Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Power in Jesus

I have fought writing this blog.

I didn't want to tell others that we are presenting to another expectant mother today.

Because if I say it out loud to the world, then I also have to follow it up with another possible "no".

I didn't even want to present again this soon after our last no.  I want to curl up in a ball and not present and just pray God will send a baby to my doorstep.

My literal doorstep.

Because presenting is hard.  It's hard to know the details and dream of the future again each time.  It's hard not to want to put a wall of protection up so that I don't feel this time around.

When we got an email about a baby girl that is expected soon, God stirred in my heart again.  I called Cody to tell him about the email and we both instantly felt the need to respond with a yes to this family.  A yes that they could present us.

A yes that we would once again feel.

A yes that we would once again dream.

A yes that we were all in.

A yes that we would put ourselves in another situation where we may hear a no.

I know that God has called us to this.  I know that God has a plan.  Sometimes I wonder why He calls us to present, knowing the answer already.  It is so much easier to love big when we have the outcome we want.  I like to think that maybe God knew that the other birth mothers needed to see another family who saw value in her baby.  That makes the thought a little easier.

Last night, I told Cody that I didn't want to blog again.  I think it is partly from pride...
Knowing that we may be told no again and again over the coming months before we are matched.

Wouldn't it be easier to just share a post after we are matched?  Wouldn't it be easier to just show the good part? I want to just show the picture of our WHOLE family one day.  Can't we just crop out the rest...crop out the hard...photoshop out the tears...brighten up the we often do with our own social media post?

This morning when I left for work, I had decided not to share about our decision to present this time.

By the time I made it to work, I knew God was calling me to share the hard as well.

As I was driving, I was praying out loud...

God, I don't know how many times I can do this.  I know it's just three.  I know people present dozens of times.  I know people wait years....YEARS to adopt.  But I don't know if I can do this. How can I love fully again and again?  I. CAN'T. DO. IT.

Then, one of my favorite songs started to play on the radio.

There is power 
In the name of Jesus 
There is power 
Power in His name

And since I've decided to put myself out there again and share the feelings and the hurt, I might as well tell you that I cried.  I cried hearing my answer.  I can't do this, but there is POWER in the name of JESUS.  And through Him, I CAN.  

I can love big.  
I can love fully
I can hurt.  

But He,
He can heal.

One name breaks every chain
One name, always
One name, Jesus
One name, one name remains
One name, we will proclaim
One name, always
One name

One name, one name can save

Pray for us today as we await the news. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

More Than A Quilt

I (Cody) walked up and she said, "I would like to make your family a quilt for your adoption."


Yes the quilt is beautiful, but I was referring to the thought. We were so humbled to see yet another person offer their time and talent to  help us bring home baby Brumley #3. To do their part in orphan care. To partner with us on this journey as many of you have through prayer, gifts, hugs, encouragement and more.

But a quilt?! Never saw that coming. So unique...and so fitting for how God works. In ways you never see coming but are EXACTLY the right thing.

Let me explain.

Dana Cantrell works at First Baptist Jenks with me. She has more than a knack for quilting. She's a straight artist. And would be mad that I'm bragging on her (don't worry Dana, this is about how amazing it is when we are obedient to God...wether adopting or making a quilt...and how God gets the glory). She offered to make a quilt to help us raise funds.

God's Church.

This is it! People offering what they have to help others be obedient to what God is calling them to. To help a child be raised, a birth mom be loved and God get the glory.

She asked what we had in mind and we told her we love God's word, so scripture would be great. And maybe something with a cross because that's what it's about. We are all spiritual orphans adopted in to Gods family by the sacrifice of Jesus. The cross is where that transaction happened. We loved the idea of a family being able to cuddle up under God's word and the cross.

God's Timing.

So Dana comes across a cross idea that is mezmorizing and she thinks she could bring it to life. Then while walking through Wal-Mart, where she always walks through the fabrics just to see if there's anything she might need for a project, she sees the perfect fabric. A roll filled with scripture and quotes about family. She had never seen it before, yet it was right where she couldn't miss it.

Just like God to provide the perfect pieces at the perfect time in the perfect place.

God's Redemption.

Dana began beautifully matching square after square to create the cross and the reminder that the gospel dispels darkness. Where did these squares come from? Most came from unused fabrics of previous projects. Mainly quilts she or her mom had made.

The ones that didn't fit in one place were exactly what was needed for this project. Cast aside for whatever reason and then redeemed to be precisely where they should be to tell the story of the cross.

