Friday, June 27, 2014

Brave Love

Over the last several months, I've spent some time advocating for the stereotypes that surround birth mothers and the process of adoption. (You can find some of those posts here and here). I've done this, in part because I noticed a change in my own heart over the past year as I have been educated on this process is, and because, frankly, I wish that someone would have educated me sooner. 

Lately I have been so struck by the weighty sacrifice that our daughter's birth parents will be making for our family's benefit. I have developed a love and respect in my heart for this family that I'm not sure I thought was possible living so far away. I'm struck by who they are and how much I respect them for this difficult, selfless choice that they are making. 

I've found, however, that it's increasingly difficult to articulate these emotions not only to others but to members of my own family. How do I adequately describe how I love someone in this way, that I've only met once, yet that will continue to be a part of our family for the rest of my life?

This morning, our adoption consultant, Susan, wrote a blog about a movement called BraveLove. BraveLove's mission statement is beautiful to me. It reads,

"Our mission is to change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption...The heartbreaking truth is that many women facing unplanned pregnancy feel unable to care for a child. Sometime the single-most loving thing a mother can do is place her child with a loving, eager adoptive family. We aim to invite and empower women to choose adoption."

That is a beautiful mission statement to me all in itself. And then I saw this video:

There's something intriguing and lovely about the distinction made between mothers and moms. But the distinction is not one to make mothers feel less important. Rather that the two units function best when unified together through the beautiful act of adoption. 

"A mom and a mother will find each other and join hands and be for the other what they can't be for themselves. Because even is she's not ready to be a mom, a mother can be strong and brave. She can turn 9 months into a lifetime and turn a couple into a family. Maybe that's easier said than done, but then, being a superhero always is..."

Susan said it best in her blog post today: "Too often in our culture we are anxious about birth mothers, fall into assumptions, and fear the worst about a birth family. But these beautiful stories of sacrifice, bravery, and selfless love need to be shared and celebrated." 

Although the intimate details of my relationship with our birth mama are not always something that I am willing to share out of respect for her story, I can tell you that I truly do see this woman as strong and brave and loving. I am so grateful to have her in my life and I'm amazed at how God has touched my life with hers. A superhero doesn't have to be perfect to be a hero. And she is definitely one of mine. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fight For Me

At the very beginning of our process, I remember a fellow adoptive mama saying to me (probably in response to my complaints of the adoption process), "You will learn early to fight for your child before they're even here or before you know who they are." That couldn't have been any more true.

Adoption has taught me, time and time again, that, although my baby girl is thousands of miles me from at this very instant, that I have to fight for her every single day until she's home safe in my arms.

We've had to fight ever step of the adoption process to be proven worthy, stable parents.
We've had to fight to be taken seriously in our adoption.
We've had to fight for our daughter to be viewed as fully ours. 
We've had to fight for our social worker to 'get a move' on things. 
We've had to fight to educate. 
We've had to fight to find (and trust God for) the finances.
We've had to fight for stereotypes.
We've had to fight our emotions - both in the good and the frustrating times.
...This list could really just keep going...

When I say we've had to 'fight,' of course I don't mean a physical brawl of any sort. Instead, I just mean that it's an uphill battle every single step of the way. Even the procedures that you think should just be so black & white are an uphill battle. In the adoption world those "should-be simple" things are totally gray.

This week, I sat at my kitchen table, spending some time in God's presence before beginning my day. I was reflecting on some of the things that had come up in our adoption that were difficult to handle. They weren't difficult because they were bad. Just difficult because it required more fighting and perseverance. And quite frankly, although I'm so excited for baby girl to get here...I'm also so incredibly tired of fighting for what seems like every little thing. My devotional that morning asked a very pointed question:

"As believers, we sometimes shy away from asking God to meet our physical meets or outward needs. Is there something that would drastically help you abide or remain if God provided it? Ask Him. Hope doesn't disappoint and our hope is in Him. He may not always answer affirmatively, but He never begrudges 
us for treating Him like the Father He is."

One thing came to my mind because I knew that I couldn't be the one fighting for this anymore. I just prayed over and over again, "God, I need you to handle this because I can't." I placed it in God's hands, committed that I would not pick it back up and try to handle it on my own. Just a few hours later, the exact thing that I prayed for God to handle had been taken care of...totally & completely.

It reminds me of Exodus 14:14 (although totally out of context):

My devotional, as well as this verse, force me to stop and ask the question, "Why am I fighting in the first place?" In those moments I'm reminded that I have to stop fighting. Not because this isn't worth the fight or because the situation doesn't merit a fight, but simply because I'm not the one who has to worry about these battles. 

