Stretch Marks

The past month has been a whirlwind. The calm waters of waiting in our adoption got stirred, and so did we.

While I can’t go into detail, I will say we had our hearts stretched to consider a scenario beyond our initial adoption-parameters. We took it to His feet. We asked Him. And we received more than just His blessing to move forward. And we gave over our fears in exchange for expectancy. We began to let the story play out in our minds, and understand this new-reality as a great blessing. We stood joyful at God’s course correction.

And then the door shut.

My argument for why every family should not stop at just one adoption (or why every person who has experienced pain should revisit that side of the mountain again) was reinforced when I witnessed, almost as if I was a bystander, the grace of God pour out over my response. I felt utter peace. Just pages before this moment was another testimony of His in my book. Every single blind-curve and dark alley gave way to beauty on the day my fingers first brushed Eden’s cheek and held Caleb’s hand.

God’s plan was better than any scheme I could have conceived.

So this time around, where it appeared we off-roaded, I can say that we rejoiced in the Man who knew the best way. And my heart inched deeper, into Him and away from flesh. True growth, unto someone. This One.

Then, not much more than hours later, a new, similar door was opened. My heart, fresh from encountering Trust, embraced it. Another sign that land had been taken, I was not fearful to hope again. I dove in, Nate’s hand in mine. We said “yes”, again, to a plan that wasn’t first ours, but seemingly His.

But days later we’ve received intelligence that possibly threatens yet another closed door.

“Stretching”, the word that dropped in Nate’s mind a month ago now when we first prayed about this new frontier, is absorbed in my body. My skin is taut around hope’s edges. This time, I wonder if I’m not at risk for breaking. Exhaustion — the kind that comes from interceding for a not-yet and carrying the burden of God’s heart for another’s broken story — seeps in.

How long, oh Lord? words I learned to say in my sleep when we walked our first adoption, fall mindlessly off my lips.

I paced my kitchen today, asking the Lord why I’m back here, spilling all of myself into an undeveloped story. And I knew I had (and still have) the chance to say “no”, to end it all now. I could say no to the possibility that He’s put before us and avoid the risk of loss. But, an even graver decision: I could say no to this birth that’s producing forever stretch marks on my person.

I am here again for many subsidiary reasons, but the main one is the mission written all over my life, with tattoo-ed on ink.

I am here to meet this Man.

And the hope that’s been welling up within me, in the meantime, is all about Him. Again, what else — Who else — is there?  A specific, even fervently hoped-for, outcome cannot hold the weight of hope built upon it. Hope is not unto a circumstance. Hope’s most pure expression is when it’s placed upon the God-Man. It’s there that I find fulfillment.

Jesus is asking me to intercede, unrelenting with mother-prayers for these fatherless He’s put before me, and to place all my hope in Him. He’s handcrafting an outcome that my mouth’s praise won’t be able to contain — but we are, again, at risk for missing the great steadiness-of-life He offers if we, oh-so-easily, take our eyes off the ball.

It’s Him. This stretching of us is unto a greater expression and understanding of this Man in my lifetime. I have opportunity to, yet again, be forever changed by the Unchanging One.

He is making me to know hope. Even after having it be so recently, seemingly dashed.

So, I get up.

Yes, me — the one who has spent month after month, knees buckled beside the waste paper bin that holds my negative pregnancy test. Me — whose story, many times, has elicited the uncomfortable gaze from onlookers that says: I’m fine with waiting a few months, but I sure hope I don’t end up like her.

While I wait for the outcome, I’m offered a deeper look at the true end to hope.

Hope is a Man, unbending.

The joy and peace that scripture speaks of as it relates to “hope abounding” aren’t waiting to be released from the sky, like a great balloon drop, just when the outcome is secure.

They are accessible to me now.

Would you, dear reader, pray for us in this moment? We’re walking with trembling knees, shaky hands spread open-wide to whatever God asks of us in this. But it’s not a simple road. Details, decisions — which we wish we could share, but cannot, per Ugandan adoption ethics — all of which are calling us to this moment of stretching into hope, and away from fear.

But, through hazy eyes, we can see that this moment offers glory. All that’s been stretched is not so long away from a great infilling of the Man who responds to our future’s haze.

I get more of God here. While I wait in uncertainty, I find Hope.



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18 Responses to “Stretch Marks”

  1. Liz on

    Stretched, cracked, and broken open, your sweet heart pours fourth the grace and hope of our Living One. It’s a place my heart knows also, and a place where He meets us in a pretty amazing way. I am so grateful to read His workings in your life, Sara, and my prayers are with you!

