Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Empty Chairs...

We had a very special Christmas gift! On Christmas evening, I checked the tracking number for our dossier and it arrived in China on Christmas Day!! We should be logged in the next 1-3 weeks. After that we wait for our Letter of Acceptance, which could take 60-90 days. We are looking at traveling in the next 4-5 months and bringing Lexa home!
I went to see the movie Les Miserables this week. I have seen the musical before, but there was one song and one phrase that had new meaning to me this year. It was the song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables". In the story, Marius sings the song, after losing his friends during the French Revolution. Although we had a special time with my family this year, it felt as though we had "Empty Chairs." On the one hand, we had an empty chair by not having Lexa with us this Christmas. Even though she is not "officially" ours, she is ours in our heart and it felt like an empty chair to not have her with us. The week before Christmas I was talking to Noah about Lexa and he said, "When can we get Lexa?" I told him it would be after Christmas and not for a while. He replied, "But Mom, Lexa can't miss Christmas!" It was so sweet that even our 3 year old wanted Lexa home for Christmas. :) Even though missing Lexa left an empty chair, it leaves us with excitement and anticipation. We are excited about what this year holds and bringing her home to us.
On the other hand, we had an empty chair that will never be filled again while we are on this Earth. And that empty chair made Christmas so very difficult. My brother Justin and his wife Rawan were in town with their family so we all spent the night with my parents, along with Janelle (Joel's wife) and their boys. We had some special times together, but we all felt the absence of missing Joel. These past few weeks have been very emotional. Then, we celebrated Andy's birthday with Justin, Rawan, and Janelle by going out to eat without the kids (something we don't get to do very often!) It was a blast spending time with them, but again, there was a very evident "empty chair." As Andy and I talked about it that night, we cried together, remembering all of the good times we had shared with Joel in the past, and the sinking reality that there will be no more memories with him in our Earthly future. I have been reading the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Thinking about heaven, eternity, and the reunion we will have someday has been an amazing comfort. But as I heard the song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" I couldn't help but see the comparison to the loss of Joel. The lyrics are below...
"There's a grief that can't be spoken There's a pain goes on and on Empty chairs at empty tables Now my friends are dead and gone Here they talked of revolution Here it was they lit the flame Here they sang about tomorrow And tomorrow never came. From the table in the corner They could see a world reborn And they rose with voices ringing And I can hear them now! The very words that they had sung Became their last communion On the lonely barricade... At dawn. That I live and you are gone There's a grief that can't be spoken There's a pain goes on and on Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me What your sacrifice was for Empty chairs at empty tables Where my friends will sing no more..."

Thursday, December 6, 2012


On Monday, we received Pre-Approval from China for our precious daughter!! 

Introducing...Lexa Joeley Lloyd!

We received her file to look at on November 9, after inquiring about her from our Adoption Agency.  When we saw those chubby cheeks, and that precious face, we knew she was a Lloyd.  There was just something about the look on her face...and we just knew.  As we read her file, and conferred with doctors it was hard.  They really couldn't give us a lot of information about her condition without seeing her.  Despite that, we just felt in our hearts that she was ours.  She is 2 1/2 years old and we are still unsure to the extent of her special need.  As with any adoption, it is a step of faith.  We know that she had low-birth weight and possible mild cp, but we really won't know much until she is home and seen by specialists.  We are so excited and the waiting is so very hard.  It is so difficult to feel in your heart that you have a child that is half the world away.

We chose the name Lexa, meaning defender of mankind.  We thought we had a middle name picked out, but after talking with a friend who has 3 adopted girls, she recommended using a special family name for the middle name.  She said it means so much to her girls that they have that special family name. After losing my brother this year, his name was the obvious one to us.  (see previous post)  We took part of his first name and part of his middle name to get Joeley (Joel Wesley).  And it actually sounds awesome together!! Lexa Joeley. 

I pray for her all the time.  Praying that someone is showing her love.  Praying for the very difficult transition that lies ahead of her.  Praying for her to continue progressing physically and academically.  Praying that the spirit of abandonment and rejection would be broken from her life forever. 

