Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adoption's Heartbeat

Last weekend Derek and I went to the national "Together for Adoption" Conference in Atlanta. 

Between the two of us, we've attended our share of conferences in years past:  marriage, women's, men's, youth, youth leaders, education, technology, and homeschool, just to name a few.

Suffice to say, we're seasoned experts in the conference arena.  Been there.  Done that.  (And yes, we even have a few t-shirts to prove it.)

But this conference was so different.  And so timely.  And so beneficial for us.

Beforehand, we read the descriptions for each breakout session and mapped out which ones we most wanted to attend and most needed for our family.  We donned the name tags, wandered the exhibit hall and took in a deep breath--full of expectation and hope.

Each speaker, each song, each session reiterated our call to this journey of adoption.  It was confirmation upon confirmation upon confirmation.  And our thirsty souls drank it all in.

But the loudest, yet most gentle clamor, was the sound of our own adoption reverberating in our ears from start to finish. 

Have you heard it?  Have you heard how you dearly loved you are?  No?  Then read on, my friend. 

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.
Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. 
Now we call him, “Abba, Father."
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.  Rom. 8:14-16 (NLT)

Adoption is the heartbeat of the gospel.  It's the highest privilege--all because of our close relationship with the Father as His child, because of the sacrifice of His Son.  Jesus is the natural, eternal son, but we are adopted into His family through grace. 

Adoption is the message from a loving Father, saying, "Come home with me."

All of us, spiritually speaking, were born outside the family of God.  Apart from Him, we were isolated, rebellious, soiled and in great need.  But before the foundation of the world, God chose us.  He was busy, designing His family, preparing to become a Father.

Similarly, we are busy planning and preparing to become parents once again.  This time to an orphan, temporarily outside our family.   We have made the choice to fill out the applications and open our hearts and our home to our daughter.  We want her here, with us.

Once the judge declares the adoption is official, she becomes our honored daughter.  She has a place in our family.  She will gain a new identity, no longer being known as she once was in the past.  She will bear a new name; she will be a Fort.  And she will belong with us.

The same thing is true for us spiritually.  The moment we believe, the moment we say, "Yes" to Jesus, our family dynamics change entirely.  We have a place in the family of God, not by anything we did for ourselves, but because of what was done for us. 

We possess a new name and a new identity.  We belong.  And nothing we can do will ever change that.  Because family is forever.

Thank You, Abba Father, for the Spirit of adoption who confirms who we are: 
wanted, chosen, lavishly loved, adopted sons and daughters. 
Thank You for leaving Your home to enter into the spiritual orphanages
of this world with one goal in mind: bringing us home with You.

Adoption.  Most beautiful display of the gospel.  Ever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A New Mercy Morning

Whew.  I am SO glad it's a new day.  Especially after yesterday.

Too much fussing.  Too much whining.  Too many harsh words. 

Not enough gentleness.  Not enough patience.  Not enough mercy.

And surprisingly, this has little to do with the girls.

During my (most-necessary) time of prayer this morning, I repeated these promises in Lamentations 3:22-23.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning...

Thank. You. God.

I told the Lord how much I appreciated and needed His new mercies today because I felt consumed.  With my behavior and with guilt. 

I knew the "law of kindness" rarely graced my tongue yesterday. 
I knew that I'd gone all "loco" when an entire container of vanilla yogurt was spilled on the carpet. 
I knew I'd been less than patient when we were still doing school at five o'clock in the afternoon.  Yes. Really.

In the midst of expressing my desperate need for His new mercies today, I couldn't help but think of my daughters' desperate need for my new mercies today, as well. 

Just as I am completely and totally dependent on second chance  moments, they are too.  From Him and from their mama.

Because of the Lord's great love, I can extend a second, third, or even a hundredth chance to myself and most especially, to my little ones.  And I will.  Starting now.  This morning.

I can grace as I've been graced.

Another new mercy morning.  Thank you, Lord.

(And since You know I'm going to need another one tomorrow, I will go ahead and thank You for that one, too.  And for the next one, and the next and the next...)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Maybe...the Best Has Yet to be Written

Same routine.  Every school morning.  Here at home.

Shortly after Bible and calendar, we jump right into the discipline of handwriting practice. 

While my third grader works diligently, perfecting her letters in cursive, my kindergartner works simultaneously, mastering the strokes of her manuscript alphabet.  All the while, we play the same game, in the same way--everyday.

We affectionately call it the, "find and circle your very best letter, which you just wrote on your paper" game.  Pretty original, right?

My youngest writes her letters.  She picks her favorite(s).  Then, I pick mine.

Object of the game--see if we agree on the same letter. 

Of course we all know the real game is just Mommy's slightly sneaky way of making sure darling daughter takes her time and takes pride in doing her best work.  And for the most part, Mommy's plan works accordingly.

Until the other day.

Here's a bit of the conversation which took place between my youngest pupil and me:

Me:  "Okay.  Let's see...which one will be your BEST letter today?  Hmm...I am SO excited.  I CANNOT wait to see which one it will be!"

Her:  (writes exactly one letter after example letter) "This is it.  This is the best one."

