On my Kindle this Month

Prior to law school and becoming Mom, one of my favorite past times was reading.  There was nothing I loved more than cuddling up with a good book.  Three years in law school, followed by two years as a new Mom, and let’s just say, I haven’t finished  very many books in the past five years.  As we are waiting for Baby #2 or Babies #2 & #3 to join our family, I’ve decided to use more of my free time to enjoy reading.  Hopefully, as an added bonus, I will learn and grow in the process!

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I’m already loving the first books on my reading list.  They fall into three categories:

1) Spiritual Growth: Believing God, by Beth Moore.  As an added bonus, this book is free for your kindle until January 10!

2) Parenting: Loving the Little Years, by Rachel Jankovic.  I love that this book is about your attitude as a parent.  As a bonus, the chapters are super short and easy to read for those of us who are busy Mom’s!

3) Adoption: Chosen With Purpose: A Story of Adoption & Identity, by Mark Molzen.  This book, written by an adoptee does an amazing job of giving the adoptee and their parent’s perspective, namely that adoption is part of God’s plan!

I have many more on my list for the year to come.  Some I am really looking forward to include, To Live is Christ by Beth Moore, The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden, and Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  The one type of book I’m missing from my lists is a good fiction book.  Any recommendations?

What are you reading this winter?  I’m always looking for new books to add to my list!

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They aren’t ours, they are His

As Abby-girl approaches her second birthday, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about those days before her birth and in the hospital, as well as the events that have transpired in the last two years. Mainly, I think about what open adoption has meant for our lives.

Christmas 13-1

As most of you know, we have a VERY open adoption.  In fact, we recently spent Christmas day with  Abby’s birth mom and her family and they will be joining us for our Abby’s second birthday party this weekend.  They have become like a second family to us and I thank God for them every day.

One of the most common questions or comments that I receive when people hear about our open adoption is, “how do you share Abby that much – don’t you get insecure or jealous?”  I would be lying if I said that I have never once felt insecure, but through adoption, God has taught me an amazing lesson that I think every parent needs to learn – our kids aren’t ours, they are His!  This means that I need to turn to Him with every situation in their lives.  It’s not about how I feel, it is about what He says is best for their lives and is about the plan that He has for them!

Early on in this journey, we knew God was calling us to open adoption and we committed to open adoption, as long as it was healthy for Abby.  We agreed to turn to God with how open the adoption should be and quickly had an open door policy with Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  There were times when I had small twinges of jealousy seeing Abby’s relationship with Natasha, but I knew that was my fleshly reaction and was quickly reminded that it is a good thing for them to have a special bond!  Now, I praise God that they can know each other and that Abby will always have Natasha in her life.  It is such a blessing that she can know and love her birth mom, that her questions can be answered, and that she has more people loving her and pointing her to Christ.  I also praise God that I can delight in their relationship and that He has made me secure in my role as Abby’s mom, so that I am not insecure when she has a relationship with someone else.

There were also situations early on where people were not supportive of the adoption plan, but later wanted to see and know Abby.  I was incredibly protective of Natasha and Abby and in my flesh, I didn’t want to share them or our story with people who hadn’t initially been supportive.  I was afraid of what would be said and how that could impact those I love.  I continued to turn to God and ask Him what His will was and He told me that I needed to open up and not withhold relationships because of things done in the past.  He reminded me that our adoption story is His to share, not ours.  It was hard for me and stretched me, but again, I thank God that He is all-knowing, because every one of those relationships has ended up being such a blessing in our lives and Abby’s.

I am sure in years to come I will have many opportunities to live this out in other areas of life and will be challenged again and again to trust God with our kids.  You see, our kiddos aren’t ours – they have just been entrusted to us for a season by our all-knowing God, a God who is and does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  Eph 3:20  Seek him for your children and I bet you’ll be blessed in the process!  IF nothing else, He’ll grow you and stretch you to be more like Him!

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?

I Say | He Says

When I talk to others about our unique adoption, which was clearly penned by God, I often hear myself saying, “we’ll never have another birth mom like Natasha” and “our next adoption probably won’t go as smoothly,” or “the odds of us having an adoption as affordable as our first are very slim.”  Oh me of little faith!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ~ Matthew 7:11

Oct 5-7

Who am I to put God in a box?  God is the one who gave us the gift of Abigail (our daughter) and Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  He gave us a perfect baby, a birth mom who is like a sister and more family members that share our faith (Natasha’s family).  He gave us a situation that our entire family was comfortable with and excited about.  Who am I to say He couldn’t or wouldn’t give us another amazing gift?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:7-11

One time, just days after uttering my “we won’t” sentiments to a friend, I received a call about a girl similar to Natasha, who was considering adoption.   She ended up miscarrying, but that call hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was as if God was speaking directly to me, saying, “I can give you good things, beyond your wildest dreams.  I can bless you again!  I am the God who created the heavens and the earth.  I hold you in the palm of my hand.  I want GOOD things for you.  Don’t lose heart or lose faith.  Don’t limit Me with your unbelief.”

