Once upon a time....

Flash back to 1999, we were a family of four. Happy in our new roomy house and comfortable in our ways. A few years later, the Lord blessed us with an additional little package, little boy #3. Now we were a family of five and sure that would be the end. As time moved on, so did we. The Lord used the time that passed to open our eyes to His will. Several years ago, Bob and I individually heard the call to adoption. It has been a long "pregnancy", but during this incubation time, the Lord has brought us to where He wants us to be. Spring 2010, we traveled to Ethiopia where two little angels were waiting for the Lord's timing - to become our children. Now we are home and can't imagine life any differently! What a blessing to be in His will.

Galatians 4:5 says "God sent Christ to buy freedom for us, who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as his very own children." We are just following his model. A Perfect picture of salvation.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Praise the Lord!!

Just a quick, but super-important announcement: our big boy Levi accepted Jesus into his heart tonight!! The angels are rejoicing about the news of his second birth. This is why Jesus came into the world, to save us for God's ultimate Home.

Not a better Christmas present could we be given this year!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Give this Christmas away

As I am going about my morning, I am listening to Klove radio and there is a song playing that I have not heard before. So, I look it up on the Klove.com website and find that it is written by Matthew West. The song is titled "Give this Christmas Away" and it has really touched my heart. You can see the video for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2ulYpoNXCo. I have to tell you that hearing it touched my heart, seeing the video made me sob! The premise of the song is not just about giving things at Christmas, but about giving Hope. When it comes to the real meaning for Christmas, it too is about Hope. Jesus came as a baby and we celebrate His birth. But the reason for His coming, was to give Hope...an expectant Hope...that if we believe in Him, one day He will come and save us from eternal death and we will live with Him in Heaven.

Just the other night, Bob and I sat down to the computer and ordered some items to send to Beti and Nardos. We want to help pass the time that we are all having to wait and wanted to give them the opportunity to share with the other children at the transition home. We are also writing them a letter that we Hope will give them a connection to us as we wait to go and meet/get them. The letter is one of Hope...expectant Hope. Hope of a place and a family and the promise of belonging and acceptance.

God the Father sent us a gift also. He sent his son wrapped in cloths, placed Him in a lowly manger among animals, gave Him common parents to care for Him, invited stinky shepherds to visit His birth, and 33 years later allowed him to be sacrificed on a cross to offer us Hope. He even wrote us a letter - the Bible - that gives us a connection as we wait for Him to one day come and get us!

I pray that you accept His gift. See it only works if you accept the gift. In accepting the gift, you also receive the opportunity to share. Just as we Hope that Beti and Nardos enjoy sharing the toys in the package, I too enjoy sharing my Jesus with you. He is a gift that is not intended to be kept locked up and hidden. He is for sharing. So, this Christmas as you receive, remember to give Hope....Give this Christmas away.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Again with the waiting!

We just received word that our girls have officially started their medical testing. We had been projecting travel to be mid-January based on the approximate 8 week time frame necessary to obtain results from those tests and started measuring from November 17th which was when we passed court. So, give the new information and the 8 week estimation ... that puts us a travel late January (I am a perpetual optimist!) or early February. As hard as it is to wait, we are trying keep it in perspective and use the time for things like learning more Amharic (their language) and save up a little more money to cover travel costs.

The waiting also builds longing - which we hope is true for the girls also. I really want to make up a BIG package of goodies to send to them ~ and then I remember that there are countless other children there in their orphanage that may not have a "family" yet and it would barely cover the need. So, I am looking for other ways to meet needs while I wait.

This past Thanksgiving was the second one without my Mom or Grandma (they passed away in January and February 2008) and we chose to start a new tradition with our family. My Sister and her family were going to be out of town and the traditional family gathering wasn't going to happen until Sunday after Thanksgiving, so we joined in on an event that our church has led in the past. We helped provide the full traditional Thanksgiving meal to "residents" at the Hope Lodge in Kansas City. Hope Lodge is a beautiful building provided by the American Cancer Society and located near Bartle Hall in Kansas City. Persons who live more than 50 miles outside of the city and coming into KC for Cancer treatment can stay there for free. They are required to purchase and prepare their own food. So, a group of us from our church (we took our three boys) went down to Hope Lodge on Thanksgiving Day to bring the meal. We fed more than 70 people (not counting those from our church). Some transplant patients that were not allowed to go anywhere but the Lodge and the Hospital had their families come in for the meal. It was fantastic. Meeting that small need - togetherness and thankfulness - really touched my heart. But what touched me even more was that our own children - on the way home that day - said "that was fun - we should do that every year!"

