Wednesday, September 26, 2012

shouts and whispers...

As I type, I've got a sweet girl belting out hymns at the top of her lungs in her "room time," so while the Gospel is literally being SHOUTED at me from down the hall, I will try to pull some coherent thoughts together.  :)

Marc and I are doing a bit better.  We've come to grips with what has happened, and I think our hearts just feel sore.  (It brings the hymn "Come ye sinners, weak and wounded, sick and sore" to mind-- that's us!)  

We are settling back into the groove of our daily lives, looking at the days and months ahead as a family of three instead of four.

I feel myself fighting moments of anger.  Anger at God, mostly, I suppose.  I know it's "natural" to feel this way in grief, but who said I wanted to feel this way?  Like when the lady at the playground turns to me this morning and says, "Is she your only child?  She'd make a great big sister." and my mind immediately goes into accusing the Lord.  Yes, she would, God!  But it's because of YOU that she can't!   At times it just makes me so mad.

I know that's just me lamenting.  And I know it's okay, and I know He can handle it.  Why else would He let His people sing songs like "Leave me alone, God, so I can be happy again" in His Word?  (Psalm 39:13)  (really!)

The Psalms always shout at me, much like my daughter is doing now!, and remind me that no matter my wretched emotional state, I can take it before my God.  His Word reminds me that what it means to be normal in the Christian life is to look more like an emotional mess than a stoic saint-- at times I am full of praise and delight, and in others, I am overwhelmed with anxiety or sorrow.  It doesn't take but a flip of a few pages to show me that.  

The worship book of the Bible, the Psalms, carry such a deeper, broader range of emotion than the little pop ditties we tend to give out like candy in our churches today.  We ought to sing more songs like "How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long will I have cares in my soul, grief in my heart all day?" (Psalm 13), don't you think?

Of course, Jesus told me what to expect in this world.  Trials and tribulations.  (Why should I expect anything different?)

And then He tells me to take heart, because He has overcome the world.  

Take heart, Amy.

So we press on, wrestling against the whispers of "you weren't good enough" and "He doesn't want to bless you."  It's quite the battle.  

Thankfully, He's using the SHOUTS of a beautiful, boisterous four year old, the SHOUTS of prayers from His people all over the world, the SHOUTS of encouraging words from friends, the SHOUTS of God's word, the SHOUTS of beautiful fall flowers from my mom, the SHOUTS of little gifts and meals and cookies from those around us.  

The shouts fight the battle of doubt and despair.  He knows I need them to stop listening to the whispers.  

The shouts remind me this isn't the end of my story.  This may be a chapter of dark providence, and as difficult as it is in the midst of it, I know the ending isn't: 

"...and the birthmom picked the other family, leaving Marc and Amy disappointed and grieving."  

THE END
*******************

No!  That isn't the end!  

But it's where I am now.   

And so I trust and wait.  And take heart.  And see what the Author of the story will bring next.


Monday, September 24, 2012

best catch...

After our devastating news on Friday afternoon, it didn't take us long to know we needed help in healing our wounded hearts.

Thankfully, the Lord has placed an older, MUCH wiser couple in our lives who have been a tremendous support to us since we moved to Virginia.  The wife, also known as "my living room friend" throughout Caroline's onset of alopecia because she faithfully came over each week to minister to and love on me.  I will never be able to thank her enough for how she helped me through the scariest and saddest time of my life.

Just by committing to sit in the pain with me.


So as we found ourselves grieving over our unexpected news this weekend, our friends graciously invited us to getaway to their beautiful retreat of a home, situated along a river.


It was a peaceful, restful time for us to enjoy quiet, uninterrupted family time together.

It was a time to share our hearts, our fears, our disappointments, and let our friends love on us and remind us of what is true.


It was a time for Marc and I to remember and reflect upon all that the Lord HAS given us.  Already.

We are abundantly blessed beyond measure.

We can't let one bad bump in the adoption rollercoaster tell us otherwise.

We are choosing to believe that this was ultimately for our best.

Though it doesn't seem that way now.
Though it doesn't feel that way now.

There must be something He knows that we don't.
There must be something else (or someone else) He has for us down the road.

I must remember that I'm not the author of this Story, but I can trust the One who is.

It was a much needed time away to catch our breath.


That's not the only thing we caught, though.  This was our best catch of the day!


And this was the best catch of our lives.
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

joy in the sorrow...

