Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Extravagant Love

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

John 13:34

I got into the taxi cab to head back to our hotel. We had just completed our first visit with Josie. Keith and I went into this journey knowing the significant developmental delays Josie has. All the medical reports provided by the orphanage say that she is at about the developmental level of a 4 month old. We honestly worked hard to keep our expectations very low going into the first visit. It is hard to describe the adrenaline that flows through you as you wait for them to open the door and introduce you to the child whose pictures you have been staring at for months. The door opened and there she was! She looked so much more vibrant than either of us expected! She was sitting in a stroller and I was struck by how very beautiful she is! We spent the next hour holding her and playing with her. 

There is no doubt that many of the things in her medical report are not accurate. She is doing much better in many areas than we were expecting. Yet the truth is that in many ways she is like a baby. She speaks in coos, tongue clucks, and sighs, and it is likely that she will never speak words (that is a typical symptom of her medical condition). She rolls back and forth, gets on her hands and knees, but is nowhere near walking, and the reality is that she may never walk. She absolutely engages with us in ways that we were delighted to see. She laughs when tickled. She smiles when she is enjoying a game. She has very clear ideas about what she would like to be doing! She loves to be held and will allow you to calm her by rubbing her hair. All things considered, our expectations were blown away.....and that was a very good thing!! 

Yet, as we walked to the taxi there was also unspoken fear. What will the future hold for Josie, and for us as her family? We were sort of holding our hearts in check and although we hadn't talked about it, we were each asking ourselves the same questions. While it is true that adoption saves a child from a life with no future, it also can profoundly change the lives of those adopting, if we will let it. God, in His economy, never wastes an opportunity to keep chipping away at the stone around our hearts, if we will let Him. 

 I had some ugly stone around my heart. As I got into the cab I could hear Him saying to me, "What lives have value? Who determines that value? If Josie never develops beyond the developmental level of a 6 month old, won't her life still have been worth saving?"

At times I catch my breath when I realize how the philosophy of the world creeps in to my worldview. The lie that life is assigned value based on contribution, and that the contributions that counts are strength, power, excellence in sports, intelligence/getting into the best schools, popularity, physical beauty....all based on a standard that changes with the wind. 

As I continued through my day it became so clear that God was showing me the very definition of extravagant love. He is redeeming Josie's life. A life that by the standards of this world has very little value. Yet, she is priceless to Him. She is SO worth the time, the resources, the effort, the lifetime commitment. This question is answered for me. For once and for all. God loves us extravagantly. Spiritually we have nothing to offer Him. We have nothing to contribute. Yet, He loves us and He longs to claim us as His own.....to welcome us into His forever family. It is all grace! 

Let us love as He loves us!

Here Again.....

Daddy and Josie

For our 2011 international adoption I had planned to blog on our first trip. The first half of our trip was very difficult. We agreed that if we couldn't be truthful we wouldn't blog. So, for the most part, we didn't blog. Adoption is redemptive and beautiful. For most of us who bring home children, there are also challenges to be faced. It is difficult to walk into an orphanage, having a pretty good idea of what is going on inside on a daily basis, and not be changed. Not be sobered by what you are experiencing. When you bring home a child from that hard place you are met daily with the lasting impact that starting life in that environment has had on your child. You celebrate the miracles.....and there are MANY...... and you watch with gratitude as they learn to trust and relax. You battle beside your child to get to that place, knowing and appreciating how hard it has been, for ME, to get to that place in my own life....the place where I can trust God and relax into His love for me....how much harder it must be for a child who has been brutally neglected (at best) since birth. 

I have been amazed by how adoption has mirrored pregnancy and childbirth. The waiting. The worrying.  The wondering. My most anxious delivery wasn't my first but my fourth.....because I KNEW what to expect!! Sometimes the anticipation of holding my baby took center stage, but sometimes it was all I could do to control my fears about the pain I knew I would have to go through to get to the part where I was holding my baby!!! For Keith and I, adoption has been very much the same. Lilly and Noah are absolute MIRACLES! We have been privvy to watching utterly amazing things! We get to experience the wonder of feeling as though we could tell their birth stories because it seems as if they have always been a part of our family! But there have also been many hard days. Sacrifices. Scary moments. Time and again we have had to lay down selfishness, impatience, and fatigue. It is all SO worth it, but like pregnancy number four, as we enter this new adoption journey we have a much better idea of what lies ahead......both the awesome and the difficult.

I believe that the enemy uses fear to keep many away from adoption. How will I be able to do it? What will I have to "give up"? Will we ever go camping again? Will we all fit in our car? Will we ever be empty nesters? Will we be able to travel? How will we afford it? And on it goes. It can be paralyzing. The sacrifices are real. The difficulties are real. But so are the rewards....both temporal and eternal. We have had to work diligently this go around to keep our thoughts in check....some days we win that battle and some days we don't. By God's grace we are here!! The enemy is a liar and I can already see the blessings that God has in store for our family. May we encourage each other to fight the fight and stay in the battle! So many lives depend on it. 

So, here we are again!! And this time I am blogging!

We Have Arrived!

We arrived safely, on time, and with ALL of our luggage! 

Our hotel. 
The beds are amazingly comfortable (very important when you are exhausted and jet lagged!!) 
and everyone here has been so helpful and kind!

The view from one of our hotel windows

A beautiful old building

A nearby neighborhood 

Our amazing first night dinner!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's All Because of Her........

As we sat on the plane Friday, finally on our way to meet Will and Josie, my thoughts kept going to Susanna. Words can't describe how deeply I wish we were coming to meet her. How utterly sad we still are that we won't be bringing her home.

Yet, because of her amazing story of love we are on our way to meet these two sweet children:

We can never underestimate the power of loving. The courage to love, regardless of our circumstances, can really change lives. Even when things don't turn out in our favor, or that way we want them to.

Susanna taught me that. I am forever in her debt. 

We love you sweet girl!