“Today everything changed”.
I have journals for each of our kids. I started our first two children’s journals when they were still in the womb. I started our third child’s journal pretty soon after we began the adoption process. Sometimes I’m really good at writing in them; some times they go months untouched collecting dust on the shelf. They have everything from Bible verses to paragraphs copied from books to little scribbled quotes to my prayers for them. But mainly they are just love letters from me to them: reciting our moments together, little glimpses of their lives; small moments that I could easily forget to share, big moments that I could forget to ponder. I wrote the above words in our third child’s journal two weeks ago today (on August 24).
The day before, Thursday, we had gotten a call.
Actually, Ben got a call … a call from Leah, our adoption coordinator.
I was sitting at our dinning room table, my journal open when he texted me that Leah had called him and he would call me in a few minutes.
It’s not normal for him to text me every time someone calls him, so I sat on pins and needles for several minutes with Tuck and Libby in the room next door oblivious, and my journal closed and forgotten. I knew there was some kind of news. I just didn’t know what kind.
Just a few days before someone had asked us: “How long before you bring your child home?” We gave our standard … “not really sure, but maybe another year-and-half or two years” reply that we had been giving for months. It wasn’t what we wanted, but we had accepted it as reality.
My phone rang.
Our standard reply was about to change.
Leah told Ben that things had sped up tremendously and that THEY HAD A CHILD FOR US.
IF we felt comfortable moving forward.
This would reduce the wait time to bring our child home to about 6-8 months AND our time to raise the funds to the same (could be more, could be less … as we are learning; who really knows?). Our fundraising efforts would have to move from a slow and steady jog to a full-on sprint.
Ben came home late that night, and we sat on the couch stunned. We talked and prayed. And we went to bed with no clear answer but with one question spinning in our minds: “How could we say no?”
The next morning, we woke up with pretty much the same thought … we were scared (OK, terrified — about the money), but we were taking the leap. Our child was waiting for us in Africa; we would sprint all the way there if we had to.
He had faithfully provided each step thus far; would we stop trusting Him now? We needed to raise nearly $20,000 (I know what you’re thinking … trust me, I feel like I could throw up just typing that number).
$20,000 (could be more, could be less depending on cost of flights… who really knows?) in six months.
That afternoon, we sat at the dinning room table again, Ben’s laptop in front of us, and we “met” our child. I held up Ben’s phone and took pictures of us to capture the moment.
(I know what you’re thinking now too … Meegan Weaver
has some serious competition.)
We sat there huddled together, devouring every piece of information they had on the first seven months of our child’s life, and we stared at the five pictures we had, trying to memorize every detail of that sweet face with the big brown eyes.Our child. “Today everything changed.”Our daughter.
I think Ben and I walked around in a daze most of the weekend, our thoughts going a million miles an hour trying to process how much had to be accomplished, how much had to fall in place before we could make her an official part of our family. But there was also a new overpowering strength welling within us … our child had a face, a gender, a name, an age, and we would knock down walls, we would scale mountains, we would fight like never before to not leave her as an orphan — to bring her home. My heart felt like it was going to burst with happiness while my mind was struggling to trust, struggling to wrap itself around our reality.
I opened up my journal flipping back to Thursday, the day we had gotten the call. I couldn’t remember what I had written before Ben texted me, and suddenly I felt compelled to know. One sentence:08/23/12
“For Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us …”
Sunday morning, we went to church and shared the few details we could give with our Sunday School class and asked for prayers as we proceeded. After class, as people filed out of the room, a couple we barely knew pulled us aside and handed us a folded check and said “hope this helps a little.” I gave the wife a surprised hug, and we ineptly tried to express our appreciation. Ben and I walked down the hall to the worship service, and he opened the check and handed it to me.
That still small voice “I will fight for you
. I will scale the mountains. I will knock down the walls. I will not leave her as an orphan.”
I cried as I walked: overjoyed by His faithfulness, overwhelmed by the generosity and beauty of His Bride, overcome by all that had transpired, all that He had accomplished in just four days.
We still have a long ways to go, but we are not running alone.We have a little girl to bring home!
*thanks Meegan Weaver for the incredible gift of these pictures, your sweet friendship, and your continuous encouragement throughout our journey
A couple of months ago, I gathered up blankets and quilts and sheets and carried them downstairs. I went to work transforming our dining room table into a magical fort for a fun filled day. Tuck and Libby were so excited. Libby followed her brother around, both of them scooping up toys and carrying load after load of books, puzzles, and stuffed animals to their little hideout. Once they had their space set up adequately with pillows and flashlights and all their earthly treasures, they played underneath for a few minutes. And then they were done.
But Tuck was so excited to show his daddy. He begged me not to take down the fort so we ate our lunch as a picnic on
the living room floor and left our monument of 20 minutes of work and 5 minutes of play up until the end of the day. By 5 p.m., Tuck could hardly stand it any longer. He sat on the couch, looking out the window for his fellow dragon slayer to walk through the door. Waiting.
