Monday, December 27, 2010

Tonight was the last visit of our homestudy-preplacement.  It was a bit of a sobering visit.  Our case worker seems to be a wonderful Christian woman who is very encouraging and understanding.  She is also very real.  We spent two hours tonight talking about all the "what-if's" and worst case scenarios of adoption.  Attachment problems.  Learning delays.   Issues that come with being institutionalized.  Healthy children are usually adopted within the country, so there are rarely any international adoptions with a child who is completely healthy and developmentally on track.   Our little one will be scared and overwhelmend and will have to learn how to trust us.  This won't be anything that comes easily or naturally.  Imagine a young toddler having to learn who Mommy and Daddy are and how to depend on them to give them what they need.  Children who are born biologically into relatively healthy families are allowed to take this for granted.  Not our little one.  Brock and I will probably be recipients of so many "overprotective parent" jokes and jabs.  But that's okay.  I'm sure we will hear the whispers of how we are smothering and spoiling our child.  And that's okay, too.  We will do the best job we know how to do and keep ever in the forefront of our minds that we don't have to answer to those who have never been where we are.  We are accountable to our child to do everything in our power to make sure that he or she feels safe and loved and absolutely secure that every need he or she has is going to be met to the best of our ability.  Not just food and clothing and a warm place to sleep.  But also that deep and powerful need to be held and accepted and safe.

Throughout the entire meeting this evening , I kept feeling the words "Fear Not" as if God were wraping a blanket around me.  Fear Not, Ashley.  I know the plans I have for you and Brock-plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope a future.  Fear Not, Ashley.  I do work all things together for good for those who love the LORD and who are called according to His purpose.  And I believe in the core of my being, more deeply than I've ever believed anything else-save that Christ died for my sins-that this is the plan for our life.  Fear Not, Ashley.   God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  Fear Not, Ashley.  This will not be too hard or too difficult, for you are more than conquerors.  Fear Not, Ashley.  I already know the number of hair on your child's head.  I know the personality and the predispositions that I have knit together in child.  Your child is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Any delays, disfigurments or diseases are still still part of My perfect plan.  Fear Not, Ashley.  I even know your limits and I will not give you any more than you can handle.  Peace, Be Still and Fear Not.

My God is good.

And I pray our friends and family remember grace for us.  Remember grace when we are in the early days of trying to figure things out and needing to seclude ourselves to understand how we are supposed to be a family.  Remember grace when the ways we parent our child looks different than the way you would parent yours.  Remember that our child is not like yours.  Remember to pray for strength for us because we've never done anything like this before.  We live in such a critical and judgmental world.  Please remember that we are doing the best job we know how to do with the information that we have.  We have been told by many a well-meaning friend that maybe we can still just get pregnant and we won't have to worry with all of this adoption stuff.  They don't understand.  I know I don't feel the tumbling of our little one in my womb, but you must know that I feel very real tumblings in my heart.  I know my body isn't changing in expectation, but my mind and spirit are very much aching in preparations.  Our son or daughter much real to me and alive for me.

I think I have a bigger glimpse of what the picture someone painted for us of being chosen.  Adoption was, by no means, a flippant decision, but I didn't fully understand the honor of it.  God chose us to be adoptive parents.  He prepared us for 41 months so that we would be ready at the right time.  He wasn't saying "no" to us all those months, He was saying "yes" to a little one who hadn't even been born. And the more I understand the differences, the more humbled I am that we were "chosen". We don't get to be "normal" (if there is such a thing) parents.  But all children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.  Thank you, LORD for choosing us.  Now, by your grace, strengthen us and empower us so that we may be worthy of this calling.

I will close with a quick story.  At lunch the other day, I was sitting by a little girl and we were talking about the adoption with her mother.  She looked up at me with big blue eyes and said, "why are you adopting a baby?  Wouldn't it be easier to just borne one?"  (what a novel idea!)  I began to explain that God hadn't put a baby in my belly, so we prayed about it and we believed that God had made our baby somewhere else and we had to go get him.  Her mother quickly chimed in and said, "Honey, sometimes God brings a family together by letting them be borne into the family like you were.  Sometimes God brings a family together by letting a mommy and daddy go get their baby from somewhere else.  Both ways are God's way of putting a family together.  Brock and Ashley's baby was still made by God to be their baby.  They just get to get him in a different way."  Thank you, sweet friend, for putting it so simply.  God, Your ways are not our ways-they are higher.  And your thoughts are not our thoughts-they, too are higher.  I don't know why You called us to this holy path and I don't know why you think we are worthy of it.  But, Yes, LORD.   I don't have to understand it.  I just say, "Yes, LORD".

Friday, October 15, 2010

Three Gorby Lessons

In the not too distant past, I had an incredible "Gorby" experience that I haven't been able to shake.  I'm writing it down so that I will have it for those "one foot in front of the other" days and I need a reminder that God's fingerprints have been all over our adoptoin.  His provision is amazing!  Maybe it will serve as an encouragement for you!

The players in this story are, myself, of course and three very different women.  One I know very well, one I know somewhat and one I know not at all.  I still don't know the third one's name, but I think about her everyday and pray for her consistently.  Many of you know that Brock and I are in "fundraising mode" for our adoption.  It has gone amazingly well and we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of our friends, loved ones and even complete strangers.  The way we see it, God is allowing an entire community an opportunity to get to play a part in changing the life-no, not just the life, but the entire legacy-of one of His precious children.  After three and a half years of trying to expand our family, we "resigned" (I say that tongue in cheek!) ourselves that we were going to have to either go through massive medical means to bear a litter, adopt or go enroll back into high school as those girls don't seem to have too much trouble getting pregnant.  We couldn't be anymore confident now that adoption was never God's Plan B for us and it is our greatest honor that we were chosen to play a part in a miracle!

