# 33 Reunited!

Finally, after 3 years and what has seemed like endless delays we have been reunited! Some of our faithful supporters have already been inquiring about photos, please bear with us, the photos of the kids will come! Our facilitators continue, to very efficiently complete virtual mountains of documents for a yet to be announced court hearing. The process continues to be in a very sensitive state.

Since the time that our referral was issued I have pondered how to best keep our readers updated! In the wee hours of this morning I awoke with a start, having the words “reunited” firmly planted in my mind! That is it! We have been reunited! I wanted to spring from my bed and start writing but given the nature of our accommodations (for which I am grateful) I had to slither out of the end of the bed stumbling over the edge of the area rug at its foot! So much for not awaking my sleeping beauty (Sharon)!

Reunions taking a variety of forms! These dear friends Ola and Victoria from our first trip to Ukraine in 2016

The Lord brings to mind a variety of reunions in scripture that all take a slightly different flavour. Isaac’s reunion with his family at Nahor in search of a bride in Genesis 24 is a heart warming narrative as Isaac wins the heart of Rebekah and the approval of her family. You can’t miss the EXCITEMENT!

Then there is the very suspenseful narrative of Jacob and Esau, couched in the background Jacob’s deception some 20 years earlier. You can’t help but feel the intense ANXIETY that overcomes the household of Jacob as he enters Esau’s realm. Jacob’s departure from his uncle Laban who certainly was every bit Jacob’s match at deception, coupled with his pending face off with his brother Esau whom Jacob and Rebekah had so craftily deceived in Genesis 32. Jacob ought to be terrified given what he had done. Revenge seemed justified! But time and God’s love have prevented the embittering of Esau’s heart yielding a loving reunion!

Then in Genesis 45 we read about the reunion of Joseph and his jealous brothers. I am sorry but I have often read this narrative with a lot sympathy for the brothers! Joseph’s approach in relating his dreams to his family has never demonstrated (in my mind) very much common sense! Add that to Jacob’s overt preference for Joseph and you certainly have a recipe for jealousy! We would see that ‘making differences’ is poor parenting and almost guaranteeing setting his son up for failure. But at the passing of Israel (formerly Jacob) Joseph reassures his brothers in Genesis 50:19-20 …”Don’t be AFRAID. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done the saving of lives!”

As we anticipated our reunion similar feelings encroached. There was excitement, anxiety and a certain amount of fear. Though we have been through this process all before there have been many changes locally and we are dealing with a different set of personalities! Oh dear Lord help my unbelief!

So Friday December 13th we would finally be reunited! After logging 7.5 km of walking in Kyiv the day before, to finalize the referral, followed by an overnight sleepless train ride to Odessa. Not to fault the train ride as I quite frankly find it a novelty. Then we were bouncing and weaving 100 km in a taxi to Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi to secure accommodations. Followed by another 40 kilometres of bouncing and weaving along to Starokozache to present one referral and initiate the adoption process there. Then bouncing and weaving 40 kilometres back to Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi to present the second referral and initiate the adoption process here!

So after being awake from 0600 December 12 until 1830 December 13 we were able to experience multiple hugs, kisses, “I love you mama, I love you papa” – all this on our very first visit. For over a year we have daily prayed for these children by name as if they were already ours! During these months we have been surrounded by individuals prayerfully and even financially supporting this process of providing a forever family for these children. They are unbelievably special!

Open market money changers! Same gentlemen who aided us 3 years ago!

I am reminded of events a year ago when we returned from our first appointment with our agency in Canada. We had asked them about possibilities and options with regards to a second adoption and that night around the table we shared this with the children! I will never forget the tender words of Conor at the end of our discussion through his tears, “Why did God chose us to be adopted first?” What a loving and compassionate heart. I know why God choose Niamh, Conor and Declan first – because they have a heart to share!

