Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Scream of the Suffering

There is a scream that reverberates in the soul during suffering.  Perhaps you have heard it in the whispered "Why's"...  Maybe it echoed in the deep, gasping breaths of someone who was hurting.  But perhaps-- perhaps you have felt it.  Have heard it pounding in your head.  Have had it shaking your insides desperate to get out. 
So very often we push it down in shame, in "proper", in guilt, in frustration, in confusion...
At times it is a never- ending sound that torments.  It can build in intensity until it becomes all you hear -- the numbing of your voice & other's voices & life buzzing around you -- drowned out by the single, agonizing scream of heartache, usually of loss that is either very, very real or at the very least, very perceived to overwhelm your reality.
At times it feels as though it will go on forever.  Hearing anything beyond that scream becomes so difficult that you imagine it will never ever ever go away.  And sometimes that idea - the idea that the scream will be a part of your soul forever - becomes almost scarier than what has happened.
Oh if we only had a scream place, right??  A place where we didn't feel like that scream had to be stifled & shut down only to be ringing in our head driving us crazy.... A place where we could just scream it out and maybe, just maybe it would stop. 
There is such a place.
There is a place hidden away from everything & everyone.  No one else can enter that place with you - and in the hiding away there, it is safe.  You can enter & you can scream & fight & cry all you want. There, I am able to lay down the frustration, the confusion, the pain.  I lay down what is expected of me by others & even worse - the expectations I have for myself.  I lay down the guilt of every. single. one. of those expectations & every. single. piece. of both my real & my perceived despair & loss. I lay it all out & still - still I am protected & allowed to just be.
You see, in my life, time has marched on.  The scream of loss has dulled as I have crawled back into that place over & over & over again.  The other day I felt it rise in my head again while listening to a dear child sing a sweet Christmas song.  Suddenly the scream was there - "WHY NOT ONE MORE FOR US?  WHY WOULD YOU NOT ALLOW THAT FOR US??".  And I felt like I couldn't breathe & certainly couldn't think & my eyes shut in the pain of the scream of the loss of what could have been, what felt like it should have been, what most likely never will be. 
But I took a deep, shuttering breath & felt the tug.
"Come to the screaming place with Me."
So I did.  In that very moment I let go of the breath I was holding, entered the hiding place & let the scream out: "It still hurts so bad!  I still don't understand it!"  And then I took another deep breath...  I looked into the face of the child singing -  I smiled & I thanked God he was there & had a family who loved him... and the scream went away for yet another time.   
It still amazes me that in that place I can let out the scream.  There is no sense of proper there.  No sense of expectation there.  No sense of guilt there.  The loss is shared.  The burden of carrying it alone is lifted. 
Even more amazing - I. AM. INVITED.
And gift of all gifts - You are invited too.   All of us who realize we can't ignore the scream any longer.  Can't dull it anymore with all the good things we try to do to make it go away.  Can't make it dim by any distraction, any food, any tangible thing, any alcohol, any drugs, anything addictive that only distracts instead of allowing us to simply scream it out. 
Did you hear that??
We are told to just COME.  To come because we are the ones weary & burdened.  And He is the steady, able to carry our load. He is the rest, longing to share it with us.  He is the grace - the unearned, undeserved favor.  He is the peace that passes even our frail attempts at understanding. 
Goodness knows we could use just use a place like that.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11
(At Eternity's Gate by Van Gogh)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lessons from a 3rd Grade Teacher

