Is that not the best picture ever?!! Even 10 months later, it still just fills me with JOY to see it!!
The question I will answer today is..."WHY?" We get asked this question all the time. "Why are you adopting from Ethiopia? How did your adoption journey get started?"
Well, this question could definitely be summed up with a one word answer...GOD!!! This journey is all about Him, His calling on our lives, and bringing Him glory. But I will give a few more details. :)
I am going to share my heart openly and honestly with ya'll in the hope that God will use our story to encourage YOU...wherever you may be, and in whatever journey that God is calling you to take!
Travel back in time with me almost two years ago, because this is truly when it all began. The Lord began to give me a sense that there was something MORE...that He had something different planned for our lives. I began to experience a season of "holy discontentment". I just wasn't content to live a life of complacency anymore.
I'll try to explain a little more. I am not at all saying that I was unhappy or not content with all the Lord had given us. We are beyond blessed!!! But the Lord had been putting on my heart for awhile a feeling that He was about to call us to something BIG!
This is something I wrote during that season..."I feel like to really go somewhere with God, you can't be content to stay where you are. And I am sick of sitting still. I am ready to go. to change. to love more. to invest eternally."
That is where my heart was at that time. God was about to change everything in our little world...and I could feel it coming!
The first conversation took place in November 2009...Jody and I were in the car for 3 hours on the way to my parents house, by ourselves, because the kids were already there. And ya'll, I think I cried the whole 3 hours...no joke. I was overcome by this sense that the Lord was about to call us to do something BIG...but I had NO IDEA what that calling was going to be!
I was scared, excited, unsure, and filled with anticipation all at the same time. The last time I had felt this way was right before the Lord called us into full-time ministry...so I knew we were, once again, in for something life-changing.
That day we talked about several things that we thought God may be calling us to...and adoption did come up. You see, Jody and I had always talked about adopting before we had kids. We had talked of adopting a little girl from China, like a precious family from my hometown had done years before.
But then...life happened! And three precious kids came in three quick years, and then my thyroid went crazy and had to be removed. Oh yeah, in the midst of this, we were called to full-time ministry, and Jody started seminary and came on staff with our church to start another Pinelake campus in our area. And then when people asked us if we were having anymore kids, we were quick to reply, "We're done!"
But we never asked God that. We tried to jump ahead of His plan and just tell Him what we were doing. Hmmm...that's not really how it's supposed to work in the lives of believers. And needless to say, the word "adoption" did not even cross our lips for probably 7 years.
So in the car that day, I told Jody that I felt I had closed a door (adoption), that maybe God never meant for us to close. But still, I was unsure. Well, even though I didn't have a blog then, I had always loved reading other people's blogs. Well, about this same time, God led me to this blog...and I was hooked. I was so drawn to Kristi's blog, her story, her video, her family...and especially her new baby Lucy Lane. I had NEVER seen a family who had adopted from Ethiopia...ever. They were the first. I thought how precious they were, but that we could never do that.
But God began to speak to me...and He asked, "Why not? What if I asked you to? Do you trust Me? Do you trust MY plan for your family?" And I would just sit at my computer and weep. He was breaking my heart for orphans, and I knew His calling was beginning to unfold.
It was at the time, that I clearly heard God speak to my heart, "This is it. This is My plan for your family...to bring your daughter home from Ethiopia."
He had already chosen our fourth child...and she would have beautiful brown eyes, brown hair, and brown skin. Were we willing to trust Him, step out of our "comfort zone", and trust that His plan for our life was perfect?
So for the next several months, I "wrestled" with God about this calling, and I told no one about it. Not even my husband. But during those months, God began to change my heart. I slowly went from thinking "we could never do that" to "I can't wait to do that"! :) As I was submitting to God's call, He was replacing my fears and uncertainties with joy and excitement. Something that only HE can do.
On March 17, 2010, I really felt the Lord was telling me to tell Jody everything that He has revealed to me over those past 4 months. I was a little scared to tell him because I was unsure of how he would feel about it.
But I obeyed God, and told Jody that night all of what had transpired in my heart over the last several months. I asked him to watch the video of Lucy Lane's "gotcha day" with me, and I asked him to pray. His first response was that he really didn't think this was it. He said there would be too many difficulties and expenses involved...especially with an African baby, in an all white family, in Mississippi. He even made some statement about how it would be easy to "get caught up in the emotions of a video like that". To say I was discouraged about his reaction...would be an understatement.
BUT, he agreed to pray about it everyday. And I knew that he would. Through my tears, I told him I would be praying that the Lord would show us His will...together. At that point, I was so confident in God's calling, that I was totally freed up to just specifically pray for Jody. I prayed everyday that God would confirm His calling to Jody as well, and that He would unite our hearts.
And that is when God began to blow. us. away. The next month was truly one of the most amazing times in my life. God's confirmations began to pour in, one right after the other. He used His Word, circumstances, prayer, other people...it was crazy.
Here are a few words from Jody about what happened on March 18, 2010, the very next morning after I came to him about God's calling of adoption...
After watching the Lucy Lane video, I committed to Alison that I would begin praying for God to reveal His calling on our lives for our family through His Word. The very next morning, I opened my Bible to look up the new memory verse in our life journal (a Bible reading plan our church is doing right now). I knew immediately, this was a direct word from God, concerning the adoption I had just agreed to pray about the night before. Here is the verse I read:
Psalm 41:1 – “How blessed is he who considers the HELPLESS; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.”
This was the initial confirmation I had from God that He wanted us to adopt a baby. It was so cool to see God begin to change my heart and confirm His calling on our lives in a matter of only a few hours. My heart started changing from saying, “We Can’t” to saying, “Yes, Lord”. The confirmations He continued to give me after that day were countless. He was revealing His plan.
We still decided just to keep this between us and the Lord because we needed to make this decision without anyone else's opinions. The cool thing was, the Lord was using other people in our lives to affirm His will, and they did not even know it!
We began to pray this prayer..."Lord, break our hearts for what breaks Yours." And He did. Our hearts became broken for these precious children in Ethiopia. It was undeniable. God's heart breaks for orphans, and ours were breaking too. We knew what our response would be. We would follow Him in obedience to bring our sweet baby girl home.
Jody and I have never been so bonded, so united, so passionate about anything like we have been in God's plan for us to adopt. It has truly changed our marriage. We told our children the news first, and they were so EXCITED!! But we made the decision to not tell anyone else until our application to All God's Children, our adoption agency, was in the mail. I'll do another post later about how we chose our agency and how we told our friends and family!
We are so blessed and so thankful that the Lord has called us on this journey to bring our Caroline Faith home from Ethiopia!! Now as we are in the middle of the "WAIT" to bring her home, it does my heart good to look back over our journey and how God called us to her. What a reminder of His goodness and faithfulness!
God is always faithful, and He will BE WITH YOU on whatever journey that He calls you to take. I hope you'll be encouraged to step forward in obedience and faith. It's not always easy or comfortable, but the journey is amazing and the blessings are endless!!
I say it all the time...We are just so THANKFUL that God called us on this journey to our daughter. I am so glad that He didn't let us remain content in our own little world. I can't even imagine missing out on this!
And we definitely don't think that our journey will end when Caroline Faith is home. We feel this is really just a part of the path that God is calling us to walk along...He'll show us the next step when the time comes.
One step of faith after another.
"I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you." John 14:18