Ashley and her daddy...:-)

Monday, August 13, 2012

His Promises Never Fail, We Just Gain Perspective

I'm not even quite sure as I begin this post where it is going to end up. I find myself awake at 5am, in the same position I was in at 2:30am.  I am a mom.  I don't sleep much at night because we are sharing our room with a budding toddler.  I get naps when i can.  :-)

I decided to take advantage of this night waking and journey back a little to a place my heart doesn't want to go. I have been running from writing this for too long. Two and a half years ago, I sat in an office in Asheville, NC, looking for peace in my heart and plunging head first into a journey that I had no idea would bring me to where I am.  I began loving and pouring my time into a country I never dreamed I would end up in. In the process, I began loving and pouring my heart out to a tiny 2 year old in a small orphanage in that country.  To say I was grabbed with a passion I have never felt before would be an understatement.  One could simply look back at my blog entries (all two or three of them) and see the excitement.  So rich was that excitement, that my blog stayed empty most of the time, as I spent hours and hours doing and researching, in search of a plan to bring this sweet little girl home to live with Matt and I.  I was so engrossed, in fact, that at one point, my sweet husband asked me to reassess what  was important to me - him or this new infatuation with the country and the girl.  Don't get me wrong - he loved this little girl too, but there was a slow fade happening with me that he was keenly aware of.  One that was taking me far from the priorities that I would readily verbalize if asked. "oh sure - as a woman of God, my God comes first, husband second, and ministry/passions, 3rd."  His recognition of this shuffling of goals came as a surprise, but a welcome one all the same.  This country - Haiti - and mission I had fallen in love with, including my love for little Ashley, very prayerfully took a backseat, as  I vowed to pray more and research/agonize/scramble less.  Hence, the reason for this blog stopping so abruptly.  About the same time that the blogs stopped, my hope began to wane.  We had been fighting in every avenue we could think of to get our sweet Ashley home, and though we had felt the Lord pushing us to pursue her and this process, we kept getting road blocks that left us puzzled at every turn.  I had never felt so sure of anything in my life that seemed to be moving in no direction at all.  The last time I had visited Ashley was in October of 2010 where I also found out we were pregnant with our first biological child.  What a blessing we had been given!  However, my first thoughts were ones of fear instead of immediate contentment and excitement.  I have always wanted to be a mother both to biological children and adopted.  We had been told that having biological children at that stage in adoption was a mark against us, and as crazy as this sounds, I was immediately troubled at this new life growing inside me, thinking we had jeopardized our sweet Ashley's potential position in our family.  While this may sound insane, it was a natural outpouring of my stream of consciousness.  Thankfully, even though my worry was futile from the outset, I was also assured by the lawyer that all would be well and the pregnancy was not a mark against us.  This all played out in October of 2010.  After telling Matt on skype that we were pregnant :-), I was quickly and lovingly ordered to be as careful as possible and to come home with no plans to return.  The growing baby in my womb needed priority and God would tell us what to do in the meantime as HE took care of Ashley when she was out of our ability to care for.  Months passed, and the continued word from the lawyer in Haiti was that we needed to wait until the laws changed to actively pursue Ashley or we would be wasting money and spinning our wheels. So we waited and waited while I became a first "all the time" mom, though I had been a mom in my heart for more than a year by then. I enjoyed every moment of growing, delivering and raising Willow that summer, including living in three places between the school grounds, our new cabin, and camp.  All the while, I kept wondering what God was doing and when He would fill this long awaited place in our home with little Ashley.  While bringing Willow into the world, we were approached about praying through going to the mission field full time in Haiti.  I will write more later about that process, but during that time, we were so tossed about that would happen to Ashley. Would we be able to have her live with us when we move?  What are the laws governing all those specifics?  Should we move? Would that hurt her chances of getting her because we would suddenly be on a mission budget instead of an account that looked "acceptable" to a home study agent?  So many questions flooded our minds on top of all the others related to moving a new baby and our whole world to a third world location.  As you can imagine, we prayed until we were blue in the face.  As you well know, God did answer our call to move to Haiti, in ways that knocked our socks off, especially Matt's.  As we prepared to go, we hesitated many times, wondering about how much control we were supposed to have related to Ashley's future.  In all of our wonderings, we finally realized that control wasn't ours to begin with. That Ashley also wasn't ours.   I had journaled a thousand times before that the most important thing I could remember as a mom was that every child I was blessed with was the Lord's.  Remembering this allowed me to know once again that control was out of our reach for good reason.  We don't know best - He does. 

