Monday, November 7, 2016

Louder than I'll sing your praise

God has taught me a lot about praising, healing and hope the past week and a half. You see, we have choices to make. When we have been wounded, hurt and broken we have choices to make.  Scripture warns us about unforgiveness and gives us a tangible picture of what it can do in our hearts. We can choose to torture ourselves by sitting in unforgiveness!
Matthew 18:23-35 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all. Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

And I truly think healing has been coming for us (Not to say it doesn't still hurt...) because we have chosen the way of love and forgiveness. Hear me now....I am not perfect and this has not been easy for me, but I have still chosen it. I have to! I have had moments where anger, fear or doubt have overcome me. But, in each of those moments, God has been faithful to gently nudge my heart. "Let it go Erin. Forgive Erin. Don't allow bitterness to take root...." You see, God has forgiven me my debt. He has forgiven my sin, my wrong doing, and my bad judgments. I've hurt people. But, God still chose the way of love and forgiveness over me. He sets the example and it isn't just for the good of the offender, but even more so it is for the good and HEALING of the wounded. I tell my kids all of the time. "I don't ask you to obey me just to get my way! I ask you to obey me so you don't get hurt and so you don't hurt someone else. The same is true with the Lord. He asks us to be obedient in our daily choices not just for himself, but for the good of the whole!

This song has been one of my favorites since this summer. However the past week and a half, it has been my anthem.


Take this fainted heart
Take these tainted hands
Wash me in Your love
Come like grace again

Even when my strength is lost
I'll praise You
Even when I have no song
I'll praise You
Even when it's hard to find the words
Louder then I'll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again

Even when the fight seems lost
I'll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell
I'll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I'll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

And my heart burns only for You
You are all You are all I want
And my soul waits only for You
And I will sing till the morning has come

Lord my heart burns only for You
You are all You are all I want
And my soul waits only for You
And I will sing till the miracle comes

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

Even when the morning comes
I'll praise You
Even when the fight is won
I'll praise You
Even when my time on earth is done
Louder then I'll sing your praise

I will only sing Your praise

I have found that praising a faithful God in a situation that seems beyond redemption saves me. That believing in His goodness saves me. You see, John 16:33 says that we are going to have trouble in this world. He never promises us an easy walk. Never. What he does say is "take heart....Be confident, Be courageous....." We can be confident and courageous because we know who He is. We know He is God, He wins in the end. Even though life feels impossible right now, he doesn't ask us to hold back. He doesn't ask us to protect ourselves and refrain from love. He asks us to be courageous and put our love out there!

Something else that I have found through choosing to take heart  and choosing to forgive is another level of love. I'm telling you guys it's unreal. I've always loved Malachi's parents. From the moment I met them. But the deep love for this young couple has grown. I am so on their team. I feel like Andy and I have become their biggest fans. I have even learned to be happy for them and their new little family in the middle of my grief of losing a little guy that I thought was going to be my son. I feel a little bit like a protective big sister. Mama and I have been in some communication. I've been able to send Malachi all of his clothes. I've been able to have some light hearted conversation with his mama. I've been able to cheer her on in motherhood. I've been able to, because God has done the same for me! I feel like God has allowed me to see that even though I didn't get what I want, and what I thought was best, I am only human. I can't see the big picture. I can't chose how God uses me. I can't control everything. (Even though I'd like to!) Nope. All I can control is what I chose to do. I find strength in choosing love and compassion. I am finding step after step of healing through not protecting myself and giving love no holds barred. I am finding hope for a BIG redemption story in letting go of control. I am finding joy in letting go.....

Even when it hurts like hell, I'll praise you. Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder than I'll sing your praise.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

When I don't understand

The reality is.....not all adoption is easy. Some people fill out their papers and boom, they have a baby. Some people meet their child in another country and wait years to bring them home.  Some people are chosen by birth mom's and don't actually get a child until they have met their 3rd birth mom. The reality is....adoption isn't always easy.
This is a truth and pain we are feeling in the depths of our core. A pain we are walking through on a minute by minute basis. September 27th we got the call we have been waiting over 5 years for. A birth mom chose us to parent her child. Less than a week later we met both birth parents. We loved them immediately. The birth father had this sweet, quiet, tenderness about him and the birth mom was mature for her age. She took the decision very seriously and she had a great sense of humor. I loved them. We found out we had only weeks until our soon to be son was going to be born. I began texting with our birth mom fairly often. The communication was good for me. I knew she was serious about her decision and she wanted to keep me included. I really enjoyed getting to know her.
At 1:40 am on Oct. 25 we got the call that she was in labor. We dropped the kids off at a friends house and rushed down to Indianapolis. I was a hot mess of emotion. Our wait was almost over and the whole situation was exactly as I had hoped. An open adoption with birth parents we connected with. Everything lined up. Right down to baby names and what we were hoping for in each other. A little after 3:00 pm Oct. 25 Malachi Theodore was born.
Out of respect for his family I am not showing pictures of his face.

