As I was sitting on the couch with my laptop a few weekends ago deleting some stuff [and praying that my college/Africa laptop is NOT shot] my husband says something profound.
he looks at me and says, “ya know, you’ve spent so much time the past few months cleaning out and making space” why yes, he’s right. and he’s not just talking about space on my apple products.
Maybe it started with the 7 study, but I feel like I’ve been prompted to clean out my physical clutter, so He can get to my heart. unclutter my heart if you will. and it’s a constant fight/struggle. I don’t want to keep “filling up” after I have cleaned out. ya know? I want to be ok with the not full closet, or not perfectly accessorized shelves. I want to have things to give away when people are needing to raise money for things. I don’t want to hold so tightly to my “stuff”.
Last weekend some friends were having a huge garage sale for their ministry and literally I had to take things off my wall to give. I have cleaned out, and cleaned out, and cleaned out – that I literally am left with what I use [well, mostly].
and yet, when I really need to make a few bucks – I find stuff. stuff stuff stuff. how is it that I still think that 45 “hanging shirts” in my closet still “not a lot” ??
So what is God clearing the space for? that I don’t know, but I do know that I like it. It’s hard. it’s refining. it’s challenging me. but it’s good.
how is God calling you to make space?
yesterday marked exactly 1 year since we got the email that said “We’re going to go ahead and clear your cases for a visa interview”. That was the day that I woke up early to do Insanity with Jenna and missed the call from the Embassy at 6am. then waited, and got the email, and another phone call and suddenly the darkness was over. the in-between was over.
this might sound strange, but sometimes I forget that Camp + Asher are adopted. yep. and I don’t just mean that I forget they have brown skin [which I do], but sometimes the struggle and journey it took to get them here is lost on me. It was a two year process. which, maybe in the grand scheme of life doesn’t seem like that long – but while you are going through it, it sure felt like a long time. I’ve been reading Lauren Casper’s 31 days of the “in between” and her post on africa + adoption just stopped me in my tracks. My “in between” with them was 7 weeks. Meaning, after I had been in Ethiopia with them for 9 weeks, and planned for the next time I got on a plane would be with my babies + my hubby, I had to leave them. The day I first realized I needed to go home, which ended up being a few weeks before I actually did, I about lost it. I remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was doing, and who I was with when I got an email that changed “my plans”. Sweet Roger Gibson I’m sure did not know what to do with me when I burst into tears at the dining table over my laptop. Literally hands cupped my face, sobbing, bawling. I went outside to catch my breath and call my husband. I typically don’t like to cry like that in front of people, but I was too far gone. too vulnerable to turn back. I said through the sobs, “I. want. to. come. home.” It was a lot to deal with by myself. I didn’t want to come home without my babies. but I didn’t want to be in Ethiopia without Stephen, making these decisions. I remember some days just the smallest decision would mess me up. I missed my husband. I loved being with all the families I was with, and they all totally took me in, but there was still this sense of loneliness. there was a sense of independence, which I love usually. but it had just gotten too much.
god gave me total peace when I had to get on the plane that night. I wanted to cry. When I imagined that day, I imagined myself a bawling mess. but I couldn’t even shed a tear. I tried. grace. peace. from God and from everyones prayers. When I envisioned getting home, I wanted no one there but Stephen. I didn’t want people to see me so sad and feel sorry for me. but as it got closer, I knew I needed my people there. I sent a quick text to my closest friends + they were all there waiting when I got off that plane. with a “we love you aunt wynne” sign. I came home to flowers, candle, new jammies, house shoes, and other things I love thanks to my friends and hubby who know me so well. my people were there with me. for me.
and I needed them. the next 7 weeks were the absolute darkest of my life. When God spoke to me about seeing broken people restored – I had no idea that in that season I was the broken one. I went to counseling at my church. I cried out to god like crazy. I also had really dark days where I didn’t leave the house, watched way too much TV, and drank wine alone. most of those days, I don’t even remember now. they are a faint memory. it’s funny because the days during that time I do vividly remember are days that God went out of His way to speak to me. through a beautiful rainbow after a rain storm, or a song with just the right lyrics, or just kind words from a friend. He was with me. He carried me.
I have been thanking God lately for the struggle in my life. For the times when I had nothing else left but to cry out to Him. to be desperately praying on my knees everyday asking God to show up. I had to trust in Him alone, everything was out of my control. There aren’t many other times in my life I can say that I had to so desperately depend on Him. It’s so easy in our culture to fall back on our convinces and on people. but in that time, it was only Him. that’s what I long for now even. not to go back to that “in between”, but to have that desperation for nearness to God.
I can’t believe it’s been ONE YEAR since that darkness. one year since the darkness lifted, and we got to go get our babies. one year since god heard our cries and answered our prayers. I don’t want to go back to that darkness, but I sure am thankful for it. I hope that all of you adoptive mamas that are in that “in between” phase will find hope and encouragement in this: Your dawn IS COMING!!!
“I am still confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” Psalm 27:13-14
ps- thank yall for all your response to yesterdays post. part 2 is coming soon, I promise. but there will also probably be a part 3, part 4, and so on. the story is not over – He’s still writing it!
remember when I told you I wanted to LIVE BRAVE? well this is it people.
