Waiting

Our adoption process is long.  Longer than I imagined.  Longer than I expected.  And, most certainly, longer than I would have chosen.  Friends, family, and total strangers who heard we are adopting ask how it’s going.  For years now, my answer has been the same:  “We are still just waiting.”

Waiting.  Such a strange concept.  “Waiting” implies a sense that the outcome or result is not in your control and in someone else’s.  As such, waiting has a passive connotation. Pro-active waiting isn’t really even waiting.  While there are certainly pro-active or preparatory things that one can do with their time while waiting, the action of “waiting” is hardly an action at all.

At some point, if you wait for long enough, the “waiting” status begins to feel permanent.  For my husband and I, we can’t move states or even houses if we wanted to.  As a result, we started doing the long-term investment type of house projects on a house that we didn’t see ourselves in long-term.  For my husband, “waiting” has meant delaying grad school, and our current inability to relocate may even mean him passing up a promotion at work.  For me, it means investing time and energy into a career that I viewed as a placeholder for the much less lucrative job I really want: mama-hood.  So, we maintain the status quo as we wait.

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In the past, I judged people for not making things they want happen.  I have watched friends unhappily spend years in the same stagnant job with no clear opportunity for advancement.  I have seen others work for years in various internships while unsuccessfully applying and re-applying to medical school.  I would think “Move on!,” “Be more proactive!,” “Where is your resilience?,” or judge them for wasting so much time in the status quo.  But, after joining them in the waiting game, I have learned not to judge.  Maybe they feel called to the path or outcome that they are waiting for, just as we feel called to adopt.  Who am I to judge?*  (*Laziness or a lack of motivation to change a poor situation is a whole different ball of wax.)  

By now, people have said all of the things I used to think about others to us – often to our faces.  Knowing that people think we are nuts for waiting so long, I used to muster up a defense.  Now, I don’t bother.  I just smile and give brief, dumb sounding answers like: “We are still just waiting…”  “Yes, you are correct. We have been waiting for a long time…”  “Oh, thank you for the information, but, as far as we know, fertility isn’t an issue…” “Yes, we explored [fill in the blank type of adoption].  We are going to stick with adopting from Uganda for the time being…”  The bottom-line answer to all of people’s questions is that, regardless of the time lapsed, I believe this is how we are to build our family.

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The biggest lesson I have learned in this process is that God uses waiting.  We have watched Him use it to prepare our relationship, minds, finances, families, and hearts.  We are learning to trust His timing of the process and not our own ideas of perfect timing.  If I am able to brush aside the anxiety and frustrations we have had waiting, I can see how rewarding this time has been for us on many levels.

Because we have been blessed with such a lengthy wait, we feel that we have a responsibility to be aware and prepared for when the time does come.  So even though waiting is our new state of being, we are making efforts to proactively use the time we spend waiting.  Rather than crawling into a hole until the time comes, we read nearly every adoption book ever written, stay up to date on current events in Uganda, and maintain frequent communication with our adoption agency about the status of Ugandan adoptions.  And, despite my husband’s eye rolling at my pronunciation efforts, I have attempted to learn some basic words and phrases in Uganda’s most common tribal dialect – with limited success.  I certainly do not believe that the things we can do in our own power will ever fully prepare us, but, I figure, they are a more productive use of the time than thumb twiddling.

Amidst the countless blessings that waiting has provided and the ability for us to proactively prepare, it hasn’t made the past few years easy. Waiting is hard. Waiting is stressful. The level of uncertainty is nearly crippling at times. So crippling that the cloud of anxiety feels palpable. A many number of times, I have forgotten about the outpouring of blessings, growth, and healing that have occurred as a result of our wait, and angrily prayed, “Why are we still waiting? What other things can be more important for us to be focusing on right now?…” God probably views my outbursts as indicators that I indeed do need to more deeply root my trust in Him before He ends our wait.

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Even though waiting has placed our life in a state of limbo, I have to trust. I have to trust His plan. I have to trust His timing. Not one single aspect of this journey has been in our control. Yet, we have seen His faithfulness throughout this process in so many ways. As we near the end of the journey, trusting is getting easier.

The sooner I realized how inconsequential my notions are and learned to trust, I was able to more fully enjoy right where I am. No official referral. No set timeline. No clarity. I can choose to wallow in these details, which I certainly have! Or, I can choose to rest in the peace of knowing this is where I am supposed to be right now.

Where we are right now is still just waiting. And, that is alright with me.

Waiting is hard. Trusting is harder. But, if you take the leap of faith to trust, oh, the blessings you will surely see.

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No Room for the Broken

If you take the time to see it, – amidst that carols, twinkle lights, shopping bags, ornaments, and cheer – there are people hurting.  How easy it is to busy ourselves with parties, cookie exchanges, pageants, concerts, and gingerbread house that we forget to see those around us who aren’t able to participate in the festivities.  Chances are, they weren’t even invited.

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If Christ is who this season is about, He certainly wasn’t blind to those in need. So why are we?  I’m not talking about giving $20 to some cause halfway around the world to appease your conscious.  I am talking about really seeing the need and hurt around us.  The kind of seeing that is relational and stops you in your tracks.  The kind that causes interruptions.  Yes, maybe doing so sacrifices the time that you would have spent baking cookies for the neighbors on your middle class block who have plenty of cookies of their own.  We slap “in jesus name” and “community” on everything we do, just so long as it fits within our comfort zone or schedule.  But this isn’t the Christianity Christ modeled.  If I only see my community as those who look like me, dress like me, and have a similar economic situation, then I’m missing the point entirely.

