Friday, January 17, 2014

He Redeems Our Losses

"I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;  what god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples."
Ps. 77:12-14

It was one year ago today, January 17, 2013, that the Lord revealed His breathtakingly beautiful plan for us.  A plan of redemption that He had been working for so long.  A plan that began with mourning and ashes.

It all began in February 2004, when we were 7 weeks into our second pregnancy.  I had had some spotting and went in for check up.  Our fears were confirmed.  Our doctor could find no heartbeat.  We had lost our baby.  So, on Friday, Feb. 13, we went to the hospital to have a procedure to remove our baby.  We were heartbroken.

It was a day of ashes.

But God's grace is sufficient, and six months later, we were expecting our third baby.  God has healed our hearts, and we were so excited about this precious one growing inside.  So much so, that, when the due date for our second baby rolled around, I didn't even realize it.  It never crossed our minds.  But God knew because He doesn't forget our tears.  And He wanted me to know that.  So, on that day, He set the most beautiful rainbow you can imagine, right over our house.  Literally.  It was so amazing in fact, that I went out and took pictures, still not realizing the significance of THIS rainbow on THIS day.

It was not until a year later, when the picture of this rainbow popped up on our screen saver, with the date it was taken on the bottom of the screen, did I get it.  In that moment, God opened my eyes, and I saw.  I saw this amazing God.  On the day that my second baby should have arrived, God put His sign in the sky to remind me that He had not forgotten.

Fast-forward 5 years.  God had given us Gabriel, Carter and Cason, and now Hudson was on his way.  My due date was mid-February, and all I could pray was, "Lord, don't let him come on the 13th.  Don't let him come on the 13th."  I did not want his birth to come on the anniversary of the day that had been filled with such sorrow.  So when my doctor planned an induction on Thursday, February 12th, I was greatly relieved.  I still didn't see what God was doing.

It didn't hit me until the next day as I sat waiting for the nurse to release us to go home, holding Hudson in my arms.  In that moment, God again opened my heart to see His hand.  Five years before, on Friday, February 13th, I left the hospital without my baby.  But on this day, this Friday, February 13th, I would indeed leave with my beautiful baby boy in my arms.  He had redeemed our loss.  He had given beauty for ashes.

And as beautiful as this was, it was not the end.   Because God always does more that we can ask or imagine.

In November of 2010, God open the doors for us to adopt, and we began paperwork immediately with an local adoption agency.

Four months later, our adoption took a u-turn.  God was leading us to another adoption agency.  Because of a much shorter waiting time and policies that would not restrict us from a second adoption in the future, we felt this was where we needed to be.  And, although it was a very very hard decision to walk away from all the time and money we had spent, on April 15, 2011, we submitted our China Special Needs application to America World Adoption Agency.

For the next 5 months, we completed paperwork for our homestudy and dossier.  We sent off documents to be verified, stamped and approved. Finally, our paperwork was complete, and we dropped our dossier off to be sent to China via our adoption agency.  They reviewed and approved everything, and our dossier was finally on its way to China.  As God would have it, China verified that they had received it...on September 13th, 2011 -- seven years to the day that our second baby was supposed to be born.  Seven years to the day that God set His beautiful rainbow over our house to demonstrate His great love and compassion for us.  He was continuing to work His plan.

A few days later, we began our Hope Blanket fundraiser.  Many, many people from all over the country sponsored, loved on and prayed over these Hope Blankets and for the babies that would receive them.  We then gathered them back together and got them ready to send to China via our adoption agency.  On Friday, November 4, on my way home from dropping the blankets off at Fed Ex, God did it again.  He put an incredible rainbow in the sky, right over our house.  He was continuing to work His plan.

The blankets headed off to China two months later with another adoptive family who had agreed to deliver them for us.  About that same time, on January 20, 2012,  we received an e-mail from our family adoption coordinator about a new adoption program in China that allowed families to adopt two babies at one time.  God grabbed our hearts with such a desperate desire to do this, even though we could not imagine how in the world it could happen.  There were a million obstacles and reasons why we should not pursue two babies at once, and we knew that God would have to do a million miracles, but after weeks of prayer, we began taking small steps of obedience.  And God kept opening the doors.  Our prayer the whole time was, "Lord, just make it clear.  Make Your path clear."

