Our daughter's story would be affected by our obedience on the other side of the globe.
Here's the part of the story that can often be glorified beyond its reality. Some people think that we had this amazing "call" to adopt. Some think we are heroes. Some imagine that we are this amazing family that heard an audible voice of God calling us to adopt. Some believe that we are special. Most people think this was a huge moment in time when we were struck by a lightening-type boom from Heaven showing us a great sign. People tend to think we are different than they are...somehow marked for greatness in a way that others are not.
But the truth is that we are just an ordinary family. In the beginning of our adoption journey, we had no large explosive Heavenly message that zapped us. We eat like you, cry like you, have bills like you, have moments of chaos just like your family probably does. We are a regular plain ol' family.
And our story goes like this...
We were planning an orphan ministry event to raise money for orphans. We didn't have any specific ideas as of yet, but our family and another family wanted to do "something" to help orphans. We began to come up with some ideas for raising money for orphan ministry.
One evening, I got an email from my friend who was helping plan the orphan ministry event. She said she heard of another family planning an event to raise money for orphans (we're now friends with this family...hello, E!). She forwarded me the information to give me some ideas, and that email would be what changed our lives.
But, remember, at the time, we didn't know it was life-altering. This is the part I want you to really understand. I didn't feel an earth-shaking tremble in my being, saying, "This is about to change your life." It was just a normal day (just like you're probably having right now), and I simply did the next thing...I clicked on the link to the orphan ministry site. And there was Reece's Rainbow. It was an organization that finds forever families for orphans. In fact, you can probably see their info on the side bar of my blog right now. Just as you're seeing those faces scroll before your eyes, it was the same for me...nothing more than that...no spine tingles, no booming voice from Heaven.
I simply spent some time looking at the Reece's Rainbow site. The very first child I encountered was a little girl from Taiwan. There was no photo (because apparently Taiwan wanted the photos only released to people seriously considering adoption). So, no cute face drawing me, but still, I read her info. She was 2 years old and had Down Syndrome and some other issues. I emailed my friend back, thanked her for sending me the link...and then jokingly said, "I've found a little girl in Taiwan that I want to adopt." I was kidding...mainly because my husband wasn't ready to adopt...and I had no real plans of adopting this child.
**Here's something I really want to stress... We could have looked at that site, read about the children, said a concerned, "Oh how sad!" and then clicked that little X in the upper right corner and closed out the site forever. There was nothing at all that screamed at us to get involved. Instead, it was a simple CHOICE...a choice to enter into that pain, to not close the page, to look at those children and really begin to let them affect us. It would have been much easier to forget the whole thing and instead find something happier to focus on. We simply chose to enter into the world of these children's hurt and loss. We chose to do what K.P. Yohannan once said: "Lord, break my heart for the things that break Your heart!"
We decided to raise money for several orphans from Reece's Rainbow. We set up a date and time and began to prepare for a simple fundraising event...a big yard sale and raffle. We weren't sure how much this would help orphans, but we simply had to do SOMETHING. I made a project board with information and photos of some of the children from Reece's Rainbow...
In the meantime, my husband and I decided that we'd like to begin to pray about adoption. And we wanted to begin to pray for specific orphans. I emailed the woman who runs Reece's Rainbow and asked her to send some information and photos of orphans for us to pray over. I didn't tell her any specific child we were drawn to. I didn't give her any specifications, except for the size of our family (some countries will only allow you to adopt if you have a small family). We left it wide open for God to choose the children to place on our prayer list.
Guess whose picture was at the top of the page she sent me? Yep...the 2-year-old in Taiwan that I had jokingly said I wanted to adopt. Think about this: out of hundreds of children on the RR site, she sent me the photo of the one child I had read about. Again, there was no big booming voice saying, "HERE'S YOUR CHILD!" Instead, it was a quiet "hmmmm" inside my soul. Those little things that start to give direction once your feet are in motion...(and remember, your feet HAVE to be in motion before you are steered in the right direction...a parked car cannot be steered!).
We printed out the photos of 3 children, taped them to our bathroom mirror and began to pray for them every day. My prayer went something like this: "Lord, please be with these children. Protect them. Love them. Bring their forever families to adopt them. And if WE are one of those forever families, please show us." Keep in mind that we didn't have a single PENNY saved for adoption. This was a step of faith to make ourselves available for adoption.
