Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mother's Day thoughts...

As I sit here having enjoyed a lovely rainy (my favorite) Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of two groups of people...the first, the women who want so desperately to have a child, but haven’t been able to. 
I understand the desire to have a child and not be able to.  It took almost five years to get pregnant with Cooper.  I was lapped twice by both my sisters and attended countless baby showers for close friends.  It was a difficult season. I cried out to God so many times, pleading with Him to let me be pregnant, but the little stick said, “no”, month after month, year after year.  In 1992, I wrote the words to a song called, “When I Let It Go” about my experience with infertility.  I had to ask myself the question, “Do I trust God, and do I believe that He loves me, if I never have a child?”   My answer was, “yes”, but it wasn’t an easy answer.  My heart broke over the thought of not ever being pregnant and having a baby.  Writing these words proved to be cathartic. 
This time I've got to trust You
I've got to accept Your plan
I have tried to guide my circumstance
But there's just no way I can
When will I learn this lesson
Your ways are not like mine
Lord, help me to surrender
The control I try to have on my life
   When I let it go
   You take my hand and gently lead me
   Then You let me know
   Just how peaceful my life can be
   When I let it go
   Your never-ending blessings like a river
       start to flow
   When I let it go
Too many times I'm searching
For the things I think I need
But when I try to look for more
I always seem to give You less of me
Lord, help me gain the wisdom
My foolish mind still lacks
Til I find a way to let go
Of the part of me I'm holding back 
In 1993, a song-writer that I was introduced to, Connie Harrington, helped me put those words to music and my singing group, “Sierra”, recorded the song on our debut album that year.  And by God’s grace He allowed me to get pregnant and, ironically, hear that song on the radio for the very first time as I was driving to the hospital in labor (which is a long and funny story!).  
I will never forget giving birth to Cooper, or the moments that followed when he wasn’t breathing and had to be rushed out of my room to the NICU.  I couldn’t imagine losing him, and I’m beyond grateful that I didn’t.  I thank God for my precious son and I couldn’t love him more than I do.  
Two years later, I was happily surprised that I was pregnant with Gatlin after having been told that I’d never be able to get pregnant on my own.  We had no maternity insurance and, therefore, have always called Cooper and Gatlin our ten thousand dollar babies!!  (Cooper, because the fertility treatments were so expensive, and Gatlin, because of no insurance.) Gatlin was born in July of 1997, beautiful and healthy.  And our family was complete.  Or so we thought.
The second group that I’ve thought about today are those sweet mommas who have had to give up their babies, and the babies who were given up, or whose mommas died.   I just can’t imagine...and I realize that God doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations, but, wow, how someone has the strength to hand their child to someone else, even when she knows it is her only option in order for that child to survive (or have a better life than she can provide), is just beyond me. I can’t even comprehend that.  So amazed by the strength of those precious women.
We were not drawn to adoption because we wanted to increase the size of our family.  We were perfectly happy with our two children, but there was a calling on my life, a voice in my head that wouldn’t go away that kept reminding me of the verse that says we are to, “care for the orphans”.  I wanted to be open to that if God ever put it in my path.  And He did.  But, it wasn’t without heartache and disappointment.  
In 2008, we tried to adopt twice, and both attempts failed.  The first was not as painful because we were next on the list for a referral, so we hadn’t yet seen a face.  But, the second child had a name and a face, and we had his picture up in our home and spoke of him and prayed for him daily.  When the phone call came that ended that journey, our hearts were broken.  Gatlin and I laid on her closet floor bawling our eyes out.  And then I said to Gatlin, “Did we love God and trust Him before this happened?”  Through her tears she answered, “Yes, Momma”.  “Do we still love Him and trust Him now?”, I asked her through my own tears.  And again, she said, “Yes”.  And then we just cried.  And I decided that we were not meant to adopt.  
It’s funny how we decide things, isn’t it? 
Right at the time I decided that, a man named, Aleymu, died in Ethiopia, leaving three children behind without parents, because their mother died three years prior to that.  Little did I know then, that his children would become my children.  Our children.  I’m so very grateful to that man.  He was a very good man, and his beautiful wife was a wonderful mother prior to her death.  They deeply loved their children.  They protected their children.  They taught their children about God.  Because of the way that they loved their children, their children know how to love now!  Because of the way that they protected their children, their children don’t have serious physical and/or emotional scars that many others have.  Because of the way they loved life, and played, and laughed, these three precious children know how to enjoy life, and play, and laugh.  A LOT! 
So, today I’m a grateful Mom.  Grateful to have given birth to two amazing children.  Grateful to a beautiful mother in Ethiopia who gave birth to, and loved so well, three amazing children there, that I now have the privilege to mother.  And mostly, grateful to Father God Who kept His promise to “work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose”.  Romans 8:28

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes...

Today was Kaleb and Kali's well-check doctor appointment (Bennet's is tomorrow).  As I was holding their hands walking into Mercy Clinic, I was overcome with thoughts of walking that path a year ago and how completely overwhelmed I was.  I broke out in tears numerous times during the almost four hour appointment...the first time being the moment I signed their names onto the sign-in sheet.  The women behind the counter didn't know what to think of me.  I didn't know what to think of me.  It wasn't really a me that I recognized.  I remember being so frustrated with myself because I couldn't snap out of it.  I wanted to put mind over matter and buck up and get a grip and deal with my life and pull myself together and all those things...but I wasn't able to do it that I cried.  And cried.  And then cried a little bit more.  I was embarrassed, but the water works wouldn't stop.  It wasn't a bawling cry, just that constant lump in the throat, tears welled-up in the eyes, sneak a kleenex to your cheek, want to lie down and bawl your eyes out, but you can't.  The kids never knew how much I was struggling that day.

Today, I was able to laugh at that memory.

While we were waiting to see the doctor, I told Kaleb and Kali all about me sitting there last year trying not to plop on the floor in fetal position, suck my thumb and wail.  And then I told them that they don't scare me anymore...and we all three laughed and laughed and laughed.  So much better than crying!!

They had great check-ups and are perfectly healthy.  They are growing like weeds and doing great in every area; physically, mentally, spiritually.  They are AMAZING kids.  The doctor got to see them dance (oh my!) and as I told her our story (she's a new doctor for us), her response was, "God knew exactly what family to put these kids with".   Indeed He did.

Our family is many funny things happen in this house on a daily basis...we laugh ALL the time around here.  We fight sometimes, too.  Thankfully, this past year has been one of MUCH laughing and very little fighting.  God has blessed us beyond what we deserve, that is for sure.

People ask us if this adoption journey has been hard and Brian always answers, "It's not hard, it's just more".   That's a good answer.  Life is hard sometimes and when you add more people, there's potential to have more hard...BUT, life is really great, too, and we added a lot of has way outweighed the hard.  Thank You, Lord!!

Last night Gatlin took her three younger siblings out for a walk around the neighborhood...they ended up walking for over an hour and it became dark and a little chilly.  I realized Gatlin didn't have her phone with her, so I hopped in the car to go find them and bring them home.  They were almost home, but when they saw me they jumped in the car, glad to see me and thankful for the ride.   Kali said, "I KNEW you would come and find us, Mom!"  That made my heart so happy!!

In Psalm 30:11, the Psalmist writes, "You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy".  I'm so very grateful that the Lord is faithful to us.  He  has been faithful to Bennet, Kaleb and Kali and he has been faithful to Brian, Wendi, Cooper and Gatlin...and this past year He has shown this group of Greens His beautiful, unfailing, extravagant love in way too many ways to count.