Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I feel it in my bones

So, we were watching Peter Pan, the 2003 version, and at the end all the Lost Boys come back with Wendy and most of them get adopted by Mr. Darling, except one: Slightly. He was late to the adoption party. Aunt Millicent asked him what was wrong, and of course he was sad because he didn't have a new mommy. Then, after being hit by Tink with some fairy dust (which apparently makes you fly and have a heart for orphans), she said, "Well, I'm your Mommy." "How do you know?" says Slightly. "I feel it in my bones!" she replies.

That hit pretty close to home. Now I have another answer for her when she asks.

How do I know? I feel it in my bones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Be a Mother Is a Call to Suffer

This sermon, To Be a Mother Is a Call to Suffer, by John Piper, was a perfectly timed reminder of my God's sovereignty today.  I am reminded that He is sovereign over everything- on the good days and the bad.  On the days when we've have heard more whining than we can stand- He is soverign.   During the third week in a row that someone in our home is sick- He is soverign.  On the days the wait for an answered prayer seems too long- He is soverign.  And on the glorious day when we are blessed to receive the desires of your heart- on that day too He is soverign.

 
Here's a quotation (from the sermon) I hope will encourage you today:
Then Steve Saint looked up at these twelve hundred people and told them the difference between the unbelieving world and the followers of Jesus. He said, "For them, the pain is fundamental and the joy is superficial because it won't last. For us, the pain is superficial and the joy is fundamental."


For all of you who are Mothers and those waiting to be made Mothers, I pray that you feel our Father close by your side today- in joy and in sorrow. 

And as we busily prepare to celebrate the birth of our King I pray God's peace and JOY be with us all.




Monday, December 19, 2011

Franey Family

Meet the Franey Family!  This sweet family took time out of their family Christmas to let me snap a few shots of them.  In fact, I've been photographing this sweet family since 2008!  As an added bonus for me I'm related to 1/3 of this family :).  Niles's brother, Matt, is married to the youngest Franey, Marie.  I love this family and I've loved watching them change and GROW over the years!  Here are just a few of the ones I loved from the day...

These 3 cousins are just too precious!  I couldn't decide which one I like better this one...


or this one.  So I just posted both :)


Such a big group! 



Shannon and Chris were celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary this day!  Congratulations guys!



This is my sweet sister-in-law and 2 of her precious girls



So happy!



This beautiful family is so close to my heart!!  Love them all!


And to close, like The Ingerslews, I captured the perfect moment for their Christmas Card this year...
I just LOVE silly faces and I love this family! 

Thanks again guys for letting me document your beautiful family all these years! 
And thank you for your support and help to bring our baby girl home. 
I pray you all have a blessed Christmas and a peace filled 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ingerslew Family

It was my absolute PLEASURE to photograph one of my favorite families last weekend-
meet the Ingerslews!
This family is very close to the Ferguson's hearts!  Sophie is my bible study leader and she watches my boys each week so I can attend staff meetings.  My Calvin has absolutely no problem being in the nursery the weeks Ms. Sophie is in there with him :).  This beautiful family of 7 is a blessing to our entire church family.  Here are my favorite pictures of the shoot- enjoy!


After 4 boys Sophie was THRILLED when one of her twins was a girl!







And then the portraits...








So beautiful- both inside and out!



The boys wanted to end the shoot with an outfit change and more "manly" poses.  This is what they came up with

And to close, here is one for the Christmas card...






just kidding.
:)

Thanks guys!  Looking forward to making this a yearly tradition!  Much love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letter to Ruthie's Birthmother

I'm pretty sure that one of the most difficult things I was asked to do during the homestudy process was to write a letter to Ruthie's birthmom.  For weeks (and weeks!) I stared at a blank computer screen unable even to begin to say what was on my heart. I even had trouble putting to words our family story worrying too much about what was appropriate or would show us in the best light. One night as I tried to write for what felt like the 100th time I just gave up!  I said to Niles, "I have no idea even how to begin and I just want to quit!"  Being the loving and patient man he is he took the laptop from me and began to typeIn a matter of just a few minutes he had simply and concisely started our letter thanking the woman reading it for all the difficult decisions she had so bravely faced. It was perfect!  When Niles read me what he had written I finally realized that I wasn't creating a marketing piece for our family- that this pressure I felt to say everything perfectly, sensitively, eloquently, etc. was not what the Lord (nor the agency!) wanted from us!  What our Father wanted us to share with the young lady that would read our portfolio was the wonders HE had accomplished in our life so far.

