Friday, May 30, 2008

Today I heard the giggles of our little girl! What joy filled my heart. We called Todd's cell phone and he placed it near Gabbie's ear, "Bon Jour, Bebe! Hello Sweatheart!" Oh that sweet giggle on the other side of the line, the other side of the world!

Here are a few facts about our daughter's homeland...

Location: Togo lies in Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Benin and Ghana

Land Boundaries: Benin 644 km, Burkina Faso 126 km, and Ghana 877 km.

Geography: Togo is 54,385 sq km , slightly smaller than West Virginia, US. Togo's terrain consists of a gently rolling savanna in the north; hilly in the center; plateau in the south and a low coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes. Togo's climate is tropical; hot and humid in the south and semiarid in the north Togo's lowest point is at the Atlantic Ocean (sea level); its highest point is Mont Agou which stands at 986 m . The length of Togo allows it to stretch through six distinct geographic regions where the climate varies from tropical to savanna.

Population: 5.5 million people live in Togo. Life expectancy is around 57 years. Birth rate is on average 5 children per woman. Literacy rate is just over 60%.

Languages: French (official and the language of commerce), Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabye (sometimes spelled Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages in the north).

Ethnic Groups: 99% of Togo is Native African with over 37 different tribes. The largest and most important are Ewe, Mina, and Kabre. European and Syrian-Lebanese make up less than 1% of the population.

Religion: Indigenous beliefs 51%, Christian 29%, and Muslim 20%.

We are continuing to pray for the country and their adoption procedures. Right now, Todd is learning more and more of the country, it's people and our new friends. Please continue to pray for favor with people he is meeting with.

Sunday he travels to a village to preach. What an amazing time he is having. He is doing a great job of communicating back to us. We KNOW he is doing a great job loving on Gabbie!

Gabrielle means, "God is my strength. Heroine of God."

Oh how God is going to use this little girl. When we have prayed over her, we have sensed a destiny like Moses and Esther...both deliverers of their people. Wow!

One day in intercession, while we were praying for Gabbie, one of our staff saw this picture of the playground game, "Red Rover! Red Rover!" In the picture, they saw Gabbie being called over. She breaks through the boundries, and she keeps running, with her whole team in tow! We really believe that God wants to set many Togolese orphans in loving, forever families.

Please pray with us. Pray that God would make a way for Gabbie to come "home" and for many others to follow suit.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Her Father's Arms

I am torn.My arms ache to hold our little one, and yet, at the same time, my heart is thrilled that Todd is the one to love on her right now. He has taken a taxi to see her each day, holding her the entire time he is with her. He prays over her, kisses her, tickles her and whispers truth into her ear.

Today he brought her to the market. Todd and the "Aunties" went shopping for fabrics to make our family some clothes...Togo style! Gabbie fell asleep in his arms. It does not get any better than that...on both ends, for the baby and the daddy!

I remember, as a little child, crawling into my daddy's lap. I felt so safe and loved. Sometimes he would read, sometimes we would chat, or we would just be still. Oh, the comfort. I know, for a fact, that those were special times for my dad as well. Ashley and I envy Todd so much, that he gets to be there, pouring love out all over this tiny one. We've told him to whisper precious things in her ear!

I find my "mother's heart" wants to be the one to hold her, kiss her, dress her, comfort her. I want to make her smile,to take her picture, to bathe her and cuddle her. I want to rub her back and caress her. I want to be the one. That is what a mother does. My heart cries out.

As my heart cried out today, I just sensed that the Lord was saying that as big as my "mother heart" is, His "Father Heart" is even bigger. He loves and cares for her in ways that I cannot even fathom. He is the only one who can fully meet Gabrielle's needs, and He is the only one who can fully meet my needs. As daughters, we both are carried in Father's arms.

I hear Him whisper to my deepest being, "Courage, Daughter."

Thank you so much for your continued prayers! We are seeing answers to our specific requests!We are grateful.

Please pray for
*divine appointments for Todd
*the ban on adoptions to be lifted (due to child trafficking)
*a way for us to bring Gabbie home, and a safe passage through the legal system
*a miracle

The Lord has encouraged us in so many ways. Today was no exception! Rachel called from the office this morning. "Vickie, there are some YWAMmers here...from Togo!" She could hardly get the words out. (I could feel her excitement through the phone!)