Even though our reunion has been very joyful, our 3 year absence has given rise to some protective barriers being developed around the heart of one in particular! This youngster who 3 years ago when sitting cuddled on Sharon’s lap, actually said “Can’t you take us with you?” All the while our children were running about virtually ignoring us. The 3 years of additional rejection and hurt have created a very hard shell. But we are confident with time and prayer and showers of love that a once very soft heart will again be soft and open. Thank You Jesus for your faithfulness!

# 32 Free Fall!

Earlier this fall our daughter Tracey had suggested a family photo shoot when the fall colours were at their prime. Short notice made it difficult to get 100% attendance and the wet fall made rescheduling to accommodate a poor option. We did end up with 24 out of a possible 30 children (spouses included) and grandchildren present!

Our 3 youngest with 1/2 of our grandchildren!

As we were wrapping up the day some of wee ones climbed onto our back deck (which isn’t child proofed as yet as the railing isn’t on). I cringed suggesting to the dads that maybe the youngsters should come off! To my horror, instead it became; “jump, dad will catch you!” Each of the youngsters at first were somewhat reluctant! With some coaxing they either just walked straight off the edge or walked up to the edge of deck, and leaned forward dropping into their father’s strong arms. The smiles and giggles upon contact with their father’s hands was priceless to watch! But what was more intriguing was the mounting confidence they demonstrated with each jump even as dad stepped back and lowered his hands, making each fall longer. Those that had required coaxing no longer did, they were learning a whole new level of trust in a “Free Fall,” into Daddy’s arms!

Likewise as a skydiver standing at the open door of an airplane anticipating the ‘okay’ to thrust himself through the opening into open space. The skydiver is not demonstrating blind faith but rather a carefully calculated event. Though I have never attempted skydiving and frankly don’t ever plan to, I cannot help but imagine the experience! The deafening throb of the engine combined with the muffled sound of air rushing past ones face, threateningly ripping at skin and clothes, have a mesmerizing effect on one’s psyche.

Now is the time to step away from the door if you are having second thoughts or need to double check your gear. Because once you roll out that door, you cannot climb back into the plane, you are in short – COMMITTED! But not blindly! You trust the physics of a parachute properly folded that will respond to a pulled ripped cord and that in turn will allow the resistance of air tearing at the fabric to properly fill the parachute, so that you can effortlessly and safely descend back to earth. All this happening as you are falling at a speed of 200 km/hr in a stable “Free Fall.”

The view and perspective one gets from those altitudes! Huge obstacles below are dwarfed! For a very few seconds one can get a hint of how our Lord sees our world, our life. His perspective makes everything more manageable and purposeful and secure!

That is exactly what He has been teaching us! As I was having devotions this morning and reviewing the various notes of encouragement sent our way from those of you back home who are walking this journey with us, the common thread of “COMMIT and TRUST” is woven through the texts. The two pictures that came to mind were just as I have previously described; one of a fearless skydiver and the other of a trusting child both stepping into a “Free Fall of Faith.”

In Genesis 12-15 we see Abram embarking on a journey where Jehovah declares “I will . . . do not be afraid. . . I AM”! As we launched into this second adoption a year ago He has repeatedly reminded us of those very words. The fact that “He will” produces questions like, how? when? where? But he coaxes Abram and us with come “do not be afraid,” I will catch you because “I AM”! And He catches us because He is with us wherever we go! I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Each time that I face a new challenge am I approaching it with a growing confidence and dependence on Him, because He is proving himself to me over and over again? Just as each time as our grandchildren fell into their father’s arms, they became bolder in their faith!

In Psalm 36:5-6 the Psalmist presents how in inescapable our Heavenly Father’s; “love, faithfulness and righteousness are.” So no matter the situation we are in, He has us covered He’ll catch us with arms wide open. All we have to do is”Trust Him!”

As I read on in Psalm 37:3-4, I was challenged as the writer wants me to Depend (TRUST) on the Lord, Delight in the Lord, Devote (COMMIT) your way to the Lord. As we began this journey, we have had to depend on the Lord in ways that I never have before! I have typically been very guilty of being very self reliant but with each adoption I am learning (sometimes the hard way) how very God reliant I need to be! Because it is in this God reliance that we find provision and security! Oh Lord help us to depend on You to complete this adoption!

