Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nothing Will Be Impossible with God

Mrs. Beaver:

Little ones in our children's orphanage in Russia
September 2012

Twice our family has been blessed to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans yearly conference, called Summit. If we can manage it, we'll eagerly go back again next May; the event has been so encouraging to our entire family that we know it would be worth the long, long drive from our home in Iowa to Nashville, Tennessee.

Each time we've been to Summit, we've attended a region-specific prayer session. This has given our family the opportunity to pray with about forty others for the orphans in eastern European nations, including Russia. We've had the privilege of praying with nationals from those countries who came to America specifically for Summit. We've gotten to hear them cry out in Russian (still the common language amongst these nations that were part of the former Soviet Union). Hearing heart-felt, anguished cries for the fatherless in another language is such a powerful experience!

Mr. Beaver and I will soon be the parents of 13 Russian orphans. Despite the ongoing wonder and joy of the Lord moving in our hearts repeatedly to keep adding to our family in this way, our hearts long for another solution to the orphan problem in Russia. The hard truth is that Americans adopting Russians will never solve Russia's need for families for those in their culture who are most vulnerable. We yearn and pray for Christians in that country to take up the mantle of bringing broken children into their families.

As of yet, not much movement toward adoption has happened in the Motherland of our children. However, in Ukraine God is moving. Here is a short post describing the Lord at work through Christians in Russia's neighbor just to the west: Ukraine Without Orphans.

I hope your find the post as encouraging as I did. God is at work in a big way in Eastern Europe. That's amazing to this child of the Cold War! It's a great reminder that, "Nothing will be impossible with God!" (Luke 1:37)

Friday, October 19, 2012

From Mayo...

Mrs. Beaver:

It's time to go to bed after a long-but-good day. Both procedures I underwent today went smoothly, and I even felt up to going out on a date with Mr. Beaver tonight. We found the locals' favorite Mexican restaurant here in Rochester. It was wonderful to eat again since I hadn't been allowed to do that for about 48 hours in anticipation of the medical tests. With the necessity to also stop drinking fluids a couple of hours before the second procedure, I found myself really marveling that Jesus identifies Himself as the Bread of Life and the Fountain of Living Water. Boy, what essentials food and water are! And in this place of physical trial, what an essential Jesus is to my soul!

Today didn't result in an answer to the ongoing pain I've experienced since my surgery in late June, but it ruled out some possible causes. In that way we're closer to possibly finding a solution. I use the word "possibly" because this medical mystery is proving hard to solve. However, we're not discouraged. He is with us! Next week we'll move on with additional steps in hope of finding the solution and each day we keep praying. If any of you have seen the movie Saving Nemo, Mr. Beaver has been singing Dorie's little ditty, "Just keep swimming, swimming...", only he's changed the lyrics to "Just keep praying, praying..." I like it. I've been humming it to myself today as we walked the sweeping corridors of the Mayo Clinic moving from appointment to appointment.

I'm off to the hotel lobby with the love of my life for a late night Snickers Bar. I can only milk this "I haven't eaten for two days!" thing for so long, you know!

Clinging to the Vine,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wedding Vows Kept

Mr. Beaver has given me flowers many times since we stood at the altar. In fact, when we were first married and he was serving on a submarine in the U.S. Navy, he would arrange ahead of time for flowers to be delivered while he was out to sea. Now at nearly three decades into our union he finds several reasons each year to grace my "office" (read home) with floral reminders of his love. I have, of course, treasured being romanced in this way.

Last night, however, he brought home what has to be the most beautiful bouquet I've ever received from him. The beauty of these flowers doesn't come from them being my favorite type of flower, although I love roses. They're not even my favorite color. They won't stand out for their longevity, already today they were beginning to fade. Instead, the beauty of these blossoms is in what they represent.