Oct 5-2

When I have doubted, He has continued to show me that He is able!  Just the other day, as I was seeking God, I read this devotional and was reminded again to trust and believe that He is writing our adoption story and it will be for our good:

And He marveled because of their unbelief. ~ Mark 6:6

This is the day of miracles. My power and love will combine and My glory will be shown. Awaken your heart, be expectant, not reluctant, before My promise. I can do exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or think. You need to stretch your faith, My child, instead of nursing puny, negative doubts and fears. Faith still moves mountains – faith and prayer. Faith borne on the wings of prayer. This is what you need to practice – faith-filled praying, expectant, eager and confident praying. My heart is gladdened when My children pray this way. Don’t be afraid of believing too much. Be afraid of limiting My work and cheating My glory by believing too little. I love to reward a chastened, believing heart, a faith that has been tried and not found wanting. Pray for such a faith and I will give it to you; and then it is yours to guard and use for My glory. Awaken, my child, awaken your heart! (Helms, Hal M., Echoes of Eternity (Paraclete Press, 1996) October 3, 213-214.)

Friend, please don’t be like me and operate in a state of self-protection, saying “we won’t” or “it won’t happen” in a poor attempt to guard your heart from hoping, wishing, and dreaming.  Instead, ask, believing that our Father in Heaven gives good gifts to His children and believing that He is more than able.  Walk in the knowledge that if you ask for something that isn’t good for you, He will say no, but if it is good for you and glorifies Him, He can, and very well may, say yes!  Have faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed.  Then, watch Him amaze you!

Adoption Funding Part 2: Feeling Unworthy

This is part two of a three part series on adoption funding.  If you haven’t read part 1, I encourage you to do so before reading this post!

As you read in part 1, we have been down a road like this before – a road that seems so steep that it is impossible to climb, yet for some reason unbeknownst to us (but known to God) we sense God prodding us to climb it, taking one step at a time, trusting and leaning on Him as we go.  The last time we climbed this adoption funding road, God provided in miraculous ways.  Even more miraculously, I was not worried about the funding – I asked and trusted that He would provide, because He was the one calling us to walk this road.

This time around I started out full of insecurities.  “How will we ever have enough money to adopt again?  Are we chasing a pipe dream?  Are we even worthy to fundraise? Should we be fundraising for a domestic adoption, when we could adopt from the foster system for next to nothing?”  These thoughts swirl in my head as I take my eyes off of God, our Jehovah-Jireh.  They bombard me on days when I act like Israel and forget to REMEMBER, remember the things He has done for us before and the ways He has provided!  I get worried and obsessive when I take my eyes off of my King and focus on my human limitations!

I question God and think:  Is it fair to raise funds when there are so many people who want babies that can afford a domestic infant adoption right now?  Is it fair when there are kids in the US foster system right now that need families? This seems more logical to me – there is such a need!  My logic takes over and I forget that God often calls us to do what appears irrational.  He reminds me that He called Moses to take His people across the Red Sea, where they would surely drown.  This would appear irrational to anyone, but God knew what was to come.  Moses trusted Him, the sea parted and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh and his armies.

In our financial situation, looking just at finances and at the great need, foster adoption seems more rational (although, incredibly difficult – I applaud all foster families).  Yet, God has given me such a heart for women with unplanned pregnancies, to walk alongside them and provide them with an option besides abortion – the option of adoption!  God keeps placing this burden and passion on my heart, a desire to walk with an expectant mother and help her in one of the most pivotal moments in her life, while welcoming a child that could have otherwise been aborted, into our home.  This intense desire and longing, which continues even when I repeatedly turn it over to God, makes me believe that there is a baby and expectant mother (like Natasha, Abby’s birth mom) who need us!

Even in my weakness, God shows himself strong.  As I wrestle with insecurities, He gives me answers.  As I wonder HOW we will afford it, He provides money and shows me that He is in charge.  For example, just last week, we made the announcement that we were starting the adoption process again.  Already, two amazing thirty-one consultants are giving the proceeds from two parties to our adoption (more details to come).  In addition, Jonathan found out that his work is paying for him to get his real estate license and that, as a licensed agent, any referrals he makes to other agents will result in a commission for him.  Without trying, I booked five photoshoots (all money from photoshoots goes into our adoption fund) in one week!  Blowing us away even more, we had two friends commit to donating to our adoption and another business owner who committed to a substantial donation in exchange for a work day at his property.

When God calls He provides!  Sometimes it requires us stepping out in faith and making our needs known, so that He can use others as vessels for His provision.  Other times, He provides without us doing anything!  But, when He tells you, “this is the way, walk in it,” you can trust that in walking in it, He will provide for all of your needs!

I am choosing today to not worry about funding and to trust that God will provide exactly what we need!  $8,000 or $23,000 or somewhere in between…I trust that He will provide as He guides us!

