Gifts

July 28, 2009

Occasionally, when Steve and I have an evening off, we like to go to a bookstore, drink some coffee and do some reading. I began reading through a new book by one of our favorite authors Brennan Manning, called “The Furious Longing of God.”

In his book Manning told a story that really captured me. As I read this story, tears filled my eyes because I was trying to put my mind around what God has been doing in our lives over this past week. This story couldn’t have said it more perfectly.

“Golfer Arnold Palmer once played a series of exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia. The king was so impressed that he proposed to give Palmer a gift. Palmer demurred; “It really isn’t necessary, Your Highness. I’m honored to have been invited.”

“I would be deeply upset,” replied the king, “if you would not allow me to give you a gift.”

Palmer thought for a moment and said, “All right. How about a golf club? That would be a beautiful momento of my visit to your country.”

The next day, delivered to Palmer’s hotel, was the title to a golf club. Thousands of acres, trees, lakes, clubhouse, and so forth.

The moral of this story is: In the presence of a King, don’t ask for small gifts!”

The week began with a phone call from the financial specialist with our adoption agency. She was informing us that the agency side of our fees has been paid in full. Actually, it’s more than full…they now owe us money. She was so encouraging on the phone saying how amazed she was at the amount of people who have given to our fund over the last year. I was reminded that God loves to give big.

Over the past few months I’ve been looking for sock monkey that I had dreamt up in my mind that would go perfect in our little one’s room but every time I looked for one, they were either too expensive or not what I was looking for.

The next day I had lunch with a dear friend. We were in a coffee shop in the area and what did they happen to be selling? Sock monkeys. And not just any sock monkeys, but the ones I had been looking for. As we went to the counter to pay for our coffee, my friend handed me a sock monkey and said…”it’s yours.” I was reminded that God loves to give specifically.

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The next day, I was out to breakfast with another dear friend. I have talked about her before on this blog. Her husband is suffering and battling through pancreatic cancer. It has been a tough road and so I was looking forward to encouraging her. However, what took place at breakfast was something that blew my mind.

At the end of our time together, she pulled a mason jar filled with quarters from under the table. She said that she had been collecting them over the past few months for our adoption. Every night she would empty out her change purse (and her husband’s wallet ☺) and put them in the jar. I was reminded that God loves to give even amidst pain and suffering.

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By the end of the week, my heart was full. There’s no other way to put it. I went to the mailbox and found a letter from a couple who is very close to our hearts. In it was a check. A note inside read, “use this for something you want…not necessarily something you need”.

So we decided to buy a new camera, one that we would never be able to buy on our own, so we can take snapshots of our time in Russia and of our little one. I was reminded that God loves to give beyond our wants or needs.

In the presence of the King, don’t ask for small gifts. This past week, I was reminded over and over again that God loves to give. He knows us. He knows our needs, our wants, our hopes. Through this past week and the abundant outflow of God’s love through His people, I was again brought back to His goodness and faithfulness.

I was reminded that He has an even greater gift, in the form of a little person, waiting for us in Russia. We come before the King, in expectation, that this little one will be far greater than we could ever imagine or even ask for. We can’t wait!

Updates:

  • we finished updating tons of paperwork that expired this past week
  • we are hearing positive reports out of Russia, we’re hoping something happens soon

Prayer Requests:

  • that our advocate in Russia would talk to the right people and get us connected with the right child
  • for our little one, that they would be held

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Feelings

July 21, 2009

Last night was an absolutely beautiful night in Akron, OH. The weather was perfectly warm with a small breeze occasionally causing the trees to dance. The sky looked never ending and there was a calm in the neighborhood. Steve and I decided to go for a walk.

The subject of our adoption came up, which it hasn’t for a while…partly because there’s not much to say since it seems there is not much happening. What we soon realized was the bigger part of why the subject hasn’t come up in a while.

The last year has been a roller coaster to say the least. We went from absolute excitement in the starting phases of the adoption, moving to fear and also to sadness. As I think over the past couple of months, without knowing it, our hearts had turned numb.  One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That is what our days felt like in the area of adoption. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Nothing changing.

Our hearts began to slowly fade. The excitement, the anticipation, the hope all began to fade. I think when we try and numb our hearts to pain, there is no other option but for our hearts to also numb to joy and hope and peace too. We either feel all or we feel nothing. For these past few weeks, we have been feeling nothing. And we didn’t even realize it.

Then yesterday at church, our pastor gave a message Revelation 2 about losing your first love. What snuck in and took away the love, the joy and the deep, supernatural “feelings” that flows out of our relationship with Christ?

I thought about that a lot yesterday afternoon. I think for me, it was my own expectations about how this adoption was supposed to go. These unmet expecations numbed a lot of my feelings. So I boldly declared to God, “I will have no more expectations.”

While He didn’t respond to me audibly, I felt as if he was speaking this into my soul, “My precious Katie. In an effort to protect your heart and mind, you have eliminated all expectations – the expectations of a time table, of the journey, and of having a child. But in the process you also eliminated your expectations of what I (God) can do. Don’t you know that you can put your hope in an expectation far greater: that I will do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine? Have expectations. Set them high. Set them far beyond your imagination. That is where I will meet you. It may not look like or feel like you hoped, but My thoughts are not yours. They are so much higher. So much greater. So much deeper.”

As I sat in that special, intimate moment with my God, my feelings came back. My joy came back. My hope came back. It was as if I was given permission to have expectations…and promised that what He was going to do would be even greater.

