Friday, April 17, 2015

Prisoners of Hope

The time between seeing our sweet boy's face for the first time and our trip to meet him seems to be growing ever longer. It has been almost five months since we first laid eyes on our beautiful boy, and we are still uncertain as to when we will actually be able to travel to meet him. Adam and I have begun to grow {understandably} weary in the wait. I was venting some of my frustration to my mom on the phone earlier this week -- she is sharing in our sentiments these days -- and I just told her that I did not get it any more. Plain and simple.

In the adoption world, all those months and years leading up to your referral, you can hang on to the reality that you are not waiting for A child, but you are waiting for YOUR child. So you can remind yourself as the days pass by that God is at work preparing YOUR child to be brought into YOUR family. But now, here we are, five months removed from seeing the child God has gifted our family with, and we are still waiting. Waiting. Waiting...

After we got off the phone, my mom sent me a text with a Scripture reference in it.

Zechariah 9:12

I was not immediately familiar with it, but some quick Googling left me without too many words.



I need to do more research to figure out the exact context of this verse, but this one sentence was enough to basically halt me in my tracks. I so identify with the idea of being a prisoner of hope, being held captive by God and His infinite goodness. So much of this journey to our boy has been heartbreakingly awful. I have had more hard days than good ones, and I have shed far too many tears for me to ever count. I have hurt. I have begged God for favor. I have prayed for the safety and health of our boy. I have asked God for mercy. And in all of that, I have not received many of the answers I wanted. Our adoption has taken YEARS longer than we were told it would. The emotional and spiritual toll has been steep. It is true that there has been one brilliant and beautiful YES to our prayers, but we have gotten so many NOS or NOT NOWS.

And at many points along the way I have felt bereft of all hope. I have felt alone and forgotten. I have felt {in very real ways} that the Lord was far from me. But then I read Zechariah 9:12, and I am reminded WHO my fortress really is. You see, the problem with me wanting to abandon all hope is that I simply can't do it. I know who God is, and I know that He is good. So even though I have found myself, countless times, in places where I begin to doubt and lose hope, there is this foundation of truth beneath my feet that refuses to give in.

The Lord is my fortress, and I am a prisoner of hope. He will provide. He will, as Zechariah says, restore twice as much to us. I don't know what that twice as much will be, but I have a feeling there will be a LOT of joy surrounding it.

A few weeks ago, one of our pastors preached on hope and how the hope of Christ follower is different. Hope in our English language is something we wish for, something we desire to happen. Hope in God's economy is an assurance. It is not something we hope happens; it is something Jesus has already done. Beth Moore said it well: Hope is the knowledge that God is going to show up.

I like that. I love it, actually. Because I do, way down deep, know that God is going to show up. I know that He is going to do this incredible thing. I just have to continue to trust Him.

And maybe you are there, too. Maybe, like me, you are battle scarred and so tired of fighting. Can I tell you, from very lengthy personal experience, that God is still good in your trial? I pray that He is your fortress, too.

Love,
Baylor

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Three

I should have sat down to write this yesterday, but I didn't. I didn't want to acknowledge it, much less deal with it.

Yesterday, April 10, 2015, marked THREE YEARS in the adoption process for us.

Part of me is really struggling with the reality of that kind of passage of time. And the other part of me is so over keeping track of how long everything has taken that I just can't even bear to think about it anymore. When we started out this process, we were given a TOTAL timeframe of 12-15 months. That is long gone.

And yet we are in the home stretch (or os it seems), and so we are trying more than every to keep our chins up as the days roll on. I haven't been writing much lately, and there are a few reasons why. The foremost is that I have grown so weary in this process. I am so very tired of my son living on the other side of the world, of not being the one to care for him, of being disappointed over and over again. My heart is really hurting these days as we watch our son grow up and change in pictures, wondering when it will finally be our turn to be there for him. My soul is aching all the time as I wonder (virtually nonstop) what he is doing, whether he is being held, when we will be able to meet him. So many things.

But right now, I am trying to really refocus my heart and put all my trust in God. Man will let us down, but our Lord will not. So I am trying even harder to look at Jesus and not at this hot mess around me. I am trying to remind myself that He knows exactly when we will meet our boy and that His plan is best. You would think that I would be really good at this by now, but, honestly, it just gets harder and harder as the days go by, as timeframes shift and as expectations are not met.