Today has many sorrows.

But I refuse to forget the joys.


I have a little girl who lights up my life.


And calls ME, of all people, her "Mommy."


She is my Father's goodness literally handed to me.

I must never forget His heart.  Even when His hand withholds.


May this present pain not stop me from doing that which He has already called me to do.


Or love those whom He has called me to love.

In the hopes for another to enter our home.


May I look into her eyes and remember His loving care for me.

May I rejoice knowing that they, the other couple,
will soon know what it is to be parents.
For the first time.

They will see His love most powerfully on display
as they've never seen before.

It will not be without great pain.

For them, in the waiting.
For the birthmom, in the relinquishment.
For us, in the letting go.

But joy will dawn again.
Adoption brings beauty out of pain.
Joy out of sorrow.


Today we squeezed a little tighter.


Today we cherished what is right in front of us.


And we think this little gal's a keeper.  ;)

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning..."  Psalm 30:5
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Friday, September 21, 2012

not today...

If the adoption journey could be compared to the reality tv show, The Bachelor, I am now the crying, bumbling idiot at the end of the show who didn't get picked and didn't even see it coming.  Just like that girl, I'm bawling because I thought we legitimately had a connection with this birthmom.  We really liked her.

And she picked the other family.

Our social worker said our interview was great, that we were the Marc & Amy she knew and appreciated.  That there was nothing we could have or should have done differently.  That there were connection points with both families.  That it was a difficult decision.  But there was "more natural chemistry in the other interview," so she did not select our family.

Stop time there.  She did WHAT?

(It's only been a couple of hours since we got the news, so what you're about to read is some of my raw, unedited reactions to this situation as I write to try to process what's happening in my head.  Bear with me...)

Upon hearing this, I instantly lost it.  Like someone had died.  Or something had died.  The intensity of my reaction even surprised myself.  I didn't know it would feel this disappointing.  I didn't realize how much I thought this was the one!

I know it's only been a week since we've known about this baby, but oh, your mind runs a thousand directions a minute when the adoption rollercoaster gets going!  And when it's just down to the possibility of you or someone else having a baby in ONE MONTH???  I've got to get going!  I've got to do this, and this, and this, and this, because this baby's COMING!

But now this baby's not coming.  My heart is so heavy.

We had a first name picked out with the birthmom.  It's wierd to think he'll still have that name.  But he won't have ours tacked onto the end.  In the scenarios of adoption, this one was really high up there.  Things seemed perfect.  We were so hopeful.

I just don't understand it.   I know I'm just in shock.

Her rejection of us brings up every feeling of insecurity imaginable.  Were we not good enough?  What did we say or do wrong?   Was Caroline's alopecia a factor afterall?  What was so great about the other family?  Will God ever bless us with a baby again?  Why does He bless everyone else with children except me?  What is wrong with me?  How can hundreds of people across the world be praying for us so fervently, and then she just picks them?  It just feels so unfair.

And yet we knew about this part of the adoption rollercoaster.  We've heard all about it before.  We have friends who have ridden these low points before, only to end up with another adoption down the road.  Why wasn't I more prepared for this turn in the ride?  Can you prepare yourself for this turn in the ride?  Maybe I'll know for next time.

In my head, I know the right answers about the future.  I know that God will use this, perhaps even to bring us to another baby down the road, but I'm just not feeling that tonight.  Right now, I just need some time to be sad and grieve.  Right now I'm not as interested in thinking about how God's going to bring another baby out there to me.  I wanted this one.  Next month.

But there's also much to be thankful for today.

Today I'm thankful for the "I love you's" and the "I'd pick you's."

Today I am thankful for the comforting hugs from a friend and a pizza that showed up on my doorstep within an hour of my news.  (now that's how you love me...)

Today I'm thankful for friends who came and took Caroline out for a good time so Marc and I could weep and process together alone.  Today I'm thankful for your prayers for peace and comfort.

And maybe tomorrow I will be able to think more clearly towards a different future that God has for our family.

(I guess this also means we're officially "on the market" again, so if any of you know about a pregnancy situation around you that has the potential for adoption... well, please let us know... although I need a good night's sleep before I'll be ready to hop back onto this rollercoaster again... whew...)

Even with all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, I know adoption is God's thrilling plan for our family.

Someday.

Just not today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

out of my hands...

