Thursday, May 22, 2014

One Less

Up until about two and a half years ago,  I had always been a surface person...never really digging deep into who I was or what I wanted to be.  Just trying to live my life like the next person.  Fit in.  Try not to stand out like a sore thumb.  Going through the motions.  Not only of life, but of church also.  But after Deacon was born, I picked up a shovel and began to scrape past the surface of me, and it wasn't long before I started full-blown digging.  I started to think outside the box.  The desires of my heart started changing.  God opened my eyes to needs that I had never seen before.  Taught me to appreciate differences.  And began burdening my heart for others.  I've blogged about this before, but this is all preface for what I'm about to tell you.  At that time, I felt like my heart was going to explode with emotions.  I had so many new hopes, dreams, and desires that I didn't even know where to start.  I bought a book that caught my eye at Barnes and Noble..."More Than a Bucket List" by Toni Birdsong.  I've mentioned it before.  At the time it was hard to explain all that I was feeling without sounding like a crazy person, but I felt like this book kinda put some of it into words for me.  It's a little gift book that just talks about how to live life fully but also faithfully.  So I bought it and began to skim through it some things catching my attention more than others...

"Become a more positive person. 
-Allow God to reshape your heart, thoughts, and words."

"Live with compassion.  
-Look around you.  There's always someone more needy than you.  Give your time or your resources."

"Live with strength.  
-Do what you can to change you.  Leave other people to God. 
-Know what you stand for and why. 
-Become a recovering perfectionist."

"Live faithfully.
-Celebrate more-the small things as well as the big things.
-Give those around you more grace.
-Trust God til it hurts."

"Live your dreams.
-Simplify.  Give away all that stuff."

"Live an adventure.
-Visit the Fontana di Trevi, the most beautiful fountain in Rome.  Make a wish."

"Do something radical.
-Adopt a child."

While reading her book and adding some of her suggestions to my mental bucket list,  I also began to start a list of my own.  I would randomly shout them out to Dustin not thinking about how much the kids were paying attention...."Go on a mission trip. Work at a homeless shelter. Go whale watching in Alaska."

Until one night.  I won't forget it.  We were at Arby's with my mom and dad having dinner.  Throughout the conversation we began to talk about how much Deacon had changed my heart.  All of our hearts really, but I started sharing some of my 'list' with my parents when Noah blurted out, "Yeah, and she even wants to adopt a little girl from China!"  I vaguely remembered saying that, but I guess I had blurted it out at some point, and he didn't forget it.  We all laughed, and it was just a joke.

But deep down, I didn't feel like it was a joke.

I felt like God kept nudging me saying, "Yeah, you thought I was playing.  I'm not.  I'm serious."

I didn't know how serious until I started noticing EVERY SINGLE little Asian girl that crossed my path.  Something inside my heart would go crazy, and I would be brought to tears each and every time.

What in the world is happening to me? I would think.

I started having a huge burden for orphans that I had never had before.  I didn't really say anything for a while, because I thought Dustin would think I was crazy.  But he didn't.  He wasn't totally on board, but he wasn't totally opposed to the idea either.

But then one night he went with our choir group to a performance by the Annie Moses Band, and I'm not sure what he saw...a video, a family that had adopted, or what, but something had a little girl from China on it and whatever was happening to me started happening to him too.  He came home, and I remember him saying, "Yeeeahh, so I'm feeling it too!"  Isn't it funny how God works like that?!

So there it was.  We both felt the call.  The call to adopt.  Crazy as it seemed even to us, we felt it.  I cannot tell you exactly where the specifics of where a little girl from China came from other than that night at Arby's, but all I know is when God lays something on your heart sometimes there's no explaining it.  He just does.

From that point on, I wasn't alone in noticing every single little girl and getting emotional.  He was in on it too.  We would be out somewhere, see a little Asian girl, and he would elbow me or give me the look just like we do when we see someone with Down Syndrome.  It felt good to know that I wasn't alone in how I felt.  We were in on it together.  It was only a dream, and we had no clue when it would become a reality, but we were dreaming together.

