Saturday, March 24, 2012

We aren't Dead so God's not Done

It is 1:26 in the morning. It's been almost 36 hours since we've have the breath knocked out out of our lungs and we know it is going to be a while before deep breaths come naturally again. And that's ok. There is a season and a time for everything. And as much as I want to arch my back and dig in my heels, we are undeniably entering into a season of mourning. Of course our hearts are broken and I also know that we are not the first, nor will we be the last to have our hearts broken. I'm reminded of an illustration I heard years ago though about a breaking heart being similar to broken ice over a waterway. It's dangerous to travel through it and there is risk of damage to a vessel, but if the ice isn't broken, the boat is stuck. My inclination is to cry out to God and ask Him to quickly mend these cracks, but maybe just maybe, instead of them coming back together, grace will fill the holes and our hearts will be bigger on the other side. We can't begin to express our appreciation to each and every single one of you who prayed for us and didn't hide from us. It would have been so easy to do because our situation has to make people uncomfortable. We were supposed to have a happily ever after ending. Every single one of you wanted to believe that perseverance and determination would pay off in the long run. But our story isn't over yet. I don't understand, but I do trust Him still. The way of the cross may still seem foolish to those who do not believe, but it's the only thing that is real in our life right now. We are struggling. Undoubtedly, we feel abandoned by God and feel like we were caught in a cosmic booby trap. But those are just feelings. Fickle feelings. To some extent, I even feel shame. There is a nagging in the back of my brain that we've let everyone down who has followed our story and who has emotionally and financially invested in it. I feel shame that we couldn't do for Roman what every child deserves. And yet, I really do know that God loves that blue eyed cherub far more than we ever could and his story, as well as ours is not over yet. As long as there is breath in our lungs and a heartbeat in our chest, there are still plans for us. He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans to prosper and not to harm us. They are plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29.11 We aren't dead, so God's not done. Over and over in my brain. We aren't dead so God is not done. Many of you have asked us to let you know if there is anything at all you can do for us. I know you mean it and I know you probably feel a little lost on what to say and what it is that we could need. The only thing we ask of you all is simple and exceedingly difficult: Do not be angry on our behalf. Anger is a toxic poison that will ruin you from the inside out and our main goal in even inviting you in to share our story has been that God would be glorified. Please don't be angry. ALL things work together for good for those who love the LORD and who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8.28 Tatiana, Nina, Irina, Denis, Oskana, Tatina the court translator, Larissa the second translator, Tatiana the speech therapist, Andre, Irina's husband, Sergei the apartment owner, Sergei the driver, Andrei, Natasha, Roman the driver and Sasha the driver have all been exceedingly kind to us while we have been in country. Irina the social worker cried for us when we were too shocked to shed tears. These people love children and they showed love to us. The agency back home, Irina has walked through this with us step by step, has prayed for us and encouraged us. I sincerely believe they all did everything they knew how to do so that we would not get dropped in the details. I'm not even angry at the judge and the prosecutors. Theirs is an extremely difficlut job that needs to be done. And while cases of child abuse to Russian children by American families has increased, there is more need than ever to be careful. I believe from the core of my being that our judge, Anna, was upset when she gave the verdict. Throughout the entire proceedings, she kept taking her glasses off, rubbing her eyes and honestly looked distraught. We said before and we still stand by our feelings that she really did like us. She even told us after the verdict was read that this was not our fault. She believed we would make good parents. It is customary for families to stand while the verdict is being read, and after she read it, she looked up with sadness in her eyes and asked us to please, please sit down. We've prayed for months now that God would do what was best for Roman. Whatever that looked like. I'm struggling with this now because I cannot believe that the best for Roman is to be in a baby home, but his story isn't over yet either. Our faith would mean nothing if we could not "Praise Him in the storms". Even when it does not make sense to us, our stories are not over yet. There will be a time to change our mourning into joy again, and even this confusing, tangled and heart wrenching chapter in our story will be used for good. It's in our very nature to defend those we care about when we see a seeming misjustice has been done. But please do not allow the toxicity of anger seep in your bones. When it starts, pray. Pray for Roman. Oh, how many tears have been shed over that little boy! An orphan is not supposed to have anyone in this world who will cry over him, and even though you may never meet our son, someday-on the other side-he will get to see the tears of those who loved him through us. Pray for us. We still want to be parents desperately but God is going to have to work in an incredible way. He is in the miracle business. One last thing to share. When we got back to the hotel yesterday afternoon, we were in shock. We did not leave our room for almost thirty hours. Brock sent a message to Tatiana asking her to join us for dinner and she responded that she would be here at 6:30. She brought the Murmansk "team". Denis, with his rich base voice and contagious smile welcomed us with his standard, "Helloooo!" and Tatiana's son who she had told us so much about. He is 10 and he is delightful. We drove to the top of a mountain to see the giant 70 foot statue of a solider over looking the city and Denis showed us in the bay below where his boat was. We took pictures and I had to take deep breaths to overcome the anxiety again. I wanted so desperately for Russia to part of our family's heritage. This is a country rich in heritage and a country of strong and beautiful people. We then went to dinner and this next part I will tell you not for the purpose of puffing ourselves up, but because it was the first time in two days we felt happy. When the bills came for the table, Brock took them both as we had decided to do before we even left our hotel. Tatiana in her Russian accent held out her hand and said, "Please, please we share." No, Tatiana, you all have done so much for our family and this is something we very much want to do for you. We left our rubbles and went to get our coats. Our waitress came rushing over to us with the change, earnestly telling us not to leave. Brock pulled out a few rubbles and gave the rest back to her. Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, "No, no". Brock waved his hand at her, smiled and turned away. The last look I saw on her face was that of a quivering chin. He had tipped her-as he always does-very generously and it had an tremendous impact. I say this not so you can see how incredible Brock is (which it just so happens that he is!) but because in that moment, we felt better than we had felt in a long time. We had the opportunity to bless someone else. My mother used to say, the best way for you to feel good yourself is to do something for someone else. Brock may have felt like he couldn't do what he needed to do to take care of his family after the outcome of the trial, but in that moment, I was so proud that the man God gave me was still one who was reaching out to bless others and in that, taking the beginning steps to lead us down the path to healing. You have been a godly daddy in every sense of the word, Brock, and now more than ever I am grateful for you and trust you as we walk down the uncertain path of our "what next."

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