The Beauty

Part 4 (and the final installment) of our backstory.  The others are here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

{Sidenote: this morning my pastor opened the service by reading this passage of Scripture, and I got so excited I had to restrain myself from fist-pumping the air while he read.  What an amazing passage of promises!}

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

This passage of Scripture is Messianic; it’s the very scroll Jesus read in the temple, then said to everyone that its words had been fulfilled in their presence.  When I think of these words, and the hope they promised to ancient Israel, the hope they continue to promise today that is only fulfilled in Christ, they make me want to weep.  I don’t know how I could have gotten through the previous portion of time without Christ.

God pulled me out of my self-imposed trench slowly and gently.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am always astounded at how God works in my life.  I shouldn’t be, because He knows how He created me.  But every time He walks me through something gently and carefully, taking care of my heart the entire time, I’m just reminded of His goodness and His all-consuming love for us, His children, who screw up every. single. day.

He began by restoring some sense to my brain.  He reminded me again of everything Dr. Chi had told us.  But then He spoke a new grace into my life.  While I moaned and whined about not being more proactive to have children in the early years of SC’s life, He reminded me of my genetic mutation.  He reminded me that He knew that mutation was present in my DNA from the moment I began to exist.  He pressed into my heart that SC was truly, in every sense of the word, a miracle.  Then He told me that I needed to trust Him, that rather than wallow in sorrow over lost time, to look at it as grace from Him that He was sparing me the heartache of possibly losing babies.

One of my closest friends has the same genetic issue I have.  She suffered through several miscarriages before the doctors finally tested her to see what was wrong and discovered the problem.  She was able to have children (with treatment, aka the lovely Lovenox shots) but went through 5 miscarriages to have two healthy babies.  When I first found out about her condition (because she had come by to ask me to pray that her insurance would pick up the shots she needed to be taking) I was flabbergasted as she told me her story & testimony.  I’d never heard of such a condition!  Little did I know that same condition was etched into my own genetic code!  To this day I think of her – her strength, her rock-solid faith in God – and she encourages me.  I know the Lord placed her in my life to be one of those supports to get me through this time, one of those faithful servants taking seriously the charge to bear one another’s burdens.  The Lord comforted me and told me to trust in Him that He had spared me from similar heartache that she had had to endure.  And then He reinforced again that SC was indeed a miracle.

I am always grateful during tough times for people who speak truth into my life.  Two of those people during that time were my pastor & his wife, Chad & Cole (you can read their own adoption journey here!).  Each Sunday I would go to church and listen to Chad’s sermon, then go to Cole’s Bible study, and I would get the same word spoken each week: grace.  No matter what Scripture passage was being preached on, no matter what book of the Bible we were studying, it was there – laced through every passage.  Grace.  They each, in their own way, preached grace into my life at every opportunity.  I realized how I’d lost sight of simple grace.  But that’s what a love of self does – it turns our eyes off of Christ and onto ourselves.  Our victories become our own doing, our defeats are by our own hands, and there’s no room for the undeserved favor of a savior willing to die for His love for us.  I was so overwhelmed with self that I couldn’t even look at our situation and see any hope, see any grace, out of the whole thing.  Thank You, Lord, for placing Your mouthpieces in my life! Every time each ugly, condemning thought came into my head, I took it captive and the Lord showed me how His grace covered it all!

It was also during that time that the Lord started turning my eyes toward adoption.  Since 2006 we had supported a child at Babu’s orphanage, but I started feeling the pull that there was something more.  God was calling me to get more involved in orphan care.  He was working on my heart daily.

Shortly after that, our friends Owen & Amanda brought their daughter home.  I cannot describe the emotion I felt at seeing them united with their daughter.  I’d followed their progress through the entire adoption and it was emotional for me to see her, home at last.  Shortly after they brought E. home, I took dinner over to their house, and I asked Amanda that night to start praying that God’s will for our family with regards to orphan care would be clear.  She assured me she would.

