Monday, March 17, 2014

throwing open some windows

today it is easy to be an "over-sharer."

we've all seen it happen:

maybe you laugh when you see it happen, or roll your eyes?
maybe you are like me and you cringe a little?
(okay, calm down, everyone....not so much about foursquare and updates about where you're at...unless you've given us a play-by-play of your day...)
it could be the therapist in me, or maybe it is my own fear and insecurities (probably both),
but when I see people sharing intimate information out on the internet, I get a little nervous.
I don't want to see people get hurt (read: I am afraid I will be hurt) by this over-sharing phenomenon.

therefore, I tend to navigate myself toward the other end of the spectrum.
my tendency is to hold things close to my heart,
only sharing them with my journal and Jesus until it I have a handle on what is going on,
then I will talk with my husband and those the closest to me.

don't get me wrong, I have moments of brave vulnerability.
and, honestly, those moments most often turned out to be beautiful moments of connection, clarity, and healing.

and yet, here I am, realizing that it is time to stop holding all the cards so close.

here's what I have come to realize:
I need to write, and not just in my journal.
I need to share my story, and not just "some time down the road."

because it is in the writing that I find clarity and healing.
and it is in the sharing that God will get the glory.

my story is an important part of His story.
what's going on in my life matters.
(which means, what's going on in YOUR life matters, too. you're welcome, in case you didn't make that connection on your own)


yesterday morning I was sitting in church and I was S T R U G G L I N G to focus on the words being sung and spoken. I just.could.not.focus on Jesus, no matter how hard I tried.
my thoughts kept wandering back to me.myself.mine.
and when this is occurring and all the sudden you realize: "wow. I am vain," this is not pleasant.

it's time to throw open some windows and let the Light shine in. 

the last few months have been hard. painful.
some of the most raw, fragile moments of my life.

here it goes:

late December we began hearing rumors of things not going well in the Ethiopian International Adoption world. rumors began flying around the internet and no one knew who or what to believe. without going in to details, these were the worst rumors a potential adoptive parent would want to hear. yet into the chaos, God spoke peace. however, it was still really hard...and scary...

around this same time we heard from our agency that our paperwork had yet to go to ET because they were anticipating additional paperwork requirements from the US side of things.  (if you are really interested, you can read about the new USCIS PAIR process here). the point is, our dossier was not considered "complete" and therefore we could not be registered as an official "waiting family." bummer. we went from thinking we were 2 months into the wait to realizing that we were not even ready to begin the official "wait." you can imagine how that felt...
on January 29, we received an update email from our agency that responded to the internet stories. the emails were confusing, hopeful, encouraging, and unsettling (yes. all of the above). on this same day, we also received the new paperwork that we would need to complete (more paperwork?!?)  AND, we were told that due to the new requirements (which, by the way, we believe to be very good for IA in ET in the long run), we would be looking at an 8-12 month wait for referrals once we were officially "paperwork ready" and a "waiting family."

at this point, we felt discouraged. and scared. but we prayed about it, and decided to push forward.
so, we went back to the home study agency (local, Kansas agency...not our main adoption agency)... let's just say, this part just got even more frustrating and discouraging. and last week we found out that we are looking at an addendum to our home study which could take weeks, if not longer....

so, that's where we are currently at with the adoption process. we haven't even begun working with another government yet, and we are already feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.

and in the midst of all of this.....we had a wonderful blessing and painful good-bye.

on January 5, after nearly 3 years of hoping and praying, we had a positive pregnancy test. it was a complete shock and incredible surprise. we were both extremely excited. I would say that I was cautiously excited, but excited nonetheless. we were finally experiencing pregnancy.... thank you, Jesus. we began dreaming and planning for this little life. it felt like perfect timing- this baby would come during our adoption wait; and when they were just a few months old we would bring their siblings home from Ethiopia. yes, it would be crazy! but we were so excited!

on February 14, at week 10 of pregnancy, we went to our first appointment. during the ultrasound the doctor struggled to find the baby. after a few moments, she confirmed that there was no heartbeat and the baby was measuring small. she scheduled us to come back in a week. we had made plans to eat lunch with my aunt & uncle after the appointment, planning to share the news with that I had dreamed of sharing for years. we had made plans for a big family dinner on saturday, hoping to share the news with even more extended relatives. the reveal plans quickly changed. it was a heartbreaking day. in so many ways it was a really hard weekend. but we chose, in those hours and days to hope.  we prayed for a miracle and continued to hope in Jesus, no matter what.

and then on February 21, we returned to doctor for another ultrasound. within moments it was clear, we were experiencing a miscarriage. I had yet to experience any external signs, but internally it was clear.

and on February 24, it was over nearly as quickly as it began.
but it had begun.
the miracle lays in the fact that LIFE HAD BEGUN. 

yes, we are grieving...but we HAD something to grieve, which is a treasured gift that I refuse to take for granted.

yes, we feel terribly sad...but someday we will get to meet our child in heaven, and that is reason to rejoice.

yes, this adoption road is extremely difficult and scary...but someday we will bring our children home and get to share life with them, and there will be so much joy.

the Lord gives and He takes away. 

He planted the seeds of this adoption dream in our hearts a long time ago, and while we are still very unclear about what this will look like moving forward, we will continue to seek His face and say YES to these dreams. we know that He is a God of completion and that He will see us through.

He gave us the gift of life. and while I do not understand why that life was so short, it is not my job to understand. it is my job to give Him glory.

He has comforted me and brought me joy in the midst of sorrow. In the last weeks, I have laughed just as often as I have cried. I have felt tremendous gratitude, even in my moments of sadness. these days have held great celebration and great sorrow. yes, both, and.

we grieve. but we do not grieve as those without hope.
we have HOPE in Jesus.
and that hope is the anchor to my soul.

Last night I read the final chapter of Shauna Niequist's book Bittersweet. (highly recommend)
In that chapter she writes these words:

"The most bittersweet season of my life so far is still life
still beautiful
still sparkling with celebration
There is no one or the other, as desperately as I want that to be true. This season was bittersweet. Life itself is bittersweet. There's always life or death, always beauty of blood."

we are unsure of many things right now.
life continues to feel bittersweet.
and in the moments of uncertainty, we anchor ourselves in this truth:  
we know the One who loves us, 
who comforts us, 
who rejoices with us and grieves with us. 
Our life is His.

we would love to have you praying with us and for us.

as always, thanks for journeying with us, dear friends.

with all our love,
R & E