The fight

Being pregnant has made me think a lot about the process to bring Ephrem home. I’m  not sure why. I guess because in the moment, I didn’t appreciate all that I learned through that process. Having not gone through physical labor, I can say that the adoption was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I thought a lot about how emotionally tough the process to bring Ephrem home was, for so many reasons. Some days, you feel like every step is a fight, and sometimes you’re fighting something you didn’t expect.

Baby Shows Referral

I was fighting the (vocal) opinions of people who didn’t understand adoption as Plan A. They didn’t understand why we didn’t “try” to have our “own” kids first. They hadn’t seen what I saw in orphanages in East Africa, so this decision to adopt first without knowing whether we could have biological children was boggling to them. I mean, I understood. What we were doing wasn’t “normal.” It was a little a lot different.  But, still, their reaction discouraged me. While we were overwhelmed by support, these few challenging reactions hurt because it felt so personal.

iPhone 009

We had to fight through the paperwork and the legal process. Our process was extremely and unusually fast, but it’s still hard to endure. You have a mountain of paperwork to complete and collect. You have to track down every document that says you’re you. You spend a lot of time in “hurry up and wait” mode. After the dossier is complete, very little is in your control or on your timeline. Because we got Ephrem’s referral so early in the process, it felt like he was waiting on us and there was relatively little I could do to speed up the process. I just had to pray and wait. Pray and wait. Pray and wait. And because we adopted internationally, we didn’t know a lot of what was going on. I still remember the day in January (right off the plane from a visit to Africa) where I got the email that we had passed court in his country. I didn’t even know that we were at the court process!

Group photo

We had to fight through the fundraising. There are legal fees, agency fees, immigration fees (for international adoption), and (in our case) foster care costs. The overall cost of adoption sucks. It’s a huge barrier for most families (and why some families will never start an adoption). Overall, our adoption was tens of thousands of dollars to complete. We had $1,000 in savings when we started. We had to pray, hold yard sales, pray, apply for grants, pray, and depend on the generosity of our friends and families (and sometimes strangers) to make this possible. I think God redeems the cost to bring Himself glory, because, honestly, there was no way on our own we would have been able to raise the funds we needed.

Nov 2013 125

Like so many things in life, I didn’t understand the process at the time. I mean, in my head I could say it was part of making our family through adoption. But in my heart, as soon as I saw his photo, I just wanted him home. I wanted the obstacles to go away. I just wanted to hold this precious little boy and tell him that I was his mother and that I would love and protect him forever.

Family photo MCO

What I didn’t realize was that the process was making the “love and protect forever” possible. The “fight” was making this child mine – so that when I said “I will love and protect you forever” I knew what that meant because I had been living it for a year before he came home. He didn’t grow in my belly like Baby Girl Shows. As I feel her growing, I think I take for granted that this child in my womb is mine. I couldn’t take Ephrem being my son for granted. I needed to fight for him because I needed to know what a parent would do for her child. I needed to fight for him because he and I needed to know that my unconditional love started before I saw his photo, when he was just a prayer in my heart. I needed to fight for him because he was the child who grew in my heart. I don’t ever want to take for granted what it took to make him our son.

So for those of you who are in the process, fight on. It will be hard. You will have moments when you don’t feel strong enough. You will have moments when you are discouraged. You will have moments when you ask why this couldn’t be easier. But the fight makes you a family. The fight is what grows this child in your heart.

This one thing

Sorry for the silence, folks. I’m still trying to adjust to this world with bottles, baby food, diapers, nap time, pterodactyl happy or unhappy screaming….and now work as I return intermittently for the remainder of my FMLA leave.

I’ve been seeking God about new directions, the desires of my heart, and His timing. These types of seasons are so hard. Though I plead with God for what I want, I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how things will work out. I simply continue to sit and wait, hoping that He will answer me, that He will continue to be faithful to my requests.

I’m sure this post is vague and you might be thinking, what is she asking for? Without sharing too much publicly, I’m asking God to continue to fill the desires of my heart. Although I have specifically asked for two things, I am praying this one thing:

That God would give me His will.

This point was underscored during the message at church on Sunday about prayer. I am making my request of what I do want and hope will be His will, but ultimately I want to have His perfect will accomplished in my life. What that looks like, I’m not sure right now. Until I hear otherwise, I think it means continuing to be where we are.

I never thought the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” to be painful, until I realized what those words require of me: humility, faith, forgiveness, repentance, and an understanding that I do not, in fact, know what’s best for me. Those words are not merely words any longer. They are a reminder to live for a God who is holy, sovereign, provision, forgiving, and faithful.