In Daniel Chapter 2 it says

It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
So that's what we did :).  Please continue to pray with us for Ruthie's birthmom... this is surely one of the most difficult times of her life.  Pray for her heart, for wisdom in her decisions, for her strength and for peace. 


*On a side note- we wrote the letter in my voice to give it a "woman to woman" feel but the content was written by both of us.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for picking up our adoption portfolio. Thank you for being at an adoption agency making some of the toughest decisions you have probably ever made. And thank you for giving your child life. Niles and I would like to tell you a bit about our story, about our family, and what our hopes and prayers are for the child the Lord has called us to adopt.

Niles was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, brought us to the same city at just the right moment- when we were high school freshmen.  One year later, Niles asked me to be his girlfriend, and we’ve been together ever since!  We spent the rest of our high school years growing-up together.  After graduation we went to two different colleges and commuted on weekends to see each other.  Those four years of college were difficult as we began our adult lives in different places, but the Lord used that time to grow us closer to Him as individuals. We were engaged the December of our senior year and were married in July, almost 7 years from our first date.  Niles and I have now been married for 7 years and have been together 14 – close to half of our lives!  I would describe Niles as: a faithful follower of Christ, affectionate husband, loving father, hardworking employee and loyal friend.  When I asked him to describe me in a sentence he said: she’s a beautiful woman, who, because of her love for God, loves her husband and children more than they could ever ask.  As time has gone by, we have grown closer to the Lord as husband and wife and continue to fall more in love each year.

We are both fortunate to work in professions that we are passionate about.  For the last 7 years Niles has worked for a major investment management company.  He has had several roles in the company and currently works in the area of High-Net Worth Client Relationship Management.  Niles enjoys being able to use his knowledge of the financial world to help clients meet their financial goals.  This knowledge is also quite helpful in planning for our family financial goals as well!  I am blessed to be a part-time, work from home mom.  During the kids naps in the afternoons I work as our church’s Children’s Ministry Coordinator for students newborn-5th grade.  I enjoy spending time training and empowering the children’s ministry volunteers to share the gospel with the children in their classes.  I also love being with the students as well and I’m pretty sure they teach me something new each week!

The Lord has blessed us with two beautiful boys, Turner and Calvin.  Turner is a sweet, inquisitive preschooler that loves soccer and superheroes.  Calvin is a serious, determined, curious and active 2-year-old.  He loves cars and his snuggly-sheep and is REALLY excited about becoming a big brother soon!

When we are asked “why do you want to adopt” the short answer is always “because God told us to!” But, the answer to such an important question is never that simple. Our heart for adoption began after Calvin was born.  The pregnancy was a difficult one for me, and we were advised to wait to have any more biological children because of my condition. Through prayer and a lot of godly council, we actually decided to “try on” being done with having children. It was during that period that we felt a solid, deep conviction and calling to adopt. Since then, our hearts have grown bigger and bigger for adopting a baby. We believe that adoption is a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. No matter what we’ve done, or where we’re from, He has brought us into his family and adopted us as sons and daughters by faith in Jesus. This is our heart for the child the Lord has called us to adopt.

Our hopes and prayers for this baby are that she, just as our sons, will grow up to love God and love people well.  We want to teach her that her value comes from being a part of God’s beautiful family, and that the Lord delights in her. 
Additionally, many in our church family have a contagious passion for adoption.  18 families in fact have adopted or are in the process of adopting!  We are thankful that the child the Lord brings us will have several friends growing up with a similar background of adoption, and a community around her to support her.

We want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this letter and consider our family for your baby.  In the pages of this portfolio you will see pictures of people eager to welcome and care for the baby God will bring us.  Please be assured that if you chose us your baby would be cherished as a part of our family and a part of this incredible community.  We pray that the Lord’s peace be with you as you make your decision.

Much love and gratitude,
Niles, Maria, Turner and Calvin

Monday, December 12, 2011

We Wait Eagerly

PAPER PREGNANT.


Yep, now it's really, REALLY official. I know I've been saying it for a while now, as we've inched to this stage of our journey... but now it's really, really, REALLY true! We met with Sharon, the INCREDIBLE director of Christian Family Services in Rock Hill today. When a meeting begins with a hug you'd give a long awaited friend, is peppered throughout with joyful and heartfelt tears, and ends hand in hand in prayer-  I have to believe our Father is well pleased!

