30 July 2007

Please PRAY

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him,
and who have been called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

First of all, a praise report: the other three families (the Redman, Schneider, and Belcher families) scheduled to travel with us to Ethiopia to bring home their children got confirmation today that their adoptions are approved and final! HOORAY!!!

Our call was not so fun. AGCI relayed to us that the judge looked over our dossier and Elianna Ray's background information and is requiring further documentation and/or testimony before making any declarations. Almaz, our wonderful coordinator in Addis, is doing her best to gather the paperwork, etc. that he is expecting, and present it to the judge before the court closures... meaning tomorrow. Under pressure from Almaz, he said he'd be willing to stretch that date out to Friday for us, but as of right now we are being told to prepare to wait until late October at the earliest to travel to Elianna Ray and bring her home.

Our first response was to be very discouraged and angry that all of this wasn't taken care of before now. But, Michael and I were reminded of the crucial truth that all of heaven and earth is in the Lord's hands so we need to press on in faith that He will work it out. Elianna Ray is in His hands already. He is in charge; not the Ministry of Womens Affairs in Ethiopia, nor a judge, nor a social worker, nor a birth family member, nor us for that matter. And, His timing is perfect. He will dot every I and cross every T when it is perfectly right that it should be done.

I have found myself today in almost constant conversation with Christ imploring Him for help and reminding Him "that in all things (even in this worrisome kafuffle!) He works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose."

And, no matter what He chooses, whether Elianna comes home in August or November, I will praise His Name! Amen!

24 July 2007

Our Water Broke!

The Countdown to Gotcha Day has officially begun!

This morning we got THE CALL from our agency that (disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer) Elianna Ray's adoption will probably get processed this week! We have a tentative Embassy date of 8/20, which is Evangeline's birthday. So, Evangeline will likely celebrate her 1st birthday in Ethiopia with her new baby sister!


Mother and I were commenting that it's bittersweet that the Lord is lending us this little angel just after He called Granddaddy Home. The Lord giveth and taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord!

One month from today, God willing, we will be home with our littlest treasure in tow. Thank you, Jesus, for Your many blessings! Thank you, dear ones, for your prayers. You are loved by us.

23 July 2007

Thank You, Jesus, for Granddaddy

"Well done, good and faithful servant"
Matthew 25:23

Raymond Carl Ortlund, Sr.

July 9th, 1923 - July 22nd, 2007

Ray & Anne Ortlund

Auntie Sherry & Granddaddy

Yesterday we said goodbye to Granddaddy, Ray Ortlund, until we meet again in Heaven. He called his family to him, spoke words of love and exhortation over each one, joked and laughed, sang songs of praise to the Lord, and then slipped quietly away into the presence of the Lord. What a beautiful, beautiful man! We are so glad to have known and loved him.

Grandmother & Granddaddy meeting Evangeline

Yesterday at the hospital there were tears and sadness, not for him, but for us. He lived ferociously for Jesus, passionately burning all the way to the wick for the Gospel of Christ, and loved everyone he encountered along the way. He modeled pursuing a vibrant, Christ-centered, and exciting marriage all the way through life. He loved his family and championed them in every trial and suffering. He put his hands on his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids to pray over them every chance he got, every time we met.

Sumner & Granddaddy

He discipled men and women across the globe and shepherded pastors and missionaries. He just loved the Body of Christ with all his heart. He didn't have one enemy in the world. He loved and loved and loved, no matter what he received in return. He did well.

Granddaddy, Lisa holding Matthew, and Heather

I'm so proud that our daughter, Elianna Ray, is named after such a Godly, selfless, fun, encouraging, faithful man. I'm sorry she never got to meet him here on this earth. Granddaddy and Mother were joking the other day that maybe Elianna Ray will share more than just his name. Maybe she'll like to run on the beach. Maybe she'll be a little pigeon-toed. Maybe she'll like pickled herring.