The most recent picture we have of Ashley.  Matt's visit in September 2011. She was almost 4.
For the sake of updating all of you on Ashley, I will fast forward to present day.  For so many reasons we are unable to share, the details will remain unspoken regarding Ashley's fate with our family.  She has not been able to come and live with us as we had hoped.  We are no further in the process of trying to adopt her.  I cannot tell you how many times I have asked God "why are we on this ride?"  What happened to get us here?  We desire to keep our silence because we desire God's good in this process and to never harm anyone with slander or frustration based on our emotions.  Emotions have ran high, low, and around and around.  There have been tears, silence, anger, bitterness, understanding, peace, and joy only God can give.  I have many opportunities to rest in the anger and tears, but as I have been promised over and over "joy comes in the morning." So as for me..."I will sing about your strength; i will praise your loyal love in the morning; For you are my refuge and my place of shelter when I face trouble." Psalm 59:16   I have realized that when anger was so quickly on my lips, speaking it would only result in pain.  Our mission to Haiti was to relieve pain - not to cause it.  Although I am sure I have caused unintentional pain along they way in my stumbling in this missionary life, I will not willfully hurt someone because i have been hurt.  We, Matt and I, have been called to a higher standard.  The same God that willed us to recognize Ashley's need for a family that we could provide and to love her how we do, also spurs us to love others who are harder to love.  The call is the same, however. And the love story He is writing that started with a young, eager couple, unsure of the future, but sure of His call to love a little girl and then to love her country - it is still being written!  That is the beauty in all of this...I stand before a God, I SERVE a God, who knows no beginning or end and sees the end of our days and knows their outcome and will never stop walking beside us for eternity!  That is the promise we have.  Thank you for reading this. Thank you for walking beside us. Thank you for supporting us.  We are forever grateful for you, friends and family.  I pray you continue to walk this journey with us...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Longest Wait EVER!

Oh how we are being taught patience....even as you have been in waiting for our next enry to, the truth is, I haven't had the nerve to write anything. When I say nerve, I mean just that. There have been days when I don't know what the next step is, when I'm not even sure what God is doing in my here and now and feel almost like a fraud trying to process or even act like I know how to guess what He may be up to. So many times I have sat down, poised to write and, between feeling so completely overwhelmed and having to hesitate to share some things when God's timing is right, I have been frozen. But what got me punching keys this morning was a reminder that God is at work and that He asks us to proclaim what He has done, which I have been so unfaithful to do. Blocked by fear and the possibility of disappointment, I have been silent, and that, my friends, is disobedience. He has called us to live in joy and abundance and has given us a sound mind to go about doing just that.
So, without further adieu, I give you the second installment, with much less detail, (because, Lord knows sooo much has happened) of this here thing we call a blog. ;-)

Picking up where we left off in the first blog would be insane, but I'm trying to keep the story flowing and share the last 10 months as quickly as I can. Looking back at the first entry, I didn't even get into what was happening, so here goes!

The travels to Haiti last March were incredible and I met what I refer to as my extended family in Haiti. Between the Roberts, Chris Keylon, Jenny Chapman, Bobby and Lourdie, Mama T, Kessy, Josue, Famega, Yamiley, Evens MMDR, Chadasha, Project Sharewood, all of my beautiful teammates and all those involved in the wonderful things happening in Haiti ( I could never name them all) I have found family. We stayed at the guesthouse in Port-au-Prince that most of you will be familiar with who are reading my blog and were thankful for lodging and family more than you can imagine. The Roberts have put up with us over and over and I will forever be thankful.

