Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Father's Heart

So I thought I should throw my two cents into my wife's blog. This has already been a life changing chapter in our lives, and we are only just month two of 12 to 18 into it! Part of our preparation requirements is that we have to basically take a 10 hour course that has been prepared for us. If you know Jessica and I, we like to research and plan ahead. We really don't like surprises. (This is where God laughs at us...) Jessica and I both read "Silent Tears" this weekend. It is a 330 page (Apple pages) real life true story of a couple who moved to China, because of her husband's job. She began volunteering at an orphanage, and it changed her life. It changed mine too. I feel even stronger today that we have been called down this path to bring
home my daughter--God's daughter. It is amazing how little regard there
is for life in China! The children in the orphanages are treated like animals. It is literally survival of the fittest. If a child has a cleft palette, and the formula runs out of their mouths, they starve to death. There is no time to feed each child with the care that is needed, nor are there resources to ensure decent nutrition. Once the child is off of formula, they have rice and greens for breakfast, greens and rice for lunch and rice and greens for dinner.--If they are lucky. Kinda gives me a reality check as I reach for my homemade garden mint tea...

Jessica and I have taken a huge leap of faith. We fully are convinced that this is what God has called us to do, and we will be faithful. I am a huge planner. I want to know what, when, how, and especially how much. Today I wrote a check for money that I had earmarked for bills that will be coming up. I don't know exactly how this will all work out, but it is not up to me. He started this, and He is faithful! I have seen this over and over in my life. I have no doubt I will see it again, even if it requires me to sell my possessions. This is what I was put on this earth to do, and I now realize what faith is all about.
It has been pretty easy so far in life with my "perfect" family, and
good jobs for my wife and I. We were at a place in life where the clouds had parted, and the sun was illuminating a clear path towards a place where we could relax a little. But in my reading of the Bible throughout my life, I have not found the chapter and verse encouraging retirement and living it up. However, in the last several months, I have been challenged again and again on what I am doing for the one who gave his perfect life for my embarrassing, hypocritical life. Not to EARN his love, for that is impossible, but because I want to show him my love. I can not do what He has not made me capable of. But He has made me capable of loving a child, who will have no other chance in life if I look away. I can no longer look away. I have not met Makenna yet, but I would die for her. God has truly put this in my heart and by His
strength and provision, I will walk the path that God has set me on.

Our lives have changed already. We now second guess every purchase--Megan and Matthew are not so sure about this part of it yet...:-) We feel guilty taking a vacation that was planned and mostly paid for over the past year. We think about this child constantly, dream about her and her situation often. I worry about her present situation, all the while dreaming happily about the first time I grill up a juicy steak for her, or pluck a fresh strawberry from my garden and watch her eyes open with shock and amazement! I dream of her smiling as her life begins to open before her in ways that she never thought could have existed. However, these are dreams. There is a very strong
possibility that she will have severe issues with attachment, abandonment, fear, anxiety, night terrors, and just plain loneliness. She will have some sort of disability. Most are correctable here in the States, but are a death sentence in China. She will feel lost as everyone will speak a language that she does not understand. And on top of that, as she leaves the orphanage that she is most likely in now, (and used too) She will board a machine that is loud and scary and be stuck on it for 22 hours straight. Then she comes home to a place where nothing is familiar, normal or comforting in the ways she has known. Whoever has been her caregiver will no longer be around. The food she is used to will be prepared in a way that is different. (No matter how hard I try to get it right...) Her sleeping situation, while better--to us, will be different, and thus irritating at first. Everyone will be looking at her--Where did she come from, what is her story, what does she remember and think of all of this??? This is not going to be easy. This is going to be hard. Real hard. We covet your prayers for all of us. We cannot know what is ahead, but believe me, we are trying to prepare!

We have begun fundraising. We will have many. We appreciate all your
encouragement and support. You also can donate to our costs directly through our agency here:

We need to raise a total of $30,000 to pull this whole thing off. We have already blown our budgets, savings, and plans for just about anything else in the foreseeable future. We chose this, and would choose it again. However, if you feel that you want to help, or that this is your way to make a difference in this world, we would love to have your support!