As I sit here freezing my toes off (it's near zero degrees outside) my heart is warm. We went to bless others and were blessed in doing so. One of our pastors said that to bless is to cause others to give God glory. He so deserves it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

New pics!

Here are some new pics of our girls. Beti and Nardos have both grown and changed so much since the referral photo taken in April. We will have to check the clothing sizes, may have to exchange some items to have stuff that fits! I am sure you will agree - they are sooooo adorable!

Still projecting travel to be in mid-January.... much to do!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just waiting

Ok - so we passed court...you probably know that. We mailed a package to the girls (via our agency). We included a new baby doll for each girl and two (identical) photo albums filled with pictures of our family, the house, their room, things we like to do, and the dog. We expect to hear "any day now" from the orphanage via the agency. We should be receiving new pictures and measurements (height and weight). Shoe sizes - we hear - are a guessing game! So, while we wait, we have some paperwork to do and preparations for the boys while we are gone. So many people have been so very generous - giving us clothing, toys, and even a bed frame (complete with mattress and sheets). What amazing friends we have! I wish I had the time to list all of the ways people have extended love to us! A great friend of ours is making necklaces for us to give to the workers (with "thank you" written in Amharic & English) and more!

In our effort to reach out to others with God's love - they are reaching back! Around every corner, we meet God going about His business - the business of loving on us....and He offers that we can join Him. He invites you to join Him too!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just a glimpse...

There have been a number of happenings that would have been easy to become discouraged by...
  1. This summer there was a BIG investigation into abandonment cases in Ethiopia. This took all summer to resolve.
  2. Once this issue was resolved, we filled out a "we are interested" form on the girls. Another family was already "reviewing their case".
  3. Typically prospective families are given 10 days to "consider" what information is available. They took almost 21 days!
  4. Once we were given the chance to "review" their 2 pages of information (not much!), we accepted the referral - almost overnight...Then the courts closed for the "rainy season" (about 6 weeks).
  5. We received a court date...November 17th...no delays there. Our agency requested that their medical testing be started before the court date, but due to "regulations", the testing couldn't be started until we passed court. Which means that from the court date it could be as much as 9 weeks until we could hear if their testing is clear.
So, you can see how these events could have caused frustration... but the Lord has allowed us to see Just a Glimpse of what He is doing. It has come to our attention that if we pick up the girls after January 4th, the policy will have changed and will allow us to "skip" a step. So, we are reminded that Trusting in the Lord always yields the best results!

Praise the Lord - For He is GOOD!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Blind Side

Ok - a little change of pace on the topic....
This is a little about adoption and a Lot about being "selfless". We went to see the movie "The Blind Side". Fabulous Movie!!!! You can check out the trailers and see the commercials, but to really get the big idea - see the movie! I can't say enough about how this REAL family went outside of their comfort zone to help another person. Real people showing real love. Based on a real story! You MUST go and see this one!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here's the picture - the newest Koning Family members!

May I introduce....(drum roll please).....Betelhem and Nardos Koning. Ages approximately 7 and 5 years old. We should be able to go and get them somewhere around the Mid-January time frame! Praise the Lord!!!!


It is a bit unusual to have one court date and pass the first time....so PRAISE THE LORD!!! I am in shock! I want to cry...I think.... Ok, the thoughts are all jumbled up....

Anyway, as far as Ethiopia is concerned, Betelhem and Nardos are Konings! When I get home, we will post the picture that we have of the girls. For now, just imagine the sweetest little faces in the world!

Audra and Bob (parents of five!)

Not yet.

I woke up, well, several times last night. Honestly, it was hard to tell the difference between my dreams and my awake times. When I got up this morning I realized that as I was starting my day, they were wrapping up their day of court in Ethiopia. Due to Daylight savings, they are now 10 hours ahead of us. I flipped on the radio (K-love) and they were playing Michael W. Smith's "A New Halleluia" which features the African Children's Choir. It couldn't have been more perfect. So, now we wait. I am praying for good news that our appointment was not delayed and that our paperwork was in good order - that we were granted the adoption and that we can continue to move forward. Check back later for more conclusive info!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time flies ...

