Several weeks ago now, Rob and I both independently began to walk away from our times of prayer with an understanding that this journey is not about us, or even solely about adoption. Our prayers were then confirmed by the prayers of others as they began to share with us what God was impressing on them – it kept coming back to, “There is a bigger story to be told here.” It was hard to receive honestly, because in our hearts we knew, for a larger story to be written, time is required. Time we wanted to be spending on plane flying to our daughter, or time spent introducing her to her new home; not time we cared to spend on more waiting. It was hard to hear, but we tried to rest in the knowledge that God was writing something, not us. We are merely characters in His story, willing words to His author’s pen. Our prayers, as desperate days passed on, became: “God, give us eyes to see your story because this doesn’t make sense.” And even as I prayed those words over and over, I understand now I was still watching for Him to give me eyes to see the story that I wanted Him to author – the one with rescue and plane tickets and reunions of bliss. I was so focused on that plot line, I nearly missed God’s – the one I say my heart desires to know.
Then, early this month Rob made a comment one evening I never imagined I’d hear him say – he spoke thoughts that had been stirring in me but I had not mentioned. As we were clearing dinner and attempting conversation over the decibal known as our children, he casually said how his mind had changed and he wished in a way we could take Emma, our oldest, back to Ethiopia with us. I replied, with a ‘that’s so weird – I was just thinking the same thing today.’ And we went on discussing other things, but the seed of a dream had been planted. At this point we were still fully hoping and believing we would be cleared to travel back for Lulu the next day, and it would be impossible to pull things together for Emma to join us at that point. Impossible. As the “next day” turned into the day after that and so on, that seed had time to take root and our hearts were changing, opening up to the impossible. Could it be, part of this pain, part of this terrible delay in getting back to our baby girl, has something to do with our first baby girl? It all still seemed too dreamy, too impossible. She has no passport, no international travel immunizations, no money for her plane ticket, etc. I casually posted the following on facebook:
As you can see, it garnered quite a response. Responses at first we smiled at but dismissed mostly – it’s impossible, right? I have great friends. Friends who dream for me when I’m too tired or weary to even make an attempt. Another day passed, we still did not clear USE. Devastated once again, I sat down at the computer and one of these enthusiastic facebook friends had posted a link on how to get an expedited passport. I half-heartedly clicked it… I’ll save you the play-by-play, and just tell you as we began to ask, “Could this be God?” while simultaneously walking step by step through each “impossible” task that would have to happen to prepare Emma for international travel, the path was made clear and swift. We still have pesky details we are praying over, such as paying for her airfare but as of yesterday, Emma, our oldest who turns 7 next month, who painted over 60 paintings to raise funds to get her sister home, who has come home from school in tears having missed several spelling test answers because in her words her, “thoughts about Lu kept getting mixed up with my spelling words,” – that amazing girl is fully immunized for African travel and is the proud new owner of one of these:
I sit here overwhelmed with joy, and worn through by pain all at once. Such a mystery this story is. Joy, imagining our daughters meeting in Lulu’s birthplace. Pain, brought on from the long battle we continue to fight to be able to experience that deferred joy. Every time I think about flying 22 hours with a 7-year-old, or taking our tender-hearted child who hasn’t even watched Cinderella because it’s too mean, to a third-world country I think what some of you may be thinking: we.are.crazy. Go on and think it, you won’t be getting much argument from us – we are crazy. But as crazy as it all looks on paper, it feels in a very real and deep-rooted way, it is crazy right. We have talked often about being intentional in the raising of our kids, and the forming of our family. In those moments when I question, when I think how much easier it would be to just go as a couple, I am convicted to walk what I believe. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Do we know for sure Emma will become a missionary as a young adult? No. Do we know for sure this is the story God is authoring on the pages of our family? No. But, do we know for sure it is not??? Our peace with our decision (the crazy one) leads us to lean more towards the former, and leaves us hanging on every word God writes, line by line.