a broken jar of clay

While studying the story of Hannah for a project I’m working on, I became a little emotional thinking of her. In some respects, I found myself yearning to be sitting next to her while she cried out to the Lord in her anguish over being barren.

I wanted to put my arm around her, comfort her, and tell her that everything was going to be okay.  Although it may sound odd, I felt a kindred connection to her. Tears flowed from my eyes in reading of her and picturing her during her time of need.

Hannah, a broken jar of clay, sought out the Lord in her greatest need.

She didn’t stray from it.

She didn’t make excuses for it.

She declared it.

I felt an overwhelming sense of joy for Hannah, and the gift of a son, Samuel, that she was given. Her story, her life, and her prayers, are so relevant in this world.

I had the realization that Hannah’s story has been told and read through generations and generations of women throughout the world. The power of one woman and her desperation to be a mother has given hope to so many….countless upon countless women….including me….another broken jar of clay.

This one woman, full of anguish over her barrenness, sought the Lord, trusted Him, and never gave up.  Hannah lived many, many years ago; yet, her life and her story continue to resonate in this very time.

Hannah, a broken jar of clay, sought out the Lord in her greatest need.

She didn’t stray from it.

She didn’t make excuses for it.

She declared it.

Are you full of anguish?  Are you in need of answered prayer, a glimmer of hope, and life beyond the sadness to which you dwell?  Are you a broken jar of clay?

Seek out the Lord in your greatest need.  Do not stray from it.  Do not make excuses for it.  Declare it.

Declare the Lord.

Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk, and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
-1 Samuel 1:13-15

Thank you, Lord, for blessing Hannah in her greatest need. Thank you for her, for her life, and for her example for all of the “Hannah’s” in the world.

What’s up, beautiful?

What’s up, beautiful? When is the last time you heard that? 

I know first-hand that having a hysterectomy, and subsequent infertility/barrenness, can cause feelings of inadequacy, confusion, a feeling of being less of a female, and well, downright ugly. These thoughts are not the truth. Do your best to not allow these thoughts to make up your own sense of self.

That inner self that relies on the Lord despite the troubling heartbreak of infertility, is beautiful. Your inner self that still sees the beauty of a sunrise; although, the sun has set on your life’s plan, is beautiful. Your inner self that chooses to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and who clings onto the hope of a day without barrenness, is beautiful.

So, what’s up, beautiful?

1 Peter 3:3-4 New International Version (NIV)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Hollowness to Hallelujah

HannahHannah was very bitter. She sobbed and sobbed. She prayed to the Lord.  She made a promise to him. She said, “Lord, you rule over all. Please see how I’m suffering! Show concern for me! Don’t forget about me! Please give me a son! If you do, I’ll give him back to you. Then he will serve you all the days of his life. He’ll never use a razor on his head. He’ll never cut his hair.”

As Hannah kept on praying to the Lord, Eli watched her lips. She was praying in her heart. Her lips were moving. But she wasn’t making a sound.

Eli thought Hannah was drunk. He said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

“That’s not true, sir,” Hannah replied. “I’m a woman who is deeply troubled. I haven’t been drinking wine or beer. I was telling the Lord all of my troubles. Don’t think of me as an evil woman. I’ve been praying here because I’m very sad. My pain is so great.”  -1 Samuel 1:10-20  

Wow.  I’ve read these words before, but tonight, they seemed to jump out at me. The words Hannah exclaimed before the Lord are ones that most of us in equal pain have exclaimed.   The pleading, begging, and deep sorrow is one that is so poignantly written about in Scripture.  The feelings that Hannah expressed are ones that have been and still are translatable for many women throughout our history.

Bitterness, sorrow, sadness, suffering, troubled hearts, and painful days are all descriptive of the walk that so many women who find themselves barren are struggling through. They are told not to be bitter, and that their sorrow will turn to joy, but many find themselves without the sweet ending to their bitterness and sorrow.  They know their heart is troubled and that they are suffering, but still, they walk each day in faith with a heaviness unlike any other.

