Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

December 22nd... Christmas is just a few days away. A day filled with family, love, good food, presents and most importantly a special time to remember all that God has done for us through the birth of His Son. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday - I love everything about Christmas! One of my favorite Christmas traditions has been sending out our annual Christmas card and letter... well, if you're reading this - this is it! I had the best intentions, actually, probably too much intention! I had our Christmas picture all planned in my head from about July... the problem is that our picture involved having a photograph of Makenna to include. Over the past six weeks or so, I kept putting off taking pictures of the kids for the card - hoping that we would get a picture of our newest daughter to include. Here I sit with three days to go knowing that I will not see her face until 2013 - we received an email that our adoption agency is virtually closed until January 2nd. It's sad to know that we will continue to wait, but in spite of our sadness, we are finding joy in the Christmas season and excitement to share these days with Megan and Matthew - this is our last Christmas as a family of four. Next year there will be another set of feet running through our house and another pile of gifts under the three. This year, our family of four will celebrate the Christmas season in great anticipation of all the good things that God has planned for us!

Every year in our Christmas card I include a letter updating our family and friends about what's been going on in the Benner household over the past twelve months. So, after giving it some thought, I thought what better way to continue this tradition that writing it on our blog... here goes!

Christmas 2012

This has been a busy year for our family, so busy it's hard to believe that it's almost over! We had lots of fun and special times together. Some things don't really change from year to year, but there's always something new going on in this house! In March, we welcomed a new four-legged friend to our home! Dasher came to us as a rescue that our friends were fostering - he arrived as a scared pup who didn't trust many people. We don't know much about the first 6-8 months of his life, but it's amazing what some love and care will do. Dasher is now about a year and a half - he is loving and affectionate. He has brought new life to our Golden Retriever, Chase. So much new life that Chase lost 15 lbs. thanks to the wrestling matches with Dasher.

In April, God began speaking to our hearts and called our family to be obedient by adopting one of His children. After much prayer and research, we knew that God was preparing our daughter in China! We jumped right into paperwork, meetings, more paperwork and fundraising! If you follow our blog, you know the journey we have been traveling (if you don't read our blog regularly - you have some catching up to do!). Over the past eight months, we have been amazed by the outpouring of love and support to our family. We have made new friends and deepened other friendships through the common bond of adoption. The adoption community is truly an amazing group, and we are blessed to be a part of it!

The spring brought a new season of baseball (one of those things that doesn't change for our family!) - Matthew still loves the game and will play ball any chance he gets! Matthew also played travel baseball through the most part of the summer - Jason coached both spring and travel ball. Fall baseball started in August - Matthew's first baseball season that Jason wasn't his coach. It was a great experience for Matthew - time to spread his wings and grow under someone else's guidance.

Summer in our family means birthday season - in June, Matthew turned TEN - yes, TEN!! Hard to believe that beautiful baby and has turned into such a handsome young man! And... in August, our beautiful Megan turned TWELVE - oh my! She is growing into such a beautiful young lady and has such a heart of gold!

In the Fall of 2011 we began to plan a summer vacation for July 2012 - we decided it was time to head out to see some of the beautiful sites our country has to offer and flew out to California! We were able to see San Fransisco, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park - what a beautiful piece of our country. We were amazed by the wonder of the mountains and trees, the we loved riding the trolley cars in San Fransisco. This vacation came at just the right time for our family - we were in the midst of getting all of our paperwork ready to send to China and meeting with our social worker to complete our home study. Combine that with weekly baseball tournaments and crazy work schedules and vacation was just what we needed! We are so thankful that we planned this vacation when we did, we surely would not have spent the money for that trip had we known we would be in the midst of adopting our daughter. But, in His wisdom knew we needed to have one more vacation together before our big trip to China!

Fall brings a new year of school and a big change for Megan this year! She started sixth grade and moved up to Middle School. She is still at Penn View Christian School, but now on the Middle School end of the building. Middle school has brought more challenges and opportunities that Megan is excited about - in January she will take part in her first science fair! Her experiment is on how different flours impact a cupcake recipe. She has been busy baking to finish her project! She will also perform in her first play this Spring - she earned a part in Penn View's production of "Alices Adventures in Wonderland" and will perform on March 1st and 2nd - I can't wait to see her on stage! Matthew is in fourth grade and enjoying another great year of school! He is busy learning all his multiplication and division facts and will soon start memorizing all the state capitals!

Now that baseball season is over, we are in what I affectionatley call our "off season" - no sporting events and relatively easy going weekends! I love this time of year and cherish the quiet afternoons and evenings together at home.

When I look back over the 2012 year, it really has been a year of preparation. God preparing our hearts and minds for the next stage of our life together. In addition to Christmas, next week, Jason & I will celebrate our wedding anniversary of 15 years - 15 amazing years! It has been an amazing journey that we have traveled together and we anxiously await our next journey together. We are praying that we will receive the referral call for our daugther in the first few weeks of 2013! Jason & I will travel to China for about two weeks in late Spring or early Summer to bring Makenna home - how exciting to think about this little girl in China that will soon have a family of her own! We can't wait to see her face and hold her in our arms! Please keep praying for our family - we still have much to do to prepare our hearts and home for her arrival. There will be more fundraising needs, preparing her room, and packing our bags - we know that God will provide all that we need if we wait and trust on Him.

