Sunday, December 31, 2017

Surrendered Faith


My "word" for 2017 was metamorphosis.
I'd say this year hit that nail on the head.
I am not the same person I was on December 31, 2016.  However, my vision of what I thought the word metamorphosis would mean in my life versus God's version are polar opposite.
This past year, my faith has been stretched, bruised, snapped, and fractured.  The beautiful result of all the trials and heartache I've endured is a depth in my relationship with Christ that I've never before experienced.   I've grown in ways I didn't know were possible and quite honestly, ways that my human self never would have chosen.  

Losing Sparrow the very hour I was finally able to be matched with her has been brutal.  I covered her in prayer for almost a year.
And then, she was gone.  

It threw me into a tailspin of questioning; a vicious cycle of never-ending whys.  Why did God allow that?  Why did he bring her into my life?  Why did he knit her so deeply into my heart?  Why did he give me such a powerful dream about her?  Why did he provide signs and assurance along the way?  Why did he open the pathway to her just to slam the door at the last minute?  Why did he allow me to experience such excruciating heartbreak?  All of those and more led to further questioning:  

Do I even know God's voice?

I've been a believer and follower of Christ for many, many years and this question shook me to the core.  I thought I knew his voice.  I study his word.  I pray all of the time.  I seek wise counsel.  How could I have been so far off?  It's like I took a hard left when really I was supposed to go right.
I was content to be finished with adoption.  My girls have been the biggest blessings ever and I'm beyond thankful I get to be their mom.  They are thriving and we were ready for the next chapter.

And then he brought me Sparrow.

I go over and over and over all of the details but I never get an answer to my why.  This last month since I lost her, has felt like my faith played a giant game of Jenga.  I pulled perseverance from the bottom and precariously perched it on top.  Hope was drawn out from the middle and I tried to slide it in next to perseverance.  Trust was pulled and gently placed on hope.  Finally, I carefully extracted faith from the foundation of this structure and gingerly placed it at the very top.  
And it all came crashing down.
In my tirade of emotions, I took my arm, angrily swiped it over the panel, and sent the pieces hurling into the air.
I sat staring at the blank game board of my life.
Where do I go from here?  How do I move forward?  This adoption journey has consumed the last eight years of my life.  I've been stuck in what feels like quicksand; a perpetual land of waiting, where the only movement I felt was the ground sinking beneath me.

***

I bought Roopa a Batman big wheel for Christmas.  She didn't even know they existed.  It came complete ~ decked out with stickers, rims, and alllllll the buttons you ever wanted to push.  Each one with flashing lights and a corresponding command:  "Moving left!"  "Let's get to work!" and of course, the Batman theme.  This gift elevated me to new heights in Roopa's mind.  Her eyes filled with wonder and excitement.
"Mommy, how did you even know I wanted this?  Oh, wait.  I know.  You used your mommy powers!"
I laughed and then grew quiet.
As Roopa's mom, I see her in ways others don't.  I know her heart.  I know her reactions.  I know her deepest desires and her greatest fears.  I know how she responds to correction.  I know how she processes new information.  I know how she learns and plays and thinks deeply about life. I know her gifts and talents.  I know where she needs growth.   I know all of these things and more because I am her mom and she is my daughter.  I spend almost every moment of every day with her.  I knew that she would love that gift.  I knew that because I know her. So even though Roopa had no knowledge of its existence, I knew.  And it brought me great joy to give it to her.

In my questioning and my doubt, God used Roopa to reveal more of himself to me.  I will never understand his ways.  I will never get an answer to my whys.  I will never be able to see things the way he sees them.  I will never understand his theology.  He will always be a mystery to me.  
The only thing I do know, is his character.  I know he is always good.  I know he loves me more than anyone ever could.  I know he will never leave me.  I know he is always with me ~ in the deepest depths of grief and the highest mountaintops of joy.  I know that his plans for me are good.  I know he wants to transform me; he leads me through the refiner's fire to make me more like Christ.  He is the potter.  I am the clay.  He molds, bends, and shapes me.  Sometimes, I become hardened, which makes his work more difficult.  He adds water through my tears spilled during trials and tribulations to once again bring me to a place of pliability.  
He is the God of the universe and the Creator of everything and everyone.
Who am I to even slightly begin to understand his ways, his thoughts, his plans?

So I enter 2018 with the words, "Surrendered Faith."  
I have no idea what his plans are for me or my family.  I don't know if he will bring Sparrow back to me.  I am hoping against hope he will.  I don't know what the next chapter will entail.
What I do know is that he loves me and wherever he calls me, it will be good.  It might not be good in the initial way I see it, but he has a way of washing away the dirt and dust that clouds the mirror through which I view myself.   He draws me closer to him so that I can see through his filter the beauty he has crafted within me.

