Sunday, March 31, 2013

Desperate for Him

It is a challenge to truly understand my need for Jesus when I can go through most of my days seemingly not needing Jesus. My husband has a good job, we have a nice house in a safe place, food whenever we want it, insurance that allows me to take my kids to the doctor whenever I need to, the freedom to worship God when and where I want to, and the ability to buy myself all of what I need and much of what I want. I recognize that these things are given to me by God....that all good things come from Him, but that truth lives mostly in my head and too often not in my heart. It is possible for me to go for months on end and easily not find myself in a single moment where I feel a desperate need for God. 

But, the truth is that I DESPERATELY need Him.  This life is a vapor. An instant and it is gone.  I let it sink in that the wages I have earned during these nearly 45 years of life are eternal death and that I CANNOT help myself. I cannot cover, cleanse, or fix the stains of sin that cling to me.  Instead I add to them daily. I cannot do enough good to outweigh the bad. I am utterly helpless and I am utterly doomed.  I am desperate for a savior. It is my ONLY hope. 

Against this awareness of my true state Easter is a life raft in the middle of the ocean. A drowning man doesn't casually swim to the raft and thank it for showing up (even though he would have been fine either way). No. A man who is truly drowning CLINGS frantically because he knows that it is his only means of salvation. And he is grateful. Utterly grateful. He will tell the story over and over about how without that raft he would have drowned. 

How much more should I cling to Christ? That He would endure the brutality of the cross for MY sin. How much more should I tell the tale of how He took what I so surely earned upon Himself so that I could could escape the punishment that I so richly deserved? Oh the love and gratitude that wells up within me....that is filling me daily with courage to lay down my life for Him in return. All of it. My house. My stuff. My lifestyle. My future. To love Him with the utter abandon with which He loves me. What more could He have given? What more do I need to give? 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Want to Hear A Good Story??

Here I am, a year after my last post, dusting off our blog to share some very exciting news! Our family is in the process of growing.....again! There are two precious children who will be waiting for us, thousands of miles away, while we work to get them home as quickly as we can. But before we get busy with background checks and paperwork there is a story here that must be celebrated and shared so that we never forget to make much of the mountains God has moved to bring us together! It is a bit long but it's good!!

Last Sunday I finally decided to organize the mountain of paperwork that remained from our adoption of Lilly and Noah in 2011. As I worked through it the thought rolled through my mind, "It's time to do this again", and that was that. I didn't even say it out loud.

On Monday Keith was out of town for work (which is rare since he primarily works from home) and I got busy making doctor appointments and taking care of family business. As I was working on my computer I took a minute to check on a blog that I have read regularly for years..... Linny's blog at A Place Called Simplicity. I noticed that she was advocating for a specific child, a little girl named Susanna.  I regularly see children advocated for on blogs but I have not ever once felt the tugging that I needed to find out more. I have shed tears, prayed, and followed their stories....but never have I felt led to become personally involved beyond that. As I scrolled through the pictures I read that Susanna has spina bifida,  like our Lilly. But, unlike our Lilly,  I read that this sweet six year old girl has never had the surgery to close up her back. Heartbreaking! She also has untreated hydrocephalus, and after years of rarely ever being lifted out of her crib is now left there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because to be lifted up past the bars creates tremendous anxiety in her. My mind struggled to comprehend what I was imagine what Susanna's life must look like.

I noticed that she was in an Eastern European orphanage. When we began the process of our first international adoption, we ended up going with Lilly's country because it was the only Eastern European country where we qualified for adoption. What were the odds that Susanna was in this same country? In my mind not good, but I felt compelled to just reach out to the contact Linny had listed at the bottom of the post. So, I emailed and explained that it was unlikely that we would be qualified, but I had seen Susanna's information and having adopted a child already with spina bifida I wanted to do what I could to help....expecting it would be to advocate for her and help her find her family. After all, Keith and I weren't even talking about adopting again! Ha...ha...ha!!

The response came back quickly and I was truly stunned to see that Susanna was indeed in the country where we had adopted Lilly! Hmmm. This was interesting. I began emailing back and forth with Nina and finally I just picked up the phone and called to ask her questions!!

