It's almost the end of 2014! I am totally stoked for 2015 for obvious reasons. If things go "as planned", Beau and I will not only be known as a brother, sister, son, daughter, husband, wife, etc...but we're hopeful to add the names "mom and dad" to our resume of life. ;)
This past Sunday was the last service of the year. In the midst of our worship time at church, the worship leader encouraged us to spend a time in quiet prayer and reflection of thankfulness to The Lord for what's He's done this past year. What I liked the most was when he made a point to remind us that even in hard, trying times, to give Him thanks, because in those circumstances we are often drawn nearer to the Farther, if we allow Him.
My mind immediately went to thankfulness for this very bittersweet journey of adoption. We started the process January 17, 2014. Literally the entire year has been consumed with paper chases, notarized documents, fundraising, booking plane tickets, writing checks for massive amounts of money, joyous moments of getting updated pictures and hearing word about our growing children, waiting for approval here and there, and everywhere, (me) meeting them for the first time, countless email exchanges, and I certainly won't lie- lots and lots of worry, doubt, and fear, too. Some of those valid, and some of those just straight lies from the enemy for no reason.
It's been a roller coaster.
To say the least.
I encourage you, at the end of 2014, to take a few minutes and jot down ways you've seen God work through you, your family, or others. Even amidst troubles or trying times.
I wanted to document the (few, of many) ways I've seen God and what I'm thankful for. In no order, just what comes to mind.
1.) our agency. We gladly parted ways with the first agency we were with, and we clearly saw God's hand and urging in that...it took us to two other agencies who were willing to work with our unique case and is now partnered with the baby home in Africa. These two agencies have matched almost every child that was there, allowing the baby home to serve the community even more. This would not have been possible with the first agency. All through a trying time back in March when we knew we were to leave that agency, but had no idea where to go next. He used that trial for us, to better countless other families wanting to adopt- and countless orphans.
For that I am thankful.
2.) the agency we chose to go with, is in West Des Moines. A mere 35 minute drive from our home, and the same city I work in! It has been so wonderful to drive documents there without the hassle and wait time of the postal service. Woohoo!!
3.) our home study/agency lady is a true God-send. Again, it was so clear to leave the other agency where the workers were nothing like our helpful, kind, knowledgable worker we now go through. This woman is doing the work of God with a joyful and helpful heart. And that my friends, is such an ease to our anxious hearts. Thank you C! ;)
4.) our children. They are gorgeous. Miss M is the most JOYFUL baby ever. I can't wait to see her changing personality and how she's grown, now, in less than a month! C-man is an absolute treasure. I miss his cuddles and those eyes that melt me, the look in his eyes and the touch of his hands/arms as he clings to me! Ah. Ok. Can't go on much more before losing it here on the stair master. ;)
5.) our African attorney. Guys, he is wonderful. He is a great communicator. I've personally met him and his family, and can attest we have a good one. In a situation and continent where "corruption" is what describes adoption....he cares. He cares about doing a good job, a CORRECT AND LEGAL job. I'm thankful for that, it's a priceless gift in this journey.
6.) the founder of the orphanage. Oh how God has used her. A complete stranger a year ago, we know refer to one another as "older sister" and "little sis" to me, she now- an extension of our family. Someone who will always be invited to birthday parties and have Skype dates, and visits when we are in town vise versa. Thank you L for obeying and listening to The Lord when he called you to a completely uncomfortable 'unknown' for His kingdom.
7.) Cathy. Thank you for whatever reason you remembered a one time introduction, and that we wanted to adopt. For stepping out and approaching my mom in a gigantic gym full of people, with this opportunity for us to pursue, not at all in our timing, but His.
8.) my very indecisive and terrible ability to make a decision- for whatever reason God made it a very obvious and clear decision that 2014 was the year we would begin adopting, not our timing of "sometime in 2015"! Ha!! Thank you Lord Jesus for knowing exactly what we needed and the prompting to say yes and obey. Thank you for keeping us going nearly 12 months later, and we know You will remain with us no matter what's coming.
9.) the ways God has provided penny by penny just when we need it, to meet the financial needs of adopting C & M. It's a heavy burden. It's a lot of money. And because we didn't have every dollar upfront, it's caused Beau and I to trust in Him each step, each day. We trust He will continue to provide what we NEED, not always our wants.
10.) our jobs. They have been flexible and so excited for us.
11.) incredible support through family, friends, connection group who is an extension of our family, and our church body. All of which are EXCITED and pray us through this.
12.) numerous people who are making sure we are prepared to parent and provide for these two children. Let's say, I had no idea the kind of things we would (conservatively) need to care for two kids. Going from zero kids to two, different ages and genders...oh boy....and girl....you need a heck of a lot of crap, er, things. ;) thank you to those who have passed down hand-me-down clothes, crib, blankets, sippy-cups, bath toys, etc. We are off to a good start!
13.) the constant, around the clock, incredible care of our babies while we live and wait across the ocean, for them. These women are amazing, people. Amazing. Two of these woman have become my "African mother and sister". They not only care for the survival needs of our kids, but upon my arrival, welcomed me with open and loving arms.
Literally, the head caretaker told me before I left, "Now you are my daughter, and 'S' is your sister (her daughter). C & M are now my grand babies." She would tell "S" or me, "Go fetch your sister"...haha!! They always referred to me as C's momma, or M's momma...they fully engulfed me as their mother even though they were the ones doing all of the mothering the past year and three years of their lives (and counting).
I love these women. I pray for these women as we will hopefully, but bittersweetly, be taking C & M home with us our second trip. I pray for them to know Jesus. I pray for them to not grow weary in doing good. For strength and an abundance of love for these kids, that by flesh, are not theirs.
And number 14.) because it's the ending of 2014: for God's obvious protection over Beau & I's marriage. It's never been better between the two of us. Don't get me wrong, we still drive each other bonkers from time to time. But we fiercely laugh with one another, enjoy spending time with each other, and love each other more than ever before. On our 3rd anniversary this past November, Beau said it best, "I feel like we are more "one" with each other."
There are thousands of other things we are grateful for. But this was a few fourteen. We can't wait to see what 2015 holds for us, for C & M, for God's kingdom through us. We pray His will be done, and that we would be 100% at peace with whatever he allows us to endure. That we would have absolute pure trust and faith in Him, that we would listen, obey, and have a calm about us, as did the waves of the thrashing sea did in Mark 4, when Jesus commanded them to be still. We want to be like the waves. Not the disciples in their fear and panic, even after walking for years with Jesus in His ministry. Fully knowing what He was capable of. Easier said than done. But I'm anxious to grow in our relationship with Him this year!!
Blessings to you this New Year, and may you also grow nearer to Him.