Friday, April 20, 2012

Walking on Water

"The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

This verse could not sum up any better our adoption journey so far.  Where we thought we were going, and where we are now in this process are two very different places!  Praise God that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than ours!

On January 20, 2012, God began to show us that His plan for our adoption was much bigger than we had imagined.  It was on this day that we received an e-mail about the China Special Focus program.  This program allows families to adopt two children from China in one trip.  As we discussed this, God began to prick our hearts that maybe this program was for us.  Even as my head screamed "no," my heart was whispering "yes."  So we began to pray.  For almost two weeks we prayed, scared to death at the thoughts of  adopting two special needs babies at the same time.

Nevertheless, eleven days after receiving this e-mail, I contacted our family coordinator about the program.  She told us the first thing we would need to do is get our home study updated to reflect approval for two children and to re-file our immigration paperwork requesting approval to adopt two children as well. 
I began going through our home study and immigration approval and couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I realized GOD had already paved the way.  Both our home study and our immigration paperwork stated approval for two children.  Let me try to explain how this happened.

When completing our home study, our social worker wrote the description of our adoption in much broader terms than we had requested.  I remember being alarmed when I saw that she had approved us for one or two children, boy or girl, up to 48 months with various special needs.  When I asked her about it, she explained that she always writes a broad approval of ages and special needs because, with adoption, anything can happen.  (Spoken like a true prophet!)  She said not to be concerned because our agency would match us with a child according to the age or special needs that we specified.  At that time, I had no clue what God was doing, but looking back, it is clear that He was writing our home study according to His plan, not ours.

Next we needed to check on our immigration approval (IA).  When I filled out our IA paperwork, we had the choice of seeking approval to adopt one child, two children, or three or more children.  It didn't cost any more for approval for two, so I bubbled in two children, having NO CLUE China even allowed two children to be adopted at the same time!  So, not only was our home study already written for two, our immigration paperwork also reflected approval for two special needs children.

Whoa!  It was starting to feel like maybe God really was going to give us two children, and we were SCARED TO DEATH!!  We waffled back and forth for two months, some days feeling sure God was going to give us two more children, some days not even sure we could handle the four we already had!  By Friday morning, March 30, after two particular phone conversations, one with our social worker and another with a friend who works with special needs children, I was pretty sure that we could not adopt two special needs babies at once, that it was just going to be too difficult.

With a heavy heart, I went on to Piedmont Women's Center to volunteer.  I asked the other volunteers to pray for God to give us guidance.  Their prayer was that God would give me a  very clear answer, and He did...that very afternoon.

When I got home from PWC, I picked up a book I had been reading by Anne Graham Lotz and here is what God shouted to me:
"What priceless treasure are you in danger of throwing out, simply because of the way it is packaged?  Could it be the treasure of seeing Him?   Sometimes God wraps His glory in hard circumstances or ugly obstacles or painful difficulties, and it just never occurs to us that within those life-shaking events is a fresh revelation of Him...Are you so focused on the outer wrappings that you are in danger of missing or even throwing away the fresh, personal revelation of Himself that He wants to give you?...Change your mind about things - about yourself - about others - about Him. Relax in total trust. He knows what He is doing. Unwrap the package! Let go and look up! Let Him open the eyes of your heart. OPEN YOUR EYES. Open your eyes to the vision of His glory. Prayerfully, expectantly, sincerely, open your eyes to Him."

I was shaken to the core, knowing that God had just spoken to me. He was saying, "Stop looking at the outward appearance of these precious children. You are in danger of missing Me! Change your mind about what you can handle, change your mind about who these precious children are, and change your mind about WHO I AM. I know what I am doing. I am giving you the gift of Myself wrapped up in these children. Unwrap the package. Open your eyes and see what I am doing!"

I am not sure I have ever heard His voice so clearly before. It was such a powerful and humbling experience, and I knew He was confirming His plans for us to adopt two.  And, yet, I was still so afraid.  "Lord, it is going to cost so much more money.   Lord, unless we tie someone to the roof, we don't even have a car big enough to hold us all.  Lord, how can I manage SIX children???"

But, with fear and trembling, we took another step.  We filled out our Special Focus application and  emailed it to our social worker for her approval before sending it on to our adoption agency.  She responded back, "I will have to get special approval for you to adopt two unrelated children, and normally this approval is not given."  I was confused because our home study already reflected approval for two children.  She informed me that the approval was for two related children, such as twins or sibling groups.  She was shocked that she hadn't actually specified that the children must be related.  "I never write a home study that way," she said.  But she agreed to advocate for us and said she would let us know their decision.  So we waited to hear from her.

Two days later, even before we had heard back from our social worker, God gave Tollie major confirmation of His plans as well.  On Wednesday afternoon, God miraculous provided a larger vehicle for us.  Tollie called from work to tell me that there was a Suburban (NINE passengers) in the parking lot that a friend was trying to sell and that he would sell it to us for $1800.  We hadn't even begun to look for a vehicle, and God had already provided.  He drove our vehicle up in the that parking lot, and said, "Here you go.  No need to tie anyone to the roof."

The very next morning, we received word from our social worker that we had received special approval to adopt two unrelated children.  She said she knew this had to be God because she could not explain the way she had written our home study any other way.  God is good! we are.  Waiting.  Knowing that it is still going to take a million miracles for this to all work out.  It is far from being a done deal, but God has open EVERY SINGLE DOOR so far.  We just continue to take small steps of obedience as God continues to open the doors.

Through all of this, God is teaching me to trust Him in so many ways.  To trust Him for who He is-
as Elohim, the Creator, who knit together every one of these babies according to His plan,
as El Elyon, the God Most High, who is sovereign over EVERYTHING,
as El Roi, the God Who Sees, who sees our babies even while we can't,
as El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One, who is and will provide everything we need, and
as Adonia, Lord and Master, who has wonderful plans for us as we follow Him.

Just as Peter had to get out of the boat to walk on water, we know that we cannot experience all God has for us if we remain in the safety of our "boat."  We can choose to be safe or we can choose to follow Him.  If we choose to risk the crashing waves, we will experience His power in miraculous ways.  So we choose to jump, knowing full well we are going to get wet, knowing we are going to sink at times when we focus on circumstances rather than Him, but also knowing this:"If we allow ourselves to live recklessly for Him, then we will see His glory.  We will see Him do the impossible,"(Francis Chan). 

So, we are getting out of the boat because we, too, want to