Yesterday we lost our son's 3rd grade teacher tragically & unexpectedly.  We only had him for 8 days but we learned so much.... Here are things he taught us:
1.   To use the pronoun "we" in learning is acceptable. 
       Yes, my son was the one that sat in the classroom, but Mr. S had a way of bringing people in - and that included parents too.  If you could know how many former students call him their "favorite teacher ever", you would also hear echoing behind them a mom, a dad, a grandparent "hands down favorite teacher ever".  He looked into your eyes when he talked, he smiled A LOT, and he found a way to have a personal connection to everyone he talked with even the parents who didn't sit in the classroom.  So, yea, "we" miss him already. 
2.     To not go "by the book" is ok.
         We sat in Meet the Teacher, & over & over Mr. S. said "So we use this book & we will pull a lot from it, but I've found that kids learn best when we also supplement with this way too..."  I mean every. single. subject.  This pulled in my attention right away because first off, I'm a "by the book" momma (first-born & all), but also because I'm leary of the "this is our way" learning our school systems often get forced into.  To find a teacher who found what was "best" using a variety of methods & a variety of books told my husband & I three things right away: First, Mr. S cared about what was best for our child.  Second, Mr. S was going to put the time in even if it meant going beyond status quo.  Third, Mr. S was going to be a phenomenal teacher.  So, yea, we miss him already. 
3.       To show grace is a must & is an always. 
           It was the first Monday of school.  So my son was on his 4th day with a new teacher, 4th day of 3rd grade, and he came home without his homework.  (Insert big mom sigh right there.)  This is my responsible, hardworking, never-miss-a-beat son.  He has never forgotten.  I was miffed "What do you mean you forgot?? How could you forget?  Well (big harrumph of frustration), I will take you back to school this one time to get it but I'm not going to save you every time you do this son.  You need to be responsible, blah, blah, blah."
We got back to the school & I started in again "Mr. S may still be in the classroom so what are you going to say if you see him?" (I'm thinking my son has never had this teacher & what will this teacher think of him now????)
"I will say I'm sorry, I won't do it again & does he forgive me?" said my son.  I softened a bit - forgiveness forgetting a book?!?!  I had probably been too harsh.  "Ok, well just go get it," I replied.
When he came back into the van with the book, I asked if Mr. S was in the room.  Of course he was.  "So what did he say?"
"He said, 'Oh, buddy, it's okay.  Everyone forgets things sometimes.  Just today I forgot to do our spelling pretest.  It's okay to forget."
I admit I was stunned.  Stunned & ashamed.  Showing grace?  It shouldn't be so foreign to me.  Like Mr. S, I am a part of God's family - claim Him as my Savior though acceptance of what Christ did on the cross.  Why didn't grace roll off my tongue as easy?  It should.  Every day, every hour, every circumstance - it should.  I vowed to not forget that act of grace & kindness, and we both left the building feeling refreshed by a teacher's gracious response.
So, yea, we really miss him already.
4.       School should be fun.
          Have you heard it said before?  That school is a place for learning & what do the kids do in those buildings all day during that time & don't you think the time could be so much shorter if they just got the learning done & be done with it??...... But listen, these are teachers people.  They didn't hire on to be babysitters.  They went to get a 4 year degree, a 6 year degree because they wanted to educate, not be an entertainer.  But good teachers like Mr. S??  He still recognized that kids are just that - kids.  Not mini-grown-ups, not little adults.  And so he taught them as kids.  He made laughter a subject.  He made fun a part of their day.  He became known for his pranks, his jokes, his "If I see any of you wearing something with Cardinals on it, I will pull you into my classroom & cover it up with tape because you should be rooting for the Cubs" antics that endeared him to so many (my die-hard, Cardinal/baseball-loving son was certainly one of those).  He gave a lot of them nicknames too.  My son had one & I didn't even know it until after Mr. S wasn't in the building anymore.  Like my son wanted to keep it for himself & Mr. S.  I love that... And I love hearing the stories recently of how he made school fun for staff too.  You see, the truth is all the other teachers would say he was their hope-to-be-like-him favorite teacher too.  So, yea, we all miss him already. 
5.       Live love now. 
          Do you feel it?  Just reading all of these things oozes it.  You hear it in every joke, every story, every character quality.  Mr. S loved God.  He didn't just believe there was a God.  He didn't just walk into a church building.  He wasn't just a good person....
He knew God loved him, he knew God's Son. 
And he let it affect every part of his life.  He let that love play out in his life.
....How he treated his wife.  Do you know how many times I saw him with his arm around her shoulders or placed lovingly on her back?  I noticed these things over the past couple years we saw each other at school functions because it spoke to the man he was & the marriage they had.  He adored his wife.  He was protective of his wife.
....How he treated his kids.  A friend shared a story that he said the truth was he rarely sat down for a 3 hour baseball game.  Why?  Because why would he do that when he could be spending time with his kids.  Are you kidding me???  How many dads choose their kids on game-day over their favorite team?  The good ones do...
....How he treated his family.  He was the one that life centered around.  I don't want to speak into a place where I wasn't, but what I can tell you is he was deeply, deeply loved by his family & his wife's family.
....How he treated his friends.  He was exceptional.  You hear it over & over again.  Many, many people considered him a "friend" & those closest to him could tell you story after story of how something he said, something he did affected their lives. 
....How he treated his school students & staff.  Respect.  Kindness. Laughter.  Grace.  And more grace.
....How he treated those he coached.  Of course he coached too.  Because people who love the Lord like Mr. S did just gave & gave, service upon service.   So many stories of his sacrificial heart.  So many stories of his giving to those high school students & of course, to the other high school coaches.
....On & on & on it goes.  The ripples of the love he lived are widespread.  He had learned the joy of unconditional, never-ending LOVE and he poured it out over & over & over again. 