I can relate.

Cast aside because of my sin. Separated from the relationship with God I was designed for. But then God redeemed me. Took care of the penalty of sin by placing it on Jesus. Now I get to be sewn in to a story that matters.

God's Adoption.

A quilt is many parts of fabrics combined to be one item. Not accidentally created but artistically orchestrated. Each piece cut, crafted and stitched with others until completion.

Our family has been stitched together perfectly in God's plan and now another piece will be crafted just for us. Stitched to us. Not an extra piece, but a piece that has always belonged. What we experience in adoption through salvation, our family will physically experience. (Imagine me making a hand signal like my brain is exploding and saying "boooom"...mind blowing)

God's Provision

Dana has it all organized and is sharing the story of how a quilt will be a symbol of God's heart for the Fatherless, when someone surprises her by sharing they would pay to have the stitching done. The stitching is intricate and strategic. It had to be done right and would cost extra. God once again supplied.

Since giving God our "yes" He has provided over and over. Dana has seen this as well. And it is amazing every time.

God's Story

The quilt is now complete. Immaculate. Moving. More than a quilt.

She brought it to the office to give to me The staff there at the time prayed over the quilt. More so, they prayed over my family, the baby we believe God will bring us, and the GENERATIONS this quilt will impact. Yes, generations. Made to last and made to tell of God's story for years to come.

God is good.

I tell you the story because it deserves to be told. How it will end we don't know yet. We will auction the quilt off through this Facebook group here:
Adoption Quilt Silent Auction

(The group is open now and the auction will actually take place April 4 through April 9. Details are on the group page if you are interested in following along or being a part of this event.)

Regardless of amount raised, the quilt has accomplished its purpose. It has displayed the gospel. Displayed the church. Displayed the beauty of adoption. Blessed our family to just be a part of its story. It is more than a quilt.

Now to find and stitch in our missing piece.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's a No

Have you had a time in your life when you wanted the answer "yes" so badly only to have a "no" in return?  Surely I'm not the only one.

With this most recent situation, a YES is exactly what I wanted, but a NO is what we got.

When we receive a situation by email, there's a lot to process.  It is more than just a gender, race and due date to consider.  There are intimate details that are shared with you.  You can't help but feel when you read it.  Hurt.  Hope.  Love.

We don't want to make decisions based on emotions so we pray and we talk through what we know to be true, and we pray some more.  We always go to sleep unsure and praying, and then wake in the morning to talk it through again and see if we have a peace on presenting or not.  Each time (twice) we have presented, we have both had a peace that it was the direction we were supposed to go.

I know that it may not make sense without being in our shoes, but to present and then receive a no, it hurts.  I had been told this...I had read this...but I could not fully understand this before this point.

I know logically that these are people I've never met and that ultimately, this is not the child God has planned to join our family. I can recite all the right things to say to myself...things I know to be true.

But in the moment, it is not easy.

Before we present, we want to be 100% sure that we will follow through if the expectant mother chooses us.  I can't imagine how hard it would be for an expectant mother to fall in love with a family, only to have that family back out and change their minds.  Because we want to be all in, we have to allow ourselves to care...

to feel...

Even knowing that in the end of this journey, there's a great chance that a baby will join our family forever...

Even knowing that we will look at each other that day and say "it was worth it"...

Even knowing it takes most families lots of "no's" before they year "yes"....

It is hard.

I love to read.  I love to read suspense books.  But, I hate suspense.  I know.  I'm strange.

When I read, I often will skip ahead to the end of the chapter (or even the end of the book) and read what happens just because the suspense is killing me.  Then, knowing the ending, I go back and read the details.

(If someone else wants to admit that they do this too, I would be forever grateful.)

I want to skip to the end of the chapter.
I want to read ahead and know that it all works out.
I want to see for myself that we make it.
That we were strong enough.
To see that beautiful moment when we hold Brumley #3 in our arms.

I had to remind myself today that I am not the author of our story, but that I know the author of our story.

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

God writes our story.  He knows the ending.  He knows the details.

He knows the hurts.  He knows the trials.  He knows and He cares.

He cares...which will allow us to continue to care deeply.
He loves...therefore we will continue to love fully.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Along our journey, we've read and heard the stories of others who have adopted.  So many times I think, "Wow...only God can write that.  Only God writes stories that beautiful."  And again and again I've prayed that we would be patient for God to write ours.

So we press forward.  We know today was the end of this specific chapter.  We don't know how many more pages we will turn in this book.  We don't know how many no's it will take.  But we know the One who writes it, has called us to it.