Dan, Mindy, Elijah, Granddaddy & Bethanne

It's wonderful to realize that now Granddaddy is renewed. He's not in pain. I envision him in his heavenly body, running on streets of gold, blond hair blowing in the wind, tanned, laughing, smiling, praising the Lord for eternity. He's in the presence of Jesus! Hallelujah!

Granddaddy, Buddy & Dan

I'm so grateful for Granddaddy. I will miss him so much until we see him again in Glory.

Don't miss these tributes:
Dane Ortlund
Uncle Ray Ortlund
John Piper
Daily Pilot Newspaper
Mission Network News
Assist News
Good News Daily

12 July 2007

Travel Papers are on the way

"All power, authority,
all splendor, and majesty,
are HIS
from the beginning and evermore!"

On the 9th, we found out from All God's Children that we have an itty-bitty chance of getting our adoption completed before the August/September court closures. All of our paperwork is there. It's just a matter of whether or not they get to it before July 31st! If so, that means that we might be able to travel to Ethiopia and bring our daughter, Elianna Ray, home this month! or early in August!

It's completely hopeless to try not to get too excited. We're gone. Game over. We're praying with all our hearts that it works out that we'll be able to bring our princess home before the court closes.

Please, pray along with us that our adoption gets completed before July 31st! Wouldn't that be fantastic?!

Praise the Lord!

06 July 2007


"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him."
1 Samuel 1:27

On July 3rd our friend Judy shared this verse with us and then on that same day Martha from All God's Children called us and asked, "Are you sitting down?"
My first thought was, "OH NO! Something went wrong already."
Then Martha said, "I have a referral for you!!"

What an incredible shock! Just mere days into the months of waiting for which we were emotionally preparing ourselves, the Lord gave us this incredible gift of an absolutely gorgeous baby girl.

Ethiopian name: Betelihem (Bethlehem)
Estimated birthdate: January 31, 07

Birthplace: Yeka, near Addis Ababa

After much ado, we've decided her new name is Elianna Ray. The kids are already calling her "Ellie". Elianna is a Hebrew name, appropriate for a girl named Betelihem at birth, which means "my God has provided". It is further a combination of Elizabeth (for Grandmother Elizabeth Anne Ortlund) and Anna (my middle name). Ray is for Granddaddy, Ray Ortlund.

Elianna Ray was brought to Hannah's Hope from Enat Alem orphanage. All of her medical tests came back negative and she appears to be "normal" and healthy, well-nourished. She's doing well at HH, smiling, cooing, lots of interacting. It's a fantastic report!

Elianna is now 5 months old and has chubby cheeks and bright, dark brown eyes, and she's adorably bald. We are so thankful to the Lord that He is allowing us to be her Forever family! And, yes, we've done the math... Evangeline and Elianna Ray are just five months apart. This is what we get for praying for twins years ago! God has a great sense of humor.

When Margie heard the news and saw her pictures she burst into elated tears and said, "Oh, I'm going to knit her a blanket right now!"
Ricker "And I'll draw her some pictures!"
Jackie, "I'm going to... teach her self-defense!"

What's next? So far we hear that we'll likely travel to Africa to bring Elianna home in October or November because the Ethiopian court closures in August and September delay the normal amount of time between referral and travel.

Prayer requests:
  1. First and foremost, for Elianna Ray, for her health and well-being, for safety and a sense of security while she's at Hannah's Hope. Pray for her foster mother as she loves on our daughter.
  2. Please pray for us as we prepare our hearts and home for this precious little girl.
PICTURES! For privacy reasons dictated by our adoption agency, we cannot share Elianna's photos on this webpage. However, if you would like a sneak peek at our beautiful little daughter you may check out our password-protected galleries here.

Just leave a message in our guestbook on the top right of this page, email, or call for the password and we'll get it to you right away.

THANK YOU, everyone, for your prayers and kind notes, encouraging phone calls, guestbook messages, and incredible support! We cannot express our gratefulness adequately. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.

Michael, Laurie, Margie, Ricker, Jackie & Evangeline