And the pain, oh the pain…They walk each step as if their hearts are being ripped out.  It is a deep and hollowing pain that comes along with barrenness.  It is one equal to the agony of a broken heart.  It is hard to describe, yet, so obviously felt by many.

As I read the words of Hannah tonight, I thought, “I once prayed just like her.  I once felt her bitterness, and her sobering sorrow.  I once suffered.  I once was troubled, and I truly pleaded with the Lord.”  

As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember calling out and surrendering to the Lord in my anguish with the words, “Father, you know my heart’s desire.  I trust Your will, Lord, but I just want a chance at being a mother.  I just want to experience what it feels like to hold a baby in my arms as a mother, if just for a moment.  Father, I want this.  I need this.”

Soon after this prayer, we received our first foster care placement of an infant boy whom we ended up adopting nearly two years later.  It was not long after this tear-filled pleading that I held a baby in my arms and felt the all-encompassing love of being a mother.  It was not long after this surrender that my heart stepped outside of itself, and suddenly, my entire world changed.  Everything changed.

The Lord has stifled my anguish three times over through the adoption of two sons, and one daughter.

If you are a Momma-in-Waiting, a modern-day Hannah, or a soul that is in despair, I know your pain must be great.  It is one that is held within the silent walls of your beating heart.  It is a heaviness that is rarely felt, except by others who are walking the same road.  I want you to know, though, that our Father in Heaven hears you. He sees your pain.  He knows your desires, and He has already prescribed your future.

Our God is the same God who heard the pleadings of Hannah.  He answered her prayer when she became pregnant and delivered Samuel.  The miraculous love of our Father is that He continues to answers the pleadings of His children.

He is not deaf to the misery of your heart.

I do not know what you are going through right now.  I do not know how the Lord will work it all out, but I know that faith during this difficult time is essential.  The footsteps you walk while you are facing the all-encompassing loneliness of infertility are ones that need to be taken in faith.

If you are overwhelmed in grief, lift up your heart and your hands to the Lord. Remind yourself of how the Lord answered Hannah’s prayer, and the prayers of a multitude of fellow sisters throughout history.  Remind yourself that YOU, my dear sister of an empty womb, YOU are precious in the sight of Your Father in Heaven.

May the Lord bless You.  May His glorious light rescue you from the darkness you are feeling surrounded by.  Like Hannah, may the God of all creation, answer your prayer, and create a miracle in your life.  Through the light, love, and promise of God, may the hardship of hollowness be turned to one that exclaims, “Hallelujah!”

Lessons Learned Growing Up Barren

In the late summer of 1983, I became gravely ill and ended up needing an emergency hysterectomy. I was just eleven-years-old, and did not fully understand the implications of this type of surgery.  That fateful moment in time changed my life in a drastic way.  Infertility became the shadow to which I danced around, but could never get away from.  Going through this experience taught me some vital life lessons that are translatable to other aspects of life.

Lesson #1 – You really cannot understand what someone has been through unless you have truly walked in his or her shoes. Unfortunately, I learned this vicariously through the things that people would say to my parents after my surgery. For example, my mom returned to her job at a local retail store after being gone for several weeks to care for my needs. A co-worker said to her, “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about her getting pregnant as a teenager.” My mother bit her tongue and kept on working, but I know these words stayed with her for many years. The woman would have been better off by either not saying anything, or letting my mom express her feelings about what just happened to her daughter.

I think about this often, and use this lesson to remind myself that I never really know what someone else has been through. It also reminds me that everyone has a back-story to life.  We live in a world of comparison.  We live in a world that expects nothing but the best.  Behind comparison and ideals are the battles that we all face. Everyone has a story.  Let us not forget that.

Lesson #2 – Infertility is a topic that most people avoid. I was always so amazed at how very little my circumstance in life was talked about. Even medical professionals would ask why I had a hysterectomy, but then the conversation would fall off or end with the statement, “You can always adopt.”   I learned that the whole subject made people very uncomfortable, and in many ways, it still makes people uncomfortable.  In particular, churches do not offer enough support for church-goers who are deeply struggling with God’s plan for their parenthood.

