Well. This post has been a long time coming. I've been putting it off like the plague, but I think it's finally time to give an Adoption update.
You guessed it. There really isn't one. We are STILL waiting to be matched with a birthmother. We are at a ripe 8 months of waiting for that phone call and the days keep coming. Going on 3 years of being in this process.
There have been several parts of this waiting season that I haven't shared publicly because they've just been too hard or the timing didn't feel right, but mainly because the Lord had so much sanctifying work to do in my heart first. And if there is anything all this waiting has spurred me on to do... it is to desire my Jesus and his sanctifying work in my life above all else. It's taken me weeks to write this post. Mainly because I don't feel "arrived" at all on any of the points I'll talk about. Most of them were things I already knew but the Lord deepened my understanding of them during these 8 months. And I'm not a writer. My husband has a way with words and expressing himself through them that I'll never posses. I just word vomit and ramble until the cows come home. It's one of the reasons I've put off writing all of this because I just worried I wouldn't do it justice. I wouldn't explain beautifully enough how the Lord has worked. But He can and will still receive praise through my elementary vocabulary and terribly put together sentences (yes, I was an English teacher and I dooooo actually know how to write complete and complex sentences, but this is my free place. I don't worry about that here. obviously. I promise I am educated though and my students were wildly successful in their testing. Grace. He gives grace haha).
About a week or two ago, we experienced our fourth failed possible match. Four times we've come THIISSSSS close to being matched but for one reason or the other, the Lord graciously shut the door. Yes, I said graciously. These four experiences were in so many ways BRUTAL to walk through. But with each one, the Lord drew me closer to Him, gave me more of Himself, showed me His loving Grace, sanctified my heart, revealed hidden sin in my heart, and reminded me of His sovereignty. To say it's been a humbling walk is an understatement. Serious understatement.
In random order, here are some things the Lord has taught me or deepened my understanding of through all the waiting and all the nos: (again, I feel inadequate to speak on some of these things because he is STILL teaching them to me. Some days I have victory over them and some days I really struggle with this waiting. But over and over again the Lord has proven faithful to give me just enough grace to get through each day)
1. The "No's" were a blessing. With the first two situations, I didn't really see it that way. I was hurt, I was mad, frustrated, and just ready to know this birth mama, love on her, and meet her child. I was ready to have this baby in our home. The Lord called us to this and giving us two No's seemed so cruel. They happened within about a week of each other this past Novemeber and one of the situations was us having to actually tell a birthmother No. I won't get into the specifics because honestly, I don't need to justify our reasons for us telling a birthmother no. The Lord showed us CLEARLY that it was His plan for us and He had another Godly family in mind for this momma. Goodness I NEVER EVER EVER EVER thought when we started this process that I would tell a BM no. It was so incredibly painful and confusing. Why had the Lord allowed it? And right after a failed possibility days before. It was so hard. SO HARD. My Husband- the insanely Godly man that he is- spoke so much grace and truth into my life during those days. About a week or so after, the Lord began to show me all the ways these two "No's" were a blessing and His will. He confirmed things in my heart that I needed confirming. He revealed sin that I needed to repent of. And He lovingly showed me that He heard my cries and my prayers and that He was with me.
"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" Col 1:17
He gave me this verse during that hell of a week. And I clung to its sweet truth. These No's were a blessing because they gave me more of Jesus. He is before every No. They were not a shock to Him. He allowed them for His glory and my good. He would hold me together. He would hold this adoption together because He holds ALL things together. I could let go and trust in His plan. With the next two No's I saw them as blessings before they were confirmed No's. With the initial phone calls, I told the Lord, no matter the outcome, He is good. He is faithful. and I want whatever will give me more of Him. I asked Him to reveal more of Himself to me and to let my eyes be wide open to see what it is He wanted to teach me. They ended up, of course, being no. And it was still very hard having another possibility fall through, but with these two no's it was also very sweet. Because I could sense His presence so so strongly. I could see how He was working and because I laid down my own desires, I could see what the Lord wanted to teach me through them so much more clearly. I am thankful for these No's and all the No's to come in the future (although I pray 5 is the magic number and a big FAT YES) because I know that they will lead me closer to my Savior. That my relationship with Him will be that much stronger and more ugly, sinful pieces of me will fall off through his sanctifying work.
