Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Your Own Kids": A Say What? Post

I am sure you can guess where this one is going. Today's Say What? is one that I think a LOT of adoptive parents have heard, especially those of us who are adopting before having biological children. It usually starts out the same way. Sweet, curious people will ask how long we have been married and if we have kids. We, of course, reply that we are working on year number six of wedded bliss and that we are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. Generally, people are super excited for us and want to hear all about it, which I love, because I loooove talking about our little bird (so please keep asking how it is going). Inevitably though, the conversation gets to this point:

"Do you ever want to have your own kids?"


"You want your own kids, right?"


"Can you not have your own kids?"

The trouble with this phrasing of the question is that it implies (albeit unintentionally) that our adopted kiddos will, in fact, not be our own kids. And that is simply not the case. All of the children the Lord sees fit to bring into our family will all equally, without exception be ours. Adopting children is not like buying a new pair of shoes. You get the shoes home, they don't work with your outfit, you take them back to the store. Not the case with adoption. The decision to adopt is a conscious choice to bring a child into your family forever. There are no strings attached. We cannot rightfully expect our adopted children to be grateful to us for "saving" them (frowny face here because I do not like when people see it that way) by bringing them into our family; that is not something we will remind them of when they are misbehaving. If our child is having a difficult time, we cannot and will not think that this would not be happening if he/she was really our kid. That would be insanity. And that brings us to a key question.

What if God looked at us that way? What if He looked at us like we were not His own children? What if Jesus was His own and we were....what? The Bible tells us that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Let's look at that:

"The Spirit Himself testifies with us that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share with His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." Romans 8:16-17

If you are a Christ follower, then make no mistake about it, you have been adopted into God's family. When He looks at you, He sees the likeness of Christ. Your sin has been forgiven, your debt paid in full. You are 100% in God's family. But not biologically. So, then, are you His own? Absolutely! Praise God for that truth! It is a beautiful thing! That same reality carries over into earthly adoption in this world. This little one, born all the way across the ocean, is ours, will always be ours, could not be more ours if we gave birth to him/her. And I praise God for that, too. His sacrifice makes this possible for us, and we are so, so thankful.

Now, let me stop here and say that I have never once been offended by anyone who has asked me one of these questions (well, except for my dental hygienist, who badgered me about my own kids all through my dental appointment, leaving me unable to respond because her hands were in my mouth). Let me also say, that not being offended has been a choice. It bothers me, hurts me to hear these questions phrased this way because of what they imply, but I know that there is no malice behind them, so I decide not to be offended. And I do know what people mean by these questions. I do! And I get it. It can be hard to think of the right words. I totally understand that. Allow me to help by sharing just one word. Biological. Any children that Adam and I birth into this world will be our biological children. So, one day, Lord willing, we will have a house full of adopted children and biological children. And for the record, all of them will be our own kids.

"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." Romans 8:14


Saturday, January 26, 2013

And Then I Witnessed God's Power

One year ago today I got a phone call that would forever change my life. I was standing in our living room here in Birmingham when my phone rang; I saw that it was my father, and I answered with my usual, "Heeeyyyy Daddy." But he did not say anything back. All I could hear was him breathing like he had just finished a sprint. I thought he had been in a car wreck and called me because I am alphabetically first in his phone. He finally choked out that it was Mom. She had collapsed at her store. She was not breathing. Her heart was not beating. Paramedics were working on her, but she did not seem to be responding. You know how in movies, when something bad happens, everything else just stops? Apparently, the filmmakers got something right, because that is exactly what happened. My mind could not process what my dad had just told me. He wanted me to call my sister to explain what happened and then call Mary and Leslie, my mom's two closest friends, and have them go straight to the hospital. By the time I called my dad back, they were still at the store trying to stabilize her enough to leave. Adam got home from work shortly thereafter and we collapsed on the floor and prayed. Prayed for a miracle. Prayed that somehow God would bring her through this. Our friends, Mary and Shegun, came over and prayed with us for the next six hours as we waited for phone calls that would update us on what was going on.

