Category Archives: For Esperanza

Hold on to me

The reason that I continue to share this story is not so that you know something wildly personal about our family. This piece of familial transparency is a difficult thing for me. I share so that you can see, with God, all things are still possible. He is healer, redeemer, and a good, good Father. 

As I write, I am halfway through a two-week stay in Guatemala. The longest by far of the many that have taken me away this year. The leaving doesn’t get any easier – on either end – but I am recognizing the gift of time and the power of love. And tonight, I want nothing more than to grab all of my people, spread thousands of miles apart, and love them – love them fierce. My heart is filled with gratitude. Overflowing in thankfulness for the redemption of heartbreak and the healing power of laughter. I continue to be in awe of the ways God is moving through this story, building a family, and transforming broken hearts almost before my very eyes.


I have always loved to read. When I was younger, I had the habit of reading the last page of the book first. That way, no matter where the story found itself as it unwound, I was steeled for what the ending would bring. Lately, so many of my sentences have begun with, “If you would have told me a year ago…”  But I am glad no one told me. Today, I am glad that I didn’t get to read this page first– as hard as the hard days have been, I am stronger. My faith is stronger, for the not knowing. More than that, I am finding there is so much joy to be had in this adventure, in the unknown, in the discovering. As I look way back, to life before any of this, I see a world that was too small, a faith that was too shallow, a theology that was too narrow, dreams that were too temporary, a Christianity that was too comfortable, and prayers that had been too selfish. Without having to endure the heartache that this journey has brought, the magnitude of the joy in today would be lost. Without tasting the bitter, how can we appreciate the sweet?

Just over a year ago this was the state of my heart… “My prayers feel ineffectual. My heart is breaking. And, for what? A child who I can never tell how badly I want him. A child who I will never be able to mother the way my heart longs to. This was not my idea. I didn’t dream this up, I didn’t choose this.  But there is no doubt that God placed this squarely in our path. It was a hard yes to say, it was scary, and while I didn’t expect it to be easy, I am having a really hard time seeing where we go from here and understanding why? Why did God pull us into this? And I know the fight isn’t over. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I know this and I know that this isn’t over.  This can’t be over. I know that God can do the impossible. I know His promises, but today I am having a really hard time feeling them. Today, this feels so final and I feel so defeated.”

About the same time I wrote these words I was able to experience Antigua with my very shy and reserved teenager on our first “solo adventure.” He was so tightly wound within, so guarded, and I spent the time coaxing a smile and aiming for some level of ok-ness with being together. I knew something he didn’t at that point, we were deeply entrenched in a fight to become his family. But my heart was breaking that day for all the hurt I had in wanting more and hoping what I could give him would be enough.

Since then, we have had other adventures, and more importantly been able to share our secret. In the days since, we have experienced a freedom to share life, and a kitchen, bonding over good meals and board games. In the past few days, I have seen a lightness in him, a softening that was unimaginable a year ago and more than a smile, there is a laugh that is absolutely contagious. This is not the same kid from 5 months ago, never mind a year.  I am seeing him be a kid for the first time. His life is a gift to me that I continue to unwrap, layer by layer, to nurture and encourage and teach and learn from. That is part of the mystery that makes the not knowing so beautiful, this discovering of who he is and helping him see who he can become, and allowing him to grab hold of the hope of dreaming.

Beth Guckenberger summed up my relationship with hope in the previous months quite well. “A tremendous shift happens when a gnawing fear becomes confirmed: hope temporarily dies. Then hope is reborn in the form of faith, faith that God will take over, even if I can’t yet see how.” There have been times, many times, in this journey, when I have wondered how to even begin to pray, how God could go about redeeming the situation. The mountain was too big. I spent a season being angry at God for allowing me to fall in love with this child who could never be mine, not in the way that my heart longed. And today, with the answers we continue to receive, the question now seems to be not if, but when, we will bring him home. Praise God!

“There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child: and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own. ”  ~Robert Brault 

This past week, a milestone quietly passed. An 18th birthday for a son that I never got to know. The impact that his short life made on my life though is immense. He has shaped me, my heart, and my faith into a version of what it looks like today.  My deepened faith, my fierce love for my children, the protective nature that I bear, the compassion that fills my heart, these are all gifts that were refined in grieving him.   I spent that day with another son that God has given me and filled me with an immeasurable love for, marveling at the story God is writing. I think about the prayers that I prayed over both of these boys. One of the stories turned out nothing like I wanted, the other is turning out better than I ever imagined. Even when hope dies, God never leaves or abandons us. Even in our anger, God offers mercy and compassion. He is able to redeem any story.

