We received this email from our agency yesterday. Gee... so much going on. I'm really feeling the blues. I think I'm ready for winter to be over and I'm just blah.... I feel at times that this adoption will never happen. I'm trying to be patient and take it one day at a time and remember that God planted this in our hearts and so we will just be patient and 'let God'. Anyway, good news on the newsletter, as you read it we fall into option #1. Our I171-H expires May 28 and we've contacted our social worker about our homestudy update to refile. So we should be ready to re-file under the 'one time free extension' before our's expires. That renews us for another 18 months. However, should our agency not receive their accredidation by the end of our 18 months and our adoption is not completed, at that time... we're screwed. I know, I hate that word to, but no other fits right now! :-( Our agency is 100% committed to receiving their accredidation, so I'm not too worried right now. But this will affect many families and my heart goes out to them. Until later.... His...JMS
Dear Children’s Hope International Families, On March 7, 2008, Council on Accreditation (COA) reviewed Childrens’ Hope International (CHI) Hague Accreditation case. COA issued their report on March 19, 2008 and concluded that additional evidence is needed to demonstrate CHI’s compliance with the Hague standards. Our Hague accreditation status is still “pending”. In COA’s March 19 report, they stated that CHI’s corrective action plan is very detailed; however, COA requires that full licensure status be obtained in Illinois, which is estimated to be May 31st or later. The agency must demonstrate that the corrective action plan has been fully implemented in Illinois. CHI also needs to provide a detailed implementation report for the period of January 1 to June 30, 2008 that documents that: 1. The corrective action plan has been fully implemented in Illinois; 2. The license status has been obtained in Illinois; and 3. The procedures are in place to ensure that the incident will not occur again. CHI’s Illinois branch office has been working diligently with the Illinois Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on our corrective action plan due to be completed on May 31 and renewal of our license in Illinois which is due to expire on July 2, 2008. As soon as we have a letter from Illinois DCFS documenting the successful completion of our corrective action plan and our new Illinois license, CHI can submit the requested documentation to COA. COA will then review the documentation and schedule a review by the COA Commission. After the meeting, COA will issue their findings to CHI. This process may not be completed until early fall 2008; however, CHI will do everything within our power to expedite this process. CHI deeply regrets that we find ourselves in this position and have been working tirelessly to right the wrongs committed by two former employees in our Russia program in July of 2007. Our pending Hague status does not directly affect our Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Russia or Vietnam families with USCIS as these are not Hague countries and USCIS will continue to process I600A applications for these countries. See below for more important information for the Vietnam and Kazakhstan programs. Our pending Hague status directly affects our China and Colombia families in the following ways: 1. If you are a China or Colombia family and have a valid I171H or I797C and are entitled to still file a one time free extension, you do not need to take any action at this time. 2. If you are a China or Colombia family and you have already exercised your right to a one time free extension, you will hopefully complete your adoption prior to your I171H expiring or you will need to file an I800A once CHI is Hague accredited in the future. 3. If you are a China or Colombia family and you let your I171H or I797C expire, you have 2 options: 1. File an I600A, including fees and all documents except the home study to be stamped received by your local USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) office on or before March 31, 2008. You have one year from that stamped received date to file your home study with USCIS. Or 2. You may wait and file an I800A with USCIS once CHI receives Hague accreditation. If you choose to wait and CHI never receives Hague accreditation, you will not be able to complete you adoption through CHI. 4. If you are a China or Colombia application family and have not filed an application with USCIS yet, please file an I600A, including fees and all documents except the home study to be stamped received by your local USCIS office on or before March 31, 2008. You have one year from that stamped received date to file your home study with USCIS. Please contact me if you have any questions. For instructions on how to file an I600A, please consult your program dossier workbook or go to www.uscis.gov and look under Immigration Forms. Rebecca Davis, MSW
I've been inspired by some other blogs where I've seen the cutest little dresses that are home made and I've also been introduced to and fallen in love with, Etsy. So a few weeks ago, my mom and I spent the entire day together in the city shopping for fabric and had the BEST time. Well, today I had the day off so we started in on our project. It was such a wonderful day. It was entirely lovely just to spend the day with my mom, as usual. But working on these dresses for our little Jia to someday wear, just made the day special. Of course we thought of and dreamed about her all day. I wonder who she is, what she looks like, how old she'll be, will she be a tomboy? What ever the answer to all those questions, she is already loved. We can't wait. My mom mentioned more than once that these pretty little dresses will most likely have race car grease on them the first time she wears them! Probably so! Can you straddle a go-cart in a dress? If dad turns her into a racer, she'll have to! Jack actually tried out the names we liked as if to announce her winning a race on the loud speaker. It had to sound good that way! Here's our first two creations. I'm hooked! I can't wait until Saturday when we're planning to make more!