This is Patricia, her husband Chris and nephew George. Patricia is like a sister to Komi (Gabbie's uncle). She has served in YWAM for many years and now lives in Charlotte. Months ago her husband passed our location and went home to tell Patricia that YWAM was here. She told him he must be mistaken. Then, it was confirmed to her through friends in YWAM-Richmond. They got in the car and drove out today. Rachel greeted them. When they said they were from Togo, Rachel told them that we were adopting from Togo, they said, "Yes! We have heard."

What a small world. God just knew the encouragement this would bring to my heart. (It made Rachel and Kristina pretty excited too!) We look forward to having Patricia come again soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My First Date

I came home from a busy day of meetings, prayer and a hunt for a new dishwasher (it is incredible what happens when Todd leaves the country...broken bones, broken appliances, broken cars).

How beautiful to come home to an email entitled, "My First Date."

In his own words, Todd...

"Hey Vickie, Ashley, Jackson...

I just finished my first date with Gabbie!

She is beautiful, perfect. God's grace is amazing. She has a peaceful spirit. Very sweet. I held her for over an hour. She spit on me, laughed at me, bonked me in the nose, stuck her finger in my mouth, put her head on my chest. It was an awesome bonding experince.
She did not cry once. Did I mention how much she liked me? She held my finger and laughed when I tickled her.

A good first day.

I love you all,

God is so faithful. When we had been on this journey a while, and the State Department said that this would not work, some of our dearest friends and family were a bit hesitant of our decision to continue. It was only out of love for us. They did not want our hearts to be broken if this fell through.

I thought a lot about that. A broken heart is so very painful, I know. The realization that I have come to though is this...Who better to fix a broken heart than the Creator Himself. I have prayed for courage on this journey. I do not want to look back on my life and see missed opportunities. I want to see that I gave it a try, that I lived life to the fullest and that I was radically obedient to the call of God on my life!

C.S. Lewis wrote about love and the risk involved.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” -C.S. Lewis

There will be pain. I will be broken, but I will not be broken beyond repair.

Right now, we are so grateful for the "aunties" that are caring for Gabbie right now. It has not been without sacrifice. I know that it will be heartbreaking to say good bye to her when that time comes.

So today, please join me in praying for

*Gabbie's family that has taken such good care of her until now

*a gentle ease of releasing her to us

*the Lord to fill the void that she will leave in their hearts and lives

*Gabbie to be released to us, by the government, during this time

Monday, May 26, 2008


How sweet is this! (Our little Sweetie at 6 months.) To think that in less than 24 hours Todd will be meeting her for the first time. I think his heart is about to explode.
When we first learned that the family in Africa was willing for us to adopt the baby, I began packing my bags, gathering gift preparing passports, researching, etc. I was ready. I thought we would get on a plane, go to Togo and get our baby and come home. Let's see...that was...17 months ago!
I soon learned there is a process. Even though both families are agreeable, there are still laws and processes. In going to the Togo website, I saw that there had not been an inter country adoption in over six years. I also "noticed" a line that said, "If you already have biological children, you are not permitted to adopt." My thought was that, the family has said yes to us. They want this. We will certainly be exempt.
We contacted the Us Embassy in Lome. We also called the State Department. Without us asking, they contacted each other and began working on our situation. Everywhere we turned, we seemed to have favor.
I will not forget the day that the State Dept. called me. They said that they had sad news, there was no way that we would be able to adopt this baby due to the fact that we already had our "own" children. I hung up the phone and went to my bed. I had a few tears. Then I tried to make myself cry more.
A conversation that I had in my head went something like this..."God, Why am I not crying more? This is sad, horrible news." Answer, "Did I tell you that this would not work? Did I say to stop?"
Me: "Well, actually, no. You said that this baby was ours. You said that we are to pursue her."
God: "I want you to continue to move forward on this. Act as if this is already a done deal. I am not limited by man. I am doing something here."
From that point, we continued to complete our home study, communicate with the Embassy, pray, stay in touch with the family, pray some more, etc. As we have walked out in this, we have seen the hand of God in remarkable ways.
As we have prayed, our heart for Togo has grown. Our heart for the orphans of the world have grown. We have become more involved in issues of compassion, justice, injustice. We have seen that this is not just about the Hedgepeths getting a beautiful baby girl, and her getting a forever family. This is about God's dream coming true...about destines being fulfilled, about nations being set free.
How humbling to know that God wants us to be a part of seeing His purposes established on the earth. We are grateful and privileged! Right?
Guess what? During this time, it is our understanding that the laws have changed in Togo. Families with biological children are now eligible to adopt.
"He sets the lonely in families."
-Psalm 103:3
Praise God for the changes that have come to Togo! Please pray...
*that laws would continue to be changed, allowing children to be adopted into good families.
*that adoption agencies would be put in place (currently there are no adoption agencies in Togo)
*that advocates of orphans would be raised up in this country, being a voice for the voiceless
*that in our situation, there would be no more hold ups! That we would be able to bring our baby home.
Thank you so much. We are grateful for your prayers and your love!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

