I’ve been encouraged by the stories of lessons learned, faithful examples, and God’s deliverance shared by the ladies in our Everyday Heroes Bible study. I’ve grown to love each of these ladies more every time we get together. I guess that’s why God put the need for relationships in our hearts. He knew we would need to have in-the-flesh confirmation of God’s love and protection.
Last week, I had a reminder from a friend who is courageously walking through life with her face plastered against the winds of Satan. It’s true, God sends our friends and family at just the right time to offer comfort and encouragement, but sometimes He sends other kinds of flesh as sweet reminders of His gentle care. Just listen to my friend’s story in her own words:
“Yesterday, in my silence, I kept hearing one of my favorite hymns …”His eye is on the sparrow.” It was literally ringing in my ears. As I pulled myself out of bed, I raised the shade on my window, and there sat the most beautiful baby sparrow. It did not fly away as I expected it would, but actually turned towards me and just sat there. As you can imagine, the tears began to flow, and I just sat in amazement of God’s sweet message to me. With the song now even more in my head, I got up and reached for my iPad to search for the song on Selah. I accidentally hit Pandora instead and it was set to the Selah station. Guess what began to play? I sat there, numb and breathless in his goodness and bathed in his love for me as I listened to “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he’s watching me.” I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. Oh, and by the way…the baby sparrow sat there, never moved and seemed to listen with me then flew away…at the end of the song.”
If that story wasn’t good enough on its own; my phone rang just now causing me to pause my cursor for a moment. It was my oldest grandson inviting his Papa and me to a hoedown (For all you city slickers, that’s a western party.) at his house on Thursday night. (He takes after his mama – he’s such a planner!) When I hung up the phone, my email dinged with a message of a new blog post by my daughter. (Apparently, she had made good use of me being on the phone with Camden.) When I read the post I just had to smile. It is the perfect way to end this message of God’s sweetness. So, here’s her post about their adoption progress:
“Plans. Are funny things. I am a planner. When I taught public school one of my most favorite parts of the day was my planning period – and not just because it was my chance to go to the bathroom, grab a drink or snack and regain a little sanity. 🙂 I loved writing out my plans for the days and weeks to come in nice, neat little boxes. I loved thinking about how the day would unfold in an orderly fashion, every kid learning to their full potential all the while having fun and thinking that I was the best teacher ever. Are you beginning to understand that I was/am a bit optimistic? Of course, it never, I mean rarely, happened that way. Don’t get me wrong! I had some great days teaching the children in my classes. Some days where I actually got to see the light bulb of learning blink on for the very first time. Several days where the majority of my classes were engaged in learning all. at. the. same. time. (My teacher friends can relate!) I can hardly think of a week, however, where at the end I looked at my plan book and there were no erasures, no additional plans sloppily written in on the sides or arrows directing this days activities to another. They warn you in all of your teacher preparation classes that flexibility is a must for this job – and guess what – they are right!
Flexibility is a must, and not just for public school teachers. It is a must for life in general. Now that I homeschool our kiddos, I see it even more. Plans are no different here at home. They change. We have to rearrange, switch and replan on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
So when our adoption plans began to change, I’m not sure why I was surprised. 🙂 I recently read a blog where an adoptive dad quoted one of his friends as saying, “There are your plans and then there are God’s plans, and your plans don’t count.” That, my friends, is something that we are beginning to see. Our ways are not his ways and our thoughts not his thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). But, we can trust that all of his paths are loving and faithful (Psalm 25:10).