I am so very blessed to be in one of those ripples standing beside my son.  In that ripple, we felt the wave of Mr. S's loving ways surrounded by his fun & his kindness.  You taught us well Mr. S.  We learned your lessons.  We won't forget.  And even on the days we do, we'll remember you showed grace for those times too. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What no one ever said....

If you read my last post you found out that 2 years later after many twists & turns, we had to stop our adoption process.  It's sickening really...
And I cannot tell you how many times I run into the pain of it all & I gasp as it feels like my stomach is punched all over again...
The plates I had bought thinking how cute they would be for a "Welcome Home" party....
The little Keen shoes I bought - the only thing I allowed myself to buy for him - to take to the orphanage on our first visit...
The outgrown clothes of my oldest sonshine that I had been saving & saving...
The baseball glove of my oldest who has desperately wanted a brother, not to mention his bat, the small soccer ball, the small, plastic basketball hoop... We tried baby, God knows we tried...
And the hands - the hands of every little black toddler I see make me internally weep.

No one ever said that it may not work out.
Oh, I suppose it was somewhere in the fine print, but no one ever said it....
They tell you it will be hard, yes... but they tell you that there are millions of orphans waiting for a home such as yours.
They tell you that it may take a lot of waiting, yes... but if you just hold out there will be a child because aren't there so many of them & so little of you?!?
They tell you that your family sounds like the ideal family for a little child to finally rest & stop feeling the striving, the strife, but to finally find the peace that unconditional love can bring.
They tell you that yes, you have the money you need to adopt... And isn't it good that you set aside that large chunk of money a year before the process?  And the budget you are on, and the vacations you forego & the remodeling & fixing up of the house, everything you put off just so that you can afford a child is exactly all you need to do.
So, yes, someday, you will be the proud owner of the child you always dreamed of....
Except it doesn't work like that every time.