For All the Promises of God find their Yes in Him. 2 Cor 1:20
My Yes, forever and always, is Jesus. "Beneath the unpredictability of our hoping and waiting, there is the certainty that come what may, all our hopes are ultimately fulfilled in Christ" I don't have the words eloquently enough to describe the weight and depth of that verse and quote. I just encourage you to meditate on them. Memorize them. and the let the Lord bring you FREEDOM through them.
2. Waiting is a calling and grace from the Lord. I can look back over the last 8 months of waiting and see how the Lord has changed me as a person, drawn me closer to Him, and done sanctifying work in my life.
"In calling us to wait, God is freeing us from the claustrophobic confines of our own little kingdoms of one and drawing us into a greater allegiance to his kingdom of glory and grace. Waiting is more than being patient as situations and other people change. Waiting is about understanding that you and I desperately need to change, and that waiting is a powerful tool of personal change. God is using the grace of waiting to change us at the causal core of our personhood: the heart"
I could go on and on about this topic, but instead I found these two articles that articulate everything the Lord has personally shown me. I wish I would have found them at month 1, but I can see now that the Lord needed me to learn the hard way for His glory. As I was preparing to write this I struggled with how to say everything I wanted to say. So I thought "hmmm, I bet there is an article out there somewhere that will do a better job, because I KNOW I'm not the only one that has dealt with this." And of course, there was. This article and this article hit the nail on the head.
3. Community is VITAL. Good Grief, I really could talk about this allllllll day. I would say I had great community with believers before we started this journey again. I feel so incredibly thankful the Lord placed us at our church and called us to plant it. He has blown me away with His grace and the community that has been built through Redeemer Baptist. But the enemy is cunning. And when you enter into a new waiting season, he likes to feed lies that you are alone. (and let me preface all this with saying that my husband is first and foremost my biggest source of encouragement. And I'm incredibly thankful for that. He is such a blessing from the Lord and so patient to hear me out and quick to point me to Christ. I knew though that it was biblical and needed for me to have close friends that I could do the same with. Sure, I had a couple friends who were also adopting, but both were international so then enemy would feed me lies that they didn't really understand what I was walking through. And OF COURSE my friends who had never adopted couldn't be an encouragement to me. They would never understand what I was facing and struggling with. Ugh, it sickens me how deceiving Satan can be. I prayed that the Lord would send me friends that would understand what I was walking through and he QUICKLY showed me that he already had. My friends, no matter if they were adopting or not, could be some of the encouragement I needed, BUT only if I let them (and a good handful of them were already committed to praying for me and serving me. I just didn't see it as the encouragement that it was because I was so bent with finding someone who would exactly understand what I was going through. When in reality, that will only ever be Jesus). I had to open up. I had to throw away the excuse that they wouldn't understand and I had to be vulnerable with them. I learned the best way to do this, was to simply care for them and pray over their burdens. I started diligently praying over their burdens more than I prayed for my own. I became emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally invested in their lives, burdens, and prayers to the point that my burdens became back burners to theirs. This wasn't something I did or came up with on my own. This was deep conviction from the Lord (through His word and through how some of my friends were already living it out) that I was too self absorbed in my own issues and world. My own "bubble". If I wanted encouragement and prayers from friends, I needed to first be that for them. I needed to serve them in prayer and in any practical ways that would bless them. I can't say enough what a blessing it has been to walk hard roads with some of my dearest friends. It's been excruciating at times seeing them so burdened and desperate for the Lord to move, but when I saw those prayers answered and promises fulfilled, it was massively encouraging to me that the Lord would, in His timing, do the same for me. I learned a lot about what true friendship and community in Christ looked like through these friends. So many of them do a way better job and loving me than I do for them. Community is hard. You HAVE to work for it. You must befriend people who are different than you or in different seasons of life than you are in. You can't just sit back and wait for it to come to you (although I'm extremely thankful for the friends who first pursued me and