01 November 2015

she.is.6.




Unbelievable how time. flies.
I feel like yesterday we were potting training. Teaching her ABC's. And now-she is growing. Learning. Reading. Writing. Spelling. Loving. And growing into a beautiful little girl.

Dear Haven,
You are 6 today. Happy Birthday sweetie.
You love life right now. School. Friends. Carpool. Your sense of loyalty and deep, deep love is admirable. You absorb your surroundings with uncanny ability for a 6 year old and ask great questions. When challenged, you shy away at first yet have a sense of adventure and intrigue in your spirit. You have a quick mind and even quicker tongue. You LOVE LOVE being a big sister and your brother lights up when you walk into a room. You learned to ride a bike and swim more confidently, traveled to 16 states & 1 country, and made LOTS of new friends along the way!
We love you to the moon and back dear Haven. You are our first born and more than we could have hoped for...and we thank God each day for the gift you are to our family.
Love,
Mom & Dad

video

07 September 2015

a simple phone call

"Hi Dad...how's your day going?"

"Ah...well, er, not terrible...but oh, this line...so I'm stuck in line at Sheldon. It's my 4th load of the day...probably pushing it, thinking I can get 4 loads in today. Butch is 2 trucks ahead. I wanted to get back to town and get my trailer warshed...things were running smooth and now they broke down and oh...hey, I'll call you back-looks like we're moving!"

A phone call. A simple phone call.
This is how a typical conversation would go when I'd call my Dad throughout his day. It seemed monotonous at the time...now, 4 years later, those monotonous words seem like gold.

I was on my way to a friend's house last Friday. No kids so thus maybe why I had time to quietly reflect and think. And I had the sudden urge to pick up my cell and call my Dad. A really strong urge. For the first 6-12 months after his death, I had this urge all the time. It was how I communicated with him...I knew I most likely would find him in his truck, waiting in line, or busy about his day. His generation ALWAYS answer their cell phones. :) But as days turned to months and now years, the urge to call him lessened.

Today marks 4 years since he passed. He was in so much pain those last several months. And as time goes on, and people remember seeing my Dad and reminiscing, I really wonder how much pain he was in much longer than even we realize.

And so while I had tears sting my eyes last Friday, I heard the Lord speak comfort. He reminded me of His words of peace, comfort and the treasure my Dad is enjoying...even more of a treasure than the emotion that 4 loads of beans will get hauled to Sheldon because the plant is moving again :)

The best way to have a piece of heaven in your home...
is to have someone you love in Heaven.

Haven & Grandpa Iowa
Oct. 2010

 

01 June 2015

one month

"It shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give 
thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear..."
Isaiah 14:3

It's been one month.
Many days it seems like yesterday and yet many days, it seems like it was long ago.
Calendar days have a way of doing that...stretching out emotions, or helping you forget them.

We continue to feel your prayers and many of you have patiently asked..."what have you heard?", "any more updates?", "how are you?"...thank you for this continued care and concern...

A couple weeks ago our agency passed along a letter from Keziah's Aunt, now her caretaker, that she is willing to raise Keziah until adulthood, she understands it is long term, she has Keziah's 2 biological siblings as well, and that she is sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

So many emotions and thoughts cross our minds as we read, re-read and analyzed that letter. First, we are thankful Keziah is taken care of and she is with her siblings. We are also at peace as this seems to be a long-term placement and Keziah prayerfully will no longer be moved around. Lastly, this also helps to give us come closure on this portion of our journey...

So, now, some of the more difficult questions arise. Where do we go from here? How do we continue to honor our Father's heart for the fatherless? What are the next steps for our family? For these unanswered questions, we would ask for your continued prayers. We have been able to take some much-needed time as a family as of late and reflect on the blessings He has already given us...on the many prayers He has answered over the years and the promises He continues to hold out to us. It has been good. Thank you for continuing to point us to the Father and the comfort and answers He provides. Thank you for loving us and being our family at this time...we remain overwhelmed, humbled, and grateful.

07 May 2015

the Body

Prayer Journal
May 7th, 2015
Thursday morning

Father Jesus,
May 7th-the date for our court date in Kampala. A court date that would give us legal guardianship of Keziah and be the beginning of the end of paperwork to bring her "home" to her forever family.
A court date that will not happen. My heart aches as I think of dear Keziah and I pray she is loved, fed, clothed, educated...cared for. I pray for her Aunt-that she may love and do diligence to Keziah's care just as I pray she would have wanted for us to care for her. And that she...and Keziah...would know You.

