Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Carry Your Heart

The last few evenings have been a bit tearful for me. Perhaps it is the still quietness of the house after the boys go to bed that has allowed me to think more deeply about things. Perhaps it is just this waiting season. Whatever the reason, my mind and my heart are working through some complicated emotions that I could not have been prepared to experience. Sure, I read lots of blogs, books, pamphlets about this, but until now these things have just been head knowledge. As my mom says, "How do you explain 'cold'?"

When another mother chooses you to become the mother of her child, it is a daunting thing. She is trusting me with her very heart. Her infant. The child she has felt kick, squirm, and hiccup for many months will be handed to us. She is not only trusting me to mother her baby with absolute love, but she is also trusting me to protect her name and place in our baby's heart. I take this truth very seriously and it sits on my heart daily. Questions swirl in my head. Questions that no book can answer because every open adoption scenario is different. Questions that I have to trust to Jesus because only He can give me the wisdom that is needed right now. The promise found in the book penned by Jesus' brother James is, for me, not just a verse found on a coffee cup. I cling to the truth that whoever asks earnestly for wisdom from the Lord will be generously given wisdom. (James 1:5)

There are moments when the joy I have about welcoming Alanna home is tinged with some sharp pain. Pain because our joy will come at the expense of some deep hurt for our birth mom. The hard truth that right decisions aren't always accompanied by rainbows and butterflies reminds me that the compassion and abiding love of Jesus must guide my every word and action. Sometimes the tears are because of the gripping fears that sometimes overcome my heart. In 20+ years, when we're (hopefully) sitting side-by-side at Alanna's wedding, will she be glad that she chose us? Will she have known that we loved with all we had? Will her pain have been eased by the way we walk out our love for Jesus in the way we love her and Alanna?

Although our little girl has 3 more months to grow before we meet her, not too many moments pass that I do not think of our birth mom. We will forever share a bond that is profound. Her heart will always have a beat in our home and in my heart too. Oh, sweet birth mom, I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart. I am never without it. e.e. cummings

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Making All Things Beautiful

One of the most basic truths in Christianity is that this is a fallen world. The fall into sin began with Adam and Eve and the consequences are still felt today. But the very hopeful news is that Jesus has come. He has come to bring us peace and to reconcile us to a holy God. There are many tangible benefits to point us to the beauty of this reconciliation. Throughout these beginning months of our adoption journey we have been privileged with seeing many facets of what this means in a very practical way. A way that is bringing healing, a way that is bringing joy in what the world sees as a situation that doesn't have room for such joy.

"...to give unto them beauty for ashes..." Isaiah 61:3

When we were expecting Jackson I read from the book of Isaiah quite a lot; hence, his middle name is Isaiah. I particularly love chapter 61 which foretells what would be brought to God's people at the coming of Christ. Jesus came to bring good news, to bring healing to the broken, to free the captive, and to make beauty out of the ashes of those who mourn. We are seeing these things unfold in a difficult and yet beautiful way in the life of our precious birth mother. Without giving any details, I will simply say that her situation looked tough. And yet through the encouragement of many who love her dearly- family and friends- we see beauty coming in so many ways. This does not diminish the very complex emotions she is grappling with. This does not in any way diminish the difficult moments that will occur in the days, weeks, months that will follow her placing her baby in our arms. But it does offer a healing balm to soothe her raw heart. It offers the precious and unfailing hope of the truth that comes from knowing that Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted. There is beauty to be found. Though I do not see that this is the right time to share much of the sweet story that God is weaving together in this particular part of His tapestry, I can say with great assurance that my God is a god who can make anything beautiful. He is a master at that. He is THE master of that. 

When choosing names for our sons, we wanted to give names with great meaning. Choosing a name for our daughter was no different. We desired to honor our birth mom in the choosing by including her in the decision making process and we thought it to be important that our daughter's name carry the testimony of how God worked her life into a great display of His beauty even before she was born. We had 2 names chosen and together we landed on the name Alanna, a Gaelic name meaning beauty. Her middle name will be Kathryn because it is somewhat of a tradition in my family to give daughters family names and Kathryn is my mom's name. More importantly, my mom is nothing short of amazing and as Alanna grows I know she will treasure sharing a name with her grandma as much as I treasure that I share the names of a grandma and a great-grandma. So, there you have it- Alanna Kathryn. Our precious gift of beauty from the Lord.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers!

We have learned quite a lot in the last 5 weeks as we have very quickly gone from talking about "someday" to planning and preparing for THE day that will come in August. One of the things we've learned is that when the word adoption is used, many questions ensue. We welcome all questions that are honest and thoughtful. Here's an attempt to answer some of those questions en masse:

This seems kind of sudden. What led to this?
Though this might seem sudden, I assure you it is not. For a little bit of background, read this link. Adoption has been on my heart for years and years. The Lord graciously brought our hearts together on this issue in a very sweet way. Someday we'll share that testimony.

