As I said before, this week was about remembering Lily, and praising God for how far He has brought us and the faithfulness He has shown to our family. Our lives are not all sunshine and roses, but they aren't all thorns either. We share our entire testimony with people, because it's real. There is a reason we were led to adoption. God used certain events in our lives to lead us down this path, and we think it is important to recognize those events and share our experiences with all of you.
There are so many people out there who can relate to our story, but not many people are as open about their pain as we have chosen to be. Everyone grieves so differently, and I really don't believe there is a right or wrong way to do it, I can only share how we did it, and how we get through it each day. We appreciate so much your support, even though I am sure I have made many of you "uncomfortable", and I know I have made many of you shed a few tears with us! But that's okay. I'm okay with uncomfortable, and I happen to think tears are good for the soul. :)
As I have reflected on this past year, I realized that God has used our experiences as a refiner's fire. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, John Piper describes it this way...
"A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire."
Our losses did not destroy us. They did not consume us. But God used them as a tool to melt away parts of us that, looking back, were unnecessary, harmful, or distracting to our walk with the Lord and the life in which He so badly wants us to be living. I have watched as pettiness, immaturity, and things that simply don't matter melt away over time as I experienced loss after loss, pain after pain. It gave us perspective, as these things usually do, as to what is truly important in this life, what is of eternal value, and what isn't.
I'm not saying I don't still get excited over my favorite TV show or a pair of cute earrings from Charming Charlie's. I still get upset over stupid things and Josh and I are not by any means above arguing over how to properly do the laundry. I am saying that, like it or not, we were forced to do a lot of growing up in the past few years, this last one especially. God has used these experiences to mature us (albeit against our will) and challenge our walk with Him. Being a Christian is a pretty cushy gig here in America. It really isn't that hard, in my humble opinion, to trust the Lord with your life when things are going well. But to trust Him when your children are taken from you? When you are in such a dark place that you can't seem to find the light? It made us truly explore our faith, challenged it in ways that grew my relationship with the Lord immensely. If I can trust Him through this past year, I believe I can trust Him through anything.
He didn't just refine the things in our lives, He refined the people in them. Grief experiences like losing Lily, and leaps of faith like adoption, is incredibly telling in the area of relationships (and I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed this, as I have heard it said of so many who have walked in our shoes). Every experience from the loss of Lily to our adoption, we have watched as people have either rallied around us, supported us full force, or faded into the background quietly. You find out who your true friends are in times like these, and we certainly have. I have grown so much closer to my family and my friends who have walked this road with us. Still, we have also lost some relationships, and realized that some relationships simply will never grow past that of casual friendships. Relationships that can survive the turmoil of life events like these end up being stronger, unbreakable, and everlasting. But through that refiner's fire, some of our relationships have been separated out and melted away. Though every friendship that is lost is sad, I would never change it, because that refiner's fire also left us with "the silver and gold intact." The loved ones that God wants in our lives to support each other, love each other, and encourage each other's walk with Him, those are the ones that turn to silver and gold in times like these!
We have so much more "refining" to do. This is just the beginning, I am sure, but I have realized the process of refinement is so much easier when you don't fight it. I've come to actually pray that God will show me what needs to be melted away in my life, from things to people to habits, and when I do He is incredibly quick to show me! It is painful, but it is so worth it.
Now, all of that being said, I would like to give you a few updates in the adoption arena! Things are moving right along, and we've had some pretty big developments in the past couple of weeks! First of all, if you haven't already noticed, take a quick gander over at the funds thermometer! We are SO CLOSE to being fully funded for this adoption!!! Our puzzle piece fundraiser was a great success, but I don't have a final total yet because people are still buying puzzle pieces! If you would like your name on a piece, just let me know. We were going to "close" the fundraiser this week, but there is still plenty of room for your name, so if you want one just let us know!
I am overjoyed, but not surprised in the least, at how God has provided for this adoption! When we started this process, it was a HUGE leap of faith that we would somehow be able to come up with nearly $13,000 over the course of just a few months. But little by little, through each one of you, He provided! And here we are, only weeks away from bringing our baby home, and we are nearly fully funded! It is simply amazing. I am so thankful for each one of you, for how you have sacrificed and participated and supported us. I wish I had the time to write each person who donated a long, hand written note of thanks. Please, please know how grateful we are. This would have been impossible without your generosity. Thank you.