Whatever I think I want I for my life, He clearly knows better. He is a Father who gives good gifts. The Creator of the world who, in His goodness, created all things, will certainly guide us in the very best path for our lives as the Shows family.

Yes, Lord, “Thy will be done.”
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:9-13

The post I’ve waited to write

Here we are. A year and a few months after we started our adoption journey (and one  year after we officially started fundraising…), and we have a crazy announcement.

We started with a “little” seed of $1,000 (this is relative folks).

And now?

We are 100% funded for our adoption.

Costs are covered.

100%

Just in time for the Shows family to become a Party of Three.

Thank you EVERYONE who gave out of kindness. Who gave sacrificially. Who gave not knowing us personally. Who gave your loose change or $4,000, and everything in-between. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ to us. Thank you for caring for an orphan-no-more. As Evan has said, even though we cannot adequately thank you doesn’t mean we won’t try.

When we step out in faith, we don’t always how it’s going to work out. Evan and I felt so strongly to start our family through adoption – despite not having all the money in the bank, despite not having everything “perfect” – and everything has fallen into place, especially the funding. I remember looking at the adoption costs in fear. Honestly, it was the most intimidating part of the process. Yet, God continues to be faithful to our family.

And He was faithful through you.

For anyone who is in a place where they need faith for whatever they feel God is calling them to do, I hope our family is a testimony. Just ask for faith. Take that step. It will be reckless. It will be crazy. You will feel like a fool.

But I assure you, if you ask for faith, God will provide. It might not be as you expect. It might not be easy. The journey may break you in more ways that you can even know. But God will grow you in your faith.

So jump.

And watch your wings grow.

Using Ecclesiastes Math: 2 > 1

One of the biggest blessings of our adoption is how much our friends and family has rallied behind us. So a couple weeks ago, we started working on Baby Shows’ room. I was on Spring Break and had some “extra” time. I’ve done room projects by myself before, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed with this project. Evan was going to have to work more of the week, so it was going to be me. But I wasn’t flying solo. Two days, Evan had off and was able to help. Our neighbor, Brant, offered to help paint the ceiling and get the primer on the walls (and loaned us a ton of painting tools and equipment!). Then, our friend Stephanie gave up two afternoons to help me paint the walls (and one of those afternoons she painted in the room solo – now that’s love), while her incredibly patient almost four-year-old daughter hung out and watched Fresh Beat Band from my couch.

We are simply honored by our friends.

Whether through encouraging words, through donations our yard sale by friends/family/friends of friends, through helping us at the yard sales, through donations to our adoption fund, through prayer, through “likes” or comments on our Facebook statuses, you have blessed us. And more importantly, although he doesn’t necessarily know it, you have blessed Baby Shows.

Here’s our biggest testimony yet. Since March 1, we’ve had approximately $9,000 come in through donations and a grant from Show Hope. Yes, you read that right: $9,000. In 24 days. We are speechless at your faithfulness to God’s cause for the orphan. We are humbled by your generosity. We are overwhelmed by your love.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon uses common sense math. He says two are better than one.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Thank you for being our family’s “two.” Thank you for reaching out and helping. Thank you for helping us on this adoption journey.

We look forward to the day when we can pay it forward and share our family’s story because of you.

Thank you.

A little light…

It’s cliche, but true.

We’re starting to see a little light at the end of this tunnel…

 

We’re gonna make it!

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made this journey possible. We still have some fundraising to do, but we have come so far because of your help. In the short time of a year (and even shorter time of our actual process), you have helped us to make our forever family. Our family will be eternally grateful for your generosity, kindness, and love. Thank you for being the support we’ve needed through this time! 

A Psalm for our Moment

This Psalm is in my heart this morning after TWO days of great news! Our God is faithful. Our God is good. He has gone before us. He has ordained our steps. He has taken care of each detail, big or small.

1 O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.

Sol da tarde

Source: Sol da tarde on Flickr.com

Like a Lion…

I’ve been doing a lot of driving recently, which means a lot of time in my car. This also means a lot of music. And I’ve been obsessed with a few songs, one of which is “Like a Lion” by David Crowder*Band. (If you see me driving around and I’m having a little dance party, I’m probably listening to this song.) I think it’s the chorus that really gets me…

My God is not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion

Listening to this for the first time, I remember thinking, Of course God isn’t dead. But then I thought, does my life really reflect that? Do I really live like I serve the one true, living God? What would change if my life really reflected a living God?

I’ve been mulling this thought over and over and over (see previous comment about driving a lot). My God is alive. And, yet, sometimes I act as if I’m already defeated. Like two weeks ago. I just sat in my office reading the email about the adoption and thinking…there’s no way that this adoption will ever be completed. There’s simply no way.