showed me what community looked like). You must daily text people, check in on them weekly, ask them for coffee, bring them dinner, drop off surprise treats, pray for them (and really commit to praying for them, not just saying that you will) and then tell them you're praying, and truly put them first. Find ways they like to be served and serve them in those ways (and obviously your husband should be a priority in this). With each possible match we agreed we'd only ask "our people" to pray over it. I wanted to keep it as private as possible until we had been matched. But as I started thinking of all the people who were walking this road with us and texting us daily and praying over us and checking in on us and truly carrying this burden, I realized we were well over 40 people. People TRULY committed to this journey with us. There are so many more that I know have been praying, but these are the few that have been in the trenches with us, checked in on us often, and allowed me to be sinful in front of them and vent over my struggles and then graciously pointed me to Christ. These last 8 months of community have been some of the sweetest of my entire life. So much grace has been poured out over me through these family and friends and I'm forever grateful for how they listen and serve my family and consistently point me to Christ. I still have so much growing to do in this area. I know there are more people for me to love and serve. There are people I need to love and serve better. This is an area of my life that I know the Lord will work on in my life for my whole life. We can always do a better job at loving others. Friend, if you aren't involved in a local church. Please find one that preaches the Word, lives out the gospel, loves people, and cultivates community. If you are unsure of where to go in your area, this LINK is a great resource. And if you are a part of one, dive in harder. Love more. Serve more. Ask the Lord to show you ways you can better be His hands and feet to the brothers and sisters you gather with. Phew, I told you I could talk all day about this.
4. PRAY BOLDLY. This goes a little hand in hand with what I just talked about but I felt it needed it's own little section. While cultivating this deep community, the Lord taught me the importance of praying boldly over these people, their burdens and prayer requests, and my own.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Heb 10:23
The Lord is ever faithful. He can't not be faithful. He proved it a thousand times over in the Old Testament and then again, with finality, with Christ's death. It is His character. He WAS and IS and WILL BE forever faithful. So what is there to fear? There is no room for fear. His faithfulness is too great. Right before Christmas, the Lord convicted me over my prayer life. I prayed daily and often but I lacked a deep, bold prayer life. I didn't pray expectantly of the Lord to move. I knew that He could but I often doubted that He would. I didn't pray with urgency. Over time, He radically transformed my prayer life and showed me the importance of praying boldly, with expectancy, with urgency, with passion, and humbly. Praying boldly can mean several different things, but one of the main things for me was letting go of that fear behind my prayers. The fear that the Lord wouldn't answer or that he wouldn't complete what he called us to. It takes daily repentance on my part and memorization of scripture to fight off those sinful fears. I'll never ever forget the month of February 2016, though. It was a month that I fiercely prayed over for 6 dear friends. They were each walking hard roads with big prayer requests that seemed to be impossible. I prayed without fear over them and I prayed expectantly that the Lord would answer them by the end of the month. One by one, He answered in miraculous ways, NOT because of anything I said or did, but out of His grace and to give himself glory. I know they were huge blessings to my friends, but honestly they blessed me so much as well because of what the Lord was teaching me about prayer. Just getting to be apart of His will for their lives brought me great joy. The last one wasn't answered until March, though. And through that the Lord reminded me that His timing is perfect. And I can pray big, expectant prayers and when the answer is No, I still get Jesus and He is still good and the giver of good gifts. Because my prayers are most importantly about drawing me closer to Christ and Him alone receiving the glory. Once again, I feel like I'm not doing this topic justice. This articleand This article help further express what I'm trying to say.
5. Scripture and the Word are oxygen to our soul. Memorizing scripture is crucial in our walks with the Lord. It's how we learn more about Him, how we keep ourselves grounded, how we fight off the enemy, how we encourage others, and how we bring Glory to God. I love repeating scripture back to the Lord and to myself. Scripture is the BEST tool. I write them on my hands, in my prayer journal, on sticky notes, on index cards, on my fridge, as my iphone screen saver, and I repeat them to friends.
