Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Beautiful the Feet

On Monday Charly and I visited Hua Ming An in the hospital. It had been a week since we had last seen him, since the doctor had told us we couldn’t visit every day. Several of the staff from the orphanage were in his room to help him check out of the hospital that day. He would be returning to the orphanage for rehab, after 19 days in the hospital, because the doctors had done all they could for him.

We were encouraged to see him able to eat some rice porridge and to use a straw to drink. They had raised the head of his bed so that he was in more of a sitting position. He wasn’t able to talk or smile. We don’t know if he could hear us. But we held his hands, and we hoped that he knew that we were there. We helped to put his pants and his jacket on. And I noticed a pair of red shoes someone had placed under his bed.

Seeing his shoes reminded me of this verse: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7. NLT)

Over the weekend I was blessed to spend extended time in a nearby city with two special friends on a mini-retreat. We shared our hearts and tears, prayed for one another, and encouraged each other through the Word. We focused on the book of Isaiah and this verse in particular stood out to us:

Have I not proclaimed from ages past what my purposes are for you? You are my witnesses…” (Isaiah 44:8b, NLT)

A timely reminder that God has unique purposes for us. From ages past. To be His witnesses.

Seeing those red shoes on Monday brought a silent prayer in my heart for the fulfillment of God’s purposes for Hua Ming An: “How beautiful are his feet (even though we don’t know if he will walk again) to bring Your good news of peace and salvation. I believe you have a special purpose for Hua Ming An’s life. And You will use this illness for Your glory.”

God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.” (Isaiah 53:10b, MSG)

We don’t know how God’s plans and purposes will unfold in the days and years to come. Only that He has proclaimed them from ages past. And that He has already grafted Ding Yi Fan and Hua Ming An into our family. When Charly and I got home from the hospital on Monday, we had time to talk and pray with Joshua and Jordan. We all felt (including CJ who had communicated his agreement through skype) that there was no way we could possibly say “no” to adopting Hua Ming An, even with the understanding that we might have already seen the extent of his recovery and that he might be dependent on us for the rest of his life. And we made a family decision to send in the acceptance letters, that we had gotten in the mail on Friday, for both Hua Ming An and Ding Yi Fan.

 “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16a, NIV)

Friday, September 20, 2013

I’ll Be There With You

On Thursday afternoon last week, when we heard that Hua Ming An was in the hospital, a storm rolled in. Dark thunder clouds, a powerful wind that rattled even our double-paned windows, and an eery feeling in the air. But while we could see the dark clouds looming just a short distance away out our living room windows, our apartment building and surrounding area was still bathed in light. In fact we had never seen the sun as bright as it was coming in through the windows on the opposite end of our apartment, from Jordan’s room and the kitchen.

It made me think about the Israelites living in the land of Goshen during the time of the terrible plagues in Egypt and how God continued to give light to His people, during the three days of “deep and terrifying darkness” for the Egyptians. (Exodus 10:21-23)

What an amazing contrast God allowed us to witness that day. The dark threatening storm and the incredibly bright sun. A visible sign that God would keep us in His light throughout this storm we were entering into. It wasn’t a promise that He would pull us out of the storm, but that He would not leave us in the storm by ourselves. “I’ll be there with you.”

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called you by name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.”
(Isaiah 43:1-3a, MSG)

On Monday this week, when Charly and I were walking home from the bus stop after visiting Hua Ming An in the hospital—when the doctor had told us that we had to leave, that we couldn’t keep visiting every day, and that he couldn’t give us any medical information because we weren’t legal parents yet—I felt like one of those punching bags with sand in the bottom that causes it to return to its upright position after its been punched down. Sometimes it takes longer than other times to stand back up again. And this was one of those times. But I was reminded that God is the One who keeps us going again when we’ve been knocked down. He keeps us from giving up and losing hope.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
(2 Corinthians 4: 8-10, NLT)

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
(2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, MSG)

I love this verse in the Message:

“It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.
Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us?”
(2 Corinthians 5:7, MSG)

This verse brings tears to my eyes. Because it’s not easy to say these words. Because our situation hasn’t felt like just a few rocks in the path. This week we have definitely felt like crushing boulders have rolled over us, and my heart has literally felt like it’s been ripped out of my chest. As we face the huge unknowns of what kind of recovery Hua Ming An will make and the uncertainty of what God wants us to do in proceeding with our adoptions right now. But the truth is that we can trust in what we don’t see. And we can keep going.

