I’m still enjoying our church’s Bible reading plan, Storyline. Today, I read Genesis 31-32. Before reading, I asked God to show me something about Himself in the text.
Jacob had been working for his father-in-law, Laban, for 20 years, and the relationship was on the rocks. He had been working toward taking his family and parting ways with Laban. “Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you'” (Genesis 31:3).
After God spoke to Jacob, he rounded up his family and said, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me…” (Genesis 31:5). He talked to his family for a while, and Rachel and Leah supported him in obeying God. So, they began their journey. Yes, there was a ton of family drama, but Jacob obeyed God and traveled home.
What struck me in this passage was the similarity between the phrases in verses three and five – “I will be with you” and “God … has been with me”. Jacob believed God would be with him, because God had been with him the entire time he was working for Laban (and prior to that). Jacob knew he could trust God, because God had proven Himself trustworthy. Jacob had full assurance God would keep His promise, because God had proven Himself to be a promise keeper (see Genesis 21:1 for an example in Jacob’s family history).
I connected with this truth so much today. Stepping into the adoption process, we trust God, because He has proven Himself trustworthy – over and over and over again, both in Scripture and in our personal lives! We trust that He will provide for us, because His Word says He will and because He has provided for us many times in the past. We trust that He will be with us through the process, because He has always been with us.
Some of you may be wondering, “What if things don’t work out with the adoption process? What if you’re never matched with a child and you just end up with heartache? Will you trust God then?”
Because God will still be God, sovereign over all things, and God will still be good. We trust God no matter what He has planned for us. After all, it’s His story.
If God will be most glorified in us through an adoption journey that ends with squishy-cheeked babies, then I will kiss those cheeks until I can’t kiss anymore, and I will praise God. If He will be most glorified in us through an adoption journey that doesn’t end with squishy-cheeked babies, then I will still praise God, and I will still trust Him.
My circumstances don’t change God’s character. They change mine.
Joseph and I want my blog to be a place where we can keep friends and family updated on our adoption process. We know we need people praying for us, and blogging seems to be an effective way of spreading the word when something happens. So, I thought it would be a good idea to let you all know where we are in the process today!
We are very early in the process. I mentioned in this post that God affirmed over Christmas that it is time for us to pursue adoption. The first full week of January, I called DSS and told them we desire to adopt. DSS directed me to Heartfelt Calling, an agency that recruits and trains foster and adoptive families in SC. Within 24 hours, I received an application packet in my email.
My heart raced with excitement when I laid eyes on that email! I was so ready to click print and start filling out the paperwork!
The application I received was simply an introductory application. I refer to it as the “short” application. I’m sure there’s proper lingo that I just don’t know yet. :O) The short application requests very high level information, similar to a job application, but with questions about annual income and preferred gender and age of child.
We mailed the application on a Monday evening. That Thursday, I received a phone call from Kendra at Heartfelt Calling. We forgot a form. Ha! At least we had confirmation the agency received our application!
The missing form was our window form. There are regulations regarding the windows in the bedroom where our children will sleep. At least one window must have a minimum size opening. Kendra was going to be out of town for a few days and said she wanted to forward our application before she left. I told her we would measure the windows and email the form to her that afternoon.
Joseph came home and measured the windows. They’re too small. Every bedroom window in our home is the same size, and that size is too small.
I had a tiny panic. Really, it wasn’t a very big panic. Just a small one that was irrational for about 2.5 seconds. “We can’t adopt babies because our windows are too small!” It passed.
I called Kendra, and she was very helpful (she was very kind and pleasant to work with). I told her we have a brick house, and she said we can replace our current windows (or just one) with the windows that have cranks on them so they open wider. She said if I would tell her on the phone that we would change the window(s), she could forward our application. “I can tell you right now we’ll do that!” So, Kendra sent our application to Region I of DSS.
Within about a week, we heard from DSS. We have to attend an orientation class in order to receive our “long” application (I’ll let you know when I know the real terms). I tried to weasel it out of the woman who emailed me, but she’s used to people trying to get the application early, and she said “no” without even needing to say “no”. She’s good. We registered for orientation on February 23rd. I’m pretty sure the orientation class is to tell us what to expect through the adoption process, not necessarily to tell us a lot of specifics about parenting or anything along those lines.
