Jesus was Adopted

In my opinion, the greatest story ever told is the gospel. I love to look at the Bible as a whole; as one story. God created the world and it was perfect. No babies died, infertility did not exist, and there was no pain or sin. It was beautiful…exactly how the Creator had imagined it. He gave us the gift of free will so that we could CHOOSE whether we wanted to love Him or not, because forced love is not real love after all. Unfortunately, with free will came the danger of sin, and we chose sin over Him the first chance we got. When sin entered the story, it ruined God’s perfect world. It brought pain, shame, death, and tragedy. The rest of the story follows God’s sweet plan to pursue us and save us and bring us back to perfection. His plan centered around His one son, Jesus, who He sacrificed to save the world. The Bible follows Jesus’ genealogy from the beginning, generation after generation, all the way up to Joseph. I love that the genealogy leads right up to Joseph who was not Jesus’ biological dad, but his adoptive father. Why have I never thought of this before? Jesus was adopted and raised by Joseph. God had only one son, one offspring on earth, one example of His family on earth. God could have created any family situation for the perfect God-man, and the one that He chose was adoption. He could have planned it any way He wanted and He chose to include adoption in His son’s life story. How cool is that?

And not only did God use adoption to tell the greatest story in the world, He used infertility as well. Many years before Jesus was born, his forefathers struggled to conceive and tasted the despair of infertility. Jennifer Saake writes in her book Hannah’s Hope:

Infertility took center stage in God’s account of history as the establishment and continuation of the Israelites seemed to be in question. Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah ninety when their child of promise was finally born (Gen 17:17). Isaac, in turn, prayed for his barren wife, Rebekah, before God placed twins within her womb (Gen 25:21). One of those boys, Jacob, also went on to taste fertility challenges. While he had twelve sons, only two came from his beloved wife, Rachel, who struggled through years of infertility, both “primary” (never giving live birth) and “secondary” (unable to conceive or carry to live birth after at least one prior successful pregnancy.)

God used the struggles of infertility and the beauty of adoption in His most important story, His son’s story of redemption. If you are struggling with infertility, working through an adoption, or placing your baby for adoption, He SEES you. He sees your pain and your fear and your doubt. He is using it to create an amazing story of redemption in your own life. He is orchestrating it right now, working for you, gradually restoring your hope. Don’t give up! Be courageous and let Him work out your story like He worked out His son’s. After all, the best story in the history of the world started out a lot like yours and it ended with triumphant life.

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Shattered Dreams

June-15-Due-Date

Our baby Pax’s due date is coming up on June 15th. I feel like there have been so many pregnancy/birth announcements lately and each one is painful, especially now so close to my own due date. A lot of these birth announcements are my answers to prayers for other people, and I am thankful for God’s goodness, but they are still reminders of my shattered dreams for my life. Each announcement usually takes me about two days of extreme sadness to accept and move on. I used to be frustrated with myself for feeling this way. I felt guilty and tried to fight it, but now I have learned to accept it as part of my grieving process and I just get through it and then move on. I am also painfully aware when I go out in public that my two sweet boys are probably someone else’s trigger, a reminder of their own shattered dreams. Lately, I have been working less while my students are on vacation, and Josh is home more to help with the boys, so I have more free time to think and remember my many losses.

Of course I am still mourning my Lucy every day. Yesterday I felt especially sad and was missing her so much. I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and I cried all the way there. I finally pulled it together enough to wipe off my face and clean up my smeared make-up, walk in and put on a fake smile for the other people in the waiting room. I decided to look at a magazine while I was waiting and when I picked it up I noticed the date on the front “July 2013.” It made my heart sink. Anything that has to do with July 2013 makes me instantly sad. I remember after losing Lucy I dreaded that month like the world was coming to an end in July. I remember I almost couldn’t eat or drink anything that had an expiration date of July 2013. Fourth of July decorations still make me feel sick to my stomach. That was the month I should have welcomed my sweet daughter and now I should be planning my girl’s first birthday party. I fought back the tears and quickly put the magazine back on the table. I reached for another one to try to distract myself and immediately noticed the date on the front “February 2013.” You have to be kidding me. That was the worst month of my life, the month I lost my baby and my hope of any more healthy pregnancies. I basically threw the magazine back on the table like it was contaminated with the plague. It was so hard to hold it together for the whole appointment. I cried as soon as I got back into the car. I still miss Lucy every minute of every day.

I am just realizing, though, how deep of a loss it was for me to lose my ability to have healthy pregnancies. I think most of my emotional focus over the past year and a half has been on mourning Lucy. Now I am feeling the deep pain of the fact that I will never be able to just get pregnant and have a live baby. Almost all of the women who lost babies last year now have big, round bellies stretching with the life of their rainbow babies (which is what I have prayed for them.) How wonderful and hopeful that must feel. I can’t even fathom how amazing that must be, to get to the age of viability, to feel your baby kicking every day, to feel your breasts swell in preparation for the baby that will come. All of that is lost for me, and I am still mourning it now.