Exhale, Amy!  Okay, I just got home from our birthmom "interview," and I'm trying to wind down after being such an emotional, nerve-wrecking mess this past week in anticipation of the meeting.  My mind is still reeling, but I promised an update.

So bear with me while I scribble out a few reflections upon the meeting.  It may not be so eloquent, but it will be quite therapeutic for me.  It's how I process.

So we loved the birthmom!  She is intelligent, crafty, creative, and easy to talk to.  She recalled little tidbits of information from our profile album.  The conversation flowed well, especially thanks to our two social workers who filled in the few moments where I was overwhelmed by the surreal-ness of the situation & felt like I was coming out of my body!!  :)  We talked alot about her interests, about Caroline, about how we feel about open adoption, etc.  (I made sure to let her know there was an army of people praying for her, no matter what she decides.)  The experience of meeting her was such a strange combination of enjoyment, excitement, and nervousness!  

But the bottom line is that we really liked her and we'd be so honored if she thought we were the family worthy to raise her son.

I, of course, can't help but wonder about the other family.  How did their meeting go?  Did she like them better?  What are THEY thinking about their interaction with her?  I won't place any bets on this sweet gal's decision, but I definitely don't think we're out of the running.  I'm feeling like an insecure middle schooler about right now!-- I THINK she liked us????  :)

As silly (and a bit gross) as this is going to sound, there was a moment in our time together at the restaurant today where I felt like things really "clicked."  At some point, the birthmom had put her hand up to brush the hair away from her eyes or something, and I happened to notice she had super short nails.

I had to go there.

"Okay," I ventured out & there was suddenly no point of return at this point.  I'm just gonna put myself out there.  "Do you bite your nails?"

I know.  That was risky.  Potentially embarrassing.  That's not where I was headed, though.

Without skipping a beat, she and her mom both said, "Yes!  I can't help it- I don't even know when I'm doing it!"

"I do, too!  I'm the biggest nail biter!" I called out, and what ensued for the next few minutes was tons of laughter as we discussed such deep and meaningful issues like who picks their toenails!  ha!  I felt like at that moment, we all just "let down," you know?  And do I dare say I felt at that moment like this was someone I could include in my extended family??  Over nail biting and toe picking??  Ha ha!

She told us what stood out about us were all of our pictures in our profile.  She likes photography.  (well, the day she finds out about this blog?  She'll have all the photos she could ever dream of her child, right?)  And in God's crazy providence, she had an issue as a child with a bald patch on her head (not alopecia) for several years, so she already knew what alopecia was!

I asked her if seeing that we had a bald child scared her at all, and it was like it hadn't even caused her a second thought.  Thank you, God.

So now we wait!  Sounds like we may know in a few days, or it may be the first of next week before we hear anything.

But it's out of our hands.

Well, I guess it never was in our hands to begin with.

Monday, September 17, 2012

could it be?...

Big adoption news!:  We have an interview with a birthmom on Wednesday!

There is a young lady residing in the maternity home connected with our agency who is due in less than a month (Oct. 12th) and she has decided to pursue an adoption plan for her baby BOY.  (a boy!  Marc is, of course, beyond thrilled about that!)   She looked at all of the waiting families profile albums, and then selected two families that she wants to meet!

Which means!... we could be reeeeally close to having a baby & I could potentially be 9 months "paper" pregnant right now. (woohoo!)  OR we are about to hit a big 'ol disappointing bump in the adoption rollercoaster.  Deep breath.  We'll think about that when the times comes.

But it's quite the ride for now!  Oh, I can't explain how excited and nervous we are!!

So far, from what we know, things look great on paper... we like that she wants an open adoption, we love the first name she has chosen for the baby! (which we'll be discussing with her on Wednesday, but no, we would never share with you all before the birth...he he), and we are hoping that we have a good connection with her on Wednesday.

At this point, it's very difficult not to think of this as a competition.  Who is the other family?  When are they interviewing?  What if she likes them better than us?  Trust me, I am feeling SO much pressure to look my very cutest in hopes of "winning her over."  It feels much like a first date or a job interview-- only it's for THE most important job we'll ever have!  I want her to like me SO badly.  I'm sure she is feeling some of the same pressures, too--- what will they think of ME?  Will they judge me?, etc. 

But in my more "sane" moments, I quickly come back to God's providence.  He knows the story.  He knows whose baby that is.  He knows what He is doing with this sweet girl, and how He is potentially going to redeem a painful, broken time in her life through this adoption.

