Handing Over the Reins

I am, admittedly, a bit of a Type-A, control freak!  I don’t like surprises if I know that they are coming (but don’t know what is coming).  My husband learned this the hard way as he was planning our proposal.  He kept telling me he had a surprise planned and that he was working on it.  He thought the anticipation would get me excited.  Quite the opposite happened.  I was a WRECK, thinking he might be proposing, but worrying that if he wasn’t proposing, I would be disappointed, when he had just put so much effort into surprising me with something else.  For a month, my poor family members and college roommates had to listen to me fret (and yes, cry) over this.

Well, adoption is NOT for the control freak.  Or, maybe it is…maybe it is God’s way of teaching the control freak, like me, to trust Him and hand over the reins to our lives.  I can tell you, though, this lesson does not come easily for those of us who like to take the reins in our hands and make something happen.  You would think, having been down this road once before that I would have learned my lesson and would be content to wait on the Lord and his perfect timing.

I do believe with my whole heart that God’s timing is perfect and I wouldn’t want any child, except the one He has for us, yet I still find myself obsessively trying to find our next baby and raise the necessary funds.  I search for adoption situations online through different agencies multiple times a day, then I focus on raising the rest of our money, then I read adoption books about successful adoption stories.  Obsessed? I’d say yes!  You probably think I am crazy right now, but I’m just being honest and I can honestly say that my experience does not seem to be unique.  Many adoptive moms I have talked to become obsessed about their adoption journey, having a constant internal tug-of-war between making something happen on their own and trusting God!

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

I’ll admit, I haven’t “been still” much lately.   I have been so afraid I would miss an adoption situation, that I have been obsessively checking online for adoption situations.  I keep trying to make something happen on my own or wish it out of thin air.  Guess what?  I haven’t found a single situation.  Oh, the irony!  When I do step back for a second and remember who God is and everything He is done, I am reminded that if it is the situation for us, I won’t miss it!  I’m not saying that I need to stop looking or reaching out to adoption professionals or sharing our profile, but I am saying that I need to make sure that I am first sitting at the feet of my King and that I am trusting Him to work in His perfect time.  I should be making myself available without making something happen.  I don’t want it, if God didn’t make it happen!

I’m sharing this, because I am sure there are those of you, like me, who are control freaks who struggle in many areas of life with giving the reins to God.  If you’re like me, when nothing is happening and you are just supposed to wait and pray, you instead try to make something happen.  If that is you, in any area of your life, I ask you to join me in waiting first on Him.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. ~Psalm 27:14

As I wait on Him, God reminds me of the story of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael.  You see, God promised Abraham a son of his flesh and blood (Gen 15:4)  and descendants as numerous as the stars (Gen 15:5).  Yet, year after year went by and Sarai still had not conceived, so Sarai tried to take matters into her own hands:

Genesis 16

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Genesis 17

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty[a]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[d] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

Genesis 18

“Where is your wife Sarah?” the three visitors asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

Genesis 21

2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.

Abram had received a promise from God, yet when it didn’t appear as if God was fulfilling it, he and Sarai took action and tried to make the promise happen on their own.  This caused a wedge in their home and a host of unnecessary drama.  It took God over 15 years after Ishmael was born for Sarah to give birth to Isaac.  Their waiting was long, but God was faithful and fulfilled His promise.  I bet that it was worth the wait and I bet not a day went by that Sarai didn’t wish she hadn’t interfered.  Let’s not be like Abraham and Sarah, who couldn’t wait on God’s perfect timing and instead took the reins and created drama.  Instead, let’s spend our time seeking Him and trusting that if God promises, He will deliver.  There is nothing more powerful we can do in this time than to pray and turn to Him.  I promise His plans are better than anything you could make happen.  If you wait on Him, you will avoid unnecessary heartache, stress, and drama, and, most importantly, your relationship with Him will grow in untold ways.  Will you join me in waiting on our King?


Infertility and Unplanned Pregnancies

When we first began to seriously suspect that we might have fertility issues, I was working at a pregnancy clinic.  Every day, I would see women come through our doors who were facing unplanned pregnancies. Here we were, meeting at a place in life that neither of us wanted to be, wishing that for a season (say about 9 months), we could trade afflictions – that I could carry her pregnancy and she could have my infertility.  What I saw as a blessing, they saw as a curse.


It was hard to see these women getting what I wanted when they didn’t want it at all.  It was even more difficult to see 40% of them throw away what I longed for.  I knew God had me working there for a reason and I loved my work.  I loved helping women throughout pregnancy and as they entered Motherhood.  It was such a joy and privilege.  Yet, with every woman I helped, I longed for a baby of my own.  While I was generally at peace with God building our family in His perfect time, there were days when I, in my flesh, would get angry with Him.  How could He allow them to get pregnant when they wouldn’t appreciate it or were facing parenthood alone with fear and trembling?  How come He wasn’t allowing me get pregnant, when He knew I would cherish a baby?  Again and again, He reminded me that His plans were better than mine, but I didn’t always believe Him.

One day, in the midst of our first adoption (which fell through) and while still working at the pregnancy clinic, I was reading a book called “Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss” by Jennifer Saake.  There was a section entitled “When God’s Plans Don’t Seem to Make Sense.”  It was as if the author was speaking directly to me:

If God doesn’t condone sexual relations outside of marriage, why does He often create new life from these unions?  When a godly family is eagerly waiting for a baby, why does He sometimes withhold?  In our it’s-all-about-me society, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that God’s choice to place a baby in a womb may have as much to do with His plans for that child as for the mother herself.

God perfectly orchestrates the necessary timing for each new life to fulfill the plans He ordains.  Had God given Hannah (from the Bible) a child when she first desired motherhood, would she have dedicated Samuel to His service?  This child was called to an office of great leadership for the good of an entire nation, but in order to prepare both Hannah’s heart and the circumstances that would lead Samuel to anoint kings, heartache had to come first.

A friend once described her emotions when her unmarried, drug-addicted sister announced her third unwise pregnancy.  In the midst of her grief, I was encouraged to hear victory through Christ.  She focused on the way our amazing God can use the same circumstances differently in two lives, depending on the lessons He is striving to teach each.  While childlessness is a trial for infertile couples and we consider parenthood a great blessing, for others pregnancy might indeed be the trial that God uses to change their hearts.

Two Bible stories come to mind here.  An angel said to unloved Hagar, “You are now with child . . . for the Lord has heard of your misery” (Genesis 16:11).  And of Jacob’s wife, the Scriptures say, “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb” (29:31).  While it can be anguish for us to watch, I think sometimes God allows those “unloved” women in our lives the gift/trial of pregnancy to demonstrate His love to them . . .

“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.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

At the time, this was so convicting and comforting!  It was a reminder that God’s plans were better than mine.  It still hurt at times, but it helped so much to know that God was using my infertility and their unplanned pregnancies to teach us the lessons He had for us and to bring about His perfect will!

Looking back now, I thank God for our infertility.  If we had been incredibly fertile, we wouldn’t have adopted when we did.  I am confidant we would have adopted at some point, but at that point in our lives, we likely would have had one or two little ones under foot and an expensive adoption would not be at the forefront of our minds.  I am thankful we faced infertility, because it brought us our beautiful daughter and her amazing birth family.  God was writing a story that only He could write and I am so glad His plans prevail!

Disclaimer: I know facing an unplanned pregnancy is incredibly, incredibly difficult!  I do not intend for this to be a political post, but rather just a real look at what facing infertility looks like.