The Psalmist exhorts that we ‘Delight ourselves in the Lord’. That delight will grow out of our dependence or trust in Him! Just as when the children’s first “Free Fall” into dad’s arms was expressionless, subsequent jumps were filled with smiles and giggles. The provision and security accompanying dependence results in a relationship that is Delightful – you can’t get enough of His presence – it is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. I am smitten – I have fallen so far short of truly finding delight in His presence. Continually busy with projects that have frequently crowded time with Him out of my day or reducing it to a bare minimum. “But it is for the family or for the second adoption” – I could always find a legitimate or justifiable reason. Oh Lord forgive me! Is it this lack of balance that has led to our current unprecedented delays that we now face? Is this your way of getting my attention? The promise here is being granted the desire of our heart – which at this moment is an adoption referral!

Thirdly the Psalmist says Commit/Devote your way. You know with either the grandchildren jumping of the deck or the skydiver jumping out of the plane – once they either roll out of the cabin door of the airplane or step off the deck they are committed there is no turning back! Lord we have committed this adoption road to you, but if in anyway we have overlooked any aspect please clearly make it known. There has been no turning back! Recent events have left us shaken, pushing us into His word and onto our knees! The beautiful promise here is that as we trust Him, HE WILL DO IT!! Thank you Lord Jesus! YOU WILL DO IT!! You will catch us as we allow ourselves to drop into Your loving arms!!

# 31 Speed Bumps

Have you ever been running behind, trying to wrap up the days errands and get home to unwind (or face another list of of solicited jobs) and every where you turn you’re applying the brakes for speed bumps? I hope I’m not the only one guilty of succumbing to the hustle and bustle of the proverbial rat race!

Seriously though I do hope every one reading this has NEVER found themselves cutting across the Superstore Parking Lot to avoid the speed bumps or annoying arbitrarily placed stop signs at the end of parking rows . . . where nobody drives anyway! I hope I am the last impatient soul on earth!

I had our itinerary in Ukraine well laid out. Fly out of Winnipeg November 23, arrive in Kyiv November 24, get oriented in Kyiv November 25, (including a few walk a-bouts – even found the office where our appointment would be – not bad after 3 years). Well so I thought! We timed our walk to insure a timely Continue reading “# 31 Speed Bumps”

# 30 Deja vu

Three years less a week and we are back in Kyiv. Leaving Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport at 1415 on Nov 23 we arrived in our apartment at 1630 Nov 24 in Kyiv. Tired but safe! The apartment is cozy and centrally located just a couple blocks north of independence square.

Our hearts are full of anticipation as we await our Ministry appointment Tuesday at 1000. Sharon and I both commented on how relaxed and at peace we are at the end of a very turbulent week. One that has been filled with what many would consider very unsettling news. Tonight we had to relive much of those feelings as we reviewed recent events bringing our facilitator up to date.

This peace we share can be nothing other than the Lord’s answer to the many prayers that have entered the throne room on our behalf. Friends and family have faithfully covered us with prayer and our loving Heavenly Father has responded. Pastor Dylan shared Joshua 1:9 with us – and we cling to it.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The verse is by no means unfamiliar but such a timely reminder! But what the Lord has really impressed on my heart now, is the rhetorical question that He initiates with! Have I not commanded you? Twice before the Lord insights Joshua to be “Strong and Courageous.” Now here in verse 9 the Lord a third time intends a similar exhortation but begins by reminding Joshua “I have already said this .” The reader could assume from the previous renderings that the Lord is merely providing a good suggestion. But NO – He makes it very clear this is a command that has already been issued.

