Sunday, January 16, 2011

When God Changes Your Life's Course

As we meander through the years of our lives, so many things change. Our physical appearance, our jobs, our homes, our hobbies, our religion, our friends and our hopes, dreams and goals. Then there's the things that are consistent throughout the years.

One thing that has stayed consistent with me since I was a pre-teen is that I knew that someday I would adopt. At least, my desire was to adopt. I had an elementary understanding of it. I get somebody else's baby and love them as my own. Naturally, I now know that it's not that easy. There's a lot of bureaucracy that goes with this concept.

We've already been down this wonderful path of adoption. Like childbirth, you quickly forget about the pain, the uncertainty, and the hard labor. You start searching your heart and assessing your feelings to determine if you're ready to start looking for the rest of your forever children to complete your family. The home study is still current, after all.

Before you have a chance to decide whether you're ready, God decides for you. You find an email from your adoption worker sitting in your inbox asking if you'd consider taking a specific sibling group. It's amazing how just a few short sentences can cause such a mix of emotions. Your heart leaps for joy because they're babies. Just what I've always wanted! You're curious because the genders are not listed. Then your heart sinks because both have special needs, one with a few health issues. The other with Down syndrome.

What was our worker thinking? She knows what our adoption criteria is. Why would she build us up with this then hit us with a zinger like THAT? Health issues that are being managed is one thing. Down syndrome? Oh, I don't think so. Still, the excitement of finding out more about these babies nullifies my fears of raising a child with such extreme special needs. Yeah, God knows what He's doing. He knows a mother's heart, doesn't he?

The wait was grueling. We received the initial email just days before Christmas. The DHS foster care department and all adoption agencies were to close down from December 24th until January 3rd. We'd have to wait until at least then to learn more and set up an informational meeting. This gave me all of Christmas break to research the health issues and to learn more about Down syndrome. So far, we hadn't found anything that was so earth shattering that we didn't think either would scare us off.

Finally, we contacted our worker on the 5th when we hadn't heard from her yet. She had slightly more information to share with us. Both babies are girls. Ok, well that won't work anyway. I was sad. Again, she knew that our criteria was for 1-2 more boys. It's what we have bedroom space for. We didn't want to make our teenage son give up his own room. The new family members would have to share the room with our 6 year old son. Therefore, they'd have to be boys.

It's amazing how the rationalizing begins to make a situation work when one wants something bad enough. A family meeting proves positive when our teenage son is agreeable to giving up his room for the sake of these girls. Everything is falling into place. When it's God's will, they usually do.

During the informational meeting, my mind was already made up that these girls should become a part of our family. I went in with a worse case attitude. If either were in a vegetated state or in a wheelchair, we would not be a good fit. Anything else could work. It WILL work! Big sister is highly functioning with her Ds. She is capable of living a full life. Little sister's health issues are manageable. She too will live a full life. We are at peace with our decision to begin the adoption process.

We meet the girls and it is a very good time. We have no reservations about this path we are on the verge of walking. God is orchestrating this dance. We will stumble and we will fall. If we keep our eyes on our Instructor, we will learn to be graceful.

Already, He has been changing my heart. Never would I have considered children with these special needs if I had acted on my own accord. The fears have melted away and have been replaced with a heart full of joy. I feel so blessed and honored that He has chosen US to be stewards to these little girls. I am humbled by the fact that He trusts us with so much. I fall on my face and praise Him. For when I searched my heart, I found Him. I found Him in their smiles. I heard Him in their laughter. I felt His love every time they wrapped their chubby arms around me for a hug. I felt His warmth when they laid their heads into my chest. To deny these children that He will bless us with would be as if we denied God himself. He wants to bless us with this wonderful challenge. Here am I with arms wide open. I humbly surrender to you, Lord Christ.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sunday Wedding

The day was as perfect as it gets for an October day in the Michigan countryside. Sunshine, warm breeze and the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges of the changing trees were pleasing to the senses. The guests arrived, a mingle of family, friends and the congregation. The bride happens to be the pastor's daughter. The decorations simple and perfect. Lit candles flickered on the shelves at each window in the sanctuary and white twinkle lights wrapped with lace lined the aisle. Each wrote their own vows. He promised to be imperfect. She promised to love him still. As Jesus humbly washed the feet of his disciples, the bride and groom did the same, symbolizing their humbling spirits to serve one another as husband and wife. The ceremony wrapped up with Pastor allowing the groom to kiss his daughter, the bride. By the time we walked outside for the reception, the sun was down and the moon was but a sliver. The sweet country air enhanced the energy of the night. Mason jars with candles illuminated the walkway to the canopies. The white twinkle lights that gave just enough light under the canopies were romantic but still paled in comparison to the stars that filled the night sky. At each table was a mason jar of grape juice and a loaf of fresh, homemade bread to be served for Communion. So much love, joy and laughter filled the air at the tiny church that is in the middle of almost nowhere, on the edge of a farmer's field. What an extraordinary evening, a perfect Sunday wedding.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Country Has No Fast Lanes

I had to chuckle to myself this morning as I was out driving. I was in no hurry. I could have taken the highway and been home in half the time that it took me to get home by way of the back roads. I love the back roads. Driving them is like watching God in motion (even though I'm the one who's actually moving). It was early enough that the road warriors were still hurrying to get to their day jobs. It was also early enough that the farmers were out on the roads either on their tractors or pulling their large farming equipment, heading to their fields for harvesting, not in quite a hurry as the road warriors. Driving in the opposite direction as them, I can see the frustration welling up on one road warrior's face as he was unable to pass the massive John Deere. While living in the country, driving in the fast lane of life is not an option certain times of the year. As the sun reflects off the droplets of morning dew that have settled on the browning corn stalks, slow down and take time to witness God's reflection in your life. Enjoy your time with God in the slow lane. He's in no hurry. Why should you be?

