Friday, October 10, 2014

Thirty Months

Can you imagine being thirty months pregnant? Thirty months waiting for the one you love to finally make his/her grand entrance into your life and change your world forever? Guess who can imagine?

This girl.

Today marks thirty MONTHS since we started the adoption process to bring our little darlings home. Thirty months of hoping and praying every day that the waiting will be over and that our world will be rocked by arrival of our children. Thirty months of love growing in my heart for little faces and hearts and souls I do not yet know.

Most of me cannot believe it has been this long. My friend, Laura Catherine, and I often talk about that fact. We really just can't believe it. And I'll be honest with you, there are days when I feel like this is all we will ever do. Days when I feel like we will always be adoptING. And I am so ready to have adoptED. I'm ready for the adoption to be over and for us to have our darlings home with us.

I'm thirty months ready.

So I hopped over to Psalm thirty, looking for some encouragement on this unfathomable day. I recommend reading the whole chapter, but the last three verses are for me today.


Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
 Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
 
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
 
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
Psalm 30:10-12

Love, 
Baylor 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Isaiah 61

I mentioned in my October update post that I am working on memorizing Isaiah 61. It is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. I love the hope it brings, the redemption it promises and the goodness of God that it calls to mind. And on top of all of that, it is oh so beautifully written. The English teacher in me loves the imagery and the figurative language.

The Year of the Lord’s Favor
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.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
 and restore the places long devastated; 

they will renew the ruined cities
 that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
 
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
 you will be named ministers of our God.

You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame
 you will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace
 you will rejoice in your inheritance.

And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    
and everlasting joy will be yours.
 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
 I hate robbery and wrongdoing. 

In my faithfulness I will reward my people
 
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
 
and their offspring among the peoples.
 
All who see them will acknowledge
 that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
I delight greatly in the Lord;
 my soul rejoices in my God.
 
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
 
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
 
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
 and a garden causes seeds to grow,

so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
 and praise spring up before all nations.
Isaiah 61 

There is so much to love about this chapter. It is so full of hope, and that is something I need in my life right now. At church this past Sunday, one of our pastors was talking about what hope means in the Bible versus what it means in the world. In the world, hope is something we want to happen, something we wish for. In the Bible, hope is a promise. Our hope is that God is who He says He is. That is a promise based in the sound goodness of His character, and His character is love. 

So, over the coming weeks and months, I am working on memorizing the entire chapter. While I have always loved Isaiah 61, I can't take credit for this idea. Over coffee with my cousin, Jennifer, she brought up that she had been praying this chapter over her family and mine, asking that this would be the year of the Lord's favor in our lives. I love that. And so I decided that it would be a good idea to commit the whole chapter to memory, to hide it in my heart so that on the days I am really struggling, I can remind myself right away of the HOPE God promises.

The promise that one day I will…

Receive a crown of beauty for my ashes,

The oil of joy for my mourning,

And a garment of praise for my spirit of despair.

Be called an oak of righteousness

And be a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor.

I need these reminders as we walk the path the Lord has laid out for us. It is far too easy to walk in the company of doubt and fear, to keep the company of sorrow and shame.

And I want to let these things go, and instead be found in glory of the Lord and let my heart rest in the HOPE He brings.

My goal is to have it memorized by the end of the year. So if you see me, quiz me.

Love,
Baylor



Monday, October 6, 2014

Wait List Update: October 2014

The first of October has come and gone, along with our waiting list update for the month. The court system in Ethiopia is currently closed due to the rainy season, so we were not expecting to move at all. And that is what happened. While it is tough to stay in the same spot, there is some relief in knowing that we will not move when the court system is closed. It kind of takes the pressure off. Does that make sense?

So, here we are. Still waiting. Still trusting. Still hoping.

Still loving these children and praying them into our arms. Still believing in God's beautiful story, even though we don't yet see the whole picture.

And in the meantime, we are working on memorizing Isaiah 61. A passage about the year of the Lord's favor. As we memorize, I am hoping and praying that 2014 is the year of the Lord's favor in our lives.

More to come on this soon. I just wanted to post our update for the month.

Love,
Baylor

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What Is This Place?

If you have been with me for a while, you know that SO much of this adoption journey has been fraught with pain, tears and despair. There have been countless hard days and so many nights filled with tears. And I even told you in a post the other week that the month of September had gotten off to a particularly difficult start.

But for the last week, I have felt something different.

How do I explain this in a way that makes sense?

I have felt…

Good.

It's weird. Mainly because there are a LOT of reasons to feel sad. But I don't.

