Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Great Adventure

Last year around this time you beat me to the punch in expressing love, joy, appreciation and gratefulness to God for our marriage. Tomorrow morning will make 12 years for us. When we said yes to one another before God and witnesses August 7th, 1999, little did we know all the other things we would be saying "yes" and "no" to as a result of God's gracious leading. I remember August 9th of '98, hearing you, and then John Lockler and wondering, is it her. Indeed it was and it is.

I love the woman you were and I love all the more the woman you have become and are becoming. Such a beautiful picture of transformation you are, and you continue to be, praise God. Not that either of us has already attained it, but forgetting what lies behind, and pressing toward what lies ahead, we strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of us, namely we look heavenward to the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

When, by His grace we have considered Him, He has taken us places we never imagined we would go, and by His grace I can only imagine that He will take us places we have yet to see. I love how God is conforming you into the image of Jesus, the very thing you were predestined for before the foundation of the world. I love how your chief allegiance is to Christ and his Kingdom, and how you really do want his will to be done and for his Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. I love how you love and care for me and our children, and the vulnerable children of the world; how you you laugh at the days to come and how you care for this home through consistent labors of love and through the gifts He has put in you. I love your outward appearance, but I won't say anything saucy about how hot you are in this post because you don't like that sort of talk on the web, and I love that about you too!

I love how you love things that God says he loves and I love how you are concerned for people and issues that His word tells us concern him, and must concern his people. I love how you cannot help but testify about what you have seen and heard. I love how what you have seen and heard impacts you for His glory, and for people's joy. I love the way that you think. I love the way that you smell. You still surpass them all, and you always will. I love the three children He has given us so far, and I love that He has given them to us. I pray, with you that He graciously grants us another. I pray that our heart for the world grows more like his as the years go by, and I pray that if, by his grace, we grow old, that we will be like the palms of Psalm 92, "still bearing fruit in old age, full of sap and green, declaring the uprightness of God." I thank God that you are Laura Bowers and I praise Him for this great adventure that continues. This is a little old school, compared to your song last year, but you know that a guy who catches alligators and chases elk will think Dancing in the Mine Fields is a Great Adventure. I still love you, and I love you more than I did then. Thank you Laura, may He give us 48 more!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

John Newton

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Praying today for those of you waiting for word from Rwanda.
My heart aches for you.
My heart aches for the waiting children of Rwanda
I am so sorry.
I know it all seems to be shaky.
There are no words really...there is only Jesus.
Praying today that He would be the firm ground beneath your feet.
He cannot and will not be shaken.
He is the only solid foundation.
He is enough.
He can bear your grief and questions.
He is worthy of our worship...even in this.

"Job arose, rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon his face" (1:20). The sobs of grief and pain are not the sign of unbelief. Job knows nothing of a flippant, insensitive, superficial "Praise God anyhow" response to suffering. The magnificence of his worship is because it was in grief, not because it replaced grief. Let your tears flow freely when your calamity comes. And let the rest of us weep with those who weep." John Piper

Weeping with you today and asking for Him to move the mountains.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Some thoughts on attachment:
1. it is hard work
2. it is tiring work
3. it is extremely humbling
4. it is sin revealing (!)
5. it is worthwhile
6. it is SO REWARDING!

I have not blogged much about our "attachment plan" or what steps we have taken to make sure that Jeb is bonding and adjusting well. As we read/researched before he came home we found that there was not much (relatively) written as compared to information for toddler/ older child adoption. We implemented a few "strategies" that seem to be paying off/ working.

I think the biggest one of these is that we committed that no one except Chase and I would feed/bathe/diaper Jeb for an indefinite period of time. We want him to know that we are his mom and dad. We meet his needs. Maddie has given him the occasional bottle (maybe 4-5 since we have been home in the last 7 weeks). I honestly think this is one of the most important steps we have taken and we are seeing the results in a sweet boy who now prefers mom and dad to any other adult, who will reach out of someone else's arms for us.

