Virginia or Missouri?

I think we’re fairly certain we’re going to move forward with Carolina Hope. I have a good sense about them and after doing more research than I’d like to admit, I think they’re going to suit our needs best.

The next question: do we start our paperwork here in Virginia and, when our house sells, transfer the paperwork or do we start in Missouri and do as much as we can remote so that we can really pull the trigger once we move? Honestly, I start to feel nauseous when I go through all the possible scenarios. It’s like a bad Choose Your Own Adventure (for organized thinkers, those books are no fun anyways).

This is where I can’t imagine making decisions without the guidance of God. I mean, how can I ever anticipate when our move will happen, when we’ll finish the paperwork, how long our approval will take?

Lord, would you give me your wisdom and your revelation? Will you meet us here, now?

I get excited about this being a log that we’ll look back on and see a matrix (or, let’s be honest, a small part of a matrix) for what right now seems so unclear.

The Power of “Should”

I can’t explain this growing desire in me to play some sort of role in helping the lives of these orphans in Africa. It’s rare that I’m awake much beyond when my head hits the pillow, but lately I’ve been late to fall asleep and early to rise rolling over in my mind this AIDS crisis and how it’s affecting so many children. I can’t get them off my mind.

Why this need above any other need?  Although hurricane Katrina and the aftermath moved me to pray and even give money, I wasn’t compelled to go and build houses or feed those left without a home. Every night practically in my backyard there are those with barely enough food to get by, sleeping in alcoves and corners of downtown – yet I’m not spending my evenings bringing them food.

I guess it sounds harsh, but come on – the truth is none of us can respond to every need that’s out there; what makes us migrate towards one over the other?

For years I lived under the power of the “should”, doing things primarily because I felt I was supposed to. I claimed and even believed this was driven by God. Caring for the poor was only one of many, many “shoulds” in my life that I carried on my shoulders from the time I woke up until the time I fell asleep. A mental checklist came along with it – my day and even my very existence was defined by how many of the shoulds I followed. Something didn’t feel quite right about this, but I had no reason to stop shoulding on myself and others because it’s the only way I knew motivation. It was the only way I understood God to be.

Then, I buckled. My shoulds came to an end when my bitterness at all the sources of my shoulds (primarily myself) became louder voices than the should. And I just stopped. I couldn’t do it any more. I couldn’t make myself do one more thing I thought I should.

My shoulds left me burnt-out, feeling entitled to what was mine because no more should was going to take that from me, and in many ways faith-less.

This stirring from God, however, is making me want to open my wallet, my home, my time, my energy, my in-the-middle-of-the-night prayers and my heart in response. I can’t shake it and – in all honestly – the thought of playing some sort of miniscule role in the lives of one or two children who might otherwise not have a life of food, shelter, and love brings me deep joy that, to me, is very other. Very not me. Very God.

His voice is louder than the voice of should (which I used to think was His voice, but have so gladly learned it was not) – and, today in my life, much more powerful. And it’s good.

Helplessness

This whole waiting game that seems to be crowding in around us … makes me feel so helpless at times. It’s like there are days where I get compulsive about sweeping the dust from the corners of my kitchen, under the cabinets, and running a wet paper towel in between the grate underneath my refrigerator, as if someone is going to say: “This house is so clean! I mean, honey, look at the grate underneath the fridge – it’s spotless! Honey, we have to have it!” Or, the reverse, “Sweetheart, I love the house! It’s ours! …But wait, there’s dust on the grate underneath the fridge. This makes me nervous. Maybe we shouldn’t make the leap on this one?”

Again, it comes back the seeming sense of control and clinging to whatever I can.

As I sit here and pray and listen the web stream from the International House of Prayer (basically, spontaneous music, song and and prayer that they broadcast live), I’m just feeling so stinkin’ helpless. There is NOTHING in my own power that I can do to make this house sell faster, to speed up this adoption process (that by the way, has not even officially yet started … Nate, you’ve got a long road ahead of you putting up with me), etc.