I walk into this new year with a blank canvas, open arms, and no vision of my own.
I humbly await to see the brushes he puts into my hands and the colors he chooses for my palette.  
I know that by letting him guide my hand, whatever he paints into my life this year will be a masterpiece.  I've painted enough to know that a truly beautiful work of art is not just made of highlights.  Shadows are critical to the depth of emotion that is elicited from viewing such a showpiece. 
 I am at a point of total surrender; knowing that he will lead me to the mountaintops this year holds for me, but more importantly, he will carry me through the deepest, darkest valleys. 
I learned this truth, however painful it was.  

My God will always be with me.

"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23:6



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Deeper Still



I anticipated that Christmas was going to be hard.  And it was.  The waiting and hoping for God to fulfill his promise for Sparrow has been painful.  Excruciating.  I wish I could say that I've handled it like a champ, but I haven't.  I feel like I'm riding the longest, twisted roller coaster I've ever ridden.  I have days when I'm on top of the hill, full of excitement and hope for what God is doing, and then the next day I'm in the middle of a corkscrew rotation, upside down and completely disoriented. 

On Christmas Eve, I went to bed more discouraged than I've ever been.  My 98 year-old grandma had to have life-saving surgery two days prior to Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, she did great and is improving daily.  But traditions are important to me and it just felt weird that we weren't all celebrating Christmas Eve with the family at her house.  This is Mohini's first Christmas and every year since Munni came home, we've had our picture taken in front of her tree.  I was looking forward to getting our picture with Mohini in front of that tree!  It sounds dumb I know, but it just was more sadness that things were "off" and changing.  Instead, we celebrated in the ICU.

We got home from the hospital and started to do our nightly routine, when Munni frantically called to me that Honeybee couldn't get up from the floor.  She is our 16 year-old boxer that we took in when she was 13.  I ran to the living room and she was clearly in distress.  I'm pretty certain she had a seizure.   She lost control of her bowels, was breathing erratically, vacant stares, and her tongue and lips did not look right.  We laid her on the new dog bed, prayed for her, said our goodbyes, and cried.  The girls went to bed and I had to put Roopa's big wheel together.  

Merry Christmas to us.  

By time I finished the big wheel, Honeybee was still breathing, but things did not look good.  I went to bed and cried.  Thoughts raged through my mind about how this was the worst year ever and I couldn't wait for it to be over.  Waking up to a dead dog on Christmas morning was the icing on the cake.  Really, God?  Is this what stepping out in faith looks like?  I don't want to do this if it is.  

2017 was a difficult year in many aspects.  My beloved dog, Rollie, died in July.  Several of my close friends are dealing with profound grief.  Mohini coming home was a huge adjustment.   She is a great little girl and we love her, but her age has been a huge challenge for all of us.  How we lived our life before she came home is nothing like how we live now.  We've had to adjust everything.  And right when we were finally getting our footing back, her brain MRI and hearing tests came back that she is deaf in her left ear and has brain damage in two parts.  Shocked can't even describe my reaction.  Through all of this, was the underlying waiting for Sparrow.  
Hoping, praying, believing. 
 When I found out on my dad's birthday that she had been matched with another family, it felt like a nightmare  from which I could not wake.

As I reflected on all of this, I barely slept Christmas Eve.  My heart was heavy, broken, and in complete despair.  Finally, I got up and went into the living room to start the Christmas morning tradition of lighting the fire, putting on Christmas music, making much needed coffee, and preparing to feign excitement for the girls.  I had already decided that I would wrap Honeybee in a towel and put her in the garage until I could take her to get cremated.  This was not how I wanted to start Christmas morning.  I literally could not believe my eyes when I walked into the living room and she popped her head up, eyes alert, and then GOT UP and walked over to me in that traditional boxer wiggle!  I immediately thanked God for reviving her.  It was as if nothing had happened.  I felt a little excitement welling in my soul and thought maybe this Christmas won't be so horrible after all.  I got my camera ready and stood in place so that I could capture their expressions as they walked out and saw some of the "big hitter" gifts that were on display.   I called the girls and told them they could come out.  They walked around the corner, took one glance at the cornucopia of presents, and then all three of them ran right past their gifts, through the living room, and directly into my arms to give me a giant hug, and wished me a Merry Christmas.  Queue the tears.  In that moment, I realized that at least I have done one thing right.  My girls value our family, our relationships, above all else.  Their early morning display of affection and love was the best Christmas gift!
We spent all day at my mom and dad's house; it was the perfect distraction from my thoughts.