Never in my life have I felt so incredibly powerless. Never in my life have I been so completely consumed by fear. This was my mom. I was twenty-seven years old. I could not even comprehend my life without her. My dad told me to book a flight down to Florida because it did not look good. Doctors were giving her a 5-10% chance of survival. And even then, she would likely be living with severe brain damage. Our world was being shattered. After the longest night of my life, my plane left at 6 the next morning, and I arrived at the hospital around 10. My mom was on a breathing machine and they had dropped her body temperature to 91 degrees. She was freezing. The doctors were telling us to prepare for the worst.

And then I witnessed God's power.

The waiting room was overflowing with people. All of whom were praying for my mom. And it stayed that way. These incredible people did not grow weary and go home. They stayed. Even when there was no news to report. They stayed. They prayed. I will be honest. I was not praying "Lord, heal her if it is your will." Nope. I was praying, "God heal her. I need you to heal her." And God moved.

Slowly, she opened her eyes. She came off the ventilator. She spoke. She recognized us. She sat up. And then, eight days after being admitted, eight days after doctors told us that no one, not even Jesus Christ, could save her, she walked out of the ICU on her own two feet.

January 26, 2012 was by far the worst day of my entire life. I thought that I was losing my mother, the most God-fearing woman I know. I thought my dad would have to live without her, that I would have to figure out how to be a mom without my own mom by my side. And if that had been God's plan, then I know He would have carried us through it. But it wasn't His plan. His plan was to showcase His awesome power by bringing us all to a place where there was no hope other than Him. A place where doctors could not help. A place where medicine and surgery could not help. A place where He was the only One who could do anything about it. He brought us to a place where there was nothing else for us to cling to. And then He kicked down the doors of impossibility, broke through the walls of logic and reason and destroyed any and all doubt that might have lingered.

People like to say that God does not perform miracles any more. I disagree. I saw Him perform a miracle that impacted my life so profoundly that I will never be same. I saw God's power. I heard experts in the medical field tell me that there was no way my mom could make it. That if she did somehow make it that she would not be herself. Well. Guess what. God is bigger than medicine. He operates outside of the realm of human possibility. My mom's recovery is a miracle. A miracle that I know was orchestrated by God to display His awesome power. Not only did she survive, but she is herself. Doctors told us that her recovery makes no sense and that we might never know what happened. But we know. We know that God wanted to make His power a reality in our lives and in the lives of everyone who witnessed this. He used some extreme measures to do it, but that led to Him being the only one to receive the glory.

So even though this day will always remind me of the fear I felt at the prospect of losing my mom, it will also always remind of God's incredible power. God is this powerful everyday. Not just when we are facing the impossible. This is who He is. So we can pray to Him. All the time. And we can know that He hears us. We can know that He is working all things together for our good and for His glory. I am so thankful to serve a God like Him, and I am so thankful that He saw fit to keep my mom around for a good long while.

Believe in the power of prayer. It is the most significant thing we can do. God tells us over and over again in His Word that when we call out with a sincere heart, He listens to us. He loves us like the Father He is. Call out to Him. Ask Him to perform a miracle in your life. He is able.

"Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your day that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Unsung Heroes of Adoption

There is a group of people in the adoption world I think we need to thank and appreciate and pray for. I think this group often gets overlooked, judged, forgotten, even blamed. But without these people, adoption would not exist. These people are birthmothers. The women who give up their children because they feel it is the best interest of these sweet little ones. The women who allow people like me to be a mother.

Every adoption comes with sacrifice and loss. Mothers choosing to let go of their children. Children losing contact with the mothers who carried them and brought them into this world. I have heard people lay blame on birthmothers for bringing children into this world who they do not intend to raise. But I have to say, that in a culture like ours that so readily offers other options like abortion, I think birthmothers are women who love their babies and want what is best for them. These women make the most impossible choice in the world. I cannot imagine giving up my child. For any reason. Even if I knew I was not ready/able to be a mother. But these women do it. They carry their children, bring them into this world and then let them go, all the while knowing that they will probably never see their babies again. I cannot imagine.