I cried the moment I looked into his tiny face. I loved him fiercely with every ounce of my being. My son. We took pictures and videos and sent them to our boys at home. They couldn't wait to meet him in person.
The next day we got to keep him in a hospital room all to ourselves. The pediatricians came in and asked questions. We were making medical decisions. We snuggled him to pieces. Fed him. Changed him. Kissed his crazy cute lips. We talked to him about his brothers and how much we would love him forever. There was no holding back the love.
The next morning, the 27th, we got the call that shattered us to our core. She changed her mind. Our birth parents changed their minds.......I remember yelling "God no!" and the pain overtook me. I didn't know how to go on from there. I thought I was going to vomit. "How do I move forward? Lord, how do I tell my boys?! How do I break their hearts? " The pain I felt was unbearable. I had a son for 2 days and now he's gone. I didn't even get to say goodbye. He was just gone.
I know the itty bitty details about him. Like his sweet ears are a little darker at the top than the bottom. He needs to be snuggled tight in order to sleep. He scratches at his face if he isn't holding your finger or swaddled. He wants his pointer finger in his mouth to soothe. He has the cutest, squeakiest cry. I know that he sucks down a bottle in seconds and he's so strong he can control his head. I know him.....I miss him.
The drive home that day from Indy was quiet. I don't think the tears ever stopped rolling. We pulled into the garage with an empty car seat on the same day we were suppose to be bringing him home. A pain unfathomable. Andy and I both sobbed. We have done a lot of crying and holding each other. I am so thankful for him. I need him.
When the boys got home from school, we had to tell them. I've never heard my son wail the way he did at that moment. He cried so hard he screamed at one point. They were both devastated and I didn't know how to fix it. I couldn't take the pain away and I couldn't control anything. We just all had to feel it. My family felt it. My friends felt it. It still sucks.
Through all of the uncontrollable pain and unknowns I had to make a decision. I had to make the choice to lean into the only one I know can carry me through this. I had to lean into the Lord. We decided we needed to take a few days off and just be together as a family. The first night, Nahum and I snuck out to Walmart and bought the Pie Face game. That brought some much needed humor and laughter between the waves of pain.

The next day we went to a pumpkin farm and spent the whole day. Rides, games, food....everything. I cried on and off throughout that day, but the time together as a family helped us all. Spending time being grateful for my husband, my mom....I was thankful she was here. I am thankful for what I have and remembering that helps me. It doesn't remove the pain but it redirects my focus to a heart of thankfulness and appreciation. Creating moments where laughter comes easily helps too. Pulling ourselves out of the pit and allowing ourselves to have some fun helps.

The truth is......Even though the birth parents decision broke us and brought us unbearable pain......I get it. I totally get it. They love him. They created him. They gave birth to him. They love him. Even though they are young, I think they can do it. I saw an 18 year old boy act out of fatherly instinct after he was born. He became a man in a moment he didn't expect and I saw it with my own eyes. I saw a young woman in turmoil over a son she wanted but wasn't sure she could parent. We got to know them well enough to know that they can do it. They are strong and they love him.
I emailed our birth mom today. I felt like I needed to release her from guilt or at least for myself to get some closure. I needed her to know that we still love them and that we understand. That we are in their court and that we believe in them. I want them to have his clothes and I wanted them to have the pictures that we took of them. I think it's important that they know that we will be ok. Only by the grace, mercy and goodness of God....but we will be ok. Andy said we have to chose one of two camps. Either we stay angry and harbor unforgiveness. Or, we love them and stand in support of them. We get to chose that. We chose love.
Rather than asking the question "why" I am asking that God use this. That our pain not be wasted. My prayer is that this young couple has seen the love of Jesus through us. Through our love for them and their son. (It's so hard to call him their son even though he is.) That our actions and our words and encouragement can shine the light of Jesus. The pain they caused us is forgiven. That our forgiveness can breakdown barriers.
Not only that, but this sweet African American couple can see walls breaking down in the world of racism. That this little white family loved their dark skinned son as their own. No holds barred. That the barriers that still exist between white and black have been shattered at least in this one moment of time. That love is bigger than the skin we are born with.
I wanted that boy. I love that boy. My heart hurts more than I have ever felt before and I am so tired of crying. But, I have to hold on to hope. Hope that Malachi will have a good life and know Jesus. Hope that we will have an adoption that doesn't fall through. Hope that my boys will be big brothers someday soon. I have to chose to trust. I have to trust that God can move and work in this. That even when I don't understand and even when it hurts like hell God is still God. That he still is a good God. That he is a righteous and faithful God.
As I was getting ready yesterday the song "I Breathe You In, God" came on. I feel like it's where I'm at and what I am choosing. I have to. I need to.

The presence of the Living God Satisfies the depths of my heart And all of me I change when you came
And I'm led free by Your glory and grace And I breathe You in, God Cause You are there all around me (repeat) The kindness of Your loves pure light Pierces through the darkest of all night And everything is possible now For God is here And God is good And You are good, God For You are good to me (repeat) And when I don't understand I will choose You (repeat) And when I don't understand I will choose to love You, God And when I don't understand I will choose You (repeat) And when I don't understand I will choose to love You, God And You are good, God For You are good to me (repeat) Its my privilege To worship You To worship For You are good, God For You are good to me (repeat)

When I don't understand, I choose to love you God.
I also want to thank all of you who have been a support to us. We have felt your prayers, we're thankful for your gifts and your love. I can feel that people are praying for us. And the things that have shown up at my doorstep over the last couple of days are reminders of God's goodness.

 All of you who have gone out of your way to help us out......Thank you. For the people who are willing to keep an eye on my kids if they need a hug...thank you. For all of the texts and voxers full of love and encouragement.....thank you. For those of you who have donated financially to our adoption......thank you. We are still going to use every penny for whatever adoption finally sticks. It is still hanging out in our adoption fund until we finally get to use it....thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Adoption Journey Conference

Hey guys, me again. I know my updates are few and far between, but that is usually because there is nothing to report on. I've been chewing on this update for a couple of weeks because I have been deep in processing mode and busy investigating some new avenues. 
I will try to make this extremely long story as short as possible. Otherwise I fear you would be reading for days. There is a bit more behind the scenes of the story, but for your sake, I will start here;
A while back, some friends from our church invited us to attend an adoption conference with them. We never would have known about it had they not invited us. (Thanks Matt and Dawn!....And to my mom for being here to watch the kids!) So, Feb 27 we headed to the Adoption Journey Conference at County Line Church of God. The first group session the pastor from the church spoke. GUYS.......His story was so similar to ours I could hardly believe it. Granted they ended up adopting from China and we are now domestic, but seriously, other than that crazy similar. I somewhat quietly cried through most of his message titled "Trust the timing of the one who created time". Then, he said "At the 4 year marker we asked God Why? God you called us to this and we desire this why is it taking so long?!" Insert ugly cry here. Of course there were no tissues. At least Dawn had one she so kindly passed down the row. This was the start of the tears for me. Tears that pretty much lasted all day with a few brief intermissions here and there. The conference was amazing. It felt tailored to us. Almost as if God ordained it just for Andy and I. I mean I know there were a ton of other people that gleaned from it, but the capacity at which it touched me was huge! The last speaker of the day asked if we felt like we drank information in through a fire hose. Uh yes! That was exactly right. Too much to take in!
Throughout the day we had moments to visit random booths set up in an auditorium. We met a social worker, Jan, from Gateway Woods. **ahem, if you are considering fostering CALL THEM!** Anyhow, Jan asked us about our process. Our struggles, what we are needing etc.... Even though we couldn't at this point adopt through them, she took her time to help us. She gave me her info to call her the next week and talk things over. So, I did. 
The week after the conference I called her and she mailed us a list of agencies that are willing to take a home study from another agency and will allow you into their program. From all we had looked into we couldn't find one that was willing to take our home study from our current agency or one that was willing to work along side them! This was huge news to us.
Sunday I started scrolling through the list and one specific one caught my eye. Ok, if I am being honest it made me cry. I'm not totally sure why. All I can say is it gave me hope. I've been pretty raw with emotion since the conference and it doesn't take much to get the tears flowing. So, Monday I called G.L.A.D adoption agency. Just that one. And I am so glad I did. I spoke with a woman named Julie who gave me such hope and encouragement. I cried on the phone with her too....go figure. Anyhow, GLAD is willing to work alongside SEC who we have been working with the past number of years. She emailed me some papers to fill out and told me what else I needed to send in. Wouldn't ya know I already had an extra book to mail in and everything else we needed too. So, last night Andy and I spent a couple of hours filling out the paper work and today I mailed it in. 

This means that as soon as they get our package we will be available for birth moms at their agency as well! Double the exposure..... A huge answer to prayer and a giant dose of hope! 
To most of you I know this won't mean a whole lot. But for those who have walked through the past 4 1/2 years of heart ache with us and have seen our weary hearts rub very raw it will mean a lot. It means hope. We needed hope in a huge way and God provided. Keep the prayers coming friends. We need it. Our boys need it. Our future kids need it.