Friday, October 24, 2014

God-sized Dreams: Can't Not Move

As we're driving and pretty much late, we hit every red light on the way to our destination.

John groans. Seriously, he says. Every single red light.

I can't help but laugh aloud at this because it's totally applicable to our life in a way that is only worthy of an insane amount of laughter or an insane amount of tears.

Today, I'm choosing laughter.

Today, I'm choosing purpose.

Today, I'm looking at all the red lights we've hit during the past few years as all purposed for us to stop so that when the green lights of life came we could press the pedal to the metal and go go go.

That's what happened this past January. We felt a green light to go go go when we prayed about pursing the adoption of our host daughter.

But that wasn't until after a series of red lights in our life, most of which we just blew right on through ... until we couldn't anymore. In March 2013 we encountered the one red light we just could not run when our daughter crossed into eternity during the 12th week of my fifth pregnancy. 

It stopped us dead in our tracks. And we then began realizing that in order to really heal, we needed to drastically slow down. We then began quitting things, really really good things, one at a time. 

And in that newly open space we found ourselves in more quiet with The Lord than we had been in some time. As we cried out to him to help us understand our desire to grow our family he began to break our hearts for children who didn't have families.

The more we began to understand this call on our hearts, the more we knew we had to let go of some things that were keeping us too busy to fully engage with the people currently in our lives and the tug we began feeling on our heart.

Last year at this time we thought this call looked like hosting a child through New Horizons for Children. We weren't wrong. That was our call. And it may still be in the future, but as we prayed about it we began to realize we desired to care for the orphan in her distress in a more permanent way. We felt God asking us if we could make room in our family permanently for another child. 

We loved our host daughter so deeply and felt so strongly that adoption was our route that we decided to pursue her adoption. And we have pursued her. Until we hit a big fat red light with her after her second time being hosted in our home. She returned to her country the first of August and pretty quickly decided she no longer wanted to be adopted by us. 

While we were saddened and jarred by her seemingly 180 degree turn I almost immediately felt peace, and I heard God say to my heart: there is deep purpose in this.

Of course, I couldn't fathom what. So we began praying hard again, asking him why our hearts were so broken over children without families if we weren't supposed to adopt ... Why had He provided so much in terms of resources and support and encouragement and finances if we were supposed to do nothing? And more importantly why were our hearts so deeply grieved still and desiring to include more children in our family if this was the end of the road.

And he answered -- because it wasn't. It wasn't the end of the road in our adoption story.

About a month ago, another New Horizons for Children family began advocating for two sisters. When we first spoke to the host mom via phone we realized we not only connected with her but we also connected deeply and unexplainably with the two girls for whom she was advocating.

 

As with other kids we have become connected to our family began praying for the girls and asking God to provide them the perfect family. We also told Him we were open to being their family if that's what He intended.

 

God has steadily been working on their behalf, gaining clearances for them during the course of the last year and a half. Their case has been very slooooow for 18 months … until just the last couple weeks. This week we were told the girls were legally cleared for adoption.

 

Over the past several months God’s also steadily been working in our hearts and minds as we pray about what He would have us do. Right now we believe He’s brought these two girls across our path for a purpose, the first being hosting the older sister this Christmas (the younger is too young to travel for hosting). He’s repeatedly asked us to be brave, to trust and to have faith, specifically in regard to this adoption process that started more than 10 months ago.

 

So what’s this going to look like? Well, honestly, we don’t know! This has been a big week, learning the girls are legally cleared for adoption and receiving new approval from the state of Illinois to adopt a child as young as the younger sister.

 

While we don't know everything or really even much at all right now about how this is all going to pan out we do, at this moment, we know this:

 

We can't not respond to the passions He's placed in our hearts.

 

We can't not be brave and follow where He leads.

 

When God gives a green light, we can't not go.

 

We just can't not move.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do For One What You Wish You Could Do For Everyone

Love isn't always an easy road; but it's always a worthwhile one.