But I am so grateful for these courageous women. For one woman in particular. The woman who will bring our sweet one into this world. I call her Grace. Not because I know who she is. I don't. But I do know that it is through God's grace and hers that Adam and I will become parents to a baby born in Ethiopia. I pray for Grace. I pray that the Lord will fill her heart with His peace and His presence. I pray that He will give her courage and strength as she carries this sweet child. I pray that God will give her wisdom to make good choices while she is pregnant, that He will give her strength in the delivery our child. I pray that God will comfort her heart as she makes a choice that I cannot even fathom. I pray that He will reassure her that the child she carries will be loved for his or her whole life. I hope to meet her soon. I hope to be able to look into her eyes and let her know that I will do absolutely everything in my power to give this child the best life possible and to raise this child to know the Lord. I hope to be able to tell her about Jesus and about how we are adopted into God's family through sacrifice. I hope to be able to thank her for her sacrifice.

Please join me in praying for these courageous women. They are the unsung heroes of adoption.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Florida Yard Sale!

Adam and I are so blessed. Beyond blessed. Down in Florida this morning, my incredible family hosted a yard sale to benefit our adoption. And they did it in the rain.
 I love these people. Thank you so much for getting up before the sun and sticking it out through the rain to help us bring our little one home. 
 Such customer service!
 Pretty ladies braving the rain! Thank you, Courtney, Ismaetha and Brookie! 
 Jared and Josh. 
Dad with the money bag!

Hosting a yard sale is an insane amount of work, and a whole lot of people put in a lot of time to make this one possible. Everybody says that it takes a village to raise a child. We are having the honor of watching a village of people we love come together to help us get our sweet baby home. We cannot adequately express our gratitude to all of the people who have helped us over the last nine months. Your generosity and love have kept us going. 


Monday, January 14, 2013


I have been doing a whole lot (probably too much) of online reading lately. Mostly articles and some other blogs. And as I have read, I have noticed an odd and somewhat alarming trend. There seems to be some sort of aversion to the church theme going on out there. When I say that, I don't mean the Church, as in the Body of Christ. I don't even mean an aversion to Christ Himself, which will always exist. I mean an aversion to the local church. Not necessarily any particular church here in Birmingham. Most of what I have read has been from other parts of the country. Not important. Moving on.

I have read a lot lately about people's negative experiences with their local churches, and this really breaks my heart. The purpose of the church is to be an earthly picture of our future heavenly reality. It is the means by which the truth of Gospel should be spread. And to think that people, both Christians and non-belivers alike, are having such bad experiences with their local churches that they choose to leave and never return is simply not ok. I am not talking about being offended by the Bible, the Word of God. We are told over and over again in Scripture that the church will be persecuted and even hated for the sake of God's Kingdom. As Christians, we are to expect people to disagree with us, accuse us of being narrow-minded and so on. What I am talking about is people being made to feel unwelcome in a church or being told that loyalty to that one local church should supersede all other loyalties, even those to Christ.

Please know that actions like these are not part of the heart of Christ. God sent His Son to us to pay the debt owed by us of our sin. The message of the Gospel in a message of love. It is the message of love. There is none greater. And the church should reflect that. Always. And so please let me say that I am so sorry if you have had an experience like this with your local church. Please know that the heart of God, the true heart of God, is for everyone to know Him and know His deep love. He makes this truth plain in 2 Peter 3:9.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 

What is also alarming to me is that there seems to be a large response (from the Christian community) urging those hurt by their local church to avoid going to any church at all and instead to just focus on their own relationship with God. Absolutely, your personal relationship with God should be the single most important thing in your life, but we were also not meant to battle this whole world on our own. We are just not strong enough. That is part of why God gave us the church body. He even commands us to meet together as believers.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, that He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--all the more as we see the Day approaching." 
Hebrews 10:23-25

