Lucky #108

I’ve lived through a lot of numbers in my life.  I celebrated turning sixteen at Cherry’s soda fountain with my closest friends.  I married my dear friend at nineteen, he was twenty-one in the First Baptist Church on Main Street in my hometown.  I waited five long weeks, that’s thirty-five tortuous days for Annabeth’s heartbeat to show up on ultrasound after our doctor told us the pregnancy didn’t “take”.    I survived seven years of college and graduated with a doctorate without losing my mind or my family.  I have three children ages nine, five and two.  But I can honestly say I’ve never been number 108.  We knew we were on the bottom of the list.   We expected to be at the bottom of the list.  We just didn’t know the list was so long.  I’m not sure who I felt sorrier for, me or the adoption consultant who had to inform me.  It wouldn’t seem so large if there were more referrals, but for the last 90 days not a single child has been matched with a family within our agency.  So with odds like that a family could be waiting for a long time.  Initially, I took the news in stride.  I joked, I laughed, I made statements like, “you can’t get to the top if you don’t start at the bottom”, but secretly in the bottom of my heart I was disappointed.  For a few days I just let the number marinate.  I just let it hang around our house and get to know us.  And I prayed about it, but mostly my prayers were short because as Lydia says, “God can hear you from your heart, you don’t have to say everything.”  Oh, how I love that kid!  And I read his word.  And just like he always does my friend Jesus directed me to the words I needed to hear,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
He reminded me that Isaiah is not a project!  In fact, none of my children are!  They are members of our family and that the entire process of raising each of my children is a marathon not a 20 yard dash.  Our family story doesn’t begin when Isaiah arrives; it’s just a new chapter.  He also brought to my attention that a lot of folks are watching our actions, i.e. the witnesses.  And the longer this process takes the more closely people will be watching.   Are we who we say we are?   Absolutely!  But, the proof is in our actions.  Can we live it?  Yes, we say we love Christ and that we’ve committed our entire lives to his service, but if we have no race to run then how will others see that and come to know him for themselves.   As my daddy says, “love is just a word, unless you back it up.”    And oh, how my Savior backed it up!  He waited thirty-three years on this earth, that’s 11, 748 days, to walk the hill to Calvary for me, for you.  He knew we could never make that walk.  We just don’t have it in us to pardon our own sins.  He ignored the shame.  He bore the unspeakable pain of that day for my daughter, for my son, for your son so that they would never have to.  So that they would never know what it means to die in such a way.  He fixed his eyes on his father and the home he once knew.  He knew his course.  It was already marked.  Just like mine is.  Only mine is so much easier.  I have only to wait and work.  I have only to tell his story.  That is all he has asked me to do.  It seems such a small thing really. In perspective the number 108 seems like what it is, just a number.  So here’s what I’ve decided to do.  I’m going to choose to be joyful every single day for however long we have to wait.   And I’m going to work as hard as I can. I’m going to embrace every opportunity to tell others about the love Christ has for me and for them because I don’t want them to miss the chance to know the greatest guy that ever lived. I’m going to grab on to my best friend Jesus and run this race for however long he says to, and I’m not talking about waiting for my son anymore.  He marked my course himself and he’s waiting for me at the finish line, so I can’t lose.  Neither can you.  If you’ve got some numbers in your life that you’re dealing with maybe it’s time you gave them to him.  Third divorce?  Second miscarriage?  Tenth time in Rehab? He can handle whatever you’re carrying around.  But you have to let him.  Verse one tells us that these things can hinder and entangle us.  Don’t let them.  Don’t let them hold you back from the race he has designed for you.  Let him use you for his glory.  It’s what we were made to do.  There’s no number in your life he can’t help you through. There’s no number in your life that he can’t forgive. He tells us so in John 6:37, “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

715,040. That’s approximately how many days it’s been since he finished his race. He’s doing his own waiting now; on the right hand of God.  Waiting for the moment he can collect his children.  Waiting for the moment he can finally bring them home.    Watching them suffer and knowing that he must wait until God’s perfect timing says he can bring them home.  I can understand a little bit of what he must be feeling.  715,040…suddenly 108 doesn’t seem so big after all.   

We are often asked if there is anything someone can do to help us so below you will find a prayer list.  Please consider praying for us on a regular basis.  We would greatly appreciate it.
1.  Pray for our son’s family.  Pray that he & his family come to know Christ and his love for them.  This is the most important thing to us!
2.     Pray for our children to grow in their understanding of God’s love and grace for them.  Pray that God will knit their hearts to their brother’s before he ever comes home.
3.     Pray for God’s timing and will for our adoption.  We do not want things to proceed any other way.
4.     Pray for our son to love us as much as we already love him.  Adjustment & attachment can be very difficult for some babies.
5.     Pray for the other families waiting on children.  For some families the wait is nothing short of brutal.