Within the past few years, there has been an increase in public awareness about infertility. Thousands of bloggers hit their keyboards noting their very painful and poignant journey to become parents. They seek comfort from strangers while feeling completely isolated from those closest to them. My advice after living with barrenness for thirty years is to talk about it with anyone who is able and willing to listen. There is nothing to be ashamed of, so unload your secret struggle on those who will provide you authentic support.

Lesson #3 – Adoption and infertility are two separate experiences.  We need to stop blending them together.  People used to give me advice on how to handle infertility. Most of the time, they ended up talking about adoption. I never understood the equation of woman minus being able to get pregnant equals adoption. It is true that a lot of couples who are unable to have biological children seek and become adoptive parents.

I, too, am a mother through adoption, but my adoptions do not represent my infertility; nor do they erase the grief I experienced through the years.  On the flip side, barrenness does not damper my experience as a mother.  If anything, it may just enhance and enrich it.  My hope is that society gets to a place where we recognize the authentic and deeply wounding loss of infertility, AND, that we can see adoption as a separate and remarkable experience – not just a band-aid for infertility.

Lesson #4 – Traumatic events that take place in childhood can linger throughout adulthood, but they do not define who you are. Trauma, whether through abuse, loss of significant person in life, or serious medical illnesses such as mine, stays with a person for the rest of life.  The flashes of memories while in the hospital, and recovering at home still play in my mind. The reality of the great loss that I suffered has never really gone away, and it probably won’t. I keep it tucked away in a corner of my heart.

I suspect most of us who have gone through traumatic events remember a life in the “before and after”.  Yet, (and this was a very important life lesson I learned) my surgery did not define who I was, and it certainly did not declare my future.  I encourage anyone who is going through a traumatic experience to please remember that what you are going through does not make up who you are.  It impacts you.  It changes you.  It even sculpts you in a way that is a little different from who you were, but, it does not constitute the rest of your life.  Do not give it that much power. Cling on to who you were before sadness visited your life, and celebrate who you will be in the future.

Lesson #5- Infertility is both an emotional and spiritual battle.  It is hard, sometimes, for me to express just how much of a spiritual and emotional battle that I have walked through the years.  Before I became a Mommy, I dealt with deep loss and confusion about what God’s will in my life was.  I wondered why I was born a woman if I could not give the world what is considered to be one of the most precious gifts.  I’m not sure if people fully understand what having a hysterectomy means to a female; especially one like myself who had the surgery at a time when every other girl I knew was having a period.

From a spiritual sense, I thought that God must have never wanted me to be a mother.  I was taught to trust His will, but when it came to being a mother, I often questioned why the will of God would include infertility.  Looking back at the years long ago, I know that I was battling a spiritual battle,

I thought for many years that I deserved what happened, and that somehow the Lord must have known that I would make a terrible mother.  I figured that I must not be capable of caring for a child, or that for some reason, I was being punished by the sins of those before me.  Hear me when I say this – these thoughts were real, all-encompassing, and took a long time to heal from.

While I went about being a typical teenager, twenty-something, and young adult, I battled the silent war of my own emotions and sense of spiritual longing.  I know many others who are battling this secret war behind closed doors, and through unseen tears.  It is a very real.

Lesson #6- Women complain about pregnancy….a lot.  Now, I don’t mean any disrespect by this, and I’m sure that at times, pregnancy is extremely uncomfortable.  Please remember though that while you are complaining about swollen feet, hot flashes, and back pain, there might just be a woman around you who feels a twinge of pain with each of your words.

There is nothing more uncomfortable for an infertile woman than being around a pregnant person.  Again, I mean no offense by this.  Do you understand what it means to not carry a child?  Do you understand that it is a deep longing that may never be fulfilled?  If so, then please, stop complaining about pregnancy.  I know it is uncomfortable, but at the same time, it is miraculous, beautiful, and incredible. Please treasure the nine months, and understand that there are millions (literally millions) who would trade places with you in an instant.

