I realized it’s been a month, with another week spent in Guatemala, since I shared any type of update. Please grant me some grace as I am barely able to form a coherent sentence at the moment, between traveling, managing the busiest season in fundraising (and having surprise needs arise as we had 8 computers stolen from the Casa Bernabé school…so much for having a fundraising plan. It becomes more about meeting the urgent need in this instance. You can read about all of that here.) Add Christmas merchandising and Casa Bernabé Christmas gifts, my own family’s Christmas decorating and shopping, a return trip to Guatemala in a week for another court hearing and a Christmas party (because why not?) and trying desperately to reach the heights of the Department of State to propel our adoption forward.
Loving here, loving there, needing and wanting to be there or here no matter where I find myself and the there or here is. Is it any wonder I can barely think let alone speak? I used to think managing Ty and Mae’s sports and practice schedules were stressful. Multiply that times 1000s of miles and two plane rides, different cultures and languages and it gets infinitely more complicated…first and last days of school, sporting events, court dates, holidays, guilt, frustration, do more, be more. I see where all of this is headed and I am powerless to stop it. My insides basically feel like a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song. (In case you need an audio example of how I am feeling.)
I am living in this dichotomy of “Be Still” and the reality that there is so much that needs done. Throw in the inevitable second guessing of every decision and “still” looks more like paralysis by analysis.
So where do we stand? Our home study was submitted last week, approved but unsigned and un-reviewed for Hague regulations because of the Catch 22 we find ourselves continually in (adoption is still “officially” closed with Guatemala.) Two letters of support and explanation accompanied it, one from our social worker, one from our adoption agency. Should we have included one? What should it have said?
Days before the home study was submitted, I was in the Embassy in Guatemala and for the first time, had it confirmed to me, by a US official, that, yes, conversations are happening to reopen adoption. The wheels are turning, there is progress happening. It just seems that it isn’t happening in time for us. Or so we were informed during our visit. The conversations haven’t gone to a high enough level and there isn’t an official bi-lateral agreement in place. This means that adoption will officially remain closed until this happens. We don’t have an answer as to when that will change. It could be next month or “not for years” according to the lady we spoke to.
Having your absolute worst fears spoken out loud to you does more than take your breath away. All I could think as I was walking out of the Embassy was, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Just breathe and get out of here before you fall apart.”
I was whisked from the Embassy into a restaurant for lunch and a pep talk with two amazing women who helped me see that this is just one more step. If their “no” is because the Department of State is moving too slowly then we thank them for letting us know where the hold up is and mount a campaign to find someone who cares enough to champion this cause within the government. We have faced impossible before and God has shown us that it isn’t. Our job now is to figure out how to get to those people.
(Side note, even as I type this, I am reminded of this passage in Exodus, a favorite of mine. Moses told the people, as they faced the impossible situation of the Red Sea on one side and an advancing Egyptian army on the other, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14) Stop! Knock it off! Quit trying to save yourself and do the impossible. Are you going to swim? Are you going to fight? It will not turn out well for you. God has a plan, so get out of the way and let Him work! I know that it isn’t my job to figure out how to get to those people. But there are times when we play a part in God’s plans. It’s not always about standing on the sidelines…so you see, paralysis by analysis. When do we move? When do we stand still? Is this the Red Sea or more like Noah needing to physically pick up a hammer? This is the state of my mind these days. Add Spanish to the mix and I am a super hot mess!)
Back to our lunch…They also reminded me that the last person to tell me no like this is now unemployed (the ex-director of CNA.) HA! That at least got a laugh.
Beating the bushes and knocking on doors…that’s what I came home ready to do. This week I looked up a contact that I had made in July, a very well-connected immigration and adoption attorney, who had given me very little hope of ever getting to the place that we are standing today. But, as I remembered on Sunday night, he was interested in being kept in the loop. So I looped him in and today he connected me with the head of the Center for Adoption Policy who is preparing to meet with top Department of State officials and very interested in our story. Will it be enough? Did we make the connection in time? I don’t know.
The not knowing is killing me. There is so much that I don’t have the answers to.
In the meantime, in the not knowing I keep going back to Guatemala to spend as much time as I can with our sweet boy. It isn’t ideal but it is changing him (and me.) One evening during my last trip, he told one of the boys, as we were looking at some old pictures, “My sister is coming tomorrow.” (Mae got to join me for the Dia de Gracias celebration at CB.) The other boy was asking the ages of Ty and Mae and JC interjected and said, “I’m the littlest one.” He has a family and more than that, he knows it. He knows he is loved and wanted. This is so huge!
Tonight, as I sit in the quiet of our living room. I was looking through some of my old posts. It’s kind of like going through an old journal, and I came across a few that made me pause. One was written just one month after we returned from our first trip to Guatemala. The fateful trip that changed our lives.