I've already listed some of the verses that the Lord has given me during this wait. Here are a few more:
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. - This is how I want to spend this waiting season.
3 We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. 4 And patience produces character, and character produces hope. 5 And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.
2 Cor 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - On the hard days when I feel I'm failing, I can boast in my weakness, because Christ is strong in me. His power and strength can carry me and pull me closer to Him. My weakness reminds me that by His grace alone can I make it through each day. And it's okay to have hard days because they lead me to repentance. They lead me to Christ.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, and She laughs without fear of the future. -This is who I want to be. The type of woman I want to be. I want to be strong in Christ. I want to laugh at any fears that may fill my head. Christ is sovereign and in control, what do I have to be fearful of?
this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.- This day of waiting, every day of waiting is on purpose. It is ordained by God. So while I may not want it to be another day of waiting, I can be joyful in it. He's made this day for His glory. Him alone be praised!!
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.- I don't want to be so consumed in my own waiting season that I miss out on what the Lord is doing in other's lives or in other areas of my own life. I want my eyes to be wide open to all He has to show me and teach me.
Goodness, this was a doosy of a post. I've really wanted to document it all for quite some time now, but the Lord just keeps peeling back these layers of my sinful flesh and teaching me new things about him. I feel like I didn't do some of these justice, but I think that's okay. Because I know what He's taught me and how He's used this waiting season to drastically change me. My hopes in sharing this is to encourage anyone out there struggling in their own waiting season. CLING TO JESUS. RUN TO HIM. READ HIS WORD. SEEK GOSPEL COMMUNITY. MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE. MAKE MUCH OF JESUS. And moment by moment surrender your ways to Him. We will never "arrive" in these areas. There is always more to learn and more to repent of. In this waiting season, ask the Lord to open your eyes to what he has to show/teach you. Praise Him for each day of waiting. Choose Joy. If Christ is in you, you have the joy, strength, and hope to make it through each day. Make each day about Him, giving Him glory, and serving others. Pop your "bubble" and love others well. He has called you to this waiting for a purpose. He will be faithful to carry you through.
Thank you to my husband and friends who have been such Godly examples to me. Who have been so incredibly patient and understanding and loved me so well. Who have pointed me to Christ when my sin showed it's ugly face. Who have let me vent and voice my struggles. Who haven't judged me, but listened and loved me well. Who have prayed endlessly over our adoption and even set alarms to remind them to pray multiple times a day. Who have texted me scripture and written out prayers. You have all been the hands and feet of Christ to me and the Lord has used you all to reveal more of Himself to me. I'm forever grateful.
Ways you can be praying for us:
-Continued contentment in this waiting season
-our future birthmom. Please pray more for her than me. The struggles I have COMPARE NOTHING to what she is walking through. Pray protection over her and the baby. Pray for a smooth pregnancy and delivery. Confidence and Peace in her decision of adoption. Pray the Lord blesses her for her strength and bravery. Pray that Josh and I are able to love her well, point her to Christ, minister to her, champion her, encourage and support her in all the ways that will be most helpful to her. Pray for her salvation if she doesn't already know the Lord. Pray she would be willing to have an open adoption.
-the birthfather. Basically all the same things I listed above. We pray that he will want to be apart of the child's life as well and for his salvation.
-that our adoption would happen before August. Come August we will face a pretty big crossroads. Our homestudy will expire and we will lose our $4,000 grant. We will be able to reapply for this grant but we may not receive that same amount. We are desperately praying for a placement by then so we do not lose this money and have to go back through all the steps for our homestudy a third time.
-Pray for the Cole family and the Fortenberry family. These are two other families that are friends of ours and are currently adopting as well. Pray placements for them before the end of the summer too!
-Pray for Aldridge family who fly out next week to bring their daughter home from the Congo.
-Pray for the May family who are pursuing adoption through Foster Care.
And I leave you with a song that I have been singing daily.
"Today's surrender is tomorrow's freedom"