We turned in our adoption portfolio, the last of our home study funds, a final form... and now we wait. We wait for our Father to bring Ruth's birthmom to Sharon. We wait for Him to give Sharon incredible wisdom and discernment as she meets with the birthmom. We wait for the Lord to make my cellphone ring with the call we've been waiting for months for. We wait for the Lord to make our decision clear. And we wait for the Lord to bring Ruth safely into this world and into our arms. We wait...

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans8




Thank you to all of you that have faithfully lifted us up in prayer up to this point in our adoption journey. We are so blessed to call you all family. We are eager to bring Ruth into this beautiful family of Christ that will walk along side her as she grows to know and love our Lord.

Thank you to our loving and supportive "birth families!"  We love you all so much!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I feel strange...

...and I don’t think it’s the stomach bug that going around… well maybe that might be part of what I feel.. but not all of it.

I feel strangely distant from the baby girl God is going to bring into our lives. 
I have been working for the last 6 months, almost daily, to bring her home.  Applications, biographies, background checks, doctor’s visits, birthmother letter, adoption portfolio… and now- I’m done. Now there is nothing else for me to do… I’m supposed to just wait… As a mother of 2 biological children this waiting, bystander role feels so peculiar.  As my boys grew inside me the bond was tangible and my role was obvious from beginning to end.  Even at the end of each pregnancy, when I could barely move or sleep, I felt connected and needed by the baby.  I find myself wondering now that my work is done how can the bond and feelings be sustained as we wait to be matched ? 

I wonder, is this what some expectant fathers feel like?  Distant, seemingly powerless, waiting? 

Back in September I wrote about having difficulty waiting on the Lord when it came to making decisions.  In that post the Lord brought to mind Psalm 37 which I returned to today for some encouragement.  Today after reading the same passage what really spoke to my heart was the instruction to “Trust in [The LORD] and he will act” and that his desire is for me to “Delight in Him HE will give me the desire of my heart.”  Such a simple concepts but such a weighty charge! 

My Father wants me to TRUST that HE will bring my Ruth home and TRUST that he will prepare my heart to be her mom.

The ugly truth is that I don’t feel like this is possible- I don’t feel like my heart will be ready.  I don't feel useful or helpful at this point.  I don’t feel like my excitement will be sustained through the wait. I don’t feel like it’s possible for me to bond with her without actively working to bring her home.

AND YET… from this moment forward, regardless of how I feel, I will decide to trust Him.   Just like I have to decide to love Niles (on the rare occasion) when I don’t feel like it, I have to decide to trust my Father in His Word. 

So this is the truth I will preach to myself:

I trust in my LORD that he will prepare my heart for a baby I can no longer work to bring home.  I will trust in my LORD that the most useful thing I can do for Ruth is to acknowledge Him and not my own understanding.  I will trust in my LORD that the nesting feeling I desire will come in his perfect timing.  I will delight in Him and trust him to renew my excitement.  I will trust in my LORD believing that he will sustain us, lacking nothing, as we wait for his will to be made perfect.

Thank you all for your continued prayes and support as we enter this faith-building stage of the adoption process!  Please pray with me that our hearts will sing from Psalm 130
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The only two left laughing

Well, all the paperwork is mostly behind us. It's kinda like that period where you wife's morning sickness is gone. The immediate pain of things is not as apparent, at least to me, and the reality of being a Dad starts to settle in. So, I thought I would take some space on this here blog to share exactly how that aforementioned reality has been affecting me. 

I remember with my boys, I thought about what they would look like and what it would be like to finally have them home. I often pictured myself on my back porch smoking a pipe, playing guitar while the boys went crazy playing in the back yard. (Writing that seems a bit weird, but you know, it's a CS Lewis/Stevie Ray/my Dad kinda of thought.) Either way, the point is that I caught myself thinking frequently about being with them. And, it's happening again. 

