Thursday, May 22, 2008

Going Back . . .

Okay, I have tried and tried to begin telling the rest of the story of our journey to and from Ethiopia.  It's just challenging to do so.  Between the needs of a bunch of sick people in our family and the difficulty in finding the right words . . . usually I just put it off another day.  So tonight I'm beginning my feeble attempt to tell the rest of the story.

To some, when they hear the word adoption, they probably think each situation is similar.  But for the adoptive family, they know how each and every journey is unique.  There are so many variables.  For me, international adoption was a HUGE stretch.  Yes, I will shamefully admit I was "one of those".  Oh I would whole-heartedly rejoice with families that were adopting or had adopted internationally ... but inside I'd think ... I could never do it.  I look back now and see all the baby steps the Lord took me through to bring me to the place of hearing His voice tell me something I could not ignore no matter how hard I tried to rationalize it all.

I could tell you the exact locations here in my home that the Lord so tenderly and clearly and persistently prodded at my heart.  While I knew it was real ... my mind would quickly have a bunch of reasons why it just wouldn't work.  I'd get caught up in doubts, yet when I was brave enough to listen, the message was so clear.  "There's a child in Ethiopia that needs you ... you are to bring them into your family."  US LORD???  We have no finances.  What about our family?  What about our ministry? ... what if people don't approve?  What about the small issue of vehicle size?  

It got a little out of hand when I couldn't enjoy a peaceful meal or restful night sleep anymore.  Please understand, it's not that I wasn't "open" to adoption again .... but what about the MOUNTAINS???   

Why do I recount this part of the journey? .... well, because I know there are so many families out there in the same dilemma.  They need to be reminded to not lose heart!  These mountains are worth climbing.  I cannot tell you it was easy.  God did not just send all the needed funds in one big lump sum.  It was a brutal year in many ways.  Sometimes I questioned if we had truly gone overboard this time around.  But with everything in me, I knew there was a little person across the world counting on us to make it.  

Some of you who follow our blog are on your own journey.  Perhaps there are times you question if all this insanity is really worth it.  Maybe you have times like we did that you really had nothing left to give.  BE encouraged! . . . you are not on this journey alone.  Maybe the "unknowns" keep you awake at night and you can't handle another month of not having answers to all your questions.  You give up so much control when you begin the road of adoption.  Maybe there are things you fear that you can't even bring yourself to voice out loud.

Oh, did I have my moments.  But one day, that glorious day did come when we received the call and began having answers to many of the questions that had filled our minds and hearts all those months.  Then the sadness came, of all we'd missed.  

When it was finally time to leave for Ethiopia I was so eager.  The time had finally come we'd see our daughter face to face.  I would meet the amazing women who helped to nurse our daughter to health.  This video montage is of her five months at Gladney.  When she arrived at nine months old, she wasn't even strong enough to bear much weight on her legs.  If you could only see her legs now!  These women, many still young girls, loved her so dearly.  So when we received these photos just before we left Ethiopia, it was such a gift.  

I look in this child's eyes and it's all so clear.  That battle that was going on in me? ... between listening to God's voice and being overwhelmed by the mountains? .... that's when she was born.  I don't believe in chance.  I know that I will never again question obeying and following God's leading.  While it breaks my heart that I could not be there for her in that first year of life (maybe someday more to come on that) . . . it is such a JOY to get to be there now.  

Arsema is only one child.  We saw SO MANY, who like her need a family.  Not all of us are called to bring another child into our family ... but we are all called to help care for orphans.  These children are not merely statistics.  They are real, uniquely designed precious human beings.  Our family understands that sometimes the stakes are high.  Sometimes those mountains just seem too tall.  Sometimes friends and family don't understand.  But these children understand.  They are filled with hope that someone out there will hear their cry.  

Next time I'll tell you more about our experiences in Ethiopia.  But for tonight, I needed to go back to the beginning one more time.


John and Lori said...

Thank you so much for telling your story that in many ways matches mine. We were brought slowly to this place as well. There are days when we think how will we do this...but we know that God has brought us here and God will see us through.
Also, thanks so much for the pictures. We can't wait to see our daughters face to face! We love them so much already!!

solas4me said...

Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. We have appreciated seeing your journey and knowing that you have trusted in Christ for all things.. It is a awesome thing to see God working to put faith into action for Orphans. Thanks for your support through your encouraging words. We are looking forward to seeing the daughter that God has waiting for us.
The Darlings
"A Darling Life"

Jared and Amy said...

Wow....what a GREAT post!!! Lots of tears here!

mom said...

You and your family amaze me, and Shelly, your writing is beautiful. What an inspiration you are!

Kristy -Mom to 4 and soon to be more! said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story! I know that you have encouraged many by sharing your story and the journey that the Lord called you on!(Can you tell that I am just now getting caught up on your posts?) :-)