Adam and I went to a great church when we were at Auburn, and the pastor there would talk frequently about the importance of being part of a church body. He would always reference a particular song entitled, "Me and Jesus Got a Good Thing Going On," and explain that though it sounded catchy, solitude is not the way the Lord intended for us to spend our lives. He would point out that while Jesus is absolutely enough and we are saved by grace and not church attendance, it is critical to be part of a body of believers. It helps us grow, hold us accountable and gives us brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we can share life's joys and heart aches. It gives us a faith family. 

I was feeling very disheartened after some of this reading. It truly saddens me to think of the church as being anything but what God intended it to be, and I just couldn't get all of this out of my mind. And knowing how God operates, it should not have surprised me at all when Adam and I walked into church yesterday morning and heard the first in a series of sermons on the purpose and importance of the church body. God, you are so, so good. As I listened, my heart was filled up. Our pastor talked about why we have the church, why God created the church. I try not to talk a whole lot about our particular church, because while I absolutely love our church home, I do not ever want to take away from the Church, the whole Body of Christ, and I certainly do not want the focus to be on a particular pastor or local church instead of on Christ, where it belongs. That being said, I really do love our church's mission/vision/purpose/whatever statement: We exist to glorify God by making disciples of all nations. Pretty simple, right? Though brief, I think it really encompasses the purpose of the Great Commission that Jesus gave us at the end of Matthew. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to imitate Him, to strive to be like Him, to love like Him, to forgive like Him. That should be our goal, because a life that looks like that will be a life that makes disciples, a life that draws others to the heart of God.

This is the purpose of the church. Sorry, I know that might have sounded like a really long ramble that came completely out of left field. But if you are reading this blog and you do not know Jesus, I want you to know that He loves you unconditionally. The people down here on Earth are just people. We get things wrong all the time. I am sure I have said something on this blog at some point that hurt someone, even though that has never, ever been my intention. True followers of Christ try to imitate Him, we try. But we fail. So if one of us has hurt you. I am so sorry. Please know that you are loved by a Heavenly Father and by His Son, Jesus Christ, who left the right had of His Father to come here and live among us, sinful us, so that he could demonstrate the life God desires from us, show us the love we are called to show others and forgive us an incredible debt, which should remind us to always be forgiving toward others. This God loves you. You.

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8


Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Long Ten Miles

Several months ago I talked dear, sweet Adam into running two races with me in Birmingham. At the time, I was looking for something to focus on to take my mind off the waiting. Those of you who know Adam know that he does not love running. At all. But he loves me, and so he agreed to train with me and run in these two races here in Birmingham. The first of these two races was today: A ten mile run called The Red Nose Run, benefitting the Ronald McDonald House. While we were quite nervous about it last night and even on into this morning, I am pleased to say that we both finished. Here is the story in pictures.
Here is what our race day packet looked like. Adam was not pleased by the clowns and informed me that he would not hesitate to throw down with a clown who got too close. If you know Adam, ask him to tell you his clowns in the elevator story. :) 
So this was quite humorous. For our very first race, Adam and I were bib numbers 1 and 2. You receive your number based on your time of registration; it has NOTHING to do with your actual ability to run. Needless to say, Adam and I got a good laugh out of this. And as an added bonus, we got a whole lot of shout outs from people we did not know. "Hey! Numbers 1 and 2!" 
Yeah. We are a big deal. Ha! 
Before the race. Feeling optimistic! 
 This is where I started to get exceptionally nervous. We had never run this far before, and I was worried that we would not be able to do it. 
Thank you, dear husband, for running with me today. I would not have been able to finish without you right there next to me. And let me brag on him for a second. When we were about 4.5 miles in to the race, my brain started telling my body that we were done. At this point, Adam starts telling me that where we are on our run is just like where we are in our adoption. We are past the hard stuff and have settled into a rhythm. All we have to do is keep our eyes on the finish and we will make it. 
Isn't he just a keeper??
And we did it! Ten miles. No stops. Boom. 
You will notice that Adam's shirt is suddenly navy blue. That would be his sweat. Poor fella'! 
And this is what happened to my socks. :( 