I thought you wanted to go the international route?
Yep. I thought so too. But things changed one Friday night last fall when one of my dearest friends prayed with me after I expressed much of my heart to her. When I woke up the next morning I knew that I had to confess my plans to the Lord and then surrender them. He kindly and gently showed me that He was the Creator of families and that He had a perfect plan for us and for any child(ren) He would trust to our care whether biologically or through adoption. The Lord then made it very clear through His Word that we were to wait. And so we did.

Why Open Adoption? Isn't that weird?Won't your child be confused?
We love the idea of open adoption. The thing about adoption is that it is always a result of profound loss for birth parents and the child. Though we are currently in a season of great joy and excitement, we recognize that our sweet birth mom is in a season of very complex emotions and we grieve for her. We also grieve for the families who were told "no." We can clearly see how open adoption will greatly ease the pain of loss for both our birth mom and our baby as the years pass. I'm sure it could be weird and there might be seasons when we will need more wisdom than others, but we are very thankful for our birth mom whom we already love. No, our child will not be confused. We're not walking into this with a lack of research and we will continue to do much research for the sake of all involved.

When will you tell her that she's adopted?
Well, when do you tell your kids who grandma is? You sort of don't have to. Further, because our daughter is biracial, she will clearly not look like us and so it will be fairly obvious. She will always know that she is adopted, but more importantly she will know she was chosen for us and us for her. She will know the many ways God worked for her good long before she was born.

What about her birth mom?
We love her. She has quickly become very precious to us. Because we greatly respect her very courageous decision to choose life and then choose adoption, we have great respect for her. We ask that everyone respects our desire to protect her and therefore we are unwilling to answer questions about her. She is a brave, brave young woman. That is all you need to know. :)

Can the birth mom change her mind?
Yes, to a point. She will have until baby is discharged from the hospital to change her mind. Once she signs the baby over to our lawyer, she cannot change her mind.

What if she does change her mind?
If this happens, we will likely go through a period of mourning and we will need much support from our friends. Yet we will still see all of this as coming from the Lord for good purposes.

Who chooses her name?
We do. Her name has already been chosen, but we are not ready to share just yet. It was very important to us when choosing her name that we include our baby's birth mom in the choosing process and recognize what the Lord has done in this situation with our choice of name. We were thrilled that our birth mom wanted to participate in the choosing process with us.

I'm sure there are other questions, but hopefully this hits the big ones. We would love to invite all of you to pray for our baby, her birth parents, and us as we travel this path.


Monday, April 20, 2015

A Change In Plans...

I have very few regrets in life. Two, to be exact. One of those regrets is that I didn't enter into a Master's program immediately after my undergrad. For many years I have tossed around the idea of entering a grad program once our youngest starts Pre-K or Kindergarten. Guess what? Our youngest will start Pre-K this fall. Time to start choosing a program! The list was starting to whittle down and I was very close to choosing a school...

And then God gave us something far better-

A man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. 
-Proverbs 16:9

A  message that would prove to change all sorts of plans we were making came to my inbox several weeks ago. The message asked us what we thought about the possibility of an open adoption. Our initial response was to pray. Over the course of the next few weeks it became very clear to all parties involved that we were all a good match for each other. All sorts of small and large details began to come together very rapidly and we wrapped our minds around the fact that we would have a daughter in just 4.5 months. I could write a short book about all of the details that came together at just the right moment, but for now I'll just say that my God is still a God of miracles. We look back at things that have been happening in our lives for the last several years, things that have prepared us for something we never imagined, and we can honestly say, "God was working." We didn't know it, but He was. 

Lord willing, we will bring our daughter home in August. In a short while I will post another blog that will attempt an answer at some of the questions I know some of you might have. But for today I invite you to celebrate with us. There is much reason for great joy!! For the last month or so we have looked at each other with joyfully astonished faces and we can now declare Paul's words with a beautiful testimony behind them- 

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
Ephesians 3:20-21

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joseph, The Also Ran

My heart has been pondering so many things lately, many of which are just between the Lord and myself. Some of you know exactly what I mean because your hearts are in a state of tendering too. Today I ponder Joseph. He often seems like an "also ran" in the narrative of Jesus' life. But as I ponder his life this morning, the tears flow. The Lord doesn't have anyone in His Word merely for his or her own fame and Joseph certainly fits this bill. He's the step-dad. He's the uneducated carpenter from Nazareth. He's the man who listened and obeyed.