I would, yet again, humbly ask for your prayer. I would ask that you pray for the government workers handling adoption cases in Ethiopia to be filled with a deep sense of urgency about their work, that they would move swiftly and efficiently to get these little ones to their families. And very specifically, I ask that you would pray that we have our feet on the African continent on or before Mother's Day. I'm just not sure how my heart will handle another empty armed Mother's Day, so I am asking that God would move in a powerful way.

Thank you for hanging in there with us. I realize this is not my most eloquent post, but my heart is just too tired today.

Love,
Baylor

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Emptiness

It is one of my life's dreams to travel to the Holy Land. There is something about walking where Jesus' feet fell that stirs my heart to the core. To sit on the Mount of Olives. To wade in the Sea of Galilee. To stand on the banks of the Jordan. I'm getting weepy just thinking about it.

But there is one thing I want to do most.

I want to visit the tomb where my Savior was laid to rest on a Friday over two thousand years ago. I want to stand outside of it and wonder what Mary must have been thinking when she went to perform the burial rights on Jesus on Sunday morning.

And then I want to walk inside because I know what I will find.

Emptiness.

Nothing.

I love that I serve a Savior who is not dead. I can't go worship and ask for favor at his tomb or grave marker. BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HAVE ONE. Jesus is the true and living God. And when He left His throne on high to come down here and walk with men, He did it to redeem us unto Himself.

He offered His life on the cross to bridge our path to God. And then He conquered death to afford us a place at His side for all eternity.

He did that for you and for me and for every other human who would ever walk the earth. So the all-important question is this: Do you know Him?

Do you know this great and glorious God who would humble Himself into the likeness of man, take on man's sins and die in our place--knowing all the while that most of us would never believe Him? Do you know Him? He is worth knowing, so much more so than any other man in history.

If you do know Him, I rejoice with you. If you don't, I pray that you would seek Him out. He is easily found, and He is already waiting.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him."
Mark 16:6

Love, 
Baylor 

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Have Gifted Friends

The Lord has blessed me with some truly beautiful people. And one of my biggest blessings and deepest friends is Laura Catherine. She is a sister of the soul. Someone I love deeply and trust wholeheartedly. I can count on her for Godly wisdom and truth no matter the circumstance. She has carried me through a LOT of this adoption journey, and there is pretty much no way I could ever explain to you how much I cherish this dear friend and all she is to me.

And tonight, she absolutely outdid herself.

I have had this vision for Bradley's room. Courtesy of Pottery Barn, of course.

A GIANT map of the world hand painted onto the wall.

There was one problem with that plan, though. I am a TERRIBLE artist. As in awful. The worst. There is really no way to overstate it.

Laura Catherine, on the other hand, is gifted, gifted, gifted in this area. And tonight, she gave me a beautiful gift. A map of the world hand painted onto the wall.

 We started out with a map projected on the wall. 
Here, I will boast of my participation. I turned the projector on and Googled the map. 
You are impressed. I know. 
Then we traced out the map in chalk. 
And from that, Laura Catherine gave me this. 
A BEAUTIFUL map of the world, with my baby's home continent right in the middle. 

After she left, I stood in Bradley's room almost in tears, thinking about the fact that he will be living here soon. Right here in this room. Thank you, Laura Catherine, for giving me a beautiful place to bring my son home to...soon. 

Love, 
Baylor 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Nights

I have been a junior high English teacher for the last eight years. That means that, for the last eight years, Sunday nights have been filled with last minute lesson adjustments and stressing about what the new week would bring. In one sense, tonight is no different. I am most certainly sitting here wondering what this next week will be like, and I am hoping that my plans for the week will succeed. But tonight is also completely different from any other Sunday night I have experienced over the last eight years. Tonight is my last Sunday night before a new school week begins. This is the last time I will sit and wonder if I have planned enough, if I am ready to field the endless questions that inevitably accompany being a middle school teacher. Tonight is the last time I will look forward to hearing what crazy things my students did over the weekend.

Because this coming week is my last week as a teacher.

There. I said it.

I have five more days left in the classroom. It is a strange feeling, to be sure. I have been a teacher since I was 22 years old; I have never done anything else as an adult. It is all I know. But on Friday afternoon, I will walk out the door of my classroom and begin maternity leave and the journey into staying home with my son.