Strength and courage is the mark of faith or trust in the Lord – it is living proof of our trust that He is with us wherever we go! Our courage will fade as our faith fades. The Lord does not want us to shrink back or cower in the face of adversity or trial. But rather he expects that we will face it head on boldly. But not because we are adequate or competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves but our competence is in the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:5. It is the Lord alone who makes the way, it is He who will do this “…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thank you Jesus for making a way. Thank you Jesus for all who stand by our side in prayerful support!

# 29….”Death overcome by The Word”….

This week there has been much upheaval and unrest in Ukraine.  This is not good in any way! Thousands of Ukrainians gathered in Independence Square in Kyiv to protest on Sunday October 6th 2019.  I don’t pretend to understand the politics or everything that is happening over there between the Russia Federation and the Ukrainian forces but we are praying for wisdom for all involved and a real sense of peace for those affected by the turmoil.   (photo credits Fakty.ua & Ukrinform).  

As a child of “The Troubles” myself, I would hate to think of Ukraine going through again all that my home country of Ireland went though for many years.  Growing up in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, only 7 miles from the border with Northern Ireland, I saw and heard many things that a child should never have to see or think about. Nowadays of course that child would be rushed off to see a psychologist, diagnosed with a string of letters and given some pills, but back then we just realized it was a part of life we didn’t like, had no control over, and something that we would eventually get through. I feel it made us resiliant.

British soldiers and paramilitries with guns were as common to us as anything.  (My life was threated on more than one occasion by protestant paramilitaries in black balacalvas holding M16 machine guns pointing at my face). It was commonplace to hear of bombings and shootings and I couldn’t count the many times I rode with my dad past burning cars or stepped over spent bullet cases laying in the gutters of the streets of Derry, my mother’s native town. We could hear the bombs going off and the news each night was filled with the names of those whose lives had been taken by car bombs or had been shot that day in Northern Ireland. Peace was hard fought for and won at a great cost.  I wish people would seriously think before resorting to violence.IMG_1881

My mother prayed daily for all those involved and I learned the value of prayer from a young age by watching her, even thought I didn’t understand it all back then. I can still see her kneeling on the floor by her bed with her hands on her Bible, kissing it and crying out to Jesus. The Word was so important to her. She knew the Only One who could help.

We celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend. I am so thankful for where I live now.  There are things about Canada that are maybe not to everyone’s liking but we have so much to be thankful for here as a nation.

On any given day here are just a fraction of the things I am thankful to my Father for : I can go to sleep and awake again in my warm, comfortable bed after having had a restful sleep. I am thankful for good health and that I can stand and walk unaided to the bathroom.  I have clean water both to wash in and to drink. I have a choice of food to eat for breakfast. I can share the affection and laughter of spouse and family. I can pray over and wave our children off to school.  I can enjoy that second cup of coffee, meet for Bible study with friends, pray,  have the mental faculties to understand what I read, have a lunch to eat made from food that’s already in my fridge. I can get into my car, go to my place of employment and receive a good wage for my labour. I can travel in safety, knowing that in all likely-hood my car won’t be hijacked or burned. At work, I can have a break (on a good night) eat supper and have people I work with who are kind and whose company I can enjoy. Have a career that I love and have wanted for many years. Have the freedom to speak about Jesus (at least for now). Get a phone call from either my husband or adult children to say they love me. Have the freedom to attend church services where Jesus is the primary focus, SO, SO, much to be thankful for!!! (and I know I haven’t even covered even the half of it).IMG_1523

So as we gather with family, please remember the One from who we receive all good things and return Him thanks for the same.  And let us remember the poor and unfortunate in other countries also.  Please, help us get our children home! 

 

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

# 28…In appreciation of my Father’s love….

This week with Fall well and truly here and Winter fast approaching, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and just reflecting.  It’s a good exercise at times, a sort of “self check”.  We are still in the “waiting phase” for “Steeve’s Adoption Volume 2”.  Our documents are where they need to be and for now we wait and pray.  Please remember to continue to pray also.