Lesson #7 – Life is unpredictable, but our reactions are not.  Life tends to throw us curve balls.  I was born a healthy baby girl and within eleven years, I underwent a hysterectomy.  I became the youngest female known to have this surgery.  This was the absolute last thing my parents would ever expect when raising me.  Honestly, it is the last thing probably any parent of a school-aged girl would think.

It took many years, and there were pitfalls, but eventually, life got back to normal. My parents raged in silence, and grieved even more, but they continued to show me a sense of stability and hope for the future.  Their reactions were what I expected – steady, loving, and what I needed.

Initially, when we are struck by incredibly traumatic events in life, we may falter a bit. Our knees may buckle.  We may feel like curling up in a ball, and wishing the world away.  After some time though, we can choose to get back up.  We can choose to react in a way that shows the world what we are made of, and better yet, where our faith is in our lives.  This a life-lesson that stayed with me.

Lesson #8- Hope is one of the most powerful human actions.  I always wondered with an excitement, and even a little bit of fear, what the Lord had in store for my life.  I remember thinking that maybe I could adopt some day, but, I really did not understand it at all.  I just knew that eventually life would make sense. Eventually, even if in Heaven, I would come to know the reason why all of this nonsense took place.  Eventually, I would know the answer to what my hope clung to.  And, do you want to know something?  I have found that answer in a two brown-eyed boys, and one blue-eyed girl.

Whatever you are going through in life right now, please do not give up hope. Hope is the confirmation that you declare a brighter future.  It truly is an incredibly powerful human experience.  It is one that has set many people free.

Lesson #9- Conception and birth are miracles, but the greatest miracle in life is love.  I knew that there was something quite special that I would miss out on. I knew that giving birth to a baby was a precious and vital part of being a woman, and that this had been tragically taken from me.

I also remember thinking at age twelve that birth is miraculous, but love is even more miraculous.  I found myself immediately defending love as being the most important miracle in life.  Without love, life would cease to exist, or at least the life that we all know.

Love causes us to be moved in ways that require selflessness.  It asks us to participate in moments that we otherwise might avoid.  It calls us to be the one person that makes a difference in another’s life.  It pulls us out of empty places, and commands us to re-position ourselves to the benefit of someone else.

This lesson of love helped me to survive the battle of barrenness.  I knew that one day, I would be able to pass on the love I received from my parents.  Out of love grew the desire of my heart to become a foster parent, to show kindness to my children’s birth parents, and to adopt.  And, it was love that called me back to my faith.

Love is truly the greatest miracle of all.  Love replaces barrenness.

Lesson #10- God is faithful.  I look around my house now as it is over-run by children’s toys, and pictures of smiling kiddos.  I enter into my children’s rooms while they sleep and see the love that lies before me.  I get up each morning to the sounds of needy and active children.  I feel frustration over their messes, bad choices, and just plain hardship of being a parent.  I cry at their successes, and their struggles.  I live life thinking about how I can make their lives better.

I look at life now as a mother and believe wholeheartedly that the God I believe in is faithful.  Of all the lessons I have learned in this unique walkabout, this lesson is the one that I cling to the most.  It is the one that delivers me from whatever hardship I am going through, and it is the one that my soul is able to rest on for the future.

These are the life lessons learned while growing up barren.  These lessons are ones that molded a life that went from barren to blessed.  These lessons are ones that have added depth to my Earthly experience.

In many ways, perhaps, I was not so barren after all.

Dear Infertility (Part 4)

Dear Infertility,

I was reminded of you today.  I was out picking up Christmas presents for my children.  You know…

the ones you swore I would never have.

As I was waiting outside to pick up a big package, a kind gentleman began boasting about the love he has for his little girls.  I concurred with him that girls really are quite special.  I love hearing Father’s speak kindness about their daughters.  He spoke about their ages, and that he would not trade them for anything in the world.

