Friday, October 22, 2010

Sincere Gratitude

You hear about people being unexpectedly generous and how awesome that is, but until it happens to you personally, you have no idea what a gift from God it truly is.  Steve and I received an awesome email from our pastor at Harvest this week; someone in our church offered to pay for Steve's second trip to Ethiopia to bring home our son.
For the record, I want to state a few things:  1.  When we started the adoption process, the Ethiopia program was a one trip process, so we didn't anticipate two trips until this past spring when the process changed (for valid reasons, in my opinion.)  2.  We in no way were complaining about this second trip.  It wasn't what we expected, but our agency was very good at counseling us through this whole process that with international adoption, anything could change at the blink of an eye.  3.  When we heard the news about the second trip, we knew that our pennies were already being stretched and were fine just sending me to bring TJ home.  Steve, of course, was disappointed, but we knew that God had gotten us this far and He would bring us through the rest!
With that being said, we have just been praying for God to take us through each step of bringing home TJ, and He certainly has.  When TJ comes home, it will mark two complete years that we have been going through this process.  We have encountered our bumps in the road, if you will, and we're not done yet, but here we are!  Last week, we had a call with our contact at All God's Children, and she strongly advised us that we should both be traveling for the second trip as well for multiple reasons, as you can imagine.  We didn't complain or grumble, but we certainly stopped in our tracks and prayed for what God would have us do.  That's really all we did...we prayed to God to continue to guide us considering what our agency was telling us.
In the midst of this, Steve, Alex, and I began attending Harvest this summer.  Since Steve and I met over 12 years ago, we have always attended very large churches.  Although we've been quite spiritually fed at these big churches, we have not been relationally fed; it's easy just to come and go in big churches.  (And I do not mean to say anything negative about big churches in any way; we played a big role in slipping through the cracks as anyone.)  It's been evident in many ways that Harvest is where God wants us to be.  This church plant has truly helped us develop relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, which is what we were praying for.  We just feel grateful to have that right now.  When people have asked us if we have children, we are thrilled to discuss our crazy and beautiful Alex and our precious TJ, who is not in our arms just yet.  Everyone has been so excited and supportive of our new addition to our family!  I know they have kept us in their prayers as well as being vigilant to pray for Alex as she is heading into this huge transition too!  It's been more than we could ever imagine.
But I have to tell you, when we received this news this week, I was speechless.  The outpouring of joy and support that we received before this email was beyond what we would ever expect from anyone, and then this.  I don't know specifically who offered this incredible gift to our family, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you for giving Steve and I the opportunity to not only help one another a continent away as we prepare to bring him home in January, but also for giving us the joy of having this memory together as a couple bringing home our son.  We were prepared to adjust to anything, but this is such a huge gift and means SO much to us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Steve and I were reflecting on this the other day, and just saying that we've never experienced something like this.  It is the evidence that God is with us, God is listening to us, and He truly cares about each and every one of us.  If you ever wonder about this, here is the evidence.  On the flip side, there have been times when I have prayed for things and God had a different plan.  But like the Rolling Stones have sung, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need."  God knows what we need to bring us to Him, and that's not always what we, in our humanness, think we need.  Whatever The Rolling Stones' religious affiliation is, or lack thereof, they have a point.
So, again, I thank the giver of this gift, but equally important, I praise You, O Lord, for working in our lives.  Thank You for giving us more than we could imagine.  Thank You for our church.  I pray that You bless this church, so more of Your blessings could overflow through it to those who need it, especially those who don't have a personal relationship with You yet.  Also, I pray that You let this person who offered this beautiful gift to us know how appreciative we are.  Thank You.  Amen.

PS.  After I wrote this blog, Pastor Vernon Rainwater from our old church (Northland) down in Florida wrote  about prayer this on facebook; check it out!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

To TJ's mom

Dear TJ's mom,
I wanted you to know that you have been on my heart, especially since receiving his referral.  Steve and I are giddy with excitement and can't wait to hold him and be his parents.  We pray for him every day.
But I would be dishonest if I didn't admit that amidst our joy and anticipation, I know that you are out there mourning.  I can't imagine what your grief must be like, and I'm so sorry for the pain that you must be feeling.  I want you to know how much I appreciate you and all that you went through and are experiencing right now.
From the evidence that I have about you through TJ's lab work and the doctor's evaluation, you loved the lives that were inside you.  You took great care of yourself, probably knowing that you would be giving him away. 
The pieces of the story that I've heard breaks my heart for you in such a profound way.  You went to a hospital, you delivered twins and your baby girl passed in God's arms.  You left your deceased baby girl and your baby boy in that hospital, without a trace.  My assumption is that you prayed that by doing so, your little boy would have the opportunity to grow and learn and live without the threat of constant destitution. 
I know you are out there.  God knows that you are out there.  I want you to know that I think of you often.  I pray for you.  I want you to know that as we sit here an ocean and continent away, that we love your little boy so much.  We feel so blessed to have this opportunity to love him and guide him as his parents.  We are far from perfect and we don't have every material thing one could imagine, but we have huge hearts and a strong love for our Lord.  Steve and I know that we were meant to be TJ's mom and dad, but we do this knowing that a huge sacrifice was made for us to be able to have this blessing in our lives, your sacrifice.
Please know that you hold a special place in my heart, and I know that you have a strong place in TJ's heart too.  In our eyes, we will always hold you in the highest regard for your courage and unselfishness.  We know your little girl is with Jesus, and we hope that while TJ is on this earth, we will raise him with tons of love, laughter, and a strong faith in God.  We want him to know that although he may mourn the loss of you in his life, that God has a plan for him, just as He does for all of us.  This pain is a part of who he is and who he will become; we just feel blessed to play this role in the story.
Thank you.  We love you.  I pray that God gives you a peace as you walk your days here on earth like the rest of us, that your little boy is loved and cherished so very much. 
With love,