Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Day To Remember

This post has excerpts from my original post on this day last year.

It's May 31st. This day is so special to me because it's the day I became a mother. This day is celebrated as what our family affectionately calls "Gotcha Day." It's the day a tiny baby boy, just 3 weeks old and still in preemie clothes, was placed in my arms by the girl who gave him life. 

She was just 15, yet somehow she seemed braver than me. I was trying to be aware of everything. Up until the moment I walked into that lawyer's office in Ohio, I had only seen a glimpse of him in a small, blurry photo. I will never forget the memory as long as I live. I was so nervous, so worried I wouldn't know what to do, so scared about the reality that was sinking in.I hoped she wouldn't see my fear and say I was unfit. I looked at her first. She sat calmly as she held him. She seemed void of emotion, yet I knew the impact of it all would forever etch this moment in her mind for different reasons. I looked down at him. I was trying not to burst into tears but I was so overwhelmed with emotions. So many emotions. So aware of this moment that would serve as an altar to forever remind me of God's faithfulness and answer to prayer.

Now here I stand 7 years later celebrating one of my most favorite days of the entire year. His birthday is so very special but I cannot neglect the monumental day May 31st is for me, knowing this is the day I come back to, this is the altar built 7 years ago, when God's faithfulness came to me in flesh and blood as He saw fit to answer my prayers and make me a mother. 

This was my delivery room. This was where my son would be placed in my arms after years of laboring. This was the culmination of a nearly three year journey that represented my stretch marks, labor and delivery. They weren't physical. They were emotional. Marks that represented growth, lines to serve as reminders of month after month of heartache. Scars to remind me of the tears I cried to The Lord, the prayers of a fervent heart. "However motherhood comes, Lord, please make me a mother." There were even deeper prayers, prayers I wasn't sure I was willing to have Him answer. "God, take away this desire if it's not Your will." He didn't take it away. He answered a different way. His way. I'm so thankful He did.

I stand here today 17 weeks pregnant now carrying a child that will be inside me for 9 months before being placed in my arms. There will be a delivery room, laboring, even more marks to remind me yet again of the faithfulness of God and how He has sovereignly put our family together. Once again He's answered in a way only He could. I stand in awe of Him with humbleness and gratitude. I give thanks for the children God has gifted us with. 

I always swore I'd get the epidural, but make no mistake I felt every single labor pain in this process of becoming a mother. Every contraction, every twisted contortion of my heart as God was shaping and molding me, stripping away the chaff, breaking down barriers I didn't even know I had, growing me and stretching me in ways I wasn't prepared for and not really asking for either. I'd always heard young mothers say with glowing smiles, "As soon as you hold your baby in your arms, it's all worth it." I wondered if this would be true for me too. It was. Every single tear. Every single prayer. Every journal entry. Every morning, noon and night I lay in the floor of my prayer room, praying to God to make it a baby's nursery, my baby's nursery.  

Seven years later I can still say it has all been worth it. Every parenting challenge. Every bump along the way. Everything I had planned that came crashing down. Every moment of hurt and heartache, grief and pain. The journey I've walked to see this child of mine adopted into our family, one who so often gets told "you look just like your mommy." It brings a smile to my face. I love to tell people he's adopted and see their shocked reactions. The journey Michael and I have both walked to be placed in each other's lives. The journey we've faced this past year to even get to this point in our pregnancy. Every single thing. All sovereignly designed by God, planned and orchestrated for our good and now ultimately still pointing back to His faithfulness at work. 

Gotcha Day is the day we celebrate the way God chose to put a tiny little premature baby into this family. He was the answer to more than just my prayer. He was the answer to everyone who would ask, "Have you heard anything yet." Not yet, I'd say, expecting without a due date. 

Now I have a countdown, a due date, a regular reminder that a baby is coming. Nine months seems like forever in comparison to the eight days I had to prepare for Elijah's placement. Now we all wait in anticipation of the way God is growing our family. Boy or girl? We don't yet know. We listen to the heartbeat all the time - still Elijah's most favorite thing to do each night before bed. We are so mindful of the miracles we've seen, that continue to unfold, in this seemingly unperfect yet for us perfectly knit together family. 

I would wait until May 31st, this day, our Gotcha Day. My heart transplant day. The day I would watch God orchestrate together a miracle. My miracle. The day He unfolded part of a plan He knew about all along. He knew when I was being knit together in my own mother's womb. He knew as this tiny baby boy was being created in His own image, even when I couldn't feel him kick, even when I wasn't aware of anything other than my empty arms. I watched God let me labor, but it was not in vain. I felt God holding me, even when I was longing to hold my own child

I see all these years later how God continues to work on my heart. How He shapes and forms us through His masterful plan. How His ways are so much higher than our own. How He works all things for our good, even when it hurts, even when we don't understand. 