Dear Infertility, I agreed with him.  I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world either.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned that in just a few short years, things will be different with his daughters.  Their bodies will be changing, and he is concerned that he will not fully understand what they are going through.  He pointed out that he would “Send them to their mother” for answers.

“You know what I mean, right?”  he asked me.

I was caught in a moment of not being sure what to say.  The cold wind whipped around me as if it knew it would not take a lot to push me off of my feet.  I nodded at him, and then said,

“Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”

Dear Infertility, the truth is, I do not know all that he meant.  You changed my life as a girl.  Well, maybe not just you.  My illness, my hysterectomy, and the aftermath that followed, all played intricate parts in the unfolding drama of this life.  All of you took away that unique experience that makes up life in a female body.  The normal path I was born to take came to an abrupt dead-end.  In its place, a new path emerged that diverted from the one taken by every other girl I knew.

Thinking about you feels as though I’m watching you from a rear-view mirror.  You are in the distance, slightly distorted, and not as close as you once were.  I can only see parts of you, but you are still there.  Looking back causes my body to ache just a bit, as if it remembers the pain it once carried.  It winces.  It freezes up.  It will not forget.

Dear Infertility, it appears as though I will never be fully free of you.  Just when I have let you go, or do not feel you anymore, you come raging back at me.  You come up behind me so quickly that I coil back into that girl who once wondered what the heck life was going to be like living as a girl, growing into a woman, and being forced to meander through a baby-bearing world.

As my daughter grows up, I will face you again, and again.  I will have to admit that I do not understand what she is going through as her body starts to change.  I will have to ask for help in explaining it all to her, or better yet, so that I can understand it as well.

Do you know how much that actually frightens me?

Dear Infertility, I will keep my eye on you.  I will continue looking back in that rear-view mirror just to make sure you have not snuck-up on me again.  I will especially watch you as my daughter draws nearer to the age where her God-given body starts to fulfill the experience of life as a female.

I was honest when I replied to the gentleman that, “Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”  It is true.  Girls are interesting in so many ways.

Dear Infertility, because of you, my life as a girl has been very interesting, indeed.

Related Posts:  Dear Infertility 

                         Dear Infertility (Part 2)

                         Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Love that is Far from Barren

Walk
Photo Credit: http://sarahcarterphotos.com/

During this month of celebrating adoption, I’ve been meandering my way through pictures of my kids.  The one above happens to be one of my favorites.  It was taken by a local photographer a few years ago.

When I look at this picture, I see children whose future is wide open, and who matter more to their parents than they may ever fully realize.  I see children who found their way home.  

When I look at the image above, I don’t see barrenness.  I don’t feel desolation.  I don’t find myself speaking the “what if’s”, and “why’s”.  I don’t recall the place I used to dwell in; that wasteland of broken dreams.

I don’t see infertility.

When I set my eyes on the picture above, I know that things happen for a reason.  I feel the restoration of broken lives, the healing of scarred remains, and the mercy-filled grace that I am now living.

When I look at this image of my oldest son and daughter, I am thankful.  I am genuinely thankful for the path I walked to become their mother.  I am truly grateful for others whose hands touched our lives, and molded our family.

Ultimately, though, I am humbled by the acts of my Heavenly Father who shook me out of my barrenness, and said, “MY plan for you is better than this.  MY plan for you will unfold.  MY plan for you is one that diminishes the scars of your youth, and wipes away the tears of your adulthood.  MY plan for you is far from barren.”

When I look at the sweet image of my son and daughter, I see love.

Love fulfilled. 

Love that changed lives.

Love that intervened at just the right time.

Love that brought life into the wasteland.

Love that is far from barren.

That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:12

Barren Path {I AM}

I walk along this barren path with bitter, heavy steps.

My skin feels parched from this dry walk.  My tongue lay thick in my mouth.

“Where, oh where, are you my Lord?” my voice screams without a sound.  “You are not here.  You do not care.  You are nowhere to be found.”

This painful walk.  This mournful way.  This path does not seem right.

