An Adoption Story : Journey to Ethiopia with the Long Family

Meet our friends, Andy and Bethany Long. They have two awesome kids, Carter and Piper, and are currently awaiting the arrival of a new addition from Ethiopia. As they were introducing themselves to some new friends in our small group last week, Bethany said they had three kids but one just happens to still be in Ethiopia. 

I love that. 

Their anticipation and excitement for the child they haven't even met yet encourages faith and hope in everyone who hears their story. 

Get ready to have your world rocked by Jesus and the amazing things He is doing across the nations. 

{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

This is their story:

Our story starts the same as any other family's really. We wanted a baby. We had two children and we wanted another child. We had been trying to get pregnant for about three months before we stopped and reassessed the situation. Something didn't feel right. We weren't excited. We were nervous and unsure. This was not the way we had felt with our first two children. So we decided to take some time to think and pray. As we did, the question came up: What about adoption? 

I had a lot of reasons why we should not adopt: I was not a super mom. Only wise godly parents can adopt and I was not in that camp. I was scared. There were too many things that could go wrong. Even with all my objections, my husband and I could not let the question go. We kept talking and thinking and praying. Over the course of the next 6 months or so, God began to take away all of my excuses. 

He began to show me that I didn't need to be a super mom. In fact, there was no way that I could be. I am a sinner. I will fail my children. My hope for parenting any of my children has to be Jesus because He will never fail them. I did not need to be scared because I am not in control. I am also not alone in this task of parenting. Jesus has given me His Spirit. And so slowly everything I had been pointing to and saying, “See, there is no way we could do this,” slipped away. On April 11th, 2011, it dawned on me, that after my fears had been stripped away, all that was left was a little boy who didn't have a mommy - a little boy who needed to be loved. In that moment, I knew that I wanted to love him. It was that simple. There was no turning back then. 

I did not say yes to adoption because I became the mom I thought that I should be or had because I had no uncertainties, but because I saw that Jesus would be enough. My fears didn't need to control me. 

Jesus was bigger than all the “what if's”. 

So, six months of paperwork and 22 months of waiting... here we are. We have had ups and downs in the process. It has taken much longer than we had hoped. But during that time I have seen Jesus provide money through people who love us. I have had to trust that God is good even when it feels like He has forgotten us and our son. I have had to believe that He is working even when I can't see anything happening. Even though it has been hard, it has been a rich time. Hopefully in the next couple of months we will get our referral; which is an email that says “we have matched you with a child”. It will have a file with some facts and a couple of pictures. It may not seem like much but I have dreamed of that moment for 28 months. It will be the moment I see my son for the first time. All the paperwork, all the waiting, will be worth it. I am not going to pretend that adoption will be easy. I have read too many books to be that naive. But I am convinced that this is what I want to do. I want to walk alongside this boy. I want to weep with him over the brokenness of this life. I want to love him. I want to be his mommy. 

And that is the story of our third child. It is different than I imagined it would be. It is a bigger plan than I dared to dream on my own. God is weaving our family together. I know it will be beautiful, not because we are amazing- we are just normal people. No, it will be beautiful because Jesus is doing it.


{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

Jitney's Journeys has created a set of chatter tiles to express the story of their hearts with the scripture of their choosing that has carried them through the adoption process. Half of the proceeds from each chatter tile purchase will be donated to the Long Family as they continue to follow Christ in obedience and come closer to bringing their child home.

We recommend buying a set directly from us (via email) or from Andy or Bethany. However, you can also purchase a set from our Etsy shop here which we had to bump up in price because of fees and shipping costs. However, if you live in Huntsville or are friends / family of the Long's, you can enter coupon code JOURNEYTOETHIOPIA and receive free shipping [in other words, you can pick it up from them or The Todd Nest (the in-home Jitney's Journeys "boutique")]. 

Guest Blogger : Meg @ Henning Love

Hello Jitney's Journeys followers! My name is Meg and my blog is henning love, where I love to write about life with my husband, our two dogs and share my many many baking adventures with everyone. 

When I describe myself, my identity is not as a wife first but as a daughter of a King. God is my first priority in life and I would be nothing without Him. When Whitney asked if I would guest post, I wanted to share something with you all that God has placed on my heart lately as a priority and that is prayer and the purpose of prayer.