And tonight, as the thunder rolls outside my window and the rain is pounding on the metal roof, my broken heart is beating in joy, in gratitude, that this child is becoming mine, that I have the honor and privilege of filling the role of mom. Tonight, we were talking about swimming, something we do a lot of in our family, and he shared that he was afraid of the water, even though I have seen him swim. We played and splashed in the waves together at the beach last March. We raced in the pool. But he said that the water scares him. Suddenly our silly conversation turned serious and I told him I would teach him to become a strong swimmer so that he wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore. He said ok but that I needed to “hold onto him.” All of a sudden, I wasn’t sure we were talking about swimming anymore as he stared a hole in the table top.  As I said his name, and he looked up at me, I promised him that I would never let go of him.

Before and after. Pain and joy. Hopelessness and healing. Redemption. God is in it all.

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Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

6:50 pm   Me: Is it ok to share this news publicly?

                  D: Yes – do it!

                  So here goes nothing…

10:30 am  Words are falling short…maybe it’s more like the inability to form a cohesive sentence. My thoughts and entire inner being feel like they are running on high speed. There may come a day when I can better give voice to all that has happened…is happening. But today marks another in a series of “before and after days.” In a few short hours, a young boy is going to stand before a judge and tell the judge that he wants to come home with us. That he wants to be part of our family.  He is going to tell that judge something I have been telling him for so long…he has a family. We are that family.

Just the facts ma’am…that all I feel like I can do right now. Copy and paste updates via text to everyone who is holding this up, and holding us together, through prayer. Right now, the emotion is being held at bay while I feel like I am holding my breath.

Just over 2 weeks ago everything changed. While my feet were on Guatemalan soil, we got some news that we have been praying about for months and months. It didn’t look like we thought it would, but a court date had been set for our sweet boy. We didn’t know why, it wasn’t expected and hadn’t happened for years. And the judge was someone who would be sympathetic to a request laid before him. An international adoption, a last ditch effort and an only option. A family – forever. This was our chance. Impossible isn’t for our God and this wasn’t a surprise for Him although it certainly came as one for us.

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Cheering on our defender during a pick-up soccer game during this impromptu trip to Guatemala .

With this news, my husband, a man who loves his family and God so well, put everything else aside and within hours got on a plane, so that together, side by side, we could look into the eyes of our child and finally share our secret with him, the one whom it affected the most.  This child’s sweet, honest words will forever be imprinted on my heart. When we had the privilege of inviting him to be part of our family, when we finally could give voice to the battle we have been waging for him for over a year and a half, when we could assure him that no matter what any judge, court, or government says, we are family, that it doesn’t matter how many “nos” we get, we are never going to give up the fight, when we completely blind-sided him and overwhelmed him with news that I am sure he was too terrified to ever hope for, when we finally gave breath to the conversation that has lived in my head over and over, his words were quiet, simple, as he processed all that we threw at him.  And my heart melted. So many prayers, so much hurtful hope, so many tears. You are so loved sweet boy.

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Celebrating the day after the secret was out!
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Oh my heart…

If this day never came, I didn’t want to be able to look back and know that I didn’t do everything in my power to bring him home.  I didn’t want to wonder if I could have done more to make it happen. But you know what? There is not a thing that I have done that has made any bit of this happen. Every. Single. Piece. Has been directly from the hand of God. There is absolutely no doubt of His plan, of His love for this child, of His greatness, of His movement. He is doing things in a way that can leave no doubt as to who is responsible for this. The credit, the glory, the praise belongs to Him and Him alone. Many days in this process I have cried out to him in frustration, in anger, in fear, on days when I felt that I was banging my head against a wall, begging him to move, begging him to speak, to act.  “It is well” had come with a stripping away of so many layers of self, a painful scraping away but before this news I had gotten there. We had reached a place of acceptance of “maybe never.” But God is so good…He didn’t leave us there.

As the minutes drag forward today, construction hammers on in the background, a bedroom addition, our own ark of sorts, started in faith, now, God willing on a crash course of frenzied activity to hopefully be completed in time to accommodate our growing family.

