Author Archive Sarah Beth

The New Plan A

But she was never anything more than a concept. We never had a daughter in Colombia.

She wasn’t there. If you have been following along with our adoption journey on social media (and thank you, if so), you probably read our latest update in which we announced we would not longer be pursuing an adoption from Colombia. Essentially, while we were on vacation, we received word from our agency that the specific pilot program we were signed up with in Colombia was going to be terminated. Just to be clear, Colombian adoptions are still ongoing, just not the program we were enrolled in (I will gladly explain the whole situation in detail to anyone who might be interested). I initially dealt with some pretty intense feelings of disappointment, deep confusion, and uncomfortable restlessness. And, honestly, embarrassment. I felt naive and foolish in my confidence. I boldly proclaimed that I believed we had a daughter in Colombia (of course, even then I acknowledged the uncertainty of it while simultaneously believing it was an actuality). I was learning Spanish. I put a map of Colombia on the wall near my side of the bed, and I would look at it periodically wondering where she might be at any given moment. And then, just like that, she vanished. But she was never anything more than a concept. We never had a daughter in Colombia.

God has stirred our affections for and fixed our eyes upon a “new” international adoption destination some 7,348 miles away from the original…UGANDA.

We spent the remainder of our vacation non-committed to any particular decision except that we were going to soak up our fleeting time together. Understandably, this unexpected turn of events prompted us to pray for direction while diligently researching possible alternatives and reaching out for advice/guidance from those we trust. And our hearts kept turning over for Africa . Africa, after all, is where my heart originally resided in the beginning of this crazy adoption adventure, but once presented with just how seemingly “perfect” the Colombian option was, we moved forward with South America. Not having ever been to Africa (or even close), this seemed/seems particularly unfamiliar and frightening – the distance, the potential instability, the unknowns. But, basically, we prayed for guidance and discernment, and we feel the Lord provided. We are very drawn to and extremely excited about this big leap. God has stirred our affections for and fixed our eyes upon a “new” international adoption destination some 7,348 miles away from the original…UGANDA. And now, my heart is hungry for everything Uganda. We are absorbing all we can about this beautiful place, saturating ourselves totally. He’s turned my sorrow into dancing.

 

And now we move forward. Expectantly and excitedly. We are relinquishing what control we thought we had. We are eager and anticipating whatever God has planned.

We can rejoice. We can be thankful. He even worked it out that we would lose minimal time and finances in the paperwork process (He didn’t have to). A fairly smooth transition. And after having digested all of this, my prideful heart in admitting I was mistaken about our family geography has dissolved. I don’t feel any regret for embracing Colombia and attaching myself there. So many doors opened. So much was learned. Our hearts were softened so uniquely. Our faith was increased dramatically. And now we move forward. Expectantly and excitedly. We are relinquishing what control we somehow still thought we had. We are eager and anticipating whatever God has planned. I have no predictions. And honestly, if we came out of this adoption process daughter-less, He is still so, so good. His timing is perfect. His plans cannot be thwarted. I can be confident. And this was His plan all along, not some back up on the fly. We are living out His Plan A.

Uganda

“…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

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PUZZLE

Pour.

In His goodness & in His perfect timing – He made it pour. And, as always, it was unstoppable.

A month ago, almost, we had what I would consider to be a very successful fundraising yard sale to benefit our adoption. Honestly, the whole experience (and I say experience specifically) left me speechless. But I believe words are required. Basically, He made it rain.

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The whole production was laden with abundant blessing. We were lavished with donations. By the truckload. Our two car garage, den, studio, and attic were mounding with things. People were so gracious to us. I hope one day our daughter can understand how deeply her family and friends wanted her here. I hope baby girl knows people lined up to shop her fundraiser. I hope she knows we worked hard to make this fundraiser successful. And also that there are other people who love her that worked harder still. But He pulled it off. No one else could.