Yesterday was another hard day on my road to recovery following surgery. I was weaker than I have been in some time and at times nearly overwhelmed by pain. I was curled up in bed when Mr. Beaver tenderly presented a dozen cream-colored roses to me following a run he made to the grocery story with all the kids in tow after a long day at work. They immediately spoke volumes, vividly reminding me that my man is fulfilling the vows he made on our wedding day. Oh, we took our vows seriously as we clasped hands and stared into each other's eyes on a cold December night nearly 29 years ago. But in all honesty, saying the words and living them are two different animals. When we promised that we would stick with each other "in sickness and in health," we were both strong, resilient 22-year-olds. Long-term illness was something that happened to other people. When we got sick, we bounced back quickly.

However, the past year has to have tested the strength of Mr. Beaver's commitment to the promise to remain at my side no matter what the circumstances. After I made a slow descent into a pit of unrelenting abdominal pain, we agreed to major surgery. Within a couple of weeks following surgery I was able to say that I was better than before the procedure. However, I've yet to arrive at full healing. I just haven't been able to be the same wife to him. In addition, these long months have required my husband to take on so many of my roles in the maintenance of our family and home. (In fact, he is out right now with all the kids again buying winter clothing for our growing brood.) He has cheerfully and willingly taken on the additional responsibilities, never even whispering a word of complaint.

You can see now the reason that the cream-colored roses touched my heart deeply. They represent tried and tested love. They represent faithfulness. They represent the sweet aroma of Christ's sacrifical love for His church. They signify wedding vows kept, by His grace and for His glory.

I love you, Mr. Beaver!

Today has been a better day. I've felt stronger and faced far less pain. We don't yet understand the ups and downs, although the opportunity to see two physicians at Mayo Clinic a couple of weeks ago shone some light on the situation. Mr. Beaver and I will drive back to Rochester, MN, on Thursday (October 18) for two GI tests on Friday. With true Mayo flare, the results will apparently be back by the end of the day, and we'll meet with the GI specialist at 5 pm to hear his plan for treatment. Your prayers would, of course, be a real blessing to our family.

Friday, October 12, 2012

If Her Mother Had Been Aborted...

...she wouldn't be here.
...nor would her children
...or her grandchildren
...or her great-grandchildren
Think about it.
The choice has already been made.
It's a life...
...and a legacy.
Not a choice.

(Photo of Brielle, our granddaughter, taken by our daughter, Anna, today)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Faith to Move a Mountain

Mrs. Beaver and John:

Children without hope of a family watching as we departed from their orpahage last month

If you find yourself drawn to vivid stories that capture the struggle of the human condition, I suggest you to click on the link below.

If you've ever found yourself praying that you would have a heart that breaks over what breaks God's heart, I encourage you click on the link below.

If you're willing to pray on behalf of an orphan, I urge you to click on the link below:

A Mustard Seed for Tonya

Let us rise us rise up and storm the gates of heaven on Tonya's behalf!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mayo Clinic Update

Rochester, Minnesota, from one of the Mayo Clinic windows

Mrs. Beaver:

Thanks to the many of you who have been praying! The whole tribe appreciates the prayer cover more than we can express.

We're having significant web connection problems right now so my update will be brief while I have a connection. Both my surgeon and the GI specialist found concrete reasons for the increasing pain.

Well, this will need to be a two-part post because Mr. Beaver just returned with paper work for the two-year report on our adoption of Daria, Alexander and Oksana due on a tight time line to the Russian government. I need to help him sort and staple. Our social worker is coming tomorrow for her annual visit. At the same time, she'll also help us get several steps closer to prepared for the Fab Four to come home.

More again soon...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back to Mayo Clinic

Mrs. Beaver:

My first granddaughter, Brielle, and I enjoying some quiet moments in the midst
of bustle of the CollegePlus! gathering in Minnesota in August.
Photo Credits--Brielle's Aunt Lissie

I feel a little odd filling a post with pictures of me. This is a post I've put off writing for a long time. In many ways, its all about me. I'd much rather focus on my husband or children or the other passion that grips my heart--orphan care for the sake of Jesus. However, since we have many readers who are willing to cover our unusual tribe with prayer, I think an update, on what has turned out to be a major family event, is overdue.