While we are getting closer to the adoption, the truth is, we have some mountains to jump.  While we have been able to pay each step of the way so far, we still need about $15,000 to $18,000 to bring her home.  This includes all kinds of government fees and travel.  If you feel lead to help with the adoption costs, and would like to send a tax deductible donation, please sent your donation to:

Dove Christian Fellowship Elizabethtown
5 East Park St., Elizabethtown, PA 17022
(please write "adoption fund" on the memo line and do not write our names)

You can also donate by clicking on the chip-in box to the right of this post.  The next step of this process costs about $6,000 (authentication/dossier fees).  We would like to get this done asap, but need about $1500 more to do it.  The chip-in box goes directly to help with this.

We appreciate all of the prayers and encouragement that many of you have given along the way.  We will continue to keep you updated!!  Thank you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have not been very faithful at keeping up with this blog!  Between caring for my husband, kids, and home...and teaching full time...and commitments at church...we have been very busy!!  But, I am so excited about the adoption progress.  I really can't share the full extent of everything publicly yet, but I am hoping we can in the next 2 weeks!! 

For those of you that know "adoption" lingo, we are waiting for our official immigration approval, and our certified birth certificate copies and then we can send our dossier to China!!  A dear friend at work gave me the book Mommy's Heart Went Pop to read.  Tonight, I read it with Jadyn, Nathan, and Noah.  It is a beautiful story about adoption and we were able to talk.  I think it helped the kids understand the adoption more.  They are so excited to meet their new sister!

November is orphan awareness month and when I think about the vastness of the orphan problem it can be very overwhelming.  Last year, a report from Beijing read that China alone had over 700,000 Orphans.  And that is only China!  But, God does not ask us to solve the entire Orphan problem.  He often calls us to do what we can, and he often calls us to change one life at a time.  I love the quote from Katie Davis in Kisses From Katie,

    “People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”

And so we want to change one precious life.  And in this process, God is changing our lives too.  Soon, we will have another child.  A precious blessing and gift from God.  And hopefully, we can give you more details very soon!

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 months ago...

Although this blog was started because of our upcoming adoption, I can hardly write any more entries without writing about the deep pain my family has experienced for the last 5 months.

Five months was March 17, 2012.  St. Patrick's Day.  We had a leadership team day retreat for our church.  We had a wonderful day of prayer, fellowship, and seeking God for vision for the church.  Our pastor led us in a prayer/meditation exercise on Mark 10:35-45 (definitely not a coincidence looking back on it).  After the leadership meeting, we picked up our kids and went to Harrisburg to spend some time with my parents.  We went out to eat and had a great evening.  We talked about our plans for the summer and how we were looking forward to a great summer together with my brother Joel and his beautiful family.  We were going to celebrate Joel and Janelle's 30th birthdays, go to the beach together, and just spend quality time together since Joel and Janelle were living Yemen.  We went home, went to bed, and I specifically remember feeling joyful that night.  I just felt grateful to God for all of His blessings.  I was thankful for my family, thankful for wonderful friends, and for an awesome church family.  I was excited for the summer since school would be out (I am a teacher), the auction would be over (Andy & I were co-chairs of a school benefit auction), and Joel and Janelle would be home.

March 18, 2012.  My cell phone rings and wakes me up at 3:34 (yes, I remember the exact time).  It was my dad and he asked if Andy was there and he wanted me to put him on speaker phone.  My heart sank.  I knew something was wrong.  At first I thought it was my grandma.  Then, my thoughts went to my mom (since I did not hear her in the background at first).  My dad said, "Joel was involved in some sort of accident or attack in Yemen."  I felt the pain in my stomach.  I am thinking, "Is he ok."  But then, before I asked, my dad said, "I'm sorry honey, he didn't make it."

"He didn't make it."  He didn't make it??? Disbelief.  Denial.  Shock.  I thought this must be a nightmare.  I am just having a nightmare.  Yet, I knew it wasn't a dream.  The hours that followed included hugs, weeping, phone calls, the news media, pain, joy, and despair.  It was surreal.  As the news released more information, and we talked with Joel's friends in Yemen, we discovered the shocking truth that Joel was shot 4 times with an AK47 by 2 men on a motorcycle from a group linked with Al Qaeda.  He was followed and targeted.  He died instantly. 