I find myself walking around, in the midst of a whole heap of tough stuff, feeling happy.

So I have to ask myself:

What is this place? Where am I? How did I get here? Do I have to leave? Like…ever?

And I think I know the answers.

This place is God's peace with where He has us. Quite honestly, it is a place I have been searching for for some time now. I have been longing for it, craving it. But it has eluded me. Not because God was keeping it from me. NOT AT ALL.

I was refusing contentment. I have been running SO hard after something I want SO much, only comparing myself to the people around me, thinking that I must have been somehow missing the point because everyone else has what I want. And in all of that racing and comparing, I missed God. I missed being grateful for where He has me, for all of this time with my husband, time to take care of student loans before little Ethiopians arrive, time to love on my precious puppy, time to invest in my friends and my students, time to have time.

And time to learn how to humbly surrender my life to Christ in whatever way He asks.

So much of this journey has been learning how to die to myself in a VERY real way. The idea of dying to oneself is something we hear in church all the time. But what does it even really mean? And what in the world does it look like?

For me, it has looked like learning how to set my wants, my desires aside in favor of what God has for me. And please believe me when I say that it has not been easy. Rather, it has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. By NO means am I perfect at it. I am actually sure that there are a lot of times when my Heavenly Father must shake His head and smile at my refusal to let go.

But now He has brought me to this place where I feel like I have been able to let go, to die to myself and not have it hurt so much. At least a little. You see, dying to yourself can be an INCREDIBLY painful thing. It involves turning away from what your very nature wants and trusting God instead. I have struggled with this. Struggled on a deep, deep level. Way down in the depths of my soul. I have fought against it, and to God's everlasting credit and glory, He did not just give up on me and walk away. He stuck it out with me, and together, we have arrived at this new place. I am finding myself feeling God's peace and walking around with this sense of "I know He will do what is right and what is best."

I hope I stay here in this place. Surrounded and filled by God's peace. I know I will struggle again. It's my nature. But now I know that this place is real. I know, I know, I know, I know that God's peace can break through the toughest and most formidable of exteriors. I know that His persistent and unwavering love can crash though the walls we build around ourselves. I have always said that these things are true, but now I have seen them become reality in my own life and my own heart. I have felt the effects of God's pursuit. I trust Him with whatever comes my way. And I hope in what His plans are for my future.

I hope and pray that you find your way here, too. That you can find it in your heart to trust God with the very life He gave you. If you can, if we can, then God will use us to do great and awesome things. I know how hard it is. I do. I'm right there with you, my friend. And so is He. Lean on Him. There is no shame in that. We were built to need Him. And we can always trust Him.

Love,
Baylor

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two Years: The Post I REALLY Never Thought I'd Write

Well, it's here. I knew it was coming. I knew it would happen. But it still feels like it can't be real.

Today marks our two year anniversary of being on the waiting list to bring our children home from Ethiopia.

Two years ago today I stalked the FedEX tracking site to watch our dossier make its way to Addis Ababa. I was in my classroom teaching when I finally hit refresh for the last time and saw this:


I remember being SO happy. So relieved to FINALLY be finished with the paper chasing and officially be a waiting family. I was excited to be waiting. Hmmmm…

Two years and thirteen minutes later, the excitement of waiting has waned. It has been replaced by a fierce determination to bring our children home. Don't get me wrong. I am excited BEYOND WORDS to see my children's faces, meet them, hold them, hug them, kiss them and then BRING THEM HOME. But in in this process, right now, I am determined.

God has asked us to stand here. In this dark place. This place where He is really the only light we can see. Man cannot offer us hope here. Our God can. He can and He does by reminding us that He has called us to this. For that reason alone, we can persevere, knowing that we are not on our own. Good gracious, it is so hard. And I fail at it on what I think is a daily basis, but I am trying. So when you see me, and I am knee deep in my own pity party, please remind me that God is there.

Today is hard. I can't lie to you. When we started the adoption process on April 10, 2012, we were given a fifteen month total timeline. Now, two years, five months and one week later, we are still waiting. And there is no end in sight. That is a hard place, a dark and lonely place. I remember sitting at this computer one year ago in a state of disbelief that a whole year had gone by and we were still so far away from being matched. And now another year has passed, with MUCH less movement, and here we sit.

I hope and pray that we do not waste it. That, somehow, I manage to see God in this more and more and trust Him more deeply as a result. Will you pray that, too? And will you please pray that this is the year? That we see our children's faces before Christmas? I want that so badly it hurts. Please pray for adoption officials in Ethiopia, that they would move swiftly and with urgency, that they would see how crucial their work is. Please pray for our children, that they would be safe and fed and cared for while we are apart. Sometimes, I look around at my friends' children and I think, "We are missing all of this with our own children." And that is so hard. So I pray that they are loved and cared for in our absence. And I pray that we won't be apart for too much longer.

