Even as I'm writing, I'm not exactly sure why I'm sharing this with you. In all honesty, I don't even know who "you" are in many cases. But last night I felt like God was leading me to write this post, so I'm going with it now.
It's been just over two years since Josh and I began talking about adoption. And there's a reason that it took us until the end of 2008 to act on what God was leading us to do. I would love to say that we felt that pull, and we immediately took action. And I would love to tell you that God spoke, and we quickly obeyed.
But that wouldn't be the truth.
In reality, this has been a process of faith and growth which began long before "adoption" was in our vocabulary. If I had to say when I could first feel God changing my heart, it would be when we lost our second baby in September of 2005. Prior to that time in our lives, I would have labeled myself as fearful, anxious, and a bit of a control-freak. It's not that I thought my way was better than anyone else's...it's just that I needed to feel like I had the say in the direction of my life. And although I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, that included keeping the reigns out of God's hands as well.
I want to share something with you. It's a bit long, and it's also somewhat "detailed" at times, but this needs to be said. It needs to shared. I wrote this in my journal on October 21, 2005:
I had already taken several pregnancy tests (including most of the 10 that I ordered off of the Internet!), but in my overwhelming need and desire to have answers--to control--I decided to take one more. And there it was...the faintest of lines. It was so faint that I wasn't even sure it was there. So of course, in my never-ending search for answers, assurance, and peace, I took another test the next day. That test looked pretty much the same as the first one.
And so it began. My consuming fear and worrying.
Now every woman worries when she first learns of the tiny life inside of her. Some ease up a little after the first ultrasound. For some, it's after the first trimester is completed. Yet for others, it's not until that tiny life has grown into a 7 1/2 pound baby that can be held in her arms just moments after delivery.
I'm not really any of those women. I am the woman who thinks. All the time.
I overanalyze every little twinge (or panic when there is no twinge). I scour the Internet for answers as to why I don't feel one ounce of morning sickness.
Something in me demands answers, demands control.
During the wait for my first doctor's appointment, I took several more pregnancy tests. (Josh called the countertop where I had them lying the "pregnancy test graveyard".) We told several family members and close friends that we were expecting again. But I remained guarded.
Then it happened.
On Thursday, September 1, I began spotting a little. It wasn't significant, but I called my doctor who said that as long as it didn't get worse or I didn't start having pain, it was probably nothing to be concerned about. I slept very little that night, and I kept begging God to make it stop. I know that God doesn't promise this, but I kept thinking that if I prayed hard and often enough, He would do what I asked.
I finally dozed off early Friday morning as the sun was coming up. When I awoke a short time later, I was lying in blood on the bed. And then I felt it. I felt the pain that I had prayed to never feel. The world seemed to disappear around me. I looked at Josh and through my tears, cried "It's over."
I was having a miscarriage.
I couldn't even say that word. I hated it! Wasn't there something that could be done? People are kept on this earth every single day with machines that breathe for them. Machines that live for them. Why couldn't someone help me?
Over the next few days, I cried most of each and every day. I cried at anything, everything, and nothing. But I vowed to trust God and His plan, and I prayed over and over for Him to teach me what I needed to learn. Natalie Grant sings a song called "Held", and in it she says, "The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley." I had never really understood what that meant until I could feel God slowly healing me and teaching me to trust Him and praise Him--even now!
My pain slowly transformed into peace and contentment. I began to understand that God loved me enough to take my baby. I know He could have spoken the word to stop it, but that was my will, which is sometimes so far from His perfect will.
God used this baby and our loss to teach me about faith and about really trusting Him. I've always said that I'm giving God control in my life, but God used this experience to gently and lovingly show me how much I try to do on my own. Contentment doesn't lie in a dozen pregnancy tests, the Internet, or any book I may read. Those things come only from Him and His perfect, flawless will.
Our baby was only with us a short time, but what a powerful impact he had! God used this baby to truly change my life!!
A woman whom I love dearly wrote me not long ago with some struggles she was facing in her own life. She was discouraged at feeling alone and somewhat forsaken in her trials. I wanted to share something I wrote her back (please excuse the lack of capital letters...I'm all about saving time during the busy hours of non-naptime, and in another time-saving effort, I'm just cutting/pasting my e-mail response to her):
the presence of tough times in our lives doesn't mean the absence of god. god knows all things, but it's so much more than that. he does all things as well.
that's a tough pill for us (even as christians) to swallow sometimes. but yes, he's the creator of life as well as the one who takes it away. he's the one who provides for us, but he's also the one who allows us to want. he's the one who authors every single event in our lives. and sometimes it's impossible for us to grasp how magnificent he is and to understand why he would lead us down difficult paths at times. my only "understanding" comes from isaiah 55:8-11:
"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the lord. as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what i desire and achieve the purpose for which i sent it."
god does everything with a purpose. birth, death, riches, need, joy, sorrow...you name it. sometimes he does it to change the direction of our path (as in a job loss/change), sometimes he does it to teach us something (as the tremendous lessons we learned in faith and grace when we lost our second baby), sometimes he does it to bring himself glory and honor (like you see in many examples of an individual or family praising god through the midst of struggle). there are countless reasons why god moves in the way that he does...many of which we can't even grasp.
but the filter it all goes through is one of love. he loves us deeply...he wants the best for us...and he never, ever, ever leaves us.
deut. 31:8 says "the lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. do not be afraid and do not be discouraged." so if you're feeling left or forsaken, you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that's not truth. god himself promises you in his word that will never happen.
I don't want to give the impression that God only uses dramatic, hard circumstances to grow us. But I definitely want to convey that He does choose to do just that at times. James 1:2-4 tells us this: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
That one experience back in 2005, as painful as it may have been, was the launching pad for a radical change in my life. The week after my miscarriage began, my Aunt Lola sent this to me from an essay she had recently read by a woman who had lost a baby of her own:
So God taught me about faith. He grew in me the ability to know intimately someone that I have experienced but not seen, felt but not touched. In His wisdom, His gentle ways, He brought my heart closer to Him through the time I had with my baby.
That passage is so neat to me on many levels. Not only did God also draw me closer to Him during that time, but I'm now sitting here three-and-a-half years later madly in love with a baby in Ethiopia that I have neither "seen" nor "touched". Proof that God works in mysterious ways! He used this lady's words to speak to me so deeply on one level years ago and then once again as I read them today.
Thank God for testing my faith during that season years ago! Praise Him because that was the first step in a long journey of joys and trials that has led us to today. It's a path that is leading all the way to Ethiopia to bring home our baby!! And without the lessons I've learned and the faith that God is growing in me, this is a magnificent journey that I would never have had the courage to take.
Several of you have asked recently about how things are progressing with our adoption. I spoke with our home study provider today, and she's finalizing her paperwork to be sent in to our agency this week. We have a few more loose ends to tie up here, and then we'll be ready to send our dossier for authentication and then on to Ethiopia!! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!