This morning Charly said he was reminded that God isn’t leaving us alone in this storm to try to “solve the problem.” He is with us every step of the way. Because wherever we are He has said, 

I’ll be there with you.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Absolutely Nothing

Reading Romans 8: 35-39 this morning in different translations really encouraged me. I hope these verses will minister to your heart too with the reminder that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

"Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NLT)

"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…None of this fazes because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." (MSG)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Sharp Turn in the Path

With a thrill of indescribable joy Much-Afraid saw that at last the path did actually run straight toward the east and that it would lead them back to the High Places.

She dropped the hands of her two guides in order to clap her own, and gave a little skip of joy. No matter how great the distance between them and the mountains, now at last they were to go in the right direction. All three started back across the desert, but Much-Afraid could not wait for her guides, and actually ran on ahead as though she had never been lame at all.

Suddenly the path took another turn at right angles and went straight before her as far as she could see, not toward the mountains at all, but southward again to where far ahead the desert seemed to end in some sort of hill country. Much-Afraid stood quite still, dumb with dismay and shock. Then she began to tremble all over, It could not be possible, no, it couldn’t, that yet again the Shepherd was saying “No,” and turning her right away from the High Places

Sorrow and her sister came up to Much-Afraid and stood by her side quite silently, and for a little while everything was swallowed up in pain and “an horror of great darkness.” A sudden swirling wind shrieked over the desert and raised a storm of dust and sand which blinded them.

In the silence which succeeded the storm Much-Afraid heard her voice, low and trembling, but quite distinct, saying, “My Lord, what dost thou want to say to me? Speak—for thy servant heareth.”

Next moment the Shepherd was standing beside her. “Be of good cheer,” he said, “it is I, be not afraid. Build me another altar and lay down your whole will as a burnt offering.”

Obediently Much-Afraid raised a little heap of sand and loose stones, which was all that she could find in the desert, and again laid down her will and said with tears (for Sorrow had stepped forward and knelt beside her), “I delight to do thy will, O my God,”

From somewhere, though they could not see the source, there came a spurt of flame which consumed the offering and left a little heap of ashes on the altar. Then came the Shepherd’s voice. “This further delay is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the son of God may be glorified.”

In a similar way to Much-Afraid’s journey in Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places, “suddenly the path took another turn” for us last week.

On Wednesday night, a friend came over for dinner and Charly shared our excitement with him that our file had been “locked” with our two boys’ files the day before. He told him that our adoption journey the past two months has seemed like both a miracle and a battle. We hoped that the battle part was over now and we would soon be seeing the fulfillment of the miracle. Little did we know then what the next day would bring.

On Thursday morning I posted Waiting as an Offering about our “hugely encouraging news this week: our two boys’ files were “locked” with ours in Beijing! It feels so real now. Close to our being able to bring them home (maybe early October). God has so clearly moved adoption mountains for us and has “opened a door that no one can close” (Revelation 3:8). Our hearts are overflowing with praise.”

At that point (it seems so long ago now) I felt like Much-Afraid and her “thrill of indescribable joy” when she saw that “at last the path did actually run straight toward the east and that it would lead them back to the High Places.”

But just a few hours later that day, Charly read outloud a shocking email message that changed the course of our path: “Hua Ming An is in the hospital.”

And since then, we have been living in the unknown of what his serious medical situation means for his and our future.

Our heart’s cry has been for Hua Ming An’s healing. And we really want to hear what God wants to say to us in this. Ultimately, we hope that God will be glorified.

We don’t know why He has allowed this to happen or what good He will bring out of it.