So many people around me are waiting. Waiting to finish school. Waiting to sell a house. Waiting to move. Waiting for a baby. Waiting for a baby to start sleeping through the night. Waiting for healing. Waiting for Mr. Right to come along. Waiting to be back under the same roof as loved ones. Waiting for answers. Waiting for relief. Waiting for their child to be well. Waiting for financial stability. Waiting for time to heal wounds. Waiting for reconciliation. Waiting for a promotion. Waiting to feel loved. Waiting for support. Waiting for peace. Waiting for summer. Waiting for life not to seem so hard.
February marked one year since Ben and I decided we were pursuing adoption. When we passed that date I have to admit I was discouraged. We were discouraged. We thought we’d be further along in the process by then. In my discouragement, I pulled out my journals from the past year and there in my notes were the themes that My Redeemer had been writing across my heart for the past 12 months…. trust, dependence, sacrifice, patience. I could see the whole picture in those pages … verse after verse, quotes and scribbled prayers all pointing to His faithfulness … even in the waiting.
In the waiting, we’ve been reminded about the importance of community. We need it. Others around us desperately need it. The fellowship of His church is part of HIS carefully woven plan.
And we have been overwhelmed by the community that we have been shown. We’ve smiled over emails and blog comments, notes, and Facebook messages of encouragement. We’ve received kind words from strangers, donations from people we don’t even know. We’ve been standing in the hall in church when someone slipped cash in our hand and left us grappling for words. We’ve sat stunned in our living room as we’ve opened checks inside envelopes. Friends have cared for our kids while we’ve had a homestudy, a yard sale, attended an adoption seminar, and even while I’ve sewn. Sweet sisters have sat at my dining room table cutting out appliqués, organizing and folding what feels like a million t-shirts, cutting tags, and making me smile through my exhaustion. Our college students have amazed us by their thoughtfulness and generosity. People have bought shirts, attended painting classes, donated to and helped with our yard sale, plastered our cause all over Facebook. My own sweet little four-year-old has written two “checks” for us “to help with the adoption” (pretty sure those are frame-worthy). We’ve laughed and cried from astonishment and joy of how He is using people to minister to us, to walk beside us, to remind us of His faithfulness, to water our mustard seeds, to encourage us while we wait.
And bit by bit, month by month, He is sowing His Peace in our hearts. We’ve felt the “village” surrounding us and through the “village” we’ve felt HIM. We have one year behind us and still several years to go. And in the last two months, on hard days, I’ve had to pull out my journals again to trace my finger over His promises. And I am sure I will have to read them many times again. But His promises are there, always in His Word for me to see, for me to cling to. Our waiting is not in vain because even it is part of His intricate plan. We trudge on together and we fill ourselves up with HIS promises and remind ourselves daily that sometimes the long way is God’s best. And we pray that our little family will know how to be the village for others who are in the waiting too.
Ben came home that afternoon and four little arms tackled him at the door and led him to their fort. And being the dad that he is, he immediately disappeared under the table into an imaginary world where colorful fabrics make the best castle.
Three people went under but all I could see were one pair of feet sticking out. And it was a reminder to me. My prayer: that while we wait, we will be transformed more and more into Our Father’s image, that in the end … people will see a whole lot less us of us and a whole lot more of Our Savior.
It’s sitting at HIS feet while we wait that we find our Peace. And we are privileged to be sitting at His feet with so many beside us.
Four weeks ago (Feb.16th)
I sat in the warmth of a sunbeam on our living room floor. I told My Father how sorry I was for my lack of faith and my lack of prayer. I had been trudging around in uncertainty of how the next set of funds were going to come, striving away with fundraisers, forgetting the most important thing… to daily ask HIM to be a part of them, for HIM to show HIS power, for HIS provision and glory to be made known. I committed to be intentional daily in my prayers about our fundraising efforts and in my journal I wrote “forgive me for not asking more frequently, for not believing in Your power and provision. I ask now… I ask that we raise the money for our next payment by the end of March. Help me to trust. Help me to believe. Please Lord, You get the glory”.
As of Monday night (March 5), we have all of the money (and then some… a good start on our next payment) in our adoption account to start our dossier.
There is more to say, more gratitude to give but for right now I’m going to keep it short and sweet because I can’t find any other words that seem adequate enough.
Thank you for being a part of the journey.
“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thes. 5:24
Sunday morning, Ben and Tucker stood outside our church, on one of the coldest mornings we have had this winter, looking at the cross. Earlier in the week, during our family Bible time, we read the story of the 12 men being sent by Moses to explore the land (the land of milk and honey) the Lord promised to be theirs. The men found the majestic land and all of its bounty, but when they returned their perspective was jaded by the fortified walls and the giants that lived there. Caleb and Joshua tried to persuade the Israelites that God would be faithful and would give them what He had promised. But the people were overcome with fear, and no one listened. So instead, the Israelites missed out on their promised land and spent 40 years wondering without direction in the desert.