Love,
Baylor

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Worth It

I have been a bit blog silent lately. Sorry. I can attribute that to three distinct things:

1. Being an 8th grade English teacher all day. Every day is craziness. I love my little chickens, but, dang, do they wear me out. Most days, I make the 25 minute drive home in complete SILENCE just because it sounds so sweet in my ringing ears. The preparing, the teaching, the questions from my darlings and the GRADING. Oh mercy, the grading. Why do they have to write in English class?? Can't math handle that?
My current stack with a Diet Coke can for size reference. 
The struggle is real. 
Also, do you like the apple on my desk? Quite teachery, no? 

2. As evidenced by the tiny Alka-Seltzer box in the photo above, I have been sick for almost ten days. Yup. Ten glorious days of coughing, sneezing and mouth breathing. Nice, right? Have I gone to the doctor? No. Of course not. Apparently, my stubbornness has soared to new heights. But I think I am almost over it, whatever it is.

3. September has been a tough month for me so far. I won't go into all the details, but this month has just been hard for me in a lot of different ways. And when things get really tough, I struggle to write exactly what I want to say, because, well, a lot of times what I want to say is not rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. It's more like storm clouds and bats and alligators. And, while I want to ALWAYS be honest and transparent with you, there are times when I can't really even get what is in my head into rational, readable words.

So anyway, September has been like that.

BUT that is not where I want to focus today.

Instead I want to focus on what God has us doing and how it is one of the few things for which I would stand firm for this long. You see, sometimes in this waiting process I get really tired. And when I get really tired, it is easy to want to give up and walk away. There are lots of moments when I just can't bear the thought of facing another day of waiting. Another day of wondering whether we will ever be parents. Another day of feeling so helpless. In these moments, I want to just give up and say, "That's it. I'm done. I tried. It didn't work. It's over."

And it is right there that I remember exactly who I am fighting for and exactly how much I love them. And in all of this, as hard as it is, I know without a shred of doubt that it is worth it. All of the tears, all of the hurt, all of the anxious nights and the days with empty arms are worth it.

Because one day I will sit across from my beautiful brown-eyed children and be able to tell them…

"I love you. I have loved you for such a long time. Long before I knew you, God placed you in my heart as my own. You are treasured and cherished and worth fighting for. And I would do every single moment of this journey again and again and again if it meant I could get to you. Because you are worth it. You are precious, and I would fight through anything to get to you. You are the reason I didn't give up, even when it was so hard. I knew I had to keep going, because, ultimately, my path would lead to you. And here you are. And you have given me this beautiful gift. You have made me a mom."

So in the tough moments, of which there have been many this month, I hang on to the reality that Adam and I are fighting for a life. We are fighting for our children to have the right to grow up in a family with two parents who love them unconditionally. We are fighting for their health and their safety. But most importantly, we are fighting for their hearts and their souls. And so I can't give up. I love them too much.

Maybe you are struggling, too. Maybe God has asked you to do something that feels impossible or seems endless. Allow me to speak some truth into your life as I speak it into my own. If God has called you here, to this hard place, don't give up. Keep fighting. Stand firmly rooted in the confidence that only comes from trusting the One who has written all of history. He knows what He is doing, especially when we don't. And please know that you are not alone. God calls people to hard things at different points in their lives, and if we can just trust Him enough, He will use those things to stretch us and grow us into looking more like Him and less like us.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, 
having stood the test, 
that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Love, 
Baylor 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wait List Update: September 2014

A day we have been praying for for several months has finally come with this month's update. We have finally broken into a new decade on the waiting list! Amen and hallelujah! Here it is…

Solo photo with my Daisy girl this month while Adam recovers from some serious hornet stings. 

We are both so excited and relieved to be making progress toward the top of this verrrrry long list. God continues to be faithful to us in the midst of this difficult journey, and we are trying anew to press in and lean solely on Him. It is SO hard sometimes, because want SO badly for this just be over and to have our children home with us. But we are trusting in our great God and His timing in our lives and the lives of our children. We continue to be so grateful for each of you who is praying for us and our family. We are honored by your love and faithfulness to our mission. 

I pray that we will be faithful to this calling on our lives and that we will always give God the glory as we continue down this path. 

"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

Love, 
Baylor 

P.S. As always, please message me for the actual number. I would LOVE to share it with you. 
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