Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reflections on Joy

I haven't posted in a while.... Or at least nothing substantial about what's been going on with our adoption. Life has been busy. And quite frankly, lately, I haven't wanted to answer questions about everything or pour out my heart. I've been content to just keep it to myself.

But today I have to break that cycle.


Today I want to celebrate...


Right now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop confirming plans for our upcoming fundraiser next weekend and although my heart is anxious, I'm beyond joyful dreaming about that fact that next year at this time, I might be preparing a Thanksgiving meal with a baby in my home. Simply the thought of that bubbles over with laughter and joy in my heart.


Yes, this journey is difficult. It's hard. It's painful.


But it's also full of joy. 


Lately I've been reflecting on what my life would be like had none of this happened. What would my life look like if we had just been able to get pregnant? 


It would look different. Not bad, but different.


In this journey I have learned so much about myself, about my marriage, about my friends and about who my gracious and powerful God is. And you know what, I wouldn't trade any of that. If I had to choose, I think I would choose to have to start this all over again. 


In the past year I have experienced pain in a way that I never have before in my life. I have never felt so hurt. I have never felt so sensitive to words. I don't think I've ever cried more. I don't think I've ever felt so strongly the need to prove myself to others who are in charge my ability to adopt that I'm going to be a good mom. I have never felt more isolated and alone. 


But I can also contrast all that by telling you that I've also probably never had more faith and hope than I do now. I have never experienced a community of support in the way that i have now. I have never felt as humbled. I can tell you that I've never felt God work in my life as real and personal as the ways that he is doing now. I've never felt more broken on my knees in prayer and yet so full of power and hope at the same time because I have a God that is not bound by my circumstance


Today I am struck by the fact that my God is greater.


My God is stronger.


My God is faithful.


My God has a plan.


My God means all this for good.


My God is able to stand next to me in these moments, hold my hand and say, "It's okay Amanda. I already died for all this pain. Let me handle it."


What a powerful and beautiful thing that is to realize.


And so today I celebrate and choose to be joyful in this.


Once I was mourning. Now I am dancing in joy that only my God can provide.


My God is GOOD.





Prayer Requests (11/27/13)
  • Praise for what we have been learning in this process and what God is doing in our lives.
  • Prayer for our first home study interview next week in Chicago. Prayer that we will be able to move quickly through this process and be licensed.
  • Prayer for our upcoming fundraiser to run smoothly and that we can celebrate with our community about the joy of Christmas and adoption.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Time Away

Anyone that knows Jarrod and I knows that our life can tend to be a little crazy. Take Jarrod's crazy youth pastor schedule, add my work schedule, the fact that we are both in school and everything going on with the adoption = we almost always have something going on.

At the beginning of November, we were incredibly blessed to be able to spend some time away rejuvenating in the sun and warmth in Florida. We spent the first day embracing our childhood at Walt Disney World. Truly there is just something about that place that makes the day feel magical. Yes, I may have even cried a little during the fireworks.







After a day at Disney, we headed to Melbourne Beach for the remainder of a week for a retreat for youth pastors and their wives. First of all, I have to stop and thank the amazing church family that you have that sent us on to this retreat. As you can imagine, the past few months have been busy and full of emotion with very little time to process things together. The escape we found in Melbourne was so needed and rejuvenating. We were able to spend time alone exploring. We were blessed to network with a group of people that already feels so much like family to us. We were able to walk away from our cares, worries and daily tasks and refocus on the Lord who has been directing so many steps and recommit the coming days to Him.


Left: The view from our balcony every morning.
Right: Hanging out by the pool.

I think that sometimes it's important to remove yourself from your circumstances and to reconnect with your spouse in a place where there are no expectations. Jarrod and I needed this so badly. Although we came back to a life that had not stopped while we were gone, I can truly say that we came back ready to take on the next steps of life, ministry, our marriage and adoption and ready to listen to the Lord's guidance in these moments.




Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

The first Sunday of November is Orphan Sunday. It is the annual day across the nation when church families stop to recognize the needs of orphans around the world for someone to notice them.
Today is the day when we take a stand to recognize what God has done for us and what we can do for his other children around the globe. 

Today in our church service they showed this beautiful video recognizing a family that has a beautiful vision and a beautiful way to show God's love:




We adopt because God first adopted us. No, not all believers are called to adopt. But what if at least a small percentage of us did something about the orphan crisis around our globe? What if we took the stance that Christ took on our lives, to rescue us from our affliction, and did the same for others?