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I just love this picture! Don’t you?  Declan with niece Autumn, sharing a hot-dog.  Phoenix the cute dog looking on and hoping they drop some 🙂

In my ponderings this week I was thinking about how my children percieve me.  What do they see when they watch me go about my daily routine?  What am I modeling for them? Someone said recently.  “If we don’t show our kids how to follow Jesus someone else will show them how not to.”  If I’m not super excited and authentic about my relationship with Him then my children probably won’t be either.  It won’t take long.  The Israelites in the Old Testament had the same issues as us and we all know what happened to them. Wandering about, lost in the wilderness, giving their hearts and devotion away to any but the One true God and so on.  It wasn’t a super positive outcome for the old Israelites.  I don’t want that for us or for our children, any of them. This continues to be our goal. It’s a lifelong process.

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Our family enjoying time together.  24 out of 30 were able to join us.  That was good for the 3 day notice.  I love our kids & grandkids!

This Monday past was National Adoption Day.  A day set aside once a year to honour adoptees and those who adopt them.  Actually, in all honesty every day in our lives is ‘adoption day.’  There is not a day goes by but I am so incredibly thankful for these beautiful people who God in His amazing love and mercy brought into our lives. I still can’t believe that they are mine! Ours!  I couldn’t imagine life without them, without any of our children for that matter, grown or otherwise. It it always easy? No! but it’s most definitely worth any struggle that might come with it.

But what does is mean to be adopted?  There are different kinds of adoption.  It’s not just two parents adopting a child or even children.  When someome asks Jesus to come into their lives as Saviour we become adopted into the family of God.  We belong. This first and formost is the most important adoption. Then there is family like ours. Our big, blended family. When I met Rob (almost 20 years ago now) I adopted his children into my heart and he did the same with mine.  When our adult children met and married their spouses, we adopted them too as part our family and they became our children also.  As with all big families we don’t always agree, sometimes we argue, sometimes we pull away for a while but through all this we still love each other, we have each others backs and we want the best for each other.  We want to build each other up and encourage each other.  Our words should be always filled with grace.  We should be quick to say “I’m sorry, please forgive me” when we are wrong.  Not easy but necessary. We need to love each other as Jesus loves us!  As I was writing this post I thought of it like this:  God’s native language and nature is “LOVE”.  So should ours be to everyone, not just to those in our families.

This week has been busy but fruitful. We started off last Sunday with church then had our family over to our place for a photo shoot and weiner roast.  Most were able to come but the short notice didn’t work for one of our sons and his wife and 2 kids.  Another son-in-law was sick so he stayed at home and a daughter was on vacation but we had a blast with the ones who were able to make it.  24 people out of 30 was really good for the 3 day notice. It was such a beautiful fall day, the weather was amazing and we were all able to be outdoors for the evening around the fire pit.  Such a blessing!  I love our kids!.

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Our children with some of our grandchildren.

Then on my days off I got 3 duvet covers made so far for our new children and split and stacked some wood for the winter after this one. With Rob and Niamh’s amazing help, we canned jars and jars of homemade spaghetti & pizza sauce. We had quite the production line going:).  I’ve also caught up on a couple of episodes of a British crime drama that I’ve wanted to see for a while. Getting the canning done brings a real sense of accomplishment that I’m sure many here can identify with, especially with the cooler days coming faster than I would like them to.  Stubborn Irish woman that I am, (“ha ha!” says Rob- well he should know eh?) I refuse to give up wearing sandals or skirts most days until it’s way colder than this!

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Myself & Rob in our yard.

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children”.  Psalm 103 v 17 (NIV)

 

# 27….”You are with us in the waiting….”

Over that last few weeks a lot of people keep asking us where things are currently at with Steeves Adoption Volume 2. Sometimes it’s really difficult to know what to say. The “hurry up and wait” is in full swing!  We are working hard at home getting the finishing touches on the rooms and garden produce canned and frozen. Honey has been extracted too. 

Declan likes to help his dad with the bees.