I hope one day our daughter can understand how deeply her family and friends wanted her here

Financially, the yard sale far surpassed my expectation. I was hoping for $2,000. Which was made by noon the first day. Our final total of approximately $4,700 more than doubled anything I could have hoped for. So, obviously we were ecstatic about the results. After all, we must have money in order for her to be “us.”

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But there were so many other magnificently simple and profound unexpecteds. The friends who volunteered their help because they “love yard sales” (love us). Our neighbors’ kiddos who cheerfully brought over their piggy bank money without prompting. The generous family who bought a couple 25 cent toys and handed us a $100 bill (there were many of those families). The little girl who said so sweetly that she was praying for our daughter. The woman who hugs the handsome boy beside her as she says, “We got our first grandson through adoption.” The message we received from a woman about a revival of Joy swelling in her heart. The man who proclaimed “I was adopted” before he donated to our own adoption. Even the little finds that were found when sorting through the donations, things that were just what so-&-so was looking for.

I was hoping for $2,000. Which was made by noon the first day.

And the kindest lady (let’s call her “Jillian”) you could imagine stopping by to purchase donations for the multitude of charities she’s involved with. Her number is now saved in my phone. She’s already brought us over brownies.

And the professional organizer who literally knocked on our door the week of volunteering her time. We had never met before. She dominated. So thankful for her. Beyond words. Strangers forging a team to rally for a daughter we don’t yet know.

Our bones ached from constant motion. There was fellowship. And celebration. We were living.

I still haven’t gotten to the best part. I surely will weep (again) just at the thought. Saturday afternoon we were sitting in the heat just hoping the rain would pass right by, maybe close enough that we could catch a breeze. There was a light mist, a drizzle. We rejoiced at the relief, and I casually started covering up the tables with small tarps. The rain picked up. People started shuffling to keep dry (except one father and daughter who got caught up in the moment). Then it came down, full force. And just. Kept. Coming. There weren’t enough tarps. The cups left uncovered experienced fullness.  The tents covering up the donated clothing and toys began to buckle. And break. A handful of true blues (and completely kind strangers) were stranded trying to hold it together. All soaked. And there was so much joy. Real joy. Real laughter. Real appreciation. He made it rain.

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And once it was all semi-cleaned up, we counted the money. We could have easily made more if it hadn’t rained when it did. But gathered around our living room, soggy and exhausted (but yet not at all), counting what was raised…the excitement couldn’t have been any bigger.

All soaked. And there was so much joy. Real joy. Real laughter. Real appreciation. He made it rain.

Those two days were packed. If I wasn’t promoting on social media, my “feeds” went unfed; they were not habitually scrolled through (and the world kept turning). Our bones ached from constant motion. There was fellowship. And celebration. We were living. Not something I would have imagined resulting from rummage. But this adoption has been strewn with hidden pockets of goodness. Affirmation.

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When it’s time, you sweat. You get that sunburn. You throw your hands up in the rain. You meet your neighbors. You graciously accept your free coffee (and thoughtfully delivered dinner). You give that dollhouse away for a steal because those little girls see it. You pick up those underwear that somehow got mixed in with the sweaters. You praise the treasures found and presented to you by sweet little old ladies. You worship under that tent. You feel those drops. You see what cannot be seen.

Basically, He made it rain.

If you donated to our sale, thank you. If you shopped our sale, thank you. If you threw on an apron and haggled with the best of them, thank you. If you watched our kids, thank you (thank you!). If you promoted our fundraiser, thank you. If you prayed for us, thank you. If you, in any way contributed, thank you. Do I expect every fundraiser to turn out so amazingly? Nope. But they could. And this one was beautiful.

In His goodness & in His perfect timing – He made it pour. And, as always, it was unstoppable.

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PUZZLE

Doubt.

Can I be real with whoever decides to take the time to read this?

Gulp.

Do I believe we are called to adopt? Absolutely. Am I excited about this? To the point I could burst. Do I daydream about our life with her in it? Cars and trains…and doll babies?? Constantly. Do I believe this is really going to happen? I do.