5 months later, on May 9th, we received a wonderful surprise e-mail from our adoption agency.  One of the three orphanages that received Hope Blankets had taken pictures of some of the babies with the blankets!  Oh what a treasure!  We received 9 pictures and six of them had the same adorable smiling baby that we affectionately began calling the "Hope Blanket Baby."  We were able to share these pictures with our church family the next Sunday, May 13, which happened to be Mother's Day.  God was continue to work His plan and answer our prayers.

We continued to wait and pray, some days thinking "the call" from our agency would never come.  But on Decemeber 17, 2012, it came.  They had found our baby girl.  She was the most beautiful, teensy-tiny little precious baby girl I could have imagined.  9 days later, we submitted our Letter of Acceptance to adopt her as our own.

Now we only had a 3-week window to be matched with baby #2.  I began frantically searching, begging God and begging others to pray.  1 week passed.  Nothing.  Two weeks passed.  Nothing.  Two weeks and five days passed.  Still no word.  On Wednesday, January 16th, I had all but given up hope for a second baby in this adoption.  I spent the day fasting and praying, asking God for a miracle.  A miracle that I didn't think was going to happen.  Not until He spoke to me through His word that night.

He took me to Psalms 12:5-
"Because of the devastation of the afflicted, 
because of the groaning of the needy,
'Now I will arise,' says the Lord;  
'I will set him in the safety for which He longs.'"

I begged Him to do this.  Then He spoke again through His word.

"O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear
To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of earth will no longer cause terror." Ps 10:17-18

I believed with all of my heart that He had heard our cry and that He would indeed answer.

And He did.  The very next day.  Two weeks and six days into our 3-week window of opportunity.

I woke up on Thursday, January 17, 2013, with the face of a darling baby boy on my heart and mind.  I had seen his picture on our agency website  a week or so before but was not familiar with his special need, so had not requested to look at his file.  But after talking with my husband Tollie, I called our agency to request his file.

5 hours later, I received it via e-mail and began looking over the medical information.  But then, I started opening the attached pictures.  There really are not words to describe what happened to me when I opened picture number five.  

Maybe my heart stopped.  I definitely stopped breathing.  

Because the little face smiling out at me was one I recognized.  There, right before my eyes, was our Hope Blanket baby.  HE WAS THE HOPE BLANKET BABY.  The baby that I had already posted pictures of in our Hope Blanket blog, eight months before.  It was the same baby.

Picture from Aaron Li's Medical File
Hope Blanket Picture

The next eight hours went by in a blur.  God lined up the exact doctors we needed (love you, Jenny LaBahn) that were willing to look at his file that very night, and by 1AM, we knew he was ours.  God has answered our prayer to make His will clear.  He wrapped our baby in a Hope Blanket.

And as we read his file, we began to connect the dots of what God had been doing when He led us to a different adoption agency.  Aaron Li's file was agency specific, meaning he could only be adopted by a family working with America World, the agency we were now with.  We also realized how perfect God's timing was. The day Aaron Li became an orphan in China, April 15, 2011, was the VERY day we submitted our application to America World.  So technically, our baby boy has never been an orphan, because God put us in the place to adopt him the very moment he needed us.

But even more than that, He showed us that this baby boy was part of the redemption story He continued to write.  This baby boy, our Aaron Li, was also born on February 12.  Our Hudson was born on February 12, 2009, and he was born on February 12, 2010.  And God wanted to be sure we saw His hand in this as well.  In China, when abandoned babies are found, rarely is there ever any kind of note or identifying information.  But there was a note pinned to Aaron Li's clothes.  Guess what it said..."He was born on February 12, 2010."  God had not redeemed our loss with one baby, but two.

That is the beauty of our Lord.  He is the Redeemer.  God used adoption to redeem a family who had lost a baby and a baby who had lost a family.  

That's what He does.

"He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear,
gladness for morning, peace for despair."

He redeems our losses in ways that we could never ask or imagine.  He never promised that storms wouldn't come, but He did say that He will never leave us. He promised that He plans for us are not to harm us but to give us a hope and future.  He promised that He will work all things out for our good. 

And He keeps His promises every time.

So on the one year anniversary of this glorious revealing, I continue to be humbled and amazed by this great God who lavishes His love on us.  Who redeems us and allows us to be part of His redemption story.  He is more precious to me now than ever before. Praise His wonderful name.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted 
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, 
but the Lord delivers him out of them all."
Ps. 34:18-19