Ultimately God is fighting for me, alongside of me, strengthening me, every step of the way. And you know what's even cooler (yes...I know that's not a word)...

He's not fighting for just me, He's fighting for our baby too

What am I worried about?! God's got this!

What is it today that you're fighting for? What battles are there that you need to let God fight for you? Bring those to Him. Trust me...the weight of not having to fight anymore is well worth it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remain in Me

Are you ever struck by God's response to you? If you read yesterday's post, you know that I have been so focused on the future that I've been struggling to allow God to teach me something in these final weeks of waiting before our baby is born. Yesterday, my heart had to stop and re-evaluate this. I needed to begin asking God what he had for me right now in these moments of waiting still.

And yesterday my heart felt so attacked, as if the enemy himself knew exactly where my heart was headed and he needed to do everything he could to make me want to question God's plan and timing for me.

This morning, when I woke up, I knew that if I was going to start asking God to direct these right now moments for me, that I needed to take some time to start my day with Him. So that's just what I did.

And boy did He respond this the most perfect way. The devotional I started working through this week is about abiding in God's presence and remaining in Him so that He might be glorified through us. The devotional starts by asking you to focus on the 'fruits' as well as the wounds or areas of your life that still need recovery from the previous season. As I started to write, I saw how desperately I was holding on to far too many things that were only continuing to hurt me and rip my heart a part. As I asked God to speak to me in those lingering pains, I feel like He just kept whispering to my heart, "Remain in me...and I in you."

I ended my time feeling prompted to crack open my Jesus Calling daily devotional...The words could not have been any more perfect. You see, yesterday, even through I knew that I needed to let the Lord direct my heart right now rather than dwelling on future plans, I still gravitated towards wanting to plan every single detail that I could for our adoption (i.e. housing, back-up housing, flights, rental cars, etc). The only problem is there are literally no specifics at this all. So instead I explored every possibility and scenario and planned (as best I could) for each of them. And I didn't get anywhere with it. I ended the day feeling as though the situation and the unknown were impossible. So, this morning, as I am praying for the Lord to reveal to me what it is that I need to let go of in order to let Him abide in me, He just sent a not-so-subtle message to me through my Jesus Calling devotional:

"Rest in Me, My Child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember that you are on a journey with Me. When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant Companion, who sustains you moment by moment. As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don't even feel the strong grip of My hand holding yours. How foolish are you, My child!...Remembrance of Me is a daily discipline. Never lose sight of My Presence with you. This will keep you resting in Me all day, every day."

Mmmm...that hits home, right? What a perfect, personal reminder for me of what abiding in the Lord actually looks like in my exact circumstance.

I'm so grateful for a God that hears us and directs us and responds to us in such subtle ways. Aren't you?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Abide in the Now

I don't think a minute passes by throughout any given day when I don't think of my sweet baby girl. At night, I crawl into bed and struggle to fall asleep thinking about the fact that in just a handful of weeks, I will be, Lord willing, holding her in my arms and seeing her beautiful face for the first time. My heart cannot contain my excitement in that statement! I lie awake at night dreaming about what that moment will be like.

I've been mulling over my ability to be patient during these weeks remain until our daughter is born. I'm a firm believer that sometimes God calls his children to dwell in uncomfortable situations (waiting being one of them) and that although allowing ourselves to be content with dissonant circumstances is incredibly difficult, sometimes God creates the most beautiful things from it. I was just telling someone this yesterday and realized that I wasn't doing a great job at practicing what I preach.

All I seem to do lately...or really for the past dream about what's to come: when we get matched, when our baby is born, when she's legally ours, when we bring her home from the hospital, when we fly home to Illinois with her, and on and on. I've been living my life in the future dreaming of what the Lord holds for our little family then.

But I'm failing ask Him what He has for us NOW in this time of waiting.

I've been failing to seek God's guidance in the present.

Although I feel as though my heart has learned so much throughout our adoption process, when was the last time that I truly asked God what He wants of me right now. I know that His plan for us moving forward is to care for this baby girl and this specific birth family that we get to be in relationship with. But what if there's something that God is trying to teach me right now in this season of waiting?

I'm starting an eight-week study today by Naptime Diaries about Abiding in the Lord. And in order to truly allow my spirit to Abide in Him, I have to hinder my heart from abiding in the future, however exciting the future may be.

John 15:5, 8 ESV reads, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing...By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."

Simply put, my ability to allow God to be glorified in this adoption process depends directly on my willingness to abide in Him, rather than my future plans for our little family-to-be. 

Joyce Meyers says it well: "Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you're waiting."

How am I choosing to act in this waiting? Am I letting God move in my life or am I hindering His glory because I'm too focused on my plans of what's to come?

Just some thoughts to ponder on this Monday morning.