And nothing I do on Wednesday will change or thwart His plan.

If I could just stop thinking about myself and focusing on the dumb details that she probably doesn't care about-- what do I wear?  What should I say & not say?-- and just commit to being MYSELF and focus on HER, then that would be the best situation all around for us all.

The first time I sat across a table from Caroline's birthmom, Megan, I felt the same pressure and nervousness, but Marc and I committed ourselves to just love Megan like we would any of our college students in our ministry, no matter what she decided concerning adoption.  The Lord had placed us in her life, even if just for one meeting, to talk to her and listen to her.  I didn't walk away from that meeting thinking we had just "scored" ourselves a baby.  On the contrary, Marc and I gave ourselves about a 20% chance it would ever work out.

When it comes to these things, only God knows.

So on Wednesday, we'll be sitting down across a different restaurant table, this time with a different girl in a different situation.  She'll have her mom with her, and we'll have her caseworker and our caseworker to chat with.  We'll be eating lunch across the table from a gal who potentially might be about to go into labor with our child!  Could it be???

Then we'll wait.  For a yes or a no.  It's 50/50.  We could possibly know something by the end of this week. (!)

We are praying for this special girl, that the Lord would give her clear direction.  I'm praying that whichever family it ends up being, everything would be a clear "fit" to that end.  If this baby is not supposed to be ours, my prayer is that it would be evident as such.

Little does she know that there's an entire ARMY of you praying, though...  :)

Caroline's beyond excited, and telling everyone, "There's a birthmommy who's got a baby in her tummy, and she wants to meet us!"  (it will just be me & Marc at the interview, though)  She also says, "If she doesn't pick our family, it's okay."  I think we've prayed for so long for God to bring us a baby at just the right time & only when it's just the right birthmommy that she will roll with it in the event that it's not ours.

I know so many of you are praying alongside us, and I can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate it!  I promise to update you guys as often as I'm able.  But more than praying a baby for our family, please pray for the Lord to draw our family, this birthmom, and the other family into a closer trust upon Him through this.

And keep your fingers crossed!  :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

switcharoo...



Four year old fairy princesses.


Now switch.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

the bald girl at the cancer event...

We love college ministry.  Not only do we get to love on students for a few crucial life-changing years, but it's beautiful to keep up with them long after they've graduated.


If you've kept up with our blog for years, you've met Alyssa before.
She was one of our gals in RUF at Texas Tech, but
I'd say now she feels more like family to us now.
I love this girl.
 
One of the hardest conversations I've had was the day we sat down across the table from her and broke the news that we were moving to Virginia to begin a RUF in Lynchburg.

I hated missing out on her junior and senior years at Tech, but thankfully she's been awesome to travel to see us almost every year since we left Lubbock.

She's now graduated and living in Nashville, so last weekend afforded her the opportunity to come and visit!


Of course, I had to rope her into playing cello at our church... :)

And as you can see, a certain little girl was pretty stoked to bow a few notes.


Funny story- we stopped by a special event at Liberty's Snowflex, a year-round ski slope. (because it was free to the public)  What we didn't know was that the event was a fundraiser for a little girl named Kaylin with a rare form of cancer.

Well, you bring a bald child to a cancer fundraiser? You can just guess where this is going...

Sure enough.

Most people just stared, gave me the usual empathetic looks, etc.


But it wasn't until we were up at the top of the mountain getting ready to whoosh down when a worker for the event (an LU student) says emphatically to Caroline, "Oh, are you Kaylin??" with so much excitement in her voice.  She didn't even skip a beat as she continued on talking away!

Caroline just stayed quiet the whole time while the girl assumed SHE was the reason for this entire event.  ha ha!!  

(thankfully, I don't think Caroline knew what the girl was trying to say, but about a minute of silence  and disbelief after her departure, Alyssa turned around to me and said, "Did she just say what I thought she said?" and we shared quite a laugh together.  Oh my goodness!  In those situations, I truly fight a mixture of emotions in the moment-- anger, sadness, humor, misunderstanding, awkwardness all wrapped into one!)

Oh for the day when more people are aware of alopecia!


It makes it so much nicer to be in settings where Caroline is not "the bald girl."  She's just CAROLINE, you know?    Like here, at our RUF Welcome Back Party when the students took her canoeing.