When we registered, February 23rd sounded SO far off, but now it’s less than a month away. I can handle that.
So, what do we do until then? I’m glad you asked!
- Because we know of a few things that must be done for our home study, our goal is to complete those tasks by the end of February. Those tasks include replacing at least one window, possibly two; baby proofing the house; and finishing our (simple, low-key) kitchen re-model, because babies and exposed wires are a bad combination.
- The window(s) and the kitchen require money, so we’re trying to earn some extra income. I’ve taken on a babysitting job, I’m still selling Mary Kay, I’m working on a little something new for my Etsy shop, we still have a photography business, and Joseph works full time (he’s the best). We’re also posting items on Facebook and Craigslist for sale, which brings me to the next thing we’re doing.
- While it’s a bit early to set up a nursery, we do need to make room for babies! We’re going to be purging a room’s worth of stuff. Yikes. That just made me panic a little. Babies are better than stuff. Babies are better than stuff. Babies are better than stuff. Moving on.
- We signed up for a growth group at church that is targeted toward foster and adoptive families. We’ll be going through The Connected Child. That begins in February, and I’m really looking forward to it!
- We pray! We pray for our babies. We pray for their birth mother. We pray for ourselves. We pray God will be honored through the process.
So, that’s where we are in the process right now. Like I said, very early in the process. There is so much more that must happen before we adopt, but it’s a journey I’m so happy to be taking.
In case you’re wondering, I really, really want twins, and I’m praying for twins, so I refer to our babies in the plural. Please know I’m trusting God in the process, and I promise I’ll be happy with one baby. :O)
If you read my last post, you know that Joseph and I started the adoption process. If you didn’t read it, you know now. :O) We’re very early in the process, and we’re so excited. With that excitement, though, comes an overwhelming list of things between us and our babies.
The other night, we had dinner with two families in our church who have adopted. They very graciously answered our questions and encouraged us as we begin the adoption process. I’m so thankful there are so many families in our church who have adopted. I know we have a support system in place through our church family, and that is a blessing for sure!
On our way home from dinner, my mind wandered back to our dinner conversation and then to everything that needs to take place before we’re even approved for adoption. I was a little surprised by how I felt in that moment (though I shouldn’t have been).
I told Joseph that the tasks ahead of us are overwhelming, but I don’t feel overwhelmed. Actually, I feel peace. I know God has called us to adopt, and I trust He is going to guide us through the process, providing along the way. Knowing that, I have an overwhelming peace.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt overwhelming peace. When I answered God’s call to transfer to North Greenville, I felt His peace. When I answered God’s call to summer missions, I felt His peace. When a family member experienced life threatening health problems, I felt His peace.
So, why was I surprised to feel His peace the other night? I think it’s part of my nature to slip into self-reliance rather than trusting God completely, especially when I can put what I need to do on a checklist.
Adopting is no different. I could make a really long checklist of everything that needs to happen (truth: I’ve started the checklist), and I could rely on myself to check off each task. Or, I could still make the checklist, but I could trust God to orchestrate all the details. The former option results in me being frazzled and stressed out all the time. The latter results in an overwhelming peace from God that surpasses all understanding.
I much prefer the latter!
Joseph and I married on April 10, 2010. We had a fun, sweet, beautiful ceremony in a repurposed cotton mill in Simpsonville, SC. I laughed and cried through the majority of the ceremony, overwhelmed with joy, because I had been praying and waiting for a husband for a while, and God had answered my prayers (even my desire for a husband with a 5 letter last name!).
Before marrying, we agreed we would wait five years before having children, but it was always up for discussion. I reminded Joseph I would be 33 when we celebrated our fifth anniversary, and that didn’t bother him a bit. We wanted time to learn how to function as a married couple and how to love each other well before adding to our family (yes, we know this is a lifelong process).
Every few months or so, the topic of children was up for discussion. “Do we still want to wait until we’ve been married for five years?” “Yes.” So we continued waiting.
I don’t remember everything that transpired, but we changed our minds in December 2012. I went off birth control, and we started trying for a baby. We were so giddy that Christmas, and we savored each moment, confident it would be our last Christmas just the two of us.