We are not in control of the outcome. It is in God’s hands. But we are in control of our response. It is more difficult now, but our hearts can still overflow with praise. Our circumstances have changed, but God remains the same.

Not our will, but Yours be done.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Cry for Rescue

The waves of death surrounded me;
The floods of destruction swept over me.
The grave wrapped its ropes around me;
Death itself stared me in the face.
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
Yes, I called to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
My cry reached his ears.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He delivered me from my powerful enemies,
From those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest,
But the Lord upheld me.
(2 Samuel 22: 5-7, 17-19)

During the time that our family first sensed God putting on our hearts the desire to ask Him for two siblings from Gansu province. I had a dream of a child drowning in deep, dark waters and strong hands appeared to lift that child out to safety. The next morning I read this passage of rescue in 2 Samuel and wrote in the margin of my Bible: 3/31/08-adoption dream.

Last Thursday, two days after our adoption file got “locked” with Ding Yi Fan and Hua Ming An, we received news that Hua Ming An was in the hospital. He had suffered from a sudden and severe brain infection, and had been in a coma for 6 days with high fever and frequent seizures. But there had been improvement the past two days: his fever was down, he was “awake” and there was some movement in his arms and legs.

I remembered this 2 Samuel passage and my dream of a drowning child being rescued. I thought about Hua Ming An in the deep waters of a coma and how God had already reached down from heaven and pulled him from death to life. And over the course of the past three days, since we have been able to visit Hua Ming An in the hospital—seeing him with his eyes open but not responding to what is going on around him—it has been my heart’s cry that God would continue to draw him out of the deep waters he is still in, to bring him back to full consciousness. A cry for rescue.

His sweet little body is on that hospital bed, but so many of his functions have been lost. As we cry out to God, we believe that He can completely restore Hua Ming An—just like He called Lazarus out of the grave when he had been dead for 4 days—but we don’t know yet if that is His plan. Waiting to see how much of him will God bring back to life.

We have been able to visit with some of Hua Ming An’s teachers from the orphanage who have been at the hospital, and they have told us what a smart and helpful boy he was. On Saturday, one of his teachers told us how excited he was after he and Ding Yi Fan met us for the first time. He showed her the crayons we had given to him that day and said, “My future Mom and Dad gave me these.” How we hope that he will one day be able to color again like this drawing he gave us when we first met him.

The doctor told us on Friday that we will just have to wait and see. He might end up recovering well or what we see now might be the extent of his recovery. On the 6th day of his coma, when they were unable to bring his fever down, the doctor said he really thought there was 没有希望. No hope for him. Then the next day his fever dropped and he woke up.

The past couple of weeks, we have been watching the Lord of the Rings movies (at Jordan’s request). I was especially touched this time by Aragon’s words, when the people of Rohan are fearfully preparing for Saruman’s intimidating army to arrive at Helm’s Deep. He speaks with a young boy who tells him that the people are saying there is no hope. They won’t make it through the night. But Aragorn assures him “There is always hope.”

For us now, when we don’t know what the future holds for Hua Ming An. What kind of recovery he will make. We have the opportunity to turn our waiting into an offering again. It is here, where we don’t want to be, that we must cling tightly to God.

“Waiting on God is an act of faith. The greatest thing ever required of us humans. Not faith in the outcome we are dictating to God, but faith in His character, faith in Himself. It is resting in the perfect confidence that he will guide in the right way, at the right time. He will supply our need. He will fulfill His work. He will give us the very best if we trust Him.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“To believe that God is writing a bigger story from our lives than we could possibly imagine—that all our past is indeed “Thank you,” and all our future is “Yes.” (Paula Rinehart)

“We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions.” (Isaiah 26:8 MSG)

Our trust is in God alone—Rescuer. Redeemer. Restorer.
And in Whom there is always hope.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Waiting as an Offering

We received hugely encouraging news this week: our two boys’ files were “locked” with ours in Beijing! It feels so real now. Close to our being able to bring them home (maybe early October). God has so clearly moved adoption mountains for us and has “opened a door that no one can close” (Revelation 3:8). Our hearts are overflowing with praise.