So with the joy and excitement, returns the pain and the longing for my little one. The deep desire for this process to be over and the reminder that when it is over, it’s not really over, it has actually just begun. And I love it. I love feeling.

Updates:

  • today we are completing some paperwork that needs to be updated
  • we continue to wait through the extended periods of silence

Prayer Requests:

  • that God would keep us close to him andto each other during all of this
  • for our little one, wherever they may be, that they would be loved and cared for

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve.

Thoughts from a 737

July 14, 2009

Well, I am sitting here next to Steve on an airplane coming back from San Francisco. We were attending Steve’s brother’s wedding. It was an absolutely beautiful celebration of God’s goodness and faithfulness in their lives. Steve was asked to officiate the wedding and was honored to be a part of Pete and Lindsey’s day.

So, as the pilot just said, “it is a beautiful evening for flying”. It truly is. I have been looking out the window, thinking about life and the absolute hugeness and creativity of God.  Now, if you’ve read my blog before, you know how much I dislike flying. But, it is impossible to not look out the window of an airplane on a day like today and be overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s hand. Fear is gone. Anxieties squelched…what else can I do but worship?

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I’ve also been thinking about the day in the (hopefully) not too distant future where Steve and I will be in this same position again…together on an airplane. But something will be different, our little one will be with us.

What is it going to be like? Will he or she be sleeping peacefully in my arms? Or will he or she be squirming all over the place, just wanting to get out an explore their new surroundings? Probably both.

Will I be smiling ear to ear in joy over the finality of this process? Or will I be in tears as the exhaustion and emotions of the past few years finally catch up to me? Probably both.

Will I be relieved to finally have our little in our arms, for the days of waiting and paperwork to finally be over? Or will I be anxious thinking about the years ahead as a mom – what is our future going to look like together as a family? Probably both.

I am sure that flight will be an unforgettable one, filled with every emotion that God created….and I can’t wait for that day. I can’t wait to be that person on the airplane whose child is making too much noise and the person in front of me peers at me from their seat and I say, “I’m sorry, MY little one is just figuring this all out.”

My little one. Our little one. The one we have been waiting for, praying for, hoping for, dreaming about. I can’t wait for that day.

And so, as I look out the window today, consumed with how great and beautiful our God is, I am reminded that the very same sun that I see from my window, is the one that my little one sees every day. We don’t see it at the same time, but it is the same sun.

And what is even more amazing than that is that my God is one who causes the sun to rise and set every day. So, if God beautifully orchestrates creation to paint a picture in the sky, why do I doubt that He is orchestrating an even more beautiful story of joining our hearts to our little one’s?

As I finish this post, I say…it is a beautiful evening for flying.

Updates:

  • We are in the process of updating paperwork which is pricey, but unfortunately that is all part of the dance
  • We continue to wait for the call from our agency. We are about half way through the most recent time frame they quoted us

Prayer Requests:

  • Wherever our child is, that they would be hugged and touched and sung to
  • That these days of waiting would feel like they are moving by quickly

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Shake Well

July 7, 2009

Isn’t it funny how you end up on different blogs? Sometimes I think God divinely directs our clicks on the computer and directs us to just what we need to read at just the right time. This happened to me last week, and I was so deeply encouraged by what I read.

It is the blog of a guy I went to college with. He has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is going through all of the twists and turns of this reality. Reading his blog was another reminder to me of how pain connects people. At the root of all pain is this deep (sometimes more deep than others) loss of “what life was supposed to look like”.

David, the blog writer, wrote about a phrase that he read on an orange juice bottle one morning. It said, “Shake well. Settling is natural.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that phrase. How easy it is to fall into the easy, simple, safe way of living. We take no risks; we keep our relationships at superficial levels; we try our best to arrive at death “safely”. But when we do this, we rob ourselves of exciting adventures; deep, meaningful relationships; doing things we would never dream of doing.

Steve and I just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary while we were on our ministry trip last week. Before we went to Ecuador, we spent 5 days in Gatlinburg, TN for a youth conference. Our high school students surprised us with an authentic Gatlinburg-style wedding vow renewal. It was hilariously wonderful and beautiful at the same time.

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As I thought about the last 7 years, they aren’t necessarily what I would have imagined. But, I stood there, looking at our students and I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. We are so blessed with deep, meaningful relationships with students, friends, and family. We have gone on so many adventures in our 7 years of marriage – from India to Ecuador, from leaving our family in North Carolina to following God’s call in Ohio. We have done things and experienced things we never would have dreamed.

Sometimes people ask God to be “shaken”. We didn’t. Infertility was not a choice we made and has been a deep pain that has continually brought us back to the heart of God after questions, fears and doubts. But the journey of infertility has shook us well. It has not allowed us to “settle” for the life we thought we wanted.

The truth is, infertility has been the path that has brought adventure and opportunities to do things we never would have been able to do in places we never imagined visiting. Infertility has been the vessel for us to connect with people in deeper and more intimate ways. Infertility has reminded us of our total dependence on Christ.

So now we have a new prayer. “Lord, shake well. It is so natural for us to just want to settle with life on our terms. But God, we want to be shaken. Shaken to deeper places with you. With others. With each other. So shake well. We don’t want to settle.”

Updates:

  • we are now in month 3 of what was quoted to us as an 8 month waiting period

Prayer Requests:

  • sometimes we feel like this adoption will never happen, we need faith to believe God is still carrying this through
  • for our little one wherever he/she may be – that they would be loved and touched

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve