Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meet Sara - Host of our Creative Quiet Time Breakout Session

This is the story of a family that God has grown.  When I looked up the word “biological” to try and find some other word to describe it, the word “organic” popped up.  I like that word better.  It better describes our family.  Organic:  of, related to, derived from living matter (Google’s “meaning of organic”).  Yes, that’s it.  We are of each other because we love each other.  And the blood that unites us may not have the same DNA, but it was shed for all of us.  With each one of us in mind, knowing our lives needed His perfect blood because everything else is so deficient—He gave His life so we could live.
We got started growing our family right away after we got married.  We brought our first little one home about a month after our first anniversary!  With each stage, we have left it up to the Lord to make it happen.  We didn’t know how long it might take to get pregnant or if I would have successful pregnancies, etc.  Conversations always included adoption as well.  But where do you even start with that?  We weren’t exactly “trying,” but we weren’t exactly doing anything to not try either.  And then BAM!  I always tell people, “He winked at me, and I got pregnant.”  So, there we were trying to finish school (which we’re still doing 11 years and 3 undergraduate degrees, 2 Masters degrees, and 1 (almost) PhD later!), living technically below the poverty level, and jumping into life with both feet!  We were thrilled, and scared to death!  But as you all know, life keeps going.  You can’t stop it.  Sometimes I want to—not just because I’m scared of the future, but because I want to freeze moments and dwell in them.  Like hearing that first heart beat over the Doppler.  Or finally looking into the face of the sweet child you’ve been anticipating for so long.  Or maybe even freezing a date night with the hubby—just for a few extra hours together.  Those would be nice frozen moments, don’t you think?
The growth of our family has not come without growing pains.  We’ve lived on very tight budgets.  We’ve lived in cramped quarters.  We’ve moved.  A lot.  But the Lord has always provided.  And we have felt His leading to each of the places we’ve been.  Certainly there were times of questioning—you know, when it got hard or uncomfortable.  And yes, we thought about leaving and giving up.  But we are not a people who leave and give up!  We are followers of Christ.  So, we follow.  Faithfully.  Even when it’s hard.  The one pregnancy we talked about “trying” for ended in a miscarriage.  Our oldest son was just over a year old.  We thought it was a good time to start trying for baby #2.  Once again, I got pregnant right away.  Around two and a half months later we found out we had lost the baby.  Sometimes I feel like that heartbreaking day at the ultrasound is frozen in my mind.  The pain and grief can still wash over me with such a vengeance even after all these years.  In the middle of us trying to find our bearings again and praying healing for my body, it happened again.  It was the Lord.  And by the time we figured out I was pregnant, we were well into the second trimester and baby was healthy.  We rejoiced!  And this time we were having a girl.  We talked about whether or not to try for #3.  We finally decided the Lord was telling us to wait it out to the end of the year for his answer.  I supposed that if we were pregnant by the end of the year that was a “yes,” and if not, “no.”  Well, the New Year came and went.  I didn’t think it was possible that I would have become pregnant because of my history while nursing a baby (which I was presently doing)—#nocycle, #freebirthcontrol.  Well, the Lord had other ideas.  And sure enough, at the end of January I became suspicious.  Remember how I mentioned the Lord had said to wait until the end of the year?  Well, literally, I will never forget the moment my doctor said to me when we were confirming the pregnancy, “Oh, it looks like this must have happened on New Year’s Eve!”  It doesn’t get anymore “end of the year” than that, folks!  We were confident after this pregnancy the Lord was telling us our biological family was complete.  However, we didn’t feel like were done growing as a family.  We weren’t sure what it would look like, but we began praying, dreaming, and waiting.  Oh, the waiting.  Am I right?! 
Fast forward about 5 years.  Our oldest son was 8, our daughter 6, and our youngest son at the time was 5.  It was time.  We began searching and praying for answers, for direction from the Lord.  I had spent some time in the country of Haiti during my college years, and the people of Haiti had never left my heart.  We started there.  It was a dead end with all the current (at the time) rules and regulations, we didn’t qualify.  Where now?  We started talking to agencies who gave us all the countries we did qualify for.  We marked all of them on our globe and prayed.  And waited.  We knew some missionary friends in the Eastern Caribbean, and we also knew a family who had begun their adoption process through the same country.  After a few conversations we decided THIS WAS IT!  We got connected with the right people, and we were officially on a list!  We were doing an international private adoption.  As my 4th grader sometimes says, “That’s cray cray!”  And it was!  Communication was limited and sometimes confusing.  Most of the time I didn’t know what I should be doing or what I should be expecting.  Praise the Lord for a family a few months ahead of us in the process—they were a constant resource.  Not just for practical and technical purposes, but for encouragement and sanity purposes as well!  So began the process of hurry-up-and-wait!  Paperwork.  Waiting.  Paperwork.  Waiting.  We’re at the top of the list.  Waiting.  I’ll spare a lot of the details in between—though there are some precious gems of God’s divine intervention.  (He’s pretty awesome!)
Finally a referral.  A pregnant young mom.  Gender of baby unknown.  Health of baby unknown.  Due in 8 weeks or so.  YES!  Without hesitation.  We knew this was our baby!  More waiting.  The baby was due at the end of December.  And HE was the best Christmas present ever!  We waited 6 more months after he was born to finally hold him in our arms.  His foster mom is one of the most amazing women I have ever met in my life.  I feel so blessed to know her.  Her love for the Lord and for children is incredible.  She would give her life, and quite frankly, is giving her life to help children in desperate need.  She took the best care of our sweet baby boy for 6 months, and then handed him over to us.  The process of going to get him and bring him home was incredible.  Not only was it amazing to meet him and spend time in his birth country and even meet his birth mother and hear her story, but it was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.  We were away from our three bigger kids for an indefinite amount of time.  We thought maybe two weeks, at the most 2.5 weeks.  Three and a half weeks later we were finally reunited as a family again!  I can see many positive things for the time we spent bringing him home now.  (At the time, not so much.)  I am overwhelmed and thankful for the journey the Lord has us on, and the way He is growing our family.  All the days of waiting and paperwork and being separated from family—they seem so far away now.  Almost gone.  The joy and delight right before my very eyes blocks it all out these days…
I know that many people have very hard “growing family” stories.  Whether it be waiting periods without end.  Or trying so hard and experiencing failure and heartbreak.  Referrals that don’t come to fruition.  Saying “yes” and hearing back “no.”  The depth of faith and testing and trust that some endure is incredible.  Once again, I’m drawn to think of what unites all of us.  The thing that makes us all family. The blood.  His blood. Shed for us.  The blood running through our veins at this very moment is temporary.  But His blood that unites us is eternal.  My prayer for each of you reading this is that His blood would cover you and your family—whatever that looks like.  That He would unite you in an eternal way more than an official or biological or lawful way.  Oh that we would all be eternally united—knitted together in Him.  That’s family. 
“For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.  Therefore, we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen.  For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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