Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Tapestry of God: Part Three

History tells us the earliest tapestries from the Middle Ages included a total of eight colors.  Ironically, the tapestry God is creating for us involves bringing eight people together in this wonderful, crazy, beautiful and fun Bennett family.

All of our paperwork was completed.  The kids' schedule of football, soccer, school and church activities were planned (12 pages...thank you).  The care givers to look after our kids were kidnapped, brought by force, surrendered scheduled for the anticipated six-weeks stay in Ukraine.  (Thank you grandparents and friends)  Frank and the worship team leadership worked extra hours to plan and prepare for dynamic worship services at Cartersville First Baptist.  All we needed was money.  Oh yea.  That's kind of important.

When we thought about the money, we just stopped and prayed.  God reminded us this was His adoption and our only job was to be obedient.  There's nothing like a $25,000 adoption staring at you to get your heart rate up.  When we looked at the situation from God's chair, it made our heart rate go back to normal.  Our phrase became, "If it's God will, it's God bill."

We are learning in this process that (1) God provides after we obey, and (2) God confirms after we obey.  We have seen a pattern in these two truths during this adoption.

We got the call from the Adoption Department in Kiev informing us of our interview set for October 10.  It was time to schedule airline tickets, a cost of $2500 per person (one-way).  This caught us by surprise, because the tickets prices had skyrocketed since we last checked.  Then Suzanne remembered a lady she met on the plane coming back from our Ukraine Mission trip in April.  She worked for a ministry that helped people obtain cheap airline tickets for adoption.  We called her and found tickets for $610 per person.  This was a HUGE answer to prayer.  That divine appointment on the plane was a part of the "God's will...God's bill" program.

Other doors begin to spring open.  We received donations from friends and family; free housing for a few days in Kiev; zero-interest loans; and a tax credit that we had no idea existed.  While you're reading  this, there are people from our church and beyond coming together to provide needs on many levels.  Everyday people are contributing to our adoption online (click HERE to donate).  The more we walk in obedience, the more God provides.

It was time to obey.  Time to walk in faith.  We packed our bags and made final preparations at home and at church for our departure.  Saying goodbye to our kids for a six-week adoption adventure was one of the hardest things we have ever done.  (Click HERE to read about it).

After several hours of travel, we landed in Kiev.  We stayed at Hospitality House for the first few days. On Sunday we attended worship at International Christian Assembly, followed by lunch at the pastor's house.  These new friends will be future partners in ministry.  We prayed that evening for clear direction from the Lord during our interview the next day.

The interview consisted of us answering questions from an Adoption Department representative.  We passed that first test and were shown pictures in a binder.  We were only able to see pictures of children of the ages in which we qualified.  We started looking for our "Marion" in a binder full of little orphan girls, all of which were severely handicapped.  Those precious children tugged on our hearts.  God calls many people to adopt those children, but God made it clear we were not called to adopt a handicapped child.

After looking at several pictures our choices were vanishing.  We began to wonder, "Did we do the right thing?"  There were few children that fit the criteria of our approved adoption status.  Then we realized what was happening.  God was making it clear by removing the options.  He was doing it before our very eyes.  It was like being on the set of a God reality TV show.  There was one final folder left on the table.  It contained pictures of three precious children, all within our criteria.  We accepted the folder and made plane reservations for the southern part of Ukraine near the Black Sea.

In the meantime, two brothers and a sister were playing in an orphanage outside a small village.  Their playground friends saw more smiling, skipping and singing that day.  For little did they know their life story was about to change.  

(Come back to our blog for "The Tapestry of God: The Story of Lawson, Marion and Lincoln")

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Tapestry of God: Part Two

Through this adoption, we are able to trace God's tapestry and the beautiful picture being created.  The overlapping pieces of our story is amazing.  We are speechless at the love, provision and hope of God.

An image of hope was forming for our new little one as we talked about adoption with Cris and Karen Mahy, founders of Mercy's Hope.  This ministry helps orphans in Ukraine through shoebox blessings for the children, winter coats and a summer camp.  (  This ministry does not assist with adoption.  However, we received much insight from the Mahy's.  Cris and Karen adopted a girl about six years ago.  Through that process, Mercy's Hope was born.

We felt the Lord wanted to make this adoption not about us, but something bigger.  He wanted more people to be impacted and educated.  We started praying about bringing a team on a mission trip to Ukraine to minister to orphans and widows through Mercy's Hope.  This would be a true James 1:27 kind of trip.  So we started watching where God was working.

Soon after we began praying, Frank mentioned to a friend about going to Ukraine.  They said they wanted to go, and before the conversation was over we had money for plane tickets for an entire mission trip team.  More people caught the vision, and we received more funds and support.  Our adoption was growing into something bigger.  Our church family jumped on board and gave money to feed the widows.  Praise the Lord.

Our Ukraine mission team arrived in early April 2011.  We passed out boxes individually packed for children in orphanages around the city of Zolty Vody, Ukraine.  We shared the Gospel to schools and delivered over 300 bags of food to widows.  Some of our team taught in the local Bible College.  It made a huge impact on the team.  A couple from the team even went back this past summer to help with the summer camp.  It was happening just like God planned.  It was not completely about us bringing home a child, but about about refueling the engines of mission within people all around us.

While on the mission trip we met some amazing people getting their hands dirty in ministry.  We were inspired with the way pastors were doing ministry.  It was like walking into an Acts first-century church.  Some of the members would walk for almost two hours just to get to church.  We were embarrassed with our lack of passion for God's Word.  These wonderful people became close friends, friends who are reading this blog with you.

