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Thursday, January 21, 2016

My heart has been tender over the past few months. When our pastor, and friends, left Kansas City, our family was still deep in the process of adjusting to life with our new son, Andrew. The changes that had occurred in those brief months after he came home, had left us in upheaval, and this additional life-change seemed, at times, too much to bear.

We, of course, considered moving back to Colorado at that time, ourselves. But, we knew that God had called us to complete what we had begun, and our hearts were with the people who had been a part of our church family. We were sure that we couldn't leave just yet. This city was still our home.

So when, shortly after our pastor left, God led me to this spot, overlooking Kansas City, and whispered Hebrews 13:14 to my heart, I felt both confused and strangely comforted.


"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14

Tears sprung to my eyes, as they have many times since. In that moment, I knew that He wasn't just talking about Kansas City. Instead, He was sharing a deep secret of His heart. 

This is not our home.

It is a refrain that has become embedded in my heart during this season.

this is not our home...this is not our home...this is not our home

It was embedded in my heart as we prayed for and met with our dear brothers and sisters, who eventually found new church homes in our neighborhood, and ceased needing our support.

This is not our home.

It was embedded even further, as we gave ourselves to a precious new church family, but then began to feel the pull back to Colorado, away from this new family and others whom we love in Kansas City.

This is not our home.

It was embedded yet further as our oldest daughter began wrestling with the idea of staying in Kansas City, and finishing school here at Calvary Bible College.

This is not our home.

It was embedded again further as Adam started researching places to give his life away as a Bible translator. The call on his life was beginning to feel real to me as I contemplated his life overseas.

This is not our home.

And today, it continues to be embedded deeply as, while writing this, a dear friend waits to undergo brain surgery for a cancerous tumor.

This is not our home.

This morning, the word home sprung into my mind as I was walking and talking with the Lord. I had my mp3 player on, and the next song that came up was Will Reagan's "Pilgrim Days".

Brothers, 
sisters,
join this song,
as we journey
home.

The word hung in the air, as I thanked my sweet Jesus for His presence. 

He is our home, friends. All of our other homes are temporary, but our place in His heart will endure forever. He is our home, dear friends. He is our lasting city.

"For we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."


that love thing

Friday, January 8, 2016

Funny thing, how there truly is nothing new under the sun. People are the same. They grow, and learn, and mature...and they get tired. :)

I heard that a time or two when I was in my 20's, then again in my 30's. And you know what? I didn't believe it. I didn't believe that I'd be all that much more mature than I already was (ha!), and I certainly didn't believe that I'd get tired. I definitely wouldn't have thought that in some ways the tiredness would be a gift, because when you're tired, you only have time for the things that truly matter. Who's right and who's wrong don't matter so much anymore. 

Love.



That still matters. In fact, it actually matters more to you, because you see how precious it really is.

But, that being right about all the little details stuff....
notsomuch.

We moved our family to Kansas City almost 2 1/2 years ago. We moved because of a vision. We moved because we wanted to build His church, to serve, to help, and yes, because we wanted to love. We believed (and still believe) that God was leading us. We wanted to do His will! So, we moved.

And God moved, too...He moved  in peoples' hearts. He moved in the church. He moved throughout our neighborhood in people like Riley and Lunchbox, who are homeless and precious and made in the image of God. 

And then two years into it, for very good reasons, He moved our pastor and his family out of Kansas City and back to Colorado.

And we were saddened and shocked and a little bit lost.

We've spent the past seven months seeking the Lord, helping people get settled in other local churches, and asking Him for more of His heart.

I'd like to say that it's been easy, and we have another clear assignment from the Lord...here, there, or anywhere! But, that wouldn't be true.

The fact is, we're feeling on the weary side, and He's only revealed a couple of things to us.
1) That we're to spend this next season, focusing on our teenage kids.
2) And then, that love thing...to love Him, love our family, love the people around us.

It doesn't seem like much, but, in some ways, isn't it everything???

To love in the midst of sadness, tiredness and disappointment. To seek Him in the midst of our confusion. It's truly what we're made for...glorifying God in the good and in the hard. Glorifying Him in all the zealousness of youth, and continuing to glorify Him in the greater wisdom and tiredness of our 40's. I'm so grateful that our God is faithful through it all. In every single moment, He has continued to pour out His love on us, and I hope that I can say, that, as I've grown older, I have continued to love Him back.

It may not look like we expected, but in other ways, it looks exactly like we expected.

Loving Him and being loved by Him.

It's good stuff, friends.


when love looks different than you expected it to look

Thursday, August 6, 2015

It's been awhile...

So much has been happening in our hearts and lives over the past number of months. It's been a hard season, but through everything, we have been blessed by the constant faithfulness of our beautiful Jesus. He is good. Absolutely, totally, completely good. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

One big change has to do with our precious church family. I'm planning on writing about that change soon, but it will have to wait for now. Right now, I want to share a little bit about our wonderful son, Andrew.




Andrew officially joined our family in a Ukrainian courtroom 9 months ago. We spent a month in Ukraine, before arriving home with him on Thanksgiving Day. Andrew is affectionate, whole-hearted, bright, extroverted, loud, friendly, and passionate.

He's a whirlwind, folks. 

When we were in the process of adopting Andrew, we assumed that he would finish high school at home. We figured that it would probably take 3-4 years for him to complete his high school education. That was fine with us. We wanted him to live with us into his 20's since we had missed so many years with him. We had an expectation that he would want that, as well.

But, our expectation was wrong. And that's okay.

Our beloved son, as I mentioned above, is a whirlwind! Schooling is not exactly his thing and the prospect of 3-4 more years was not enticing to Andrew!

