2 My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for testing.— Ecclesiasticus 2:1
This past year has been full of fiery trials for our family in many ways. Our adoption process, which had been flying by at lightning speeds, had slowed to a snail’s pace as we learned that the kids were on different timelines and the youngest boy’s father’s rights were not terminated with his siblings and would take much longer to process. We had a move to a new city, which entailed buying and selling homes, moving furniture, and sooooo many boxes. Unexpectedly, we suffered four unrelated deaths within our extended family.
In the midst of all this, we got the call we had been waiting for — ALL the children were free for adoption!!! Except that it came with a “but”…but, the oldest (now 14) was unsure he wanted to be adopted (after writing on paper during hosting #1 “I no go back”). He said he loved our family and wanted to continue to visit, but the teenager he had grown into wasn’t sure he wanted to leave his friends and new girlfriend behind.
Imagine proposing to someone you really love and think will be really excited to marry you, and then they say “no”.
I think it felt similar to that.
As we processed through that, my knee locked up on me and I was sent off to undergo an unplanned knee scope. Normally this would be no big deal for most, but for my already bad knee – well – let’s just say I’m still not back to pre-surgery state. Following this, my own mother began suffering with some serious health issues. Then days before we had to finalize our decision and process many adoption fees someone hacked into our online bank accounts, made money transfers, and stole thousands of dollars.
THE BATTLE IS REAL!
I feel like I started the year off strong. Despite the changes and difficulties, I was able to keep God in focus. Yet, with each new circumstance that occurred, I felt myself weakening, slowing and tiring. It was honestly EXHAUSTING.
It seems when I am physically tired, I am often spiritually tired as well.
I am sure that I was an easy target for the devil. Those mornings when it is SO hard to pull myself out of bed, he is whispering in my ear, “you can’t even keep up with the laundry you have, you will never be able to do it with more!”
And when you’re tired, or lonely, or grieving, or stressed out, it is SO easy to believe those lies.
Satan is the father of lies. He wants to replace your FAITH with FEAR.
And fear is a LIAR!
Interestingly, I just read in my devotional the other day,
“Fear is dangerous to your hope and means your trust in God has failed.”
As soon as I read it I called my husband over to read it as well. That is EXACTLY what happened!!! THAT was it! I saw it coming a year ago. I wrote my last post to that effect. I felt the fear coming. I KNEW what we were supposed to do. I KNEW the right answers. I KNEW we were to trust in the Lord and make our FAITH bigger than our fear.
Yet, I let tiredness, sadness, doubt, and mistrust creep inside instead.
And it was ugly.
It contracted. It pulled in. It withdrew. It withered my heart, my love, and robbed me of my joy. I went through the motions, but I wasn’t ME.
While we were stalled with our adoption we started to hear rumors about our hosting program and agency worker. We started to doubt all the money we had spent on hosting and adoption thus far, especially as the decision to host FIVE kiddos again this summer (which meant insane hosting fees for the fifth time and no closer to adoption) was looming over head because we still didn’t have a referral. We wondered if the kids were never adopted, was this the best use of our resources in caring for orphans. We started to listen to what the world was telling us and not what God had been telling us from the beginning.
Maybe this WAS a dumb idea.
Maybe we SHOULDN’T be spending so much money on this.
Life would be SO MUCH EASIER if we just kept the status quo.
Thankfully, I have some wonderful, faithful friends who talked me through my thoughts. Friends who got down on their knees and prayed for us. Friends who sent Bible verses and songs in perfect timing. Friends who gave us wise advice.
My friend, Michelle, gave me the best piece of advice that really changed the way I thought about everything. She said,
“It is OK to have righteous anger towards people or processes that are unethical, but it is NOT OKAY TO FEAR.”
We are not to fear.
And that was EXACTLY what was happening. The fear was eating me up. I let it consume me. It WAS dangerous to my hope. The fear consumed my hope and my loss of hope meant my trust in God had failed. And if I was honest with myself, my trust in God had failed.
Our official referral for the kiddos FINALLY came on Friday the 13th of May, nonetheless. We were forced to make a final decision within two weeks. Of course, satan would use those two weeks to wage an all-out war on our family. He would separate us by distance, as I had to travel with my mom to medical appointments six hours away. He would attack our finances with identity theft. However, God ALWAYS wins. He is ALWAYS victorious.
He will ALWAYS find a way to speak to our heart, mind and soul if we let Him.
God began to speak to me through friends, songs, Bible verses, and perfectly timed sermons. One of the most convicting sermons was given to us just two days after we got our referral. Pastor Luis Martinez came from Impacto Ministry and the majority of his sermon was describing their mission in Guatemala. The last 15 minutes or so he spent in a short sermon he called Stepping out of the Boat.