There are so many thoughts, too much to write in one blog entry.  I will say that the last five months have been the most painful months we have ever experienced.  While I know Joel is with Jesus, and I do find comfort in that, it does not take away the pain of such a loss.  Joel leaves behind a beautiful wife and 2 precious sons.  He was my brother and friend.  My brothers and I were always so close growing up and even as adults.  It felt incomprehensible that he was really gone.  When I spent time with Joel, I always left feeling loved, accepted, encouraged, and challenged.  He said the things that mattered.  The last conversation I had with him we talked about the beach trip we were planning, we talked about our kids, and we talked about the adoption.  He said he supported the adoption and was so happy for us.  He said, "I don't know anyone with more of a mother's heart than you." 

Joel was not perfect, but he was special.  He loved with his whole heart.  He genuinely cared about people and had a deep commitment to Jesus.  I miss him.  Today, at a teacher in-service for school we were asked what was the highlight of our summer.  I had nothing to share.  I didn't feel I had a highlight.  This summer felt like a summer of loss.  This summer I missed giving Joel a hug.  I missed laughing about our silly inside jokes.  I missed listening to him proudly talk about his sons.  I missed going on double dates with him and Janelle.  I missed throwing a party for his 30th birthday.  I missed watching him and Andy pal around together in the waves at the beach.  I missed his response to his son Liam as he said "Strawbebbe" instead of strawberry.  I missed his excitement as we celebrated his son Valen's fifth birthday. I missed our dinner conversations, and I missed seeing the passion in his eyes as he talked about the Yemeni people.

Right now the only think I can cling to is God and his sovereign plan.  I know there is good coming out of a terrible situation, but believe me, I have struggled with anger and questions.  I keep reminding myself of Isaiah 55:8-9. 

    "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor 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 higher than your thoughts."

I am thankful for a God who has compassion for us, and I am thankful for a wonderful family and church body who have poured out their love, prayers, and compassion for us.  I wanted to end with something I wrote the day after Joel died.  It is still my feelings today.

"How is it possible to feel such deep brokeness and yet immense joy at the same time?
I have been blessed with almost 30 precious years of memories, laughter, joy, and tears. My little brother Joel was my hero in life and in death. He lived his life without fear and followed the call whatever the cost. Joel is a part of the "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 11 and he is one of those "of whom the world was not worthy." I will miss you my precious baby brother, but look forward to our sweet reunion."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A special reason for the new blog!

WE ARE ADOPTING!  I decided to start this new blog to keep interested friends, family, and even strangers aware of our journey to adopt.  I also thought it would be a great way for me to document the journey, as well as document our lives in general.  It will be a testament to the things God will do and we will be able to look back in amazement at God's goodness.

We have been wanting to adopt for several years, but knew it was not the time.  Then, November of 2011 we felt the Lord leading us to begin taking the steps.  In January, we began our homestudy and after 7 months we are finished and approved to adopt from China!  It feels so good to have the homestudy over.  This whole journey has been a faith walk and will continue to be so, even after our daughter is home.

Why adopt?  We get asked this question so many times.  And there are so many reasons we have chosen adoption.  So here are our reasons...

1.  We must be obedient to God's call.  This does not really require an explanation.  What I love about God, is that the very thing He calls us to, He often puts a desire in our heart for.  It may not be right away, but as we follow Him, He molds our desires into His plans.
2.  According to World Orphans, there is an estimated 153,000,000 orphans in the world right now.  They are the very weakest of society.  If we, as the church, turn our heads and pretend it is not a problem, these children are left to institutions, sex trafficking, child soldiers, and poverty.
3.  God designed family.  While we want the orphanages to be clean, to have educated caretakers, and provide schooling for the orphans, they are  NOT families.  God designed family.  These children need a mom and dad who are committed to them forever, not a better orphanage.  An institution can NEVER replace a mom and dad's love.
4.  God placed the desire in us to have another daughter.  We wanted our family to grow and have chosen to do so through adopting.

I think this will be enough for my first post!  I have so many more thoughts and so much more I could write about, but I will save it for another time.