And he's off!

Todd is currently in the air, on his way to Lome, Togo...via Casablanca, Morocco and Accra, Ghana. We have never been more excited about a trip than this one!

When we first began this particular part of our journey, we did not even know if the baby was a boy or girl! We just knew it was our baby. Then, we found out she was a girl. My arms just ached to hold her close to me, to sing her to sleep, to comfort her. I could not believe how much love I had for her without ever seeing her.

There have been times when my heart has ached so much, the Lord has reminded me of His heart for His children. His heart aches for those that are far from Him. He desires that ALL would come into a saving knowledge of Jesus be adopted as FULL sons and daughters.

We are praying, not only for our adoption to go through quickly, but also for the nation of Togo to come into a full understanding of what it means to have a "spirit of adoption". That the Togolese people would come into that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ...that they would be "adopted" as full sons and daughters. That they would walk out in that reality. That they would know the love of The Father.

The Lord has used Isaiah 62 to speak to us regarding our daughter. Here is a portion...

"Foreign countries will see your righteousness, and world leaders your glory.
You'll get a brand new name, straight from the mouth of God.
You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand,
a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God.
No more will anyone call you Rejected,
and your country will no longer be called Ruined.
You'll be called 'My Delight' "...
-The Message
Please be praying as Todd goes to our daughter. Please pray that
*God would go before him and prepare the way
*Gabrielle would recognize Todd
*Todd could clearly communicate our love and appreciation to the family
*the Togolese people would come into a greater understanding of God as their Father
This journey truly is amazing!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Out of Africa...the time is now

Ashley was almost 3 when she asked me, "When are we getting our brown baby?"

"Well Honey...I'm not sure." Where did that come from? How do you answer that question? At the time we were in the throws of infertility. (Todd and I were asking the Lord for another baby, but that was between Todd, God and me.) Was God trying to get my attention through this "wee one"?

A year later, I was finishing up a week of teaching with YWAM-Atlanta. I was teaching on World View. It had been such a great week. I ended with a question and time of waiting on the Lord. I asked, "What are the dreams that God has, that He is waiting to fulfill through YOU?" As soon as the question was out of my mouth, a picture came into my mind of a little black child in our family. All the way home to Charlotte, I "pondered it in my heart."

We had talked about adoption, and what would that look like for our family. As Todd and I prayed, we really felt that "we were not to actively pursue adoption, but that the Lord would bring a baby across our path." "What does that mean?", I thought to myself. Would I open my door one day to find a babe in swaddling clothes? Maybe in a box with a note, "please care for my baby".

I continued to have dialog in my heart with the Lord. I know that He knows, even better than me, the deepest desires of my heart. One day, we received a call, asking if we would be interested in adopting a baby that was about to be born. What?!!!! Are you kidding? This was amazing. My heart was spilling over with joy. Oh, the possibility. This was God "bringing a baby across our path"! (We had not announced our heart to adoption. We remained very quiet about this issue).

Todd and I took some time to get away and pray. We asked the Lord if this was our baby. We really sought the Lord. After our weekend, we sensed that we were to say no. For me, it was a bit hard. I asked the Lord, "Why bring a baby, just to have us to say no?" He was so kind and gentle. I really felt like He was showing me that He could DO IT. This was not the right timing, but He had not forgotten. He is the God who sees. He is the God who remembers. There was such HOPE placed in my heart that day.