Back in February, my husband brought home a 30/30 challenge prayer book, 30 minutes a day for 30 days.

My relationship with God dramatically changed during this challenge. In this book, I was taught so many different ways to pray, pray using Scripture, pray for other nations, pray for our government leaders are just a few examples. As a result of this challenge, I have found that I continually stay in prayer throughout the day. When I am feeling sad I talk to God and when I am feeling happy I express it to God. I realized through this prayer challenge that I don't have to always be eloquent with my prayers, but being mindful that I am talking to the Creator of the Universe and of my life. 

Undergoing a prayer challenge opened up to my eyes of how much more dependent upon God I need to be for everything and I mean everything. My husband and I were needing more friends in our life so I prayed for that and God has answered that. I am currently unemployed and while He hasn't answered that prayer request yet, I asked God for help and He brought to my mind two past situations and He told me didn't I take care of you through those situations, I will take care of you through this unemployment. 

Our God is a great and mighty God and I am humbled today to be able to share with you more about prayer, the importance of it, bringing all and every requests before God and remaining constantly in pray with Him throughout the day. He wants every part of us, He wants to know when we are in that low valley or when we are standing high on that peak. 

*If any of you are interested in taking this challenge, the university where my husband is a coach at, publishes this books and I have a few copies which I am more than willing to mail to any blogger who wants. 

The Rock Where Jesus Wept: Church of All Nations

Maybe you were a little baffled at the fact we didn't post photos of the place Jesus actually prayed upon while Peter, James and John were snoozin' against the olive trees. After a few steps through the garden, it was hard to miss the quick transition back to reality. Would it surprise you if we told you they built an actual church around the rock where Jesus fell on his face and cried out to his Father, "Not as I will, but as you will!"

The church was pretty epic. Elaborate murals consume the walls and ceiling while flags represent each nation. The Basilica of the Agony is the original name of the church. It was built from 1919-1924 with funding from twelve different countries, thus giving it the nickname, The Church of All Nations.

In the center, the high altar overlooks a large slab of rock, which is said to be the rock on which Jesus prayed in agony the night of his betrayal. 

We were just about to leave when we heard a group of people singing hymns beside the rock. They had just begun a church service. Hearing the angelic voices echoing through the church built around the rock and upon the Rock sent chills down our spine. 

When you're standing at the Garden of Gethsemane, this is the glimpse you get of the Old City in Jerusalem (where the Via Dolorosa is, etc.). The particular part of the Old City Walls is the Golden Gate, a closed gate located above ground level and below the Temple Mount. It is only visible from outside the city. 

According to Jewish tradition, when the Messiah comes, he will enter Jerusalem through this gate. To prevent him from coming, the Muslims sealed the gate during the rule of Suleiman.

As Christians, all we can say is, "Praise God that the Messiah has already come and defeated the grave! Now we wait eagerly for his glorious return." 

The Last Supper

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

Luke 22:14-35

Obviously this all took place before Jesus walked the Via Dolorosa but we're posting about places in the order we walked through the sites. :) This is the room where The Last Supper took place. It was hard to get a grasp on what it truly would have looked like during Jesus' time. Cats were running rampant and there was an unbearable stench that was present. Still, Jesus made his name known.

Isn't it baffling that through the stench and degrading habits we have in our own lives, Jesus still makes his name known to us with authority? Even when we betray him and deny his name (which, let's be honest, happens every day), he still chooses to bless us and shower grace upon us? There is no god that could even come close to comparing to the wonder of our God, our Savior and our Healer!

At our wedding, JD and I asked our guests to join with us in partaking communion. Some people thought it was odd since that happens at most Catholic weddings and well, we aren't Catholics. But we realize the gravity of communion, as it is a time where the Body of Christ joins as one to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior. It was a risk though. With that gravity, the responsibility of our confessing and submitting to Christ bears a lot of weight! In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says that a person should examine himself before partaking, "for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself" (vs. 28-29).

