Sunday, February 15, 2015

How It All Started

I was driving down the tollway, talking to the Lord and letting Him know how thankful I am for our two children, and asking Him not to bless us with any surprise babies. I felt His response, "Do you trust me?" "Well, of course I do, Lord! You know best!" and again, "Do you TRUST me?" "Uh, yes...of course I do!" and once more, "Do you trust Me?" "I really do...what are you getting at?" and what I got next made me wonder - "Hang on then, because it's going to be a wild ride!"

Uh, ok. Wonder what that means! Fast forward a bit to March 2012, and I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's book Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess as prompted by my high school and youth group friend. And I feel God laying adoption on my heart to grow our family. I prayed quite a bit about it, and then told my husband what I was feeling was from God. He chuckled and said, "Well I'm definitely not getting that!" and I told him to pray about it. He asked for a week, and we would talk again the next Sunday. Two days later, he agreed that we were being led to grow our family through adoption. We prayed a lot about it and asked the Lord to make it clear where we were supposed to adopt from.

We researched many different countries and their requirements, keeping in mind that we have two biological children who need us around, so some of the country requirements would keep us from choosing that particular country. We finally landed on Haiti - reasonable travel and stay requirements, it was closer to home than most other places, etc. Even though at the time the marriage requirement was 10 years and we had been married almost 8, we felt it was the country we were supposed to adopt from.

So we applied with a couple of different agencies and then started our paper chase. We didn't get very far into the process before we had to wait until we reached that 10-year-anniversary mark. But then in October of 2013, the law in Haiti changed to 5 years and we started back up with our paper chase. It took many months to procure the half-ream of paper (literally) needed to start our home study. Part of the hold-up was just having the money to get started. A precious friend of mine sent me a message and asked if I'd meet up with her for coffee because she wanted to chat with me about our adoption process. I hadn't seen her in a while, but she's one of those friends with whom I can pick back up where we left off - like no time has passed at all - and we sat in a Starbucks coffee shop for a good 3 hours talking about life and our adoption and just catching up on things. And then a couple of weeks later, she called me and said she had talked to her husband, and they wanted to pay for our home study. I had told her during our meeting how much we were needing (it was a LOT of money - we not only had to pay for the study itself, but also pay in advance for the twelve post-placement visits that are required at months 1,2,3,4,5,6,12,18 as well as years 2,3,4,and 5, at $350-550 *each*). When I talked with her, I didn't know she meant pay for the ENTIRE home study. I thought maybe she meant they wanted to help contribute toward it. So when I followed up with our home study agency (which is different from our adoption agency), and asked what the balance due was on our account, they informed me we had no balance. WHAT?! Oh my - the tears flowed once again as I marveled at the greatness of God and of my Christian brother and sister who walked in obedience where the Lord called them, and provided 100% completely for our home study!

I do need to backtrack a little bit - in January 2014, Brad's maternal grandfather passed away. We had set aside a certain amount of money that we needed for our initial adoption agency application. And then we had these unexpected travel expenses, so that money needed to be used. While we were in Chicago for the services, a sweet friend from my high school and youth group days called me and said they wanted to send us a check to help with our adoption expenses. And it was exactly what we needed to replace the funds we'd spent on travel and get our application started.

There have been times I have questioned our calling to adopt. And every time, the Lord sends me a message of affirmation in various ways. Sometimes it's through people sharing a story with me. Recently, I had one friend send me money via Paypal, saying she felt the Lord leading her to contribute to our adoption expenses. I had another friend generously donate not just her commission, but an additional amount toward our expenses for a Jamberry party I had earlier this month. People are walking alongside us in prayer and other support. Two sweet friends helped me write a song, that we are hoping to use in some way to raise additional funds.

My God is my provider - He has called us to this process, there is no doubt in my mind any longer about that. And He will walk us through every moment, giving us exactly what we need in the exact moment that we need it. How wonderful it is to walk in obedience to His will!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I saw this word art on Pinterest a while back and it struck a nerve at the time. I struggle to remember that there is only one of me, and to quote Martha Graham, "There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. 

The world will not have it."

When I read the pinned quote, my mind jumped immediately to how many ways I consider myself not good enough. But while in the car driving home from the grocery store this morning, I realized that it works the other way as well. To compare what I have to what others do not have, to wrestle constantly with why I was not born into a life of poverty, has the great potential to steal the joy of my many blessings.

I asked the Lord the other morning why I'm so richly blessed. The answer I got back was, "I've blessed you so you can be a blessing." And so I try to start each day asking Him to show me how I can be a blessing to others.

Well, good grief. I hit publish on the last post, and then looked at my list of blog posts. This one has been sitting in draft mode since November 2012. Y'all. That's just sad. So I'm getting out of my own way, stopping the blocking my own expression, and the world will have it. Who knows how I was going to continue on with what I had started to say. But the first three paragraphs feel important, so here you go. :)

Just Call Me Moses

I suppose it's time to breathe some life back into this old blog. The Lord has been calling me to write, and I have been resisting. Which is crazy, because when I felt Him calling us to adoption, I was much more willing to walk in obedience in THAT, than THIS. I can give you a million excuses as to why I don't want to write, can't write, am afraid to write, but it's time to get out of the way and walk in obedience in this seemingly small thing.

I was talking with my sweet friend (who shall remain nameless, I've dubbed her, "Snake") tonight, and told her about this calling and how I am saying no and refusing to obey, even though I know better. I KNOW BETTER! She said she was going to start calling me Moses, and that's the inspiration for the post title. She reiterated something Jennie Allen said this past weekend at the 2015 IF:Gathering - What if God shows us at the end of our lives what we missed out on by NOT walking in obedience to Him and doing the good works He created in advance for us to do? Ugh - I really do hate the thought of that. So here we go!

I love to write. I've had articles published in print magazines (crafting and scrapbooking magazines, 15 years ago, but whatever). I've written countless blogs, both just for myself and my own entertainment (look back through some of the OLD posts on here), and for others - The Hybrid Chick, and many digital scrapbook designers. So seriously, why I've refused to start writing again really makes no sense.

Other evidences that I'm supposed to be writing (even though - here's one excuse - I have no idea what to say, so I'll wax eloquent about nothings) - a podcast by Jami Ivey, a blog post by Jen Hatmaker, my conversation tonight with Snake (y'all don't know just how much this cracks me up - I know it's an inside joke and only one other person will be laughing as hard at it as I am. Bear with me. I'm new at this.), and then when I got in the car to come home, Carrie Gaul was sharing her story on Revive Our Hearts at that very moment about obedience to God with a specific calling. And I KNEW it was a word from Him, because I heard the words "rogue ducks" (as opposed to having your ducks in a row). My husband and I have thrown that "rogue ducks" phrase around pretty much our entire almost-12-year relationship (we met in March of 2003). It's not something I've ever heard anyone else say. I laughed out loud at the sweet way the Father knows me and loves me and lets me know He's communicating with me. And so I said, "Ok, ok, ok! I will go home and write!"

And so here I am. Taking that first step of obedience. Wanting nothing more than to ctrl+a and then hit delete, close the browser window, and walk away. But I'll hit the publish button and put my thoughts out there.

In the coming days (Lord, help me be faithful to this calling to write!), I will write about our adoption process - how we got started, where we are currently, and many of the ways the Lord has affirmed that this is also His calling for us. As my sweet friend said tonight, this adoption story will be part of our next child's story and what a treasure and gift it will be for us to have! And if I DON'T write, memory doesn't seem to be getting any better. How sad to miss out on the memories this precious time of waiting because I refused to walk in obedience over something so simple.