And what happens to all those families? All those families who are stuck?  All the families who have run out?
Run out of time....
(3,4,5 years later their family has completely changed & perhaps what was good for them then isn't the best for them now.  So is that dream they had then still a dream for now?)
Run out of money...
(Yes, as an adoption blogger recently pointed out -  it is possible to fund an adoption entirely on your own without loans & asking for money, but what happens when all that money is lost through an agency closing? a country closing? & the only way to continue is to hand over another BIG chunk of money that listen, a fundraising garage sale is just not going to cut it...)
Run out of countries...
(You're not a small, slim person?  I'm sorry you won't fit into the Korea program.  Not Muslim?  Northern Africa is out for you.  Have over one child?  I'm sorry many countries won't accept more than one child in the home. Have your own birth kids?  A new country opening in Congo only allows you to have adopted children...& on & on & on...a long list of quite often ridiculous requirements in every country. So when the few countries you qualify for don't work out - well, what are you going to do?)
Run out of energy...
(Adoption takes a lot of mental & emotional energy from start to finish.  And yes, the waiting is hard, but it's more than that alone.  It's the injustice of it all.  It's the disgusting facts that exist - yes, the millions of orphans, but also the high price you are having to pay for international or national newborn adoption.  Or how about the constant push for "reunification" within the foster system where just the minimum is all you have to provide anymore in our country- never mind a sense of stability, trust, unconditional, selfless love....How long do you keep leaning & pushing against an ugly, heavy door that has been slammed against your face?  2 years?  5 years? 10 years?)

I think if you have a face, a name, anything that was personal that you would keep going, keep fighting.  But please know (we are more & more learning this) - there are many, many who never get that far.  There are many, many who get stuck with NOTHING to show for it but loss after loss after loss.  And if for some reason, like us, you go into this "thing" thinking it won't be you because you've made all the right decisions, done all the right things,  you are fooling yourself & not facing the truth of adoption.  There is something much bigger than you going on in this messy puzzle of adoption.

And for all of those families who, like us, never started this process to "save the world one orphan at a time"... never were in it to "be the hero in the life of a child"....
to all the families like us who, at the core of their being-- just. wanted. a child.
(In fact, we were willing to add 2, to add an older child who was in the supposedly "undesirable" age & gender - "oh perfect, shouldn't be a problem at all" we were told over & over...)

To all those families --
it quite possibly won't work out.

No brother to wear the hand-me-downs, to throw a baseball with, to shoot hoops with.  No child to share a special connection to Africa with & a love for it's culture.  No more little hands to hold & marvel at the smallness, at the soft skin, at the tiny fingers that you imagine will someday hold your frail hands in a similar awe.
What do you do with that??
Right now I'm taking every day as it comes.
Crying when it hits again.
Selling the clothes, the little pair of shoes. (Sure never thought a "thing" could hold so much emotion.)
Using the plates for another fun event where I got to share my love of Africa.
Looking into the eyes of my 3 beautiful children & thanking the Lord continually that He has given them to us.
Comforting them when they cry & say things like "Mom, I just wanted a brother..."
Holding their hands &  hoping that the ache they had for another one will, like our ache, diminish over time - believing it will - just like other grief that comes into our lives.

Yes, we are finding this grief is unique - we don't know many who have experienced it in our "realm".  No, not everyone has this kind.  But eventually everyone has A kind.  And the truth is we all learn to heal from whatever that grief is.  One day at a time.  One year at a time.
So we're doing that - healing a little bit at a time.  But please be patient with all of us - it's going to take some time for this one...

Friday, March 14, 2014

It changed our life...

