Dawn

Lucy means “light” and when my Lucy left, she took all the light with her. I was plunged into darkness. This past year I have felt like God has been leading me through the dark. Can you picture it? We’re in the deep, dark woods that are full of unknown dangers. The ground is uneven, full of underbrush and huge roots jutting out of the earth. God walks ahead of me, gripping my hand, pulling me forward whispering, “Trust me. I can see, even though you can’t. I won’t leave you in the dark.” I have been holding tightly to His hand while I stumble through the dark. I trip often and fall. I get hurt and the pain is excruciating. It feels like He is leading me into danger, the unknown. I strain my eyes. I beg Him for the dawn to come, but still He walks on, leading me in the pitch blackness. But He never lets go of my hand. I can’t see Him, I only see the darkness, but I FEEL Him- holding me up, strengthening me to go on, and promising me that light is ahead.

I can feel the dawn coming. It’s still dark and scary, but I can sense the light about to break forth. If you’ve ever watched the sunrise you know that it doesn’t happen at an exact moment. The changes in the light are so subtle you don’t notice them even if you’re straining your eyes, trying to see. I have been straining my eyes to see the light of hope and joy, but it is still night. I have been straining to see God’s plan in the light of day so that it can make sense, but all I see is darkness. This past weekend as I was listening to another couple share their story of adoption and redemption I started sensing that the dawn is coming. I heard Him whisper, “It’s almost here. Keep going, the light is just ahead.” I heard this couple talk about their own journey through the night and how dark it had seemed right before the dawn. And now, looking back, they see God’s plan so clearly. It all makes sense and it is so PERFECT and BEAUTIFUL. I saw them standing in the blinding warmth of God’s plan coming to fruition. Even though He still has me stumbling through the night, I noticed this weekend that I am starting to make out shapes in the darkness. My night is changing and it is not getting darker. The dawn is coming.

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Puzzle Pieces

This past weekend Josh and I attended our infant adoption training classes at the Bethany Christian Services office in Pensacola, Florida. I was surprisingly nervous before going, for some reason. The whole adoption thing is new for us, so we didn’t know what to expect and we had a lot to learn. We were so shocked at how easy going and kind the people were. It felt like a family getting together to talk and hang out. It was warm and inviting and professional all at the same time. We felt so encouraged listening to other adoptive parents tell their story and listening to a woman tell her story of how she was adopted as an infant. We both felt confirmation that this is exactly where we are supposed to be and exactly what God wants us to be doing.

Adoption is never a first choice, for anybody. Ideally, all children should be able to live in a loving, safe home with their birth parents and ideally, all biological parents should be able to parent their own children and provide for them. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world that is full of sin and heartache and loss. At one point during the training class I looked around the room and realized that every woman in the room had lost a baby. So much hurt. The birth parents are hurting too. They are usually in extremely difficult, stressful situations where they just can’t parent their child like they want. The baby has a lifetime of needs to be met and a love tank that needs to be filled daily, hourly.

As the director was speaking, I was feeling all of this heartache and loss so deeply. I hurt for the birth parents who have to make such a huge sacrifice, and I hurt for the adoptive parents who (mostly) have been through intense disappointment and loss. I suddenly had this beautiful picture form in my mind and it all made sense. I saw two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together. They fit so tightly, so precisely, that it was obvious that they were made to fit each other. One puzzle piece was the birth mom and the baby. They were so needy; hungry for support and love. They needed to be filled, cared for, reassured, nurtured. The other puzzle piece was the adoptive parents who want someone to nurture. They had so much love and support to give, they were overflowing, aching to give it. Just like how I ache for a baby now, these parents long for someone to care for and love unconditionally. God has placed a strong desire to parent in them for a specific purpose. You know, before I had Liam, Asher and Lucy I wanted to be pregnant so badly and I wanted to have a baby, but that desire is not the same as it is now. I have been changed by my losses. I am a different person. I ache for a baby like never before and I cherish my children like never before. A lot of babies who are adopted come with special needs, whether it’s from drug exposure or neglect or just a very high stress pregnancy. And the adoptive parents that they are going to have experienced loss so they appreciate things differently and they love so deeply. It is a perfect match.