  2. Katie on

    Sara, I just recently started reading your blog but already in these last few weeks, your life and writing here has been such a huge blessing and encouragement to me. I cannot tell you how much of an inspiration you have been as I grow into the kind of mother and the kind of God-follower that I desire to be. Praying for you today!

  3. Shannon Wheeler on

    I’m praying with you and your husband. My heart goes out to you, as one mother who’s had many closed doors and shed tears during my walks toward adoptions that have thus far not come to pass. Friends who’ve both adopted and given birth have all consistently said the “labor” of adoption far, far exceeds that of a physical birth giving. So I think you’re absolutely earning your “stretch marks” here. It IS a hard thing. We’re going in August to Ukraine to meet the boy we’d hoped to adopt, and it’s a very bitter-sweet thing, because I still don’t understand the closed door. (That’s a long way of saying that I’m feeling your burden for these kids your heart knows even though you’ve yet to meet.)

    You have referred to hope a number of times, and it brings to mind something my pastor said a week ago or so. He’d mentioned that in English, we use “hope” to be synonymous to “wish” or “would really like,” when in the original text, the word meant a real belief in a particular outcome. So as I read your words, I hear hope expressed as it is described in God’s Word – you are clinging with both hands to a promise and a longing God has birthed in your heart with the full belief that He will bring His will to pass in your life in His way and in His timing, and I hear a steady trust even in the intensity of emotion that adoption evokes in all of us.

    Your openness and your faithfulness are a blessing. I can’t remember the verse reference, but “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” comes to mind. What you are displaying is pure faith. It is that which is the intangible substance of hope. The clinging to the Lord as you let go of your own need to understand, to control, to know the future… it’s all a testimony to the strength of hope you possess – to your certainty that God is in fact worthy of that trust. Thank you for sharing your life with us, and please know I’m praying for you and for the little ones who’ve moved your heart so profoundly.

  4. Kelly on

    Sara, so beautifully put. So raw and honest. Thank you for sharing yourself so candidly and pointing people to Christ as you do.

    Can I repost this one at WAGI? I’d love to.

  5. Amber on

    Hi there! I’m a friend of Ashley Malcolm’s. She thought I would enjoy reading your blog and I sure do! Amazing post! Look forward to reading more…

  6. Sara on


    Thank you for your heartfelt response. I remember your story and actually its come to mind a few times this week. The outcomes can be so perplexing …Jesus is in the only thing that’s safe.

    Thank you for your sweet vulnerability here,

  7. Gretchen on

    I love that you opened your hearts to an older child. We adopted three brothers from Ethiopia in 2009; ages 7,9 and 11 at adoption. We also have two bio boys; yep that’s 5 in all; now between the ages of 8 and 13. Our eldest from Ethiopia is profoundly hearing impaired.
    It’s not harder, it’s just different. You don’t have the teething, potty training, toddler stuff to deal with. You get a child who can tell you about their life; they will learn English very quickly by immersion. Our three lost Amharic in 6 months, that was sad, I wanted them to be bilingual (hopefully they will want to pick up Amharic again some day). From our three we dealt with running away, hoarding, lying, but we had planned for the worst so these things seemed like not a big deal, and we mostly ignored the behaviors and they went away. With the run away I had to finally say that next time I would just call the police to go find him; one 40 year old mom chasing a 10 year old Ethiopian runner….not pretty.
    It looks like God has adoption plans for us again, likely Uganda, girl 5-8 years old.
    I’m not supermom, I can be ugly and petty, but that is when I need Him and He shines and gets the glory, when I can’t do it. I think He’ll do it just as well with 6 as He has with 5.

  8. Sara on


    “It’s not harder, it’s just different.” Amen. When God has called you to something, the grace for it is endless. You have reminded me of that with your comment. Thank you!


  9. Amanda on

    Sara, A friend of mine introduced me to your blog when she heard that we were starting the adoption process. We are adopting domestically and are in a time of stretching, as we wait on the Lord’s direction. We’ve been matched with a birth mom, but she is one who is very unsure about whether or not she’ll proceed with adoption. I learned about her 2 months ago and began praying “mother-prayers” for the precious boy growing in her womb. I don’t know if he will be ours or not, but your blog has given me so much hope and encouragement. Thank you for reminding me to look to the Man who holds it all in the palm of His hand. Blessings!

  10. Sara on


    Woah — yes it sounds like you are in an intense place. I so believe you are going to walk away having seen the beauty of the Lord. And your “mother prayers” will not fall on empty ground.

    Thank you for your sweet encouragement,

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