I would imagine that having a betrothed return from a trip visibly pregnant would be crushing. I can only imagine Joseph's heart-sickness over this. What did his friends say to him? Was he ridiculed? What did his parents say to him? How very, very hard. But God is so faithful. He spoke plainly to Joseph and worked mightily in his heart and mind. We don't see Mary working to convince him, she simply trusts. She trusts that the Lord will do exactly what He promised and will work in Joseph in the way and time that will cause him to also trust the almost preposterous news that Mary shared with him. Joseph's story is one that clearly shows how able and how trustworthy the Lord is. Joseph's story reminds us that, more often than not, we need to step aside and trust the Lord's work in the hearts of men. His story also reminds us that when the Lord calls us to something that is so far beyond ourselves, so far beyond what seems reasonable, He will provide. He'll work in hearts in just the right way at just the right time. He is the God who does exactly what He says He will do. He is a God we can trust. 

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for her Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet..." Matthew 1:20-22




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BRAT Life

I started to write a really poignant post about being a military kid, but then I thought it would be a whole lot more fun to, well, have fun!

How to know you grew up as a military BRAT-

1. You can easily speak in acronyms.
2. Dad/Mom is not away on business, he/she is TDY.
3. You don't move, you PCS.
4. It is hardwired into you to write the date like this- day/month/year.
5. By 1st grade, you know how to tell military time.
6. You get irritated when people refer to your Dad/Mom's deployment as a "trip." Um. No.
7. You don't go to the grocery store, you go to the commissary.
8. Once you hit your teen years, you start noticing that some of the gate guards are super cute.
9. You know the last 4 of your sponsor's social.
10. When you ask your other military friends where they've come from you don't give the names of cities, you give the names of bases.
11. You often dread the obligatory "Where are you from?" question. Eventually you just start saying the name of the place you either liked the most or lived the longest.
12. People notice that you have a strange accent. That's because it's actually a combination of accents.
13. When other people are impressed with your Dad/Mom's uniform you are unimpressed...they're just work clothes.
14. You've attended enough promotion ceremonies that you can almost recite "the oath" on your own.
15. Family vacations are actually trips to visit extended relatives.
16. You become especially proud upon hearing The National Anthem.
17. You tear up when you see deploying troops at the airport. You acutely know how hard it is to say good-bye.
18. You might walk up to said troops and offer a tear-filled hug because you just know. When they look at you, they know too.
19. You didn't "live" anywhere. You were "stationed."
20. You know rank symbols.
21. When people ask you what your Dad/Mom does, you can't tell them because they can't tell you. But you know you're awfully proud!
22. You've celebrated any holiday, birthday, milestone at an odd time because celebrating together was more important than the actual date.

Any additions, fellow military brats?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Waiting...

I'm waiting. There have been other times in my life when the Lord has called me to wait, but this is different. In fact, this is the very hardest thing the Lord has ever asked me to do. Wait. Because I don't want the details of my personal situation to detract from this message, I'll spare you the blow-by-blow. But, my guess is that most of you who know me well will know what the "wait" is all about. To say this is hard is really an understatement. There are times when I find myself bursting into tears for what seems to those watching like no reason at all. Only a few who are very close to me really know the extent of this and that is okay.

When I was a small child I felt extremely drawn to a certain thing. When I was in college, I knew the Lord was calling me to it. To put the time into perspective, I graduated almost 13 years ago. It's already been a long wait and the fact is, the wait will likely be even longer. It's a sanctifying process for sure and the emotions surrounding this waiting have recently reached a bit of a high. But, God is faithful. He is. He is faithful, He is sovereign, and He knows. He knows timelines. He knows boundaries. He knows situations. More importantly though, He knows hearts. He knows how to change hearts. He is trustworthy. He knows the appointed time. (Psalm 75:2)

I recently read a most amazing article that I encourage all of you to read. (Read the article here.) The Lord has continually reminded me that waiting time is never wasted time in His economy and He is always working. The author of the TGC article articulated 2 points that came around me like a firm embrace. 1- Waiting instills in us that we are completely dependent on the Lord. At this point, there is absolutely nothing I can personally do put an end to the wait. 2- The doctrine of God's sovereignty is not just a platitude, it is what I am living in a practical way. I am learning to lean completely on Him and not my own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) This is hard. Everything within my flesh wants to make something happen. And so, as Robinson says, my prayer has become, "Lord, sanctify my waiting." Knowing that God is fully at work gives me such hope, such excitement about this. But, I sure would like to know the end of this story NOW.

Yesterday in church we sang the popular tune, In Christ Alone. When we came to the line, "...from life's first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny" I was nearly overcome. Yes, yes He does! Not only does He command my destiny, He commands the destiny of all who are involved and all who will be involved in this wait and so I have much, much hope in Him. But, I still might burst into tears every so often. :) My guess is that many of you may also be in a season of waiting. May you be sanctified in your wait. May you be greatly encouraged and strengthened as you wait. May the Lord make you strong and courageous through His word and through His sovereignty.


Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14