The Aunt is not the enemy.
The process is not the enemy.
Satan and turning our hearts from our Sovereign God and the mind of Christ is the enemy.
Yet even as I write this prayer, the peace and love of the prayers of so many Believers wash over me and our family. Their prayers, love, cards, emails, texts, Facebook comments have all sustained us. The Body of Christ in action is awe-inspiring. It's humbling. It's a privilege to be part of.
Thank you Jesus for who You are to us, for what You love, and for grace during hard times.
Amen

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 (emphasis mine)

 

30 April 2015

today

Today was the day we were heading to Uganda.
We were to leave shortly after lunch, head to O'hare, then to London, then to Entebbe & on to our guesthouse in Kampala.

The last several days have been hard. Several tears. Lots of hugs. And much time embracing family time-bubbles and chalk during these beautiful spring days, walks after dinner, lots of snuggles and books after tub time and taking deep breaths. Re-arranging an entire room of packed clothes, toys, medicine, diapers, etc. was my therapy for the first day. And then I cleaned. I cleaned my kitchen-I mean, REALLY cleaned my kitchen :). I listened to God through scrubbing my floors and scrubbing my cabinets. God often speaks to me when I clean. And so...I clean. It's monotonous. It's therapeutic. It's also easy to wipe up tears if you're cleaning.

We are humbled by the love we have felt through many of you-your texts, comments, calls and emails are encouraging and felt. Your prayers have sustained us, dear friends. Saturday night's adoption fundraiser was so humbling. To have to share such vulnerable and difficult news only 24 hours after we found out was made a bit easier as we looked out and saw so many dear faces...and you cried with us. And you hugged us. And you prayed for us. To see an entire room of college kids praying for Keziah's care and for orphans around the world is awe-inspiring. It's the Body of Christ in action. Thank you for this.

So today...today, we continue to grieve. We continue to heal. We continue to place Keziah and her aunt and her care in our Almighty's hands.

There is also hope. We had a good conversation on Tuesday afternoon with our adoption agency in Texas...asking for updates regarding Keziah and her well-being. They are waiting to hear back from the probation officer & the lawyer team regarding Keziah and her placement with the aunt. The aunt is a school teacher. This is encouraging as this means she is employed and likely to be able to provide for her niece. That gives us some comfort. We also began the "what now?" questions in our dialogue with our agency. We ask for continued prayers for wisdom in this regard...

About 6 months after I lost my Dad I read this quote...

I can't go back
I can't stay here.
I must go forward.

Going back tends to boil up bitterness or frustration in me. And while grieving is necessary and healthy, I know staying in my grief and sadness for an undetermined amount of time isn't wise. And so forward, I/we must go. Forward with our family. Forward with decisions. And most importantly, continually forward into His outstretched arms.

Much love,
Katie

25 April 2015

change in the journey

"They found an aunt."

This is the post you never want to write. Friday afternoon we received a phone call from our agency. Earlier that day, during the last visit by the lawyer's team to the village in Uganda where Keziah was located, they were told she had been given to an aunt in another village who wants to raise her and does not want proceed any longer with the adoption...

In the span of 24 hours, our lives of packing up our family and traveling overseas for 2 months to grow our family came to a halt. On the surface this appears to be good news for her. To be raised by a loving family member in your country of origin is always what one would want to see happen. So we pray this is truly what is happening and we pray the "Redeemer" of the fatherless will protect and keep her as His own.

Underneath the surface, this means three years into our journey, eighteen months after bringing this little Ugandan into our hearts, and seven days before we were to board a plane to finish the adoption, we must...barring a miracle...say good-bye. This unexpected change in the journey is hard. Very hard.

So we are asking for prayer...
  • Pray for Keziah, that she is safe and that our Father will continue to take care of her and bring her into a forever family.
  • Pray for our family as we grieve, process this news, and adjust.
  • Pray for wisdom as we consider the next steps in our family journey.
Thank you, dear friends, more than you will ever know....

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear..."
Psalm 46:1-2

18 April 2015

court date confirmed

Another step of faith.
Another confirmation.

Last week we heard news that our May 7th court date is confirmed. YES!!
Our agency advises us to put travel plans in place at least 1 week in advance and currently with flight times, availability and pricing, our tickets are on hold for departing April 30th out of O'hare into Entebbe (Kampala, Uganda-the capital) via London. Yes, exactly 12 days. We are booking our flights with Adoption Airfare, an agency that specializes in non-profit, adoption or humanitarian travel and they have been great working with us and getting us good flight times. And they are able to put potential bookings on hold for a really long time.

We are still waiting to hear back from our agency on the last round of family visits and interviews for Keziah by the lawyer team and those should prayerfully happen this Wednesday, April 22nd. After confirmation those visits in Uganda went well and there are no glaring red-flags, we will purchase our tickets.