The day after Christmas I crashed.  It felt like God was never going to answer.  I was not in a good place.  Each time I hit these horrible lows, he always provides the encouragement I need through dear friends and strangers from across the world.
I received several emails and messages from people in countries far away.  Messages of hope, encouraging me in this fight for Sparrow, standing with me in prayer and belief that God will bring her back to me.

One dear friend set me straight and told me that Jesus waited two days and let Lazarus die.  Could Jesus have gone and healed him immediately when they told him that Lazarus was sick? Certainly.  Lazarus' sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus that "the one he loved" was very ill.  But that was not his plan.  Even though Jesus intended something far greater than what they could imagine by bringing Lazarus back from the dead, he still met Martha and Mary in their grief and wept with them.  

Jesus has also met me in my grief.  He has not taken away the pain; instead, he has provided compassionate fellowship.  He's given me encouragement from friends and strangers who are praying with me.  Their words of wisdom, love, and support have carried me through the most difficult  moments.  Every day, I wake up and pray that Jesus will take my hand and walk me through the day, leading me through the dark parts and helping me to steady my eyes on him.  
This has been the most difficult faith journey I've ever experienced.  I pray and pray and pray and ask for discernment - should I abandon this hope that he will bring her back to me?  Should I pursue another child?  Should I stop all together?
Every single time, he answers me with the dream he gave me in May, and even though I've been riddled with pain, there is peace knowing I'm exactly where he wants me to be.  It's taken time to get to that realization and acceptance.

The girls and I have a dream of one day owning a farm.  We've been praying about it for almost 2 years.  We talk about it daily.  My mom gave us a vegetable growing kit for Christmas which led to a discussion of how we anticipate our farm will look and what purposes it will serve.  God used this conversation to minister to me.
Growing food takes much waiting.  In between the time of planting the seed until the harvest is much "dead" time.  Above ground, it appears as if nothing is happening.  We can't see the seed.  We can't see what's going on in the soil underneath our feet.  We can't see the effects the sun, heat, moisture, and pressure have on the seed that eventually causes the hull to break apart and allows the tiny roots to burst forth.  We can't see those roots slowly digging deeper into the rich, moist soil, securing a solid foundation for growth.  None of that is visible.  Instead, it appears as if nothing is happening.  I thought back to all of the prayers I have prayed for Sparrow.  How God gently led me step by step.  I planted the seed in obedience.  And now, I have to wait and trust that like the forces of nature, God is preparing that seed for the harvest.  He knows the time when that precious green shoot will force its way out of the ground to be seen by all.  
What a glorious day that will be!
But for now, I wait.  I trust.  I believe.
And in my dark moments, I remind myself that like the seed underground, I can't see the spiritual realm.  I can't see the work God is accomplishing and I can't see the foundation he is preparing.  And isn't that exactly what faith is?  Trusting in what can't be seen.  Having confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we can not see.

I can't thank everyone enough for all of your love and support with which you have covered me.  It is invaluable and priceless!  Please keep praying with me, you have been a wellspring to my soul!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Walking in Faith


It's been almost a year since I first saw our Sweet Sparrow's face.  Funny how I thought the "wait" would end once I was approved to officially move forward with her adoption.  I never would have imagined that it would be just the beginning of the most difficult part of the wait.  
When God gave me the dream in May, I knew she was my daughter.  Not a doubt in my heart.  When I found out that after two years of no movement on the waiting list, she was matched the very hour I was approved, confusion consumed me.  For the life of me, I could not make sense out of it.
I still don't know why God allowed that to happen except that his plans for her and the story he is writing is bigger and more beautiful than anything I could have dreamt. 

In these last few weeks, he has drawn me closer to him in ways I've never experienced.  My faith has reached new levels of depth, trust, and surrender.  
However, this growth has not come without costs.  There have been days of immense sorrow, utter despair, rage and fist-shaking at God, unending questioning, and a deluge of tears.
Excruciating doesn't come close to describe what these last few weeks have been.
I've had moments where I've wavered.  I almost didn't go to my USCIS fingerprint appointment.  I declared I would put the girls back in school, I would get a "safe" job, and we would live the rest of our lives with no risk, and therefore, would not set ourselves up for disappointment and heartache.  We would live what I call the "MMC" or Magnolia Market Christianity that seems to flood our church culture today.  The type of Christianity where our life looks perfectly put together.  All blessings, no heartache.  No risk.  Safe.  Boring.