His four point sermon was this:
- Faith takes us to the point where we need to make decisions that involve BIG RISK.
- Faith takes us to the starting point of long journeys.
- Faith takes us to the point of waiting for the impossible.
- Faith takes us to the point of giving everything you have.
WOW. That should have been enough, but it wasn’t. Thankfully, God continued to convict.
Right before leaving for my mom’s medical appointments, my mom and I were blessed to be able to attend a women’s retreat together, which helped revive my faith. Phillip Yancy spoke about the seasons of our faith life. Yes- I had been in one LONG winter season. The good news though? I was about to spring forth anew! At the retreat, I prayed with a wonderful woman in the prayer room who quickly did the “Spiritual War” scene with me on scrap paper. As she was going though it, I thought “yes, I know this already, but my question is should we adopt the children or not? ” DUH- I may have understood what she was writing, but I didn’t even realize then that was the battle going on in my own heart!
That night, because I had spoke in the prayer room about my blog and knowing I wasn’t supposed to fear, I was convicted to go back and read through my blog. It had been set to private about a year ago and I hadn’t touched it since. As I read through those posts I thought to myself, “who is that girl?” It was just as if God knew I would need to read those words again. It was as if He had me write to myself for this specific moment in time. God is so creative!
Once I had read those words, I had to ask myself, do I believe them? Do I believe what I wrote a year ago? I trusted him wholeheartedly when I had written those posts…did I still trust Him?
And in those moments that I first asked that question of myself, the honest answer was, I don’t know. It took time, honest prayer and reflection.
My husband actually caught me off guard by giving me his “yes” the night before I was leaving for my mom’s doctor appointments. I certainly felt like I was leaning more towards “yes” and that he was leaning more towards “no”. I was in bed early that night as I wasn’t feeling well, and he came in and when I woke a little, he said, “honey, tell our agency yes.” It should have been a wonderfully joyous time, but instead I was struck with fear. Why was I fearing?
God finally convicted me undeniably in the middle of a Cracker Barrel store. It took driving hours in a silent car with my parents who love to read, praying continually the entire time, to finally hear in my heart loud and clear, DO NOT FEAR — I AM WITH YOU!
My parents and I were getting hungry after driving several hours in our silent car together, so we decided to pull over to get something to eat. As I was walking into the Cracker Barrel, still praying “God lead us”, which is essentially what I had been praying continually for the past 2 1/2 hours, the first thing my eyes focused on was a large bag that said
It caught me off guard as I looked around and was encouraged by all the inspirational, Christian items everywhere. My eyes were drawn to a nautical display (my blog uses “God as our anchor” and we were just encouraged by the stepping out of the boat sermon). There was a sign that lit up that said
Where was my HOPE?
At that very moment, my dear friend Jen texted me some verses she had told me earlier in the day she would find for me. Of course God would have her use that moment in time to text me back, crying in the middle of the Cracker Barrel store, to continue to convict me.
I admitted to her that I WAS SO AFRAID! That is what it was! That fear of the unknown! I looked down and saw a nautical themed devotional. I had a little conversation with God. I said, “God, if you REALLY and TRULY want me to ‘just be brave’ and to ‘hope’ again, then I am going to open this devotional to today’s date, and it will absolutely, without question make complete sense. If you do not want us to move forward, if you want us to stop, then this entry will be completely off topic” I furiously flipped to May 26th and as I read the title, the tears free flowed.
Courage to Change
Yes. Did I have the courage to change? I was so very fearful of change! Yet – we had always said, we have the ability to take in these children and change their lives for the better. Now the question really was:
Did we have the courage to step out of the boat?
I knew after reading that devotional that my answer was YES. As I was walking to pay before leaving, just to make sure that I indeed got it, God set my eyes on the following cup:
When we first step out of the boat we have to overcome our initial fear. Peter did it – he stepped out of the boat onto water. But that doesn’t mean that we will never fall into the water!
From Matthew 14:29-30
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I got out of the boat. Then the wind came and I was frozen with fear. I began to sink, but I forgot to earnestly cry out to the Lord to save me. Yet, He is relentless. He kept on pursuing me. And as soon as I cried out to Him with all of my heart, mind and soul, “Lord, help me!” He reached out His hand and caught me and reminded me to have
I feel like myself again.
Thank you, Jesus. When I step out onto the waters, when I trust in You, when I let my heart beat for You, then I am able to laugh without fear of the future. May we always trust in You Lord, in good times and bad.