In other adoption news, you might have caught my passing reference to meeting the birth mother of our child in a previous post! When we were matched with this birth mother, who I will refer to as "Kim" for privacy reasons for now, she initially was not planning to meet with us before the birth. But after a few emails between us and her case worker, Kim decided she would be open to meeting with us after all! We were sooooooooooooo nervous!!!. It just so happened that the only available date for all of us to get together was yesterday, Lily's first birthday.
Josh has little to no concept of nervousness, as he never gets nervous about anything (I hate him for that), but I was a complete wreck driving out there. I actually had been so busy in the weeks and days leading up to the meeting that I hadn't had time to dwell on it much, but as we drove out there to meet the woman who has chosen us as the parents for her child, I was freakin' out big time. My only consolation was that Kim was probably just as nervous as I was, so hopefully she would be understanding!
The minute we saw each other and were introduced, I could tell I was right, she was just as nervous as I was! Thankfully the case worker was there to facilitate the whole thing and help fill the conversation gaps and silences. It was a very casual meeting, and I only realized after the meeting was over that at some point I had actually kicked off my flip flops and had my feet wedged under me on the couch! And Heather, you will be interested to know, I held a throw pillow for dear life during the entire meeting! (Heather knows that throw pillows are my security blanket) ;)
We basically talked in more detail about everything in our Match Letter, but it was nice to just get a feel for each other in person the way you just can't do through letters and pictures. Kim is an incredibly sweet, laid back, intelligent girl, and I was so happy I got the opportunity to meet her before the baby comes!
She asked us if we had a feeling one way or another if it was a boy or girl, and we said no! She told us she has a VERY strong feeling it is a boy...so we shall see! (No one knows what it is, it will be a big and wonderful surprise!!!) She told us numerous times, "I consider this your baby already, this is your child." Which of course brought tears to my eyes. She asked us what names we were considering, and I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how nervous I was to tell her! I was terrified she wouldn't like them! So scared, in fact, that I didn't even tell her the boy name, because I suddenly became unsure if I even liked it! Haha!
We went over the plan for the hospital. At this point, Kim would like me and Josh to be at the hospital for her labor and in the delivery room for the baby's birth! We are pretty excited at the possibility of being there for our child's birth, but of course we are leaving room for the possibility of Kim changing her mind, and would completely understand if she did.
Kim told us she would like us to pick out and bring the baby's going home outfit to the hospital, so yay I get to go shopping! ;) All in all, it went really well, and we are so thankful we got the chance to meet with her and get to know her a little bit.
The baby is due (technically) on August 2nd, but we have it on good authority that Kim will most likely deliver in the next two to four weeks. We are praying that God will just help us all to be patient until He brings this baby in His perfect timing!
I feel the need to reiterate the fact that this baby is not our baby, yet. Yes, Kim has made it very clear that she has chosen us to parent her child, but she is under no obligation to follow through with that decision. It is completely within her rights to change her mind, to make a different plan, to do whatever she wants. Though we are confident at this time that Kim has made up her mind and has no intention of changing it, this is her baby. She can make whatever choices she wants, and until the adoption is official when she signs papers somewhere near 72 hours after the baby's birth, even if we have already brought him or her home, she has every right and opportunity to make another decision. We would support her in whatever decision she made, though of course we would be so disappointed and saddened if this adoption placement were to fall through. But if that happened, we would know that God has a different plan for us, and for whatever reason, just wanted us to be a small chapter in Kim's life.
We are very optimistic about this match, however, and are planning for this baby as much as we can! I can't believe we could very well have a new baby in just a few short weeks! It is surreal, and just hasn't quite sunken in yet. We are so excited, though, and I know the days will just fly by!
We won't be posting for awhile as we have a family vacation planned, so hopefully I will be back online in about two weeks. Who knows, the next post could be THE POST!!! :)
If you are praying for us, please cover "Kim" in prayers. Pray for her heart. Pray for wisdom for her, for her to get the support she needs at this time. Please pray for the baby. We are still facing the possibilities of health issues for this little one, and are praying fervently that God blesses it with perfect health! Please pray that the baby does NOT decide to make its appearance while we are on vacation haha! And pray for our family, that God will equip us with the love and tools we need to welcome this child into our home and lives.
Thank you so much for continuing to follow along on our Adoption Faith Walk! It has been such an incredible journey so far, and I am super excited about what's to come!!!