When we began this journey we were somewhat open to adding either a boy or a girl to our family, but we were leaning (somewhat heavily) toward a girl. Our thinking was that Jessa needed a sister and that a sister might fit more easily into our family. We were also thinking that we wanted a child as young as possible so that there would be a sizeable age difference between the new baby and Jessa. We also had in mind that we were open primarily to minor correctable needs. Then a few things began to happen. We began to learn of the growing need for boys to be adopted and a seed began to be planted that maybe we should be more open to adding another boy to our family. Then we were sent an email by our agency that included the pictures and profiles of some children that were in need of a family. In this email were two children that we felt were in our age range (younger than Jessa). One was a girl that had special needs that seemed manageable and one was a boy that we weren’t exactly sure what his listed special need meant. We decided to ask for more information on both. The funny thing is that I was drawn more to the girl. The name that the agency used was one that I had always liked. I thought perhaps it was a sign. 🙂 Little did I know! The boy was a cutie and was the right age, so I simply thought, “Well, we’ll ask for his info too.” I emailed our social worker and she let me know that the little girl’s file was already on hold with another family, but she immediately sent me the file for the little boy. I opened the file and saw the cutest little smile, dark hair and dark eyes staring back at me. As I continued to look through the file, though, I realized that his medical needs were a little more complex than I had first assumed. I also realized that he was much closer in age to Jessa than we had previously thought. They’d basically be twins. So, as I’m looking, I’m trying not to get too attached because I’m thinking that Jim will come home and say, “No, I don’t think this is the one.” Oh, how I underestimated the Holy Spirit and Jim’s willingness to submit!! Have I told you how I love that man!! He came home that night and viewed the file and was just as calm as a cucumber, the word “no” never came out of his mouth. Now I had prayed before he got home that God would help me to let Jim’s decision speak for our family. If Jim said it was a no, I could be at peace with it. But the “no” just never came. We went a few more days and that little face kept popping up in our minds. We finally decided to put his file on hold and get it reviewed by the International Adoption Clinic at Vanderbilt. Let me just say that the doctor there is wonderful!! She gave us a rundown of what the possibilities might be with his medical condition and she had his file reviewed by a specialist. The what-ifs were slightly overwhelming. But Jim and I talked after speaking with her and God kept laying the same thoughts on our hearts. Does every life really matter? Could we just turn our backs on that little face? Do we really believe that God uses the weak to display his strength? We then asked our agency for an update on him and received a couple of little videos. The videos are priceless and precious!! But again, I was the one that kept letting worry niggle at my brain and Jim was the one who had peace, but I kept feeling that I needed to submit to his leadership for our family. Peace continued to grow in my heart and then God helped us to find a news story about a little girl who had been adopted with the same medical condition and she was doing great! Then just two days later Jim’s sister told us of some friends that they knew that had adopted a little boy with a similar condition. They had even used the same specialist that had reviewed our file at Vanderbilt and they loved him! All of this was confirmation for our hearts, so on March 10, 2014 we decided to submit our letter of intent for this little guy. We received our preapproval from China on March 27th and we are SO excited!! We still have several hoops to jump through before we can bring him home, but we are so glad to be on this road. It will probably be sometime in the fall before we travel.
As I look back, I know that if things were not being worked out this way, that I would have depended too much on my own strength. If we would have accepted a referral of a child that completely matched with our plans, I would have been too quick to pat myself on the back – thinking that it had all worked out just as I had planned. But, God…he knew. He knew my heart and he had a plan. 🙂
We’re not quite ready to share a pic on the world wide web yet, but if you see us out and about we’ll proudly show you our little guy! He is so adorable!!
We also humbly ask for your prayers:
1) Please pray that our little guy will stay healthy, that he will get loving attention from the nannies and that God would prepare his heart for us to come.
2) Please pray that we will continue to seek to slow life down for our family, so that we can give intentional care and attention to our three little people at home before our world is rocked. 🙂
3) Please pray that God will continue to use this process to strengthen our marriage and our family.
4) Please pray that we will receive our I800 approval quickly, that our dossier submission will go smoothly and that after we submit our dossier that we will receive our letter of approval (our official match!) in 34 days or less (34 days is the quickest that I have heard of, so that’s what I’m going to ask for!!). P.S. It’s ok if you don’t know what any of this means! God does!
Thank you, thank you!!!”
God is good all the time. All the time, God is good! What better way for a proud grandmother to tie this altogether than with three personal reminders of why I do what I do. God bless you as you look for Him in the little things today, and remember – His eye is on the sparrow.