A Russian adoption costs, we are told, anywhere from $40, 000 to $60,000 dollars.  There are two things I know:  Number One:  That's a lot of zeroes!!  and, more importantly, Number Two:  It's all pocket change to Jesus!  The Bible tells me that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, so all He would have to do is take a couple of those hills to market and cut us a check.  It's not surprising Jesus how much it costs!  He doesn't stay up  at night worrying about it-He's not asking the Holy Spirit if He can co-sign for a loan for us.  I believe, from the core of my being, the reason we don't have all the funds right this minute is becasue He is allowing other people to take part in our miracle.  Not everyone can adopt, but we are seeing so so so many people who are getting to have a hand in changing a legacy!  And so begins my Three Lady Life Lesson.

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of doing some fundraising at an event.  I was selling Scentsy ( and jewelry (I make jewelry and never had the nerve to sell it until there was a little life counting on us to come quickly!)  Among many other women, there were three that really stood out to me in that 24 hour period.  One bought a necklace and added an extra the front of the amount.  I'm talking a $500 tip!  Another woman came up to me and said that she really liked the jewelry, but she didn't want to buy anything because she wanted every cent to go straight to the adoption and gave me a $50 check.  Another woman, who I had never met before, approached me and started with an apology.  "I wish I had more, but this is all I have. "   She handed me three crumpled $5 bills.  I know we aren't supposed to judge by appearances, but, I admit, I was guilty in this situation.  Her hair was unwashed and her clothes were well-worn and faded.  Her eyes looked like she had seen hard times in her life.  She struck me as a woman for whom $15 was an incredible sacrifice.  Our $50 check came from a woman I don't know very well, but I do know that this was an extremely generous gift from her.  And my $500 tip was from someone we know well and who has always been exceedingly generous.  Now before you try to play detective and figure out who gave what, know this:  Brock and I have been abundantly blessed to receive these exact same amounts from many different people.  I would never tell you who they were and I would ask that you not try to "figure it out" because I wouldn't want to rob them of the blessing of getting rewarded by God instead of by man's praise.  These three women stuck out to me because of the repetition of fives, the fact that they were all within a 24 hour period and because each gift was a sacrifice of love and obedience.  I am praying that you ladies are abundantly blessed for being a blessing.

Here's what I feel like God showed me through these women:

My $500 Lesson
God is able to provide and is contantly amazing me by His ability to do so!  After our $5000 homestudy, we will eligible to apply for grants.  In the blink of an eye, God used you to provide 1/10 of that cost.  Snap, just like that.  It was an incredible reminder that He has provided abundantly and will continue to do so.  I never dreamed when I woke that that morning that we would be that much closer to our miracle.  Thank you for being so generous!

My $50 Lesson
I can do everything I know how to do and be as obedient as I know how to be, but ultimately, the success of this adventure rests in His capable hands.  Having the opportunity to sell things has been a blessing because I don't think I was called to sit on my bum and just wait for the checks to start rolling in.  You were a reminder of the big picture, though.  You didn't care about the beads or the Scentsy.  You cared about our little one.  Thank you for being so generous!

My $15 Lesson
This lesson touched me the most.  Ma'am, you didn't know who I was before you heard my story.  These other ladies gave from their abundance, for which I extremely grateful.  You gave all you had to give that day.  Your $15 probably cost you the most.  Thank you for being so generous!

Now before you think that I am comparing the first two to the rich men in the widow's mite parable, you cannot and must not!  These women were not showy or arrogant which is what I understand were the attitudes of the rich men in that parable.  They were very private about it and very clear that they were humbly grateful they were getting to play a part in something bigger than themselves.   But I also have no reason to believe their gift caused them to do without as I suspect the third lady's did.

There have been so many others who have blessed us unexpectedly with presents, purchases, parties and most of all, prayers.  Each of you have been a tremendous source of encouragement and we cannot thank you enough!!  Just as the Great Wall of China was built one brick at a time, our miracle is being funded one dollar at a time.  No amount is too small.  No amount is insignificant.  And just as the bricks wouldn't be held together without the mortar, we need the mortar of your prayers.

Continuing on the "brick" theme, I want to close with a story that my mom told me not too long ago .  Two brick layers were working side by side and a man came by and asked what they were doing.  One said, "I'm laying brick" and the other said, "I'm building a palace".  One focused on the job he was doing, the other focused on the part he was playing.  One saw the immediate.  The other saw the vision.  I would be delighted if everyone we knew played a part in the miracle that we have been called to live out.  Would you consider buying Scentsy, ordering some handmade jewelry, hosting a party, giving a donation or, most importantly and most needed, committing to pray for us?   And like the brick layers, know this: You wouldn't be buying a necklace, or smell-good stuff or getting a few friends together, you would be changing a legacy.

 I believe Psalm 68.6, "God has set the solitary in families"  Silly me, our "Plan B" (which was never God's Plan B) is playing out to be the greatest privilege we have ever had.  God prepared our hearts so at the right time, the right season the right child would be ready for us.  Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

What is the Gorby Project Anyway??