So this will probably be the hardest post I've written so far.  It's going to go places I never in my craziest nightmares would have thought we would be.
And I need you to read this & do 2 things, well maybe 3... First, I need you to read this with respect for us.  Most likely you know our family, but some of you don't, & we need you to know that we love the Lord, we love each other & we continue to have love for another child to be added into our family if the Lord wills.... That being said you may not understand everything I type as you read this & you may have questions that truly are better off not being said out loud to our family.  And I need you to respect that.
Second, I need you to know we aren't in any way saying this to you personally.  To be very forthright, some of the things I will write here are written out of a desire to be honest for both myself as a healing process & for others as a learning process.  I promise this will make sense as you read farther along, but don't think we are asking you for anything or judging you for having a different thought about the adoption process.  We are just simply sharing....
And third, well you probably already know what that is but your prayers for our family have been a comfort, & we believe they have not been wasted.  If you want to continue in those we would be grateful!!
So, this past Tuesday night we received an email truly "out of the blue" so-to-speak that said our entire agency - yep, let's say that again -ENTIRE AGENCY - was closing down.  Ryan had just walked in with our oldest from basketball practice & I had to literally read it out loud because I was in such a state of disbelief & shock.  And then my son started crying.  They were gut-wrenching sobs that come out of 2 years of prayer & 2 year of dreams.  I, on the other hand, felt numb.  Like "Is this some kind of nightmare?  There is no way this is really happening to us." kind-of numb.  Ryan & I just remained quiet.
Within about 15 minutes I went to pick up our oldest daughter from practice, & I told some dear friends (one of which has been through similar experiences with her family's own adoption experience) & then the tears started to fall.  I think it's because verbalizing it made it real.  I've talked about that before - how actually saying things out loud bring a reality to them that thinking about them can't bring.  So that being said, speaking it made me sob.  And then of course I had to explain it to my daughter who began uncontrollably crying so much so that as I held her in my arms I could hardly get her to stop.
There are moments in your life.  There are moments in your life that you will never ever forget & they change you.  I've had many moments along these past 2 years that have done just that, but that day for my entire family - well, I am quite sure it will be one of those moments.  We will always remember it - the day when the thing that was supposed to come & change your life forever never comes & yet somehow still changes your life forever.
We spent time as a family that night in one of the kids' bedrooms with our oldest 2 (minus the little one who is too little yet to understand).  We answered questions to the best of our ability, assured them both of how much we love them & our family of 5 & explained that quite likely this meant we would never be bringing another child into our family.   That now God would have to do something BIG for that to happen & while we know He can, we just don't know if it's what He sees best for us.
And I feel like I just need to pause for awhile after saying that.............................................................
See, we always thought maybe Ethiopia would shut down but this was a different type of shock.  And I won't go into how frustrating it has been to have heard it from an email & not have anyone call or personally reach out to us in a "I know you were at the top of the list & I know you already have been through this once (even twice) in terms of pursuing a child & not getting through & I know we have taken all this money from you & never once honestly admitted that we were financially not in a good place despite you asking that question a year ago.  I know it.. & I'm sorry for it".  (yep that's as far as I'm getting into it, but I think you catch my drift.)  But what I can tell you is that about a couple months ago we had started bracing ourselves for a fall-out from Ethiopia & we had talked about the what if.  So we already knew what the answer was here but it was hard to actually say it once it happened because it was different than what we expected.
So I called another agency that was willing to take on our case.  We wouldn't be placed back at the top of their list for our particular request, but we would be close to the top & they anticipated that it wouldn't take too long for a referral.  And they were giving a $1000 credit to switch over, but as I asked how much the initial fee to switch would be because we are family who has already had to switch & have given so much already, she said she would email it to me.  I think I knew then - knew it would be much, much more than what we could give, and well, quite frankly, that's exactly what happened.
No one likes to talk money, you know?  And so I have had very little mention of it on this blog or in conversation all along the way.  Perhaps you didn't notice or perhaps you did - you've had friends like we have who have adopted & asked for money to help fund their adoption, and so you wondered if we would come with a heartfelt plea at some point & ask if you wanted to come alongside us in that way.  But we haven't.  We never felt like God wanted that from us.  In fact, we knew 2 years ago because of some unexpected ways He was blessing our family that He wanted us to use our resources to give back to Him by funding it on our own.  So we did that... & we did that... & we did it again until it was done.  And well, it's done.  There is no more.  There is nothing left to change or transfer or start again.
So we knew it was the end for us.  I think we both knew it that night as I read aloud the email.  We knew what it meant for our family.  Is it hard to comprehend?? Yes.  Is it hard to accept??  Of course.  But on the other hand, we already knew.  I'm grateful for that really because there was a peace in the decision.  I'm shaking in grief as I type all this but still I know it's the right decision for us right now in this moment.
And it's why we told the kids the truth - We have sacrificed for this & God knew we were willing - we had gotten to a place where we came with open hands & open hearts, and we really believe He sees all that.
But now it's all about HIM.  There is no coming that matters at this point because we already came.  So this is where He has to step in & work something HUGE to show us that He desires to add to our family (i.e. finances or a heart change towards fostering to adopt or something we can't even begin to fathom).  And if He doesn't, well, if He doesn't, does that mean He doesn't exist?  or doesn't love us?  or only wants to hurt us?
NO.  Not at all.
Ryan & I have walked with the Lord much too long to ask those questions.  It may FEEL that way at times, but you don't walk away because of a feeling.  And we've learned that feelings come & go.  But the Truth?  Well, Truth remains.  And we've been through too many feelings, too many doubts, too many experiences that have always led us back to Truth:  There is a God.  There is God who literally IS love & loved us so much that He sent Jesus to take the penalty for our sins & accept us.  There is a God who chose us before the foundation of the World to enter into a love relationship with Him.  And there is a God who because He loves us & accepts us & chose us will never do something that would be against us, but in fact will only work things into our lives for us - for our good & for His glory.  No, it may not look anything like we thought it would, but again, what we've seen & experienced is that it inevitably looks so much better, so much richer, so much more soul-satisfying.  And listen- what is it if a man gains the whole world & forfeits his soul???  (matthew 16:26)
If you've doubted any of those things I just typed above, please hear Truth today.  From a family that feels broken today.  And will always go through this life wondering why they were never able to add another wonderful child into their midst.....
But a family who will all (prayerfully every one of us) someday kneel before the Throne of God above & look full into His wonderful face & know that all that matters is Christ crucified & God glorified.
"Amen.  Blessing & glory & wisdom & thanksgiving & honor & power & might, be to our God forever & ever.  Amen." (Revelation 7:12)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