Thank you for your kind words, prayers and encouragement.  It means so much.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Call It Grace

I haven't updated with a blog in a little while.  I've wondered what the next topic would be.  There's only so many ways to say "we are in the waiting".  But, in a lot of ways I'm thankful for this time as God has used it to mold us to be more like Him.

First, a few adoption terms we've learned along the way.  One of the first things we learned about domestic adoption is that very few are closed adoptions.  A closed adoption is when the birth parents and adoptive couple remain completely anonymous.  The birth parents do not meet or even know the names of the adoptive parents.  This used to be the most common type of adoption, but is now considered rare.

Most adoptions fall into the category of open adoption or semi-open adoption.  A semi-open adoption allows the adoptive parents' contact information to remain confidential, but often the adoptive parents meet the birth parents prior to or at birth.  It involves updates sent periodically through email or private blogs while not sharing your general contact information. The situations we have considered so far fall into this category

Open adoption has a wide variation of what it might look like.  Often there is an exchange of first and last names and you may contact each other through telephone, personal email or social media site, or face to face encounters. 

Now back to how God is molding us...

Just to be vulnerable, the thought of anything but a closed adoption was terrifying to me when we first started to consider adoption.  I had lifetime shows running through my head where the birth family comes to the adoptive family's front door demanding their child back.  But real life doesn't play out like Hollywood drama.

I could go on and on about this topic and if you want to know more, I'd love to have a conversation with you about it!  With healthy boundaries, no one has to forfeit their right to privacy.  But that's not what I have in mind for this blog.  Instead, I want to show you how God is using this specific topic to challenge us.  And hopefully change us forever, for the better.

The truth is, when it comes to loving a new baby, the decision is easy.

Think about it.  Babies are...
Innocent. Precious. Cute. Loveable.

We entered into this to have a baby. But could God really be asking us to love on the birth family as well?  Wouldn't it be easier to ignore the fact that with adoption there can be brokenness, shortcomings, and mistakes?

Someone challenged me a long time ago to ask God to help me "love like He loves us".  I've said it before.  But how often do I do it?  To love like God loves us.  To love with grace.

To love someone who hasn't earned it.
To love without expectations of return.
To love for who they are and not what they've done.
To love fully, giving all and not just a part.
To love patiently, intentionally and unconditionally.

I love applying His unconditional love to me.  I am slow to apply it to others when it does not benefit me, and especially when it may even hurt me.  But scripture cannot be ignored.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved.

Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So I had to ask myself and take a hard look at my life and think, "Am I really loving people like God loves me?"  I have Jesus with me, but do I let him live through me?

Through time and conviction, God has changed my heart.  While there is still an unknown in how much of a relationship the birth mother may want to have with us, I am open and excited about the opportunity to LOVE this precious woman as Christ loves her and loves me.

There's a good chance that during this time in her life love has not been displayed to her by those surrounding her.  I'm excited when I read a situation where she has friends or family that are supportive, but sometimes that's not the case.  Sometimes, she's been encouraged to have an abortion from those closest to her.  Often times, her reason for considering adoption is that they "want a life for the baby full of love that they have not experienced". To say many of these women feel more broken than loved would be an understatement.

In a world of brokenness, shouldn't we as Christians look vastly different?  Instead of being those that abandon the broken, shouldn't we draw close and speak of the grace that defines us?

I heard this song on the radio this morning and I don't think it's a coincidence knowing I was about to type this blog.  I think it's the perfect way to close us out today.

Unspoken- Call It Grace

It's the light that pierces through you
To the darkest hidden place
It knows your deepest secrets
But it never looks away
It's the gentle hand that pulls you
From the judgement of the crowd
When you stand before them guilty
And you got no way out

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues, it's a miracle
It's nothing less than scandalous
This love that took our place
Just call it what it is, call it grace
Call it grace

It's the breath that's breathing new life
Into what we thought was dead
It's the favor that takes orphans
Placing crowns upon their heads
It's the hope for our tomorrows
The rock on which we stand
It's a strong and mighty fortress
Even Hell can't stand against

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues, it's a miracle
It's nothing less than scandalous
This love that took our place
Just call it what it is, call it grace
Call it grace
Call it grace

Amazing, unshaking
This is grace, this is grace
Unchanging, unfailing
This is grace, this is grace

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues, it's a miracle
It's nothing less than scandalous
That Jesus took our place
Oh call it what it is, just call it what it is
Call it grace