Sunday, December 29, 2013

{New Year, New Plan}

Six weeks ago, our social worker called us. 
She has been as frustrated with the long wait within the Ethiopia program as we have been. She asked us if we would consider transitioning to domestic adoption as the long wait does not seem to be coming to an end any time soon. 
We actually had already considered it but were running into trouble having our international home study transferred to a domestic home study without totally starting over with all the paperwork, fees, and wait time.  We didn't want to start from scratch.  We've already lost so much time. 
We talked about it.  Prayed.  Felt like it was a good time to transition.  I could give you a lot of reasons why, but in the end we decided to  go "on hold" with the Ethiopia program while we pursued domestic adoption.  At #23, we freeze at that spot on the list and then if/when we decide to come back to the program, we come back in at #23. 

To make a long story short, our social worker was able to do the domestic home study update for us pretty quickly.  We had a home visit in early December, and we're currently finishing up some paperwork so that we can get on the list with another agency in our state. 

It has been strange to transition to domestic adoption.  Our hearts have been set for three years on adopting from Ethiopia, and no matter how long we wait, nothing seems to be happening.  Just this past week, the news out of Ethiopia leads us to believe that the inter-country adoption program there may come to a screeching halt very soon.  While nothing is official yet, and there is a lot of different information floating around right now, this could really mean no more Ethiopian adoption. (This news comes to us after we had already begun our transition to domestic adoption, but it has helped us to feel a little more settled in our decision.)  To be honest, I am grieved about the situation in Ethiopia.  I don't know if such an impoverished nation can sustain the overwhelming number of orphaned children at this point, even if their own domestic adoption plans are in the works.  From what I understand, the orphanages are already full, and so are the streets.  The door closing on international adoption there is hard news for the children who are at such high risk and who could potentially languish in orphanages or on the streets while the country moves towards foster/domestic programs.  I do not know what the best answer is for these children, but growing up in an institution or on the streets does not seem to be it. 

I still feel burdened for the children in Ethiopia, even though we are making different plans.  I wonder why we have waited and waited, only for none of this to come to fruition.  I wonder what it was all for. 
But, I am at peace with moving to domestic adoption. I know from our own experience that some agencies are in need of families who are open to a child of any racial background.  If they need a family, we want to be that family.  {Race.  It matters so much, and it matters so little.}  

So, for now, we are trying to tie up loose ends before submitting everything to our new agency.  It has been a long, tangled road to get to this point.  I'm tired of always waiting for children.  There.  I needed to say that to somebody.  I get tired of this always being my thing.  But this is what it is, it's what we've got.  So, it's what we pray through and plead with God about, and then we step forward knowing that He is wise, good, and constant.

If I could name one thing I am thankful for about God's character in wrapping up 2013, it's His constancy.  When I am tired, weak, weary, and petulant, He is faithful, good, and true. 

Come on, 2014.  I am hopeful about what is in store.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

::Merry Christmas Music--Free Download::

Over the past few years we've recorded a few Christmas carols.  This year we added a couple songs and put them all together as a 6 song sampler.
You can download for free or you can donate towards our adoption fund when you download.

Merry Christmas! :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

{thankful for this moment right here--she recognized me}

She's still in there somewhere.

My grandmother.

Body and mind ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, she sits mostly lost inside herself.  She leans heavily on her two daughters who care for her like a precious, beloved child even though she is their mother. Maybe it's more apt to say that they care for her like a precious, beloved mother even though she is helpless as a child.  A reversal of roles.  

It has been hard to live away from my family these last couple of years as Grandmother has declined.  Her moments of lucidity come and go, and she seems to be a mere shadow of the strong, opinionated, beautiful woman who spent her life taking care of others.  Now, she is cared for by others--she is completely dependent on them.

I was home last weekend for a wedding, and I had been looking forward to seeing my grandmother.  I know that it was kind of a toss-up as to whether or not she would know I was there.  Evenings are not her best time of day for engaging with others.  She was seated in the living room, dressed in her pretty pink jammies and slippers, warm and loved by her daughters. I got down on the floor so I could get directly in her line of vision.  I took her hand and talked to her as she stared over my shoulder.  But then, her eyes caught mine and the fuzziness cleared a bit.  I knew exactly the second when she recognized me.  She let go of my hand and reached out to  touch my cheek, and she smiled.   She lost her ability to really speak a long time ago, but every now and then you can understand the words she has tried so very hard to find and form.

