plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.

 

 

because i promised

I recently got a message from a friend who reminded me that I hadn’t posted on the blog in a while.

That same day I had submitted my written testimony as part of a job application to a Mission organization that I really would love to work for.  In the process of writing the testimony, I handed it to my pastor to see if he had any edits or suggestions.

He handed it back to me and to my utter shock said this

“Don’t change a word. Oh, and I want you to read this during my sermon this Sunday”

Can you spell shock?  or how about flabbergasted? that’s a good one.

So I did it.  I read it in church.  My husband says it went over really well.  I wouldn’t know.  The whole experience is somewhat of a blank to me.  Something about the dark room and that spotlight just erased my brain I think.  Anyway, here is the written version.

Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing…..
As a Christian child, I loved the Jesus of Sunday school and songs, but my faith had no depth, so my adult choices resulted in two failed marriages. At my lowest point I was living in a sinful situation, with no repentance or desire for God.  I thought God was all about “no” and rules.  Eventually my wrong thinking took me somewhere I had never planned to go.  Friends and family alike were fed up with my continuing disasters.  My life was a mess, and it was my fault.

I was alone.

God then poured out His mercy on me through one friend – Barbara.  She made it clear that she deplored my choices, but Barbara also made it clear and that she, and God, loved me. And she set out to prove it.  After unsuccessfully inviting me to church many times, Barbara decided to kidnap me.  Every Sunday she got her family up early, drove to my home, rousted me out of bed, and took me to church.  My unwilling ears heard truth at that church.

Sometimes I would come home from work, expecting a silent, lonely house and I would find instead a home full of Barbara’s family.  The kids were happy to see me, dinner was on the stove and I had a family to eat it with.  We would read, talk, and fellowship.  My hardened heart saw love made tangible.

Because of Barbara’s deliberate ministry to me I began to want to know God.  I finally read the Bible, and found out about a God beyond Sunday school songs.  A God that wants an intimate relationship with me.  That still blesses me with fresh meaning every day.

My life still has highs and lows, but every day I learn more ways to praise my redeemer.  These days my husband and I host a Bible study in our home, I write devotionals, volunteer in our church, and I’m currently learning the inductive method of Bible study.  Martin works for our church and we have a beautiful daughter through the blessing of adoption.  My Lord has bound my wandering heart to Him through more goodness, blessings and merciful moments than I can count.  Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing.  Here, I raise my Ebenezer indeed.

pump up the volume

Thoughts.  Thoughts scurry in my mind.

Like fifteen toddlers who all are trying to get out the door all at once.  What you really need is for them all to be quiet, and pay attention so you can instruct them to get in line and hold hands.

No one will get left out.  Just calm down.

When you are dealing with just one toddler at a time, you can afford to use a quiet voice.  It won’t work all the time, but some toddlers will quiet themselves down just to be able to catch the sound of a quiet, calm, authority.

But when you are dealing with a room full of noise, distractions and chaos……

Sometimes you just have to raise your voice. Just a smidge.

“Everyone needs to sit down. Now.  And Be Quiet.”

I think,  sometimes, God needs to shout at me.  To “Pump up the Volume” as it were.  Just a smidge.

Don’t know about you, but I get swarmed under by myriad fears, anxieties, worries, things I’m planning, posts to write, schedules to arrange….and when I was waiting for our adoption to come through it was even worse.  The thoughts that crowded my head all the time…oi!  Each thought was a mere whisper, but the cumulative effect was an overwhelming din.

Are we in God’s will? Will the paperwork ever go through?Will we ever be matched? Are we matched with the right birth family? Is this couple going to run off with our money? Am I sinful for worrying about the money? Is the baby healthy? Am I sinful for worrying about whether the baby is healthy? Am I ready to parent? Is anyone ever ready to parent? Will I be a good parent? Have I worked through my grief yet? Is adoption a moral option? Or am ripping a child away from her family forever? Is this baby going to be permanently emotionally damaged by just the mere fact of being adopted? Will I be able to explain the concepts of adoption to a child without giving him, or her, a complex?

At some point God had to shout to be heard above the babble of fears swarming around in my mind and heart.

“Everyone needs to sit down. Now. And Be Quiet.”

In other words,

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

When that verse is read out loud it is commonly read in a quiet, respectful, calm voice.  But I have this vision of God occasionally having to shout it at me in order to be heard over all the scurry and noise of my mind.  All those fears running in circles, and the things I spend my mental energies worrying at.  Each one, individually doesn’t make that much noise, but collectively? They can be deafening.

How did God “shout” at me?  I am convinced of this – He let our adoption proceedings get to a point where there was, quite literally

Nothing I Could Do.

Not one thing I did was going to make the process happen faster, or better, or proceed in a more understandable direction.  Once we got to the point where nothing I did would have any effect…..

It finally dawned on me that God was in charge.  He had been in charge all along of course, no matter how much I thought I was contributing.

Why am I writing this?  Well Missy asked me to share “what to say to a friend who is waiting for an adoption”

Hmmmm.