The second thing we have done is not let Jeb "cry it out" to sleep. (A big, huge change for us as compared to when our first two kids were infants). I know there are multiple opinions even in the adoption world about this, but it was a not a difficult decision for our hearts to make. Yes, we believe that Jeb was absolutely loved and loved well at Home of Hope. But the sheer worker to child ratio indicated to us that we needed to parent Jeb differently in this area. When we first came home Jeb was a great sleeper- 12 hours straight- no fussing, no waking up. Well...things they are a changing! I would still call him a good sleeper, but he takes longer to go down and wakes up during the night and earlier. We are actually taking these as positive steps. He is learning to let his needs be known. This momma is tired, but I have a sweet boy who KNOWS who his momma is :)

The third thing has been that we are sticking close to home. I think this has been somewhat difficult for our two bigger kids this summer. Not as many days with friends or at the pool, etc. But honestly, what is more important? That my two kids who have been loved and known a "family" since DAY ONE of their lives have the same "summer" experience they always have, or that Jeb make healthy bonds and attachment that will impact the rest of his life? I did not limit enough those first few weeks home. In hindsight, I think Jeb was a bit overwhelmed. I began to notice that on busy days with lots of errands, or lots of people around, or a restaurant, he would not make eye contact as well by the end of the day. We are getting out a little more these days. We go to church on Sundays (Jeb stays with us) and we try to "do something" with friends, etc once a week. Balancing the needs of all three is not easy, but our big kids are learning a great lesson on being selfless!

All of these things have been great for OUR family. That does not mean that they would work for every family. God is big enough to lead each adoptive family on the right path for them! I just wanted to share, because I wish that I had read more opinions/what worked for other people before we came home! And we realize that all of it, every positive step forward in attachment with Jeb is all grace- all a gift from Him!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Deeper still

I am at a place where there is so much to say and none of it will come out in coherent words or sentences (just ask poor Chase!). In an effort to help myself process what the Lord is stirring in my heart, here it goes, an epic brain dump.

I think the first six weeks home are in essence survival. Not that we have had a difficult transition, but life is different now. We have brought a beautiful child into our family who spent his first months in an orphanage. We are learning what he likes, doesn't like, what overwhelms him...I am mourning the missing months that are a complete blank in my mind and heart about his beginning . Family roles are different, we are all finding our place and the new normal. I think we are getting there- slowly, surely- all grace.

And that new normal involves more than adding a family member. It involves all that comes with seeing and smelling and tasting poverty, orphans, and injustice in ways you have only heard or read about. What was a conjured image in your mind is now a photograph in your mind's eye and on your hard drive. The faces are not nameless. They are people, children...just like my children. I am struggling to live here. The grocery store is overwhelming. I am embarrassed to say how many times I have cried there. Choices, excess, the pull of our old normal- many times I have wanted to put beans, rice, and milk in the cart and walk out (after paying of course). The $3500 braces that my daughter will have placed tomorrow morning to have a straight, beautiful smile seem silly and pointless. (and yes, I realize that dental health is important and necessary) As I sat in that orthodontist office last week and was told "the bottom line", all I could see and hear were street children in Ethiopia clamoring for pieces of my cliff bar and stuffing their hungry faces with it. Oh Jesus, have mercy and come quickly. I just feel the overwhelming need to weigh and consider and pray about every moment of my day, every decision made, every dollar spent. (and daily confess that all of my walk with him should have looked like this before) Life feels heavier now. And yet in the midst of it all, I feel him speaking so clearly through His word. Drawing, inviting me into the water that is deeper still. I am finding Him sweet and gentle here. I am learning what breaks his heart and they are deep, dark things. But there is something about walking with Him here that is drawing me closer to His heart, like only a walk through sorrow can do.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beginning to process...

My heart feels like it has room to breathe these last few days. Our time in Rwanda keeps popping into my head like little vignettes or snapshots. I miss Rwanda. I miss the beautiful people there. I miss the sights and smells (well maybe except for sector :)). I am realizing that my heart is completely taken by my Rwandan son and thus it is taken with Rwanda. I am also realizing all that God accomplished in my heart over the course of the journey. I would walk the road of the last two years a hundred more times if He asked me to. I trust Him in a way I never have before. I have found Him to be so much bigger in the depths where my feet can't reach the bottom. And yet, I am brought to my knees at the realization that He is not bigger, I am just smaller. I, maybe for the first time in my walk with Him, have a clear picture of myself. The deep has made me awaken to my smallness, my utter dependence on Him for every breath. It is a beautiful thing to realize all that you are not and all that He is. And He is breathtaking.

Holding Jeb for the first time at Muhima Hospital in Kigali.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lighter Fluid.