We thank you, and Makenna thanks you! Please forward our blog and info to anyone who you may think may be interested in our story! We have had over 500 hits in the first 3 weeks that our blog has been up, and now are over 800 hits! I am amazed!

Thank you all for your interest in our new daughter's life!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I find myself in a reflective mood tonight as I ponder Mother's Day, and I am overwhelmed and humbled as I look back over my years of being "Mommy" and now "Mom".  I am blessed beyond measure with an amazing husband, he's my best friend and the love of my life, he makes me laugh and cry - I couldn't imagine sharing this journey of life with anyone else! 
Megan and Matthew are such gifts - they bring immense joy and laughter to me each day.  Megan is quiet and caring, her gentle spirit is mature beyond her years; she is so sensitive to others and loving to all - she teaches me all the time what it means to love as Jesus taught us in the Bible - I hope that some day I can love others the way she does! 
Matthew is so full of life and spirit - he keeps me entertained and challenges me to think about why - never just accepting an answer.  I'll admit most days I would rather he just accept it and move on... but he is learning to think for himself and form his own opinions. 

Tomorrow marks my 12th Mother's Day - a dozen years!  In May 2000 - I was six months pregnant with Megan, my first baby!  I was anxious and excited to begin the journey of motherhood.  At 24 years old, I don't think I really knew what to expect, but God gave me everything that I needed just in His time.  
I remember back to the Winter of 2002 - - I was pregnant with Matthew and we had just found it that it was a BOY!  We were so excited - that excitement soon gave way in my mind to an immense responsibility - God had entrusted me to raise a MAN after God's own heart - Matthew was given to me as a baby boy, but it was up to me to teach him and guide him to become a man that could lead his family - love his wife as Christ loved the church and learn to put the needs of others before himself.  Matt is learning what true servant leadership looks like in the home by following God's example lived out everyday by Jason.
Mother's Day 2002 found me eight months pregnant with Matthew and caring for a busy 21-month old, Megan.  Those days were BUSY!  I remember many evenings and weekends when my  mom would come help me while Jason was at work to get two little ones ready for bed - It was certainly much more enjoyable having my mom to share those evenings with me!
My reflections of Mother's Day wouldn't be complete with thinking about my own mom!  I don't think I have gone through any major event in life that she wasn't a part of - she was at the hospital when I gave birth to both Megan and Matthew.  She & I have always been close and had a special bond - the kids and I still love to go hang out at her house when Jason is at work in the evening.  Even though I've been gone for almost fifteen years, there is something that still feels like home when I walk into her house. 
God has used my family to teach me how to be a Mom - I've had a great example to follow and God has continued to teach me new things each year in raising these two wonderful children.  But, now I find myself at a crossroad.  I am truly humbled that God has called us to adopt one of HIS daughters in China.  I never knew that I could love a child as much as my own children that I have given birth to, nursed and cared for from their first breath. 
I now know that this absolutely possible. 
Since we began this journey, my heart has already grown.  I remember back to the first few months of my pregnancy with Matthew and worrying that I wouldn't have enough love in my heart to love him as much as I loved Megan.  How could I possibly double the amount of love that I could give?  I honestly don't know how it happens, but my ability to love has grown as I prepare to bring home our daughter just as it did as we prepared to bring home Matthew.  It's amazing isn't it...  of course, God did tell us that, "The greatest of these is love", so why am I surprised? 
This Mother's Day feels like a new chapter in our story.  This year we wait... we wait and pray fervently for Makenna's safety, health and protection until she comes home to be with us.  My prayer is that we can bring her home before Mother's Day 2013 - (not really having anything to do with Mother's Day, just a goal of sorts in terms of timing).  It's so exciting to think about that, isn't it?  Somewhere in China a little girl is sitting and waiting - God knows she is our daughter and He has a perfect plan for her life. BUT... a new chapter in our story reminds me of the last chapter in another story.  My heart breaks thinking about the mom that gave birth to Makenna and either chose or was forced to give her up.  What is she doing tonight?  Is she praying for the same girl that I am?  God has placed this mom on my heart, I don't know if I will ever know the reasons surrounding Makenna's birth or why she was placed for adoption, but I pray that this woman would know and have peace that she will be Loved and Cared for in our home. 
It can be a little overwhelming, can't it?  The beauty of it all, is that God has everything under control.  I don't need to worry about the big stuff or the details - HE's got it all covered.  If you have made it to the end of this LONG post, thanks for sticking with me.  I call them reflections, they may be my ramblings... either way, I hope that someone was blessed by my thoughts and words.  If your heart leads you, please join me tonight in praying for moms around the globe who find themselves unable to raise their children, pray for healing of their hearts and a peace that only God can give. 
Happy Mother's Day...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Calling all Spring-Cleaners, Yard-Salers and Bakers!

