But even if He doesn't...

It is literally impossible to put into words what has been happening in our journey over the past couple of months.  I've tried and tried to figure out how to explain in a single blog post what God has done and what He's continuing to do, and I just can't.  Part of my issue is that, because of a need for confidentiality about the kiddos we're hoping to adopt, I can't share some of the most exciting and more specific things that God has done...yet.  And then there's the part where I'm so overwhelmed at how good God is that I don't have words to even begin to give a truly accurate account of what He's doing in our story. So, I'll do my best...

When we started on this new leg of our adoption journey--the older, sibling group, Costa Rican part of the journey, what God was doing seemed so obvious.  He had spoken so clearly about these kids.  And from the start, Michael and I told ourselves (and each other) that we cannot guarantee the outcome of this situation, but that out of obedience to the Lord, we would commit to follow this path as far as it would lead.  And there was a part of me from the beginning that said, "God is speaking about this, but it's not wise to get too attached to these kids.  You can't love these kids right now.  They're not yours yet, and it'll hurt. "  And so for awhile, I did my best to hold them at arms' length.  I didn't allow myself to sit and stare at their photograph or spend too many hours planning out bedroom remodels or thinking about birthday parties and family vacations.  I really did try not to love them.  But somewhere along the way, despite my best efforts, it happened anyway.  And once I realized that it had happened--that I loved them, I felt freedom.  And I had 2 revelations: 1. By holding them at arm's length and trying to hold onto a possible contingency plan, I wasn't fully trusting that God could pull this off.   By holding back my heart, I was making my faith weak.  And 2. Also by holding back my heart, I was fighting against who God made me to be.  See, when God made me, He gave me this incredible love for kids--kids of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, abilities.  It's why I became a teacher.  It's why I work in Children's Ministry.  And now God has given me His heart for the poor and powerless, lost and lonely children in this world, and it goes against the nature of who I am now to NOT love these kids...no matter what the cost.  And surprisingly, although it's hard, it feels good not to be fighting against that anymore.

Conventional wisdom says, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."  But the more I think about it, I don't think that God would use that phrase.  How many times in the Bible did He tell His people what was to come?  And He wanted them to believe it and live like it was certain.  Abraham and Sarah would have a child despite impossible circumstances.  Abraham would have as many descendants as the stars, which seemed pretty crazy since he didn't have any kids at all yet.  Gideon and his men would defeat the much bigger and mightier Midianite army with torches.  Moses would lead the Israelites out of Egypt against ridiculously impossible odds.  And when God put these people onto the paths He'd chosen for them, He wanted them to believe that He was going to do what He said He'd do--no matter how impossible it looked.  In fact, God allowed it to look hopeless so that only He could get the glory for it.  God's in the business of making beautiful things out of really big messes.  And I believe He's still working out His plans all the time in the same ways that He did in His Word.  He's constant and unchanging, and I'm so thankful for that.  And although I'm not putting my faith on the levels of Moses and Father Abraham, I do trust that God still wants to weave beautiful stories in our lives like theirs.  And so all that to say, I felt like I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatched.  It's not "wise."  But conventional wisdom also says, "Don't adopt older children.  They have issues."  So, since we're apparently throwing conventional wisdom as hard as we can out the window, we may as well go all the way with this!

So, after throwing worldly cautions to the wind, I am here to say that I love three kids whom I've never met.    It's reckless.  It's dangerous. It's bound to get messy.  And it's painful--especially not having a 100% guarantee of the outcome.  But God has laid them on our hearts, and trying not to love them was super selfish.  Sure, it protected my heart, but my own comfort and security aren't the point--and they never were.  And yep, there's a chance that these kiddos could get adopted by another family.  And they'd never know my love.  And that would hurt in a way that would probably leave serious scars.  But for me, not to love them is to say that they're not worth the risk.  And I've decided that for them to be loved and fervently prayed over by our family, even if they are never ours, is worth it.  They are worth every tear, every sleepless night, every moment spent facing down fears and worries--even if they never know.  I don't need a guarantee to love them.  Because Jesus loved us when we weren't yet His, when by our own choices, we belonged to another.  He loved us knowing that there were things that we would choose that could and would keep us from Him. He loved us knowing that some would never choose Him.  He loved us knowing full well that it would break His heart everyday.  But He decided that we were worth the risk, and He has the scars to prove it.  So how could I not love them the same way?

Since we discovered that we could pursue these kids through our new agency, so much has happened!  Things have alternated between moving overwhelmingly fast and gut-wrenchingly slowly.  Right now, we're kind of in-between.  Our awesome social worker and our incredible Costa Rica program coordinator/case manager/person-who-handles-everything-and-keeps-me-sane have been working diligently to make our home study as perfect as possible so that when it arrives in CR, it will need zero revisions or amendments.  I know this will save us time in the long run, but I'm so anxious to get to the next step.  Waiting is just so hard!  And as I wait, I have days of amazing faith mixed with moments of all-consuming, ugly doubt.  Already, in the short time that we've been following this path toward these kids, so many obstacles have cropped up.  Hopefully, someday I can write about all of these little stories of God's leading and protection over this journey.  For now, I'll just say that the kids almost got split up. But, praise the Lord, it didn't work out.  Another family who is further along in the process than we are was praying about adopting them, but after reading our blog, they felt like God was telling them that these are not "their" kiddos.  There have been moments where I've braced myself for the worst--but it hasn't come. Every time there has been a mountain in the middle of our path toward these kids, God has removed it.  We had the opportunity a little over a month ago to write a letter to the central authority in CR telling them about us and our desire to make these kids our own.  Last Friday, we learned that other families have written similar letters.  My first protective instinct was to create a back-up plan.  But God hasn't spoken to us about that at this point.  He's only spoken about this path and these kids.  And so, we'll continue to follow this path as far as the Lord takes us--no matter what the outcome is.

My favorite Bible story has always been that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace.  Their faith in God was beautiful.  They chose to follow Him--no matter the outcome.  I've always loved Daniel 3:17-18 where the 3 guys tell King Nebuchadnezzar that the God they serve is able to do the impossible--He's able to save them from a fiery death, "but even if He does not...", we will not serve your gods--we will not give up on our God.  And that's how I feel right now about this journey and these kids.  I believe that God can do this.  I believe that He can continue to remove mountains from our path.  I believe that He will continue to make beautiful things out of ugly messes.  I believe that He can redirect the hearts and minds of everyone involved in this process, and I'm praying that He will.  I believe that when things look horribly impossible, that God can turn the tables in an instant.  I've seen Him do it over and over.  But if there ever comes a point in this journey where He doesn't, I will still trust Him.  I believe that these kids are what God is doing, but if He changes the course, I will still follow Him.  I desperately want Him to make these kids ours, but even if He doesn't...

 So,I will not be afraid to love them.  I will not be afraid to hurt for them.  And today, as the little girl from this sibling group, who we hope will be ours someday, celebrates her 8th birthday in an orphanage, I will not be ashamed of the fact that I cried for her--because no child should have to spend their birthday without a family. So as heartbreaking as it was,  this afternoon, my kids and I quietly sang her "Happy Birthday" in Spanish and prayed God's blessing and favor over her precious little life.  Because she's worth it--even if He doesn't. They're all worth it--even if He doesn't.