While this journey is anything but predictable, I am choosing to sell out to the here and now.

I believe He equips those whom He has called according to His purpose.

But. So. Here’s the catch. I’m a doubter, among other things. I have this natural inclination to believe The Worst Case Scenario is looming around the bend. This is a struggle that needs recognition as it colors the way I do life. What does that have to do with the adoption process? Well, turns out, a lot.

Declarations like “we’re adopting” and “from Colombia” and “a daughter”…are very scary for me. Because in all reality, while I do believe these things to be true, I don’t really know what this is going to look like. What if we say these things and prepare in this way, and then it doesn’t happen? What if we don’t pass the next step? What if we don’t qualify? What if the funds don’t come in? What if…

These thoughts and doubts are nothing new, of course. I have experienced them with my other children. I have not celebrated things fully in the past because I was timid, and the notions seemed fragile. Maybe too good to be true. Or maybe I didn’t want to be embarrassed and look like a fool when my dreams didn’t quite pan out. Like I ever had any control over them.

These past few months have broken my heart. Held a mirror to my nose causing me look deep into my own sin. Brought me to tears…

So. In this process, just like anything else in life, I have no real prediction of what lies ahead. All I know is what’s in front of me today and the direction I feel lead to go. And I’m not missing anything this time. While this journey is anything but predictable, I am choosing to sell out to the here and now. If the plans change, so be it. I will love our newest one regardless of geography or need or…or…

And if God closes this door all together, He is still good and worthy to be praised. If He called us here solely to stir in our hearts an openness, an exposure, a vulnerability…and we come out of this with no baby to show for it, so be it. These past few months have broken my heart. Held a mirror to my nose causing me look deep into my own sin. Brought me to tears (hopeful, happy, and heavy). Stretched me out of my comfort zone (and over again). Connected me with friends, new and old. And given me new breathe to read and write and create. I am thankful.

But. I DO BELIEVE WE HAVE A CHILD OUT THERE, and that He is working it out to bring us together as a family.

Now, excuse me, I’m off to Pinterest to finish decorating her room.

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PUZZLE

Our Hearts Flew Open

I believe we have a daughter in Colombia.

Can I be so bold as to say that? Ever since Paul & I married in 2008, adoption has been something we have talked about, something we have deeply considered. It’s a long story, but, also, it’s not. We feel drawn to the plight of the orphan. We feel called to intervene. And it’s an inescapable calling. An irresistible, terrifying, delightful, beautiful calling.

I just simply can’t imagine the hunger of not having a family.

One week in, & everything is starting to feel real-ish. Closer. There’s a very high likelihood she’s already been born. And abandoned. Relinquished. I think of her often, though it’s vague and blurry. But it’s also incredibly distinctive. I’m not even sure that makes any sense. But when I kiss Abe’s soft little neck, right under his cheek, I wonder if anyone is or has shown her affection. When I give Ezra that extra treat because he’s adorable and persistent, I wonder if she has ever had the luxury of a treat. Or if she, too, currently is begging but maybe for a meal. And I think of her when Isaiah crawls into bed with us every night. He has bad dreams sometimes. I bet she does, too. I know this sounds like crazy, dramatic babble, but it has been burning at me. At us. I just simply can’t imagine the hunger of not having a family. 

I am embracing this, we are embracing this as a family, because, quite frankly, I  have gotten too comfortable with easy. With feigning empathy. Trusting incompletely. Loving cautiously.

While we’ve received unbelievable support thus far, ultimately some people flat-out don’t get it. And some just don’t want to. Adoption most certainly is not for everyone. I get it. This is going to be heartbreaking. Nearly impossible and almost crazy. But. Our potential daughter is not the only one in need of rescue . I am embracing this, we are embracing this as a family, because, quite frankly, I/we have gotten too comfortable with easy. With feigning empathy. Trusting incompletely. Loving cautiously.

A seed was planted. Our hearts flew open.

And now it’s time to bring her home.