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This post by Shannan Martin of FlowerPatchFarmGirl.com should be read by all.  Her words hit me hard today and inspired this post.  Please read what she has to say.

I am guilty – more guilty than many probably – of packing my schedule so full that there isn’t room for much else, especially during the holidays.  So I am challenging myself to slow down, see, and make room.  Please join me.

Thankgiving amidst waiting

Life is a never ending period of waiting and preparing for what is to come.  Adoption epitomizes this seemingly endless prepare and wait cycle for adoptive families….  I call our adoption process “The Hurrry Up and Wait Dance.”  Update this, update that, wait for a match, wait for a referral, wait for a court date, wait to travel, wait for visas, wait, wait, wait….  I don’t know how many times I have said, “Surely by next ________ we will have a referral/traveled/our child home/etc.”  And then the following month/holiday season/year/etc. rolls around and we are still waiting.

Over on the Sparrow Fund Blog, Stephanie Smit wrote about her experiences on the topic and learning to trust God’s timing and understand that no part of this process is within your control.

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The other side of the adoption waiting game coin are of course the children waiting, praying, hoping for a family of their own.  A quirky family of their own to sit around the table and eat mashed potatoes with.  Please read Mary Lee’s beautiful narrative in the Huffington Post on her journey as a teen from foster care to adoption.  You can find the piece here.

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Practicing gratitude and recognizing how incredibly blessed we have been this year – even if things don’t look as we had expected.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Remembering its February

In my mind, February in Seattle is a mixture of cold, clear, crisp days and mild, rainy ones.  This February has been an anomaly with a running trend of record high temperatures and warm sunshine us Seattleites typically have to remind ourselves exists.  I have been pulling clothes out of my warm weather wardrobe, passing the sweet smells of magnolia and cherry blossoms on my morning run, and watching tulips and other spring treasures pop up through the dirt like its late March.

And, then this morning as I was defrosting my windshield and worrying about our spring bulbs getting frost bite, I remember that it is only late February.  Sigh.  How spoiled we have been this winter.  The weather report for the next week reads cool, crisp, and clear.  These are my favorite days this time of year.  I usually love this weather.

But, these glimmers of spring and summer make me look forward to longer daylight hours and warmer weather.  No more running in the dark at 6am.  No more driving home in the dark at the end of the day.  There is something about the inherent hope that exists in light.  It was designed this way.

Hope was designed for light.  Or maybe, light was designed for hope.  Either way, these bright days remind me of what is to come; longer days, warmer nights, barbecues, hanging out on the porch with iced tea, etc.  You know, the essentials of summer.

Maybe it is because this winter tested us on so many levels that I am so atypically anxious to leave it behind.  I am ready for the newness associated with spring.  The fresh starts.  The changes.  The new chapters.

But, possibly it is the darkness – the winters of sorts – that make us stronger and prepare our hearts for these new chapters, changes, and fresh starts.  Its the cliche saying, “you can’t know light without darkness ,” in action.

I know that I am hopeful about what the spring and summer will have in store and faith that, for me, this winter chapter is drawing to a close and has prepared me well for the brighter days ahead – despite the morning frost on my windshield.

Found around the Web

Sometimes the grace and honesty of these authors causes me to pause and take note…. Today, enjoy these three beautiful stories of grace, trust, love, and honesty.

I love this breathtaking adoption story by Sarah Hagerty of EveryBitterThingIsSweet.com.

Read Shannan Martin of FlowerPatchFarmGirl.com‘s touching piece for Grace Table.

Check out Elise Chaffin’s honest anecdote on DeeperStory.com.

Or, enjoy a beautiful post on strength by guest author Brandy Walker on SarahBessey.com.

Happy weekend reading.

When things don’t look how you expect…

Lately, there have been lots of big changes in our house. Some of them were good. Some of them were sad. And, some of them were scary.

One change started the chain reaction for all the rest of the factors to change as well. And, like I said, some of that has been a welcome and happy change. Some of it has pushed us past our breaking point.

Through all of it we have leaned on God’s guidance and trusted in his provision under the assumption that His provision would look a certain way. But, God’s provision is a funny thing. I probably don’t need to tell you, but it didn’t look at all like we would have designed it.

Right now, our church is doing a sermon series on the book of Joshua. The other week was on chapter 5. In case you are as rusty as I am on your old testament book and chapter references, this is when the Israelites enter the promised land and realize that although God stopped making manna appear on the ground every morning, quail run through their settlement, and water flow from a rock, He was still providing for them in less obvious ways. God didn’t need to provide these daily food miracles, because He provided them with a fertile new land. Not only that, He scared away the neighboring tribes who may try to compete with them for this land. Provision. You think it will look one way, but sometimes it looks another.

For us, it’s the same song, different verse.

This was our story too. Tim and I thought it would look one way and it looked another. But here is the thing by “looking differently,” I mean that it looks better than we could have ever designed it. All of our worries, all of our fears were quieted. He drew us nearer to him and nearer to one another. He exposed our weaknesses and healed our wounds.

When hard things happened, I started off telling folks that things would work out but that the timing just wasn’t great. Through this experience, I have realized that God’s timing is always perfect. It might not mesh with our human sensibility, but it is perfect. His timeline enabled us to see God work in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

As we come out of this state of awe and wonder at God’s grace, provision, mercy, and love, we will re-open up about our lives and where we are now. For those of you who are in our real, non-internet lives, thank you for the prayers and for being there for us despite our best attempts at brave faces and alternately, for not abandoning us during our meltdowns.