The calendar stares at us unblinking with a circled milestone birthday only 35 days away and there is so much to do, so much to be accomplished between now and then, so many “yeses” that must replace “nos” and my heart rate speeds up and my chest tightens as the mountain looms impossibly large. To be so close and yet so far, and to be reminded that God specializes in one minute to midnight.

And the clock hands move, and I know he must be on his way by now, his nerves and my nerves are thrumming together, thousands of miles apart. I cling to the promise that God will finish what he has begun, that as much as I love this child, God loves him infinitely more. And I have to trust what is out of my control, I have to be content to sit, and wait, and breathe, and do nothing when everything inside of me screams at me to do otherwise. And a war wages on internally and my foot taps incessantly.

 


 

9:23 pm Because, as readers, you live outside of my space time continuum, you missed me pacing the floor this afternoon, missed the dear friend that came to sit with me (made me sit) until we heard some news. (And documented me answering my phone when the call finally came.)

the call

And now, without the agonizing suspense that I endured today I can tell you, aloud, publicly, for the first time, without the veiled conversation and innuendo, just as we were finally able to to share it with our sweet boy. We are currently working to adopt a child from Guatemala. Yes, I know adoption is closed. Yes, I know that this is “impossible.” But I also know that “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” He has already proven that over and over to us though this process.

Today, a Guatemalan judge ordered that steps be taken to explore the adoption process between Guatemala and the United States. People, this is God stuff!!  Please join us in celebrating and praising God for all that he has done to get us to this place in time. And then, continue to pray because it’s not done yet and as soon as the judge ordered it the representatives from the Consejo Nacional De Adopcionescna (CNA) said they couldn’t do it. The judge replied that there is no legal reason for them not to proceed with this, he gave them a list of things that they must do and set our next court date for one month from now. You best believe that this mama will be down there next time. (Actually, as only God can do, I already had planned to be there!)

We need people talking about this, we need the government pushing for this, we need political and judicial connections locally. We need to be able to bring our son home!

The plan is to spend the next month generating publicity around this in Guatemala , bringing the decision to light, and the question posed to me was, “How big can you go?!” Can you help us go big?  Please share this, spread the word, help bring pressure to bear on CNA as they try to stall this adoption process. A process they are now legally bound to comply with.

Here is a look back at where we have been on this journey.

This was not my plan

This was not my plan – Part 2

Please don’t stop praying

Down but not out

In Between

When Hope Wears Thin

Tonight we celebrate!

 

For Esperanza. Because of Love.

One year ago I started a new job…but it isn’t work. In the last year I have been to Guatemala, to what has become my second home at Casa Bernabe, 9 times. Over the course of the last 12 months I have become a collector, a collector of stories, of memories, of photos, a collector of tears and heartache, of side-splitting laughter and giggles. And I needed a place for all of it. A place to process it, a place to give voice to the good, the bad, and the ugly. A place to foster hope and grow justice, even within my own heart.

Let me introduce, For Esperanza. Because of love.

for esperanza

Part travel journal, part love story, where we look at the work that’s being done when we roll up our sleeves and push for justice on behalf of the most vulnerable.

For me this has never been about politics. It’s about doing what is good, and just, and right. Yet, I find myself being forced into a divided arena, driven towards the political and polarizing in this quest and we’ll tip-toe into that a bit as well.

I can assure you that when I first stepped foot on Guatemalan soil back in 2017, I had no idea where this train was headed! As a Run and Be Still follower, you know this! And yet, this is where I find myself today and it feels like it’s time for the next chapter. I am not abandoning my home here, however, these days you will find me much more frequently at our new online home.

Please join us as we transition. You can follow along on all of our adventures (like the time Mae and I were on a medical emergency flight back from Guatemala last March.)

To stay in the know, like us on Facebook at For Esperanza or follow us on Instagram @ crazy_gringas (Find out what that’s all about here.)

For all of the stories and photos, take a look at the new website For Esperanza and if you subscribe, all of our adventures, shenanigans, and captivating stories will be delivered right to you inbox. You won’t miss a thing! We’d love to have you as part of our For Esperanza community as well.

In the meantime, here is the latest post, Heartbeat. (Just click to read it in it’s entirety.)

heartbeat