Pain in Remembering

I was just reading through my email updates from when we were going through the adoption process with baby H (this was a failed adoption).  Needless to say, I cried many times.  It is amazing how even after two years, when I read the updates, the pain is fresh and raw.  A part of me feels guilty, because I didn’t continue to pursue the birthmom with unconditional love.  After it fell through for the second time, I couldn’t handle the friendship.  It hurt too much!  I often wonder what would have happened if I had been stronger.  Most agree that it was good for me to stop the relationship, because it would force Adreanna to be a Mom, but I often feel as if I was just another person that failed her.  She had never had anyone consistent in her life – I was another inconsistency.  She did call again in October, wanting us to adopt Huley, yet again.  I wanted to know more and chat with her about what was going on, I explained that we were in the process with another birth mom.  She said she would call later.  I never heard from her again.  I often wonder how she is doing.  I pray for her lots.  I look for her on facebook, to no avail!  I hope and pray that she and Huley and Precious are doing well!  It may be a story I never know the end of until I am in heaven…

I am so thankful for N and our adoption story with her – talk about beauty from ashes (a horrid adoption situation that led to a beautiful story).  A part of me fears that our next adoption will be another failed adoption or that we’ll end up with a birthmom that is unstable.  I know that God has plans to prosper us – give us hope and a future (Jer 29:11) and that He will never leave us or forsake us.  This doesn’t mean that it will be easy or painless, but it will be for our good.  Although that adoption journey was one of the hardest (if not the hardest) thing I have ever gone through in my life, it was a defining time – I time where I came to know God on a completely new level – a time when I was wholly dependent on Him.  I am thankful for that time and I love how our story turned out.  I TRUST HIM WITH MY FUTURE!

As a beautiful lady named Sarah blogged:

“Adoption is for the hungry. If you want to know more of Jesus and are willing to get a little undone in the meantime, sign up. You can’t pursue a child without being consumed by His pursuit of you.” (http://www.everybitterthingissweet.com)

Through our adoptions, I turned to God like never before, and got to know him even more intimately.  He renewed me day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) and I am (at times 😉 ) so grateful for that difficult process, because it forced me to rely more and more on God.  Again, this doesn’t mean that the waiting was easy, but the process deepened my relationship with our father.  I can only pray my desires will take second place to the Lord’s plan.  I have to daily surrender this.  It’s so easy to put our desires at the front of my mind and focus on them, instead of on our King.

 

My “Wish”

Cover of "I Wished for You: an Adoption S...

Cover via Amazon

I was reading a book to Abby about adoption last night (why is that all of my posts start with books I’ve read or am reading?).  The Mama had always told the little bear that he was her wish.  He wanted to know more about that:

“Did you wish for me all day, Mama?” Barley asked.  “Or only when the stars were out?”

“All the time,” said Mama, softly, “I wished for you with my morning coffee, and when I made my bed.  I couldn’t get my wish for you out from in my head.” (Richmond, Marianne, I Wished for You; an adoption story, pp. 15-16)

While the whole book is a great kids book about adoption (not my favorite, but still great), this part really hit home with me, because lately I have been “wishing” for another little “cub” to join our family.

Just to make something clear, I am incredibly grateful for Abby and if she is the only child that God has for us, I will be content, but He has birthed in me a desire for another child.  I would love for Abby to have a sibling soon.  She is almost 18 months and I was hoping for an 18-24 month gap, so my clock is starting to tick-tock louder than normal.  I have to keep reminding myself that God’s timing is perfect and He knows the age gap that my children need.

Last week, my wishing started to become more frequent.  You see, Abby’s birthmom called last asking us if we were ready for another baby (yes, of course!), because she was going to be chatting with a friend considering placing her baby for adoption and she wanted to know if she could present us as potential parents.  We have been hoping and praying that God would bring us a match like this, because in a designated adoption (where the birthmom picks the adoptive parents prior to going to an agency), the cost is reduced by $12,000+, which makes it much more feasible financially.  This is all very preliminary and the friend hasn’t even decided if she is going to place for adoption, but it got me thinking about and wishing for our little cub even more.

Now, a little cub is all I can think about.  As mama said in the book, I am wishing for a little one with my morning coffee, while I clean house, while I play with Abigail.  I told a friend a couple days ago, adoption and a new baby are my every other thought.  It is the thought that is sitting there, waiting for me to be done with my current thought, so it can jump to the forefront again.

Yes, we want another baby, but we want God to bring us a baby in His time – the baby (and birthmom) that He has for our family.  It is easy to get caught-up in trying to make it happen, especially when a cub is my every other thought, but God keeps reminding me to be patient and wait on Him.  We are praying for direction – should we go to an agency, should we wait for a friend to connect us (could take years), should we have a home study done, so we can place our profile online?  Right now, we are just waiting and praying.

I am not always the best at waiting on direction and I wish I was better at laying this on the alter, so I would stop obsessing, but since it is my every other thought, I am using the reminder as an opportunity to pray, pray, pray for our little one and his/her birthmom!