I even asked to view the waiting list of children, knowing I could match today with a child who needs a family.  But as I scrolled through the list, I knew deep in my heart what God spoke to me through that dream in May.  None of those children were mine.  
Our Sparrow is the dream God gave me.

 God snapped me back to reality and reminded me that it is his promise he gave and his way for fulfilling it.  He brought me back to Sarah and Abraham.  God promised them a son.  Sarah grew impatient because in her human wisdom, she could not fathom a way for her to conceive in her old age.  So she did what I can relate to - she took things into her own hands and told Abraham to sleep with Hagar, her maid,  to produce a son.  He did and Ishmael was born.
But Ishmael was not the son through which God's promise to Abraham would be fulfilled.  Instead, Sarah's meddling and rushing God's promise only caused heartache and jealousy. 
I was becoming Sarah.

You see, I had lost my focus of his power, his ways, his purposes.  Who am I to question the path on which he is leading me?  My view is completely myopic while his is a wide angle lens.  He is working behind the scenes in ways I don't know.  He's doing things that I would never conceive.  He's fulfilling plans and answering prayers of which I have no knowledge.  
I've heard from people all of the world.  Words of encouragement.  Words of empathy.  Words of compassion.  Words of "me too."  He is using her story to bring others to deeper levels of faith - deeper understanding, deeper trust, deeper surrender, and ultimately, deeper hope.

As I continue in this wait, I am slowly learning to have joy.  Joy that he writing the most incredible story. Joy that he knows the exact moment he will bring her back to me.  Joy that he is growing and stretching my faith, taking me to new levels of trust in him.  Joy that he is omniscient.  Joy that he is omnipotent.  Joy that he will fulfill his promise.  Joy that he is worthy to be trusted, honored, and praised.
Joy that I know him and that our relationship is becoming more intimate with each passing day.

So while I will never understand his ways and his purposes, I am choosing to have faith ~ the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Not By Sight


May 26, 2017, God gave me a specific promise about Our Little Sparrow that she is ours.  Even though it right now it seems impossible, I know that God's promise will prevail.  

He does not lie.  

He intended her for our family and on the day that I can finally share her story, it will be clear TO ALL how perfect his plan is and why she fits perfectly in our family.  

It. Will. Blow. Your. Mind.

So now, I'm patiently waiting as the Holy Spirit continues his work, removing the mountains that stand in the way of bringing God's promise to fruition.

Can I get a witness? Amen to the glory of God!

Friday, December 8, 2017

All Is Well

I've been in the spiritual ICU since Tuesday.  Those who have been faithful in walking this journey with me for Little Sparrow rushed to my side and they have not left.  Their words of truth, comfort, encouragement, and faith have coursed through my heart the way an IV mainlines life saving fluids.

These last days have been the yin yang of utter grief and faith that makes absolutely no sense.  
This arduous battle is stretching my faith beyond comprehension.  I know I sound crazy.  I know it.  But I also know the promise that God knit into my heart.  I was not looking for her.  He brought her to me.  He asked me to trust and pursue her.  I did.  In his wisdom and love, he gave me a touchstone so powerful because he knew this moment would arrive.  He knew I needed it and that I would cling to it while everything around me shook my faith.  It is a pillar of his love that I wrap my arms around, knowing it steadies me as I navigate the landmines waiting to explode with every step I take.

Many people have reached out to me with good intentions.  In their attempt to comfort, they told me it wasn't meant to be.  They told me she was a doorway to another.  They told me I can't adopt them all.  They told me it was someone else's turn to experience the love I have with my daughters.  They told me to be grateful for what I have.
But none of those things are the truth.
Faith is the bold belief in the unseen.  It is trusting in what cannot be controlled by man.  It is believing wholeheartedly when nothing makes sense.

There are many who think I am foolish for believing God.  To them I say, I will gladly be a fool for Christ.  His ways are not our ways.  And even though Sparrow's entire story has not been revealed, I am proclaiming the truth He spoke so very clear to my heart:

She is my daughter.

I know she is coming home.  Even more, I know that it is only by the power of his hand that she is.  Everything that man can control has been done in this situation.  I am now waiting on his hand to move.  Faith is putting ourselves into situations that are so completely beyond our control that we can only say, but God.  It is knowing that what is impossible for man, is possible with God.  It is remembering how he parted seas, moved mountains, made the sun stand still, and raised the dead.  It is walking in full confidence towards his purposes in spite of what the world tells us and circumstances that appear grim.  It is risky to proclaim faith.  What if.  What if . What if.  I can play mind games with myself all day long but I always come back to God's word and his character.  He is good.  He is loving.  He is just.
God doesn't lie.

