Friday, May 18, 2012

An Alibis of Sorts - Part 2

The last couple of weeks we made a decision that I would not have made if God had not taught me a lesson recently. Isn’t that just the way He works? Preparing us when we aren’t even aware of it? He is so good. The thing He taught me (via a Beth Moore teaching) was that in that oh so familiar verse - 1 Corinthians 13:8 – when it says “love never fails” the Greek word translated to “fail” there actually means “to fall to the ground- to take no effect”. So when it says love never fails it doesn’t mean love never fails to yield the results we hoped for. And we know that, don’t we? How many of you have invested in someone who hurt you? Or loved a child who rebelled anyway? Or loved a husband that left or a friend who didn’t appreciate you? No, love doesn’t always yield the results we want. That isn’t what He said. He said it never falls to the ground, having no effect at all. That’s a big difference, isn’t it? The effect is something only God can predict. Maybe there are times He is the only one who can even see the effect. But it has an effect. He has a plan for us and He made it clear that it including loving Him and loving others. Actually, that pretty much sums up the WHOLE plan.

So that brings me to the sudden change in OUR plans. We had the opportunity to host a child from the Ukraine in our home for two months this summer. She lives in an orphanage and she will only be allowed to stay there until she is 15 or 16 (or in the 9th grade). After that she is on her own. And this week, she turns 13. I remember when my oldest daughter turned 13. Becoming a teenager was a bit of a milestone; a positive one. I have to imagine for someone in this girl’s shoes it evokes a fear and insecurity like I have not experienced before. Remember, this is a poor country. There are no college grants, no hope of education, and she probably has no life skills to survive after the orphanage. But I will share more about that later.

Obviously, we decided we needed to do this. The deadline to get paperwork in was only a few days away. There would not have been time- except we had already done home study visits and background checks and had references done. It had already been completed in advance- imagine that. We got lots of questions- most of which we can’t answer. People have asked what good two months will do. All I can say is that its two months to love her. And love ALWAYS has an effect. Isn’t that what He said?

I can’t say I didn’t have moments of panic where I wondered what we were doing. This is a complete stranger. We don’t even speak the same language. And I am embarrassed to admit all the things that concerned me. We had just decided to finish our Ethiopian adoption paperwork. What about those plans? This takes away time and money from our other plans. But God gently asked, “what do you want? Your plans or Mine?”

Brian with our kiddos- Most of which were not originally in "my plan". GREATEST GIFTS EVER.

My mind immediately flashed back to one of the hardest nights during this whole process. We were struggling with the fact that the domestic adoption was not going to happen and I was wondering where God was in all of it. I remembered sitting on the couch with Brian crying as my eyes scanned over all the books on our bookshelves. “Look at all those books…” I had said. We have lots of great books. Francis Chan, David Platt, Randy Alcorn, C.S. Lewis, Wiersbe, etc. “I don’t want to read one more. I can’t stand reading ONE MORE book about people who experienced God in such big ways. I want it for my own.” Don’t misread that. God has done huge things in our lives that ONLY God could have done. I have seen Him do the impossible. He is not the problem here. But I am not consumed with Him day in and day out the way I wish I were. I spend whole days thinking about other things. And I know that is not what Jesus meant by “abundant life”. So I thought about my typical selfish concerns- my plans. My house, my schedule, my my my. NO. It’s HIS house. HIS kids. HIS life. HIS time.

“You, Lord. I’d rather have YOU.”

         Great books about walking with God. Bad substitutes for actually walking with God. 

So, to answer those questions, I don’t know where we are headed.  But I believe with my whole heart that God longs to pour His Spirit out on all of us just like in the New Testament stories we read. If we would just surrender the pen and let God write our story, then we would get more than just Joy and Peace and adventure. We would have HIM. For our OWN. We could walk with Him every step of the way and we would know Him more than we know Him now. It doesn’t matter how much you do or don’t know. There is always more to experience. And it is always GOOD. 

He has no dark side. 

He has no flaws.

 He has no shortcomings.

There is no end to His love or His blessings or His comfort. 

There is no limit to Him.