All in all, today was a really cool experience. There is a big part of me that cannot believe we actually did it, but I am so glad that we did. It is awesome to be able to say that we ran for ten solid miles and finished the race. But the coolest part was meeting people as we ran. Adam and I wore our adoption shirts, and they ended up being a real conversation starter. People would ask us what the verses meant, and we were able to explain the Scriptures and then talk about our adoption. We ran beside a very nice gentleman, JR, for a while, and he was asking us about our adoption and if we had a blog. I hope you find us, JR! It was so great talking to you. And we ended up beside an adoptive mom who spoke on the parent panel at our Crossings class this summer, so we were able to chat with her (between breaths!). She even asked us for our names so that she could pray for us specifically. Sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by God's grace in our lives. 

But now, I am resting in bed stretching my legs. Good night! 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nine Months In

Today marks nine months since we started the whole adoption process. It is strange because if we were having a biological child, he or she might be arriving today. To have been on this path for so long and still feel so far away from what we are waiting for is a weird (best word?) feeling. I would love, love, love to be able to tell you that the waiting gets easier as we go. But I can't. I wish it did. More than you know. Actually, there are some days/weeks when, the longer we wait, the more aggravated I become. I think that is mostly because I feel like the waiting is unreasonable, as there is such a need for families to take care of orphans around the world and in Ethiopia in particular. Still, I know that my God is over all of this and that everything will happen when it is best for us and for our baby bird. Yet I have to say, for the sake of honesty, know that truth and fully believing it does not always make  waiting easier. Some day it does. But a lot of days...well, not so much.

And that is why I am so grateful that the Lord has seen fit to surround us with an incredible network of family and friends who love the Lord, love us and love our little one. I don't say it enough, but thank you to all of you who have loved, supported and prayed for us over the last nine months. We absolutely could not have made it this far without you, and I know that is why the Lord put you in our lives. It is a beautiful thing to know that when we are so worn down and feel like we cannot pray the same prayer one more time that you are standing in the gap for us and praying right alongside side us. May of you know that I am reading The Circle Maker, a book about prayer. One of the things Mark Batterson (the author) says is that every miracle in your life is a result of either a prayer you prayed or a prayer someone else prayed for you. I am feeling the truth in that so, so much. And please know, that when we finally get this little babe home, we are so grateful to you for your prayers that directly impacted this miracle in our lives.

Along the same line, my amazingly faithful and beautiful mother sent me something last night (two things, really) that came at the perfect time. The first reminded me of what we are waiting for and how it parallels God's work in my own life. My family goes to church on Wednesday night, and there was a guest speaker at their church last night. Andrew Palau. He is the son of Luis Palau, a well-known Christian speaker. He shared his testimony and was autographing books in the lobby afterward. My mom bought the book and met him, which she says was an incredible moment. Anyway, she was flipping through the book, The Secret Life of a Fool, when she found this toward the end.
Why, hello there, perfect timing! I am so thankful for moments like that one, moments that remind me of two things. First, there will come a day when that will be us. We will walk into an orphanage, pick up our child and he/she will be ours. For the rest of time. Second, this is what the Lord did for me. He gave me an eternal forever family, a family where I am a daughter of the Most High. Thank you, Mom, for this reminder.

The second thing she sent me was a quote from Billy Graham.

"The inability to comprehend fully the mysteries of God does not in any way curtail the Christian faith. On the contrary, it enhances our belief. We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars in their courses, but we know that He who created them does, and that just as surely as He guides them, He is charting a safe course for us."