Unless it's my wife, when I see other women, especially of mixed race, I'm thinking of Ruthie - thinking about what she'll look and sound like. Here's a random thought I've had lately: I'm looking forward to being an old man, God willing, and having my daughter in my life. Maria and Ruthie will be the only two left laughing at my jokes when I'm too old to remember how dumb they are. I'm looking forward to Daddy Dates. I'm not gonna let some hipster punk be the first to take her out. Daddy will set the standard of how she is to be loved and cared for. On a similar note, I'm looking forward to buying more guns. I guess I'm going to need them. I'm protective enough of my sons, how much more for my daughter? Answer: .357 Magnum; just sayin'. 

Mostly, I just want her here. To bring her up in the instruction of the Lord with the example of Maria is the best scenario I could imagine. They'll be the only two left laughing, and I can't wait. 

Jordan and Jessica- Future Mr. and Mrs!

Last weekend my sister and I had the pleasure of photographing Jordan and Jessica, a newly-engaged couple.  We shot at the bride-to-be's current home in Chester and it was beautiful!  Cotton fields, wooden fences and a rusted-building- my kind of shoot!  Jessica and Jordan I pray the Lord's beautiful face shine upon you both as you prepare for your wedding and many, many years of happy marriage!  Here are my favorites from the day.

It's always a good feeling when someone is laughing on the very first picture!



This cotton field was dangerous but BEAUTIFUL!

Love this one!

I didn't really have any trouble getting these two to smooch...



Love the sweet expressions in this one








For some reason this one reminds me of the TWILIGHT series...


These two are seriously hard core

Maybe not THAT hard core ;)

And one close shot of the BLING!

Jordan and Jessica, thank you guys so much for letting us take your engagement pics!  And thanks for your support to bring our baby girl home.  Readers, stay tuned for pic I took of my parents and my sweet assistant and her hubby!

Much love and gratitude for all your prayers and support,
Maria

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A new friendship. A new partnership in the gospel.

Hello! 

It has been an excitingly busy few weeks in the Ferguson household!  A week ago Monday our social worker came for her final visit, during which she interviewed our boys and asked us a few additional questions.  Then by the middle of the week our home study was typed and ready for the adoption agency to review and APPROVE!  We are officially homestudy approved J!  In a week Niles and I will go to the adoption agency to meet the director in person and give her our adoption portfolio (which is also done and ready to go- woot! woot!).  Then we are officially paper pregnant and just waiting for the Lord to bring us our Ruthc.  It’s hard to believe how much the Lord has accomplished in these last few months.  A task that in moments felt too daunting to ever complete is now coming to a close thanks to his grace.   The Lord has graciously given us the patience and endurance we’ve needed to get to this point and we want to praise His name!

The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him!
Exodus 15:2

We also want to share some more exciting news!  Niles and I have been connected with a Jesus-loving crafter/blogger that has a heart for adoption!  Her name is Vanessa and I’m so grateful to call her a new friend and supporter. Vanessa blogs and crafts and gives part of her proceeds to families that are adopting!  What a beautiful idea, right?

On her site, Designs By Sessa, Vanessa says:  I know that the reason why I blog & create isn't for myself or even YOU, sweet reader! It is to make Jesus known and to let the love of Christ be shown to those that are really in need! Mainly it has been through families adopting a child, but as time goes on, I hope to support and raise awareness for other Christian ministries, as well!”

We are blessed to be one of Vanessa’s newest DBS families.  Today she featured us on her blog-Meet the Fergusons.  Vanessa is exceptionally talented and I want to encourage you to visit her shop- her crafts would make beautiful and personal Christmas gifts! 

Vanessa, we are ever so grateful for partnership in both prayer and fundraising and we pray that the Lord continues to bless you and your business!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:3-6

Much love and blessings to you all! –Maria



PS- Vanessa is also partnering with dear friends of ours, The Carrolls, as they work to bring home a sibling group from Ethiopia!  Check out their DBS Family post.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Haynes Family Favorites

Hello!  I'd love to introduce you to another lovely family- meet the Haynes family (and extended family!)  Mandy and Chris are two of the MOST amazing children's ministry teachers at our church and sweet friends.  I had the pleasure of photographing them and their extended family last weekend.  On a side note- this ENTIRE family has been blessed with some of the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen!  Thank you Haynes family for a great shoot!  Here are my favorites from the day-

Meet the Haynes Family!


Ok, I was serious about a family with AMAZING eyes... check this out



She's so beautiful she could be a doll!





sweet cousins








I think this one is my favorite from the whole day...



More sweet cousin love!




And a silly one to close.  Thank you again guys!  It was a pleasure!