When it feels like God plays Hide & Seek....

Since my last post, I've been doing some major "soul-searching" if you will.  It's been the nitty-gritty kind that hurts quite a bit & takes awhile to recover from.  It's also the kind that you hope you never really recover from.  Does that make sense?  The "I don't want to go back to being who I was before" kind-of soul-searching.  In fact, there are days when I go back to feeling "myself" & it scares the heck out of me so much that by the end of the day, I'm back in prayer in front of the Lord begging for Him to do what it takes to keep Him in front of me.
Regarding the adoption or perhaps the not-adoption, almost 2 weeks ago I was literally on my knees with my hands stretched out before me in a visual surrender to the Lord & reminder to myself that I cannot carry it any longer.  I can't take the pain of the wait.  I can't take the disappointment of the multiple "No"s.  At the time I couldn't even figure out if I could handle the possibility of the "Yes".  It was consuming me & leaving little room for anything else of value.  So I told the Lord all of those things, & then I just said out loud (because sometimes you have to put the verbal with the visual) "I surrender".  And I said it over & over.  I said every possible little thing that I was surrendering - the wait, the hurt, the confusion... and I very literally laid it down. I can tell you today that I haven't gone back.  There is a cloudiness over it all right now & I am so very, very okay with it.  The exhaustion of it all is gone & now while there remains a huge question mark, a big maybe, it's not weighing me down anymore.  And it feels like when you step into that warm bath after a long day.  Or big powerful hands finally eat away at the knot at the back of your neck & you can finally truly relax your shoulder muscles.  Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.......
Right around that time I took a good look at Psalm 9 because I have been studying in Scripture how to rest in the refuge of God as my stronghold instead of the various other alcoves I find myself sitting in.... And I realized that for so very long I have thought I have have to run to God & play a game of "Hide & Seek".  Do you do that????  Do you realize you do that???   You are together & talking & then you decide to go about life, count to 10 so to speak, & then time's up and I start frantically seeking.  And it's almost like I get to these points in life where I'm running around going "Okay God, I counted to 10!  You can come out now!!"  or "Hey God, where are you????  I already checked all the hiding spots.  I can't find you so come on out!  God - can't you hear me? I'm seeking!!!"   
Do you hear the fallacy in that?!?!  It's not only so wrong, it's so so exhausting.  So what is the seeking He wants? ("And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."  Psalm 9:10)
The idea that I lost Him or that somehow He went & hid from me is completely opposite who He is.  
God repeatedly tells us in Scripture:
"I am here."
"I will not leave you alone."
"I will not forsake you."
How many times does He have to say it for us to believe it?!?!?  Not just a "Yes, yes, He's always with me" kind-of believe it, but a "I lean on the truth that God is with me", look-at-my-life-differently belief.  
And so if God isn't some "hidden" thing that I'm constantly trying to find, doesn't it just become so so much easier?? 
It becomes the simple:
-a few quiet minutes spent listening & acknowledging His presence ("Beloved, I'm here")
-an eye-opening point in time to realize something bigger than self is happening all around me ("Beloved, I'm here.")
-a gratefulness that extends even to the hard ("Beloved, I'm here")
-a resting place that is deeper & safer that anywhere else ("Beloved, I'm here")