Love these guys and gals.


And we love YOU, Alyssa!  Thank you for coming to see us!
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Friday, September 7, 2012

the art of God's providence...

Whew.  Just give me a minute.

Sometimes I am blown away at the Lord's providence.

Like right now.

Where do I begin?

My daughter is 4, and many of you parents know what that means... time to figure out where we'll be sending our child to school next year for kindergarten.  It's a pretty big deal at our stage of life.

And I know that how you school your child is a super sensitive subject, and everyone carries their own opinions and worldviews into what they end up choosing.  Pleeease know I'm not out to speak against any ways of schooling, because while it's very important, it's not the end-all and be-all for me personally.  For me and Marc, our worldview in recent years has been pulling us towards public school. (much to the gasps I may hear from my fellow Christian community)  There is so much beauty in being IN the world but not of it, and we were planning to be a light in a "dark" place.  (which, the schools here are not all that "dark" anyways!...)

However, there's also an amazing classical Christian school here in town.  It's a ton of money.  You can imagine.  But there's nothing like it educationally in our town.  It's from a reformed perspective.  (for those of you who know us, that's pretty rare.  And awesome when your husband works for REFORMED University Fellowship)  While it sounded good on paper, I have been emotionally torn between my worldviews-- that of being IN the world and that of providing my daughter with a fantastic education.  (much more could be said on how much we have wrestled with this, but I'll stop there...)  In my mind, neither way is RIGHT or WRONG... I don't believe it's a school or even education that saves you.  Jesus does.  And you can find Jesus just as much in a public school (like I did) as in a Christian one.

So today we took a tour of the classical Christian school.  I was so nervous, and me being the typical naysayer that I am, I drove up and mumbled to Marc, "This isn't it.  I don't think this is going to be the one."  So we prayed as we walked in that God would make it clear to us if this was to be the place for Caroline.

Now I could tell you all about how great it was-- how nice it was when the students stood up in each class we visited and respectfully greeted us in unison with "Good morning!," (and I'm meanwhile trying to imagine my incredibly spunky, independent child fitting into this...) and how blown away I was at what the kindergarteners were doing academically already.  All that was nice.

But then the Lord gave us a sign.

(And hear me out-- I'm not really big on "the Lord gave me a sign"-type language, but um, I can pretty much say with ALL certainty today the Lord gave me a sign.)

We turned the corner and entered the art room, and there before our eyes was a teacher.... with alopecia.

Just as bald as my baby girl.  No hat.  No wig.  No insecurity.

Teaching children art.

Marc started tearing up.
I felt glued into place in that moment, unable to put into words what I was thinking.
(and here I'm typing away desperately trying)

An art teacher with alopecia.  And not just a 5th grade or a 12th grade teacher that she might pass in the halls here and there, but a teacher my Caroline would see EVERY WEEK with no hair.

Can you believe?!?!  What are the chances?!?

This woman has no idea what her bald head meant to me and my husband today.  I can't wait to hear her story, and for Caroline to hear her story.  And little does she know that she and my daughter are going to be buddies.  :)

So I guess this means we'll be living dirt poor so we can afford to send our daughter there,  :)  but for Caroline to grow up in a school with a teacher and mentor that looks JUST LIKE HER???  Lord, you are so, SO good.

So call me shallow, that I might select a school based on the baldness of a teacher, but I don't care.

For now, I'm convinced this is what He has for us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

boing!...


One of our sweet former RUF students in town, Christi, just finished a job at the jumping place in the mall, and before her last day of work, she let us come jump for free!

Now, --reality check-- what is NOT pictured here is the HALF HOUR of Caroline and I sitting on the bench together before we made it to this point.  (perhaps I should have taken a picture of THAT for you...)  It was the typical mom scene-- I'm reassuring her, "You'll LOVE it once you try it!" to no avail.  She's unsure and afraid.  But with a little patience and watching other kids doing it, she mustered up the courage to try.

But, of course, she was only going to take little jumps.

(Uh huh.)


And so THIS was the first reaction.  And I'd say someone was rather enjoying herself, wouldn't you?


Higher and higher.


Who's afraid now?


Little jumps.  Right.


Trying a flip!  She could flip herself down low, but didn't quite get it while jumping.


Wheeee!

Here's a minute of the action...  (sorry it's sideways... I'm clueless on this stuff!)

video


What a great time!  Thanks, Christi!
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