Continued prayers for peace and trust while the final pieces fall into place are appreciated. We are in the midst of a very busy time for our family. Trying to pack up our 4 person family to live life overseas in a developing African country for 2 months where we will be a 5 person family with two five year olds (Keziah will turn 5 June 7th-while we are over there) can very quickly overwhelm me. However, it is by God's amazing faithfulness we are able to take deep breaths, prioritize first things first (namely applying for Visas & final document checks), work through one sticky-note To Do list at a time (there are several all over the house) and take one day at a time. We are also trying to soak up individual time with each Haven and Covenant before the "birth"' of their sister :)

Several of you have asked what you can do or what we need as we continue to go forward in our journey...
1. Please continue to pray-for Keziah: for her needs, care & upcoming transition into our family.
2. Prayer for our current family: for our health, upcoming travel shots, packing & preparation.
3. Continued prayer for the process of adoption-it includes SO many people, signatures & timelines and only our Almighty God can orchestrate all these fine details for one forever family.
4. And lastly...as our journey has lengthened, so too have financial needs. If giving to our journey is something God has or is placing on your heart, we have been and will be forever grateful for your support of our family. Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744 (Miller family #3137 in memo line) is a great way to give a tax-deductible donation to our adoption fund. If you would rather donate to help offset some of the other miscellaneous family costs we will incur while traveling (i.e. Haven & Covenant's airfare, lodging, food, visas, etc), please contact us directly [arlanandkatie@gmail.com]. We also have joined with Gobena coffee, an extension of Lifesong for Orphans, to help promote great fair-trade coffee while also fundraising for our journey. Click here for more information.

Again, thanks so much for praying us through this journey.
We are loosely yet excitedly holding our girl in your prayer hands and in the arms of our Almighty and can't wait to introduce you to her beautiful face when we get overseas. Our journey, along with a few pictures of Keziah :), will be shared at an upcoming awareness/concert/fundraiser night on Saturday, April 25 @ 6:30pm at the AC Fellowship Hall in Gridley. We are blessed to be part of a night to bring honor to God's faithfulness through adoption along side our fellow college ministry and their talents.

Blessings,
Arlan & Katie, Haven & Covenant

13 April 2015

coffee club



ahhh...smell that?
There's nothing quite like the smell of a fresh pot of warm coffee brewing in my kitchen!
If you are a coffee lover like we Millers, then I have a propistion for you: Coffee Club.

Gobena coffee is dedicated to helping orphans around the world and has also begun a coffee club where by your purchase of coffee on a regular basis can help support our adoption in bringing dear Keziah Patience home.

Click here to visit our family link to get started & read the details. It's quite easy. And won't take too much time. Thanks for considering coffee club & next time your in my neighborhood, stop on by...I'd love to share a cup of coffee with you!

Love,
the Millers

PS-we'd LOVE it if you'd share our link with friends & family!


09 April 2015

4 Millers to Uganda. 5 Millers back.

It.is.unbelievable.
It.is.God.
May 7th.

Right before the Easter holiday, we were emailing back & forth to our adoption agency in Texas regarding the status of our dear girl in Uganda...where she was at...what the uncle was thinking...and what the strength of our case before a judge looked like....

And then there it was...the following words from our Ugandan lawyer:


I truly have a gut feeling we have a good case for Patience. 
The good news is the judge has said she will give us a date of our choice. Please choose a hearing date and we move forward. 
2nd May to 10th May or June 1st onwards 

 I read it. And then re-read it. And then read it again. 
A court date?????!!!!! In one month?! 
Wahooooooooooo!!!!

We are waiting confirmation for our May 7th court date and have been advised to not buy plane tickets quite yet, as the team in Uganda is in the process of gathering remaining paperwork and conducting final family interviews. Holding this loosely in God's hands is really hard because we are so excited but it is necessary to do so as we realize timelines in international adoption can change quickly....BUT we are super excited! This gives us hope. This gives us smiles. And above all, this shows us our God in mighty form.

So what now? If all paperwork is processed favorably, we will leave about 1 week ahead of our May 7th court date so we are busy preparing ourselves, our kids, and our lives to be in Uganda for about 6-8 weeks total. We are choosing to remain in Uganda for the duration of the court hearing and then the paperwork chase (passport, visa, etc) needed for Keziah to then travel home. And both Haven and Covenant are coming with us for that duration. 4 Millers to Uganda. 5 Millers back.

Prayers ARE needed! And you, my blog readers, have been so faithful in praying us to this point in our journey, I know you'll pray us through this next part! 

Please pray for:
1. The final details of the paperwork & interviews in Uganda to go smoothly and that the team there would be able to get all necessary documents before our travel time of late April/early May.
2. For the details of our paper process here stateside. That we double check our "i's" and triple check our "t's" and that we don't become OCD in the process!
3. For our kids as we begin this intial transition phase & preparation...vaccinations, packing up a few things, but leaving most things behind, and getting ready to welcome/love/meet a new sister.
4. For the final pieces of our finances to fall in place. We are humbled that a fundraiser/awareness night was planned by our college kids & was scheduled prior to us receiving our court date. The benefit event is being held on April 25th @ 6:30pm in Gridley...right before we fly to Uganda...God is such a God of timing. (email me for details if interested)
5. Perspective for Arlan and I. That we keep in mind what adoption is, the hard-hard days ahead, for the next part of this journey, and to remember God's faithfulness. 


 Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.
Isaiah 26:8



 

26 March 2015

Covey is 1

Wait...one year already!? Really?! [click here to reminisce]
That's unreal...nostalgia (usually reserved for my dear husband) set in as I put together this little video and realized what a darling God blessed us with 1 year ago.
Amidst the still-not-sleeping through night months, nursing woes, no sleep, early crawler leads to early walker & overall not much sleep, he is such a fun little boy! He loves ANIMALS, wrestling with his big sister, BOOKS, trucks/planes/anything with wheels, throwing things, and not sleeping through the night :).

Covenant Dean...you were named because of God's promise of faithfulness and God has sure blessed us. Thanks you for all the joys you have brought to our family!

Psalm 84:12
Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

video


20 March 2015

brief adoption udpate

Thank you all for your continued prayers the last few weeks...they have been treasured.

We have not received much news regarding our adoption process. We do know our Uganda team was NOT able to meet last week with the community/family members to obtain the needed affidavits to strengthen our case as we had hoped. We are also still waiting to hear when/if the next attempt to gain this needed paperwork will be and what they next steps in our journey are...

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, your prayers have been felt and mean so much.

Much love,
Arlan, Katie & kiddos

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him..."
Nahum 1:7a

09 March 2015

Adoption update-prayers greatly needed

Hi friends...it's been a few months since we updated you all on our adoption journey.
A few of you know the following details but most do not...and if ever there was a time we covet your prayers, the time is now.

In January, our agency called with some very hopeful news...another family (who recieved a referral around the same time as us) got their travel/court date for mid-April & another family for mid May. Praise God as this means two less orphans and movement with Ugandan judges placing children. In the same phone call however, our agency's coordinator, Emily, also mentioned that Keziah's uncle had been reported as acting fairly uncharacteristic since his motorbike accident in December. While we knew of his accident, this was the first we had heard of any "issues" resulting from it. He had been exhibiting fairly uncooperative behavior towards the social work team in Uganda and also had taken the children to his Mom's house, without telling his spouse, some 100km away for about 1 week. You can imagine our increased heart rates as Emily continued relaying what she knew.

One week later Emily called back to report that not only is Keziah's uncle acting uncharacteristic, but he no longer supports the adoption and would not like to cooperate/proceed. Our hearts dropped. Tears flowed. Arlan was at a conference in downtown Chicago so I recieved this information while Covenant napped in our hotel room and Haven lovingly tried to pat my arm reassuringly saying "it's alright Mom...we will just go get Keziah's and it will be alright." The social worker even felt that maybe he should start looking for another child to place in our family, as to him this seemed like a closed case.

Keziah's welfare continued to be in question as her Aunt and Uncle have since separated and her and some cousins were sent to her Grandma's to live. According to the social worker, the Grandma is older and this seems to be only a temporary solution. Emily wanted the legal team's perspective and so we waited for three excruciating days to see what their take on our new circumstances were...here was their reply:

In essence if the guardian says I don't want the child to go, thats it! However if the guardian is of unsound mind then he cannot be trusted to make the right decision for the child. People who are insane cannot make decisions whether for themselves or for anyone else. We however would need to reinforce our case with new evidence by affidavit from other witnesses about what has happened to him

Gauging the time change in Uganda, today is the date they are going to try and collect affidavits to reinforce the case that Keziah's welfare is no longer stable since her uncle's accident. While we are trying to hold her loosely, we really want to fight for her while wanting what's best for her. She is a 4.5 year old girl who longs for love and stability.

So...dear friends and church family, please pray for:

  • Prayers for the lawyer and social worker as they attempt to gather affadivits from witnesses regarding Keziah's uncle and how her welfare seems to be no longer stable. 
  • Prayers for Keziah as she lives with her Grandma and is no doubt wondering what is happening & what will become of her.
  • Prayers for speed and timing for this process as no doubt, obtaining these affadivits could lengthen our process and perhaps push back a court/travel date.
  • And lastly for our continued hope...that our hope be placed in our one true, sovereign God. The same God who calls us to faithfulness...not because of what we "get" or what the "results" may be...but because He is a just & faithful God.

Deuteronomy 32:4 ~ He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgement: a God of truth and without inquity; just and right is He.  



Thank you friends for playing an important role in our journey and in the life of this little girl. 

Much love-Arlan, Katie, Haven & Covenant