I wonder if this is just a taste – a .005% of 1% taste – of what those children in Ethiopia face as they fall asleep on their parent who is dying of AIDS, in a temporary shelter or even worse under an overhang covered only by a sheet of plastic without their father or mother who has just died. Sounds dramatic and I’d like to believe it’s just dramatic because my mind can’t really wrap itself around that kind of poverty. But, it’s true.

Oh, God, if you can be a Daddy for these children I know you can be a Father for me. Jesus, I need you now more than ever in my suburban home looking out at the mountains, sitting on my cushioned stool on my hardwood floors typing on my laptop. It takes me getting to this point before I see it, though. And these kids … they have no where else to turn. My helplessness is masked – they put theirs on everyday and live in it.

I think it’s all the same though … monetary needs are good, and essential, but they don’t relieve the helpless state of my heart without You.

The bottom line is that You are enough … for me in my sense of helplessness right now and for those orphans sleeping on the streets in Ethiopia (two of whom might be my children!). Come do what you do best …and meet us in our helplessness.

Jesus, we need you…

Timing?

I love my outlook calendar. I know I’m late to this party, but I’ve only recently discovered how it can manage my daily outside-of-work life. I love it so much so that sometimes I put a task in there that I’ve almost or just completed, simply to click “complete.” When it comes to this adoption process, I’d love to map out exactly when I need to have certain items completed and when I can expect to achieve certain mile-markers along the way (ending in the long-awaited referral – with the names and pictures of the children we’ll bring into our home). I’m quickly learning this is not how it works. As I search websites of other adoptive parents like me, I see that – in lieu of a great tool that calculates their progress (in outlook you can map the percentage completed of a particular task or project) they post things like the number of days they’ve been waiting on a referral and hour-by-hour tracking logs of where their Fed Ex dossier is after it’s been completed.

I have the sinking feeling that my experience thus far in “waiting” has really only just begun.

BUT ….

There is something strangely comforting about having many of the major variables in my life in suspension at once. For someone like me who tends towards high control, you’d think this would be total chaos in my systematic brain. Actually, it’s quite freeing. I mean, no controlling person at their core really wants control. It’s just their safety blanket. A very false safety blanket – as control really only happens in fits and spurts. It’s never something that’s really ever yours.

I know I’ve judged people who have a proclivity to “flightiness” in the past. I’ve watched those who appear to be directionless with disdain. “How can they really NOT have any idea what they want to do next … again? Weren’t they just in the same place last year?” It’s almost as if in my mind I gave an allowance of 1 major period of crisis or uncertainty and still allowed someone to be normal. But if I saw any semblance of a pattern of uncertainty, that person immediately become flighty in my mind.

The Lord is funny that way. Now, here I am with uncertainty creeping into more than one area of my life and, even worse, over a period of time. I think I’ve used up my one allowance. And, you know what? Right now, it’s a pretty darn freeing.

We’ve put our house on the market to move to Kansas City and had a tentative move date of August 19th, and a going away party the night before to boot! We’re still here.

My job is winding down to an end and I can’t really look for a new one knowing that we could move to Kansas City at any moment … or … in a year, if it takes that long to sell.

We’ve begun the adoption process but are likely going to hit a delay when the move happens …if it happens. Our “paper chase”, as those in the adoption-world call it, will probably require several switch-backs given that much of the paperwork is specific to where you live.

And … who knows. We’re continuing to pray that I would be able to have children. So – we could get $10,000 or even $15,000 into this adoption process (because many of the fees are due on the front-end) and I could get pregnant. We could even get so far as to hold in our hands pictures of these Ethiopian children we’re already praying for and have begun hoping and dreaming about, only to find out that the process is abruptly ended due to my own pregnancy.

Praise God I’m not the one orchestrating all of this. Little me who at times would like to control the world … my husband, my friends, my family and even the weather … gets to have a chance at freedom. He knows; I don’t. These details will all come together in the order and timing that only He can orchestrate – that I would likely screw up.