I want to have faith. big faith. faith like my favorite people in the bible, like the people in Hebrews 11. faith to believe that there will be a fulfillment of what was spoken to me by the Lord. faith that believes in Gods healing power, that believes [truly believes] that nothing is impossible with God.
Four years ago this past August, God changed my heart overnight and gave me the desire to be a mama. HE gave me that desire. He interrupted “my 5 year plan” and changed my heart. I started praying, we started talking, and we started trying to make that desire a reality. Sure enough, 1 year passed and no fulfillment of that dream. no biological baby. only a lot of hurt, confusion, pain, and reality was left. the truth was, a lot of my friends had gotten to experience the miracle of having a baby and I was still left brokenhearted and empty handed.
I gave “my plans” up to God once again, and told Him I would put that dream on hold. I needed a time out. I needed not to be disappointed and uncontrollably upset each month. I needed HIM, and I needed HIM to fill my thoughts and my mind and not the dream and desire of having a baby.
Well, you know how the story went from there. During that time, God put the idea of adoption on my heart. and I followed that desire that He gave me, and a few months into praying about it – we made the decision to adopt. Where we once were totally focused on having a baby biologically [although, that term was NOT what we used. I can recall my husband saying "our own child" more times than I can count] we now were following Gods call on our lives to adopt.
We were believing that God had a specific time and purpose for each child that would come into our lives, and the time for us to adopt was now. the time for us to try for a biological child, was not now. it was too emotional. my heart couldn’t handle pursuing both adoption + pregnancy.
and you know the ending to that beautiful part of our story. a happy mama + daddy with our arms full. our ethiopian beauties. a fulfillment of Gods promise to us for our double portion [Isaiah 61] thank you Jesus. see short film by fotolanthropy here.
the kids had been home almost 3 months, and I made my first trip away from home to my very favorite retreat all year long. created for care. god has used this adoptive mamas retreat to really speak to me. to get me away from the daily grind, and to minister to my soul. and strangely enough, what He speaks to me isn’t usually about adoption. and this past year was no different.
one of my best friends, Lauren, who had been with me through our whole adoption process [we met in this bloggy land!] was leading a breakout about her journey through infertility to adoption. Honestly, I just went because she’s my friend. and I wanted to support her and be there for her. What I didn’t expect was for God to speak to me through her story. a story that I already knew so well!
She started off her talk with a excerpt from a devotional done by Beth Moore. Blessed…not cursed.
I’m not sure why but that really hit home with me. I think that’s when the tears started [and still do every time I say that out loud]. You see, I think there is power in our words. and I think there is freedom that comes in claiming things. and it wasn’t until that cold January day in a conference room outside of Atlanta, Georgia that I finally was able to say, “I struggle with infertility”. there, I said it. and now I say it again.
Obviously, we have had issues in the past but we didn’t really “go there” with the fertility stuff. We skipped all that and headed straight towards adoption. But there was something that God was trying to show me that day, something He wanted me to have freedom in by simply just saying out loud. I struggle with infertility. I think I struggled with that word for so long, because to me it meant that I was never ever ever gonna have biological babies. like that was the end. but that’s not what it means- it just means that we struggle with it. that it hasn’t happened so easily for us as it does with others. it doesn’t mean that we won’t ever conceive. I wanna have big faith remember? blessed not cursed.
so I said it. I felt the freedom, and then what happened next was nothing short of Gods sweetness and goodness to me.
Part 2 of His Promises coming next…
yall, emily is the REAL DEAL! I can’t even tell you how encouraged I am by her. Her faith, he willingness to SEE a need and then DO something about it. No one told her to. She just felt it in her heart. We can all learn a lesson from Emily + be inspired by her story!
Anybody can change the world: I’m just a teenager.
About 3 years ago, I spent a week of learning how to be a Kingdom Worker at a summer mission camp with my youth group. I learned that if I could use my talents to help people in need then my actions would glorify God. This idea captivated my attention; I could actually make a difference in the world no matter my age, my talent, or the amount of little time I thought I had. God was working in my heart and my head where He planted an idea during one of the last nights at camp that would change my life. I watched a documentary about a country in Africa called Zambia that is severely affected by a water crisis. The country is filled with beautiful people and nature that makes up a vibrant culture. However, it’s caught in the downward spiral of poverty without access to basic needs like clean water. This reality forces women and children to walk miles and miles multiple times a day to retrieve water from a variety of sources like ponds, ditches, and streams. But, the water they collect is contaminated with deadly pathogens. Dangerous illnesses cause parents to stay home from work, so they can’t go to work. Then, their children are not able to go to school. Worst of all, these water borne diseases are actually the cause of more deaths than guns, cancer and even war in the nation. These facts presented through the documentary shocked me, because they belonged to a young girl’s reality, while I on the other side of the world had clean water gushing through my facet 24/7. So I thought to myself if I am so blessed beyond reason in America, why couldn’t I share some of my blessings with that girl in Zambia, Africa?