So in those weak moments after I've made bold claims of faith and immediately the pitbulls of doubt and fear viciously chase me, I climb his tree of life and find peace on the branches of his Word.  His truth stands forever and will not be shaken.

It is not easy by any means.  I have moments where I ride the crest of faith so smoothly and in the next, I lose my balance and crash into the turbulence of trepidation and disbelief.  In all of that, Christ is tethered to me like a surfboard to my ankle.  He does not leave me.  Though I may get knocked around, I do not drown.

My dear friend who shares my name spoke such life into me yesterday.  She has walked this journey with me from 2009.  She's been by my side to witness God move mountains and make rough places plain.  She encouraged me with the story of the Shunammite woman found in 2 Kings 4 (paraphrased):

Elisha went to her and told her after many years of barrenness, she would have a son.  She told him not to lie to her.  Sure enough, the next year a son was born to her.  He grew and flourished.  Then one day, he died in her lap.
She hid him away in her room, saddled her donkey, and went straight to Elisha.  Along the way, people inquired of her and she simply responded, "All is well."

All is well.

Once she reached Elisha, she confronted him.  She told him she did not ask for a son, yet he gave her one and now he is dead.  She told him to make his promise right and resurrect her son.  Elisha went to her son and prayed.  God raised him from the dead.
My friend reminded me that I was not looking to adopt again.  I did not seek her out.  God brought her to me.  He knit her in my heart and asked me to step out in faith once again.  I did. 
The words my friend spoke next brought me to tears.  She told me that God needs to resurrect Sparrow's adoption.  She reminded me that God does not lie.

Late yesterday, my caseworker called me.  She all but told me to give up that it was a done deal.  I told her I would not.  I told her I believe God to be true to his word and I believe this family will unmatch with Sparrow and she will come back to me.

Am I a fool for believing this?  Maybe.  If people ridicule me for standing on his truth, so be it.  Faith is crazy.  Faith is insane.  I believe that God has a greater purpose and allowed her to be initially matched with this family, as painful as it is.  He could have very easy allowed me to match with her.  But he didn't.  He released her the very hour I was approved.  Two years on the waiting list and the exact moment I can match, she is gone.  His sovereign hand is writing a story bigger than I could have imagined and larger than what I can see.  I know it is for his good purposes and that is what strengthens me.  

Abraham went forward with Isaac to the top of the mountain to sacrifice him to the Lord.  He did not waiver.  He trusted that somehow, God would provide.  Or, God would resurrect his son.  Whatever his thoughts, his faith proved that he wholeheartedly trusted God with very thing most precious to him.  At the very last moment, God intervened and provided another sacrifice.  Abraham's faith grew and God was glorified.

I pray that God is glorified through Sparrow's story.  I already know that my faith is growing.  But most of all, I pray that my actions, my words, my beliefs - that all of me - brings honor to God.

Turn my heart, O Lord, like rivers of water, 
Turn my heart, O Lord, by Your hand;
Till my whole life flows in the river of Your Spirit, 
And my name brings honor to the Lamb

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Heartbroken

After two years on the waiting list, after 47 weeks of praying for her, after 31 weeks of having a God-given dream about her adoption, today, in the very hour that I was finally approved to move forward,
Our little Sparrow was matched.

But not with me.

I can't even put into words all of the emotions I felt and continue to feel.
We are heartbroken.  Roopa has faithfully prayed for her "twin" every single day.  She talks about her all the time and tells me in great detail all of the adventures she is planning to have with her once she is home.  She doesn't understand why on the day I received approval, another family beat us to match.

I spent most of the day in bed, crying, praying, questioning.
To say I was not in a good place is beyond an understatement.
How can this be?  There were SO MANY THINGS that confirmed she was ours.  Miracle after miracle occurred to get me where I am today in the process.

It was very tempting to go down all of the rabbit holes.  The abyss of "what ifs?"
What if I had started a week sooner?  What if my social worker wouldn't have delayed approving my home study?  What if the India team hadn't left for India right as my home study was being approved?  What if I had been uploaded one day sooner?  What if...?

And then there is the why?  Why would God lead me on this journey again when I was certain I was finished growing my family?  The adoption journey is not fun.  It is torturous.  The last thing I wanted to do was be in process again.  Why would he give me that dream?  Why did he give me the other miraculous confirmations?  
But the biggest why I have asked all day is, why did God allow me to get to the HOUR of approval just for someone else to match with her?  Why would he allow my heart to break in ways I didn't know were possible?