Adoption is beautiful and full of hope, but it is not for the faint of heart. It means putting your hopes in God’s hands. It means you don’t get to have nine months of bonding with your baby before you meet them face to face. You have to wait for that paper to be signed before you can allow yourself to love freely and give your heart to the baby, because that is when she is actually yours to love. It is hard to wait and not know, to keep releasing your hope and giving it back to God. It is hard to trust Him with your new dreams when you trusted Him with your former dreams but now they lie shattered all around your feet. I often think about how hard it would be to go through a divorce and see your dreams for your marriage shattered. I think about how hard it would be to lose someone you love and have had with you for years, like your spouse, your sibling, your parents. Shattered dreams.

As I said in a previous post, I am currently reading “Shattered Dreams” by Larry Crabb. I had low expectations for this book since my friend randomly bought it for me from the Salvation Army and we both knew nothing about it. It has been surprisingly insightful and encouraging. If you are struggling with your own shattered dreams, I highly recommend you read this book. I’m still not even half way through it, but I’m learning so much. I’m learning that the dreams I had were good, but God has a plan for me here on earth that is better, and He has a life, waiting for me in heaven that is the BEST (and it’s sweet in a way that Lucy, Jude and Pax got to skip right to the BEST.) Sometimes my good dreams have to shatter in order for me to realize my deep need for God and to see His plan for me that’s better.

It’s harder to discover our desire for God when things go well. We may think we have, but more often all we’ve found is our desire to USE God, not to ENJOY Him. Shattered dreams are the truest blessings; they help us discover our true hope. But it can take a long, dark time to discover it.

-Larry Crabb

It is taking me a long, dark time to discover God’s truest blessing for my life and even when I stand here surrounded by the shards of my broken dreams for my life and for my children, He is working on my behalf. None of my pain will be wasted.

Dreams for good things may shatter, but our pain will always have a purpose. It will not go away, but it will do its work. It will stir an appetite for a higher purpose- the better hope of knowing God well enough now to love Him above everything else…and trust Him no matter what happens…We will not suffer in heaven. Every imaginable dream, everything from good parking spaces to good health, will come true. Pain will have no purpose then, so it will not be allowed….For now, while we still have such a hard time realizing that what’s good is not always best, suffering still has a function. As nothing else can, it moves us away from demanding what’s good…toward desiring what’s better…until heaven provides what’s best.

-Larry Crabb

Having Lucy alive and with me right now seems right and good, and it is. Being able to get pregnant easily and have live, breathing babies seems right and good, and it is. Healthy marriages, good jobs, siblings who are alive, they are all good and right. My instinct is to cling tightly to what is good and scream at God, “It’s GOOD, it’s RIGHT! If you are good you should let me have what is GOOD!” But it is only when my dreams for what is good shatter that I am able to see God’s dream for me, something even better. I know that God is saving the best for last. My story will end with the best. And for the mothers who lost babies, our stories will end with a beautiful beginning- the beginning of our eternity with our babies, and that is one of the few dreams that cannot be shattered.

Matthew 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Comparing

I used to be part of the “get pregnant easily and have a healthy baby club.” Then, against my will I became a part of the “anti-kell antibodies club.” It was a hard transition, but I was glad to have so many supportive ladies there to help me. Again, I was forced to join another club against my will, the “stillbirth club.” That has to be the worst club of them all. But yet again, I found myself surrounded (mostly through the internet) by supportive, loving women who were all a part of the same club, unfortunately. It has been so sad to know all of these other women have suffered such a profound loss too, but it has been comforting to know I am not alone. I found solace in the stillbirth club, but was soon forced into the small group of women who have lost more than one baby. I was devastated 3 months later when I had to join the “lost three babies club,” and it was a small group of people. And now, after trying to conceive for almost a whole year, we are members of the “secondary infertility club.” Lately, I have looked around and realized that almost all of the women who were with me in the stillbirth club have moved on and been allowed to join the rainbow baby club. I feel like I am alone and forgotten here in the “lost three babies, infertile, 50% chance of another stillbirth, no rainbow baby club.”

One of my biggest weaknesses and one of Satan’s most effective weapons is the habit of comparing my life with others’. It comes so naturally that I often do it without even noticing. I compare my blessings and I compare my suffering. I eat his lies right up and believe them, because when I am blinded by my pain, they seem to make sense:

You did something wrong and God is punishing you.”

“God has forgotten about you and does not love you.”

“You are a bad mom to Liam and Asher, so He can’t trust you with more children.”

“He loves those other women more than you since He gave them healthy rainbow babies.”

“You are a failure. God has failed you. Give up hope.”

“You are an embarrassment since you can’t even keep your own babies alive.”

“You can’t trust God, He only has more pain and disappointment ahead for you.”

“Everyone else gets to have healthy babies and no problems.”

“Those other women are more obedient to God and please Him more, so they get His good gifts.”

“God failed you with your biological babies, He is going to fail you again with your adopted baby.”