Okay.

First off, my reaction when she asked me to write this was something on the order of “are you kidding me?  I am hardly the poster child of someone enduring a long wait for an adoption!” (ours went from the very first phone call with the agency all the way to the delivery room in an INSANELY short 6 months) but then I stopped and thought about it and remembered all the sleepless nights, the heart-rending questions I had, the grief of being convinced that each moment that we waited was some kind of judgment for my past sins and I realized afresh a very simple truth….

When you are in the throes of waiting for something, every single moment feels like the middle of forever.

When you are waiting, you can’t see the end.

When you are waiting for a phone call, you have no way of knowing when it will come.

When you are waiting on the good offices of some clerk in some office somewhere in a county, city, or country far-far-away, or even one next door, there is nothing you can do to make them work faster or look on you with favor.  You just have to wait.

And when you are waiting, you become like a child eager for Christmas.  Or a dog waiting for his master to return home from work.  The only thing your brain registers is

Each

Tick

Of

The

Clock

Seems

Like

An

Eternity.

So what to say to a friend who is waiting for an adoption?  Well unless you can be right there next to your friend every moment, every second of her torment, to whisper to her that God is good and that He knows what he is doing, there is really no way that you personally can adequately comfort your friend.

Lots of people said lots of things to me.  Some of them were helpful.  Some, not so much.  But I have to be honest with you, nothing really sank in until I was forced by God to sit still and listen.  So my best advice is this –

If you have a friend who is waiting, (whether they are waiting for IVF results, or waiting for a clerk to forward their paperwork, or waiting for a match, or waiting for a baby to be born) Give them God.  Give them Scripture.  Encourage them to fill their every waking minute with the love and comfort of our Lord. Scripture songs on CD are especially good.  Any human advice you give them is just going to get lost in the noise of their fretting, scurrying, endlessly circling brains.  BUT scripture will echo in their hearts because it is by nature divine, and when they slow down enough to listen (or God brings them up short, like he did with me) they will finally hear, process and be blessed.

Which scriptures?

Well, that is between you and the Holy Spirit, but here are some ones that helped me

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (this one was a great one to shout at God when my heart was crying one great big long WHY LORD, WHY?????!!!!!!!!)

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Genesis 18:14
Is anything too hard for the LORD?  (nothing is too difficult for God.  nothing. Simple and true)

Psalm 62: 1 & 2
My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 10:12
Arise LORD! Lift up your hand oh God. Do not forget the helpless.  (we prayed this for our as yet unknown child and her parents. Over and over and over)

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD. Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Galatians 3:3
are you so foolish? After beginning with the spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  (this one stung me.  I am a do-er by nature. Nuff said)

I John 1:5
God is light, in him there is no darkness AT ALL  ( this one helped me immeasurably.  Yes, I know.  As a Christian this sounds like such a simple concept, but it really helped drive me to the point of acknowledging that God IS good.)

Any time you have a friend who is hurting ( and trust me, waiting for an adoption can be a long series of one hurt after another) you should pray, fervently for God to give you wisdom.  For the Holy Spirit to speak through you and provide comfort.  This is something that God has already promised to do for all of us, so you don’t have to worry about if this is in his will or not.  You already know that it is.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Isaiah 61:1&2
The spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.  To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion.

My family has not yet come to the end of our adoption journey.  We adopted an infant girl from a wonderful family that we love and pray for daily.

But the journey doesn’t end there.  Every day we get up and continue the process of adoption.  As Ginny grows and understands more and more we will have new challenges.  Every day there are new obstacles to confront, and new events to wait for and the scriptures that calmed me during our adoption process still apply.

And so do my instructions from the God that whispers in my heart (and sometimes has to shout at me to get me to listen)…..

Be still, and know that I am God.

eighteen hours

Eighteen hours can make quite a difference.

A month ago I went to bed on a Monday with a sinus infection thinking that the worst thing I would have to do that week was get up early the next day and drag my ailing body to work.  Eighteen hours later I was calling my husband to tell him that my job no longer existed.

A little over two years ago we were at a lovely restaurant in Kansas with Dan, Vivian, Steve and a very pregnant and radiant Mel.  In the space of eighteen hours we went from chatting over steaks to holding a very tiny  newborn Ginny.  We went from strangers who were becoming friends  to family.   Bonded forever by Ginny.

Yesterday we had another eighteen hour transition.  Not nearly so earth shaking, but very very much appreciated.

First some background.

Lately Ginny has been cranky.  Actually cranky doesn’t really begin to describe it.  It seemed no matter what we did, she would lose patience far too quickly, throw temper tantrums and in general was being a real beast.  Now before anyone says “but she’s only 2 years old”  Yes.  I know that.  I am talking about an increase in the number of tantrums and a HUGE step up in the speed at which she will go from happy to furious.  And nothing we did had any effect.

We were baffled.

but then.

Yesterday we put her down for a nap at 4 in the afternoon.

and, are you ready for this? she slept for EIGHTEEN SOLID HOURS.

Yes.  you heard me.