Looking back over these past two months and reflecting on all that God has done...I remember my struggle and doubt that God would provide two children from Gansu for us, the incredible news of the two boys, and then the message that it was actually impossible for us to adopt them together. We were strongly advised to pursue another option. But we held on to the belief that these were “our boys” and watched God fight for our family to make the impossible “possible.” He provided an unheard-of 3 month extension on our expiration date of August 22 and a way that the boys’ files could be secured for us in Beijing.

Elisabeth Elliot’s insights on “waiting” from her book The Path of Loneliness have really encouraged me as I consider the challenge of waiting during our 6 year adoption journey.

“One discipline of the spiritual life to which many of us find it most difficult to submit to is that of waiting. No other discipline reveals more about the quality of our faith than that one.”

“Waiting patiently is almost impossible unless we also are learning at the same time to find joy in the Lord, commit everything to Him, trust Him, and be quiet.” (Psalm 37)

“Many times in my life God has asked me to wait when I wanted to move forward. He has kept me in the dark when I asked for light. To my pleas for guidance His answer has often been Sit still, My daughter. I like to see progress. I look for evidence that God is at least doing something. If the Shepherd leads us beside still waters when we were hoping for “white water” excitement, it is hard to believe anything really vital is taking place.”

“Waiting on God is an act of faith. The greatest thing ever required of us humans. Not faith in the outcome we are dictating to God, but faith in His character, faith in Himself. It is resting in the perfect confidence that he will guide in the right way, at the right time. He will supply our need. He will fulfill His work. He will give us the very best if we trust Him.”

“Waiting is an offering and a sacrifice…waiting on God in this way is true faith—no agenda of one’s own, no deadlines, no demands on what God must do. Simply an open heart and open hands ready to receive that which God shall choose, and a perfect confidence that what He chooses will be better than our best.”

God, accept our waiting as an offering of our faith. Help us to keep our hearts open as we wait on You and enable us  to rest in perfect confidence that You have our best in store. No matter what the answer to our prayer looks like or when it comes. We want to let go of our demands and desire to dictate to You the outcome that we think is best. Help us to truly believe that whatever You choose will be even better than our best.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Hole in Our Gospel

Joshua gave me permission to share his recent reflections on Richard Stearns’ The Hole in our Gospel.

The “Hole” in our Gospel is that we have downsized it to a one-time personal transaction between individuals and God, whereby the individual gains a sort of “fire insurance” that ensures that he will go to heaven. After receiving this insurance, the individual may go on and live life however he pleases with the knowledge that when he dies he will go to heaven.

The Whole Gospel is so much more! It not only involves believing and putting our faith in Jesus, but it also a call to put our faith into action and to follow Jesus’ radical commands to lovingly and selflessly dedicate our lives to the pursuit of justice and compassion. When we do put our trust in Jesus we undergo a radical inner transformation whereby we are filled with the Spirit, who in turn gives us the power to do God’s will for us. We are to live as ambassadors of Christ, in the sense that we are the instruments through which His work is accomplished here on earth. If this Whole Gospel was embraced it would spark a massive social revolution.

Our world is facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in history. Poverty is multi-faceted and includes many aspects and factors, including injustice economic systems, lack of food and/or water, war and conflict, and diseases, such as AIDS and malaria. War and conflict is an obstacle that constantly stymies the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals and the work of others to combat poverty. We should not get overwhelmed while thinking about these problems however and should instead remember that: 1) Every one of these hurting people is created in God’s image and loved by Him; 2) Everyone of these challenges has a solution; 3) Every one of us can make a difference.

The church contains massive potential to majorly impact our world today for God, particularly the Church in America. The American church contains the resources necessarily to alleviate extreme poverty in our world today. Instead it chooses to commit its resources to other programs other than helping the world’s poor. Instead of being always characterized by what it is against, the church should instead strive to be characterized by what they are for, such as love, justice and compassion. Remove the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

We are entrusted (not entitled) to our time, talents and treasure, and as such should consider how we can use these for God’s purpose. Each one of us was created in a certain way by God for a specific purpose and our goal should be to find what God’s purpose is for each of us and strive to live that purpose out the best of our abilities and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. 