God was calling me to be a Kingdom Worker to the Zambian people. I began to brainstorm with a friend of mine and came up with the idea of using my talent of sewing to create a product and raise funds. The funds raised would be sent to a non-profit organization called Active: Water who provides hand pump wells, bio-sand filters, proper hygiene/sanitation classes, and hope for a better future in Jesus Christ to the people of Zambia.
When I returned home from camp, I began sewing small fabric bird ornaments with the help of my friend. By talking with our youth pastor and church, Birds of Hope began. We sold the birds to our church family and from there the word spread through the community. An article in the local newspaper helped to launch our efforts. The Birds of Hope Facebook page became popular while a local graphic designer helped to create a logo and a t-shirt company donated t-shirts to our fundraiser. Other people helped by donated fabric for the birds and paying our booth fee for flea markets. Within a couple weeks, we passed our first goal of only $500 and were on our way to reaching $1,000. By that Christmas, we had raised $10,000 for clean water projects in Zambia, Africa! We were amazed at the response and felt so blessed as God directed us every step of the way. At the end of the first year, we celebrated with a party and I decided to continue for another year with the help of my family. The next year brought in even more funds and opportunities. Birds of Hope became an official non-profit organization while I stayed busy with monthly events and a constant flow of out-of-state orders. Birds of Hope also was also able to help fund clean water projects with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and Doma International.
Then, the summer of 2012, God surprised us all and gave me an opportunity to travel to Zambia, Africa. I was able to go with the Active: Water team, my dad, my oldest sister and a group of amazing girls who all had a passion for the clean water projects. The two week trip taught me a lot as I got to know the native Zambians, fix hand pump wells, build bio-sand filters, and spread God’s love around the country. It was an amazing experience in which I learned a hard lesson. When I was in Zambia, I saw so much need around me and I wanted to fix it all. But I had to realize that I couldn’t…it wasn’t possible for me to bring clean water to everyone in Zambia. However, the missionaries in Zambia taught me a phrase in Bemba, pinono-pinono, which means little by little. Each small step counts. I can install a bio-sand filter that saves a family’s life and gives them hope for a better future. Changing just one person’s life can make all difference because of my simple obedience. For that reason and so many more, I realized that I actually needed Zambia more than Zambia needed me. I have so much to learn from these amazing people and I’m praying for the day that I will return to the beautiful country of Zambia, Africa.
Today, Birds of Hope has reached its goal of $50,000 for clean water projects and will be completing this wonderful journey at the end of the year. Its bittersweet moving on from this amazing experience, but I have complete faith in a God who I know has wonderful plans for my future.
Now, just like I did, you probably don’t believe that you can make a difference in the world. But the truth is that we are all Kingdom Workers! God can use your life in a mighty way no matter your age, talents, or busy schedule. I’ve seen firsthand what God can do simply with your faith and obedience. I promise you’ll be amazed! It just takes that first step of saying, “yes,” to God and He will take care of the rest!
So…how will you be a Kingdom Worker?
be sure to check out Birds of Hope on facebook + watch this incredible film below of Emily telling her story!
Emily is a #KingdomWorker from Christ In Youth on Vimeo.
I think that one of my biggest joys in my adult life has been being involved in adoption. Not only adopting, but being a part of OTHERS adoption stories. Most of the time its with sisters that I only know online, and sometimes with sisters that I walk life with day to day. Last night I went to a “gender reveal” party for a sweet friend of mine who’s adopting domestically and it was the sweetest reminder of Gods goodness. There were LOTS of happy tears, and as the night went on and we processed what was happening, there were more and more tears of joy. As I drove home I just thanked God for allowing me to be a part of it. To be a part of the bigger story. To be a part of something that I probably never would have dreamed of for myself – adoption isn’t always pretty, but tonight it was full of celebratory hugs and squeals as we get ready to welcome a sweet baby boy to our little group. SO – that makes today’s post extra special to me! Read below to see how YOU can be a part of some pretty amazing adoption stories!!!!
I love giveaways don’t you? What I love even MORE, is helping someone BRING HOME THEIR SON OR DAUGHTER thanks to fun online auctions + giveaways.
so I thought I’d tell you about two friends who are having awesome sales/giveaways this week!
Kate has an awesome “grow your blog” giveaway as well as a etsy round up giveaway! Enter daily at http://www.kateandkuby.blogspot.com/ seriously both amazing. you could win ad space on this blog in that giveaway too
My girl Danielle is having an awesome instagram sale TONIGHT to benefit their recent adoption You can win some NOONDAY and other fun goodies! follow along HERE.
It’s honestly so fun to be a part of helping bring sons + daughters home. and such an easy way for ANYONE to be a part of it. We aren’t all called to ADOPT, but we are all called to do SOMETHING. and if shopping or blogging is your thing // then here’s your chance!
feel free to share either of these with friends on social media too! you will majorly bless these two adoptive mamas!
ps- this adoptive mama who’s still paying off some adoption related stuff is having a Noonday sample sale on @lilliesofthefield Tuesday at noon! http://instagram.com/lilliesofthefield
pss/ just posted the “sponsor” page – find it here.