My eyes filled with tears, so I hugged her because I didn't want to alarm her in any way.  I sat in the floor and held her hand and talked to her.

She is still in there somewhere.  The woman we all love and depended on.  The woman who spent hours on her knees interceding for her family, who took in folks without families, who gave generously, who wouldn't come out of her bedroom in the mornings until she had spent time praying and studying the Word.
Her life matters, is valuable, is still held securely in the Father's hand.  She is loved by Him. 
And one day, she will rise and be given a brand new body untouched by degenerative diseases.  Praise the Lord that this broken world is not the end.

This fall we've worked on a Thankful Tree in our home to help cultivate a spirit of gratitude for how the Lord has blessed us.

I'm looking forward to seeing my grandmother again soon, but for right now, I am just so, so thankful for the moment when her eyes met mine and she knew me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I wrote that last post and then discovered yesterday that we moved from #24 to #23.
Moving one spot on the list since early August is pretty discouraging. In August I was given  "2-5 more months waiting for a referral," but now I think we are watching that time frame double. I know from friends who have been there that the orphanages in Ethiopia are full.  FULL.  Of children waiting to be adopted.  So...understandably, I'm having a hard time reconciling that with the years-long waiting list here.

Please continue to pray for our future kid(s), but today will you pray for us? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

{are you still adopting?}

I feel like I get this question a lot.  Mostly from acquaintances, or friends I haven't had a good long chat with in a while.

The short answer is yes.  Yes, we are still adopting.

And the long answer is yes. Yes, we are still adopting.

For two years and some change now, we are still adopting.

Two years ago, we finished our initial home study.
For 21 months we have officially been on the waiting list.
Our son had just turned 3 when we began this process.
He's 5 and a half now. 

In May of this year, we submitted the necessary information to try to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia on the waiting child list with our agency.  She had some special needs and was severely malnourished, but we wanted her anyway.  The agency ended up choosing another family.  That was discouraging, but she should be well on her way to meeting her family soon.

In June, we found out we were #40 on the general list.
On August 24th we were #24 on the general list, and #7 according to child profile (per our parameters).
On September 24th we were still #24 on the general list and #7 according to child profile.

Discouragement has worn away at our certainty about this process.  We've spent the last several weeks praying and talking, talking and praying.  Should we stay in this process?  Should we switch to a domestic process?  Do we still feel the Lord calling us to adopt from Ethiopia?  Are we still committed to this long, long process?  If we had known in the beginning that it would take this long  (we didn't; time lines were much shorter then), would we have done it anyway?

Many questions to work through.
Meanwhile, we still wait. 

This morning I was praying about it all, and I felt very burdened to pray not just about this process and waiting, but for our child(ren).  I felt overwhelmed by the grief that they will endure.  The process of becoming an orphan is GRIEF-FILLED.  I won't pretend to understand the depths of this even a little bit.  Our {future} child(ren) will endure the loss of one or both of their parents, whether through abandonment or through death.  They will endure separation, lack of affection and physical touch, malnourishment.  In their few short years of life, they will live through a trauma I've never been asked to endure and that I can't quite wrap my mind around. 

And they have no idea, not one single notion that there is HOPE on the other side of it all.
That in some crazy display of the Lord's blessings, we are over here waiting for them.
With love, affection, safety, warmth, permanence, food, family....all of it wrapped up in our many imperfections, but still available to them nevertheless.  

So, in light of this brokenness that these kids are living through, I have to say to my selfish heart--SO WHAT if we have to wait for them?  Waiting is nothing in comparison to "orphan-dom."
We will continue to wait.
                                    With hope.
                                                  And anticipation.

Yes, we are still adopting.  And we COVET your prayers that the Lord would haste the day that we see a picture of the one(s) He wants us to bring home, for the little ones who are fatherless and motherless for the time being.
Pray that the Father, who is Father to the fatherless, would hold them close and put hope in their hearts.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

::telling the story--part 12::

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  This series of blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

words & music by Glenna Marshall

One day William said to me, "I want to record a CD, and it should be called 'Love & Family'.  I think we can each pick a few songs each that we've written and kind of tell a story with them.   
I said, "Ummm......okay."
Not too long after that, he came back to me and said, "You need to write a song and call it 'Love & Family' so that we can have a title track to round out the CD."   
I said, "Ummm....okay."  
'Cause it's so easy to write songs on demand.  Right.