The wheels in my mind were turning! One of the major reasons that we moved to northern Kentucky in the first place was so that we could be near the spina bifida clinic at the nearby children's hospital for Lilly. It was a hard move for me because what had been my heart's desire was for us to move back west closer to my family. I literally went through a grieving process that took over two years (my husband will tell you that I do that sort of stuff pretty s  l  o  w  l  y!). When we moved here we had no way to know that God was going to surprise us with the adoption of a baby boy who started life at 1.6 pounds and who was going to desperately need the staff at this children's hospital to get him off a ventilator and in doing so give him the hope of a full life........AND that as a critical part of that process he would require major throat surgery that was actually pioneered by one of the doctors at that very hospital! Only God can orchestrate stories like this!! So, here we were a couple of years later with the very doctors on speed dial (NOT kidding) that Susanna would need to be restored to health! And here I sat, fresh from God doing a major work on my heart that had finally brought me to a place of true and complete submission to HIS plan for where I would live and how I would spend my life (His vision....not mine). Peace was bearing its fruit in my heart and could we not help???

So, after I explained to Nina that I hadn't gotten out of bed that morning intending to pursue adoption, and that I still needed to attend to the "minor" detail of talking to my husband (he is one amazing man and I knew that he would come home with an open heart ready to talk and to hear from God), I assured her that I would get back to her soon. SO, next step was to call one of my dear friends who I actually met when she was the social worker for our first adoption. She is a woman of God and an adoptive mom who had brought home a daughter from this same country in the past year. I was unfamiliar with this agency that had Susanna's file and I thought maybe she would have heard of I wanted to share the news and get her counsel. Admittedly another fleece of sorts! So, this is about how it went......First, as I stumbled around to remember the name of the agency she filled in the blanks (yeah, she had heard of them) AND she proceeded to mention the name of a "fantastic" woman she knew who was with said agency AND that if she could refer me to anyone in the states to facilitate a Bulgarian adoption it would be, you guessed it, the very woman I had been communicating with....NINA! Her final words to me (and yes, she was laughing), "Well sister, I think you have your answer!"

Keith and I talked a bit that night and we went to bed. All night I thought about something else I had read about Susanna. There was a boy in the crib next to her that she had become very attached to. They would communicate back and forth. She would reach through into his crib and mother him by straightening his clothing or blankets. When he was taken from the room she would anxiously wait for him to return. It was going to be so hard for this sweet girl to even be lifted out of her crib. How could she be separated from him as well?? So, the next morning I emailed Nina again and asked about him. Was he available for adoption? Amazingly enough not only was he available, but his file was with the same agency! Only God! Nina said that they called him "Will", and she had known about him already, but not that he was the boy Susanna loved!

Now it was time for us to really seek God and pray for His direction. It is hard, once you start to connect to a child, to have to lay them before God and trust that if it is His plan, they will be yours. I let Nina know that we would need to take a bit to pray, but that we knew time was of the essence and we would let her know as quickly as we could, knowing that it was possible another family would get in line in front of us while we processed. The next 4 days were hard. Something else can happen when you are considering doing something big with God, like bringing home two children with big needs (Will also has spina bifida and, unless God chooses to intervene and perform a miracle, they will both spend their lives in wheelchairs).....fear can start to creep in. Doubt. The thoughts of sacrifices too big and opportunities lost. Honestly, it can get ugly. What was so clear to me though was that when my thoughts were centered on Christ the peace was so deep, but when I moved over to "my" side and thought about all that I may be giving up (it is worth noting that to fail to recognize that being the hands and feet of Jesus, however that looks in our life, is costly is to not understand what is required of us) I was flailing in misery. We shared it with our kids on Saturday night. They were excited at the possibility and that always humbles me......their sweet hearts. On Sunday I told Keith, "I have reasons not to move forward, but not one of them can be supported by scripture and they all have to do with me." He said, "Same here. We move forward." Ah, peace. I emailed Nina.

The next morning I had an email from her when I woke up that told me time was short and she needed  paperwork completed that day and it required both of our signatures (little detail here is that Keith was again out of town.....thanking God for a smart husband and electronic signatures!). If we didn't get the paperwork to her that night we risked losing the referral. Isn't God's timing amazing???

I am in awe of how many people have been praying for Susanna and "Will" (I use the quotation marks because Will Williams will not be his permanent moniker....but I love how it was as if he was being marked for our family!) and we ask you to please continue!! We covet your prayers. This transition will be so hard for Susanna.....but what freedom and joy will be waiting for her as God delivers her from both her literal and spiritual prisons!! Wisdom for the doctors when we get them home. Protection while they wait. Protection and provision for our family as we work through the process. We would love to continue to share this story with many of you are already a part of it and we honestly don't have the words to thank you!