Perhaps you've been following our journey since it began when we hosted a child from Eastern Europe last Christmas or maybe you've just read a bit about hosting an orphan and don't know much more ... and perhaps something calls to you about opening your own home and sharing your own family with a child who doesn't have one of his or her own. But maybe the reality is that you're still on the fence about hosting.

There are so many reasons that tempt us to toss the idea out of our minds because honestly it can seem daunting or even impossible. Before you let the thought fade, though, here are six reasons you may want to consider allowing God to show you that He specializes in making the impossible possible.

6. Heartwarming
Hosting a child from another country who doesn't have a family is is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. As we shared Christmas and all of the traditions that accompany our advent and Christmas celebrations, I witnessed so much beautiful interactions between our host daughter and our young boys, then 6 and 4. My children thoughtfully included her into our traditions and she in turn embraced our family and our traditions eagerly. Watching the love grow between all of our members in our family with a complete stranger turned family member has forever changed my heart and has reminded me that Christmas is about love -- God's great love for us in sending His son to us.

5. Eye-opening 
Before our host daughter came to live with us for a month, I knew there were orphans. But I didn't think about them because I didn't see orphans on a daily basis. They were not even on my radar. But then I held her in my arms. And I knew her name. And I loved her in a way I cannot explain. And orphans then became to me people instead of numbers I had read in statistics. We can ignore numbers. We couldn't ignore Eta. Or Vika. Or Alina. Or Nauris. Or any of the number of other children we've come across during hosting.

4. Inspiring
Our host daughter boarded an airplane in her native country and traveled across the Atlantic via plane for the first time to spend a month with a family she'd never met and who didn't even speak the same language. And she was only 12 years old. When we first met our beautiful host daughter, she looked completely bewildered and overwhelmed. We quickly learned that hugs and laughter translate well into any language. As we settled into life during the first few hours and then days of her visit, I was inspired by her resilience and her desire to receive and give love despite all of the disappointments and hardships she'd faced in her short life. I recalled the feeling of terror I'd experienced before hosting began about welcoming a stranger into our family and recalled how others had said we were so brave for doing this. As I watched our host daughter strive to make heart connections, I realized bravery was involved in hosting -- but most of it was needed by the children being hosted! After all, we were in our own home, with our own families, speaking our own language. Talk about bravery! These children are so courageous, and our host daughter showed me that I could live and love courageously, too!

 3. Humbling
The world is so much bigger, so much more vast than what I can see when I'm looking at what's before me. I recall days when I thought and lived like the world revolved around me and my small family. When we met our host daughter I began to realize on a greater scale just how small I am and just how vast the world is. My children also began to grasp the smallest realizations of just how big our world is and how great the needs. We've realized as a family that while we cannot nearly meet the worlds great needs, we can do something. No one can do everything; but everyone can do something. We have learned that while we cannot save the world we can go where our deep passion meets the world's great need. And we have taken to heart a great perspective from Andy Stanley: "Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone."

2. Perspective-altering
Though we'd read James 1:27 many times -- "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." -- we didn't really understand it until our host daughter came into our lives. We then began understanding how God wants us to love and how God loves us. Orphans have no standing in the world -- they have nothing with which to repay for the love, time and effort. This is the way God loves us -- though we have nothing to offer him but our hearts, he loves us and cares for us as His own.

1. Life-changing
People have often mused about how we've changed our host daughter's life for the better. And I know this is true without a doubt. We loved her with every ounce of love we had and then some -- often praying and asking God to multiply our efforts in only a way He could deep within her heart. I know we've given her a picture of what it means to be welcomed into a family and what it means to be part of a family. I know we've made a difference in her life, and our love has been tattooed on her heart. But you know what else? God used her and hosting to change our lives ... to change our hearts. Our family has had our collective heart broken for children who don't have families. Even our young sons at ages 5 and 7 are vested in praying for, advocating for and fundraising for adoption. When discussing if we should host again and/or continue in the adoption journey with a different child or children our oldest son exclaimed, "Yes! Of course! Every kid needs a family!"

 Remember, love isn't always an easy road; but it's always a worthwhile one. God knows where each of us would be without it.

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