Love One Another

“My command is this:
 Love each other as I have loved you.”
John 15:12
In the seven months since this process began I’ve long since lost track of how many times someone has asked me why we are adopting a child from Ethiopia, much less counted the folks who’ve said things like, Don’t you already have 3 kids, or,  Are you crazy?, or my personal favorite, Keep it up and you’ll be the Duggars!  I understand, really, I do.  People are curious,people are interested, heck, some people are just plain nosy.  Before now, I would have been right there with them wondering the same kind of things.  What kind of people who already had a house full of kids and their hands overflowing would want more?  More laundry?  More dishes?  Well, basically, more work?    Trying to explain the why to people in the cereal aisle in Wal-Mart in 2 minutes or less can be a little overwhelming to say the least.  Then there’s the consideration that this is a family matter, and don’t we have the right to keep some things private?  Isn’t it enough to say that it’s our decision and leave it at that?
After several months of debating with myself over whether or not to share our story God kindly used my husband to bring it to my attention that it's His story not ours and that keeping it to ourselves keeps His glory and power from being seen. So here I am, unworthy, untalented, and definitely unqualified yet God has chosen me to tell this story and I could not be more grateful or more humbled to do so.  I should warn you though, this story starts with a blog, and a sleepless night, and a heart open to what God wanted for our lives. So don't be surprised to hear him calling your name next.
            It started with snoring.  I spent an hour tossing between Steve and Lydia who both happened to be sawing some serious logs.  I know they couldn't help it,but neither could I. Steve has sleep apnea and Lydia was sick and running a fever and of course only sleeping in our bed  would make her feel better.  But still, their snoring was the stuff of legends.  After an hour I bailed out of bed and hit the laundry room, started the washing machine, grabbed the clothes out of the dryer and headed to the living room.  (Any of this sounding familiar?) I popped a movie in the DVD player and started folding clothes, it was 11:30pm. A little while later I grabbed the laptop and meandered over to a blog my friend Jenny had sent me a link to called,  I thought Jenny was a better friend than this. She really should have posted a warning, or a disclaimer, or something that read like this:  DANGER!!!! Reading this blog can cause a change of heart and bring you face to face with your Savior!, something, anything to let me know that my life as I knew it was about to change forever.  You see Katie lives in Uganda.  You know, the Uganda that's in Africa.  She moved from Brentwood, TN at the age of 18 (that's not a typo) and a year later made the decision to follow where God had already led her and stayed.  Today she's the mother to 13 (again, not a typo) little girls and runs a nonprofit called Amazima that assures that  400 children receive schooling each year and that more than 1600 are fed weekly in the area in which she lives.  She is living and breathing Christ's love to the Ugandan people, especially its children.  The more posts I read the more my heart ached. I began to pray, “God how can I help these children?  What is it you want me to do?  Father, show me what you want me to do.”  But, you know in my typical selfish fashion I began to plan things out on my own.  I thought sending money was a good idea. I would write a check.  I'm really good at writing checks. More importantly, I’m very comfortable writing checks.  I even prayed for God to help me find a way to make Katie's ministry a part of our monthly giving.  And, of course, money always helps, but that's not what God was asking from me.  Once I settled on my plan I went back to reading Katie's posts so proud of myself it makes me sick to even remember it much less admit it publicly.  A funny thing happened though, the more I read about these children, the more God worked on my heart.  And I'm not talking about feeling sorry for these people I'm talking about seeing them through His eyes and not my own.  I began to see them as the precious souls he created, and loved, and died on a cross for just as he did mine and the little girl that I could still hear snoring down the hallway.  I'm telling you that there was a complete and total paradigm shift in my life.  And it scared me more than anything else ever has before.  I knew then what he was asking me to do, but I dared not utter the words out loud.  Surely, I was mistaken.  Surely, with all I had to do God wasn't asking this of me.  I began praying questions in such rapid fire succession I was sure He would see how terrified and unqualified I was and find another, better mother who was up to the task.  How could we afford another child? How can I care for another child without neglecting my other three?  How can I raise a child of a different ethnicity?  How will our families react?  What will people say?  Always, always, He answered that He would handle that. In tears I prayed,” How can you ask this of me?”  And He answered, “How can I not ask this of you”?   And so several hours later, exhausted from wrestling with my Savior in prayer, I simply obeyed.   I stopped asking questions, I stopped thinking about myself, and simply said yes.  Yes, to Christ being the Lord of all my life and not just the parts that I was comfortable with.  I prayed with a brokenness I have never known that Christ would take my life and use it in whatever way he saw fit from that moment on.  And although I have been a Christian from the age of 13 it wasn't until then that I understood what it meant to allow Christ to be the Lord of my life.   
The next day I was reeling. I mean how do you tell your husband that you believe God wants you to adopt a child, and oh by the way, we have to fly to another country to get him.  I prayed for the right words and when I explained what had happened he simply said, "I like kids and I trust you.  If you believe that this is what God is asking us to do then I trust you."  Did I mention that he’s one in a million?  Strike that, he's the only one.
 I was still wondering how we would manage another little person in the house.  I prayed, and prayed and then I prayed some more.   I wondered, what we would name another child, and immediately the name Isaiah came to mind.  Later that day I looked up its meaning.  In Hebrew, Isaiah means, the Lord helps me. I felt certain that God meant this name for our child.  But still I wondered, how can you know when you are in prayer or in communion with God what he wants for you to do?   I poured over my Bible for comfort and strength.  God brought me to John 10:27: “ My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  
So I guess that’s it.  I listened to his voice.  I followed it and I haven’t looked back.  It’s really that simple.  I’m sure some of you are thinking no, no it’s not that simple.  Yes, it really is.  Our lives are changing at my house, and not just because we’re adopting a child.  They’re changing because our love for Christ will settle for nothing less than all we have.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command”  John 14:15
Application Day:  July 7, 2011