But I was up for the challenge.  

So, I sat down at the piano and thought I'd write this slow, heart-rending song about how thankful I am for my family.  I didn't think I had enough slow songs on the CD.  ;)

But, as I thought about our family, and all the stuff that had happened that week, I came up with something a little different.  

I'm waking early on a Saturday morning
I spilled my coffee on the couch
There's a little person doing back-flips off the loveseat
I just caught a Lego in the mouth

I really did spill my coffee all over the couch one early Saturday morning after getting up early with my little alarm clock.  It actually wasn't his fault, but his jumping off the furniture didn't help.  On another occasion, a Lego actually splashed into my coffee cup.
Poor coffee.  :( 
And I've taken a few to the face, too.  All accidental, I assure you.  :)

Yesterday I cleaned up messes all day
The laundry never seemed to end
But the footsteps upstairs are answers to a thousand prayers
And somehow I just cannot complain

I did spend a day picking up dirty clothes all day--and there are only 3 of us!--and I was a little grumbly about it.  I could hear my little guy running around upstairs, and I had the thought that there were years that I yearned for this very problem.  It was hard to stay grumbly.

Just had an argument with my husband
Over socks laying on the floor
But he loves to write me songs
And buys me flowers 'just because'
So I cannot stay angry for long

And let's be honest...what married couple hasn't argued about socks on the floor?  Or wet towels on the bed?  Or crazy, uptight expectations about a clean house?  

But I have to remember the socks on the floor belong to a man I adore and who I am so, so thankful for.  (Note to self--that rhymes, maybe I should save that for a future song.  But it's a little too rhymey. Oh well.)
There are days when I am moody and short-tempered
With the ones I love the most
But they show unending grace and forgiveness just the same
When I am so undeserving of both

All these little nuances about our family....this is what makes us, us.  And honestly, it's all the quirky little annoying things that provide us with MANY opportunities to show one another grace, to remind us how much we need Jesus.  We apologize to each other....all three of us.   Apologizing to a  3 year old or a 5 year old is just as humbling as apologizing to a spouse.  But it's an excellent model for your kids, so do it...even if it feels humiliating.  They will always forgive you almost instantaneously.   Not surprisingly, most kids just want a right relationship with their parents. 

This is love and family, and we want to add to the beauty
Every day is a sure and certain sign
That we are desperate for the love of Christ

Is it crazy that we want to add to the madness beauty of our family?  Some days I do feel a little stretched...even with such a small family, but I have to say I long to add to the beauty of what God has given to me in a family. 
I'm so thankful for the husband and son that I have been entrusted with.  I am undeserving, and I know it.  The Lord has poured out grace upon grace. 
I can't wait to add the next little grace gift(s) to our family.  :)

Thanks for enduring this long blog project with us.  We got a little too busy to keep the posting up like we desired, but hey, at least we finished.  :)  


::telling the story--part 11::

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  This series of blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

"You Have No Idea"
words & music by Glenna Marshall
We had a relatively quick adoption process in 2008.  We turned in our application to our agency at the end of January 2008, and on June 14th of the same year, we watched our son make his way into the world.  Really fast process!

However, when you're waiting for something, it doesn't really matter in the moment if it's moving quickly or slowly...I can guarantee you it will always feel slow.   Really slow. 

So, in the week or two before Isaiah was actually born, I pretty much pressed the Pause Button on my life.  I didn't go anywhere because I wanted to stay close to home in case we got "the call" and needed to leave at a moment's notice.  His birthmom had already chosen us as the adoptive family she wanted for her son (still blows my mind a little--praise the Lord for such grace!), and we had met her a few weeks prior to her due date.  We knew the baby was coming at any time.  And while we also knew there was no guarantee that we would finish this particular adoption (there are never any guarantees in the adoption world!), we had high hopes. 