Death Of A Marriage

It is times like this when the internet and e-communications is not user "friendly", when an intimate conversation is far more appropriate and necessary. That's all I'll say on that matter.
When I opened the email and read it today, I couldn't believe what I was reading. The words jumping off the screen were surreal, shocking to say the least. "We have split" keeps ringing in my brain. What? My stomach twists as I feel like somebody I love dearly had just died. How can it be that a marriage that appeared to be built on solid rock for over two decades has been washed away with the shifting sand?
I am incredibly grieved by this revelation. I am saddened by the butterfly effect this will have on their children's relationships, their future grandchildren and so forth. This heartbreak is a reminder of how vulnerable our spirits are. It forces us to put our own relationships into perspective and assess where we stand with one another and work on the issues that may seem like a mere grain of sand right now.
In the meantime, I will pray for healing and restoration for this family. I love them that much.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

She's Going Home Soon

Originally created on Saturday, January 16, 2010

She's going home to the Lord soon and I'm happy for her. She has a painful road ahead. That breaks my heart. She lived a good life, saw the world. She always shares her faith, never shares her regrets. She is a survivor...up until now. This one is a death sentence and there's nothing that can be done except pray for an easy departure from this world. It's hard to stand by and watch. And wait. Every moment is cherished now. Nothing is taken for granted. Her mood is somber. She keeps her fears to herself. The doctors give her 3-4 months. I give her less than that. The "I love you's" flow much easier and more frequently now. The good-bye hugs, more meaningful. We don't know if it will be the last time to share these sentiments. Like a well, the heart-to-hearts run deeper than ever. She's taking the time to enjoy the little things in life now like good conversation. She reflects on the good times of the past more frequently. Her time is near. She's ready. She will be missed, until we meet again. Finally, she will be free and renewed. She's going home to the Lord soon and I'm happy for her.

Winter Morning

Originally created on Monday, January 18, 2010

It’s foggy. It’s cold. The sun is not shining. What a beautiful morning! I drive the same route almost every day of the week, a winding, hilly country road specked with farms, old homes and woods.

The different seasons always bring a treat from nature. Springtime brings the sweet aroma of the olive bushes that grow wild on the side of the road. Summertime brings the welcome sound of the frogs in the roadside ponds and a dense population of fireflies. Autumn brings the crisp palette of changing leaves. Winter brings snowy hillsides and an easy view of deer grazing in the fields.

This morning was especially beautiful. Frost settled on the tree branches overnight, giving way to a serene beauty. Crows were perched in the branches, allowing quite a contrast for the eye to behold. It was almost as if I was driving through a black and white photograph. It’s amazing how something so simple could be so beautiful. These are the moments that make winter more bearable.

A Day In The (Country) Life

This post is was originally created on March 25, 2010
No matter where I drive, I tend to take notice of the environment as it passes me by. Yesterday’s travels through the countryside were no exception. As I drive through the country, I think about how it pertains to my life; mostly about what I really want…to be a true country girl. How I yearn for my own homestead, a piece of property to do what I desire like plant a big garden, have an orchard, maybe even raise a few chickens. As I was leaving the dairy farm yesterday, I noticed the cows in the pasture. I got excited thinking about the fact that newborn calves will soon be on their way. It’s always a joy to meet the newest members of the herd. As I drove further down the road, I saw maple trees being tapped, with metal buckets hanging around the tree trunks to collect the sap. This is always the promise of sweet maple syrup being made. Just beyond the trees, the sugar shack is billowing out black smoke from the smokestack, another tell-tale sign of that sweet goodness. As I passed up the farmer’s fields, bare and colorless, I couldn’t help but think about how in a few short weeks, they will be bursting forth with new, bright green shoots of corn, wheat and soy. It was in this moment that I realized the atonement between country living and wholesome food. So many of our basic needs are met right here in the country, from meats to produce, grains and so much more. The man-made bee hives are always easy to spot against the dark woods. Soon enough they will be buzzing with honey bees, working so hard for their queen. As I get back into town, I pick up my son from school. From there, we continue making our milk deliveries to the others in the milk group. As we’re leaving one home, I see the farmer running from her barn towards our car. She asks if we would like to see the lamb that was born just five minutes prior to our arrival. Of course! I never want to miss out on a learning opportunity for our kids. We get as close to the pasture as we can without scaring the new mama sheep. Not only do we see the newly born lamb (with fleece as white as snow), sleeping in the tall, brown grass is a brown lamb that was born a couple of hours earlier. The white lamb tries to stand so it can nurse. It was short lived as it did the splits and fell to the ground. Still it’s amazing how animals have the inborn ability to seek for what they need. To top off the day, my son got to pet a five year old chicken named Goldie. Country living is my way of life. Having lived here for only ten years now, I’ve embraced it and have learned to take advantage of all that it has to offer….even from my tiny house in my little town.