I am forgotten, misunderstood, and full of dread for the night.

With each step, my bones crack, and my heart lays deep in my chest.

I am weary, tired, and painfully torn.  I desperately long for some rest.

“Where, oh where, are you my Lord?” my voice screams without a sound.  “You are not here.  You do not care.  You are nowhere to be found.”

The ground beneath laughs at me.  It scorches me to the bone.

This barren ground.  This painful walk.  I am completely alone.

 “Where, oh where, are you my Lord?” my voice screams without a sound.  “You are not here.  You do not care.  You are nowhere to be found.”

And then, at once, I look up. The light is far too bright.

I squint my eyes, cover myself, and wonder.  “Where is the night?”

“Where is the night that envelopes me?  Where is the darkness that won’t leave?”

This barren path.  This mournful walk.  It clings to me so tight.

“I AM.”  I hear you say.  “I AM.”  

You say again.

This is the sound that chased after me; the one that would not leave.

This voice.  This gentle, but intense one, that stirred my heart to believe.

“I AM in the sunrise, wind, and rain.  I AM in the sunset, joy, and pain.”

“I AM the One who first knew you, and the One who wrote your days.”

“I AM the Weaver, Storm Creator, and Calmer of the Seas.”

“I AM the One who set your feet upon this barren path.  Yet, I AM the One who will avenge you, my child, with great wrath.”

This barren path.  This parched, dry walk.  This journey of which I’ve known.

It does not feel dry anymore. I no longer feel alone.

For my Father,the Great I AM, walks me through the days.  He fills the air, and colors my view with songs of joy and praise.

My steps are light.  My heart leaps up.  I dance on this fruitful land.

For my Father, the Great I AM, holds me in His Heavenly Hand.

“I AM.”  I hear you say.  “I AM.”  

You say again.

Thank you Lord, for guiding me, and setting my soul upon this terrain.

Thank you, Father, the Great I AM, for capturing my  heart once more.  Thank you, Father, the Great I AM, for things that are in store.

You set my feet upon this walk.  This barren path is long.  Yet, You quench each thirst. You pad each step. You caress me with a new song. 

You breathe hope into my lungs.  My heart leaps at Your Great Name.  

Yahweh.  Father.  Loving God.

For You are the Great I AM.

 

Thirty Years Ago

Labor Day Weekend (United States) is usually one that most look forward to. The last hurrah of summer includes an extra day off from work with family and friends. Labor Day weekend evokes another remembrance in my life though.  It is the first memory of waking up in the hospital following my hysterectomy in 1983.

I remember waking up with my dad’s hand near my arm.  I remember opening my eyes just long enough to see him staring at the television.  I remember watching him quietly watch the Jerry Lee Lewis Labor Day Telethon….and that was it.  I closed my eyes, and fell back asleep.  I don’t know if it was day or night.  I don’t know how long he had been sitting there, or how long I had been asleep.  I don’t recall if I said anything, or if he did.  All I remember is quietly watching him stare at the television.

Thirty years ago, I became a survivor.  A survivor of a deadly bacterium.  A survivor of something rarely, if ever, seen in 1983.  It is incredible how a microscopic bacteria could wreak havoc, nearly claim a life, and leave in its wake, a life forever changed.

Labor Day weekend marked the beginning of a different life story.  It was the beginning of a journey marred with confusion, loss, and silence.  My parents suffered great loss as they watched me fight to stay alive.  They knew that staying alive was only part of the struggle….the temporary part.  Infertility would stay.

Today, as I sat around our table with my parents, husband, and children eating lunch, I thought about this weekend and what it meant for my life.  As I sat with my daughter at the doctor today (she’s fine), I thought about my own parents sitting by my bedside with worry as their greatest companion.  As I watched my son playing in a creek at a local park, I thought about the first time I laid eyes on him, and exhaled.  As I put the little one to bed, I hugged on him a little longer than usual, and told I loved him a few extra times.

