Letting Them Go. Fear and our children.

Letting Them Go. Fear and our children.

Taken August 31, 2012. After 8 months of work, our dossier was ready to go to Ethiopia. The guy at FedEx took this (blurry) picture of us right before we mailed it off. Lydia had turned two that summer, and I was pregnant with Charlotte. 

When we first started this adoption journey, Lydia was 18 months old. She pronounced Ethiopia E-E-O-O, and her favorite thing to say was, “Mo, mo babies!” while she attempted to carry a half-dozen baby dolls in her arms. Fast forward four-and-a-half years and that adorable toddler is now a beautiful, compassionate first-grader. Her dream of “mo, mo babies” surrounds her in the swirl of little sisters God has given her. Granted, they don’t always do just what she wants like the baby dolls she used to play with, but they love her and look up to her and want to be just like her.

When we switched agencies this summer, we learned that our new agency highly recommends we only make one trip to Ethiopia. Instead of doing the two one-week trips that are usually 4-6 weeks apart, they recommend one trip that is usually around three weeks long. The main reason they recommend this is because our Ethiopian daughter becomes legally “ours” upon our successful court hearing which happens in the first trip. So, if we do one trip and stay in-country she is able to stay with us, and we can begin bonding with her in her home country, in the city and culture she knows and loves. After a lot of prayer, Matt and I decided one trip was the best option for our family. It wasn’t long after we received confirmation of that decision that the question started circling in my heart, “Should we bring Lydia?” In my typical fashion, I mentally made a pros and cons list. After making the list over and over for several weeks, I realized all my cons were born out of fear–fear for safety and disease, fear of the additional cost, fear of a looooooong flight with a child (and two children coming back). But I’ve made decisions in the past out of fear, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to bring the fear to God and move forward in faith.

I pray all these big prayers for my girls, but I can’t pray those prayers and then bubble wrap them and lock them in their rooms. I have to give them back to God, much like Hannah did with her beloved Samuel. I have to see the purposes God has for them and encourage those even if they might scare me. The Holy Spirit is showing me a corner of the tapestry. He has lifted back a small piece for my eyes to take in, to see how He is knitting us together, our gifts and weaknesses woven together for the beauty of His Story.

The Lord is threading Lydia’s compassionate, sensitive spirit to a baby sister she has yet to meet. Her ability to see when people are hurting despite a happy facade will allow her to know when her baby sister is struggling but doesn’t want to say. Her gentle, nurturing hands will make her baby sister feel safe when they don’t speak the same language. And her sharp memory will capture her baby sister’s homeland in exquisite detail so she can tell the story over and over to reassure her baby sister of her roots.

And there’s just the full circle quality of it all. Lyd was our only child when we started this journey. Now, she is the oldest of four sisters, the servant leader. I believe God made her “for such a time as this.” And there’s her name from Acts 16–Lydia, the woman who had her heart opened by God and then led her family to know the God she worshiped. Never could I have imagined when I sat on the couch pregnant with this child I had begged God for and my Bible open to Acts that the name He would give me would carry forth to this day and this journey and this adventure.

Today, we go to renew her passport–her first step in this journey to bring her baby sister home. There will be vaccines and malaria meds and plane tickets and Dramamine. But above all I pray she tastes for herself the goodness of the Lord and the greatness of His adventure. This morning, I read these verses from Luke speaking of John the Baptist and wrote them on a sticky note for her page.

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79). 

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For Bible this week, Lydia’s lesson said to write ways she “spies” God at work. Her faith spurs me on. 


Scary Things

Scary Things

IMG_0571Have you ever felt like God is using everything and everyone to speak a message to you? That’s what I feel like right now. Like everywhere I turn He’s saying, “Get ready. I’m going to ask you to do something that seems crazy.” And I’m equal parts scared to death and giddy with excitement. (Okay, maybe slightly more scared to death.) It’s songs and books and blogs and words from friends that all seem to carry this same anticipation, like the music is building up and the plot of this story is about to get real interesting.

I could be wrong. That’s a very real possibility. And I have no clue what God has in store. I know that my heart has been heavy thinking about our African child. I’ve been taking a lot of scalding hot baths while reading big stacks of parenting books for our big girls, and I’ve been learning about imprinting and early childhood development. And then about the time the water gets cold, I realize that I’m going to miss those first few years–that crucial imprinting time–in our Ethiopian child’s life. And I start to panic and freak out and wonder how we will cope. Then, I remember that Jesus is my child’s Savior, not me. And I remember He can redeem the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25) and my heart rate slows down–a little.

Last Friday, I went to lunch by myself and started this study my friend Heather told me I had to do. It’s Restless by Jennie Allen, and already by Chapter 1 I was sitting in my booth at Newk’s with tears in my eyes. Allen tells the story of answering hard questions and having hard conversations with her youngest child Cooper who was adopted from Rwanda.

“Cooper, you were made to show the world God. Everything that God gives you, your Africa, your America, your dark skin and your strong legs, your hurts, your words, your blessings, your smart mind . . . everything you have is to use for God while you are here.”

I’m getting started on the ugly cry and trying to keep my composure so the people eating their lovely sandwiches don’t stare at me, but I write the words, “For EEOO” in the margin, and I immediately text Heather and tell her it was a God thing that she told me to do this study when she did. She didn’t know the thoughts and fears I’ve been wrestling with.

Today, I’m sitting out in the sun while the big girls run around, and I notice in my book beside those words is a little mark. It almost looks like a fingerprint from a child-sized finger. When I first read it last Friday in Newk’s, I thought it was some sort of a marker in the margin denoting something of special importance. But looking through my book this afternoon, I realized it’s the only one. I texted Heather to see if the mark was in her book too. She said no.

And I smile to myself and think, “Yes, His fingerprints are all over our story. All over me. All over my husband. All over our daughters. All over our brown-eyed child.”

Sometimes even literally.

Is it okay to be scared of the story God’s writing? I think it is. I think Abraham had to have been terrified to make the climb with Isaac. I think Esther must have been shaking as she went before the king. I think Mary must have wondered what in the world she was doing. But with trembling feet, they still stepped forward. With a quivering chin, they said yes. With a heart that could never have anticipated the volumes to come, they obeyed.

This is my story. This is my song.