I remember sitting at the piano during these last few waiting days and penning the words and music to "You Have No Idea."  Isaiah won't really understand for a long time how God used his birth changed our lives. After several years of heartache, we were given the unique privilege to be his parents.   And honestly, we were the ones with no idea of how this whole thing would come to be, whether or not we would come away from it as the blessed people who got to raise a baby boy who was on his way.  All I knew is that  in between the what if's and I wonder's and how's, God held everything suspended together in His sovereignty.  He takes broken situations--for there is brokenness in every adoption situation--and uses them for good by filtering it through His hands of mercy.  We could never have deserved to be Isaiah's parents.  His birthparents entrusted him into our care.  So did the Lord.  And I don't really understand how all of it worked out to be what it is today, but I do know that the Lord was always in control. And even if the outcome had been different, He would still have been totally in control of the situation, able to harness good in the midst of brokenness. 

So this song is kind of a lullaby of sorts for my son.  I want him to know how much he means to us, how he was the answer to a lot of prayers, how humbled we are to be his parents, how thankful we are that the Lord made us wait for him.  I want him to know that though our plans might differ from what God allows and purposes in our life, there is no better plan than what God has ordained. 
Being caught up in the plans of a good Father....what a beautiful and safe place to be. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

:: telling the story--part 10::

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  This series of blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

Part 1 found here
Part 2 found here.
Part 3 found here.
Part 4 found here.
Part 5 found here
Part 6 found here.
Part 7 found here
Part 8 found here. 
Part 9 found here.  
Part 11 found here.
Part 12 found here.

 "O For Grace"
words & music by William Marshall
This song is simply a good summary of my prayers. I try to do some sort of working out in the mornings. I listen to my iPod and try to spend that time in prayer. A few years ago I was riding my bike through our neighborhood praying and I was hit with this thought: "Everything I am asking for is completely dependent upon the grace of God." It's not that profound of a thought, but it is one that I lose sight of at times. I am desperate for grace if I am going to be a faithful pastor. I cannot have a son or raise a son without the grace of God. My selfishness is so great that apart from God's grace I will never love my wife as Christ loved the Church. Grace is not just something I need when I sin, I need it for obedience as well. Every area of my life is completely dependent upon the grace of God. The song sort of began with a comment on one my friend's blogs. We were talking about some part of pastoral ministry and I ended my comment with the words: "O for grace to shepherd well." One day I sat down and thought about that line and my dependence upon grace and wrote the song. It is a good reminder to me of what I want my life to be about (shepherding well, parenting well, loving my wife like Christ, and living for His glory) and it is a good reminder that I will never be able to any of it apart from the abundant grace of God which was paid for by the blood of my Savior.
 O for grace to live my life...
P.S. Brandon's banjo part at the beginning of the fourth verse is one of my favorite parts, musically speaking, on the whole CD.

P.S.S. I am the reason this blogging endeavor has come to a screeching halt.  "O for grace to blog on time..."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

::telling the story--part 9::

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  This series of blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

"That Boy Can Dance"
words & music by William Marshall

This song began when I was in college.  I spent some time (ok, way too much time) sitting around and playing guitar in those days, certain that since my NBA career had been cut short (pinky injury in High School) I was now destined to form 'The William Marshall Band' and open for other bands that included the lead singer's name.  So in between my songs about wanting to meet that special girl and hating my own sin (not sure which subject I wrote about more) I occasionally tried to write happy songs.  Thus, the riff for this song was born.  Yet, my lyrics remained too melancholy for the tune so I never really did anything with it.

Fast forward about ten years and I was driving home from running errands one day listening to Christian radio (which I don't do that much) and the Steven Curtis Chapman song was on, you know the one about his little girl being Cinderella.  As I listened to that song and thought about my rambunctious three year old at home, I realized that the song did not apply to him.  Once I got home I was doing something upstairs, while still thinking about the Chapman song and I had this thought: 'He may not be a Cinderella, but Momma that boy can dance.'  I hustled downstairs and fetched my guitar along with my handy little black book that I write song lyrics in (thanks, Andy Scates) and wrote the rest of the words in a few minutes (just had to come up with a bunch of lines that rhymed with 'dance').  When I thought about the music, I immediately thought back to my college riff and decided these were the lyrics for that tune.

 This was probably my favorite song to record.  I got to play the wah on the electric, three tracks of hand-claps, and a little egg-shaker action.  Brandon wrote a nice lead part and Josh did some nice work on the bass (thereby solidifying their membership in 'The William Marshall Band').  I even thought about putting together a video by asking people to send me clips of their kiddos dancing.  It was a great idea until I realized that I know absolutely nothing about putting together a video, so if anybody wants to take that up, just let me know.  For the record, my target audience of three to five year olds for this song has responded positively (just mention Bob and Larry and you get them every time!)