Have you ever just had something meet you right where you are? I have to tell you, most of the time these days, I do not understand what God is doing or why He is doing it, but I know that He knows. And, for now, that has to be enough. If He can balance the universe and keep all of our hearts beating with no effort at all, then He can manage this. I just need to trust Him. That is what faith is, is it not? Believing in the thing you cannot see. Trusting in the One you know is there. So this season, as incredibly difficult as it is, is serving to grow my faith. And that is worth it. I just have to remember that.

"Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." Hebrews 11:1


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Encouragement from Lamentations

I do love the start to a new year. There is something so attractive to me about starting a new thing. Maybe it is the fact there is so much hope and possibility that accompany a new year. To be honest, I was more than ready to see 2012 go on its merry way. It was without question the most difficult year of my life so far, as the Lord allowed some tests and trials to come our way that pretty much knocked me off my feet. The year 2012 brought some of the toughest things we have ever had to endure, and there were a lot of times when I found myself calling out to God, "Do you see this? I know you see this. Why are you allowing this to happen?"

Sometimes He ended the trial right then and there, but more often than not, He allowed whatever was going on to continue. Some of it still is. For me, that begs the questions, "Why?" If God is sovereign over everything and is also only good, then why does He allow us to suffer? I think it is a valid question. And I believe that He has been using the events of this past year to show me the answer. You see, I do believe that God is always good. And I do believe that He works all things together for the good of His children and for His glory. And I am learning, in a very personal way, that sometimes that work involves painful things for His children, for me. God is our heavenly Father, and as our Father, He is looking out for our best interest, the same way my dad was always doing what was ultimately best for me while I was growing up (even when I did not like it). Our parents sometimes do things that think are unfair, and we get upset about it. But our parents made the choices they did so that we would be better as a result. I believe it is the same with God.

He has allowed Adam and me to endure some incredibly difficult things since January of 2012, but I do know that He has a purpose in it, and that His purpose absolutely involves what is best for us. The Lord has the long view; He can see way down the road and knows what lies ahead for us. We do not. I only know what is happening right now, how I feel right now, what I want right now. And my "right now" response to all of those things might not be what is best for me in the long run. In fact, that is most likely the case. So I trust my Heavenly Father, knowing that He will be faithful to me no matter what. Even when that faithfulness does not look the way I want it to. I know that I can trust Him to carry me through. Some of that I have seen already. God has been so gracious to me in that He has used this time to bring me closer to Him instead of allowing me to become so embittered by the fact that life has been difficult that I turn away from Him. That is such a gift from God.

So why am I writing all of this? I want to encourage you and remind myself that God is with us in trials. More than that, He is sovereign over our trials. And He promises to carry us through difficulties and provide what we need when we need it. I think we are almost never equipped to deal with what God calls us to do, but I know that He comes to us and fills us with His strength and power and ability, and these things allow us to endure the trials that come our way. We can lean on Him. In fact, that is what He wants. One day, when I can get my head around it, I am going to share what happened during 2012 that shocked my system and drew me closer to the Lord. But suffice it to say, that He whittled me down until I had nowhere to turn but to Him. I could no longer do anything but hang on to the promises in His Word. Everything else had failed me, but He remained.

And so I am hoping that 2013 brings us much joy as we come through these trials. I am praying that Adam and I will continue to get to know God in ways that we could not under any other circumstances. I pray that we will have our child sitting right between us on our bed as I write to you on this date next year.

I want to leave you with some Bible verses from an unlikely place for encouragement. We are doing a read through the Bible in a year plan in our house, and I am currently in Lamentations, a book whose title sounds anything but encouraging. Still, the Lord brought chapter three my way this week, and I want to pass it along to you. Know that the Lord is right there with you, loving you, sending you His compassion and longing for you to cling to Him as you wait for His work to be made complete in your life.