There were two other events that I felt like God orchestrated in order to bring us to where we are today.  The first one took place a little over a year ago.  It's no surprise that we are Casting Crowns fans because I've mentioned them and their songs several times before, but it was close to Dustin's birthday and I wanted to see if they were coming anywhere close by so I could surprise him with tickets.  In googling them, I came across a video of the lead singer, Mark Hall, and his wife Melanie.  I had no clue that they had adopted a little girl from China, but they were talking about their "Gotcha Day" and bringing home their baby girl on their video.  I cried like a baby watching it.  (I cry like a baby every time I watch a "Gotcha Day" video.)  That made me want to go to a concert even more.

I found out that they were coming to Longview, Tx which is only an hour away, so I felt led to send Mark an email asking if there was any chance that my husband could meet him when they come into town.  I thought it would be the best birthday present ever because Dustin has always admired him as a man of God and the way he presents the truth through his music.  Sending that email was out of my comfort zone.  I never did stuff like that, because I was afraid of rejection or worried about looking like a crazy person, but I felt so burdened to send that email.  So I did.

I didn't get anything back for a while, so I had forgotten about it.  I was just planning to surprise him with tickets.  But a few days before the concert, I received an email back saying that he received my message and that there would be tickets and meet and greet passes waiting for us at the concert.  I was so excited that I couldn't keep it a secret from him.

Before the concert, we were walking around and Dustin stopped to talk to a Dad who was working an adoption booth. He had his little girl that he adopted on his shoulders...she was deaf and she was from China.  Dustin explained to him that we were praying about adoption and whether or not it was God's will for our lives.  The man responded by saying, "Well, honestly, you don't have to pray about it.  He already told you to do it in James 1:27." ("Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.")  It cut him to the quick, and he hasn't forgotten that statement.

I boo-hooed through pretty much the entire concert.  God was really working on me in all kinds of ways, and I felt like he was really speaking to me through each song.  After the concert, we were a little disappointed to find out that all we got to do was shake hands quickly with the band and couldn't really have a conversation.  We even cheated and skipped to the back of the line thinking we would get a little more time.  But as they were coming through shaking hands I got really distracted because I saw Mark's wife, Melanie, standing across the hall.  I only recognized her because of that video, but I felt like God was nudging me to go talk to her.  I had that heavy weight on my chest.  I almost ignored it, because I had no clue what to say.  But it was so strong that I couldn't ignore it, so I walked over and introduced myself.  I started asking questions about her adoption, and the next thing I know everyone else was gone, and we had been talking for nearly an hour.  I was completely engrossed in everything that she was saying.  She was telling me stories of how they knew they were called to adopt and why they chose China.  And sharing the details of how God was in it every step of the way.   I lingered on every word.  It was the first time that I had talked to someone that had been through what I was feeling.  I think I was in tears the entire time.  It was late, and I know that she probably had a million things that she needed to be doing, but she didn't.  She took the time to share her heart and her story and didn't have a clue of the impact that it had on this random couple that she would probably never see again.  It was like God gave us confirmation on that day...yes, this is what you are supposed to do.

Another time that stands out is when Steven Curtis Chapman came into town for a concert.  (Do you notice a pattern?  Yes, we are huge fans of christian music. So much so that we are celebrating our ten year anniversary at the K-Love fan awards in Nashville next week.  I cannot tell you how excited I am about a that! We are big believers in worshiping and sharing the love of Jesus through song, so what better way to celebrate! But anyway, back to the story.)  Knowing that he and his wife had adopted from China, I really wanted to attend his concert.  They have an organization called Show Hope that helps provide grants to families that are adopting.  I knew they would probably be there, so I contacted them to see if there was any way we could help.  We ended up working a booth the night of the concert helping them draw sponsors.  We met several couples that adopted that night and were able to talk to them about the details of their adoption.  One of our biggest concerns was how in the world we would pay for an adoption.  That night one couple shared with us that there was one point in their process that they had no clue where the money for the next step was going to come from and they needed it soon, but the husband walked into his office one day and found a check laying on his desk for the exact amount needed. Man, God is good!  

Once again, God put us exactly where He wanted us to give us even more confirmation.  So the next week we decided to stick a toe in the water.  We filled out a pre-application just to see if we might be approved.  It was free and didn't take much effort.  The agency we sent it to said that because of a few things that we didn't have together that we needed to wait.  I tried to pursue it a little further, but they weren't really helpful, and I just got discouraged.