We checked on her numerous times, convinced that something had to be wrong, but she was fine.  Just very very much asleep.

and then this morning came.

Ginny woke up positively angelic.  Cute, smiley, happy, reasonable  and loving.

Sleep therapy.  I wonder if it would work on politicians?

 

ginny’s second birthday party

Hey folks.  Long time, no blog.  I know I know.

I’m gonna try to get back in the groove of posting more soon.

But until then, here is a slide show of SOME of the 1000 photos that Doug Mulford took at Ginny’s Second Birthday Party.

the party was at The Little Gym in Snellville.  I had always sworn I was NEVER going to pay to have a party at some venue outside my home for a childrens party.  yeh, I know never say never….

At the beginning of the summer we enrolled Ginny in a weekly class at the Little Gym and she loved it so much that we decided “oh what the heck, let’s have her party here too” and boy are we ever glad we did!

First of all two year olds have WAY too much energy to have a party at our house.  Our home can barely contain Ginny in an energetic mood, never mind 10 or 15 guest kids.  oi!  The Little Gym staff was amazing.  They did everything we paid for and then some.  When we arrived they made a point of asking what Ginny’s favorite games are.  Hide-n-seek? Peek-a-boo? Tag? So that they could tailor the group activities to HER tastes!  Maybe other places do this too, but I am naive enough that I was impressed.

Anyway, her favorite thing in the whole world to do these days is (in her own words) Bouncy! Bouncy! Bouncy!  so they extended the time the kids get to play on the bounce…thingy.

I will post an update on her words and current doings soon, but for now I’ll just say that Ginny is 34 inches tall, weighs 26 pounds and has the sweetest personality in the world.  I am daily amazed at this wonderful, complicated, cheerful, creative, energetic little girl that God has blessed us with.  “Thank you” doesn’t even begin to convey the feelings I have for Ginny’s birthparents, Mel & Steve.

The adventure that officially started in a hospital room in Kansas on the night of August 29th, 2008 continues.  I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my lovely

Virginia Altie Aspen Gerard Russell

have my baby..please?

Can you possibly imagine that line as the start of a deep, meaningful friendship?

Well, I can.

Cause I once asked that very question of someone.  They turned me down and then proceeded to become a major part of my life.

What on earth am I talking about you ask? (or maybe you’ve already stopped reading ’cause I’ve offended you…)

Well back a few years ago when I was still reeling from our failed IVF tries one of the options the doctor mentioned was to have a surrogate mother carry a baby for us.  We could either use our own …um….material, or just my husband and the surrogate.  That last option completely turned me off, but the idea of having someone carry our child for us was not completely repugnant, so we agreed to think about it.  But then the doctors  started telling me all the stuff we would need to look into to find a surrogate.  DNA testing for the surrogate and descriptions and interviews…it was all so cold and clinical.  We were turned off by the whole process, so we put the notion on the shelf and got on with the process of healing our sore hearts.

Another friend who had been going through infertility issues herself pointed me to a wonderful blog post by a person named Missy.  It was all about how God never puts us in a place or situation without there being a reason, a meaning in it.

After reading that first post I kept reading.  and reading.  and reading.  I really liked this lady.  I liked her style and I envied her the ability to have four kids.  Her fertility and my infertility were in stark contrast to each other, and the thought crossed my mind…I wonder if she would be willing to be a surrogate for us?

I took my courage in both hands, and emailed her.

She very compassionately said, no.  And for a very good reason – Missy had had a rough delivery with her last baby and she was scared to try again.  Which is perfectly understandable.

Now this COULD have been a humiliating moment for me, but Missy made it into the beginning of a sweet relationship.  And no matter how depressed I got, or how frustrated with God’s timing, she kept pointing me back to God and reminding me that He is GOOD and He had not forgotten me.

Eventually, after a lot of healing and soul searching, we chose to adopt domestically and we could not possibly have been more blessed than we are to have Ginny.  Her birth parents are a wonderful part of our family life and they know how much we love them.  I honestly would not trade Ginny for any child of my own body.

But beyond helping me with my emotional healing, Missy did something far greater for me – she pointed out a prejudice that I was holding on to unjustly and opened my eyes to the amazing ministry of a lovely lady in Houston named Beth Moore.

Since then it’s been three years of non-stop blessing. Accountability,  Bible studies,  discussions, scripture memory teams, and now I’m EIGHT DAYS away from FINALLY meeting MISSY.

so Missy, thank you for NOT having my babies.

ginny’s first year in pictures

Enjoy this slide show.  I had fun putting it together.  This year has been an amazing journey.

Adoption match, meeting and loving Ginny’s birth parents, birth by C-section, trip home from Kansas, overwhelming baby shower from our church, constant care from friends and family, the month of RSV treatments, first tooth, first solid foods, first words, trips to Texas, Colorado and Mississippi, first time in a pool, first wedding, first birthday cake and many many more things I can’t even think of right now.

thank you Lord for your guidance and care. and Thank you Mel & Steve for trusting us with this precious gift.

enjoy!