"Yet this I call to mind, and therefor I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:21-26


Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Like Adoption

In case you have not noticed, the Knotts really like adoption. This video (linked below) was shared with me by another adoptive mom-to-be. She is the same sweet lady who sent me my first Ethiopia Christmas ornament. The short video shows a family who has responded to God's incredible calling on their lives. Please take a few minutes to watch it. You will be amazed by what the Lord can do through two ordinary people who are willing to listen to what He has for them. Even when it looks absolutely crazy. 

This such a beautiful picture of the Gospel and what God can do with us, plain old us, if we are just willing to trust Him. Our lives will not be wasted when we live like this world is not our home. I pray that we will let the Lord use our lives to bring glory to Him, regardless of what that looks like to us. 

What an incredible way to live. 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Waiting List Number: January 2013

Happy New Year! Happy New Number! After what felt like an incredibly sloooooow month in the adoption world, we were shocked, pleased, thrilled, excited, ecstatic, overjoyed (get the picture?) to get our first number for 2013. We are currently number...

Yaaaay for 66!! 
Big Sister is ready! 

This feels like such a miracle. Well, at least it does to me. December felt like a month of cavernous silence in the way of referrals with seemingly only two (that I knew of) for the entire month. I was nervous about our new number, because I was afraid that we had only moved two spots. Silly, silly me. I really don't know why I bother to worry or doubt anymore. Every time I set a "worst case" scenario up in my mind, God surpasses it with His incredible goodness. And really, why do I bother being surprised when He surpasses my measly little expectations?

God is up to good things. He is working in a powerful way in Ethiopia, matching sweet children with their families, and, as a result, filling holes in families on this side of the ocean. And He is up to good things in our hearts and our lives. We have learned so much over the last three and a half months of waiting, the greatest of which is probably, "Trust God above all else." I try to make plans and sketch out timelines, but whatever I can put together in my mind always, always, always pales in comparison to what God is actually doing in our life and in the life of our child. I don't always understand what God is doing with us. In fact, I would venture to say that most of the time I feel a bit confused, but I do know that He is not confused. My mom came in town this past weekend for a visit, and we spent a lot of time talking about our adoption, the future of our family, what God is doing in us right now and how He is preparing us for the future He has laid out for us. I was talking to my mom about how hard it is to wait and how there are days when I feel like my heart is just breaking and how I know that God could choose to fix it right away, but isn't. And how I want to know why He is choosing to do things this way. My wonderful and very wise mother reminded that when God allows us to go through difficult things or experience pain, He is actively sharpening and strengthening us. And usually He is doing that so that we will be ready for whatever lies ahead in our lives. So even though all of this waiting is so, so difficult, I can rest in the assurance that the Lord is allowing this to happen for a very specific purpose.

So anyway, as you can tell, I had been a bit of a Debbie Downer toward the end of December and was really ready for a tiny jump on the waiting list. But then God stepped in a moved us FIVE spots. That might not seem like a lot, but I was ready to move two, so five is fantastic for me! Would you like more evidence that God is right here with us? Check out our waiting list experience thus far:

-Received our first number for the month of October: #86
-Started praying to please, please, please break into the 70s for the month of November, and by the end of the month we knew about 2 referrals that had gone out, which would put us at #84.
-Received our November number: #79 PRAYER ANSWERED! 
-Started praying to be in the 60s for December, but only heard about 5 referrals at the very beginning of the month. 
-Received our December number: #71--I know what you are thinking. That is not in the 60s. You are right, but we only knew about 5 referrals, and we moved 8 spots. EXPECTATION SURPASSED!
-Started praying, again, to break into the 60s. Only heard about two referrals all month long and then one more on December 30. 
-Received our January number: #66--We moved 5 spots when we only knew about three referrals. EXPECTATION SURPASSED YET AGAIN! 

That is a grand total of TWENTY spots in three months of getting waiting list numbers. God is big, and He is good! Even when it doesn't make sense to us and we feel lost or confused or hurt, He is always up to something good!

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him." Nahum 1:7


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