CJ and Joshua playing with kids at the orphanage near our house

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Adoption Encouragement

One of the sweetest blessings we have received from God these past two months has been the outpouring of support, encouragement and prayer for our adoption. How wonderful to belong to the Body of Christ! About a month ago, I shared a picture from 2006 of Charly running with our kids at a train stop because it captured how I felt, as we were waiting on the edge of our seats, for news of special approval: “Keep going. Don’t give up. Run the race He has set before you.” 

Here is a sampling of the messages we have received from those who have been cheering us on and who have been running the race with us. Thank you! It is impossible to express how much this support and encouragement  has meant to our family.

“Picturing you guys standing in front of the Red Sea right now!  The mighty waters are in front of you (literally NO way they can move water, right?) and then the Egyptian Army, one of the most powerful in the entire world, is chasing quickly after them.  God had never promised that He would part the waters…they had NO clue.  They were frightened and had no clue.  But God made a way! 

I have NO idea what God is doing in your lives, or what His plan is.  But that’s the picture I have in my head right now.  I’ve seen God make a way where there is literally no possibility, yet He does it.  I’m praying He will do the same with these two boys!”

A line from Romans came to mind...."as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist." What I am claiming in my requests to the that He call into existence this adoption completion. You all are close in our thoughts! Love you!

“Can't tell you how many times I have thought of your family and these two precious boys over these past couple of days. Feeling excited, anxious, thrilled, overwhelmed, thankful, at times a bit heartsick, encouraged and amazed . . . Eagerly anticipating a day of rejoicing the day you bring them home . . . trusting and believing it will be so.”

We are standing with you in prayer. God can do the impossible.”

“I am right beside you in Spirit, bowing before the King!”

I am picturing myself helping to hold one of your arms up.  I know there are many others doing the same.”

“For certain He is surrounding you, holding you up, and working His good plan in and thru you. We are all praying…He is good and faithful. You can trust Him! Holding up your arms in prayer… When you're exhausted, we are're almost at the finish line and you can do it!”

Romans 15:13 NLT--I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“While I was thinking of you…I thought of the story of Esther and verse 5:2 that the king extended the scepter to her. Even if it might not seem working so smoothly, but I still have a strong confidence that HE is in control in all this.”

We continue to join you in prayer. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in You." Psalm 56:3

“May God continue to move mountains!  What really strikes me is how you are fighting for them while they don't even know. Reminds me of how God is relentless in His fight for us even when we don't see it. “

God is a big God and is showing it again.”

“We know that God can change the hearts of those who are in control.  And that is what I am praying for and expecting now!”

Through all this, I have had a peace about the outcome, just knowing that God has been in control all this time and that He has known what His plan is from before the boys were born!” 

“Thank God that we can trust His timing.  I think of Gabriel coming to Daniel who said that his prayers were heard immediately.   But much spiritual battling was going on in the heavenlies as Gabriel began his journey to bring God's answer to Daniel.  There's so much we do not understand.  But you will know that these two are God's gift to you if the miracle of a "YES" is yours.”

Praying that the labor pains end in the successful birth of your two newest children.  I know it has been a LONG pregnancy.”

“I am ASKING for HIM to release the boys to your family…that you would receive what you asked and that your JOY would be full.”

Running with you…and remembering Ps 31 (14-15a) that your destiny - and the destiny of those wee boys - are under His control 'For I have said, you are my God; my destiny is under your control.'”

“Don't give up! You are right. Praying for God's divine intervention. It will come and He will withhold no good thing from you or those boys! So excited to see Him move obstacles!”

Here's a verse I read this morning in the AMP that I found very encouraging and thought I would share with you.