So yeah, I’ll choose Him. Won’t you?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,” 
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”   Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Alibis of Sorts - Part 1

So I have a little confession. My neglect of this blog has been fairly intentional. I can honestly say I have been very busy the past few months. There was homeschooling, learning, living, and loving to do. 

School field trip

But I can’t blame the neglect of this blog solely on that. I wasn’t really sure what to write most of the time. When I started this blog I started it to share a journey I thought would be all about adoption. I said I knew it would be a rocky process but I underestimated how true that would be. I kept lots of thoughts for a journal as it got personal and I felt more vulnerable. Then I didn’t know how to fit all that has happened into a blog post. I was going to quietly take the blog down but I have gotten so many questions about it lately. Seriously, I am amazed you people even read it! But since you have cared enough to look for updates or email and ask, I figured I owed you one. 

When we felt called to adopt two years ago, we thought we had a plan and had everything figured out. I have since been cured of such pride. 

The kids have grown a bit, eh?  :) 

We initially took a break from our adoption paperwork because of a job change. Then we started it again once Brian was settled in his new job. Then we were asked if we would be willing to adopt some children who needed a home ASAP. (This happens more often than you think here in the U.S.) We said “yes”, but over the course of a few weeks the birthmother seemed to change her mind about placing. Disappointed, discouraged, and confused we wondered “ok, God. What was that about?” and then decided to take some time to pray and clarify exactly what God had called us to do. It was a hard time, and I wasn't sure I wanted to wrestle that out in a public setting like a blog. But it’s worth telling because sometimes the times we have to really wrestle with God and wait for Him to answer us are the very times that refine us and shape our character. If God has an "assignment" of sorts planned for us, then He is going to need to shape our character to match said assignment. It was a hard lesson, but it is such a treasure now to know that when I am waiting on God He hasn't given up on me or moved on to someone He thinks will be easier to use- He is at work, shaping me and preparing me. And He is at work in you, too. He is always weaving both mistakes and successes into a story that we don’t have the courage to dream. 

So, for weeks we questioned what God had said to us and tried to clarify a direction. Domestic adoption? Foster care adoption? International? Ethiopia? Now? Wait? We put everything back on the table with open hands and felt unsure which direction to proceed. I had joked so many times that God needed to fax me something because I was slow and needed directions in black and white, but no such luck. One night I had bought a used book by Andy Stanley called “The Best Question Ever”. It elaborated on the idea that we shouldn't just approach life’s questions with “is it a sin” or “can I?”, but rather “what is the wise thing to do”. As I was reading, I kid you not, a slip of paper with a simple verse reference written on it fell out of the book. I walked into the bedroom in search of my Bible to look it up, telling Brian what had happened. We laughed and giggled as I joked “maybe this is our note” and we started to think of ridiculous things it could say (think Tim Hawkins' and “lo I have a painful disease in my loins”). We are very serious people, you know. 
As I scanned over the pages, still giggling, and I found the verse. Isaiah 1:17. Somewhat familiar with that chapter I immediately stopped laughing and as I tried to read the verse aloud for Brian my tears began to cloud my vision. 

 We went to bed silent that night, which never happens. If you read the whole chapter it is a little disturbing. It confronts the idea that we can go to church and worship and bring offerings and God won’t be pleased with just that. He wants more. He wants actual obedience. I suddenly felt like the idea that we would complete this adoption and then “move on with life” was being confronted head on. He wanted us to love and care for orphans the way He would. We began to come to the conclusion that the call was to love orphans, any orphan, He brought us as He brought them- as in, from now on. And to be willing to say yes to Him no matter how different His plans were from ours. Even if it meant our adoption didn't look like I thought it would. Even if it meant facing my worst fear- loving and investing myself in children that would NEVER be mine and letting them take pieces of my heart back with them as they returned to where ever they had come from. Whatever. He wanted us to say "Yes, Lord. Whatever." To follow before He told us where we were going. 

So thankful to be traveling this road with my best friend

I won’t say we got to a place of even deeper surrender overnight. As we eventually decided one more time to finish the paperwork for our adoption, we were “interrupted” by an opportunity that had not really been on our radar. We felt an indescribable momentum behind our “yes” this time, despite fear and trembling (mostly mine). You could say God was changing our trajectory...

"Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails."   - Proverbs 19:20-22

To Be Continued ...