Skipping ahead for the readers's sake, I was diverted after arriving in Haiti, to Children of Hope Orphanage and Hospice where there was a need for children to be seen who hadn't had medical care in about a month. Oh how my heart was swelling! I was a little nervous still, which, if you know me, is sooo unlike me, but that just goes to show that God will take you out of your comfort and show Himself in your weaknesses. I had multiple conversations with Chris Keylon and the Roberts who keep things rolling down in PAP about the possibility of a need for a child to go to the states on humanitarian medical parole, and as I said in the last post, this is what transpired for Ashley.
I met Ashely at the orphanage when I arrived there in March, and, to be honest, every child pulled at my heart. Being a nurse, and knowing that my calling was children from the very start, made me ache for all of them - for the loss that they will never understand but will always feel the vacancy of. I got about my task of seeing all of the kids which came out to about 8 kiddos a day to get to all of them (there were 35 then), and in the midst of these assessments, I spent more time with Ashley due to hearing a transient murmur in her heart. I listened to her in different capacities - running, lying, playing, not really smiling - since she didn't do much of that at the time - but in every capacity I could. Through that time, I felt this connection to her that I can't explain. At the time, she was very frail, had only the summer before stopped dragging one of her legs, and was sickly often. Bobby and Lourdie (the orphanage directors and my friends) had literally been loving her back to health for two years since she came to the orphanage and it was showing in everything she did. Knowing that she was sickly often, the idea hit to try and get her home on humanitarian parole based on many different issues including intestinal worms, failure to thrive etc. Long story short, that was not God's plan for her and our family. After some of the toughest, but most beautiful times in our life in the past 10 months, God has slowly been showing us why, but it has been so incredibly difficult to walk through.
You see.......I go every day knowing that I am not to give up on Ashley - that i am TO FIGHT FOR HER...that WE (Matt and I) are to fight for her. The hard part is what in the world fighting for her is supposed to look like. I have spent 5 trips in Haiti since that initial one last summer, loving on her, being her mom for extended periods of time, meeting with a lawyer, etc. We had found ourselves in October, at the end of those trips, exhausted, but with an intent to fight even harder than before. We were given news that we didn't fit the criteria in Haiti. Funny how you can be 13 and have kids and they can die because you can't feed them, but their archaic laws in Haiti prevent you from adopting unless you are 35 years of age and older and have 10 years of marriage under your belt, qualified as you may be. This wasn't an issue pre-earthquake because the country never followed their policies and many families our age and younger had adopted from there with no problem, receiving what the country called a dispensation (ie. a pass) to adopt without meeting the criteria.
All of that said, Matthew and I have dealt with some very raw emotions in the last year. We have gone from anger to silence to resolve to peace to denial to excitement and everything in between. In the midst we have truly experienced joys. I am attempting to remember that this blog is about all of those emotions, but most about those joys. That in the midst of this uncertainty and waiting, we have been able to be, and will continue to be, blessed with being involved in the Chadasha ministry, the orphanage, the clinic and the lives of every person there, and continue to pray when we will be able to spend uninterrupted time with our baby girl, Ashley, who will be 4 years old in October. I feel like I am missing her life - I am missing all of her moments and I fear she will forget me. I am a torn momma, for one of the joys - one of the biggest of our lives - is that we will be the proud parents of a biological baby girl in June! And oh how I have to be honest. I found out I was pregnant on my last jaunt to Haiti in October and my first reaction, after screaming, was fear. Fear that we had done something wrong -that we had blocked us from coming back to be with Ashley. That we had messed up. Now, those of you reading this probably think I"m insane. I'm being raw here, so bare with me. Those feelings of regret and fear didn't last long, but they were there. What truth I was reminded of soon after was that God's plans are His and His alone. Since finding out we were pregnant, the unfolding of just how much of an answer to prayer this child is has slowly revealed itself. We are having a girl :-) which I am very excited about, although either way I would have been excited. And what is most exciting is that it was in God's timing, not ours. All of the answers to prayer that this pregnancy has been and will be I am sure are yet to be realized, but I know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at this moment even if we don't have everything realized. A few thing I know are that 1. God is good....all of the time, 2. I have been blessed with an amazing husband ( who i will brag on in a next post) 3. I have two beautiful girls who God has created in His image and will protect, 4. I have a God who goes before me and desires for me to struggle so I can learn His heart, but who also wants me to experience joy and delight in His blessings, and 5. I am not alone -there are many families waiting along with me who give me strength every day. So, for those of you who have not given up on this either, thank you for walking this with us. We are raising funds to support the adoption and are waiting patiently for the go-ahead as the criteria to adopt is in the process of being revised. Who knows what part in Haiti God has for us in the future - all I know is now. I am thankful for now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

oh...the beginning....