This morning during my devotional before I even heard the news, I meditated on Psalm 25.  Throughout the psalm, his word proclaims that those who hope in the Lord will not be ashamed.  A few short hours later, I found myself struggling to believe this.
I could hear the ridicule already.  You were foolish to believe.  Why did you think God would hold her for you?  You should have guarded Roopa's heart.  What a fool to believe in God.  You say he's a loving God, but what kind of loving God would do that?  What kind of loving God would time it just so?  It felt incredibly cruel.

I was nauseous all day.  My mind clouded by the tornado of fear, grief, and doubt that swirled in my thoughts.

I cried out to him, begging for anything.

He answered me. 
 He sent his love through my dearest friends.  He sent his love through the words of compassion, empathy, and sorrow from other adoptive moms.  He sent his love through the texts, the messages, and the phone calls from my family and friends.  He held me up with their wisdom and empathy and he righted my path.

It has been a slippery slope but I refuse to allow bitterness, anger, and unbelief finish her story.

I am clinging to his word.  I am hanging onto the truths I know deep within my spirit.  I know that he is a loving God.  His plans for me are for a future and hope, for good and not for evil.  I remembered Job and how after he had lost everything, he still blessed the name of the Lord.

And so I lay prostrate before him, confessing the wondrous things he has done in my life.  He has brought complete transformation to me and my girls.  He bathed us in his love and his healing.  Today, he reminded me that his way are not my ways.  Although I may not understand, he is still at work within me and for me and around me.  

I believe that I am in the midst of the greatest test of my faith.  Will I still love him if she doesn't come home?  Will I still praise his name if she does not become my daughter?  Will I fully, completely, and with total abandon, surrender to him and his will for my life?  Even when that means certain heartache?

Six years ago this month, I was in the exact same spot with Munni.  I had been praying for her every single day and waiting on the India program to end its suspension.  
The agency with whom I found her informed me that they could not help me bring her home.
Utter devastation took over me.
God stripped me of my heart's deepest desire and in the most excruciating moment of my life, I let her go.  
I surrendered her to God.  
Broken in every way, I sacrificed my one true desire and told him that if there was a better family out there for her, so be it.
As I write this, Munni is reading next to me.  
Tears won't stop falling as I am reminded of  the incredible and miraculous journey he led me on to make us a family.

So here I am again.  
Broken.  Weary.  Grieving. Shattered.
Will he once again write a miraculous story that ends with Our Little Sparrow somehow coming home to us?
Or will it be a different ending?
With every fiber of my being, I want her with us, part of our family.  
My knees will be bloody from begging.

I am hoping beyond hope that he makes the way for her to come home.
But once again, I am on the mountain with my Isaac.
I lay Our Little Sparrow at his feet and surrender her to him.
He knows the perfect family for her.
He knows the perfect daughter/sister for us.
Although I'm wringing my hands in prayer that he will declare us to be her family and for her to be our daughter/sister,
I have to trust in who he says he is, his power that holds up the universe, and that every single thing he does is for the good of those who love him.

And somehow, at the end of all of this, I will glorify his name.


Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said:

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord."

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.



Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Hate Orphan Sunday



Every time I read this book to my girls, this page never fails to bring tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.
The look on Jesus’ face as he runs towards his lamb stirs intense emotions deep within my heart.  

Today is Orphan Sunday.  

I hate that word.  I hate it with every fiber of my being.  I hate that we live in a broken world where free will and sin and evil leave innocent children without their families.  I hate that there are children languishing in institutions all over the world because the very foundation of which every other relationship is formed, was ripped out from underneath them.  

I hate that not enough people are angered by the fact that there are 140 million orphans in the world.  140 million.  I hate that people are numb to that statistic because it’s overwhelming and it feels like nothing can ever change it.   I hate that because the number is so large, it’s easy to look at it as just a statistic instead of a child.  I hate that there are 140 million faces waiting for someone to claim them as family.  I hate that for the majority of them, they will never exchange their title orphan for son/daughter.

I hate that Our Little Sparrow is passing her days not knowing that she has a family half way around the world, who prays for her every single day.  I hate that she has no idea that she is deeply loved and treasured and we eagerly anticipate the day we can embrace her in our family hug.  I hate that human inefficiency and governmental bureaucracy delay the adoption process longer than necessary.

I hate that there are questions to which my girls will never find the answers.  I hate that for the rest of their lives, in spite of being redeemed through adoption, there will always be a deeply imbedded wound of profound loss.  I hate that a part of their identity will never be known.