This is my very own Memorial Day. A day that represents God's faithfulness, even when conventional wisdom seemed dim. A day that serves as a reminder of His answer to prayers, even when the answers come differently than expected. Today is Gotcha Day, the day God showed me He had me all along and He had a perfect plan. Happy Gotcha Day, Eli! 


Friday, May 22, 2015

This Isn't About Sin

This isn't about sin. It's not about forgiveness. It's not about grace. It's not even about innocence or guilt. It's not about what I've heard or what's been reported. It's not about the version of truth you choose to believe, because, let's be honest, how much can you really trust the multiple versions in the media? It's not about who you know that's been affected by something similar. I know them too. I just don't know anything other than varying degrees of reports that seem to make assumptions and cast judgments on something that we simply can't know the full details. Quite frankly it's about the simple fact that who am I to judge? 

certainly am thankful my sins and my family aren't being cast into the media and portrayed for all to see and judge. Heaven help me if that were the case. I deserve punishment. I deserve judgment. I deserve the repercussions of my sins. I've received overwhelming mercy and undeserved favor and gracious redemption. I've begged God and family and others for forgiveness. I've pleaded for privacy and been gripped with fear over the thought of my sins being revealed. The very plastering of my life across social media, news feeds and media outlets would be nothing short of horrifying. Don't get me wrong - I would deserve it all. And I'm also well aware of the judgment, mostly from those who guessed or assumed without knowing all the facts. My sin is different than his, yours, but my sin is not beyond redemption and neither is anyone else's. 

I hear you with the legal obligation to be held responsible. I understand the level in which our legal system treats crime and the punishment that follows. God's forgiveness does not negate man's laws. I hear you talk about the forgotten innocent victims. I cannot know anymore about these victims, their perspectives, their counseling and recovery than I can know about what truly happened. The only thing I can do is pray. Pray for the victims involved who are now having to relive a painful part of their past, for the haunting memories only they can know details of. Pray for the family reeling from backlash and the falling out of a very private and personal family matter. Pray for the accused and the slandering barrage of judgment and the ensuing repercussions that are yet to be fully known. Pray for God's mercy and grace to be seen and understood, especially to those who cannot comprehend who He is. Pray. That somehow we would stop the critical judgment and mud slinging and quit making this a divisive issue of Christianity at its worst. God help us. 

I don't want you to think that because of my own faith in God that I believe there should be no consequences. Or that just because God forgives it should all be forgotten. People are affected by sin. Too often innocent lives are involved without their knowledge or consent. Sin hurts. None of it is pretty. But what I do cling to because of my faith is the knowledge that God's forgiveness is for all. His sacrifice of His Son covers ALL sins. Every single one. His forgiveness does not excuse us from the fallout that may still come, or the consequences we may face but He is ultimately a redeeming God. What does that mean? It means He is the God of a second, a third, a fiftieth chance, and oh how grateful I am for this! 

I'm not trying to divide sides, quite the opposite. You've heard me say it before: this blog is my own. These opinions are purely mine and I'm not asking you to agree. I am praying you will somehow see that being a Christian does not make sin excusable, but it is never unforgiveable. In this broken fallen world, good people make bad choices and fall victim to sometimes the unthinkable. Wholesome lives fall apart and while the fallout may require us to answer to man's laws and consequences here on earth, thank God we have a Heavenly Father who can pick up the pieces of our broken lives and shattered reputations. Whatever your opinion, you're entitled. All I ask is that you see God for who He is, not man for who we can sometimes disappointingly be. An all-knowing God who sorts out the unknown and confusion. A Sovereign God who sees and knows all, even when we act outside of His perfect will. A Healer to the broken lives and the hurting. An Almighty God who loves us in spite of ourselves and our sin. A Redeemer who rescues us in our time of deepest need. This is about God. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Always Good

"You look pregnant!" my husband exclaimed. I laughed and thanked him. It's a compliment these days. I feel I've successfully escaped the awkward "has she gained weight/is she pregnant?" guessing stage. Every week is a momentous milestone we stop and give thanks for. I count each day as a blessing.