We are both trying to spend as much time with our family also. We never want any of our children, grown up or otherwise, to feel they are being “replaced” or are not as special to us once we add to our family.  Crazy as that sounds it would be like telling someone that once they are pregnant again there is no way on earth that they can possibly love the children they already have, now that another child is on the way. That would be pretty silly: right?

Financially we still are about $9,000 off our fundraising goal for the first trip. The generous support of those who have a heart for orphans has raised almost $41,000. That is incredible and humbles us completely.  “Thank You Jesus for the faithful generousity of those around us.” “Our Tribe” as someone called it. I love that title! I love being part of the “Tribe” of God!

A few Saturdays ago 3 little girls, nieces of a good friend, baked cupcakes and sold lemonade on the street in Steinbach. These 3 who have the most compassionate hearts that I’ve seen in a while made a whopping $71.00 from their efforts for our adoption fund. Their auntie brought them over so they could meet us and give it to us themselves. Rob asked if he could show them the books we made for our children about the orphanage just so they could see for themselves the conditions some children live in and they sat mesmerized, close up beside him on the sofa so they all could see as he explained the pictures to them. “God I know that You have planted seeds of Your love in their hearts to help others.” “Can’t wait to see where this will go!” 

These 3 beautiful girls, Isla, Florence & Nora, baked and sold cupcakes & lemonade to raise $71 for our adoption fund. Way to go girls!

Also a couple of weeks ago we had a sleepover here with some of our grandchildren. Micah and Grace came on the Monday evening and Sophie joined us on the Tuesday morning. Our house was totally filled with laughter and squeals of joy as they played! It was so noisy and so lovely! Rob and I just smiled at each other as I made us coffee as we wouldn’t have heard the other speak above the racket. I had a couple of days off so we baked and played and danced and had fun.

The waiting is difficult. We had a set-back just over two weeks ago. Our documents were all submitted and then we were told that the stamps on the Canadian Notiary signatures were not quite the way Ukraine wanted them done. Our agency has been submitting them this way for 15 years with no issues and no notice prior from the Ukraine that they now want something different. In a week they had two sets of papers come back, ours was the second. It is frustrating! The children are in orphanages waiting and some official half the world away doesn’t like the way a document is stamped. Ah well! nothing we can do about that. We resubmitted and the wait begins all over again. Funny this time I am way more relaxed about it. I am very thankful for that. Maybe I was focusing too much on the future?

Our kiddos here went back to school two weeks ago too. Lots of excitement and nervousness for them about the first day. Some sadness for mom as I waved them off and then it’s back into routine before you know it. Volleyball, youth etc. The inclusion and acceptance of those from other places is so important.

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Off to school for another year.

I have a few days off again. We had hoped that we would be in Ukraine but God has other plans. His timing is perfect. Two weeks ago someone asked about the delay and Rob explained what had happened with our papers. As Rob began to explain the situation to this prayerful supporter, words began coming that he had never before considered.  That these seeming roadblocks were not roadblocks at all but actually the Lord carefully laying out his plan for bringing our new children home.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

Rob said at that very moment he just felt Jesus put His arm around his shoulders and gently tell him “I got this, it is going to be okay.” Rob said it was so real and so comforting that he just started to cry and so did our prayerful supporter! If you know my husband he is not one prone to flights of fancy and this was very real.

God is doing amazing things in our community. Beyond our understanding. He for sure is teaching us to trust Him. Please continue to pray for the children who God will bring into our family that He will protect them in the interim period while we wait. Pray for our paperwork and most of all that His will be done in our lives. In our broken world maybe sometimes we find it difficult to really believe that we have a Maker, Redeemer & Saviour who loves us so totally.  He’s not at all interested in a fancy church building, in rules and regulations, in new flooring and carpets. He is however concerned with things like, am I submitting myself to Him, what have I done today to help the needy, how have I loved others today and am I following what He tells me to in His Word in my daily life by walking in obedience.  I can only answer for me.

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Trish gave me this beautiful gift the other day. She had matching ones made for us. I love it!