I hate that there is a crisis so devastating that “Orphan Sunday” needs to exist.

And so when I turn to this page in the book and I see the look on Jesus’ face, I am reminded of his indescribable love for each of us.  He RUNS to his lamb.  He tells us that he will not leave us as orphans, he will come to us.  He sets the lonely in families and his plan is to give hope and a future.  He tells us to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves and to defend the weak and the fatherless.

Every morning, I wake up to three precious faces.  Faces that radiate joy, love, and a confidence from knowing they are daughters and sisters; we are a family.  Faces that used to project dull, lifeless, and empty stares. 

Through my daughters, I have been given a priceless gift - the gift of seeing first hand the transformation that has taken place in each of them.  In return, I will fight and advocate with all that I have for those who have nothing. 

 I will speak up. 



Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Won't Fear Love

I thought I was done.
I had peace that I was done.
5 dossiers, 2 country closures, 7 years of waiting and being in the adoption process.
I was done.
At the end of 2016, shortly after being registered for court for Mohini, 7 different people asked me if I was going to adopt a 4th child.
My answer to all of them was the same, "It's not that I wouldn't love to parent another child, but I just don't have it in me to go through the process again.  It's arduous, stressful, and the waiting is excruciating."
The last person to ask me if I was going to do a 4th, was my caseworker who has been an integral part of bringing all three of my girls home.  I told her that I would never say no to God, but he would have to use a lightning strike to make it obvious that he wanted me to pursue another child.  We both laughed and went on with our conversation.
Early January 2017, the day after Munni Bird's eye surgery, I was on the India board and an adoptive mama asked if anyone knew of a child with limb differences.  She was hoping for a referral.  Back in April 2016, when I was assembling my home study for my 3rd Indian adoption, I found a little two-year girl who absolutely stole my heart.  She was missing her left arm.  I tried and tried for the little two-year-old, but the orphanage never responded to any of my caseworker's requests for information.  Sadly, I knew she wouldn't be my daughter.  I never stopped praying for her though and eventually, I found out that she was finally matched with a family in December of 2016.  The agency who advocated for the little two-year-old, also advocated for another baby girl; she was born without an arm and the other was malformed.  She was much younger than the age for which I was approved, but her sweet face stuck in my memory.  When the woman on the India board asked about a child with limb differences, I immediately thought of that little baby and went to investigate if she was still available.
I scrolled quickly through the files, looking for that particular baby girl.
And then God stopped me in my tracks.
A little face stared back at me that resembled Munni's referral picture.
I felt a little zing.
I clicked on her reference number and read the short description about "R."  My heart started beating quickly and I knew God was doing something.  What he was doing I hadn't a clue, but one thing was sure, he stirred my heart.
I continued looking for the baby, but she was no longer listed.  This meant that she had been matched!

***

I could not stop thinking about "R."  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I felt a heaviness leave me and it was replaced with a sense of surrender and peace.
Who was I to say no to God?  I thought about how long Munni waited for me to find her.  Family after family passed over her.  I realized through "R's" picture that if God wanted me to pursue another child, I would do it.  I would not fear love.  He calls us to love one another, and even lay down our lives for those in need.  He is the one who would give me the strength to complete it.
I continued to pray for "R."  After a few days, I sensed God pushing me so I finally asked for her file.
I opened the email and clicked on the attachment.
Only it wasn't "R."
It was another little girl.
It was Our Little Sparrow.
I read her file and my heart broke.
She had suffered a horrific injury.
I sat back in my chair and thought about several events and circumstances that occurred in my family.
It was the very beginning of me hearing God whisper that we were a perfect fit.

***

I advocated intensely for "R."  I have a team of prayer partners who are committed to praying for the little ones that I bring to their attention and they prayed for her as well.
Her medical needs were severe and on top that, she was in a very difficult orphanage, known to be cantankerous towards adoptive parents and purposely slow in their end of the process.
A month after seeing her face, I was informed that she was matched with the most perfect family for her.  One of the parents is a neurologist and has a firm understanding of her medical needs and the complexities that accompany them.
When I got the call, I cried tears of joy.  What a loving God we have that he orchestrated the perfect family to come forward for her!

***

Our Little Sparrow still weighed heavy on my heart and I continued to pray for her.  I was in no position emotionally or financially to even consider another adoption, but a little seed had been planted in my heart.  I continued to water it with prayer.