Until JD showed me more in-depth detail about communion (i.e. wait until everyone is ready to take it as one and don't partake on an empty stomach), I didn't take communion that seriously... especially when I was a child. I knew I was absolutely restricted from touching the tiny little crackers and juice cups (even though they looked so tempting!) until I walked down the aisle and became a Christian. For years, I would eat the crackers and drink the juice whenever the preacher spoke the words, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And this, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me."  Oh! How different that light of perspective is for me now! It's amazing how much the Lord can transform our views and our hearts when we just dive deeper into Scripture, His words.

"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The "Way of Suffering" or Via Dolorosa: The Last Steps of Jesus' Life

I'll be completely transparent with you on this... I've had a bittersweet dread towards writing about our trip through Via Dolorosa. First off, an entire blog could be dedicated to the Via Dolorosa, Jesus' suffering and His death. To merely dedicate one post on a blog to this journey deprives the multitude of truth there is to these steps. If you don't have time to read it all, just skip to the bottom and at least watch the video at the end. :) Secondly, I am in no way a theologist or biblical scholar. However, I will attempt at describing each section of the pathway with as much truth from Scripture as I can. 

Via Dolorosa means Way of Suffering or Way of the Cross. The sign below marks the beginning point of the route Christians believe Jesus started carrying his cross from his trial to the place of his crucifixion and burial.

The guide told us that this is believed to be an imprint of Jesus' hand. It is located at this point, as a dedication to Simon, who helped Jesus carry the cross. "And as they led him away, they seized on Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus." Luke 23:26

We just had to get a snapshot of JD touching the same spot where Jesus touched. :)

This landmark is dedicated to the woman who wiped Jesus' face. "And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him." Luke 23:27

This is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also known as the location of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The entrance, specifically, is the place where Jesus was stripped of his clothes... "And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take." Mark 15:24 The church was actually destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The building standing today was built in the 12th century. 

Inside of the church, this marks the site of where Jesus died on the cross. A silver disk with a central hole, underneath the altar marks the spot where the cross stood.

Christians lighting candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

This was the best shot we could get...

"So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews" (John 19:40). The body of Jesus was laid on this stone after being removed from the cross. Most people present were stretching out with all of their power to simply touch it, kiss it and pray to it.

And this is the actual burial site of Jesus. "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there" (John 19:41-42). 

Because of the masses trying to enter into the tomb, we were unable to go inside of Jesus' tomb. We went into another one. It was about what you would expect when entering a tomb: dark, cold, eerie and small.

THEN... the best part (which we obviously do not have a photo of)... "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" says Jesus to Mary Magdalene. Eventually, Mary becomes overwhelmed with excitement, tears, joy, and awe... "Rabboni! I have seen the Lord!"

PRAISE JESUS that He continuously claims victory over all things, including death!... 

Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him!
That's my King!
Do you know Him? 

November 5: Jerusalem on Shabbat

Yes, this post is written five days after the last one. You didn't miss much. JD worked every day, and I laid out at the pool (until the guy at the entrance asked me, "Why are you always alone by yourself?"... then I just sat in the hotel room or the executive lounge - wouldn't that creep you out a little too??).

We traveled over to Jerusalem. This was the first and only "guided tour" we went on.

Our tour guide was Jewish and stated bluntly and frequently that "these are the Christian beliefs but [he] just doesn't understand how people can think that way."

To put it in a more direct light for you... we would be standing at the Via Dolorosa and he would say, "This plaque on the wall is where Jesus put His hand when carrying the cross to His crucifixion, but I personally don't believe He was the Messiah."

To be transparent with you, it was tough hearing the guide use a disclaimer like that for everything JD and I believe in. It was interesting and challenging to hear his beliefs, but still tough to follow a guide who was telling us about Jesus but didn't know Jesus himself.

Praise Jesus that through His crucifixion and resurrection, He has removed the veil from the high place; that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom; and that we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image of Christ from degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:16-18).

In our next post, we will take you on a tour through the Old City (it may last longer than one post).

Below is Palestine, right behind us. You may not know the level of callousness between the Palestinians and Israelites, so let us put it into perspective for you... Israelis have yellow on their car tags and the Palestinians have blue on their car tags. If an Israeli car is seen crossing over the Palestinian line, well, they'll be bombed. From what we gathered, it seems like the Israelites have a less harmful form of punishment for the Palestinians but they won't be allowed over the line regardless.

Can you believe how close the two territories are? We are standing in Israeli territory but the Palestine territory is directly below us.