There is so much I will miss. My students. I love my students. They are fun and funny. I love watching them grow up and see the world in new ways. I love TEACHING them and seeing that shift when they finally understand a concept we have been working on. I love introducing them to great literature and modeling how to form and defend an opinion. I love helping them ACCOMPLISH and ACHIEVE.

My content area. I love being an English teacher. I love helping grow a love of reading in my students. I love getting to read and analyze literature for a living.

Being a teacher. I love to teach. I love to share knowledge and watch my students grow. I love that I have been a part of the lives of around 700 students during my tenure as an educator. I love being a safe person for teenagers in a world that is not always safe.

My co-workers. I work with some of the very best people in the teaching business. The teachers on my hall are incredible, and our students are so much better off for it. These are people who started out as colleagues and have become friends, dear ones. I get all mushy and weepy inside when I think about not seeing them every day.

Even though I am so sad to be leaving this part of my life behind, I am overjoyed to be moving on to this next phase. I am so ready to bring Bradley home and be a mom to him day in and day out. I'm ready to be there for him and with him every day. And I know that this choice will make that possible for me.

So, lots of change is on our immediate horizon, but I am so excited to see what's coming. And tonight, I am sorting through a mix of emotions.

Cheers to my last Sunday night as a wondering, worrying teacher.

Love,
Baylor

Friday, March 20, 2015

So Loved

I spent this past weekend feeling so loved by so many important people in my life. Sunday was Bradley's Birmingham Baby shower! My mom and dad had plans awhile ago to fly up for the weekend. BUT THEN...my baby sister surprised me by tagging along and bringing my sweet, little niece. Yay for family! Friday night was dinner at our favorite Birmingham pizza parlor, Giuseppe's. Get the feta dip. Saturday was full of girly things: shopping, pedicures and lunch, followed by dinner on the grill at home. Church on Sunday, and then it was baby shower time!

Talk about a surreal experience. For the last three years, we have been working to get this little one home, and so often it has felt like it would never happen. But on Sunday, I was surrounded by women I know and love, and I got to see them celebrate this little life that God has placed with our family. It was such a gift. And the shower was so thoughtful. Every little detail was reflective of Bradley and our journey to him. It was so personal. So perfect.

I am working on getting the rest of the pictures, but here is a taste of this beautiful day:

 Beautiful table with delicious treats

 A perfect match to Bradley's nursery! 

 Africa cookies with hearts over Ethiopia! 

 Beautiful corsage! 
So excited to be Bradley's mom! 
Giraffes are everywhere! 
My most precious hostesses: 
Betty, Laura Catherine and Mary 
The grandmothers
Aunt Bibi and Sydney 
 Such sweet gifts for our little man! 
And a ride home with Jimmy the Giraffe! 

Thank you so much to each of you who came to celebrate Bradley. He is already so loved by so many! 

Love, 
Baylor 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Miss Him

How can you miss someone you have never even met? I have no idea, but I am certainly experiencing it these days. I look at these pictures of my beautiful son, and I miss him so much it hurts. Physically aches. I just want to hold him and kiss him and tell him how very deeply I love him. I have just been staring into his little brown eyes, willing him to know that he is loved and cherished. I've been imagining what it will be like when I finally have him in my arms, when I get to be the one who comforts him and rocks him to sleep.

I wish I could just flood this blog and the internet with his sweet face so that you all could see what I see. A precious boy who is beautiful all the way around. I want so much to know him. What is he like? What does he love? What makes him laugh?

But the Lord is asking me to hang in there a little bit longer. To continue to trust in Him and His ability to care for our son apart from me. It is easily the most difficult thing I have ever done. Adoption is hard all the time, but knowing you have a son, knowing his face and having to live every day while he is on the other side of the planet? Well, that takes the cake. I'm thinking about him nonstop, wondering if he is OK, if he is crying, if he is hungry, if he is sleeping. But even in this, I see God's grace. I mentioned that we received updated pictures of our little man this week. And he looks so good. He looks healthy, and the room he is in looks so clean and well taken-care-of. So I look at those photos, and I breathe a heavy sigh of relief. He is being looked after.

So we are getting closer. Slowly but surely, we are making progress toward bringing him home. And God is teaching me so much along the way. I am learning to trust in a whole new way, and I am seeing that God can strengthen me to withstand what seems impossible to me. He can hold me up and carry me through. And I can trust Him to do it.

But that doesn't make me miss him any less. And I am BEYOND ready to get my hands on him.

Love,
Baylor

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