Today is May 20. It's a beautiful, warm sunny day. On this day I'm mindful of the original due date I was given back in the fall when we first learned we were expecting. It's not a day full of sadness, although I'm very well aware that it could be. Circumstances have obviously changed and what I'm more aware of is how my own plan isn't necessarily God's plan. And that's okay. I can't be quite certain as to why and I certainly don't have all the answers. I can't even grasp His calendar or the infinite time table He has and how (or when) He chooses to work. I simply trust in His sovereignty and His promise to work ALL things for my good. Don't just skip over that.

All things for our good. It's one of those biblical truths we have become so familiar with we nearly gloss over it. Yet it should be running through our marrow. It should be the anthem we cry out in times of seeking and longing. It should be the truth we cling to in our time of desperation, holding firmly that He is at work.

I fully believe it becomes easier for me to trust this promise when I sense the changes of this new life inside me. Were I not pregnant right now would I still be able to proclaim His goodness? Yes, I have to say yes. Because God is good. All the time. The circumstance may not be ideal, it may not be what I expected, or maybe even what I hoped and prayed for, but no matter what the situation or even the outcome, the goodness of Almighty God never changes. He does not waiver. He does not falter. He does not fail. My flesh and my heart my fail, but He is my strength, my portion.

We hold fast that life begins at conception. As the Master and Creator of the Universe, He's now fashioning and forming this precious one inside me. I've heard the heartbeat (quite regularly thanks to the fetal doppler monitor we have at home - it's one of Eli's most favorite things). I've not felt this child move inside me, yet, but I've read the updates telling me this little one is actively squirming and moving about. There is also a soul in heaven. A life cut short, before it really began. One called home to eternity before ever realizing an earthly home. The one I didn't hold but who forever holds a piece of my heart. I had no idea I could love someone I never met and yet I feel another part of my heart grow more each day even as my waistline continues to expand. I'm mindful of God's plan - one I could have never known or guessed for myself. Yet, one that has drawn me close to Him in surrender and trust.

The lesson for me is remembering God's goodness. His sovereign and perfect plan no matter how I feel, no matter what disappointment I've faced, no matter what I may not understand. He is good. Always. He works all things for my good according to His plan, not mine. Always. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Titles

This is one of my most favorite weekends of the entire year! Oh yes, there's always a fun countdown to my February Birthday and it goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoy all the festivities of the Christmas season. But I cannot deny my love for what has become such a sacred and blessed weekend to me.

Tomorrow is Elijah's 7th birthday and Sunday is Mother's Day. It always falls on or around the holiday that he gave me the most treasured gift of all, becoming a mother. This year his birthday falls on the day that is known as Birthmother's Day. I would be remiss not to give thanks to his birthmom for the gift of life and this gift of love she's given. I tend to get sentimental as I recall how many previous Mother's Days I wasn't able to celebrate. I remember vividly the journey that led to his adoption. I wear the title of mother along with the memories and altars I've built to never forget the many different emotions and experiences that brought me here.

This month of May is a treasure for so many reasons. Originally I thought we'd be welcoming another baby into our family this month so I cannot forget to mention our angel that never made it to this earth. And yet I'm also well aware of the way God works things out for our good even as I see my growing belly that is carrying our miracle.

May is also the month we celebrate Elijah's "Gotcha Day" - the day he was first placed in my arms at just 3 1/2 weeks old. I cannot forget the plaque I bought and hung long before I ever held the title "mother." It simply stated, "However motherhood comes, it's a miracle." There could not be any truer words. I am always sensitive of the ones who are still without that title, still with empty arms, still with burdened hearts full of desires yet to be fulfilled. Hold on, dear one. Hold on. He hasn't left you, nor forsaken you.

It's also a special time for me to be evermore aware of the great presence and strength my own mother has played in my life. She bears many admonishments, wears so many hats, but none could be truer than the well-deserved title she wears. She is the epitome of the biblical example of a godly woman whose children rise up and called her blessed. Truly we do, mom.

It's a time of celebration. It's a time of remembering. It's a time to recall the journeys, the memories, the tears and the faithfulness of God in ALL things. I wear the title of mom, adoptive mom, expecting mom, daughter and wife, among others. This isn't about labels - it's about the moments in life that bear meaning and the titles attached to them to serve as reminders of the blessedness of Almighty God at work. Whatever titles you wear, your life bears witness. You represent a masterpiece of divine creation.

I bear witness of His perfect plan at work in my life even when I didn't understand, calling me to become a mother, blessing me with my boy and giving us the miracle of this child that I now carry. The most blessed title I could ever bear is simply being called His.