My sweet husband...

Can you see the Temple Mount? It's the gray building with the golden dome. That marks the location of the Old City, specifically the Muslim Quarter.

We are now on the other side of the road from our previous photo. Can you believe the contrast between the Israeli and Palestine territories? The Palestinian territory looks desolate and dry but Israel looks like it's thriving. Besides this trip, we didn't venture near Palestine. :)

October 29: Mt. Carmel... and the Fire of the Lord Fell...

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God."
1 Kings 18:38-39

Welcome to Mt. Carmel, the place where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal and God claimed victory once again.

Doesn't this story just make your heart burst with joy!?

When Baal didn't answer the prophets with fire... or any response at all, Elijah starts mocking them by saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened. (18: 27)"

Praise Jesus that our Savior is constantly Present, listening and responsive. He heals, showers us with grace... and oh yeah... He can send down blazing fire that will light up a burnt offering that is surrounded by a trench of water! Natural combustion is simply not possible until God steps in and does His thing. The fire of the Lord consumes the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, the saturated dust and the water that was in the trench.

This is the location where all of that went down...

Mt. Carmel National Park is a little difficult to find, even with a GPS. We were close to the park at one point but we turned too soon. This led to about 30 minutes of circling Carmel, trying to find the park according to the GPS. Finally, the guys decided to drive back to where I had seen the Mt. Carmel Park sign and there it was!

We parked on the side of the road and saw one guy actually back down the one-way street in reverse for about 30 - 40 yard just to pull into the gravel road that led to the park. Did I mention that he was driving backwards on a one-way street... on a mountain? It was crazy!!

Side Note: You have never witnessed a true "terrible driver" until you drive in Israel.

Adam, me & JD

We caught a glimpse of a magnificent sunset at the park. We didn't hike the path, mainly because we saw a lookout higher on the mountain that "peaked" our interest. In complete spontaneity, we drove... and ended up in a major traffic jam because of a car wreck ahead. We were stuck for quite a while but it was worth it. We drove down the mountain, surrounded by rocky (and most likely treacherous) canyons. We saw tons of caves in hidden among the rock along the descent. (We like to think that Noah or Lot resided in one of them back in the day?!?). The sharp curves and speeding cars created a fairly intimidating drive. Road lines prove to be unnecessary here since drivers fail to take heed to them. We finally made it to the bottom and then drove along the breathtaking coastline back to Tel Aviv.

And that's where we captured this photo. Absolutely stunning. Once again... Jesus is constantly present and makes His name known even among the clouds.

October 29: A City on a Hill

If you drive beside the city of Nazareth, God will most likely echo this verse through your mind too. We couldn't believe the vivid imagery of this verse in comparison to Nazareth. Unless God literally lifts the hill and scatters it among the desert, there's no way to miss this city on a hill. We're not sure that this is the exact city Jesus was referencing to... but we wouldn't be surprised if it was. 

We didn't spend much time in Nazareth but we did stop for a bite at the McDonald's. They were actually serving their regular menu, unlike the rest of the restaurants that honor Shabbat. 

Still, we wanted to share some pretty epic stepping stones that Jesus followed through Nazareth. Let's rewind to the Gospels. 

In Luke 2:1-7, Joseph and Mary leave the town of Nazareth on a journey to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus required that all inhabitants of Rome must register for the purpose of taxation. The wise men gathered at the site of the new King. Hearing this, Kind Herod got angry and sought out to kill Jesus. Joseph and the fam escaped to Egypt and set up camp until King Herod died. The coast was clear and the fam trekked back to the city of Nazareth. 

"And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:39-40)"

Don't you love that? Even Joseph, Mary and Jesus had to be patient, waiting for God's will to play into action - only then could they continue on their cherished destination.

Nazareth was also the location where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. It sounds so simple until you read Mark 1:10-11...

And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Did you notice that all three persons of the Godhead - the Spirit, the Father, and the Son - are involved here? Mark must have left out the part where John the Baptist and/or anyone else present collapsed to their knees in absolute and pure worship of what just happened before his eyes. Can you imagine?

Immediately, Jesus is driven by the Spirit straight into the wilderness. No more Nazareth for now. 

The Staple Piece

We told you a couple of weeks ago that we would share our "special find" from the Cotton Depot.