We are home. Jeb is adjusting beautifully. Maddie Grace and Nate are in love. The jetlag is fading. Laundry is all done, folded, and put away. I have tried several times to blog and each time find myself unable to put anything coherent down. There is part of me that would love to recount our days in Rwanda- to share the story of meeting our third child in a hospital, the frantic days spent trying to get there as soon as we could, what the moment was like seeing him for the first time. And yet, words fail. Maybe my hesitancy and what holds my fingers back from typing is that there are pages of this story that are for Jeb alone. It is, ultimately, his story to know.
What I do know, and am eager to tell, is that God used our time in Rwanda to fan the flame of adoption and orphan care that He lit in our hearts two years ago. Maybe "fan the flame" is too light of a saying. More accurately, God used our time in Rwanda to pour lighter fluid onto the fire. The long, arduous two year journey to Jeb had dimmed that fire. We went into Rwanda really just wanting to finally be "done" with this adoption and united with our long desired son. God so beautifully broke me in Rwanda again. For His cause, for the orphan, for His name to be known in hard places, for His kingdom to come. I have not been a day home without the flow of tears. Many of those tears have been ones of overwhelming thankfulness and delight in what the Lord has accomplished in bringing Jeb home. However, always mingled with the happy tears are sorrowful ones. Sorrow for the children we left behind.... beautiful children who need a family too. Sorrow for this broken world, dying without living water.
So where does that leave me? It leaves me as a mom with a heart on fire for kids who have no mom. It leaves me searching The Word for answers. It leaves me praying for direction and next steps for our family. It leaves me (amazingly) wanting to dive off into the waters of another adoption...only God.
Only God.
Only God put it into our hearts to care about the orphan.
Only God led us on a two year journey to our beautiful son.
Only God sets the lonely in families.
This is not our work- it is His alone.
This is not our story- it is His alone.
We are just characters in His parable.
To Him be the glory.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our New Son

We arrived in Rwanda on April 29th and met our son. He is 7 months old with a jovial personality. We are naming him John Elliot Yezakuzwe Bowers. We are sorry to have not been blogging as we have been busy taking the steps we needed to take in order to adopt our son (we still have a couple of pieces of paper needed for travel). We have been soaking in time with him and the beauty of Rwanda.

We left 3 days earlier than we planned as he was sick. We are thankful to let you know that he is doing much better now. God has certainly been using this time to grow our heart for orphans and we are confident that this son is not the end of what He is doing in us to love vulnerable children, though we do not know what our next steps will be toward that. We do know that we are looking forward to being home with Maddie and Nate and the 5 of us being able to bond as a family.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord." Psalm 127

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

A Family Portrait by Nate the Great. left to right: Dad, Mom, Maddie, Nate, John Elliot

Crib bedding was washed and put on Friday! I may have been a little eager...

One suitcase is packed and already topping the 50lb limit!

A little shopping might have taken place...

One of the most beautiful pieces of paperwork I have ever signed and fed-exed!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Overwhelming Joy

"You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts
towards us; none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are
more than can be told."
Psalm 40:5

We are beyond grateful to announce that we received our referral from Rwanda this morning of the most beautiful baby boy! He is beyond what we could have hoped for...perfect in every way for our family. As we prayed before opening the e-mail, I wept for God's goodness and faithfulness to our family over the past two years. This journey has been so painful as God has used it to refine us with the fire of waiting. However, we can honestly say that we love Him more today than we did two years ago. His faithfulness to walk with us, to hear our lament, to have mercy on us in our doubt has increased our affections for him. May His name be lifted higher because of our story. The Lord is good and his mercy endures forever. Amen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Thousand Things

The Lord has reminded me over the last week that He is always purposeful. Even- especially- in our painful wait. He is doing "a thousand things" in our family's life and the lives of those around us through this long wait to tell His story to a world that groans for redemption. Two years ago we started this journey. His way is best. Seventeen months ago our dossier arrived in Rwanda. His way is best. We received our approval on January 3, 2011. His way is best. We have been waiting three months and eleven days for a referral. His way is best. I do not need the weight of this wait to be lighter...a child is at stake. I need my Savior and His Sovereign ways to be weightier. Thank you Father for the reminder this morning that your way is always best. If I could rewrite our journey, I would only mess up YOUR story. Thank you that you are doing "a thousand things" with our journey. May it bring you praise.