It seems like it should be farther away - I guess that comes from forcing myself to not get caught up in the "how many days" trap. I just kept telling myself that I couldn't just sit around and wait, so I have busied myself with other things. Yet, here it is, tomorrow is the day. If there are no complications, our girls will be born into our family on November 17, 2009...Tomorrow!

Today I attended the funeral of my friend's father. Truly it was a celebration of life! The truth was shared - he is no longer physically here and because of his faith and acceptance of Jesus as his savior, he is with the Lord in Heaven!!! What an amazing transformation that must be. As hard as I try, I cannot fathom the miracle that the Lord has orchestrated that brings us from one life into the next. Do we fly? Do we travel in a mist? Is there a light at the end of a dark tunnel? Are the angels singing? Are we greeted by loved ones that have already passed? Or do we instantly know everyone and so the welcoming crowd is indeed people we know...does that even make sense?

In contemplating this transition into the spiritual world - of which we have little information, it brings to mind the multitude of questions that our girls must have - or will have. How do we get there? Who are these people? In a city that is so big and yet so globally small - how do you describe the fact that they will travel halfway around the world??? How many 5 and 7 year olds do you know that have a concept of how BIG the Earth is??? Imagine leaving everything you know, the language, the only home you can remember, the first/only bed you ever had, the people that took you from the streets and fed you, loved on you, and found you a family. One that lives in....America? Will they be scared or be amazed in wonder? Will they be excited or timid? Will they let us hold their hands, help them, love on them? Will they like the things we are bringing to them? Will they miss their friends? Of course! Will they find comfort in each other? So many questions and suddenly I am feeling VERY unprepared. Trusting in the Lord is the only sure thing!

So, tonight I will try to sleep. I will pray for them every time I wake (and I am sure I will do LOTS of that!) and hand it over to the Lord. That's one piece of this that I think people don't get. Sure I think about the process, I feel overwhelmed and I intentionally hand it over to God. In the Bible (Psalm 37:4) it says "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." So I turn it over to the Lord. I trust Him to complete this process - A journey that he planted in our hearts- to watch over every detail and to bring our girls home.

Blessings and Sweet Dreams!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

When will they know?

Ok - the count down....today is Saturday....our Court Date is Tuesday....they are 9 hours ahead of us....ARGHHHHHHH! I can't do all that math.....it will probably be about 3 full days - 72 hours - before we hear any word on the events that are set to occur on our behalf that day. I am filled with excitement and awe...and yes Butterflies!

It has been our understanding that the girls won't know that they have been matched and that we exist -- waiting here on the other side of the world -- until we pass court. That is so difficult for me to understand. I know that it has to do with the uncertainty of life and about not telling them something that is not in concrete -- legal. Once the court has put their stamp of approval on the whole deal -- they are KONINGS! I can't imagine what that conversation must sound like...will they believe what they are hearing? Will they be shown pictures of us (from our legal paperwork) or will they be given much information at all? Will they be excited? Will they be scared? Will they ask a million questions? Questions that the informing adult may have no answers for??? Do they know the Lord and will they have someone telling them that the Lord has ordained this family -- that He put us together and although the transition will be rough, the union will be perfect!?

A dear co-worker of mine just "lost" her father today. He knew Jesus here on earth and now he knows Him face-to-face. But to consider that loss, that feeling of missing someone dearly, has resurrected the vivid memory of my own mother's passing into eternity -- almost 2 years ago. This coming Tuesday -- if there are no delays -- we will have our "day in court" and two sweet little girls will have a passing of a different kind. They will pass from an orphaned life to one of belonging. It brings to mind the orphans all around me...co-workers, friends, family...who are orphaned here on this earth. They long to belong. They have not yet been told -- or have yet to accept that Jesus went to court for them. He faced the Judge on their behalf and told the Judge, "I want them to belong to MY Family!" He was found blameless - without fault. No flaws in his "paperwork" and we were granted Adoption into His family. The most amazing family! A family that will be separated from each other for a time, but the Reunion will be INCREDIBLE! A Holy Reunion in Heaven with golden streets, a crystal lake, angels singing, a feast!