Hopefully the title of this post caught your attention...
Over the next several months we have quite a few fundraisers in the works to help us get all the funds together that we need to submit our dossier to China.
So what does this have to do with spring cleaning, yard sales and baking?  My mom has offered to coordinate a yard sale and contribute 100% of the proceeds to Makenna's homecoming fund!  We have set aside Saturday, June 9th as our Yard Sale day.  We would love to collect enough donated items from many of you to include and make this event a HUGE success - we are also including a bake sale at the yard sale (every yard-saler needs a snack!).

If you are doing some spring cleaning and want to get rid of clothes, books, household items, toys or furniture in "resale" condition - 100% of the proceeds will go directly to our adoption expenses.  You can drop items off at our home or we can arrange  time to pick up from your home!

If you love to go "Yard-Sale-ing" - please stop in and visit us on Saturday, June 9th to do some shopping!

And... if baking is your thing - we would love to add your sweet treats to our bake sale.  You can drop off at our home on Friday, June 8th or give me a call or email to arrange a time for us to pick up!

Please email me or my mom with any questions about this event!

Jessica:  thebennerfamily@verizon.net
Merrie:  merrieandivan@comcast.net


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Eternal Family Program

America World Adoption Agency's Eternal Family Program was designed for family, friends and churches to get involved with providing fiscal support to any family adopting through one of America World's adoption programs. There is not a cap on the amount of contributions a family can receive for their adoption based on household income.

100% of all contributions will go to the intended family's adoption costs. (America World will accept checks and online payments on behalf of the contributor but suggests the amount claimed as a tax deduction by donors, if any, should be discussed with a tax professional.) We simply want to act as a conduit for others' contributions toward families' adoptions. Our desire with this program is a marriage of two important ideas: 1) to help families be able to finance their adoption and 2) to give practical opportunities for others to fulfill our Lord's mandate to care for and support orphans.

 If you would like to give support through the Eternal Family Program, you can download the Eternal Family Program Contribution Form.

Thirty One Gifts Fundraiser

You are invited to an evening of fun and shopping at our home to help raise funds for our “Journey to Makenna”. Thirty-One's mission is to celebrate, encourage and reward women through offering quality, exclusive products that provide style and convenience at an amazingly affordable price. From their signature purses and totes to men's items and accents for the home, you'll find something to fit every personality and situation. Check out the full product line at www.mythirtyone.com/jmyoder.  Mark your calendars; we hope you will come join us on:

Wednesday, May 23rd
7:00 PM
Open House
15% of all Sales
·      Julie Yoder will donate 15% of the total sales of the party to our adoption fund!

·      We will be selling raffle tickets for $1/each to all guests who place an order.  We will be raffling off all Hostess Half-Price Items and Hostess Exclusives - - the higher the sales, the more prizes to win! 

If you can’t come on May 23rd and you would like to place an order, you can view the full catalog on the website:

Please R.S.V.P. by phone or email by May 20, 2012.

Phone: 215-723-9532  381 High Street 
Souderton, PA 18964