Sunday, July 16, 2017

Post Tenebras Lux

Three months ago I had one of those perfectly joyful moments.  Easter had just passed, which we enjoyed hosting in our brand new house.  Herb was settling in to the demands of a  new position at work while finishing up some difficult but enjoyable schoolwork.  Levi was in a happy routine at school, and was still on a high from being in Disney a month prior. 

I was driving home from worship team on this night, April 19, listening to my favorite song by my favorite band, and the thought crossed my mind, “I’m going to be all right.”  

You probably know bits and pieces of the long and tumultuous journey through adoption we’ve experienced.  There have been numerous uphill battles, and moments of such extreme heartbreak that I stood with the shattered pieces in my hands, bewildered.  

36 weeks prior to that April 19th moment, a spark flew in my heart.  “What if I surrender my desire for a baby?”  And in that moment, ironically again in my car, on a hot August day, I prayed, “God, I give this to you.  I want another baby so badly, and I know that you will either fulfill that desire, remove that desire, or change me through the process of having that desire unfulfilled.”  

After that prayer, the very clear next step was for Herb and I to become certified to be foster parents.  Of course, this process turned out to be much more arduous than we expected - but that’s kind of been par for this course.

So, back to April 19, in my car, joyfully reflecting on God’s faithfulness, and looking forward to our home study the following day, which would have us OFFICIALLY on the waiting list for foster care, ready to go at anytime.  Bunk beds assembled,  new tooth brushes and toiletries purchased.

Knowing how God works all things together for His glory and for the good of those who love Him, it should be of no surprise to me that that very night, April 19, a little tiny baby was born at 36 weeks gestation, suffering from some scary  (though temporary) conditions, fighting for life in the NICU.

The next day, 15 minutes prior to our foster care home study, we were notified of and asked to be the foster parents of this precious child.  The caveat was that of the Unknown - the baby may shortly be returning to birth parents, or  they may be making an adoption plan, in which case we would become the adoptive parents.

Within 24 hours, the baby was in my arms and, more importantly, in my heart.   

But really, it feels like he's always been there.  

The moment I saw his face I had an overwhelming sense of “Oh, there you are.  I’ve been looking for you.” 

{Unfortunately, I can’t show you a picture of this perfect little face just yet.}

This child, our first foster care placement became a "adoptive placement" 31 days ago.  In Pennsylvania, 30 days is the time period that a birth family has to revoke their decision, though the adoption won't be official for another 6-9 months. 

He arrived after a time of great pain in our lives,  a heartbreaking time in the life of his first family, and was born in a stressful scary medical situation, but has been nothing but a beacon of light to all he has touched.  

There’s a latin phrase for this - post tenebras, lux - after darkness, light.

Our hope is fulfilled.  As Levi, the-most-happy-big-brother-EVER, says, “I just can’t believe all my prayers are being answered.”

So, I would like to officially announce our most glorious news - we’re adopting, it’s a boy, he’s already here, and when his adoption is final, I will post a million and one pictures of this sweet baby.

Say hello to Baby J.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Break the Madness; Find the Shore

I'm not what I seem, only in this moment
Only in this moment, I'm holding on
Pray I find my peace, pray I slay the dragon
Pray I break this madness, and find the shore
{Gone - Kings Kaleidoscope}

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was a landmark day - time to pause and look around and take in the views.  Time to take stock of what life looks like now, at 33.

Levi and I at my birthday dinner

I kept thinking about my last birthday.  We had just experienced not one, but two sudden and shocking losses through adoption.  On the evening of my birthday, Levi took a picture of me and Herb mini golfing and I remember thinking I actually looked happy in that picture... much different than the deep pit of depression I was trying to claw myself out of.

My early thirties held some wonderful moments, but they also held my darkest times and deepest griefs.

I had all this brokenness and loss in my life over the past several years - and not just the adoption stuff - and while I knew I was moving on and healing, often I just visualized myself at the foot of God, hands full of shattered pieces of hopes and pain, asking Him,

"What do you want me to do with this?  It's too much to carry."  

My only viable option?  To continue to move forward, giving God the brokenness.  Trusting Him to work all things together for His glory and my good, even when the forecast looked bleak or the requirements seemed challenging.

As the months passed, changes started happening.  Slowly and steadily, one after another, hard situations and scenarios were restored and redeemed.  

Strangely enough, I have felt so battle weary and been overwhelmed at the casualties along the way that I have not been ready for the ticker-tape victory parade.  That day will come, I know, but for now, I want to take time to appreciate what has happened in my 33rd year.

- I decided to lay aside my desire for a baby and pursue foster care, saying, "God will either fulfill this desire, take it away, or sanctify me through the process of unfulfillment." We bought bunk beds.

- I had the chance to step back in the classroom, if only temporarily, and be reminded how much I love teaching.  I needed to know this.

- Forgiveness and restored acquaintanceship.

- The amazing opportunity to take some "me" time and cruise with my sister and her boyfriend to New England and Canada.

- We casually looked at homes, and surprisingly, pulled the trigger.  And then moved.  We left behind a special community that I thought we would be in forever, but started a new adventure 12 miles away in a new part of the county, and felt like we got a complete fresh start.

- We said "yes" to our first foster care placement.


Looking back at the past year, I don't know why I got to be so blessed; this is much more than I deserve.  In fact, this list is almost embarrassing to post, because I don't want anyone to think I am bragging.  If I boast, it is to the glory of God, who has journeyed with me, who has carried me, who has brought me from the desert into the time of harvest.

I'm reminded of the last verse of Desert Song, "I know I'm filled to be emptied again; this seed I've received I will sow."

Thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday, but also the well wishes and prayers and check-ins during this journey.

To refer back to the original song I quoted, they end with some powerful words from the Psalms (which I know I've referred to before...but I'm doing it again)

therefore my heart is glad, 
and my whole being rejoices...
in You, there is fulness of JOY

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Open Hands

About a month ago I experienced brokenness and conviction over my eating habits unlike anything I've felt before.  My thought process was completely unhealthy and alarming, and the the food I was consuming was pure junk.  When I consider the gravity of my mistakes and the work that it will take to correct what I've done, I am overwhelmed.

But, for the last 35 days, I wake up thinking, "Can I make healthy choices today?  Yes."  One day at a time has built upon each other, and has brought me here, a month later, without so much as a cheat.  I pray that this is the beginning of a new journey, but can't wrap my mind around more than the next 24 hours.

This constant "one day at a time," mentality is benefitting me in more way than one...Last week, we committed to our first foster care situation.

This is big.  This is really big.

And when I consider the gravity of what it means to put my heart on the line I can only handle one day at a time.

I am praying for God's perfect will to unfold for this precious child.  I am praying for God's perfect will for our family.  I am praying for God to restore and redeem this hard situation for the child's birth family.

I am losing sleep over the potential of more disappointment for Levi.  Gratefully, he and I started seeing a child therapist a few months ago, giving him the ability to name his feelings and justification to feel all of them.

I am surviving on knowing the Lord walks with us in this journey.  I am assured that our role to care for the fatherless, even if only for a brief period, is work which is commanded by God.

I am reminded that no love given is ever wasted.

My friend Kami to me this: "The whole foster care process is such a good reminder that we hold everything God gives us with open hands.  This child has to be that way - but the rest of our lives are really no different - we have just fooled ourselves into thinking we control it."