So, we were in a bit of a dilemma and we needed a solution. We strongly believed that Andrew needed a high school education, but homeschooling was out and for many reasons, public school also didn't seem like a good option.

In stepped the Job Corps.

The Job Corp is a federal program for young adults, ages 16-25, who need to complete their high school education and who would also like to be trained in a trade. It's a bit like the military in it's structure, and students are taught basic life skills as well as reading, math and job-related skills. Students can complete their education and gain job skills in 12-18 months! It seemed like a perfect fit for our mechanically-inclined, desperately-needing-of-structure son. 

The only problem was that the best option (of the three in MO) for Andrew was in southern Missouri, five hours away from us. Eek! This young man had been in our lives for less than a year, and now he was going to be five hours away?!

One of the things that I've learned through adopting multiple children, and especially in our most recent adoption of our teen son is this: every relationship is different and it is important not to have expectations of what I would like the relationship the look like, but rather, be grateful for the relationship that IS.

Our son wants to work. He doesn't want to go to a traditional school, and he doesn't have the motivation needed for homeschooling. He is a hard worker and we want to encourage that strength in him. Someone mentioned to me recently that adopting a teen is more like coming alongside that young person, rather than traditionally parenting him/her. In our case, that has proved to be true. We are now coming alongside Andrew to help him reach the goals that he has. They may not be our primary goals for him, but as a 17 year old, we have to respect the worthwhile goals that he has for himself, and do our best, as his parents, to help him reach those goals.

Sometimes love looks different than we expect it to look, and that's okay. 

Andrew will be coming home on holidays and some weekends. At this point, he'd like to live with us again after he's completed his training. We may not be a typical-looking family for our beloved son, but we ARE his family.



And that, my friends, is just what love looks like.

eleven

Thursday, February 5, 2015

and pretty excited about it too!
 
We're so happy to celebrate with you, our precious boy!
Happy 11th to you!!!

home for christmas

My two 16 year old boys were home for Christmas this year.
There are no words to express how grateful I am for that.
 
Two months earlier, this one was living in an orphanage in Ukraine.
 
 
 
And two days earlier, this one was barely breathing after a peanut reaction, then spent two nights in the hospital.
 
 
But, God was so very merciful and kind, and allowed us to spend our Christmas with both of these precious young men.

(Grace and Andrew)

(Adam and Jadon)

(My two lovie guys)
 
(Adam and Lily--they have so much fun together)
 

(Lily, Alyssa and Yana)

(Grace and Kaikai--best friends)

 
Oh how grateful I am for my family. And oh how very grateful we all are for the birth of the precious One, Emmanuel, God with us. Merry Christmas (2014) from the Bandimeres.

The end of the journey

Sunday, February 1, 2015

 
After the excitement of meeting Yana's family, we were ready to get home. But, we still had the U.S. side of Andrew's adoption to complete, so we made our way back to Kiev.
 

We were blessed on this leg of our journey with the company of other adopted families.

 
We were even able to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with some of these wonderful people. They certainly made the end of our trip much more enjoyable. What a blessing!

 
Nonetheless, after a number of days of paperwork, we were beyond overjoyed to discover that the U.S. side of the adoption was finished and we would be able to return to the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day!
 
We were greeted, after our long flights, by one of Lily's fabulous signs. :)


 
And now, our journey was finally complete. Our precious seven kiddos were all together at last!
 

a miracle, an absolute miracle

 
We went to Melitopol (Yana's hometown), with hopes that we would be able to find some information about at least one member of Yana's family. We had an old address where Yana lived, and we drove to that little house. It didn't look familiar to Yana, but we got out and looked around. The woman who lived next door to the house stepped outside and we asked her for help. She was very sweet and walked around, asking some of the neighbors for information about Yana's family. Unfortunately, she couldn't find anything.
 
As we were getting ready to leave, a car drove up. We decided to hold off leaving and ask these people some questions, as well. There is no way that anyone could convince me that this meeting wasn't absolutely ordained by God. Later, I learned that Oksana and Andrew (their names) were Christians, and when they drove up to their home Oksana said to Andrew, "I wonder who those people are. Maybe they're Americans, looking for relatives."
 
 
They were so eager to help us, but knew nothing. They said that they would call some more people and we left (I honestly thought that we would never hear from them again).
 
We went to a restaurant and our driver tried to look up Yana's relatives on VK (Ukrainian facebook), but couldn't find them. We felt a little defeated, but had still had a good morning at the orphanage and were happy about that. We went back to the hotel for what we thought was the remainder of the evening.
 
About an hour later, our driver came to our room. He said that Oksana and Andrew had some information for us and were coming to the hotel. When they arrived they showed us the most amazing video. Through a number of contacts, they had found Yana's brother and sister and had gone to their house to make sure the meeting would be positive. In the video, Yana's brother, Maxim, told us how they had been looking for Yana for years and how they absolutely wanted to meet her now!
Yana and I broke down in tears and, of course, agreed to meet them at a nearby restaurant. Y'all, I've never experienced anything like it. What a sweet reunion with this precious family. They were so kind and grateful to see their little sister once again. Yana's sister, Zhenya, couldn't keep her eyes off of Yana, and teared up continually throughout the evening.
 
(Right after Yana's sister and brother arrived at the restaurant.)

(Yana and her brother, Maxim.)

(Yana and her sister, Zhenya.)

(Niece, Nataliya)

(Niece, Varya)



 
We met again for breakfast the next morning. We promised to keep in close contact and help Yana visit again some day.
 

 
Just as we were getting ready to go, Yana's sister-in-law stated so sweetly, "Now we are all one family, together." Yes, we are. We most definitely are. Praise to our amazing God for the beautiful miracle of family!
 

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