I pray that I can take the picture of Adoption and make it real to the orphans all around me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A new kind of Expecting

I really thought that the wait wouldn't be a big deal. I am plenty busy at work (as a Special Education Employee in a Public School) and with three kids at home -- the homework keeps us moving. Add in the daily management of a household (Praise the Lord for the wonderful husband he yolked me with who has taken on most of the evening meal preparations) and I really thought the time would pass quickly and without anxiety. With one week and one day to go until our official appointed Court Date, I am a nervous wreck! It's like a due date of another kind!

Years ago I participated in a Bible Study written and presented by Beth Moore. In that study, she described the word "hope" as a type of expectant waiting...knowing that what is hoped for is expected to occur! That perfectly defines the type of hope that I have for the events that surround the "birth" of our girls. I wait...expectantly. I long to meet them and get to know them and for them to get to know us. So many people ask us about how much English they will know and if they will go to school this year....so many unknowns. I have great aspirations and a rough draft of a plan, but in reality I really don't know them. I don't know if they will feel safe being apart...will they adapt quickly and easily or will the process seem to never end? So many folks that we have counseled with that are at the other end of the adjustment have shared such positive experiences. We are hopeful. We wait Expectantly! Please Lord, in your timing, in your way, bring this hope to fulfillment!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Countdown!

We are about 10 days from our appointed court date in Ethiopia. We are blessed with multiple distractions that keep us busy...work, children, house chores, general busy-ness. But the reality of it all is that God is in the midst of us - doing a might work - shaping the miracle of a different kind of birth...adoption. When we stop and think about, our only response is to pray. Pray for patience, endurance, understanding and love. To love those of which we have only a picture and a page of statistics. To envision a future for them, with them. What a beautiful picture the Lord is painting. I can't wait to see it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

We have a Court Date!

We just got word from our case worker that we have a court date to finalize our adoption in Ethiopia. November 17, 2009 is the magic date! We pray that all of the paperwork is flawless and there are no questions! Then the girls will start their medical checkups. We are projecting to travel in January. Keep praying!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Waiting for a Court Date

OK - here are the last few months in a nutshell... We requested to be considered for a sibling pair of sisters, we were offered the referral and we accepted. We can't disclose names or bio info until we have passed court. We are currently waiting for a court date. The Courts recently reopened from a 6+ week closure for the rainy season. They are in the midst of training and trading responsibilities which may result in different judges hearing adoption cases. In any case, it may take them a bit of time to get back into things full-swing. As we wait for our court date, we pray for our girls. They won't even know that we exist or that they have been matched with a family until we pass court. So, we pray for their little hearts that they don't lose hope in this time ~ as they wait for a family. They are so precious and we can't wait to share their photo, names and eventually their lives with you. Our case worker seems to think that we will travel in January or February. All I know is that we have a lot to do in the meantime! We appreciate your prayers as we patiently wait on the Lord's perfect timing and trust in His infinite wisdom.

For your entertainment, I have added a photo of Levi (on a family trip to Branson this past summer) as he filled his swim shirt up with air bubbles in the hot tub! Lookin' pretty buff!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Line

We are now officially in the "virtual line". Now we wait.....and wait.....
We joined a YahooGroup for families adopting children from Ethiopia - through the Children's Hope International Agency. We have had a few Godly events in the past few months. We were told our Homeland Security clearance would take as much as 4-6 weeks and it came back in 4 DAYS! We had to order new birth certificates for both Bob and myself. God was good to make sure those came along in good time. We submitted our packet of dossier info on February 5th, 2009 and received our "Approval" within two weeks. On Valentine's Day, 2009, Bob and I had a wonderful lunch at the Blue Nile Cafe in Kansas City. We will go back soon. We are using this time of waiting to pay off cars, and save up the monies to be able to pay for the adoption without debt. It can be done, if we don't get off focus. It seems like our past few months were driven by tasks: papers to sign, info to gather, fingerprinting, checks to write for the home study and fingerprinting....now we don't have a "to do list" and it is like wandering in a desert. It's like a pregnancy without a due date. I think the focus on paying off stuff will help to give us a focus, but it still isn't a date to drive for. I work well on deadlines, but this one doesn't have a date. We applied for a grant through Shoahannah's Hope and received a devotional booklet for our application. It is very inspirational and encouraging. I keep re-reading the entries. We haven't heard yet if we will recieve any grant money, but it has been good to be able to read the devos. I pray that the Lord will grant me patience and contentment in the wait.