The picture below took my breath when I read it earlier today... But isn't it the truth?


"When God set out to redeem us, it killed him"




Tonight, I have no great vision for where this post should go. Nor do I wish to write a lot. I just wanted to share with you these pieces of media that touched my heart today.

I'll be writing soon on 'Beyond Orphan Sunday', because truly there's so much more to focus on with orphans and adoptions than just one day a year.... 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Just Like the Rest of Us

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the questions that people ask you when they find out that you're adopting. Over time, Jarrod and I are learning to handle those questions with grace and patience. But after the initial questions, I'm continually struck by how little people are willing to say to you once they know.

A couple weeks ago at church someone approached me and said words that have resounded in my heart on a daily basis since then...And I've decided that I want to share my thoughts on that.

Sadly, there is something about the adoption world that feels isolating from the rest of society. Please don't hear me wrong - yes, we have found an amazing community of people that have experienced adoption and inferility that can walk with us through this process in a way that few others can. That, in itself, has been such a blessing I never expected in all of this.

But there's also a very large part of this adoption process that feels incredibly isolating.

When someone is pregnant, everyone has a million exciting tidbits to share or questions to ask of the pregnancy and the plans for the baby. Most people could talk for hours about a pregnancy, their experience with it, the ultrasounds, birthing methods, etc. ... the list goes on.

However, I've noticed that, after the initial questions of 'why adoption,' the conversation ends.  

No one knows what to say

They can't relate so they stop talking.  Period.

Even some of the people that are closest to me haven't asked me a question about our adoption in weeks. And it's obvious that they're not asking because they have nothing to say. They don't know what to say. So they ignore it or change the topic or stair at their shoes.

This is very isolating. And sometimes, it's very hurtful when it comes from those that you least expect it to.


Now, I don't want to force those that aren't supportive of our adoption or who don't care to know details to ask questions that they don't want to ask.


Instead, (and I think other adoptive moms would agree with me) I want those that are interested or supportive to know that it's okay to not know what to say. I'm not looking for someone to understand what this is like unless you've been through it. You don't have to be able to relate to my story for me to be able to share what's going on with you. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions just because you know that I might not always have a new answer to give you. No, there's nothing growing in my belly, therefore, not all days are different for me. Many days the answers will be the same: "Yes we are still waiting"..."No, I don't know who our baby is yet or when he/she will be born"..."Yes we are excited". But I don't tire of telling you what God is doing in our lives through this. He's doing a lot and I love sharing about it. I don't mind telling you our plans for the nursery or if we've gone shopping for any baby items yet. 

I simply want to feel like my baby is important even though I don't know if he/she has even been conceived yet.

So back to my story from church:


When this woman approached me after the service a couple of weeks ago, we began by chit-chatting about children, families and then a little about the adoption. She shared how excited she was to hear and read about what was going on. And then...she said something to me that touched my heart so deeply. She said something along the lines of the following:



"You know you might not be bringing a baby into your family in the way that most families expect, but nonetheless, you are expecting a baby. You should be excited! You're just like the rest of us."


I could have cried on the spot. 

Those words were unlike anything that I've heard from anyone in this process. I've had other adoptive moms tell me this. But I've never had someone who hasn't gone through this process be able to look at me, look past the initial questions and recognize that I'm an expecting mom too. To see that I'm just as excited as every other mother-to-be to bring a baby into my family. To recognize that my journey to motherhood might look a little different than yours in that I'll have interviews instead of ultrasounds and home visits instead of hospital tours. But I'm still a mom too.

To the woman who said this to me (you know who you are), thank you for touching my heart so deeply. Your words encourage me daily to push through the difficult moments and rejoice in the hope of someday bringing my baby home. Thank you for speaking so much truth into my life, whether or not you knew what it would mean to me. Thank you for letting the Lord speak through you. You have blessed me more than words can express.


For those of you who encounter couples at any stage in the adoption process, I challenge you to remind yourself that they're just like every other parent. That child is as much theirs as your biological child is yours. Don't feel pressured to have to say something specific in response to their story. Just rejoice in that story with them. 


Everyone has a unique story and that's what makes God's work in our lives so beautiful. I just challenge you to be willing to recognize the beauty in differences and the similarities in love.


--Manda



**Disclaimer: I do not hold anything against those that don't know what to say in response to our adoption and that's not what this post is about. It's simply about awareness. I appreciate all those who are supporting us and have done what they can do show us that.**