Zane and I began to understand just how difficult it is for a first-time homebuyer to actually purchase a home.  We have nearly perfect credit, are extremely frugal financially, but, as any of you who have a home know, there are always bumps in the road!

Back in April, we found out that when our lease is up, July 2, our rent will be increased over $100.  I assume that with so many people losing their homes, more people are renting, and apartment management can take advantage of that by increasing rent due to apartments being in such high demand.  Well, where we live is not worth what we are currently paying.  Zane and I decided to step out in faith and look for property.

What you might not know is that we live in the Nashville area.  Zane's dream job is in Atlanta.  When God brought us here, we were confused, to say the least.  Then God led us to our church.  We believe He brought us here for that reason--for us to be a part of Redeemer.  While the job Zane wants will definitely be his as soon as the company starts hiring again, we have no idea as to how long we might wait.  Our stepping out in faith was not just for God to lead us to the home He wants for us, but if God wants us to stay in Nashville, that He would take us to our home.

We couldn't find anything.  Two days before we had to give our apartment management their 60 day notice of us staying or leaving, Zane and I decided to look at condos/townhomes.  We just couldn't find a stand alone house and wanted to make sure we looked at everything.  I emailed our realtor and we set up 5 condos to view the next morning.  That is when I read James 4 and gleaned these 3 things:  1) "you do not have because you do not ask."  While we were seeking God's will, I had not simply asked for a home.  So, I did.  2)  "Do not speak evil against one another."  I had become slightly bitter towards my fellow believers surrounding me.  I was judging them from what I viewed they had, while thinking Zane and I do everything right and can't find the smallest, safe home for our family to grow in.  But has God not given us more than we could ever imagine!  I must not judge my fellow Christians!  and 3) "you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  This confirmed how our house hunt started:  stepping out in faith because we don't know what tomorrow brings but do know that God will lead us where He wants us.

And that morning, about an hour or so after studying James 4 and spending time in prayer, I walked into the condo that we now have a contract on.  Goodness, waiting for closing is so difficult though!  Trust in the Lord.  He will lead you.  Follow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A New Journey

I know, I know!  It has been a very long time since my last post.  I could sit here and make excuses about how busy I am feeding Roman, changing diapers, trying to be a good wife, crochet, clean, etc...but the truth is, I haven't even thought about writing that much!  Shame on me.  I love writing.  So, let's try and do this again!

I began, as in 1 entry, to share a chapter in the Gospels.  That didn't last.  I'm not going to tell you "I will do this every day."  Things in my life just don't work out that way anymore!  But what I can tell you is that I will do my best to be more consistent with writing and sharing.  

Roman has his 2 bottom front teeth now.  He is crawling, everywhere.  He makes a beeline to the dog food every single day.  (Don't worry.  None has made it to his mouth YET.)  Roman adores our dog, Caprica.  They make out (yes, kiss all the time), play tug of war, share toys, and Roman will even lay on her, hitting her over and over and Caprica is just SO gentle with him.  (She is a german shepherd/rotti mix.  Her gentleness with Roman amazes me.  Such a huge blessing from God!)  Our other dog, Frisbee, we gave to my older brother.  I have loved her and raised her for 8 years.  But once Roman came along she started messing every single day in the house.  She even pooped on my foot...yes...ON MY FOOT 4 times.  She also growls at Roman if he gets too close.  So, yes, Fris had to go.

We have a contract on a condo in Hendersonville.  This began with us stepping out in faith.  Not knowing if God wants us to remain here, or move back to Atlanta.  But while we wait for His calling, our lease was coming to an end, and to re-up, management was going to raise the price over $100!!!  So, we began looking for houses.  I will tell you more about this in another post:)  

God is great, and He is doing great things in our lives.  And in our friend's lives.  I can just see Him at work in so many ways.  And this makes me excited, and prayerful, and more and more eager to know what He will do next.  And more and more eager to have Him hold me in His arms, my family, and those I love.  Being a mother has taught me that I have ZERO control...but that is okay, because God is never surprised by anything and He will work everything out for our good and His glory.

Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Time to Share

Yesterday I had the wonderful blessing of visiting with a dear friend from Romania.  We met 8 years ago while I was helping with a youth camp, and then again 7 years ago during my summer in Piatra Neamt, Romania.  We have kept in touch since then, but not nearly as often as either of us would like.  I suppose that when you are living in two different countries, living two separate lives...while you may still be in fellowship with each other, the fellowship is not as close as it could be when shared.

It was wonderful seeing her.  God has called her to serve in a country where it is not particularly safe towards Christians.  She is serving those who could lose everything if they gave their life to Christ: family, friends, their home...  Spending time with her reminded me of how important it is to know what God is doing around the world.  Here in America, we get so busy.  So focused on us.  Our life.  Our church.  Our job.  We lose sight of the bigger picture.  Christ, and spreading the gospel to those around us and across the globe, to further His Kingdom as His Spirit leads. 

When I worked at Mission to the World, it truly came home to me that if we are not going, and we are not sending, we are disobeying.  As I reflect on my time with my friend, and how I live my life, it begs me to evaluate if I am going or sending...or disobeying.  Where is my time and energy spent?  Yes, right now my son demands more energy than I could ever imagine I had!  But God has put people in my life, all around me, and there are opportunities everywhere to share the great news of the gospel.  And I am called to go to them, seize those opportunities, send people financially and prayerfully, and love like Jesus loved, letting His light shine through my life, so that this dark world can have Hope that is only found in Him.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Last Several Attempts

Good morning, friends.  My last several attempts to log onto my blog have failed.  I'm not sure as to why, but finally, today, it worked! 
I should know better than to say 'I want to write about a new chapter a day from the Bible.'  Having a baby changes everything.  I can make plans of what I want to do, but when it comes down to it....unfortunately...there are not enough hours in the day for everything that needs to get done.  And my blog goes on the back burner.  However, mornings like this, when I have a moment, I want to try and write about what God is doing in my life!

My son is sitting next to me on the couch, kicking his little legs to classical music as he watches Baby Einstein.  3 days ago was his 4 month birthday.  Every moment with him is a blessing.  Even the moments that seem they will never end as he cries, or fusses, or just makes me feel inadequate.  I'm constantly being reminded that he is not mine first.  He belongs to the Lord.  Praise God that He is giving me the opportunity, the blessing, to raise him!!!  I hope I do not take him for granted!

Ever since we left Athens, I have missed my previous job.  Not because I don't LOVE being a stay-at-home mother and wife, but because I miss working for the Kingdom.  Well, I have just been offered a job, one in which I didn't apply for nor know was available, in which I only need to work a few short hours a week, and can do so from home or the office.  If I am in the office, Roman can come too!  Praise God for this opportunity, a little more income, and for it all being a blessing handed down from above.

Have a beautiful day all!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Luke 1

Silly me.  I should have known better than to say I would blog a new chapter each day of the Bible, and then go out of town for 11 days!  I hope your Christmas and New Years was wonderful.  It was so joyful being with friends and family, and having my little boy to share everything with!  Luke 1 fortells the birth of John the Baptist, born to prepare the way of our Lord.  When his father, Zechariah was told by an angel that his wife would conceive, Zechariah doubted.  His wife, Elizabeth, was advanced in years and barren.  Because of his disbelief, Zechariah was silenced until the birth of John.  While Mary was pregnant, she visited Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. (Luke 1: 41)  She immediately knew Mary was carrying the Lord.  Mary remained with them for about three months and they rejoiced together.  During that time was when Mary wrote her Magnificat: 
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.  And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hears; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away.  He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."  Luke 1:46-55
 After John's birth, Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophecies regarding God's mercy and his new baby:  "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."  Luke 1: 76-79 And that is just what John did.  Growing strong in the spirit, he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance in Israel.  Goodness, all this talk about babies!  Here is my precious baby boy.  I pray that God has a special purpose for him and will see Roman through to its completion.
This is Roman with his Uncle Christopher.