So we just kinda gave up for a while and sat idle.  Thinking we will do it one day later when we get it together.  The desire still burning in my heart on a daily basis.

The longer we went on, the more I realized, we may never have it together.  I mean seriously, who really does? So about a two months ago I went to the site of a different agency from before.  I printed out their application.  It seemed overwhelming.  I was going to wait til Dustin was home and we could do it together.  But everything happened with my nephew, and it was put on the back burner.

I found out a few weeks ago that one of the moms at Noah's school brought home her baby girl from China just last month.  I saw her little picture on Facebook.  I got nosey looking for more pictures of her and ended up seeing a post on her page from the group that went with her.  Each person in the group had posted pictures of their new additions to their families...all from China.  Tears ran down my face as I looked at each picture and imagined what our little girl would look like.

That's was it...I couldn't take it anymore.  It was time.  I went to the website of the agency that she used, clicked on the application, and for the first time ever had a peace about filling it out.  No more pre-application business.  This was the real deal, pay a fee, official application.  The first step.  We talked about it.  Prayed about it.  Filled it out.  Completed the medical checklist of which special needs we would be willing to accept.  Then hit SEND.  And then we waited.

I don't know why, but I had this HUGE fear that it would come back not approved.  That for some reason they would tell us we needed to wait.  I checked my email pretty much every five minutes for nearly a week.

Monday night, Dustin was working out of town, and I was home alone with the kids.  It was one of those days where they were fighting like crazy and had to be grounded to their rooms.  And I was sitting there in the kitchen listening to my son yell from his room about how horrible his life was at the moment and how he hated Eve because if she had never eaten that apple, then he would never have disobeyed. (Seriously?! I thought I'd heard it all.  Nothing is ever that kid's fault. Ever.)  I remembered that I hadn't checked my email in a while.  So I did.  And there it was...the subject heading "Application Approved!"  You cannot even imagine the relief and the joy that filled my heart!! Noah was peeking out of his room looking for sympathy, but all he saw was me doing a happy dance!

So friends, I wrote all of this to tell you that we are OFFICIALLY IN THE ADOPTION PROCESS!

We feel overjoyed, but we also feel overwhelmed.  This is a big process.  Lots of paperwork.  Lots of money.  Just to proceed with the next step with the agency and the home study, we have to come up with $5800.  We don't have it.  We have 90 days to pay it.  I have no clue where it is going to come from, but I one hundred percent believe that God wouldn't bring us to it without bringing us through it.

I know that we are going to face opposition during this process.  People won't understand.  We even have family members that aren't too keen on the idea.  Here are some of the questions I've already gotten...Three kids isn't enough?  How are you going to pay for that?  Why China...there's lots of kids in the U.S. that need families?  Why don't you just have another one? 

Other than answering because God said so, this video and song,  by Matthew West called "One Less" is the best way I know how to explain it.  I highly encourage you to watch it and listen to each word. You can also click here to watch it full screen on YouTube.

I can promise you that the Andrea from over two and a half years ago would have laughed if you told her that one day she would be in the process of adopting a little girl from China.  I also never would have dreamed that I would have a son with Down Syndrome, but what a blessing that has been!!  I'm so thankful that God's plans are bigger and better than ours.

I still have so many fears about the process...paying for it, making it through to the end, and growing our family, but all I can do is TRUST and pray that God will work it all out.  If you would, please pray for us as we begin this journey.  We appreciate it more than you know!  Also, keep an eye out for our first fundraiser.  We are designing t-shirts, learning to stamp jewelry, building birdhouses....whatever it takes to bring our baby girl home.  I will post more information on all of that soon.  Thank you, and God bless you!

1 comment:

  1. "I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth" III John 1:4 Well I am one joyful momma right now. When God lays something on your heart and you do it ... well, there just are no words to describe the joy that brings to your heart. I agree ... if He brings you to it, HE will bring you through it. I am SO excited at the thought of this precious addition to our family!! I will continue to pray as God leads this process. Love you all so much!!