But that’s not the truth.

In fact, that’s not the truth at all.

Because my God’s not dead. He’s definitely alive. And He’s engaged in our story.

Romans 8 puts it this way (emphasis added),

31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written,

“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reading that description, I see a God who is ALIVE, who INTERCEDES for us, who will not let ANYTHING separate us from Him, and who makes us overwhelmingly conquerors. I love that phrase “overwhelmingly conquer” because it means that we don’t just get around whatever we face, we defeat it until we are incontestable winners. We serve a God who is actively, undeniably involved and engaged in our story. He is on our side.

This adoption hasn’t been easy in the sense that God has made our path smooth. It’s been easy in the sense that He has held our hands through every step, through every challenge, through every seemingly impassable obstacle.

And here’s my testimony to that.

As we got our amazing news about Baby Shows, I thought, there’s no way that we can make this happen in such a short amount of time. How are we going to bring Baby Shows home with this giant financial obstacle in our way? And I doubted my living God.

But then, over the last two weeks, we’ve had more than $2,500 come in for our adoption between individual donations and a grant from the Fatherless Foundation. That’s right. We cannot believe our God’s faithfulness to us.

Because our God makes us more than conquerors. He knows that there’s a child over in Africa with the last name of Shows. And He’s making a way where there is no way.

He is alive.

A memorial stone for faith

It’s almost been one year since we started really pursuing our adoption. It’s crazy to think where we were last year. We had so little money to put toward this adoption. We weren’t really in a place where expanding our family was logical. But the calling was clear. Pursue it this year.

So we started on the path of adoption.

And we had doors we thought we were supposed to go through that closed.

Then we had to seek God again – “We did hear You, right? This is the path You called us to walk…right?”

When I think about the particular moment – the moment when Ethiopia didn’t work out for us – my heart still breaks. I was so certain that Baby Shows was in Ethiopia. I was prepared for the long wait (it was more logical for us anyway). It didn’t make sense to me. And I wanted to be a momma so desperately.

But if we had tried to force our idea of what God wanted for us, we would have missed Baby Shows. Because Baby Shows was in an entirely different African nation. One that we weren’t expecting, honestly. And I can’t tell you (yet) all the things that happened since we submitted our application, but I can tell you October was the reason we were supposed to walk the path that He placed us on. October 4 will remain one of those days that we will never forget. His plan was there all along. Hidden from us until that moment.

Now we are in 2012. God has amazing things for us this year. This is the year we hope to become a family of three.

Yet a mountain stands between us and that point. Last Friday, I was defeated. I couldn’t see how it was possible. I wavered in my faith.

What does it look like to have faith?

Although my husband is someone of great faith, I am not. I tend to timidity and fear (and a lot of “What ifs?!”). So this whole journey has been a long exercise of faith. And what I’ve learned is this.

Faith is a choice. It’s not a feeling.

There have been many moments where I don’t feel like I should believe. There have been many moments that when I look at the evidence, I shouldn’t believe. Because it is impossible by all earthly means.

But faith is a choice. It’s a choice to see what’s there and believe what isn’t. It’s a choice to believe despite all evidence to the contrary. The adoption is the first time in my entire life I have truly lived Hebrews 11:1 (The Amplified Version):

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faith is something that only grows when challenged. Like a muscle, faith develops from a weight that tears the fibers apart so they can heal and become stronger. “Our faith grows the strongest on the sides of steep slopes where there’s less to cling to.”

 tree on the edge(Photo courtesy of craigcloutier on Flickr)

 

We ended up on a completely different timeline, one that has been incredibly quick. Even in this, God has been faithful in every step. Every single step. He has taught me what is meant by our “daily bread.” It seems that every need has been bigger than the funds we have personally. But we haven’t had a cost go unpaid. The funds we need are there exactly when we need them. Our friends have given sacrificially to help us bring Baby Shows home.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude that so many people have been faithful in the love of our heavenly Father, whose heart is for the Fatherless. And all of you have a beautiful part in our child’s story. We are so blessed by you.

So, to 2011 was a year of learning to have faith. It was my year to exercise belief.

I’m not sure what 2012 holds, what little gems God has prepared for me. But I know that if God is preparing our steps, whatever 2012 has, it will be ultimately good.

Gettin’ “To All the World”!

I’ve had a few friends ask to how fundraise for a mission trip, so I decided to write a post about it. To make it more accessible, it’s listed as a page under Isaiah 1:17 and Missions. (If you hover your mouse over the top bar, a drop down menu should appear and you can get to it from there.)

But since you’re here already, this is the link: https://beyondinspired.wordpress.com/isaiah-117-missions/funding-a-mission-trip