"The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering or responsibility]!" Habakkuk 3:19

“Can the prey be taken from the mighty man, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued? Surely thus says the Lord, even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of the tyrant will be rescued..." You have hope, child, because I care, and because I do things. Without me, it is hopeless. With me, it is not. Chin up. I'm still doing good things.
We pray with you that His 'good things' of the hour include bringing these boys into your family. If anything, we know that He is able!

Your home will change and you will be stretched totally, but God has prepared you for a long time. Praying for a way!

Be assured that God is on your case.


Monday, September 2, 2013

It is Here

Usually, writing is a joy and a life-giving activity for me. Writing helps me to process. To solidify the lessons God has taught me in the past. As well as those He is teaching me in the here and now. The unique ways He is growing and stretching me and opening my eyes to a new perspective. In a very personal way, the lessons I’ve recorded these past two months through the final-difficult-miraculous-battle stage of our adoption journey have been especially helpful to me, as I’ve tried to capture what God is doing in the life of our family, both externally and internally.

The first blog post I wrote about this adoption stage though, on the morning of July 9, was more of an act of obedience than a genuine desire to “record my thoughts on the computer screen.” I felt resistant and it felt like work, but I believed that God wanted me to capture—in my weakness— how I was Wanting to Wait Well. There, in that moment, when waiting felt so awfully hard because there was so-very-much-on-the-line. That same afternoon (after Charly and our kids had left for a 2 day trip to Gaoli village with a group visiting from another city) I wrote in my paper-bound journal:

To want to hope, but afraid to hope.
Closing myself off…
God, help me to see you
To believe you
To experience your lifting me out…

And the next day, hopeful that Charly would send me some word from the woman who was helping us do the final check for two children we could adopt together from Gansu, I got this very disappointing text: “Still no options, but she agreed to final check. Will talk tomorrow.” Let’s just say that, even though I was wanting to, I was not waiting well then. I wrote:

And what if the outcome is different than what I want?
And what if the whole process has looked different than I would have chosen?
And what if I just feel like giving up and checking out and saying I’m tired of this?

Over the next several days I turned to the Psalms for encouragement and recorded the verses that spoke to my heart. Here are several:

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:16-19)

“All my longings lie open before you, O Lord…” (Psalm 38:9)

“I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.” (Psalm 38:15)

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. (Psalm 71:14)

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” (Psalm 77:19)

God is gracious and faithful to His weak children, and He used those verses to help sustain me. But July 12 turned out to be one of the hardest of all days for me—the date we had said was the longest we could wait for God to miraculously raise up two children from Gansu. Unfortunately there was still no word on the final check by that day. And Charly wanted to keep waiting until be knew for sure that God had finally closed the door. But the reality of going into another weekend still in limbo about did me in.

Thankfully, God worked deeply through my despair and my fear as I walked along the Yellow River that day. He helped me to lay my heart and all of its desires on the altar, my worry that continuing to wait meant that our adoption might truly be over (because of our looming paperwork expiration date). And how thankful I am to God for My Husband, My Hero, whose steadfast faith God rewarded. On July 15 we got the incredible news that there were two boys in Gansu we could adopt together!

Here we are, almost two months later, with a God-given paperwork extension and assurance from Beijing that they will secure the boys’ files for us when they go online (maybe this week!) Looking back, I can better appreciate how God wanted me to be obedient in recording my wanting to wait well. Because it’s hard. And it’s here. In this moment. When we need God most desperately. When it has to be God.

Last week I reread The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot. She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I love the way she shares her heart and her life lessons. This quote especially ministered to me:

“We may be earnestly desiring to be obedient and holy. But we may he missing the fact that it is here, where we happen to be at this moment and not in another place or another time, that we may learn to love Him—here where it seems He is not at work, where His will seems obscure or frightening, where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent. Here and nowhere else is the appointed place. If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all.”

This is The Real Life.
It is here. And it is now. In this moment.
When we want to hope, but are afraid to hope.
When we just want to give up and close our hearts off to any future pain.
When we are so weary and life feels so hard.
When it seems that God is absent. In the Unanswered.
God calls us—here— to Trust Deeply in Him.
Because if faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all.

(a picture from CJ's backpacking trip)


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