We ebbed and flowed between trying actively and trying rather passively. Neither strategy proved effective. We weren’t too concerned. Considering the fact that I was over 30 and had been on birth control for years for medical reasons, we knew it could take a while.
In the spring of 2013, my Grandmama Clyde passed away. My heart ached with her passing, and knowing she wouldn’t be here to welcome my first child added to the ache. Looking back, I think that was when I started struggling emotionally regarding our failure to conceive.
We continued the ebb and flow of trying for a baby. December 2013 rolled around, and we celebrated our second last Christmas just the two of us.
In the fall of 2013, we answered God’s call to go on a short term mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico in June 2014, so December and January were an exciting flurry of fundraising and beginning to prepare for our trip. Having a baby was still our desire, but we knew God was doing other things in our life, and we trusted His timing.
In February 2014, my Grandmama Helen was hospitalized with pneumonia and never returned to her earthly home. Losing her and realizing she would never hold my babies on this side of Heaven was a combined heartache I could hardly bear. She had a wall in her den covered with red picture frames filled with baby pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I mourned the loss of Grandmama Helen and the fact that I would never need to purchase a red frame for her wall.
As time went on, Joseph and I continued talking about children. My longing to be a mother grew with each passing month.
When we married, we said we wanted to adopt, so adoption came up often. Neither of us had ever been opposed to adopting prior to having biological children, so we started praying about the timing of adoption. Right before we left for Mexico, we decided it was time to start pursuing adoption.
Our trip to Mexico was wonderful. We enjoyed serving and seeing what God was doing in the children’s homes in Monterrey. Over the course of that week, God deepened my desire to adopt, but we returned home feeling the timing wasn’t right. Full disclosure: I don’t know if that was fear or the Lord.
We wrestled with the decision more and more. All of the normal doubts and fears crossed our minds. Would we make good parents? Were we ready to become parents? Starting a family didn’t make sense financially. Should we do it anyway? After all, everyone says it will never make sense financially, and we do trust that God is our ultimate provider.
By the fall, we decided we at least needed to have something in savings before adding to our family! Our goal was to build up $1,000 in an emergency fund by the end of the year. If we could do that, we would start the adoption process.
I grew very emotional about saving $1,000, and I tried several things. I started selling Mary Kay. I tried selling things on Etsy. We posted items for sale on Craigslist and Facebook groups. I participated in a craft fair. The money, which I honestly thought would take us no time at all to save if we just gave it our all, just wasn’t adding up very quickly. I found myself saying irrational things to our future children like, “I’m sorry we couldn’t adopt you sooner, sweetie. Mommy just couldn’t sell her stuff on Etsy.” I was a mess.
We were in the middle of December, and I just felt blah. I wasn’t enjoying the Christmas season at all. We didn’t even put all of our decorations out. The boxes just sat in our front room for a month until Joseph put them back in the attic. I wanted to adopt so badly, and I couldn’t understand why we were struggling so much to save such a small amount of money. Our third last Christmas just the two of us was approaching quickly, and I wasn’t happy about it.
On Monday, December 22nd, I had a mini meltdown. Joseph and I were working on a couple of projects to try to make a little money, and I was stressed because no one wanted to buy the items I posted online for sale.
“Babe, I don’t get it! Why is none of this stuff working? Why can’t we make the extra money we need? What do you think God is teaching us?”
We agreed God was teaching us to trust Him and reminded ourselves that He is the ultimate provider.
I calmed down for the moment, but I still felt overwhelmed. The weight of wanting to adopt put a ton of pressure on our financial goal (for me anyway). I felt like I was letting our future children down with each passing moment.
Tuesday, December 23rd, Joseph called me and said, “I just checked the mail. You’re not going to believe what someone sent us.” Cash. That’s what someone sent us.
I felt a glimmer of hope. God was intervening.
Wednesday, December 24th, Christmas Eve, historically one of my favorite days of the year, I still felt blah. Joseph checked the mail. He received a check for some work he had completed a couple of weeks before. God was intervening a little more.