I leave you with a Christmas song - a song I stumbled upon last weekend that puts all our feelings and emotions to music. I believe that this is the cry of every adoptive parents heart while they wait - keep praying for the orphans and waiting families this Christmas week!

We love you all and pray God's richest blessings of love, joy and peace this Christmas Season.

Jason, Jessica, Megan, Matthew & Makenna

Saturday, December 8, 2012

{Im} Patiently Waiting...

I'm back... it's been almost two months since my last post, and well, not much has changed.  Our paperwork flew over to China on October 19th, and we were officially DTC.  We received notification that our paperwork was LID (logged into the paperwork system) on October 26th.  I've been waiting to publish the post that "we got the call" or "we saw her face", but it hasn't happened yet.  So, this post is full of the honest truth about what the last six weeks have looked like and what God is teaching me (us) during this time.

Waiting is hard.  H A R D

Our days have been filled with hopeful mornings and disappointed evenings. We jump when the phone rings. I stalk email, yahoo groups, facebook groups and online photolistings.  And I'm not proud of it.

I wish I could say that I was waiting patiently and putting my complete trust in God's timing to see the sweet face of our daughter.  But that would be a complete lie. 

We may have set ourselves up for this disappointment.  So many people told us that we would be matched quickly since we had a wide age range and multiple special needs on our list.  We believed we would see her face quickly.

We completed our Waiting Child Program application in August and officially began our wait - there are certain children that you can be matched with prior to sending your dossier to Ch*na.  We were hopeful that just maybe we could be matched with Makenna while we finished our paperwork.  But, as time continued, we realized that we would likely need to be LID before receiving our referral.  Receipt of our LID seemed to take forever - we finally got notification of our logged in date of October 26th, but we didn't find out until November 15th.  We really thought we were all set - we would hear any day and maybe (just maybe) in time for Thanksgiving. 


Each month a shared list is released that includes new files of children that all adoption agencies can access.  The November release was scheduled for November 27th (the evening of November 26th in the US).  Again... high hopes... we would surely get the call. That night will forever be in our memories, but not because we saw our sweet girl's face.  All four of us became ill with food poisoning - ranging from me with nausea, both kids were ill and Jason became violently ill and dehydrated.  Instead of reviewing a file of our child, I paced in the Emergency Room watching Jason and Matthew struggle; and I kept track of Megan who was sick at home with my parents.  It was a horrible night for our family - I have never seen my strong husband so sick - dehydrated and passed out on the bathroom floor.  As I called 911 to have an ambulance come help us, I couldn't help but ask why?  why God?  This is not what we planned to do tonight.  After some fluids and medication, we were back home and over the few days we would slowly regain strength and energy.

Over the past week God has been leading me and filling me with a sense of peace.  I began an Advent devotional on December 2nd, and it couldn't be any more applicable to me!  I need to let go of trying to control this process - letting go is hard!  I WANT to control this, and I can control many things in my life (or try to anyway), but I have NO control over finding my daughter.  God called us to adopt; I need to remember that I am along for the ride and God's blessing for our family to receive.  So... what did it take for me to finally "get it"??? 

Let me walk you through my journey...

Day 1:  Elizabeth and Zacharias receive news from an angel that Elizabeth will become pregnant and give birth to a son.  By this time Elizabeth was an old woman, she had waited years to have a child, but was not able to conceive.  (Luke 1:7)

Day 2:  An angel appeared to Zacharias - your wife Elizabeth will have a son.  Your prayers have been answered!  What happened when Zacharias questioned the angel Gabriel about HOW this could happen at this age??  He was silenced and could not speak until the birth of his son.

Day 5 & 6:  An angel appears to Mary to tell her she is the favored one whom God has chosen to give birth to Jesus, our Messiah.  Mary, a young girl, a virgin, would give birth to the son of GOD.  Mary would soon learn that when God is willing to use you, it often doesn't align with your plans.  Being favored and used by God would come at a price for Mary.

Day 7 (Today):  "For nothing will be impossible with God" Luke 1:37 - Christmas is not about me, it's not about my plans - it's about God's plan for my life - that is something to celebrate!

The range from Elizabeth to Mary - a woman who longed for years to have a child and had given up hope... to a young girl not yet ready to begin the journey of having a baby.  Neither of these women had control over when or how their children would come into the world.  God chose them to fulfill His plan.  Just as God has chosen us for his child, this child we have been called to adopt and given the name Makenna.

This has been an amazing journey - if you would like to join me on this journey all content is taken from the Advent devotional "Joy! To Your World! A Countdown to Christmas" - you can find it under "Plans" in the "YouVersion" electronic bible - available on most electronic devices :)

I trust that God has more to teach me over the next two weeks leading up to Christmas.  Waiting is still  hard...  I still want to see Makenna's face TODAY (well, Monday!).  But, I trust that God will bring our daughter to us at just the right time.  If you think about us... pray for us over the Christmas season and pray for Makenna.  It's very hard to know that your child is waiting for you and longing to know the love of a family.  We love this child and are so excited to bring her home. 

I hope all of you will chose to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year - it's not about us or what we want.  God sent Jesus into the world.  "Christmas is about the intervention of God into our ordinary lives; it is about Christ being born into our disappointments and failures." (excerpt taken from devotional content)

Merry Christmas,