Oh, I could go on and on. I actually just laughed when I typed some of those out because some of them are so ridiculous. Actually, ALL of them are ridiculous. But I believe them easily and they affect me every day. Satan is a master of deception, and he knows our weaknesses. Many areas of my life are “lacking” when compared to other people’s lives. I am not wealthy at all, in fact we are considered very low income. I am poorer than almost everyone I know, but I honestly don’t care. It is not a big problem for me, it is not important  to me. I have lived in a third world country and I have seen real poverty. I am rich and overflowing with material possessions. Often, as I am filling my kids’ plates at mealtime I can’t believe that we get to eat like this, like kings. Satan does not try to deceive me and convince me that my worth is tied to my income because he knows I will not believe it. It doesn’t affect me, so he has left that area alone. But my deepest desire, to have many children and to be able to protect my babies has been snatched away from me. To say it is excruciatingly painful is an understatement. It is my weakness, and Satan is targeting me in this area and it is a constant battle.

The other day I was making banana nut muffins for breakfast while I was listening to a podcast by Joni Eareckson Tada. I was missing Lucy and crying and feeling very discontent with God’s plan for my life. I was complaining to Him and I actually said, “Lord, I hate your plan for my life.” I was listening to the podcast in desperation, looking for some ammunition with which to fight the enemy. I’m not sure if you know Joni’s story, but when she was 17 she was injured in a diving accident that left her completely paralyzed from the neck down. She has had the most incredible life and she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. The podcast is called “Those Enviable Others.” It’s only 4 minutes, so I’ll post it at the bottom for you to listen to.

She talks about when she first started occupational therapy after her accident. She went into therapy and saw many other people in wheelchairs doing things like weaving, sculpting clay, hammering nails, and she was filled with hope. She was excited about healing and learning how to reuse her body. But she soon realized that she would never be able to use her hands again. She had the least amount of functioning ability of anyone there and she said,

I was the most paralyzed person of them all and my heart sank and my face felt flushed. It was my first experience of envying others…and it felt awful…I realized something that day in occupational therapy. I could not, I would not, no I can’t allow myself to pick up yard sticks and start comparing and competing with others. For my own mental sanity and peace of mind I realized back then that I dare not measure my circumstances up against other people in wheelchairs, people who were less paralyzed than I was. To do so would be for me to commit emotional suicide…When we do (compare ourselves to others), we are not only diminishing ourselves, we are despising God’s plan and purpose for our life. And it is always a better plan than what you see unfolding in the lives of others. God’s plan for you is that of the highest order and the best good…you have everything you need, everything that’s required for you to be utterly content. And if God thought you needed anything extra, believe me He’d give it. But as it is, what you have is all you need for your happiness.

And as I was listening to this woman in a wheelchair tell me not to envy others, I was interrupted by Asher pulling on my leg, begging me for breakfast. He was hungry and wanted food right then. I was still mixing in the ingredients and he wanted to see what I was making. When I make banana bread I use frozen bananas that were overripe when they were frozen, so they are black and grey and they make the batter kind of grey and oozy. I showed him the sloppy batter and said, “I’m making muffins but they’re not ready yet, see?” And he glanced into the bowl with a look of utter disappointment and frustration and walked away with slumped shoulders and loud, pitiful cries.

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I suddenly realized that I was acting like Asher (except I am an adult and not a toddler.) God is making me something delicious and wonderful, but it takes time. I am hungry and impatient and He is still mixing in the ingredients. I am looking in the bowl at the batter and saying, “Yuck. I hate the breakfast you are making for me, Lord. It looks disgusting and I don’t understand why you would give your daughter, who you love, something so nasty for breakfast, especially since I am so hungry.” I don’t see the finished product, hot and fluffy banana nut muffins with melted butter dripping down the sides. I don’t smell the mouth watering aroma that is soon to fill the house as they bake. All I see is a sloppy mess of batter for me and I see these other women pulling their beautiful dishes out of the oven all ready to eat. Their food smells so good. I see what they are eating and I compare it to my cold batter and I say, “I want what SHE has, Lord.” And I am missing the beautiful, well thought out meal that He is cooking for me. My impatience, mistrust and envy are destructive and they rot the bones.

Proverbs 14:30  A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Just because my meal is taking longer to prepare does not mean that it is any less delicious. If anything, it will be more satisfying to me because it is exactly what my body needs and the hungrier I am, the more delicious it will taste. Often, when I hear yet another pregnancy announcement, I cry out to God and ask Him why He won’t do the same for me and I always hear Him say, “I have something better for you.” It’s better because it is a life plan custom made for me and it is of the highest order and the best good.

Psalm 18:30 This God-His way is perfect.

Is there something you want that you think will make you happy? It is a lie. Is there something that someone else has that you want? If God hasn’t given it to you, you don’t need it right now to be happy. You can be content right where you are, and I can be content right here where I am, without a rainbow baby. One day you will notice the most delicious smell and it will be your own meal cooking, and you will not believe how good it is.

 [audio http://www.joniandfriends.org/media/uploads/broadcast_mp3s/2014/02122014-Those-Enviable-Others.mp3]