And every bit of it, every little bit of it, becomes a moment for me to listen to Him say "Beloved, I'm here"
So take a big sigh of relief with me.  
Beloved, He's already here.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Have you heard this yet??  I am SO there.... (Click on the purple link to listen in... And spend it in quiet listening.  The lyrics are fantastic & put to music - it will take you to a good place, I promise...)

Oceans by Hillsong

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Monday, January 27, 2014


If you used to read our blog, then you may have noticed a conspicuous absence on here about our own adoption journey lately.  It was a purposeful effort on my part to keep things that were happening confidential.  This was hard for me as I tend to be a "let's lay it all out on the table" kind-of person... but sometimes you have to & this was one of those times. 
It's funny because for months our lives have been twisted & turned, and I thought I'd be able to just sit down & pour it out on here but I still find myself hesitating today over a week later from the outcome.  I think it's evidence of how difficult it has all been... 
But in an effort to chronicle this now nearly 2 year journey I am compelled to write it down.  To write out even the hard... with a hope that someday it will be something different. 
Last summer we were told about a little boy currently in the foster system who was very likely going to be needing an adoptive home.  Having been through this early on in our adoption journey we said we would think about it, all the while not imagining it would get too far.  But around late August/beginning of September things got a lot more real.  DCFS was recommending that rights be terminated & again the foster family wondered how serious we really were about pursuing T (& yes, his name did start with a T - just like our 3 other kiddos!). 
And here's a place I can be really honest - this was a scary part of the past few months.  The reality of the choice we were presented was enormous.  It wasn't just an abstract "child" anymore, but a strong likelihood that this could happen.  And so we would look at T & wonder "Is this what it's like? To look at the face of an adorable toddler who has not been birthed from your body but who you take into your home & allow love to grow??"  And then beyond that we would pray "Foster care?  Really?!?!?!"  The very idea of foster care felt scary - really, really scary.  In this case we knew what kind of trauma T had been through as a very young infant & it was significant.  When you start into adoption, you understand that most likely you will have a child with some type of delay, but that real possibility of dealing with developmental delay at some point in his life felt daunting at times.   In fact, towards the end of figuring all this out I wrote "Doing Hard" (you can click on that title to go directly to that post) so I could remember that dealing with the hard cannot be what defines doing (or NOT doing) something good. 
In the midst of all those questions as we prayed & talked we just knew.  We knew God was doing something.  In fact I started a Word document so I could remember & just today I looked at the 9 reasons that I had down by the end of October that confirmed to us that God was weaving our lives together at this point.  I can't post them all (again because of confidentiality) but we clearly saw it so much so that by the 3rd week of November we decided to choose T.  The hard part was we were 2 months from the January 17th hearing that would decide if he was even "choose-able" (it would let us know if rights were terminated or not.  If terminated we would start the foster-to-adopt process & transfer him into our home as soon as possible.)  But I'm getting ahead of myself...
We never anticipated the "choosing" process for us to come before the hearing.  We thought we would just wait, see what would come of the hearing & then decide if we would for sure pursue adopting him or not.  But then November 12th came.  As I sat in the waiting room of a local hospital waiting to welcome my newest nephew into the world, Ryan called me.  "Did you see the email?"  It's funny because even as I said "No I haven't", I knew what that email was.   It was the one we had waited nearly 2 years for.  It was a referral from Ethiopia. 
To say we were stunned is an understatement.  There was this ecstatic feeling of  "It's here!!" followed by a punch in the gut of "Now??"  We knew we were getting close but according to the "timeline" we still had a few months of waiting which fell right in line with waiting to see what would happen with T.  But now we had 2 children to choose between & truly how do you choose???  We had one week to make a decision so we prayed, talked, prayed... prayed, talked, prayed & by Wed night I cried to Ryan yet again -" How?? How do you choose??" 
Ryan finally said "I think we have to ask ourselves if we can say no to T.  Because accepting the referral from Ethiopia would be saying no to him & if we can't, then we need to say no to the referral knowing another one will someday come."  And so he said "Can you say no to T?" & I couldn't... And I asked him "Can YOU say no to T?" & he couldn't... And that was the night we choose T all over again.  Knowing he really wasn't ours yet to choose... 
Remember when I talked in a previous post about grieving losses?  This one - the choice to let go of a referral from Ethiopia - was a hard one to grieve - to let go of what you had waited to get for so long.... It takes longer to grieve something like that.  And so it took me awhile & it's one of those things I could stay in if I let myself, but I had to choose to get out of the grief at some point.  To lift my eyes higher than the loss. 
But all the while, truly we had peace.  This sense that we had honored the Lord in our choice.  A sense that no matter what happened on Jan. 17th we had made the best choice we could. 
But Jan. 17th loomed.  And all through the holidays it felt like we were simply counting down to that date.  In fact, on Dec. 27th we heard about a small group of Ethiopian officials trying to spur on an effort to close adoption in that country.  It felt sickening to think we had perhaps passed on our one opportunity, but we had to trust in our choice so we prayed & waited...
And the week before the hearing we heard that T's caseworker had now changed her mind &, despite DCFS's recommendation, she was now recommending a goal of reunification (in other words, giving the mom more time).  It was another blow - a BIG one, & I knew then that this "likelihood" of our family growing in this new year of 2014 was becoming dimmer.  I had to go back again to what I knew when we made the choice.  That God was doing something - not that we were going to get a glimpse of the something, but that He was doing it nonetheless....
Sure enough, Jan. 17th came, & the choice to foster-to-adopt T was not given to us.  And really all I can say about that is this - The foster program is just as broken as IA.  Sooooo not perfect...  And chance upon chance will be given to birth parents because as we all know you can always say whatever you want to say & saying that "I love him" seems quite often to be all that is needed to keep a child.  Never mind that quite often the "I love him" isn't backed up by the doing. 
So here we are, 2 years into an adoption that has not gotten us far & certainly not brought a child into our home.  And while we are top of the list for Ethiopia still if another referral comes (the fact that Ethiopia has become more unstable will have to be for another post), we feel really, really beat down by not only the lack of progress, but the whole "system" entirely. 
So really I sit here & think making choices are tough.  You do the best based on the information you are receiving but you're not always guaranteed the end result.  Regardless, the choices need to be made.  And if I'm super honest, here are the choices I'm having to make right now:
"Get Going"
Don't let yourself be bogged down by the confusion, the blindness, the uncertainty, the frustration of it all.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other. 
"Keep Loving"
Don't let yourself get so wrapped up in the injustice & in self-pity that you forget what is right in front of you.  3 beautiful children.  Parents, Grandparents, Sisters, Brothers, Nieces, Nephews...  Friends willing to support us.  For some reason I think that they will get so weary along with us that they will like us want to give up on it all - give up even on us, but I have to tell myself that loving them in all of their good & all of their mess is all I can do. 
2 choices really easy to name, but again in my honesty & vulnerability, 2 choices that are really difficult to do at this time.  Pray for us, would you??