Me:  "Uh, yes, that one is really fantastic, but look.  You still have some more spaces can write some more."

Her:  "I don't want to.  I already wrote the best one."

Me:  "I really think you should keep going.  Who knows?  Maybe the best has yet to be written."

With that, my budding writer picks up her pencil and moves it across the page.  When all is said and done, she's written a beautiful letter on every dot, on every line. (whew!)

Setting her pencil down, we both agree her very best letter was the one she'd written toward the end, after more time, more practice and more repetition.

She's surprised at herself and I'm surprised at the words I just spoke to her (especially after my last blog post).

Maybe my best has yet to be written, too. 

Why do I so often think my best times, best efforts, best moments are right now, or worse, that they've already occurred?

Why is it, particularly lately, that I have flashes when I am less than excited about the future coming to pass?

Why do I concern myself with the next couple of years when our family grows through adoption or the next ten years when I am the mother to three teenage girls or the next fifteen-twenty years when my home is just one big, very quiet, very empty nest?

If the scripture tells me that "all the days ordained for me were written in His book before even one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16)...

And if the scripture tells me that "no eye has seen, no ear as heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9)...

Then maybe I should be celebrating and laughing at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25) instead of exerting time, energy, and brain cells feeling hesitant and insecure.

Maybe, just best, my absolute best, has yet to be written. 

How about you?  Do you believe your best has yet to come? 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I Have a Feeling

The last few weeks, I've had a strange feeling in my gut.  I might compare it to a word of caution, a "heads-up", or even a warning to heed.

In my mind, I'm at the beach on a gorgeous, green-flag day.   Basking in the sunshine, I kick off my flops and begin to stroll along the shore.  I cannot help but smile as I wade farther into the salty water.  Like a dry sponge, I soak in the calm surrounding me.

But suddenly, in the midst of all that is beautiful and serene, I sense a quiet rumble, an unfamiliar stirring.  The once-tranquil waters have begun to churn, becoming choppy and suddenly precarious. And just over the horizon, I can see a storm gaining momentum.

I pray I'm wrong.  But still, I have a feeling.

You see, we've spent the past month completing the final responsibilities of the Home Study phase of our adoption journey, specifically the education phase.  Reading, reading, and even MORE reading.  Books, blogs, more books, more blogs, and the mandated, 12-hour, on-line Hague Convention training have nearly consumed me.

I love to read and I love to learn.  I take advantage of opportunities to grow in my knowledge on any given subject, but the last couple of weeks takes the cake.

I've had to read about orphanages, institutionalized children, developmental delays, soothing behaviors, sensory processing disorder, reactive attachment disorder, bonding, neglect, abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, malnutrition, cognitive and emotional concerns, and post-adoption depression syndrome, just to name a few.

With knowledge comes understanding and with understanding comes empathy.  I get this. Indefinitely, this information will help prepare me to parent our little girl.  But this knowledge also ties up my mind and stomach in knots.  Bottom line: I'm afraid and I'm anxious.

And those are two things I despise:  fear and worry.

They also just happen to be two things I'm commanded by my Lord not to do.  Remember these often-repeated words throughout scripture?

"Do not fear."  
"Do not worry."  

Yeah. I do, too.

And yet...I find myself consumed with both.

I worry about my daughter's physical health.
I worry that she is not being fed nourishing foods or protected from diseases.
I worry about her mental state.
I worry about her lying in a crib for hours and hours, neglected and understimulated.
I worry about her emotional needs not being met.
I worry that she is not being held enough or kissed enough or doted over enough.

I'm afraid she won't attach or bond to us quickly when she comes home.
I'm afraid of the "honeymoon" stage wearing off too quickly and the hard reality setting in.
I'm afraid of sleep-deprivation...again.
I'm afraid I won't be able to meet her needs, especially when she is grieving the loss of all she's ever known.
I'm afraid of being isolated during the "cocooning" phase.
I'm afraid our family and friends won't understand.
I'm afraid I won't have the strength, the patience, the perseverance, and most of all, the love I need to be my little girl's mother.
I'm afraid one day my husband and I will look at each other and say, "What the h--- were we thinking?"

And deep down, I am afraid that even though we will take our child out of the institution, it will be a struggle to take the institution out of our child.

I'm not trying to be negative.  Really I'm not.  Just honest.  It's hard, excruciatingly hard, to read what we've read and not let it affect you.

I've had trouble resting the past couple of weeks.  I've gone to bed anxious and have had less-than-pleasant dreams about not being prepared and ready.

Our social worker says to "expect the worst and pray for the best."

We are.

And with every prayer uttered on our Indian daughter's behalf, we squeak one out for us.
We are casting our cares, clinging to the only One capable of silencing the winds and waves raging within us.
We rest and rely on the One who loves our daughter(s) immeasurably more than we could ever imagine loving them.

Storm or no storm on the horizon, we will not drown.  In contrast, we will rest securely in the promise of His presence and His provision, for our daughter and for us.

The God who called us WILL equip us.  No doubt.  I have a feeling.

Would you consider praying for us, too?

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