Afterwards, we discussed the story, and I asked Tucker, “What places are scary to you?” With all seriousness in his eyes, and no hesitation in his voice, his answer was simply “church”. Wanting desperately to get to the root of this fear that we had known about for a while, I prodded him gently until I got more.
“The building is big, and I am afraid of the cross”.
Oh, how often I am afraid of things that seem too BIG — too BIG, I believe, for God to accomplish, too BIG a trial for Him to carry me through. Like the Israelites, I wander aimlessly missing God’s best because I’m afraid to trust. And oh, I wish I didn’t have to admit it, didn’t need to write it but I am often afraid of the cross. Afraid to die to it. Afraid to pick it up. Afraid of what it might cost me.
Recently, my fears have been threatening to drown me.
I have fear of the unknown, fear that we will keep hearing the word “longer” for our adoption (like we did on Friday), and that in a few years it will be “a few more”. Fear that we won’t be able to raise this $5,000 (let alone the remaining $16,000). Fear that the country will close its doors on adoption halfway through our process. I fear writing a blog ... I am afraid of criticism, afraid of putting our family’s life open for other people’s opinions. I have fear about the long flight back with a little one who doesn’t know us, doesn’t know we won’t abandon him/her, doesn’t know we’ve loved him/her for a long time. Fear about the transition for our family. Fear about raising a little one struggling with the scars of a broken past. Fear of people’s response to our bi-racial family. Fear of how I will respond to people’s response. Fear that He will lead us to the hard places.
And if I were to recite all of my fears involving our adoption I could fill up the book my mom’s been wanting me to write with just a list of them.
Sunday morning, Ben took Tucker to get close to what he feared and to even reach out and touch it. And as they walked back, hand in hand, Daddy asked son “See that didn’t hurt, did it?” And somehow Ben managed not to laugh when our 4-year- old responded, “Yes, it did! It pinched me!”
That’s what I must do. I must reach out and take hold of the cross and all of the pain that goes with it. Sometimes, the small things I’m afraid of happen and sometimes the BIG … and they hurt so much it’s hard to breathe. And sometimes I’m simply drowning in my fears of “what if”. But as I tread water and wait until the very last minute (as I so often do) to throw my hand up and grope blindly in the darkness for His, the Prince of Peace pulls me up gasping for air. Then we carry the heavy, painful cross together and Jesus reminds me that I was never meant to carry it alone.
And in just the tiniest way, I get to share in His suffering. And then I get to share in His glory (Romans 8:17).
And there is nothing better.
*We covet your prayers right now as we are facing some “speed bumps” in our process and have some hard decisions to make. Will you pray with us?
I’ve been walking around in a fog for the last few weeks: my perspective greatly impacted by the book Kisses from Katie
. I have wanted to tell everyone that has come into my house, everyone I’ve talked to on the phone, shared an email with, seen at church, the lady in the checkout line. But in my fog the only words I can think to string together into a coherent sentence sound a little ridiculous even to me “Do you know that there are millions of poor, starving, dying, hurting people in our world?!”
Of course you do, and so do I. We’ve seen them on our TV’s, on our computer screens, at our schools, under our bridges, and even down the street from us. We’ve served them on trips or places we volunteer; we talk about helping them in our churches. I could share a lot of statistics with you. But maybe you’re like me. I’ve heard all the statistics, and my heart hurts, and my hands feel compelled to act -- until a few minutes later I go to Target and find something cool on clearance. And I forget. But I don’t want to forget anymore.
I want to keep living in this uncomfortable place that I’ve been for the last few weeks of crying for starving, dying people I don’t know. I want to keep wrestling over what things I should buy and which things I shouldn’t because I don’t want to live in excess while millions of people live in need. I want to keep praying with my family about how we should simplify our lives so that we can give more sacrificially, more generously, and I want us to do it. I want to keep feeling this keen awareness as I sit down to eat that there are people in my own town wondering if they will be able to feed their children tomorrow. I want to remember as I go to the pharmacy to pick up our prescriptions that there are people in Africa who lie dying in hospitals because they can’t pay for medical care. I want to ache as I tuck my kids in at night because there were thousands of children who were sold into slavery today. I want to remember as I lay down in my bed (that has more pillows than the number of people that are in my family) that there are people sleeping on park benches and in cardboard boxes and entire families living in one room huts. And as our little ones tackle Ben and me as we share a hug, I want to remember that there are lonely people in need of someone to wrap their arms around.
And my Father’s plan is to set the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). And as we move forward on our road to give an orphan a family tree, I want to trust in His plan
. I want to find peace and hope in that as we do this tiny
little thing in the scheme of the world’s overwhelming orphan crisis, that we are doing a big
thing in the world of one orphan. I want to wake up each day on this road and take small steps with shaking feet and trembling hands and embrace this new level of trust that He is calling us to.
And while we wait, I want to stay on my knees and be willing to stay there and get dirty as I serve. I want us to keep asking Him about what we can do, how we can give, who we can love TODAY. And Jesus, help me to remember that You spent most of Your time on earth with the least of these. So today, let me draw near to Your
people and all the while draw near to You