***

While in Delhi for Mohini's adoption, we ended up having to go to the central office of the department that approves every single adoption in India ~ whether domestic or international.
It was a spiritual experience for me.  I couldn't believe I was standing in the place that is responsible for allowing children to find their forever families.  I thought about all three of my girls, the paperwork, the tears, the prayers, the waiting.  I spent 45 minutes in that office and during that time, I prayed for every single family I knew who was waiting for approval.  I prayed for Our Little Sparrow.  I prayed that her forever family would find her... and if we were her family, that we would receive great favor from the Indian government.  It was a holy experience.

***

May 26th, I had a prophetic dream about Our Little Sparrow.  I woke up knowing immediately that God was giving me a message.
I asked my friend to have her prayer team interpret the dream.  I was blown away by their responses.  
She was ours.
In addition, they told me several key truths to hold onto as touchstones.
A week after their interpretation, one major touchstone came to fruition in a very public way!  I was astounded!
I continued to pray and trust.  I was still months away from being able to start the process and yet, there she remained on the waiting list, where she had been for over a year.

***

September 7th, I contacted my home study agency and told her that I was going to do one more adoption.  I had NO idea how this would come to fruition, but I knew I needed to continue walking in faith.
I called several adoption agencies, but one in particular.  This agency had been advocating for her since before I found her.  The intake counselor suggested that I have their India program director reach out to the Indian government to see if they would allow me to pursue her adoption being a single parent with three children.  She didn't want me to invest money in the event they said no.
This sounded great to me!  She said we should hear back in 2-3 days.
So I waited.
A week passed and I didn't hear anything.  I emailed the program director and she told me we should have heard something by now, so she emailed again.
I waited.
Another week went by and still no news.

***

September 18th, the girls and I went to The Ark Encounter with my parents.
What an incredible experience!
As I walked through the levels of that humongous boat, looking at all of the details that went into the construction of it, the design, the planning, God once again stopped me in my footsteps.
It took Noah more than fifty years to build the ark.  
Fifty years!
I could not even begin to imagine the ridicule, the waves of doubt, the scorn, moments of weakness, and fear Noah must have felt.
How many times did he think himself a fool?  No one in his village had ever seen a body of water that would accommodate a ship that size.
In spite of all that, he walked in obedience building that ark; and through his obedience, he became the vessel through which God saved humanity.
I sat on a bench and fought back tears.  God asked me for my obedience and I stumbled.  
Many, many times, God calls us to be obedient to things that look insane to the world.  
It's in those places where we see God show up and display his magnificent glory and power.
God gave me touchstones and I cast them aside.
In humble realization, I emailed the agency and informed them that I was officially applying for the India program.
I knew in my heart that I would not hear a word from India until I committed.  God was testing my faith and it was my turn to step out of the safety of my plans and leap into the glorious place of faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
I went home, completed the application, and mailed the check.
September 27th, I was officially accepted into the India program.

***

Today, October 5th, I received an email from the Indian program director.  
She informed me that she talked with the Indian department since she never received an email back from them.
They told her I was approved to move forward with Our Little Sparrow's adoption and upon my home study being uploaded to their website, I will be officially matched with her.

What an amazing story our God is writing for this sweet, precious child!

"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." ~ Hebrews 11:3






Friday, May 5, 2017

Mohini True Home Forever!

So many emotions wrapped up in this video.  I have a gazillion unwritten blog posts in my mind to describe all that we experienced while we were in India, but for now...



Much love to all of you who have followed along showering us with your love, support, encouragement, and prayers!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Hear The Hope

Last September, I was asked to share my story at the NFL Alumni luncheon.  After hearing my girls' stories and all of the health issues and procedures they endured, several artists approached me and asked if we would like to be a part of the Hear The Hope Project.  I didn't even hesitate!  It is such an honor for us to be able to give back to others in need.  It truly has been a village that helped me not only to bring my girls home but to make sure they received the medical interventions that they needed.
Sam's song is absolutely beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes.  I watched Munni and Roopa playing drums on this incredible song with big smiles on their faces and it made the lyrics resonate deep within my heart.  
This is a song of hope.
My girls have beaten death.  They have survived.  They have blossomed into the beautiful people and continue to grow into all that God has intended for them to be.

They will continue to rise.

You can check out Hear The Hope Project and "Rise" here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tag Her Bag!!

We are THRILLED to be entering the LAST leg of this incredible journey!!  Bottom line:  We would LOVE to write your name on Sweet Mohini's bag!  Roopa's bag is an absolute treasure and we desire the same for Mohini True!  No amount is too small ~ whether it is one dollar or one thousand dollars! We want to write YOUR name on her bag!

Click HERE
if you would like to donate and have your name written on her bag!

#lovemakesafamily