Saturday, June 29, 2013

::telling the story--part 8::

Our album "Love & Family" is ordered in such a way as to tell a story about our life together as a family.  This series of blog posts will serve as a catalyst for telling that story so that you can see what is behind each song that we wrote.  Don't forget--you can order our album here:

"Prayer for Isaiah"
words & music by Glenna Marshall

When Isaiah was learning to walk and discovering the freedom of roaming around the house on his own, he used to crawl under the piano while I played.  I loved it.  And I so wish I had had someone take a picture of it.  I'd be sitting on the bench, writing and playing new songs, and there he'd be--sitting under the piano, listening and playing with stacking cups or blocks.  It is a memory I will always I treasure.

One day I was sitting at the keys, working out a new melody and I looked up to see him watching me. His big brown eyes were wide and bright and they just seemed...I don't know--full of possibilities.  Everything was new to him--a mystery to be discovered.

The world is in your eyes, all is fresh and new
You take me by surprise, uncomplicated you

I thought about all the things I wanted for him in life...the dreams that parents have for their kids.  And it's true a lot of those dreams coincide with what most parents want for their kids: health, a happy childhood, success in school, happiness, friendships, a good marriage, a great career, etc.  But when it comes down to it, there is one big important thing I desperately want for Isaiah--more than I want all of those other things, which aren't bad things, at all--don't misunderstand.  And, believe me, I know how counter-cultural the following statement is: there is one thing that trumps even plain old, basic happiness--because I don't think happiness is truly attainable without this one thing.   
Or one person, to be more accurate.

There is much that I desire though some would be unsure
Success does not appear in this my prayer for you 

Here is what I want for Isaiah, and for any other child the Lord chooses to bless us with:  A life devoted to loving and following Christ.  

Happiness and success are secondary things, and honestly,  true lasting joy (which is better than happiness) is found in Christ alone--in a soft, transformed heart that seeks Him first and obeys His voice.
Be broken, humble, set apart, fear the Lord with all your heart
Of flesh instead of stone, be rich in faith instead of gold
Be known by love and obedience
Boast in Christ and not in man
Seeking first the Kingdom
With God's precious Words always on you tongue

 All of the other stuff--friendships, abilities, gifts, career, marriage--they're not things we need to obsess over.  Seeking first the kingdom of God will assure that all the things we need in this life (but that we are not to worry over) will be added to us as we need them.  God is not blind to our needs.   He gives generously!  Never begrudgingly.  He is the kindest of parents, the Father who absolutely does what is best for His children.  So I want to model my parenting after Him.  It's a weighty, heavy burden, this parenting thing.  Our kids are entrusted to us for such a short time.

The burden is not light; I feel its heaviness
But to shepherd you, my child, it is my privilege

Though I'm weak and do not know all you need to help you grow

If I can faithfully teach my kids about the beauty of redemption in Christ, then I have not failed them as a parent (you moms can relate--we constantly feel like failures!).  Our children may not choose a career that I would expect, or a college that I can afford, or a passion for something that I am passionate about.
But if they follow Jesus with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, then what more in the world could I ask for?  Following Christ is enough.  All that other stuff falls into place with a person who is seeking the Lord and His wisdom.  God will have a vessel to use for His purposes.  I know the joy that is found in being such a vessel. 
It's enough if all you seek is the Savior who makes me complete

Only five years into this parenting thing, I know how challenging it can be.   Let me tell you, it has driven me to my knees daily.   The responsibility is overwhelming to me sometimes.  I can't believe that I am responsible to raise this gift from the Lord.  That's usually when the Lord reminds me that Isaiah is His, not mine.  That I have been entrusted with him, to be a compass that points him to Jesus, the Savior that he needs.   Even as I write that last sentence, the magnitude of it rests heavily upon my shoulders.

I look around our world and too many people are focused solely on making their kids happy.  Happiness....whatever that means outside of Christ is not what I want for my children.  I want redemption of their souls, reconciliation to God, and soft hearts that are formed by Him and His Word--hearts that serve and love and give out the Gospel to others.  Holiness is probably a better term.
Happiness is overstated, holiness far underrated
It's enough if all you seek is the Savior who makes me complete

Jesus is enough.
For my son.
And for me.