In June we shared that I was due to have surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary prayer heading into the surgery was that the surgeon would be able to accomplish the task laproscopically through five small incisions, rather than needing to make a major cut in the muscle wall. We hoped for this because we knew we could then anticipate the recovery to be significantly quicker. Those prayers were answered! Using an almost surreal technical advance, the surgeon sat behind the controls of a multi-armed robot. She accomplished the removal of tangled scar-tissue attached to numerous locations in my abdomen, as well as a full hysterectomy--a four-hour operation--robotically. Amazing!

Despite the tremendous blessing of a technologically-advanced surgery, my healing has been slower than we'd originally hoped. We're not sure why. Although its only one factor, the doctor's estimate for the recovery time most likely didn't take into account my being a mother of twelve.

The unusually dry summer ticked by, one sweltering day after another, and I gained little strength. When we returned to Rochester for my six-week check-up, we thought the mystery surrounding the slow healing had been discovered by the doctor. I hadn't healed internally--something that happens in only three percent of the cases she said.

While in Rochester, Mr. Beaver worked on documents pertaining to our adoption, while I underwent a series of medical tests. He finished the first of two significant batches of paperwork necessary for us to add the 'Fab Four' to our family. With the submission of these documents from the FedEx office there in Minnesota, we had to commit, several weeks in advance, to whether I would be up to the rigorous travel necessary to meet our four kiddos in Russia, as well as getting Lissie settled in her new location. I was still weak enough with lessening-but-ongoing pain that we were unsure. We sought the Lord fervently in prayer, and sensed Him whispering to step forward in faith. He gently urged us to go ahead and make the reservations trusting that He would provide the grace necessary for me to make the trip.

If you've seen some of the photos from the trip on this blog, you have witnessed in my happy face the Lord's provision of a perfect umbrella of grace for the wild adventure that spanned the end of August and the beginning of September. During eleven days, we slept in nine locations! On a couple of the days, I did need some extra rest, but the timing was perfect. I slept and posted while Lissie and her dad spent precious time touring together, first in Moscow and then in the Central Asian country where she now lives.

I said at the beginning of this post that I was reluctant to share this story because it seems so focused on me. However, God has woven a twist into the tapestry of this adoption that isn't about me and my health in reality, despite all the details I've shared here. The tale of my weakness is a story of His strength. His greatness. His goodness. His provision. And, we're learning to trust Him--even when the way seems dark.

This season of clinging to God in the midst of the shadows inherent to ongoing physical suffering isn't yet over for me. Since returning from our international trip four weeks ago, my pain level, which had never fully abated, has increased steadily. Within the past week there have been days when the pain has been down-right debilitating and nights when I haven't slept. So tomorrow night Mr. Beaver and I will make the five-hour drive back to the small city that is the home of the renowned Mayo Clinic. On Friday, I'll see both my original surgeon and a gastrointestinal specialist to try to understand and solve the mystery.

The tapestry of this adoption isn't finished yet. When asked by our former agency if we would consider adding three brothers and their little sister to our family, my health was already sliding down hill. However, as we wrestled with whether to adopt yet again, God pressed upon both our hearts--through time spent in His word and in prayer--that we were to have faith and say yes. We continue to we walk in faith toward that goal, despite my compromised health. Walking by sight simply won't work right now. I'm not yet fully healed, but we're trusting the Lord to make this mother of twelve ready to be the mother of sixteen in His timing. He is God. He is good, even if the healing is slow in coming in our eyes. We're learning to hang on to and believe this familiar verse in a whole new way, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 NASB

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fabric+Seamstress=New Clothing

Mrs. Beaver:

Can't resist posting this photo of Lissie that Wendy took in their home's foyer. The outfit Lissie's wearing was sown by Wendy's dressmaker from the material Lissie chose the day we all went to the bazaar together.

Okay...I'm terribly biased. I think my baby is a beauty!
What was most satisfying about receiving this picture for me as her mom, however, was to see a glow on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Living on the other side of the globe is a huge S.T.R.E.T.C.H. for Lissie. Her first few weeks have included some powerful homesickness. However, her desire to serve the Lord by serving Wendy's family, her host family with whom she lives and others she encounters in that culture has proven more powerful than the homesickness. With God's abiding help, she is adjusting. That makes her Mumsie (Lissie's long-time nickname for me) very happy, even though I miss my precious daughter desperately.