We wanted to come back to this region for our adoption so we could do ministry with our new friends.  We decided to petition for a little girl from one of the orphanages.  We had some extra time on our last day in Ukraine and decided to take one more trip to the orphanage that housed this precious girl.  When we arrived we found out her little brother (which no one knew about) had just arrived to the orphanage.  It was his first day.  We looked at each other and were like, "Alright, maybe this is not the right child".  We were not thinking of two children...until we got back home.

Back at home the adoption process was speeding up.  Deadlines were upon us.  We felt we needed to bring these two children home.  Then we received word that there was another sibling, an infant girl.  Was God calling us to three?  This was getting out of hand.  Really God?

We adjusted our paperwork to include up to three children.  We sent a petition to the adoption department in Ukraine for these children in Zotly Vody.  If God wanted us to have three children, then He would let this work out.

After a lot of paperwork and extra meetings, we received word these three children were not available.  We were disappointed, but relieved that God was not asking us to adopt three children.

Or was He?

(Come back to our blog for The Tapestry of God: Part Three)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quick Update from Ukraine

Hello friends & family.  Thought we would share a quick update on our adoption process.

After going through the interview with the adoption department, we received a referral for a sibling group of three.  We are down in Simferopol near the Black Sea.  It's beautiful down here.  We are visiting the kids daily playing games and building relationships.  We cannot tell you too much information about the children at this time.  However we can tell you that they are healthy, lovely children who will fit very nice in our family and home.  The children include a boy (age 7), a girl (age 6) and a boy (age 4).

There are so many stories developing through this process that can only be attributed to your prayers.  We will update the blog with more detailed information tomorrow.

Thanks so much.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Tapestry of God: Part One

A tapestry is an ornamental fabric entwined together often in the shape of a picture.  This best describes what God is doing in the process of our adoption.  Every day as the tapestry grows, we are able to trace God's craftsmanship and the beautiful picture being created.  The overlapping pieces of our story is very cool to see.

It all started when God was speaking to us about adoption.  Suzanne read a book called Fields of the Fatherless.  At the same time, Frank was being challenged by the book of James.  Especially James 1:27 which says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  God was working within us to go beyond our current spiritual walk.

God does this in a variety of ways.  For example, he calls people to reach farther in their faith by giving more; or surrendering to the call to teach that small group; or to memorize hundreds of scripture.  In our case, it was to rescue a child from the bondage of despair and loneliness.  We had to ask ourselves, "So where do we start?"

We started on a spiritual journey that included prayer and Bible study.  We wanted to experience God in a whole new way.  We felt led to take our family through the Experiencing God study by Henry Blackaby.  There are a few versions of this study for our entire family.  Besides the workbook for adults, there is a teen book for Madison and pre-teen books for Landon and Logan.  Every Sunday night our family discussed what we learned throughout the week.  That study prepared us for what was about to happen.  We started watching to see where God was working.  That involved looking at the God-connections in our life.  

Back in 1990, Frank went to the Soviet Union on a mission trip with a team of twelve college men from various universities in Louisiana.  He was able to work alongside Christians in that country to prepare a church building as a meeting space.  The passion for God evident in the people was unlike anything Frank had seen.  Since that trip, there has been a longing in Frank's heart for the people in that region.  So we began to pray for Russia.

While praying for Russia, we came across an amazing fact.  About 90% of orphan girls in this part of the world who are not adopted either end up in prostitution or commit suicide.  What a tragedy.  Upon hearing this, we sensed the Holy Spirit screaming, "Rescue one of these girls."  Our prayers became more specific.  As we were praying for this little girl somewhere in the world, the name Marion kept coming into our spirit.  We don't know if our future adopted girl will be Marion, but it gave us "someone" to pray for.  We even had a Christmas stocking with her name stitched to match the others hanging from the fireplace.  Crazy, huh?  When God puts a burden on your heart, you begin to notice  unconventional behaviors in your life.

Our great friends, Jason and Molly Gann, told us of a cousin who ministers to orphans in Ukraine.  We felt God was calling us to Russia, not Ukraine.  After all, God placed a burden on Frank for the people of Russia.  But we soon realized that (a) God was showing us where He was working, and (b) back in 1990 Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.

We met with the Gann's cousin to talk and pray about Ukraine.  After our meeting with Cris and Karen Mahy, we knew God was calling us to Ukraine.  Our adoption journey jumped to a higher gear and the tapestry began to from an image.  An image of hope with the ministry of Mercy's Hope.

[Come back to our blog for The Tapestry of God: Part Two]

Friday, October 7, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye has been difficult in the Bennett home this week.  We all knew it was coming.  But yet did not want to talk about it.  Here is what I'm feeling:

1 - I now have a small taste of what our military men and women experience when they say goodbye to their children, not knowing when they will see them again.

2 - I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God called us to rescue a child (or children) from despair.  But I now understand the cost we and our children are about to pay.

3 - The feeling of separation from our amazing kids in order to bring home another child gives us a glimpse of the separation God and Jesus experienced when He came into this world to redeem us.

4 - I treasured every moment I could with our kids these past few days.  This needs to become habit when we return.

5 - Madison, Landon and Logan are the best kids any parent can have.  I know, I'm biased.  But those who know our kids know what I'm talking about.  I am blessed beyond what I can measure.

Now if you would excuse me, I'm going to crawl into a twin bed with my little seven-year old.