I went home that very evening, and as soon as SC was in bed, I told Boyd I felt like we needed to pray about whether or not adoption was a possibility for our family.  He agreed we would, but said he felt like right now God was calling us to continue to support Babu and our sponsor child there.  I asked him to just pray about it, and to let me know if God spoke anything to him.

During that time, I kept silent on adopting.  For one thing, God showed me that my desire for adoption was coming from a solely emotional place – my sorrow over no more biological children, my elation at seeing Owen & Amanda bring home their daughter.  It all boiled down into a purely emotional desire.  It was not yet a calling, and God, knowing me like He always does, warned me that I cannot get attached to something simply because my emotions are there (because, hello? my emotions are always there!).  So I started praying.  I prayed that if it was His will for our family, that He would make it known to Boyd without my having to nag him to death.  If it wasn’t His will for our family, I prayed that He would take the burden from my heart.  God had healed so many things in me over the past few years, both physically and emotionally.  I knew He had the ability to heal my heart from the ache of no more children if it wasn’t what our family needed to do.

That was in January of 2012.  We said nothing of adoption for almost the whole year, unless it was to discuss the adoption for someone we knew.  I expected my desire to wane.  But with each passing month, it seemed to increase.

Also during this time, SC started asking when she was going to get a little sister.  I could hardly talk past the tears every time she asked for a sister, so I did the only thing I knew to do: I told her to pray about it.  I tried explaining to her that Mommy & Daddy physically could not have any more children, but she wasn’t buying it.  That smart little thing, she knew there were ways to get a sister without Mommy having to get a big(ger) belly!  And so she started asking all. the. time.  I felt like I was going to go crazy! Something had to give!

Finally, on November 4th, my prayers were fully answered.  I’d stayed home from church that morning because SC was sick.  Sunday mornings always go to Boyd because he teaches on Sunday mornings, so if SC is sick I’m the one to stay home with her.  November 4th also happened to be Orphan Sunday.  I’d forgotten it was Orphan Sunday till I saw some friends post about it on Facebook.  I figured our church would say/do something about it, but I wasn’t sure what.  Turns out that morning our church gave a presentation on orphan care and foster care.  Before we went to bed that night, Boyd told me he needed to share with me what God had laid on his heart that morning.  He said he felt like we needed to begin praying about our role regarding foster care and/or adoption.  I burst into tears.  We were going to adopt!

That just about brings us up to the present, give or take a couple of months.  If there is one thing that God has pressed on me since November 4th, it is that He truly does bring crowns of beauty from ashes.  He binds up those who are brokenhearted and comforts those who mourn and grieve.  He gives us the oil of joy in exchange for mourning, a garment of praise instead of despair.  He turns our mourning into dancing.  He brings life from death.

I am astounded at the beauty that He is bringing from this whole situation.  I think any person can sit around and play the “what if” game with their life and their decisions, and if they try hard enough they can beat themselves down into a hole!  God is not glorified in the what ifs, but rather in the what is.  What is He doing in your life right now?  What is He wanting you to learn from the situation so that you can walk forward in wisdom & victory?  What is He doing that is so counter-intuitive to the world and your expectations that you have no choice but to worship and praise?

I feel like that is where we are with our coming to adoption.  God has brought forth an indescribably beautiful thing here!  Yes, we were given the sentence of “death” for our family (with my diagnosis) and yet here He is bringing life into it!  So much grace, so undeserved.

I cannot wait to meet the little girl who will join our family forever.  I cannot wait till she is old enough to know the depths of how God used her and her impending arrival in our family to bless us immensely, and to speak love, grace, and the gospel into our life.  I think it was David Platt (I could be wrong, though) who said (paraphrase), “We don’t adopt because we’re the rescuers; we adopt because we are the ones who have been rescued.”  I see imprints of God’s rescue of my soul all over my personal journey to this point.

It’s why I named this blog Growing by His Grace.  Because His grace is what has brought us to this point, and it’s by His grace our family will continue to grow.

We’ve also decided what route we’re going to take for our adoption, but that will have to be the next post.  We’re so grateful for direction, and can’t wait for the process to get rolling!

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