He is a sweet God isn’t He? When we brought sin into the world and messed up His perfect plan, He could have just said, “Well, I told you not to do that, so now you can deal with the consequences yourself.” But instead, He takes the broken pieces of our lives and puts them together to make something new. He makes a new plan, and He uses the pain and loss and difficulties to create beauty. I can’t wait to see what He is going to do with all of our suffering. I can’t wait to see who He has picked out for us to pour our love into.

Big News!

We have some exciting news, and it’s not a pregnancy announcement. We have decided to adopt a baby! We are so excited about this next step to complete our family. We have always wanted to adopt, even before losing Lucy and losing our chance at a normal pregnancy. It always seemed like some far off dream, though. We have been praying for months about the possibility of adoption and finally feel like it is time to make our dream a reality. Actually, we felt God’s prodding towards adoption several months ago, but have asked Him for confirmation several times because we wanted to make sure this was His will for our lives. We have decided to start the process while staying open to the possibility of another biological child as well.

Since making this decision we have felt a lot of hope, which is a new feeling for us since losing Lucy. It feels so wonderful. adoptionWe can’t wait to meet our baby and see who God has chosen for our family. We already love this baby and his/her birth family so much. We have decided to do domestic infant adoption through Bethany Christian Services. They seem to fit all of our needs and have been matching babies with their forever families for over 60 years. Our friends, Ashley and Travis, adopted a baby girl (Lucy’s age) last year through Bethany Christian Services and had such a wonderful experience. We’re thankful that we have their advice and suggestions and their little Lottie to give us so much hope. (To see their scrumptious baby girl look here.)

We officially opened a separate bank account just to start saving money for our adoption at the beginning of December and when we sent in our pre-application we did not have much money in the account. Talk about a leap of faith! The total cost will be a little over $21,000 for the whole adoption so we have a long way to go in the financial department. For Christmas we asked our families not to get us presents (we didn’t feel like opening presents this Christmas anyway) and to make a donation to our adoption savings account instead. We were able to use that money to help pay for the first application fee and the domestic infant adoption training classes that we will attend at the end of January. We are trusting that God will provide everything we need to get through this journey, and He has already been faithful in providing (thanks to our families, friends and a little extra work) the first few fees right when we needed them.

We are really going to need your support as we go through this journey. The BEST way you can support us is prayer. Here are the things we would love for you to pray for us right now:

  • That God would give us wisdom, peace, and (especially) patience as we work through the adoption process.
  • That God would be glorified through our story and through our adoption.
  • That He would provide all of the funds that we need to complete the adoption.
  • Please pray for our baby’s future birth family, especially the birth mom. They need wisdom, courage and strength to get through the coming months and years.

Thank you all for the encouragement and love that you give us so freely. We feel like we have a huge support system through you all and it means more than you know, especially now that we are starting this new journey. You guys are the blessings that God has given us to hold us up during this hard time. We appreciate you all so much.

Time is a Trainer

Lately I have been feeling very discouraged, anxious and just disheartened. Lucy’s first birthday in heaven is approaching and there are some daunting events coming up in the next couple of months that seem impossible to get through. Every time I pictured Lucy’s first birthday during this past year, I always saw myself lighting the candle on her birthday cake or releasing her balloons to heaven with a big, round pregnant belly weighing me down. Or, if I didn’t have a big round belly, I at least thought I would be trying not to vomit from the morning sickness that always comes before the big belly. That’s not how her first birthday is going to be. There will be no promising hope of a baby for us. And yes, like I was writing about in my last post, I have been swamped by the waves in my life yet again and am having a hard time focusing on God.

My little sister is pregnant and being induced on Wednesday, exactly 11 months after Lucy died. I am so sad that I can’t be in the delivery room like I was when she gave birth to my niece Lily. I loved being there, it was one of my favorite days of my whole life. She has invited me to be there when little Shep is born, but I can’t emotionally handle it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to step foot on a labor and delivery floor for the rest of my life, unless I am having my own baby (or losing him, I guess.) Missing out on my nephew’s birth is a huge loss for me and I wish I could be there to support my sister, too. It is also really hard to come to terms with the fact that he will never play with his cousin Lucy, who would have only been about six months older than him, or his cousin Jude, who would have been two months younger than him.