Almost one year, to the day, Todd was in Atlanta for a YWAM-Atlanta Board meeting. When he came home, I was asking about the meeting, our friends, etc. After a few reports back, he said he had very sad news. Komi, our friend and fellow YWAMmer working in Atlanta, had just lost his sister. She died in childbirth in Togo, West Africa. I started crying. I knew it must be so hard to lose your sister and be so far from home and family.

I said, "Oh, we need to pray for Komi and his family." Todd said, "Vickie, there is one more thing...the baby survived." Long pause.....Ashley came into the room and asked why I was crying. We explained about the sad news, and that now the baby did not have a mommy. Immediately, "Maybe this is supposed to be our baby." Todd and I look over her head at each other. He goes to call Komi...

This happened 18 months ago. Since then, we have fasted and prayed. We asked the Lord is this was our baby. Not only did we get a "yes!" We got a name. We have been actively been pursuing our baby girl all this time. I have not blogged about the baby up until this time. I really wanted to be certain of the timing.

I have many miracles and stories to share. We have learned so many things through this process. I know that God does have dreams, and He want us to be a part of seeing them fulfilled!

I write now because Todd leaves in the morning for Lome, Togo. He will be gone for ten days. The purpose of this trip is to meet our daughter (who has been in the loving care of family), to pray, to acqaint himself with the country, to meet the family and government officials. This is really an assignment that we sense is from the Lord. We covet your prayers.

Each day that he is gone, I will be blogging about our story...the chapters that have led us to this point. The journey has been long, at times heart wrenching, but never have we felt separated from the Lord, His love or faithfulness.

I am asking that you, and your friends, would join in praying daily for our family for
3.divine appointments, and favor, with governement officials provision for this trip to bring our daughter home now!

We are wanting to see a team of prayers warriors raised up. Please join us in this journey. We need you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

There are no words...

This morning the first words I heard were from Ashley as I crawled into her bed to wake her for school, her radio playing softly, "Oh Mommy! Have you heard about little Maria Chapman?" (Youngest daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman). It was 6:28 a.m. "No Honey. I have not heard anything."

"Mom, she was hit by the family's SUV. Mommy, she died."

I quickly looked up the article on the internet. I cried. Ashley and I prayed.

We have cried and prayed for the Chapman family, a family who is experiencing a depth of pain that cannot be put into words. We pray for God's grace, love and mercy to saturate their very being.

We, as a family, have been impacted by the music of Steven Curtis Chapman, but even more by the way he lives his life and the lifestyle of his family. Please join us in lifting up this family.
For more information, and to send condolences

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Modern Day Devotional

Oh how I love the sight of a well worn devotional.

My grandparents house had devotionals tucked away in the sweetest of places. In the study, above the desk, behind the door. On an end table in the living room, the night stand in the bedrooms, the back of the toilet. They were never "strategically" placed to influence others. I believe they were simply in the places where they were read, studied and sought out for inspiration and encouragement.

I am fortunate enough to have "inherited" many of these precious books. They inspire and encourage another generation to walk in the ways of Jesus. I love to read these books and see my grandparent's handwriting, questions written in the margins, pages folded at places of meditation. I wonder what they were going through at the time of these readings. Times have changed, for certain. Truth has not.

A classic favorite for me is Oswald Chambers collection, "My Utmost for His Highest". Oh how it provokes me.

For Christmas, my mom-in-law gave me a devotional, "Letters from Ruth's Attic...31 Daily insights for knowing God's Love", by Ruth Bell Graham. I have been so encouraged by Ruth's insight. She shares simple stories from her life and then brings it back to Jesus. One day, while reading, it suddenly occurred to me...

Blogging is the modern day devotional! I find myself cozying up to my computer some days with a cup of coffee, expecting to be challenged to walk deeper, run harder, press further on than before. (Check out my "Stops Along the Way." You will be challenged and encouraged by Resolved2Worship, Jake and Janelle's, The Smiths in Kenya, just to name a few!)

When I started blogging, a friend asked "why?" She said she just did not get it. Well, I get a whole lot and I am grateful. Thank you friends for sharing your hearts, your struggles, joys and the incredible faithfulness of the Lord!

I pray that my simple ramblings will encourage others to walk deeper, run harder and press further on.