There were no claps of thunder or volts of electricity that ran through us to show us the way. It was a simple quiet leading. As time went on, this little Asian princess just began to take root in my heart. He was beginning to steer us.
One day, our 3-year-old son was looking at the pictures on the mirror and said, "Mama, I want to adopt that one!" I asked which child. He pointed to the photo you see above, and he said, "I want her because she comes with a phone!" I laughed! It seemed that slowly, God was putting this little girl on our hearts (even though I was pretty sure she didn't come with the phone!).
My husband was still praying for each of the children, but he hadn't mentioned adoption. In fact, he had recently told me he wasn't ready to adopt yet. I chose to stay quiet and let God work in his heart.
One night, my husband and I stayed up late watching a movie together. All day I had felt a heavy pressing in my spirit. I felt it was time to talk about adoption, but I knew my husband wasn't at the same point I was. This time, though, I felt a green light to talk to him. But my flesh really fought. I avoided the subject all day, thinking to myself, "He's not ready! How can I talk to him?" But it sat on me heavily all day. At the end of the movie, the credits were rolling and the song lyrics nearly made me scream: "Say what you need to say!" I headed up to bed, still not saying anything.
Sometimes it's very hard to know if what we are feeling is from our flesh or from God. Sometimes we can misunderstand or mis-hear because we like to hear things we WANT to hear. Feelings cannot always be trusted. Our hearts can deceive us. Having spiritual discernment is so important. I needed Him to show me. I went to bed that night with a heavy spirit, having never talked to my husband about adoption.
These are clues to our direction... When we feel led to do something but then feel heavy and awful when we don't do it...well, let's just say that our spirits won't give us peace until we are walking in the right direction. So all of these things serve as arrows pointing the direction we are supposed to go. We can detect the road map by simply paying attention to the peace we have...or the lack of peace we have...about certain things. It may be a quiet still Voice, but a sheep knows it's Shepherd's Voice...there is peace in following that Voice.
Still, I went to bed with a heavy spirit. About an hour later, I woke up hearing a voice saying, "Tell him now" and I flew into a sitting position. I was still half-asleep, half-awake, somewhere in that disoriented zone. I had no idea if I had heard the voice in my dream or if the voice was in my room. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I felt out of breath. Maybe it was a bad dream. Still, because I had felt so heavy that day, I decided to do all I could do. I prayed. I asked God if it was HE who was asking me to talk to my husband. I prayed, "If you want me to talk to him tonight, please bring him upstairs now." I knew he was downstairs working on something and was planning a very late night. But, I figured that if it was God who wanted me to talk to him, HE could arrange it. A few seconds after that prayer, the hall light came on, and he came up to bed.
My heart was doing double-time at that point. I look back and laugh now about this, but at the time, I was struggling with doing what God was asking me to do. I remember telling Him, "Okay, I'll tell him, but he's not going to like this! He's not ready!" Why do we think we know more than God??
So, as he climbed into bed that night, I rolled over (better to do it right away before I lost my nerve)... He thought I was asleep and was quite surprised to hear me talking. I said, "I think we're supposed to adopt her." Yep, nothing like just coming right to the point! He said, "Who?" I said, "The little girl on the mirror...the one with the phone. I think we're supposed to adopt her." And then I added, "Goodnight!" I think I have issues with communication....especially at 1am.
The next day, my husband called from work. "I cannot get her off my mind. Email Reece's Rainbow and see how we can start the paperwork." This was a modern-day miracle! :)
God works in very mysterious ways! True, I did hear a voice that night in bed...whether a dream or real, and that is not a typical experience. It's never happened before or since. God chooses to work in whatever ways he chooses. Most of the time, it is in quiet moments, what I like to call "hmmmm" moments.
The truth is that we probably would have never had that specific leading if we hadn't FIRST stepped out to become available. Remember, we simply looked at the photos on Reece's Rainbow and then chose to pray for specific orphans. We chose not to look away. We chose to be available. We put our life into "drive" and then asked Him to steer it. We were not special or super-spiritual. We were simply available.
"I believe the Holy Spirit does not guide those who just sit still, waiting for His push. We must expose ourselves to what God is doing in this world, keep a loose hand on the things around us, and be prepared to follow His leading." --Warren Payne
It takes just a simple person (like you and me). It takes a family willing to be available (like your family or mine).
The next step of our journey was the beginning of the faith walk into adoption...