At this point, I felt excited and hopeful. God had shown us kindness through an unexpected gift and a paycheck we weren’t expecting so soon. We began our Christmas celebrations feeling a little lighter, feeling confident we could make up the difference we still needed to reach our goal by the end of the year.
God wasn’t finished.
Thursday, December 25th, Christmas day, God had one more gift for us. We received an unexpected financial gift from family, enough to push us over our $1,000 goal, with a week to spare.
That night, we celebrated God’s kindness and His affirmation that it was time to begin the adoption process.
So, we’re moving forward. We’re stepping out in faith. We’re doing what the world would say doesn’t make sense. After all, that’s when we see God move mountains.
Sunday is my earliest rising morning of the week. Joseph has to be at church between 6:30-7:00 AM, and we’ve been carpooling for a few months. That gives me about an hour and a half each Sunday to spend out in the commons area before first service starts. Some weeks, I spend that time preparing to serve two groups of precious kiddos later in the morning. Others, I spend time in the Word and prayer. Still others, I sit and stare off into space, because I don’t do well waking up at 5:39 (I usually snooze at least once, sometimes without even knowing I did it).
Today, I decided to start by spending some time in the Word. The Storyline reading plan we just started at Fellowship Greenville gives us Sunday off to catch up or meditate on that day’s teaching passage. I turned to Acts 4:32-5:11, one of the scariest passages of Scripture, in my opinion. I read through the passage, and I prayed something along the lines of, “Lord, help me with this passage. What do You want me to get out of it?” Then I read it again.
“Lord, help. I’m struggling to see.”
I read through the previous passage, where early believers prayed for boldness in the face of persecution – not deliverance, boldness. Humbling. Starting in 4:32, we’re given an interesting description (not prescription, if I’m understanding the passage correctly) of early believers living and loving sacrificially, to the point of selling their land so that no one was in need. In 4:36-37, Dr. Luke even gives us the specific example of Joseph/Barnabas selling his field and giving the proceeds to the church.
Then 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira. They sold a piece of property, and they conspired to keep part of the money but pretend they were giving all of it to the church (according to 5:4, they weren’t required to sell the land or even to give all of the proceeds from the sale to the church; this was a heart issue, not a rules issue).
Ananias went in first. Peter called him out on his deception, and God struck him dead. Boom.
Sapphira went in next, unaware of what happened to her husband. Peter called her out and told her the same men who dragged out her dead husband’s body would drag out hers. God struck her dead. Boom.
“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things” (5:11). I can vouch for that verse. Fear comes upon me when I hear about this story.
But what am I supposed to do with this passage?
I read and prayed, prayed and read.
Believers who prayed for boldness. Believers who gave boldly. Ananias and Sapphira.
For sure, I saw the contrast. I pondered the contrast and asked God what was important about the contrast.
“They were faking it.”
Believers weren’t required to sell all of their land and give away the proceeds. The ones who did were acting out of their love for Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira knew they weren’t required to sell their land. They were free to do with it as they pleased, but they wanted the appearance of a fully surrendered faith like they saw in the believers around them. They wanted the praise of man without surrendering fully to Jesus.
My next prayer: “Lord, where have I been faking it in life?”
I thought about my life now and over the last 20 years. Had I faked having skills so I could land a job? Had I faked certain interests so a boy would like me? Had I faked my personality to make friends? I scrolled through my life like a VHS tape. I couldn’t think of anything.
I’ve been willing to surrender every area of my life to God, except food.
“Lord, You can have my money. It’s Yours anyway.”
“Lord, You can have my ‘career’. That’s tough for me, but I trust You.”
“Lord, You can even have my reproductive system. I’ll adopt one day.”
“I’m keeping food.”
Tears rolled slowly and smoothly down my cheeks. I needed to repent.
“Lord, You’re right. I’ve been faking a fully surrendered life. I haven’t given this over to You completely. I don’t think I even know how. Help.”
So, that’s where I am today. Breaking. Surrendering. Hoping. Anticipating.
Anticipating God to work in my life and teach me what it looks like to live a sincere, fully surrendered life.
So what about you? Where are you faking it? Your career? Your marriage? Your friendships? Your relationship with God? I’m asking God to show you and to walk with you as life gets real.