This is it!

This is our home. I've been looking everywhere for that "staple piece" to build our house around when the time comes, and this is it. It went up for sale six days before we bought it.

As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I started frantically calling JD. "We have to get this table, JD. It is so perfect and it is everything I've dreamed of for our home."

Please note here that we are trying really hard to become less materialistic. As in, if God calls us to leave everything behind and serve in a third-world country, then we would quickly and willingly drop everything to respond to that calling.

I'm really thinking this table would fit on a plane along with our one suitcase of absolute necessities...? Haha

The lady hung a "SOLD" sign on it until JD came to Monroe. We picked it up Saturday and she said at least four people had come in since we bought it, asking if they could buy it from her if they paid her more money. Thankfully she was the sweetest lady and kept to her word until we picked it up.

Isn't it just the sweetest table you've ever seen? It is handmade from old barnwood and the legs are white-washed. We will probably put a bench along one side when we move into a house.

Do you have a staple piece that you've built your home around?

October 28: Sea of Galilee

Rewind a bit to when Jesus feeds the five thousand men (don't forget that the women and children present were not even counted in this number). Everyone is reclining on the grass, satisfied by this feast of two fish and five loaves. Jesus tells the disciples to get in the boat and go before him on the other side so that he could dismiss this massive crowd. The crowd leaves and Jesus decides to walk up on the mountain to pray by himself. He's by himself when evening comes and sees that the boat is long-gone by now. 

And what does Jesus do?

He decides to do a little more walking... only, this time, Jesus is going to walk on water. Or rather, the Sea of Galilee.

The scene is quite different from the photos above. It's nighttime, the "wind was against [the disciples]" and the boat is beaten by the waves. Have no fear! Jesus is here. That's right. JD and I love reading this story. We can just imagine Jesus walking along the nasty, crashing waves that could take a boat down in an instant - and then Jesus faces the water with an attitude of: "Hey, guys. Ain't no thing but a chicken wing. (Deep South Translation)"

Seriously though. After being scared pants-less, Jesus tries to calm the disciples, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." He invites Peter to join him after Peter challenges Jesus by saying, "If it's really you, command me to come to you on the water."

Of course, Jesus does just that. "Come." Peter steps out of the boat, even walks on the raging sea and then... "Oh no!! The wind." Jesus has conquered the wind, the water, the waves. Because of his faith in Jesus, Peter even conquers the water and the waves, but the wind... That's where the doubt set in.

John Ortberg wrote a book entitled If You Want to Walk On Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. How true that title fits to our lives! People often criticize Peter for losing faith when he sees the wind, but he was the only disciple to actually get out of the boat, trusting that Jesus would keep his feet on top of the sea. How often is it that we don't even trust Jesus enough to take us out of the boat? Moreover, how often is it that we lose sight of Christ and BOOM. We collapse into the water because we shift our focus off Christ and onto the wind, or the obstacles in life.

Fear overcomes our faith. 

My favorite part of this story is that after Peter loses faith, he falls into the sea crying for Jesus to save him. Jesus reaches his hand out to Peter, saving him from the brutal waters and says, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Is that not one of the most beautiful portrayals of Jesus? He's showing compassion, grace, redemption, salvation, and mercy to a regular guy that just lost his focus for a bit. Praise God that He desires to save us and redeem us regardless of the countless times we doubt in our God of Salvation! 

The wind ceases and every man in that boat begins crying out in worship, "Truly you are the Son of God!!"

There are so many other wonderful stories about the Sea of Galilee. If you want to check it out, the passages about Jesus walking on water can be found in Matthew 14, verses 22-33. We realize that our posts are excruciatingly long so we're trying to render that. However, we want to lead you to some other passages that took place at the Sea of Galilee. You can check them out here:

  • Jesus speaks to the multitude from Peter's boat (Mark 3:7-12, Luke 5:1-3)
  • Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
  • Jesus appears here after the resurrection (Mark 14:28, John 21:1-23)

And a little quick fact about the Sea of Galilee... This fresh water lake has many names. However, the Israelites call the sea "Lake Kinneret", which means harp, because of its harp-shaped shoreline. Anyone else think it kind of looks like Africa too?... Or is that too far of a stretch?