Thirty years ago, I was a young girl waking up to the image of my father by my hospital bed.  I fought a deadly illness, and won.  The battle was not over though.  In many ways, it had just begun.

Through the years I’ve learned that life is partly what is written or ordained to happen, and mostly what you make of it.  What I mean is that it is easy to “throw in the towel”, rely on your own crutch of victimization, wallow in self-pity, and lose faith.  It is far too easy to say, “Well, life is unfair.”

I do not believe that the Lord wants us to be victims.  He does not want us to stifle His light because of what we have been through.  Through the past thirty years, I’ve learned to trust, hope, and to dare to envision dreams coming true through His grace.  photo

Through him we have also obtained  access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the  glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that  suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character  produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to  us.
-Romans 5:2-5

My Life’s Song

Here we are in the last few days of November and the last week of National Adoption Month.  This past month I have posted something each day that I hope has inspired people to take care of children through adoption and foster care.  I’d like to share some insights I’ve learned as an adoptive parent.  Here’s the first one:

Through the adoption of my children I have learned that my life was planned and designed with great purpose.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that growing up I never really understood or appreciated the concept of a life planned in advance; especially if the plan included the heart-wrenching grief of infertility.  I did not comprehend how a loving God could or would allow infertility, even though barrenness is written about in Scripture.  I certainly never envisioned myself as a mother.  I just didn’t think it was “in the cards” for my life.

Seeking the Lord and the adoption of my children have both revealed to me that mothering was written into my life story.  My children were planned for me, and I was planned for them.  Despite the medical problem I had that resulted in being barren, I was still designed with the great purpose of motherhood by the God that created the Heavens and the Earth.

Some call it fate.  Some may say I lucked into being able to adopt.  I choose not to call it either of these things.  I call it the grace of the Lord and His Divine Plan.  I call it the presence of a living God whose works are ones of love.  I call it the pouring out of His blessings.  I call it a mission-filled and purposeful design.

Adoption really is my life’s song.  My children are the instruments.  Our experience together is the melody.  The Lord is the composer, and, from time to time, you just might catch me dancing to it.

“For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Much More

Adoption: The act of transferring parental rights and duties to someone other than the adopted person’s biological parents. (Concise Encyclopedia/Merriam Webster)

I ran across this definition of adoption when doing some research.  It seems so simple; too simple.  It doesn’t take into account the emotion, waiting, persistence, patience, grief, giving, receiving, love, and joy that travel along the way towards adoption, and it certainly doesn’t describe life held after adoption.  It is so much more than just transferring parental rights.

Adoption is hope.  It is commitment.  It is patience.  It is waiting.  It is grief.  It is joy.  It is giving.  It is love.  It is receiving.  

I gave myself away to my children before they were legally mine.  I did not wake up the morning of their adoptions and discover new-found love based on transfer of parental rights.  I dreamed of them.  I yearned for them.  I grieved for them.  My soul grasped for them.  My imagination sculpted them.  Truthfully speaking, I loved them before I even met them.

In return, I received so much more than the legal status of being called mom.  I have been given the chance to push a little harder to make the world better for them.  I have been awarded the opportunity to imprint their lives with love.  I have received living, breathing, laughing joy.

I have received those moments of feeling full well the Lord’s penmanship of my life. I see the Lord in my children’s eyes.  I feel Him in their embrace.  I hear Him in their wonder of the world.  I still remember being that girl who didn’t know when or if I would ever be healed from the pain of barrenness.  I still think about her and who she used to be.  I still grieve at times for what she went through and for the pain she carried through the years.  But then….I look at my children, feel His presence, and know full well that I am healed.

Adoption deserves so much more than a legalistic definition.  It is defined by the path that one walks – whether birth parent, adoptive parent, or adopted child.  It is shaped by the loss along the way.  It is refined by the waiting.  It is colored by the emotion and highlighted by the joy.  It is enhanced from the giving, and humbled by the receiving.  It is love in action, hope in process, and life lived in the full awareness of Him.

Yes…adoption is so much more.