I was just telling Josh earlier today that I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern. I feel like God has asked me to be in this dark place and to trust Him and to wait. But it feels like it has been so long, almost a whole year, and I am exhausted by the waiting and hoping. I have been trying not to live in the future, but right here where He has me and I have been trying to do what He wants me to do right now. Right now He doesn’t have a live baby for me. He has hardship and more aching and He has work for me here, in the darkness. He wants me to do hard things and to trust. I’m so ready for the blessings and I’m so tired of all the loss. Just this morning I wrote in my journal, “How long, Lord, must I wait for the morning to come?”

I have been busy today and have been doing a lot of my tasks through tears. I felt God saying, “Come sit down and talk to me.” And after several excuses, I reluctantly sat down to talk to Him and to listen. This is what my devotional (Jesus Calling) says today:

I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Ask my Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of me. Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon me, to trust me in the dark. The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see my power and glory at work in the situation. Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for my glorious intervention. Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.

What a sweet God I have, to encourage me with those words. Yes, time is a trainer, and He is training me and strengthening me here in the darkness. These difficulties are setting the scene for His glorious intervention, and I can’t wait to see it. I will stay right here where He wants me and I will try to do my work well. I will trust Him to strengthen me through this waiting and to do far more than I ever imagined possible.

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory…

ALL EYES ON HIM

*I have lots of posts written and ready to publish, but I can’t work up the courage to put them out there. It is often hard for me to be vulnerable and it is scary to let so many people in. It is easy to get caught up in what people think. I wrote this post months ago, when I was in the thick of mourning. Not sure why it was hard to post, but I’m posting it now.

Matthew 14:22-33   Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

peter on the water

This is probably one of my favorite stories from the Bible. Peter trusts Jesus enough to step out of the boat into the roaring sea and walks on water. Then, “when he saw the wind, he was afraid” and he began to sink. It’s when he took his eyes off of Christ and focused on the wind and the waves that he started to sink. I find myself constantly focusing on the waves in my life, crashing over me, and a lot of times I feel like I’m sinking. Only when I force myself to focus on God do I resurface. And the peace and courage that He gives me when I look to Him is as much a miracle as Peter walking on the water.

Isaiah 26:3-4  You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

I have to bring my mind back to Him, over and over again. When I’m looking at Him my problems fade and His power overshadows them all. When I look at the pregnant ladies and wish it was me, I start to sink. When I allow the “what Lucy should be doing nows” to overtake my brain, I start to feel hopeless. When I think of all the pregnant women who can’t take care of their babies and I think it’s not fair, I start to drown in the self pity and the fear and the doubt. But God is standing there with His hand outstretched saying, “Come.” And then I trust Him again and He fills me with peace. He reminds me that I’m safe with Him and He’s all I need. And He asks, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Why did I doubt? He has never failed me. Why did I doubt?

These are some practical things that have helped me keep my eyes on Him:

  • Try to make time to be with Him every day, with no distractions. If I have time to be on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, I have time to be with Him.
  • I find an encouraging book that I LIKE to read that draws me closer to God. If it’s dry or hard to read, I don’t waste my time on it (maybe I just don’t have enough self discipline.)
  • Sometimes (a lot of times) I am so distraught that I can’t even read. I can’t even focus my mind on the words on the page. When this happens I try to listen to things that draw my focus back to Him. It takes no emotional effort to let the words float into my ears and settle in my mind. I listen to Podcasts of sermons whenever I have the chance- while I exercise, while I do the dishes or the laundry or my hair. I really like Timothy Keller, so I usually listen to him. I’ve also been listening to Rick Warren’s sermons about how he is surviving the death of his son and they have been so encouraging.
  • I found some praise and worship music that I like and I try to have it playing in the background while I go about my day.
  • I found verses that I love and that encourage me and I wrote them on notecards and put them up all over the house- on the bathroom mirror, above the kitchen sink, etc.

When I don’t do these things my mind wanders and, naturally, it wanders right back to my lost daughter. Without even realizing it, I can find myself reliving the entire birth experience or watching her little heart stop beating. I see myself telling my boys that they will have a baby sister and watching them jump up and down, screaming with joy. I imagine her perfect little body being cremated. I imagine my next baby dying in the same way. I relive some stupid comment that someone said nonchalantly (and completely without malice) that went straight to my heart like a spear. I can spiral so quickly down into the wind and the waves and then, before I know it, I’m drowning. The beautiful thing is that He’s always there, waiting with His hand reaching down for me. I love Him so much. Trust Him today to be enough. Be brave enough to step out into the raging sea with Him.

Isaiah 41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 34:5  Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

Psalm 25:15  My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.