Sure bitterness rears its ugly head into my being as I look at my circumstances. But it would be impossible to ignore all of the deep, soul-cleansing good that is coming out of this. God is changing me. I think I can even go so far as to say He is making me new. He is taking a heart that was so bound by fear and anxiety … and walking me out on the very cliff I was afraid of and spent years judging – uncertainty – and showing me all the beauty there is to see there. I’d miss this if I’d had it all my way to begin with.

A dear friend sent me this verse last week:

Isaiah 51:3 “He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord.”

The “her” in this scripture is referring to Israel – Zion – and I believe it’s something God is going to do in that nation that we’ll one day see with our very own eyes. But, could it also be for me … His promise for me? That my wilderness – my current infertility and displaced desire to be a mom, the waiting on our house-sale that never seems to end, etc etc – is a place that he will turn into His garden?

These two children that I continue to picture in my mind and can’t help but pray for … will most certainly be a piece of this barren land restored. But, even more-so, my ever-changing heart, my growing awareness that I am loved by God, very intentionally, very specifically, this stirring inside of me for Him … is the “garden.” He’s taking a very controlling, overly fearful and anxious and often bitter-at-her-circumstances girl who can tend toward wallowing in self-pity and making her new. (At least, I think). It’s like today, as I prayed, I heard Him saying “this is more about Me and you than you think it is.” I think He might be right.

So, I guess I’m o.k. with being flighty … at least today.

Although … it might not be long before I begin posting Fed Ex tracking logs of senseless paperwork, as my last ditch crack at honing in on this process. If I do, I’ll just go back and take out that part about people who do that.

To The Hungry Soul, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

There’s something safe about having a blog that you know no one is going to read for at least a while (or maybe never). Maybe it’s more like a journal. Regardless, this process seems monumental enough in our lives that I want it recorded.

Riding the range of my emotions with our struggles with infertility and our growing hope and desire to open our home to two Ethiopian children is like being an adolescent all over again. I find myself giddy and waking up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, as I dream about housing these orphans I’ve read so much about. This, then followed by a day where I have an emotional breakdown because our computer technician is a few hours behind on installing my new email account. “I’ve had enough of the waiting!” I explain to Nate when he asks why the big deal about my email. He is a patient man.

The overwhelming piece in all of this is what God is doing in my heart. Two weeks ago I read this verse that I think sums up what I’m feeling:

“The satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7

This thing that feels like our Achilles heal – our struggles with infertility – has actually been the avenue by which God is meeting me and speaking to me most. At the moments where I wonder if I can peel myself off the floor, I am so saddened by our lack … God is more real than He’s ever been.

I continue to see the game of chutes and ladders in my head as I pray. I find myself thinking “what the heck did I do to land on this stupid square that took me down a slide and landed me well-behind where I should be at this stage in life?”

My heart that wants to lean toward bitterness begins moaning out .. “not another set-back” as I am quick to remember being the newlywed wondering if marriage really would ever be good. (Thankfully I can say now that it is GOOD.) Then, God invites. He says to me “climb up here, there’s a ladder just one square away.” And I find Him. In a deeper and more real way than I have before, I meet him.

Sure, that’s just the summary of a drawn out process of what’s now become years. I’ve had months of numbness as I watch friend after friend experience the joys of having biological children, fearing that I may never have that myself. Most recently, August and September were like a mourning period for me. I’d have random waves of sadness, triggered by hearing children playing outside or even seeing a maternity dress in a store. I found myself daydreaming about what I couldn’t have, to the point of indulgence.

I don’t know where the turning point was and I’m fairly certain this may be a corner I’ll re-visit … but God met me. He showed up. He spoke to me, ever so tenderly. In just the right way. Almost as if to make all the waiting worth-it. Because the truth is, my soul is hungry for more than just the normal life… isn’t this true for all of us? And even this bitter thing, because of how it’s being wielded in my life at this moment to bring me closer to God, is sweet.

And separate, but not totally removed from that is our adoption journey…