It was just over a month ago that I was sitting on the floor in the back corner of a church in Guatemala City, listening to Sunday morning’s message, translated so that I could understand it. The message was titled A Mile of Faith, it’s subject, the walk of the blind man in John 9. It’s this muddy eyed walk that I have been thinking about. Jesus is walking with his disciples and suddenly stops, stoops down, spits into the dirt to make some mud, then smears it on the blind man’s face. He then commands the blind man to go and wash it in a certain pool of water. Unseeing, (and since he didn’t ask to be healed, quite possibly thinking “Um ok, what in the world just happened?”) the blind man trusted and with mud and spit smeared on his eyes, he walked to the pool. He didn’t get halfway there and stop, deciding it was a fools errand. He didn’t just turn and wipe the spit and dirt from his eyes, thinking to himself “crazy man.” The blind man trusted and he walked. He obeyed and he gained miraculous sight.
And as I reflected on that very first trip and the Sunday morning message, one month after being back…
To God be the glory in all of this. This is His work. I am just trying to walk obediently, blindly but trusting. He is using my “nevers” for His purposes – His good. If this had been left up to me, if the past 12 months had followed my plans, this is not what it would have looked like. Suddenly, a passion and fire have been ignited, fueled, as I begin to see where this path may be leading. But, it is on the horizon still, and until I get closer, until my eyes are opened to seeing the fullness of it, I will just keep walking towards it.
What does your path look like? What would happen if you had the courage to walk blindly in the direction that God has called you to? Where would you be standing 12 months from now?
Twelve months after writing that, we had moved into a new house, I had made an unplanned trip back to Guatemala, our family was praying about the possibility of an education visa for JC and I was applying for a new job as Development Director!! One heck of a blind mile…
As I mentioned, part of that mile was our big move. At that time I had referred to the new house and our crazy actions as a “better fit for our growing family,” without ever having an idea what that was actually going to mean. I just meant my kids were getting bigger and was trying to justify our seeming temporary insanity! You see, in the span of 8 days we went from not even having a thought in our heads of selling our house to owning two houses. As I look back the house was one of the biggest hurdles we would have had to overcome to even consider an adoption. God cleared it without our even having a clue. The thing I remember most from these days is this…And this tiny whisper of a voice asking “Do you trust me?” On this day, every prayer for guidance was answered with this whisper of a question.
That circles me back to tonight as I sit in my quiet house, typing by the light of the Christmas tree. We are waiting, hoping, and praying for our Christmas miracle. Last year hope was something that was very difficult for me.
The first Sunday of Advent and the lighting of the candle of Hope…but man, hope is currently a scary and dangerous thing. Hope has my heart on the line, risks having it broken in two, risks disappointment, and sometimes it’s just easier, safer certainly, to protect that hurting heart rather than let the candle of Hope burn it to the ground.
I identify with the words of Ann VosKamp and Jason Hague,
How do you hope unlikely things because you love someone to death?
We all need to believe that things can change.
Sometimes believing in a miracle feels like living in a mirage. You can feel like a fool, walking around with your pitcher. Really, God? Really?
YES! I have asked God that, a lot lately. REALLY?! And every letter I have sent out seeking answers has been like seeking water in a mirage.
It seemed to me I had two choices: I could either live in perpetual sadness, or I could lower my level of hope.
Living in this land of the unknown, the waiting, the land of unanswered prayer, your heart throbs, maybe with anger, maybe with hurt, but almost certainly with disappointment.
Yes! Everyday, my heart carries with it the burden of helplessness. I feel crazy and that pendulum can swing from righteously crazy to flat out delusional. Crazy. My orderly, logical mind, struggles everyday with seeing the way, seeking an answer, continuously chasing it’s proverbial tail.
And tonight, exactly one year later, I see the ways that God has worked in my heart, to heal it and restore hope. We have seen God’s hand moving mountains. We have gotten some answers, but have even more questions. Hope still terrifies me but I know that I will be ok no matter what happens because, as I tell JC all the time, God has a plan and we can trust it. It’s hard, it is so, so hard some days. But we have to hold on to that and walk through this together as the family that God has created us to be.
God’s got this. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But I believe with every ounce of my heart that God is going to bring this boy home. Will you please join us in praying for this? I absolutely believe that He has not brought us this far, showing himself powerful and merciful, time after time, to leave us here. And so tonight, that is my message to the world and a reminder to myself. The only way this happens is though an act of God. So, to God be the glory.
And this…the end of the post about our crazy, house buying experience…it was just the encouragement that I needed tonight. If you are waiting, hoping, and praying for a Christmas miracle, maybe it will be what you need as well. (I certainly had no idea what God’s plans were when I wrote this! I know what my plans were though and I can tell you it didn’t look anything like this.)
I made plans. I was going to take September off and just breathe (my exact words!) I made plans. I was going to sit at my super cute new desk and write.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
I made plans. My plans were safe. My plans were comfortable. But instead of my plans I am choosing trust. And, in doing so find myself leaning into these verses and coming away with the crazy peace that Jesus gives.
“Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.” Joshua 23:8
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” Psalms 37:4-5
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23-24
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Do you trust me?” Yes. I am trying very hard to. But some days I just want to make the agenda for the day my own plans, to make the world conform to my timeline. And that is the truth and reality in the situation.
Thank you, past me. This was just what I needed.
Looking for three earlier posts I referenced?