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this Asian inspired fabric! This is actually one side of a reversible pinafore. I forgot to photograph the back, but it crosses over and is just ADORABLE! Here's the other side. We decided to add the pockets to this side. I totally freaked out when I read the pockets had to be topstitched on. I only have sewing experience from High School Home-Ec class. Do you have any idea how long ago that was??? I didn't want to ruin the dress! Ah, but I did pretty darn good! I love the contrasting fabric and this is my favorite so far! Can't wait to see my little girl in it! I had such a great day I just wanted to share! Also, the temperature got into the 70's today! Woo Hoo! But it's supposed to snow on Saturday! Unconditionally Surrendered... JMS
What makes these pancakes so special, you ask? Well, the fact that they were made for me by my little punk teenager! Jack and I have both been really sick and Sunday I got up so Jack could continue sleeping and Jadeth got up with me and made these pancakes for my breakfast. I don't know what made them so scrumptious, the fact that I was so sick, starving and too tired to cook for myself or the fact that my usually growly, don't bother me, teenager wanted to meet my needs.
Some of what we heard at this years ATF was about dreaming. Ron told us how God is a dreamer. How He had a dream before creation and turned it into reality. Only 2% of the population are dreamers... Bill Gates, Martin Luther King, the guys that invented Google, Ebay, Ipods, people that make movies and write books.... it all started with their dream. The other 98% are simply participating in the 2% dream. I have to be brutally honest for this to make sense... So often I get discouraged as a youth leader and just want 'out'! I think I can't do it anymore, I've overwhelmed, I'm uninspired, stuck in a rut, don't want to put the time into it, etc... Honestly, I was feeling this way on the bus ride to ATF! But, I HAVE A DREAM! A vision! Call it what you want, but God has shown me what this youth group is capable of and what we can do. I have BIG dreams that most would say our little group can never accomplish. But if we only dream small dreams that our group is capable of doing, how does that allow God to demonstrate His power? If people can look at us and say "any small group can do that" how does that prove anything? Yet, if we dream big and we are people of prayer and we have faith and believe that with God all things are possible, and we allow God to do GREAT things THROUGH us... then that will bring honor and glory to God. If we do something too big to do on our own, then people will know that God had everything to do with this dream! God is too big for small dreams, right? Ephesians 3:20 says this, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," God doesn't need us to accomplish anything for Him, yet it is His desire to use us. He wants to demonstrate His awesome power through us. And if we can dream the biggest dream our little finite brains can dream, God can do exceedingly abundantly above that! How awesome! If we don't dream for our youth, MTV will have a dream for them, the world will have a dream for them. God has a dream for them and I want to be a part of it. I don't do this because I don't have anything else to do, I do this because I've been given a dream. Anyway, Acquire the Fire was really encouraging for me and I kept thinking about this 'dream' business. So here's what happened. Last fall, I bought some homemade stamped greeting cards at our Missouri Days festival. I had decided I wanted to send my sister-in-law a note so I got my sack of cards out. I picked one out and began to unwrap the celephane it was in... the envelope fell out and in the bottom left corner the maker had stamped "dream". I got warm fuzzies! Just what I needed. Cool, right? Well, it gets better. I finish unwrapping the celephane and notice the back of the card has stamped right in the middle "joy"! So here I am holding the envelope that says 'dream' in one hand the card that says 'joy' in the other. Now if that isn't a word from God and encouragement straight from the 'Maker'! How chilling to know that God knew my doubts and fears and desired to encourage me. The method and the message positively overwhelm me! What an AWESOME God we serve! I love Him so much! So those of you that stumble across this blog.... watch out for Group180! Here we come! Positively His... JMS
This is some of Group180, our youth group from church! There were 23 of us that attended Acquire the Fire, including adults. We had such a fabulous time! We bought our tickets last year at ATF 07 and we got front- center- floor seats! We were on rows 4,5 & 6. The only way to get any closer was to be a host church for the ATF staff! We've already bought our tickets for next year also! Jack and I posing before heading out for day 2 of Acquire the Fire. He is such a good husband! We were to leave town at 4:00 on Friday and about 15 til I decided Jack should go! He didn't get off work until 4:15 so I asked the group if they'd wait so Jack could go and they were wonderful about it. Even though I know they were excited to get there and get good seats! Anyway I had Jack's bag packed, his pillow and sleeping bag on the bus when he got home from work! I said "C'mon! You're going!" and he did! I know he adores me and would do anything for me. Even though he planned on a quiet weekend at home with Jacen and Jory and had had a headache for 3 days, he went! He's glad he did! Can't wait to go next year either! Jacen got to go with us. My little 'Jesus Freak' loved it! Another of Jack and I Ron Luce.... Did you know that only 2% of the population are dreamers and the rest of us are participating in someone elses dream. Ron is certainly a dreamer. His testimony is incredible and the things he's accomplished with Teen Mania and Acquire the Fire are living testaments to what one can accomplish through God.