At this point, i don't even know if I can remember the beginning. Right now, so many things are jumbled together. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to share our journey with you guys! Welcome to the Rideout family..:-) We were just the two of us until the Lord touched us with a tiny blessing in our lives....and when i say tiny, I only mean in size. This word jumble the technology world calls a blog is an attempt for us to share with you the fringes of the journey that the Lord is taking us on - and all the ups and downs in between - on the road to our little Ashley. At this time, she is 2 and 3/4 years old and still a legal resident of Haiti..she is beautiful (of course we think so) and growing and so full of life.. and we are hoping soon that she will be ours through the joy of adoption. But when I say ours, I really just mean God's. I've been challenged to see her as God's forever, but I lapse a whole bear with us as we balance on the fence of anticipation......knowing that God has shown us a promise.......but only really one....that we are to LOVE whatever form that may take as we move forward in life. I know that we were destined to love her, but I would also pray that she be able to be in our home. We have so many obstacles in our way, but we are praying earnestly that she would be with us sooner than later! In the meantime, we visit her often and pray continually, serve in any way we can and desire to support Haiti and the orphanage that has stolen our hearts and our affections as much as possible. Thus far since March, I have been back and forth to Haiti four times working in the clinics and visiting Ashley, and Matt has been once. As some of you already know, we tried desperately to get Ashley to the states in March on a humanitarian medical parole, but our efforts were thwarted when USCIS deemed her "not sick enough" to come to the states. Our hearts were very broken, but we also know, even when we don' think we have the strength to believe, that God's timing is perfect. So, this account, here on these virtual pages, is my attempt to allow you a glimpse into our journey. My prayer is that you would see the glory of God, that you would live this journey with us, and that we would be open and honest with our struggles, both successes and failures. Thank you for joining us.....I am going to attempt to write, from the beginning, how it all started. If you get tired of reading, know that I will are not the first person (and will not be the last) to see my verbose personality and run..:-) but for those who hang in there, I hope that my words are honey to you. They may hurt at times, and you may cry. Know that if I had paper in front of me instead of a keyboard, you would see tear stains forever embedded in the words of this story of ours. But I pray you will also find laughter and hope and encouragement and a son and daughter of the king doing our best to be honest with the longings of our heart. So here goes....
:-) Oh, and, i will not be able to finish this whole story tune into the next entry for the saga....:-)

In March of this year, I was reeling from the aftermath of the earthquake that had happened in Haiti and, having never been there pre-earthquake, had no idea the real toll it had taken on the people there. Of course when the news started rolling on January 13th that this already impoverished country had taken such a hit, everyone, including myself was looking for ways to help. One of my first thoughts ran to all the children - wandering aimlessly, separated from friends and family, some to circumstances and others forever to death. I was not alone in my thoughts to help, as evidenced by the multitudes of volunteers sent to aid over the last 6 months . My first thought was "of course I'll go" and mainly because that is ALWAYS my first thought when there is a national/international emergency. I know God gave me my nursing gene for a reason and I always want to be of help, but I also always want to fix things, which isn't such a good quality, mainly because, well I'm not God and it's not my job to fix things or be in control..:-) Well, needless to say....Haiti was not in my hands to fix. So, as the reports continued to roll across media outlets everywhere, I searched and prayed for an area to help, assuming that my chance to go was impossible. You see, I have a full-time job, and well, typically, bosses would like for you to go to work....:-) I had given up on chances to go, but in the back of my head hoped that something would happen over the summer....oh yeah..and the thought of all of those children kept coming back to me.

Fast forward 2-3 weeks or so and I received a facebook message from Sarah Scott letting me know of an opportunity that might involve helping in the disaster. As we talked and I made contact with the coordinator, sweet Sara Sealine, I realized it was probably a shot in the dark to go since I had only a two week window with which to organize a trip. Low and behold, there was a spot for me when spring break was scheduled. I was beside myself with excitement, anticipation, and an anxiety I had never felt before. I had traveled overseas for school, to do mission work in 3rd world countries multiple times, but never in this capacity. I posted my intentions to go on as many areas as possible with the plea for medical supplies and soon and both supplies and a traveling partner in my new dear friend, Nina Snoddy. She and I spoke multiple times in the few weeks before we left and didn't meet until we jumped in the car to make the drive to Knoxville, but it was evident from the start why God had put us together.

I am getting very tired and have been challenged to go to bed a little earlier than I am going to stop here. I'm not really sure where I will pick up the history again because I have so much to write here about current may take me a while...but i am determined to get it down so as to never forget what God has done....what marvelous and wonderful things our God has done.....He gives and he takes away....blessed be the name of the Lord
I'll leave you with this collection of of my favorites that is holding me as we walk this tough journey....Isaiah 30:15-21
Goodnight, my friends.....thank you for waiting with us..:-)